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Greetings from our newest housemate!

March 12, 2017

Hi, guys! It’s been over a year since we updated this blog. We’re busy (nothing new there), the weather’s been great (and terrible) and we have some new faces, too! Here is a guest post from one such new face, who moved in with us this past September.

Hi guys I am Yeshe/Diana. I live at walnut street. I am from Tibet. I am a tour guide. I have three brothers and one sister, I came here, six Month ago, I came here, because, I want to learn different languages and I want teach the world about my cultures and place. I am used to living with a lot people.

Me, milking a yak in my hometown!

Zoe and me met in my hometown 6 year ago. She was volunteer in a high school for 1 month, then she went back to America. Then in 2016 we met again and she told me if I want keep going study English! She can help me find a school.

When I first came here, I didn’t know any English. When I told with people, I was really shy. And I felt lonely and sad. I really could to talk about my feelings, but I couldn’t because my English was really bad, but I was lucky too because I had Zoe’s help.  She always was with me and taught me English. At Walnut Street Co-op I learned many things. For example, I learned how to bake cookies and how l can read cookbooks. I remembered my house mate Katy told me, if you can’t say these words you can use your hand. This is really good idea, thanks, Katy!

Me, going to Saturday market with Walnutters!

We have meetings every Monday. We talk about what happened to us that week, and we decide what we will do next week. When I started to learn English, I think that was third time I had meeting. During this meeting I got angry with two of my housemates. I was talking about my week and I didn’t finish the story, one person made a hand signal at me but I didn’t understand it. Then, the other person told me I should stop, so I got angry because during the meeting we should talk about what happened to us this weekend and what did you do. Other people can finish their stories but not me. Because my English wasn’t really good, so if I wanted to talk about something, I needed to think, so I needed more time.

After the meeting, I wanted to go to the kitchen and take some from the fridge an

d the second person asked me, “Are you ok?” Then I felt really angry. First I said, “I’m ok,” and she asked me again. And I said, “Why did you stop me?” She said, “I was explaining the hand signal for the other person.” And so I wanted to talk with both of them. I told them that I felt like they didn’t respect me. I said, if you are learning the other language and you want to try and say what you think or what you do, and the other person stopped you, how would you feel?

The first housemate said, she was the facilitator for the meeting and she was keeping time. So, I asked her why she didn’t stop the other people when they talked? And she said, “Sorry!” I left before we finished the conversation. I was really sad and I started to cry. Then, I thought about the conversation and I realized she didn’t mean to hurt my feelings. So, I went to say, “I’m sorry” to both housemates.


Now, my English is much better because I have a lot of good housemates. They teach me how to say English words and they do many chores for me. They cook for me. They wash dishes for me. And sometimes they make some beer for me. I think the beer is not for me, but for everyone. And we have a lot of fun together. We went bowling together and hiking, walking. Also, we have pets. Our pets are a dog, a cat and three chickens. Also, we have a backyard and a garden.

I hope in the summer the garden will grow apple trees! That’s my dream.

Here are some more photos of me, as a tour guide and running.default(68)




Brew Brothers

January 6, 2016

In keeping with the state of flux, yet another dear housemate has bidden farewell. After years of living in the garage, dearest Foosball Table departed the garage for other adventures. The vacancy was filled quickly and the newest addition promptly moved in hosted by myself and Andy.  Welcome, Garage Brew System!

Farewell, Foosball, you shall be missed; visitors touring the Walnut garage will no longer hear the Scott Brewing Posefrenzied clack and thrum of the table soccer arena, or the whoops and curses of missed goals instead, passers-by on brew day are greeted by a teetering contraption of metal tanks, worn wood, steam and the smell of wort mingling with the rhythms of Brazilian surf rock in a great, singular burst of creation. Set on wheels the not officially named brew system (currently ‘the beer thing’ or ‘the beast’) can be rolled out of the garage, filled with water and grain, and fired up for by any lay aleman to initiate the ancient art of beer brewing.

Previously, this messy and cosmic act was attempted in the kitchen, which I quickly learned as a new housemate was not ideal often getting in peoples’ way, using electricity and steaming up the house. After making a couple of three gallon batches in the south kitchen during my second week as a housemate I realized that producing beer in larger quantities (as I was hoping to) would be challenging. Yet with some help and backing from housemate Andy, craigslist, and a friendly person with a truck, this propane-fired dragon found its way to Walnut St. where it now lies, sleeping on a bed of bubbling carboys and guarding a great hoard of aging bottles and kegs.

The system allows someone to easily brew 5-10 gallons of beer without using any processed malt extracts, instead relying on whole grains and hops as a commercial brewery does. The cost per gallon of beer is around $4-5 even when overhead costs like fuel are taken into account. (The spent grain also makes the chickens happy!) Although Andy and I haven’t dared a full 10-gallon batch yet about 40 gallons have  been brewed so far.

