Vida Vegan Con Wrap Up

 

Welp, here we are. A week after Vida Vegan Con wrapped up, I’m still trying to wrap my head around what just happened.

I’ve been silent over here on my end because I’m still processing how much smaller and more intertwined and connected and inspiring the world just got. The conference itself was amazing, and to see what has been happening since—the community that has been building on the Facebook page, on blogs and at nation-wide impromptu meet ups—is overwhelming. I haven’t said anything because I don’t know what to say.

Michele  and Jess wrote beautiful, touching and perfect recaps here, here and here. Oh, and here. I basically want to plagiarize what they wrote because they each so eloquently put into words what I cannot.

At this point I would normally throw my hands in the air and exclaim “Photo Essay Time!” but I just looked through my pictures of the weekend and I took exactly 10 photos and it is all food.

So I will say this: Thank you. Thanks to those of you who agreed to speak, thanks to those who registered and attended, thanks to our sponsors, thank you to my friends and family who have heard me speak of nothing else for over a year, and thank you to Jess and Michele, who kept me motivated, supported and sane.

For in-depth recaps, here are a handful of the blog recaps I’ve loved catching up on:

Gena from Choosing Raw (3 parts)

JL Goes Vegan (8 parts!)

Kyle from Vegan Vagrant (1 action-packed post)

The Cosmopolitan Hour Podcast (2 parts)

Our Hen House Podcast (featuring the lovely Jess)

 

And you know that if I took pictures of nothing else last weekend, I took a picture of the taco bar and the Champagne Reception.

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(photo courtesy of Isa Chandra. From left: Janessa, Michele and Jess.)

Vegan Iron Chef 2011

 

 

Holy Cow.

I’m blown away by the amount of talent some of my friends have. Some people I know knit scarves (please teach me!), some are great at painting and photography (I will buy your work!) or writing (please get famous already!) or are super talented musicians (sing me a song, mr guitar player!). And then I have friends like Michele, Jess and Liz. These ladies are event planners extraordinaire and the brains behind Vegan Iron Chef (in a word: genius! in a few more words: exciting! innovative! awesome!).

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I recently attended the Second Annual Vegan Iron Chef competition at Refuge PDX. The line was a little long when I showed up an hour early.

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I bypassed the line, and using my smart ‘thinking’, had a beer across the street while waiting for the line to dwindle.

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When I came back, the line wrapped around the block.

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Dur.

 

The house was packed once I got in. There was a bar. There was a photo booth, sponsored by Uptons Natural’s Seitan (ps they are the nicest at Uptons! I am so glad they will be coming to Vida Vegan Con). There were exhibitor booths; with the likes of Heidi Ho Organics, Petunia’s, Brass Tacks Sandwiches, Lions Share Industries, Lighthouse Sanctuary and a handful more.

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It was a veritable “Who’s Who” of Vegan Portland:  the iconic Isa Chandra was there, co-hosting with fabulous Nicole Georges. I ran into Sayward Rehbal from Bonzai Aphrodite, saw the people behind Try Vegan PDX, and then of course there were the judges: Grant Butler, Julie Hasson, Dreamy John Janilus (from The Bye and Bye) and Aaron Adams from Portobello.

AND THEN of course there were the competitors themselves:

Jeff Ridabock from Homegrown Smoker:

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Morgan Grundstein-Helvey from Dovetail Bakery:

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and Piper Dion from Kitchen Dances:

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(Posters courtesy of Vegan Iron Chef)

Once the secret ingredient was revealed (GINGER! Genius! Gawl, see why I just love everything about this event?) the chefs scrambled to collect every possible ingredient they could think of.

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While the chefs were busy cooking away and laughing maniacally ala this guy, the super mad-awesome co-hosts were narrating the whole process and doing massive amounts of giveaways.

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(I think I have a crush on Nicole Georges.)

 

And guess what?

I won something! I got an Upton’s t-shirt and four packs of seitan. Man, love those guys.

Here’s what the shirt looks like:

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The whole 300+ attendees Sold Out event was a sight to behold. The ladies behind it did a fantastic job organizing (I’m so lucky to be working with them on Vida Vegan Con!), the food smelled amazing (next time I’ll shell out for the VIP Tasting Table), and the energy of having so many people interested in innovative vegan cuisine is astounding. I can’t wait for next year.

Oh yeah. You wanna know who won?

This guy:

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Go check out Kitchen Dances on Belmont, and invite me with yoooouuu!

