Thursday, August 11, 2005

What the heck has Norris been up to?

Since moving to Portland, I've been exceptionally remiss at keeping in touch with my friends and family. The next few posts will summarize what I've been doing in Portland, and hopefully I'll maintain ongoing posts from here on out so that people can check in on my blog if they're curious. I've also resolved to be more active in responding to emails I get from friends & family.

It occurs to me that many people might not even have the background to why I decided to leave Cincinnati for Portland. In short, in September 02002 on the way to the wedding of Cousin Doug & Ingrid, I read an ebook on the environmental state of the world. It woke me up to the fact that environmental problems, which had been a big concern to me as a kid, had only gotten much worse since my childhood, not better. For some reason this prompted me to begin doing what I'd wanted to make myself do for years: read nonfiction in many genres and exercise my mind more, much of it revolving around environmental issues.

A few months later, I finally figured out that I'd been clinically depressed for about 7 years, and Prozac (along with the groundwork of 1-2 years of trying to be more positive, bashing myself less, etc) brought me out of the depression. From the mix of learning what bad shape the world is in and renewed personal energy, I decided that it was time to leave my corporate tech support job where I'd been "treading water" in life figuring out what I really wanted to do.

I decided that I could be most effective in addressing the problems of the world while making a living by providing computer tech services to nonprofits, with a focus on building a client base of all environmental nonprofits. Cincinnati was clearly not the place to start my new career, as it's fairly backwards environmentally and socially, has relatively few nonprofits, and did not hold any special ties for me as I'd only lived there 4 years and had no connection or desire to improve it from the grassroots up.

Portland, Oregon had come up a lot in my readings, as the poster child for smart growth and a hotbed of environmental and social activism. I made up a detailed spreadsheet with a dozen or more cities and 20 factors (feasibility of going carfree, social climate, weather climate, proximity to friends and family, ultimate frisbee culture, live music scene, etc) and narrowed my choice down to Northampton MA, Boston MA, or Portland. I visited all three, but from the start my heart had been set on Portland, and the physical visit simply cemented my resolve to make this my new home.

I moved out in September 02003 and entered into a deep black abyss as far as most of my friends and family could tell. Here at last, the mystery is read on! Once I got situated in permanent housing (after a very hospitable welcome by Ben & Laura, who put me up for the first month or so), I've been focused full-time or over-time on three successive activities: 1) the Kucinich campaign (July 02003 - May 02004), the PUD campaign (June 02004 - March 02005), and now Peak Oil (March 02005 - my death). I'll be making one post per phase. Posts will be back-dated slightly (or a lot--the Peak Oil post was finished on October 7!) to make them the first posts in the blog.

If you'd like to keep up-to-date on what I'm doing, you can keep an eye on my blog at If you have an automatic blog tracker, you can subscribe to the "site feed" at Or you can just let me know that you'd like to get emails whenever I post to the blog, and I'll get something set up to make that happen.

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