Taylor Stevenson

Taylor Stevenson is a graduate of U of O. She is an aritst and waste researcher. Her artwork, which is created from reused materials, is inspired by people around the world who survive from garbage or who, similar to garbage, are rejected by society. She founded a program called Live Debris which demonstrates reuse as a tool for social integration and personal growth. She has taken this project to Brazil, Lebanon, Myanmar, the US and now Japan, where she is studying at the Rotary Peace center in Japan to earn a Master in Peace Studies.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Japanese Classes, Birthday Celebration and Worms

August has been a busy month as most of the new peace fellows and I have been taking an intensive ‘survival’ Japanese class. I call the class ‘survival of the fittest’ Japanese since Japanese is not one of the easier languages to learn. Atama ga itai desu! I am loving Japanese, though, and will continue taking classes during my time here. Our final Japanese assignment is to give a two minute speech on a topic of our choice. My topic is, as you might guess, gomi! Garbage. Speaking of which, I am progressing with my in-home composting experiments. Unable to find reasonably-priced worms in Japan, I resorted to buying a bag of composting bacteria. Apparently some people here do compost in their homes, usually with the help of fermented rice husk pellets that are sold at some local gardening stores. The pellets are expensive and smell like a used litter box. They do seem to help in composting food waste (nama gomi), but, as you can see from my photo, my food waste is getting pretty moldy. I figure that in two years I would spend more money buying bacteria pellets than I would if I just ordered some expensive worms, so I have placed my order with the only worm breeders I was able to find. They will arrive in the mail next week. Roll out the red (worm) carpet! Here is their contact in case anyone in Japan needs red worms (mimizu): ij9t-skn@asahi-net.or.jp. But in a few months I will have enough baby worms to save you the expense!

Fortunately, my fellow peace fellows are open minded enough that they don’t find my composting obsession completely insane. I feel fortunate to have such a great group of automatic friends here. A few days after everyone arrived, I celebrated my 30th birthday in the company of the peace fellows and other international friends. I have never had happy birthday sung to me in 10 different languages before, it was very cool! My Rotary counselor and her daughter also surprised me with gifts and treated me to a nice dinner-- they have been incredibly gracious hostesses. I am blown away by what an amazing and unique opportunity this fellowship is and I can’t thank Rotary enough.

(failed) Compost Experiment: red worms are on the way!

Bag o’ Bacteria—fermented rice husks used for bucket composting of organic waste

Hatano san, Mami and me at a rooftop party for the Ebisu Rotary club. These women are great, I have a lot of fun with them.

Balcony garden update: My plants are growing so fast and attracting some interesting large insects.