 

Checking in with my “31 things” list

On October 18th, I made a list of 31 things I hoped to do before my 31st birthday. Granted, this was an ambitious list as my 31st birthday is February 28th. I will give myself carte blanche to extend this little list til my half-birthday (August 28th, duhr) if I feel like it.

 

1. Drive a car. Legally.

I have a feeling this won’t be likely to happen by February 28th. ONE DAY THOUGH, MY FRIENDS. ONE DAY. And when I do drive, I certainly won’t have an excuse to have any drunken biking shenanigans. (Why didn’t someone tell me my helmet was backwards?!)

 

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2. Learn to like beets OR eggplant

This one is going pretty well. I’ve eaten beets a handful of times. Turns out I don’t mind them when they’re shredded and in salads. Less obvious to my palate, that way. Two occasions in particular stand out—in the delicious Garden Wrap from Blossoming Lotus and in my Caesar Salad from Proper Eats.

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My plans for eggplant include making an eggplant-bacon. If you add maple syrup and liquid smoke to cardboard it will taste good. Although it’s questionable whether eggplant tastes better than cardboard or not, I’m willing to give it a try.

3. Make my own amaretto

Urm, hmmm. I will do this one before I turn 31. Pinky Swear.

4. Start learning graphic design and mad Photoshop skillz

Oh, I had the loveliest reader volunteer to help me with Photoshop, but I haven’t had time yet to follow up. I will soon, Katharine!

5. See the Northern Lights in Iceland

I thought this one would be in the bag. I had my trip booked and everything. But then I received a call from Icelandic Air. They gave me the choice of either flying out of Seattle the day before I had bought my ticket or the day after. Or get a refund.

My first thought? “SEATTLE? I thought I was flying out of Portland!” My second thought: “Hells to the yeah on the refund. Ireland, here I come!”

I studied in Northern Ireland ten years ago and have been wanting to go back for SO LONG. So, I bought a ticket. I’m flying into Dublin on January 25th. OH YES.

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Look at this. I don’t care one bit that I won’t be crossing #5 off my list.

6. Revisit an old destination

To be honest, I don’t quite remember what I was thinking here. How strict do I want to be with myself? I revisited Cave Junction for Christmas. Does that count? I went out to the Gorge in November. Does that count? I have a feeling I was giving myself a little leeway with this one. I’ll take it!

Done!

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7. Find the best espresso shot in Portland

Done. It’s a tie—Heart, Stumptown, and Cloud 7.

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8. Donate to a farm sanctuary

I personally haven’t donated yet, but as part of the Vida Vegan Crew, we donated 5% of ticket sales in 2010 to Pigs Peace. I will personally donate to one before my 31st birthday.

9. Write a business plan

In progress!

10. Go on a night hike

Oh yeah! This one will be fun! I have no doubt I can finish this before February 28th.

11. Maybe look into possibly perhaps buying a fancy new SLR Camera

Still reallllllly want to, but with my broken computer keyboard and usb ports, and my jerk of a phone, a fancy camera unfortunately has got to be pushed lower on the list.

12. Write love notes to my friends and family

Done.

13. Grow my hair out

In Progress!

14. Make a lentil meatloaf

Done! I made a lentil meatloaf for our Christmas dinner. I looked up several recipes for inspiration, then just threw in a whole bunch of stuff. It turned out beautifully, and while I probably won’t end up sharing the recipe, I do have some advice for any would-be lentil loaf makers out there: use lots of binder. I used flax seeds, bread crumbs and walnut pieces. It held together beautifully.

15. Go sledding

Oh Man! Who wants to go?!!??!

16. Post a photo essay composed on the colors of Fall

Done! Twice!

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17. Visit the California redwoods for my dad

Done.

18. Spend a day volunteering

Urm, not yet! Though I spend a lot of time volunteering for Modified Style, which supports awesome local non-profits (like Sisters of the Road and Out to Pasture Sanctuary).

19. Run a 5k

Did someone feel over-ambitious while making this list?

20. Implement and throw an International Vegan Blogging Conference [Vida Vegan Con!]

In Progress!

21. Attend a Quaker meeting

Oh yeah. Quakerism is fascinating. I’d love to learn more. Any Quaker readers who want to take me a meeting with them?

22. Read a book for pleasure

Done! Well, mostly Agatha Christie murder mysteries (a good murder mystery is a great way to spend a bus ride) but I just purchased and started Zadie Smith’s The Autograph Man. She is one big bundle of awe-inspiring talent, and I can’t wait to get into it. If you haven’t read any of her work yet, I highly suggest On Beauty.

