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Tour the Pacific Northwest

10/15/2008 10:54:54 AM

Tags: Pacific Northwest, cooperative, Portland, Seattle

Recently, I traveled through the Pacific Northwest with my family. Spending time in Portland, Oregon then the Olympia/Seattle area of Washington, finishing in Vancouver, British Columbia, I saw that these cities are very progressive in terms of environmental sustainability. Portland, Seattle and Vancouver all had abundant and widely used car pool and bike lanes. Portland’s light rail train got a lot of use and Vancouver’s system of electrical buses whirled all around the city. Olympia is significantly smaller than the other cities, so it’s understandable if its public transportation isn’t as prolific as the larger cities. 

The cool thing about Olympia wasn’t so much the city—it was where we stayed: the Counter-Culture Cooperative. We rented a cabin from the group, which lives on a fairly large property outside of Olympia, overlooking Puget Sound. It was a community of mostly young people working together to fix up this piece of land that they were renting from some music agent/executive type who lived in Maui or something (supposedly the two tour buses that occupied the land had been used by Cher and Jefferson Airplane). 

The property has numerous buildings on it and great access to the water. By harvesting crabs and fish from the water, growing fruits and vegetables, and having some livestock such as goats and chickens, the community lives a fairly simple, self-sufficient life. They simultaneously are fixing up numerous cabins on the property and refurbishing a sail boat that had been left. I knew that the cooperative way of life wasn’t dead in America. Numerous cooperative communities exist in America and a lot in the mid-west where I live—particularly in Missouri. What is refreshing about the Counter-Culture Cooperative is that it is, from what I can tell, a fairly recent development with national connections. It’s inspirational to see that people are still seeking to live simple, cooperative lives in an ever complicated and segregated world. 

From the Olympia/Seattle region, we went to Vancouver, and out of the four continents I’ve visited, Vancouver is the most beautiful city I have ever seen. The city is surrounded by water on three sides which are full of sail boats. The tallest buildings of the city aren’t tall enough to be classified as skyscrapers and they each shimmer with a bright golden reflection from the sun. The whole city scene blends beautifully with the mountains that preside over it because the city doesn’t seem to be in contrast with its natural surroundings. 

In Vancouver, we stopped by Rain City Bar and Grill on Denman Street to try out their 100 mile diet but it was busy and the prices were a bit steep for our a little family budget so we opted to go some where else. I’m glad we did because Denman Street was chocked full of great restaurants from sushi to Middle Eastern to American. We ended up letting our 5-year-old son decide and he chose Mr. Pickwick’s Fish and Chips—I think probably because of the name. It was really good and fresh seafood and the restaurant had a slew of environmentally and socially accreditations such as belonging to The Green Table and Ocean Wise, a local marine conservation program. 

We only spent one night in Vancouver and even though it is a great city that demands much more attention, I was happy to go because we were on our way to Gambier Island—the location of the magnificent house featured in Natural Home magazine’s article, The Temple is the House.



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