Portland & Celebrating Change

Five sunny beautiful days of vacation in Portland, Oregon might relax some, but I came back last week overflowing with energy and ideas and also excited to share a big announcement with you (keep reading!).

This was my first time in Portland, but I had been immensely curious for the longest time, wondering if “my tribe” was there and I was totally missing out. Well, as horrible as last week’s surprise mid-April snow was, I’m not leaving NYC at the moment, but my trip made a big impression on me.

One of my top priorities of “things to do” was to shop. I know that might sound shocking, but by now, all of you know my closet is quite minimal and I am very careful to add anything new. I had dreams of Portland as this ethical shopping dreamland where everything would be so intentionally designed and made that I could buy anything I wanted and feel great and angels would sing. So, we went in a bunch of local boutiques, and though there were no over-the-top shopping sprees, we had the BEST conversations with shop owners.

In stores like imogene + willie, Tanner Goodsand Alder + Co, staff had the most incredible product and materials knowledge and the products were beautiful, made-to-last, and often domestically-made. Take a trip over the Willamette, and Beam & Anchor will introduce you to every cool “maker” on the scene right now. And of course, the local Patagonia outpost uniquely features a section of their “Worn Wear” collection of pre-worn pieces.

But it was actually chatting with Jordan of Winn Perry & Co. that made me really think about the state of fashion right now. His shop is exactly what every guy’s closest should look like: simple, perfect fit chinos and denim, a great navy blazer, t-shirts that handle the toughest wearing, and shoes that will last so long, you might never need another pair. And they are all traceable, made to last, and designed to fit perfectly. So you could imagine that as my boyfriend shopped happily, I felt pretty damn jealous. Where was the women’s equivalent of this? Why are women still being pushed trends and cheap fashion and novelty when all we/I want is simplicity, quality, and season-less style? (Well, and responsible manufacturing too.)

Despite the jealousy, this experience was inspiring. It made me realize that the trend towards slower and more responsible fashion is real and happening, even if it is starting in cities that might naturally be more inclined to more conscious lifestyles. This thought reminds me of a recent essay by Bruno Pieters of Honest by, who in speaking about how hard it is to be the pioneer when it comes to changing the fashion industry shares a moving realization:

“No one today is producing, designing, or acting in a destructive way intentionally, these actions are always the result of a deeper disconnection and unawareness…When we are unconscious we are, in a sense, clueless of what we are doing. Knowing that helps me to show compassion and patience for those designers and industry leaders who still seem to be far from waking up. My own moments of unconsciousness have taught me that there is nothing anyone can say or do that can create a shift in consciousness. Change is a personal and unique process. When it’s time for someone to wake up they will. Everyone has their own path.”

We are all at different stages of understanding our impact on the world around us, even if it’s just through the clothes we buy. But I’m so glad to see that people are starting to wake up. And I’m waking up too and taking the next step in my path, which leads me to my second priority in Portland: breaking in my brand-new hiking boots on the most beautiful 9-mile hike through waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge area. This hike was my first real hike ever and the first hike of many for me this year as I begin training for Climate Hike, a five-day wilderness trip at the end of August which I will spend hiking, camping and rafting with 30 other environmentalists in Glacier National Park, Montana as we raise money and awareness for environmental organizations, which for me will include Nature Conservancy, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy.

I’ve been saving up this announcement for a few months now so I could finally make the big announcement on Earth Day, and it has been such a hard secret to keep! I grew up with a fear rather than an appreciation of nature, and my academic studies in environmental science actually didn’t change that fear much. But a huge shift has happened for me over the last two years as I see the opportunity for me to deepen my work in protecting people and planet by connecting more with nature, in addition to finding my own soul being lit up and challenged by my time spent outdoors in a way that I’ve never experienced before. I know that working towards this trip and having this experience is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing right now. It’s the next step in my own path, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

If you’d like to learn more about what Climate Hike is and why I’m participating in it, click on over here. If you’d like to help me reach my fundraising goal so I can go on this trip, you’ll have the opportunity to make a tax-deductible donation that will support the three environmental nonprofits I mentioned above. Everyone who donates will get a personalized “thank you” from me after the trip. This is the one and only time I will mention this fundraising campaign on this blog, so I hope you don’t mind. I also hope you’ll tweet me your favorite camping & hiking tips @THISIWEAR.

Happy Earth Day!

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  2. Stephanie

    I’m inspired! I need to get to Portland so I hope you made a list of all the good spots. Excited for your next journey – you were made for this!

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