The first keg of Walnut beer was Andy’s Centennial IPA which was shared during “Radical Film Night” and the next 5-gallon batch a Munich-style Ale was ready for New Year’s Eve. Forty gallons may sound like an uncouth amount of ale to have around, but it is important to note that the brewing adventure is about far more than the search for intoxication. The journey of making perfect beer is much like the alchemist’s spiritual quest, a deep inquiring into one of life’s microcosms. Beer has also served in the past as a facilitator of social change, both as a tool of protest and a foundation for radical space and community. So raise a glass! Rarely can spiritual and social growth be so tasty.


Social Change Activities at Walnut Street

January 6, 2016

Our shared living arrangements at Walnut Street Co-op – cooking nightly meals, sharing chores, talking together, exchanging information, networking, and growing friendships – provide a supportive foundation for social change work each of us feels called to contribute to in the world.

Within the last few years Walnut Street Co-op residents have taken significant action in many issues and movements.  We wanted to share a little about our different passions and hope you’ll be inspired.

  • Gifting, sharing and collaborative economics
  • Climate change
  • Forest defense
  • Organic standards 
  • Revitalization of democracy
  • Homelessness and affordable housing
  • Collective and collaborative intelligence
  • The Occupy Movement
  • Inequality of wealth and social power
  • Permaculture, gardening, local food systems
  • Community resilience and revitalization
  • Middle East Peace
  • Tibet
  • Sino-American relations
  • Endangered language preservation
  • Indigenous rights
  • Surveillance, privacy, and security
  • Nonviolence, peace, and empathy
  • Sustainable energy
  • Polarization and “transpartisanship”
  • World music

Several current and former members whose social change work is central to their lives maintain websites about their work.  Two websites are:

Tom Atlee – collective intelligence, democracy, nonviolence, and more (check the tags)

Andy Heben – homelessness and affordable housing

Pagoda Trifold copy


Climate and Energy

Community resilience / local economics

The Occupy Movement and Inequality

Forest defense

Organic, local food

Gifting and Sharing economics

The beauty of fava beans, or why strawberries taste better from the farmers’ market

May 10, 2015

Our garden changes with the seasons, regardless of how involved we are in the process. The most we can do, is pay attention to the hints it gives us, follow the weather forecast, listen to our neighbors and friends (and sometimes the research of agriculture schools!) and follow the intuitions that whatever previous experience we have has given us to try and guide these changes so that they unfold in ways that benefit us. Right now, the favas that were planted late last fall have down all they can for us and it’s now time to uproot them and plant something new. Right now, it’s tomatoes, peppers and indigo (an exciting experiment!). Next it will be herbs, possibly some local bee-friendly flowers and maybe radishes. These summer crops get most of the attention but the Walnut garden just wouldn’t be the same without the forest of wonderful favas that take over between March and mid-May. I’d like, then, to devote the first new blog post in a long while to this humble, easy-going legume. Oh, yeah–and strawberries? Hopefully the connection between favor and flavorful berries will be clear by the end.

"Baby" favor--too green to store; just right for fresh eating!

“Baby” favor–too green to store; just right for fresh eating!

Read more…

out of the house and into the woods

October 11, 2014

Walnut St. Co-op members are involved in many different issues and movements. Housemate Snow has been active with NEST, a group focused on protecting forests threatened by logging. He contributed this article for the co-op newsletter.
After attending the annual Earth First! Round River Rendezvous in the Klamath watershed in July, and afterwards joining an effort to set up a road blockade to defend an old-growth forest in Humboldt County, California, I came back up to Oregon to join a yearly summer effort by NEST (Northwest Ecosystem Survey Team) to document the presence of the red tree vole, a rodent protected by 1994’s Northwest Forest Plan, in mature forests threatened by logging plans. NEST, which grew out of efforts in 2000 to protect old-growth Douglas-fir forests near Fall Creek, about an hour outside of Eugene, has been a yearly tradition ever since, and has documented the presence of red tree voles in high-profile timber sales such as the Clark, North Winberry, Straw Devil, and White Castle timber sales, mostly on federal Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land.


The red tree vole (RTV) is a protected rodent under the Northwest Forest Plan.It is an indicator species for the Northern Spotted Owl, which preys upon them, and they nest in the canopies of mature Douglas-fir forests in western Oregon and California’s north coast. Anyone who finds an active vole nest in a proposed timber sale has just not only protected the habitat of that individual vole, but by law, a 10-acre buffer must surround the nest tree, in which logging and any other ground-changing operations are prohibited. So if you can find enough vole nests, you can potentially buffer-out entire units of proposed sales. You might ask, however, how do you find the nests?


It turnsout that the rigging and climbing knowledge forest defenders have accumulated from tree-sits and road blockades has uses outside of direct action–in order to find and document nests, you have to climb trees! Dozens, and dozens, and dozens of them. Sometimes you’ll find a nest 50 feet up, and sometimes you have to climb to the very top, perhaps as high as 200 feet. Once a nest is located, that’s when documentation starts. We photograph the nest, measure its height, size, angle, among other measurements, and take a sample of droppings and what are called resin ducts, which are thread-like objects the length of a Douglas-fir needle that are left over once the vole is finished with the edible part of the needle–yes, red tree voles eat Douglas-fir needles! Don’t you wish you could?

