A ponytailed toddler grips her sunglasses determinedly as her parents crouch, smiling, in the background. Walking atop either side of a railroad track, a young couple bridges the distance with their hands. In the midst of wedding preparations, a bride pauses to read a love letter from her soon-to-be spouse. These are a few of the fleeting moments placed in a beautiful image-jail by This Is Life Photography’s founder Marisa. Fascinated by the power of freezing time since she was a child, she composes portraits and wedding scenes with an eye toward creating mementos that can be handed down for generations.
Since 1966, Outdoor School has been supplementing Oregon’s public-education system with lessons on the environment, ecology, natural resources, and flora and fauna held in a camp setting. Friends of Outdoor School was recently founded to preserve this experience for youth and to make it available to all students regardless of their socio-economic statuses.
During day-camp courses, student leaders from local high schools work with middle-school students to explore the wonders of science through hands-on outdoor activities and traditional camp experiences. Students remain active from sun up to sun down, conducting field studies, engaging in recreational activities, preparing meals, and building campfires. The student leaders emerge from the experience with greater leadership abilities and both sets of students can bring their newfound knowledge to their science and math classes.
For low-income, undocumented, underserved, immigrant, LGBTQ, gang-affected, and otherwise at-risk youth, the path to prosperity can seem impossibly arduous. No one understands that viewpoint better than the crew at Momentum Alliance, a group composed entirely of youth who have faced down and conquered dire circumstances of their own. They leverage a number of tools at their disposal?namely a guiding cadre of coaches, a network of allies, and each other?to inspire their peers to become leaders themselves. Through programs such as summer camps and workshops, the team instills leadership skills in its charges and prepares them for the transition from vulnerable individuals into effective community advocates and decision-makers.
One of PYB's apprenticeship programs trains young adults ages 17–24 in green residential construction, providing hands-on experience and a path to an emerging vocation. During the course of a year of training, students build up to four affordable, energy-efficient homes that will be sold to low-income families. Trainees glean valuable experience with all aspects of the construction process, including pouring foundations, framing walls and roofs, and finishing interiors. Part of PYB's comprehensive support includes providing construction tools and other necessary equipment to students who cannot afford to purchase them.
After spending time in Quaking Grass's furnished loft studio, you learn why some of the yoga, Zumba, and holistic-dance instructors refer to the space as their "big living room." Once inside the studio, you find yourself in a sprawling, high-ceilinged loft. Natural light spills in from tall windows and onto green walls, where African art and decorative Asian fans hang. Scanning the room, you see plush furniture, a kitchenette, and a massive Native American dream catcher, painted white and hanging 6 feet to the floor.
Quaking Grass is home to the Healing Arts Collective; many of its members left positions as businesspeople, teachers, and lawyers in favor of a more relaxed lifestyle. According to director Heather Straube, they each felt called to help others through techniques such as massage, yoga, and dance. Instructors lead students through progressive poses in Vinyasa yoga, dances set to Latin and Caribbean beats in Zumba, and blends of meditative martial arts and freeform movement in Earthquake Ecstatic and Nia dance. Though they guide some classes step-by-step, instructors emphasize free exploration over adhering to a strict routine—reminding students that they can meditate silently, pair off with partners, or dance alone to practice leading and following at the same time.
Once each month, Quaking Grass's members also host an open community clinic, experimental salon, and potluck. Practitioners stationed throughout the space introduce curious guests to basics of tarot-card reading, massage, hypnosis, quantum touch, and a host of other holistic methods—with the hope that visitors, like babies balancing their first checkbooks, experience something new. Individual members, artists, or community practitioners may also lead workshops or lectures explaining their craft.