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Food, Portland, Social Work

Neighborly Love: Bake America Great Again

December 18, 2016

Hey friends, after last year’s successful Bake Sale for Refugees, Portland bakers and bloggers and local businesses are coming together for a repeat to Bake America Great Again. All proceeds this year go to Portland’s Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), a 40 year old nonprofit known for welcoming and caring for new neighbors in our city.

If you’re in the area, come buy terrific homemade treats enter the fantastic raffle and show solidarity with our neighbors who have come to call this land their home: Sunday 12/18/16 from 6-9pm at Pip’s Original in NE Portland.

Bake America Great Again Bake Sale

P. S. I’m contributing homemade Creamy Eggnog Fudge.

Super rich: be warned. Continue Reading…

Food, Musings, Social Work

Bake Sale for Refugees

December 15, 2015

Have you felt, like me, overwhelmed and powerless to meet the dark struggles of the refuge crisis with tangible relief? It’s far too easy to be fired up on social media and then too frozen in real life to do a darned actual thing to help.

I’m one small person living in a cozy house with my little family in North America. How can I use what I have here to make a difference way out there in the wild, weary world?

Would you smirk if I told you I’m joining the effort to combat this current refugee crisis…with baked goods?

Laugh away, if you must; this is something I can do.

And if you live here in Oregon, you can, too.

Bake Sale for Refugees 12/19, 6-9pm @ Pip's Original

Will you be within an hour’s drive of Portland this coming Saturday night? Come to Pip’s Original to shop the Bake Sale for Refugees. Score all sorts of delicious baked goods and raffle prizes from local bakers, bloggers, and restaurants (pssst: buy my κουραμπιέδες*!), and know that 100% of the proceeds from your valuable dollars spent will go to the Migrant Offshore Aid Station. Continue Reading…

Favorite Finds, Inspirations, Other Travelers, Social Work

Kurt Dehut: Travelbrag with a Heart

December 9, 2013

It’s refreshing to come across a little tongue in cheek travel humor. Especially when it’s from someone with wicked wit and a good heart.

You know that friend who pops up on social media with something interesting to say, posting photos that tell mini-stories and quips that make you laugh (oh, let’s be honest) chuckle out loud?

Kurt Dehut is that friend.

We met as young kids, and for a short time, our two families (five boys and a girl, each, funnily enough) actually lived on the same rural road in Oregon. Now, Kurt’s based beyond the state line in southern California (and soon moving to Tennessee!), but judging by his Facebook feed, he loves packing his bags and spending time across other borders, too.

Kurt is an advocate for orphans around the world.

“This is the album cover for a new boy band: The Mighty Orphan Power Rangers.” (Mariupol / Ukranie) -Kurt, Facebook…via Instagram…

Kurt was one of the first kids I remember meeting who had an adoption story to share: his own.

Twenty some odd years later, he still shares with his friends about his love for his adopted family. Case in point: the Mothers Day “card” he posted on Facebook this past spring. Oh my word. Continue Reading…

Musings, Social Work

Beautiful Ideas Help the World: ASIA {Hand and Cloth Giveaway}

December 23, 2012

Sanaih kantha
Sanaih pantha Sanaih
parvata langhanam.

Slowly one stitches rags,
Slowly one traverses the path
And slowly one climbs to the top of the mountain.

-Traditional Bengali Sloka

Home, my friends. We fly home on Christmas morning. Ready to unwrap the gift of 2013.

As the blog rests quietly during this last stretch of December and we amble down from our mountaintop milestone of completing a year of travel abroad, I’m happy to share my final Beautiful Ideas Help the World post of 2012.

While moving from continent to continent, living out of a backpack, I’ve been unable to pack souvenirs home for everyone, but I’m grateful to be hosting giveaways along with each Beautiful Ideas post, offering friends and readers a little chance at something special from overseas while highlighting projects impacting lives through beauty, creativity, and entrepreneurship.

Feature Four: Hand & Cloth: Bangladesh
Enter to be in the giveaway for this beautiful, one-of-a-kind Hand & Cloth “No. 2” blanket from the Blue & Gray Silk Collection by leaving a comment; read below for the full story.

How do you enter to win this lovely green and gold and blue hand-stitched silk blanket?


I’m not a fan of gimmicky giveaways, so I’m not requiring tweets or follows, but I’m providing links to Hand & Cloth, and I’d love to invite you to follow the project’s story and think about purchasing from them the next time you want your dollars and cents to go toward something beautiful.

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment below answering one of the following questions. (Leave a second comment answering the other question if you’d like to enter twice.)

A) What mountain top (literal or figurative) have you reached after a series of diligent footsteps?

B) What reminder makes you feel most comfortable in your own skin?

Giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere. (That means you lovely international readers as well!) All you need is a mailing address. Winner will be chosen at random and notified by email. If winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be selected and notified. See here for full giveaway terms and details.

Giveaway closes at 11:59pm Pacific Standard Time (that’s Oregon!), on Saturday, January 5th (the one-year anniversary of the beginning of our journey around the world).

Continue Reading…

Cambodia, Destinations, Social Work

A Psalm for Cambodia

December 18, 2012

A Psalm can take many forms, one of which is a heartfelt cry of misery followed by an exclamation of hope. This is the story of autogenocide, justice and joy in Cambodia. Warning, this post contains accounts from our travels which some people may find disturbing.  

