Wednesday Vignette – civility, color, and contrast

The MAX train murders in our fair city this past week has been on my mind – a lot. And, before that, an incidence of racist arson… I just don’t understand that kind of hatred. Portland is very fair, as in a lack-of-diversity kind of way. Oregon was the only state out of the 50 which had a black exclusion law written into its constitution. It’s statehood was created as a utopia for white people.

Interestingly, not much has changed. I’ll spare you my longwinded rants, but in short, it seems the two prevailing cultures in Oregon is either our own, homespun version of the Dixie flag-waving, gun-toting rednecks of the American South, or the non-confrontational, laid back, passive-aggressive hippie mentality that turns the other way. “It’s cool, man, it’s cool.” In the current political climate, intolerance is winning. This past Sunday, there was a “Freedom of Speech”-rally, organized by a bunch of Nazis. It’s both despicable, disheartening, and embarrassing.

So, this week, I want to make a case for the magnificient and far reaching benefits of diversity. In just about everything I can think of – art, design, food, music, what have you –  color and contrast make things BETTER – not worse. Without it, life would be bland, meh, vanilla. Differences enhance, engage, and elevate, and add spice to our melting pot. And it makes us all better. The two who died did not turn away. They defended that diversity, at a terrible cost. We ought to follow their example – take a stand against intolerance and hatred – whenever we see it. If enough people do, love and tolerance will prevail – even in lily-white Oregon. And, we will all be better for it.

 

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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24 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – civility, color, and contrast

  1. Tina says:

    Your photo is lovely–and a cute dog too! When I travel to Oregon, I’m always struck with just how *white* it is. Even in deep red, rural Texas (not where I live, but I’ve been there), there’s significantly more diversity in population. My son has an interesting take as he’s lived in Eugene for the past few years: he was the “liberal” here in Texas (disclaimer: we live in Austin, so there are more like minded folks to our way of thinking, but still, it’s not a wash). In Eugene, he leans more centrist–some of that hails from his feeling that it’s important the challenge “mainstream” thought and not just follow along with the crowd–we’ve enjoyed some interesting observations and debates.

    The tragedy that befell your beautiful city was underscored by the humanity and bravery that the victims demonstrated and I was not the least bit surprised that there were folks who stepped up–I’ve seen that in Portland and appreciate the genuine kindness that I’ve witnessed there and in other parts of Oregon.

    • annamadeit says:

      Tina, when we first moved here, we had no idea of Oregon’s background. As we are a mixed family, we settled in the only somewhat diverse part of town. As the years passed, we eventually learned the history of WHY nearly all people of color lived in our part of town. It’s not a pretty story. At this point, gentrification (which we also played a part in) has made also our neighborhood a lot whiter. But, the kind of redlining that originally shaped our town is still built into our city government, and most painfully noticeable in our public schools. It was indeed an eye-opener to learn the truth about our chosen home. Sigh…

      • Tina says:

        Yes, the history is…problematic, to say the least. So that goes, in many parts of this country, I’m afraid. I didn’t know Oregon’s history either, until Aaron discussed it with us.

  2. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Shameful, disheartening, awful. I’d no idea about Oregon’s constitution and more recent past.

    • annamadeit says:

      It’s such a block around our collective necks. It was as part of my trying to understand the inequity in our local schools that I learned about Oregon’s sordid history. I was completely floored when I first learned. Interestingly, most people that move here don’t have kids (the statistics say something like 80% of Portlanders have no kids or grandkids in our public schools), which means they will likely happily keep living in their mostly white bubbles, never fully seeing the systemic inequities built into and perpetuated by the system. There is a growing groundswell of people working to change it, but good grief – the process is so slow, and the obstacles so many.

  3. Mark and Gaz says:

    Utmost respect and admiration for those who defended, great citizens of Portland.

  4. FlowerAlley says:

    I am in the south you describe. It’s like fighting the tide at times. I am sorry to hear that hate had raised its ugly head in your state, too. There is work to be done everywhere.

    • annamadeit says:

      This state was actually founded on that kind of hate (which was shocking to me when I first learned) so sadly it’s nothing new. With federally sanctioned nonsense like muslim travel bans, etc., lately those forces have been encouraged to be more visible. Which, I suppose, can be a good thing, because then we can’t ignore them as easily. But yes, there is indeed lots of work to be done. And hopefully it won’t all involve bloodshed.

  5. Kris P says:

    The confrontation on that Portland train raises so many conflicting emotions. I was at turns disgusted by the white supremacist’s outburst, proud of the 3 that courageously faced him down, and horror-stricken by the outcome. California, thought to be on the liberal end of the spectrum, has its own sizable pockets of racism, sexism, etc. and confronting those elements, soul-draining as it can be at times, is now more essential than ever. I remain hopeful that the Trumpist era will be brief and that civil discourse will regain a firm foothold.

    Your photo reflects a lovely balance of elements. My WV is a collection of random images as I continue to play with my new camera: https://krispgarden.blogspot.com/2017/06/wednesday-vignette-seeing-garden.html

  6. Alison says:

    I don’t have a WV post today, but I want to support your take on color and contrast making everything better. I was so sorry to read in the news about what happened on the train in Portland, and humbled by the response of those men. I read several years ago about Oregon’s origins, it was a shock. That’s a great picture too, BTW.

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks, Alison! Yeah, it doesn’t take a lot of surface scratching to find the culture beneath. It really wasn’t that long ago… Yikes!

  7. hb says:

    I grew up in a part of California that was diverse long before diversity was A Thing–it always seemed normal to me. Which was lucky, I think. There’s no better time to learn everyone is the same than in kindergarten.

  8. Your message cannot be stated too often. I knew portland was rather white, but I had no idea of the history.

  9. My son went to Ashland High School with the young man killed. They had classes together. In southern oregon, in Ashland, we live in a little bubble of tolerance and love, surrounded by hate, violence, ignorance and ugly history.

  10. tvojt says:

    What a moving and great post. I have tears in my eyes. Never having been to Portland, I had no idea of the issues and the news seems so out of place with my expectations. Ugh. It feels like a giant, ugly boil has popped and exploded all over this country. Maybe now that it is seeing so much light and exposure, people will start to wake up and get this gross mess cleaned up and let the healing begin. But I’m really tired of the bad news every day…..

    • annamadeit says:

      Yeah, Oregon has a very sordid history. And although we might seem like we’re living in a – for the US in general – rather progressive bubble, breach the city limits, and you suddenly find yourself in a political environment very similar to the Deep South. And, as bubbles go, they are thin-skinned and very easy to pop. Which sadly, we have started to see all too often. 😦

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