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23. Paint a picture

Done! I walked into Muse (an awesome art store on Hawthorne Blvd here in Portland) a few days ago and told the very lovely gentleman working the counter that I wanted to paint a picture. He kindly steered me toward an acrylic set (on sale from Christmas, whoo-hoo!) that included a messenger bag, 3 brushes, 5 tubes of paint and some scraper-things. I bought some canvases, then proceeded home, feeling confident in my artistic masterpiece that was about to be created.

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Painting is hard.

My first draft is an eye-sore. But I have hope for my next piece! I think I will draw something lightly in pencil first, or at least get an idea of what I want to paint before I put paintbrush to canvas.

24. Get another tattoo

I can *almost* guarantee that I will get a tattoo either in Ireland this month or during Vida Vegan Con this August.

25. Pay for the person behind me in line’s movie ticket

I need to go to the movies more often!

26. Attend a bikram yoga class

This will happen.

27. Compliment every single person I talk to in a single day

Oh, this one will be fun! What day should I choose? Probably not a day I have to work, as I’d then have to compliment everyone who came in to the brewpub…. That’d leave me with complimenting over 300 people, for sure. I will wait for a day off.

28. Make homemade Christmas presents for everyone

Hmmmm. I made homemade vegan Baileys for some peeps. I will count it.

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29. Eat raw one day a week for a month

I will try it this month!

30. Start writing in a journal again

Done. I have begun the process. There’s something beautiful and capital-R-Romantic about writing in a small black journal at a bar, sitting quietly, sipping your wine, and ruminating on the state of your affairs. I had forgotten the amount of enjoyment I get out of journal writing.

31. Take time to smell the flowers

Always! I was obviously trying to be kind to myself by giving myself an easy one.

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What things do you want to accomplish before your next birthday?

‘Portland Bottom Line’ Release Party

 

I was invited to attend a Book Release Party with my friend and Modified Style co-director Andrea Fretwell a few nights ago.

The book is called Portland Bottom Line. Here’s what the whole cool thing is about, taken from their website:

Many tout Portland, Oregon, as an authority on sustainability. Progressive urbanism and land-use. Alternative transportation. Environmental policy. Livability. But what about business? How do local companies measure up on sustainability? What cutting-edge sustainable practices have proven to work in Portland’s small businesses?

Co-edited by Peter Korchnak and Megan Strand, and organized into 12 sections along the triple bottom line of People, Planet, and Prosperity, “The Portland Bottom Line: Practices for Your Small Business from America’s Hotbed of Sustainability” explores how small businesses can effectively and efficiently shift toward sustainability and thrive. In their short, 400-word essays, 51 small-business people from the City of Roses share their experiences with sustainability in their companies. “The Portland Bottom Line” demonstrates how small businesses can innovate to put people before profit, help restore the ecosystem, and prosper.

Contributors collectively chose, by vote, the local community organization Mercy Corps Northwest, which supports the launch and growth of sustainable ventures, to receive 100% of profit from the book’s sales.

The Release Party was held at the new Mercy Corps building. The space used to be home to the indoor portion of the weekly Saturday Market for years,so it was kind of a trip to see this new beautiful space. 

The party itself was great—Andrea and I walked around, looking at the Mercy Corps exhibit. There were some striking photos and facts.

 

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After we wandered a bit, we had the chance to meet one of the editors.

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They offered beverages and snacks during the meet and greet. Andrea had a genius idea:

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Red wine plus pear cinnamon cider equals Instant Mulled Wine. Rowr. ‘Twas delicious.

I wasn’t too tempted to walk by the food table. Though Portland is extremely vegan friendly, there are times when vegan options just aren’t available. I was expecting this to be one of these times.

Then… look what my delighted eyes alighted upon:

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Not only something that looked like it could be vegan, but something actually labeled vegan. My heart flutters.

It was some sort of mushroom crostini—simple and tasty.

Andrea and I had to leave before the talks began, but we ran into a few awesome Portland people who are finding unique ways to combine business and profit with sustainability, including Lindsay Newkirk, founder of Junk to Funk. Check her stuff out.

The books were for sale but I had no cash and don’t carry a checkbook around, so unfortunately did not make a purchase that night.

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It’s a really cool idea though, and I urge you to get on their mailing list if you’d like to contribute to their next edition.

I think it’s a fascinating topic—combining business and making a living while working in the world improvement movement. It can be a hard line to tow, and it’s great to see so many people here in Portland doing it successfully.