We braced for entry into Cambodia, in part because we knew we’d come face-to-face with its brutal and recent history of war, torture, and terror.

Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, Social Work, South Africa, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

Social Service Excellence: Kidstop At-Risk Youth Program

October 10, 2012

I think we found our favorite nightclub in South Africa.

After witnessing effective education and empowerment initiatives in action among men and women facing challenges of poverty and HIV/AIDS in George, South Africa, we followed our friend Laurie, an American rooted in the community for 22 years, into the nearby townships.

Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, Social Work, South Africa, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

Social Service Excellence: OPTIONS Care Center

October 4, 2012

It’s easy to post photos of South Africa’s gorgeous scenery; it’s natural to tell stories of delightful dinners and fine wines and sweet new friends. It’s harder to know which words and images to share when touching on troubling tensions in the land.

Communities carrying burdens. Families seeking answers.

Limited resources and widespread problems.

Recently, I was struck by a fellow landscape architect’s comment on issues of conservation, sustainability, and management: “We know the problems. We need to spend our time talking about the solutions.

In that same vein, I’m not going to spend much time talking about the problems. The world knows much of the South African story already:

Fallout from Apartheid.



Instead, I want to shine light on the good men and women sinking their life’s work into making solutions a reality in their own community. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Musings, Social Work

The Value of Being a Foreigner

July 19, 2012

This week, Ted’s Alma mater, Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon, shares his essay about the impacts of extended international travel on his understanding of the world and ability to love.

“One of the most important reasons to travel is to know what it feels like to be a foreigner.” – A. A. Gill

Not until I had been off North American soil for three months did I fully realize how much I missed home. South America was still “America;” I don’t know what I expected, but I didn’t expect to feel so out of place, so distant, so foreign. On a daily basis, I found myself in situations where I was completely dependent on local people for the most basic necessities: food, water, transportation, communication. There was no “Spanglish” spoken here.

Thirty-one months after graduating from Multnomah, my wife and I embarked on a one-year backpacking journey around the world. We quit our jobs, mine at a local homeless shelter, hers at a landscape architecture firm, sold our stuff, and with much idealism began our journey in Lima, Peru. Today, I sit in a breezy apartment in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, reflecting on the last six months, bracing for the next half.

If there is one thing I wasn’t prepared for, it was being a foreigner in a foreign land. Sure, I’ve been places before—Europe, Mexico, Canada. But these days one can travel to all kinds of places without really having to leave the comfort and familiarity of ‘America.’ When we finally got off the beaten path, in Southern Bolivia for instance, or in Northern Lebanon, or on the undeveloped side of a Cape Verde island, we experienced a different kind of travel. We became at times guests, at times imposters, at times gawking and squawking ignorants, but always at the mercy of the land and people around us…

(Continue reading at the Multnomah University Blog)

Bolivia, Interviews, Musings, Social Work

A Man of the People: Bolivia’s Rolando Mendoza

March 4, 2012

Today, my thoughtful, easy going inspiration of a husband shares his write up of a recent interview with one of Bolivia’s finest leaders. Both men are humble and sincere, less the type to write for the world and more the type to be out living their convictions on local streets, day after day.
I’m grateful to share their story with you. -Bethany

A Man of the People: My Interview with Public Servant Rolando Mendoza
By Ted Rydmark

While in Bolivia, we spent a week on work-exchange with the Mendoza-Donlon Family.

Rolando Mendoza has extensive experience as a public servant. He is the former mayor of Mallasa (a suburb town of La Paz), the former Head of Social Services for the Municipality of La Paz (metro population 2.3 million), and is the current Person in Charge of Planning and Investment for the Ministry of Planning for the Bolivian Government.

When he was elected Mayor of Mallasa, he was the first non-party “man of the people” to serve in that office. His success as mayor resulted in his appointment a Head of Social Services for La Paz.

I took the opportunity sit down with Rolando and ask him about his experiences as a civic politician. Special thanks to Bethany for recording the conversation and to Rolando’s wife, Emma, for translating.

Ted: What was most challenging about working as head of Social Services in La Paz?
Rolando: It was most challenging to really know what was going on and to develop plans to transform the situation and make it better. Because we were working for the benefit of young people, children, and old people, I had this desperation to really make their lives better and make an impact – fast. I desired that my programs would become institutionalized and consolidated and would last over time.

Rolando’s position lasted four years, during which time he accomplished much. As the Head of Social Services for the Municipality of La Paz, Rolando’s responsibilities included five broad areas: Sports, Health (including infrastructure, equipment, and future planning), Education (including the planning and building of schools), Citizen Rights (equivalent to Civil Rights), and Citizen Security. During this time he was directly responsible for over 800 municipal staff. Continue Reading…

Bolivia, Destinations, Musings, Photography, Social Work, South America

Sunrise, Sunset: Bolivia to Chile

February 27, 2012

Our final morning on the long road south between Bolivia and Chile, we awoke at 4:30am to make the geysers by sunrise and Aguas Termales hot springs by breakfast. The kindness and tech-savvy of our driver, Edgar, allowed us to plug in iPods to the speaker system and create a crowd sourced soundtrack to our travels…

We alternated between The Avett Brothers, Mika, Josh Garrels and more as the sights melted into the rear view mirror, and we tried to forget the difficult night behind us. Continue Reading…