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.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Wiggler Struggles and Other Learning Experiences

Over the past month I have been learning a great deal both inside the classroom (yes, classes have begun) and outside. First, a few updates on previous blog posts... my valiant attempt at living a relatively ecologically sound life in Tokyo has been slow moving. Two recent typhoons all but wiped my entire crop of vegetables growing on the balcony. It's time to find smaller planters that I can bring inside during typhoons. While I had previously giggled at people's dramatic warnings about typhoons in Japan, the last storm helped me to understand what the big deal is all about. As the typhoon hit Tokyo, classes were cancelled, public transportation stopped and our apartment shook so hard I thought the windows might blow out. Peace fellows holed up at my house and watched movies while the storm raged. Before I carry on about how much I love the company of my fellow peace fellows, I should give an update on my much anticipated worm shipment. I enjoyed keeping worms in the US, but I had never started a box from scratch, purchased worms over the internet, or kept worms in the sweltering climate that is Tokyo in the summertime. When my worms arrived, I put them in their box with the correct mixture of soil and coconut husk. Apparently worms can become disoriented after shipment and will sometimes leave their box in search of... what, I'm still not quite sure. So upon returning home one day I found a mass exodus (meaning hundreds) of worms wiggling their way across my kitchen floor. How a legless creature can scale the side of a deep plastic container, I do not know. My response was to secure a lid on the box but, the next day, I found that the worms had amassed themselves into a massive ball and managed to push their way out of the box and promptly dry up and die all over my apartment. One live worm ball still dangled from the box, and the remaining survivors are currently consuming our food waste. They seem to have given up on apartment adventuring. The sweet and patient woman who sold me the worms has generously offered to send me some more, as this experience has apparently been a learning experience for her (and me!). Most people in Japan purchase an escape-proof worm bin with their worms. I, of course, had to make my own. RIP, little mimizu.

In other news, I am happy to report that the class 10 peace fellows are all getting along beautifully and integrating well into life in Tokyo. I am sharing a few photos. To the left is my roommate, Weaw, and me at farm near Kamakura. Some energetic and incredibly welcoming Japanese folks invited us out there to help them build them a wall for their new herb garden. Below is a photo of peace fellows with Rotary International's incoming president, Mr. Tanaka, who we had the pleasure of meeting with one afternoon. The other class 10 peace fellows are from different parts of the world (Thailand, Taiwan, South Africa, Canada, Niger, Argentina and the US) but we can all manage to find common ground. We share classes with Japanese students and South Asian fellows here through the Japanese government. So we are able to debate current issues with people from a variety of social, economic, professional and cultural backgrounds. In recent classes we have been exploring the psychological roots of violence, US involvement in Japan and resource scarcity in Asia.

Peace fellows with Mr. Tanaka

Finally, for those of you who read french (or who can make sense of internet translations), here is a recent article written about me for a Tokyo-based news website:

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