One thing I love about NEST is being able to climb everyday. The process of locating trees, hauling gear through walls of rhododendrons on steep slopes, and rigging lines in trees you want to climb is a lengthy process, but once I get up in the canopy and [hopefully] find a nest, I realize that it’s all been worth it. Climbing is both terrifying and exhilarating, as you look down from 100-200 feet and see that the only thing keeping you from falling to your death is a ⅜ inch piece of rope that you’re clipped into.


Cavities and accumulations are the name of the game. Cavities in trees provide cover from predators and make goodnesting spots, and accumulations (of foliage and lichen) always have a chance of being a vole nest unless confirmed otherwise. It’s the old, fire-scarred legacy trees that tend to provide good vole habitat, which is why mature forests are vital for the well-being of red tree vole and hence northern spotted owl populations.

This summer we’ve been in the Green Mountain Timber Sale in the McKenzie District of the Willamette National Forest and in the Quartz Integrated Project in the Cottage Grove District of the Umpqua National Forest. One of my most memorable moments was being over 200 feet high in a tree in Unit 890 of Green Mountain, overlooking the upper reaches of the Cougar Reservoir and the South Fork of the McKenzie River. On a couple other occasions, I’ve found active nests in the cavities on top of old trees whose top halves have broken off!

You can find out more about NEST at, or email us at

Growing our own dried beans

October 5, 2014

The other week I was helping folks bag potatoes at local organic farm, Let It Grow. Among other things, they grow a local variety of black bean that are apparently unique to the Willamette Valley. I don’t have any pictures of them, but the plant is a short bush bean with vibrant purple flowers and the beans themselves are at least a couple times the size of your normal black bean and also round, rather than oblong. They had a nice, succulent savoriness to go with their rotund appearance. Local breeds fascinate me. In Chinese, there’s a special term for such things: you simply add the word tu, 土, meaning “earth”, before the species name. There are tu dogs and tu pigs, and of course tu language and tu food. Tu is also a bit of an insult. It implies rusticity and a lack of worldliness. Think of provincial and unsophisticated. Given how much of China is still agricultural, and how much of that agriculture is small-scale farming or pastoralism, and given the huge amount of time–millenia–in which these small-scale farming communities have existed, local breeds of plants and animals abound and the differences between them can be huge. For example, one community in easter Qinghai Province has a breed of miniature, black and white spotted yaks. As I recall, the adults only come up to about my shoulder. Yet a few hours’ drive away, the pasture lands are filled with enormous black beasts, yaks that would tower above most breeds of cattle in the US. Another community a few hours north has a special breed of tiny black pigs, that look like shrunken version of the acorn-eating swine that provide Spain with its famous hams. Yet, though they look very similar, the flavors of these two animals couldn’t be any more different. The little Chinese pigs are especially “pork-y” tasting, I think. In fact, I actually find it kind of gross.


All of the above thoughts lead me to my actual topic: this year our garden grew Scarlet Runner Beans! They came from an unmarked envelope of giant beans that had been sitting in our seed box for at least four years. On a whim, I planted them in a few pots just to see what would happen. They took off, and so won themselves a place around our raised bed. Their flowers should have tipped us off as to what they were–bright, bright crimson red–but none of us have much experience with these beans, apparently. Some people even tried to harvest them when the pods were still green, an apparent non-no as, like many dried bean varieties, Scarlett Runners are toxic when unripe and raw. We left most of them to dry on the vine and then I collected them in a jar.


Scarlet Runner Beans

I have a friend who worked as a field botanist for years. When he visited our house, he told me what our beans were and also reminded me to make sure to not eat them raw. The name was familiar to me. My mother’s people were farmers and even those who went on to do other things with their lives have still tended to grow their own vegetables over the years, originally out of frugality, but now out of habit, I suppose. I recalled the name from overheard conversations between my old relatives, and a phone call confirmed that I had almost certainly eaten this bean as a child–“Scarlets are just wonderful,” says my aunt. At any rate, they are a traditional American crop and a long-time favorite of home gardeners. Yet they are one of those crops that did not make the transition to industrial agriculture. I’m not sure why–they seem no more delicate than any other bean and they have fairly heavy yields. They are also delicious–slightly meaty tasting and a little sweet.


Pods allowed to dry on the plant.


We had two varieties–purple and white. They came from separate plants, although this was the only noticeable difference. Taste-wise, they are the same.


So, a food that was once common in the diets of Americans has since become almost unknown. Fortunately, Scarlets remain popular with those who garden.

Dyeing with avocado pits

October 5, 2014

Dried avocado seeds, blackened with age

For whatever reason, one or more housemates has been squirreling away avocado pits, which was lucky because according to the Internet, they are a source of pink dye.

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