Category Archives: make a difference

Interview Series: Sarah Heath

I’m excited to bring you my first Portland interview! Sarah was one of the first people I met when we moved into the Sellwood neighborhood. She was at the meeting the neighbors held to discuss the mural design for the Sherrett Square intersection. She showed up without shoes on in late March, and my curiosity was piqued!


Jamie: Tell us a little about yourself.

Sarah: I’m a 23 year old artist and playful living extraordinaire! I spend my days working on creative and collaborative projects and try to be as helpful and goofy as possible! I believe that the best way to inspire others to do good in the world is to live your truth. I love graphic novels, harmonizing, loukoumades, and playing my soul sport ultimate Frisbee.


Jamie: I’d really like to know more about your barefoot philosophy-how did you get into it? Do you ride your bike without shoes? Do you go into restaurants without them?

Sarah: Well sure! It all began many years ago down in the Rogue Valley where I grew up. We lived on a few acres of land surrounded by meadows with views of mountain ranges and I’d spend hours upon hours romping around in “the back 40” unshod. My mom would insist that I wear shoes, but after many futile attempts, she finally conceded to allow me to play without a scolding because I’d never listen. Going barefoot wasn’t even a question. It just made sense. It felt right.


I wore shoes or sandals in public places when I had to and at school. Shoes became more of an installation in my life during my high school years what with sports and the desire to fit in being larger factors. At some point, I started to realize how odd and almost nonexistent it was for adults to walk around outside of the house without shoes. This was troubling because I felt the most like myself, I felt the most comfortable barefoot, and I didn’t want to be chastised or gawked at for it. At that time I was getting into film and I thought it would be a great documentary topic from a social commentary point of view. I began researching feet and barefooting and discovered that there were several organizations that were totally dedicated to barefooting, which was awesome! I also discovered that many myths surrounding laws and the dangers of going barefoot in our modern societies were false.

I shelved the idea for a while, but kept coming back to it excitedly. While at university, my activist fires were ignited and with my new found confidence I felt empowered to be more vocal and active in my barefooting. I gradually moved almost completely away from shoes and over the past couple of years have been working on the preproduction of my documentary film Foot.


All of the research I’ve done over the years has expanded my knowledge of the scientific and health related reasons for going barefoot, but the deeper truth was there all along. I knew it as a child, as I think we all inherently know it. When we go the beach or park and slip off our shoes without a thought, instinctually gripping at the sun warmed sand or luscious grass beneath us. Our bodies and hearts know that it’s good because it’s how we come in to the world to experience it. It’s how we connect to everything. To the past, present, and future. To life!

I try to be barefoot as much as I can, but I usually bring sandals with me if I know I’ll be going into buildings that may have an issue with being barefoot. I’ve asked all of the places I frequent and about half of them are fine with me coming in unshod. Usually it’s liability that folks are worried about which is unfortunate. I do bike without shoes. Two summers ago I biked to the coast barefoot!


Jamie: You are onto something there with the idea about instinct for sure. When we truly connect with nature, we do instinctually take off our shoes. But what about winter? Don’t your feet get cold? And in this climate in particular, a lot of people take off their shoes when entering a house, how do you navigate that custom if your feet are wet or muddy?

Sarah: People who live primarily barefoot actually have warmer feet because their circulation is better. When you use all of the muscles in your feet to support and move your entire body instead of relying on the support of shoes, your feet demand more blood flow which your heart is happy to provide. A lot of times in the winter I’ll start out with wool socks in sandals and a half hour later I need to take them off because my feet are too hot. This isn’t always possible as it does get very cold and wet in a lot of places, so I do wear wool socks with sandals or shoes that I make. I’m crafty and love tedious projects, but there are handcrafted moccasin-like shoe producers out there. The closest to Portland I know of is in Corvallis and they are named Soft Star Shoes. (Website below). They’re really wonderful!

As far as going into homes goes, feet are much easier to clean than shoes for one thing, so it’s usually enough to just wipe on the doormat a few times. If it’s particularly mucky out, I may bring along a hand towel just in case, or I’ll ask for one when I arrive. Also grass is a great bath and mat all in one!


Jamie:  I am also very interested in the work you do with the Planet Repair Institute. Could you talk a little about that? (And in particular, the project you did about making your bed!)

Sarah: Sure. Well PRI is the home I share with four others as well as a demonstration site and permaculture school. We all work together on experimenting with all kinds of urban homesteading projects such as growing our own food, installing rainwater catchment and other water systems, straw-clay insulation, and community asset sharing. Every year we participate in the Village Building Convergence as a site and we host a 15 day Permaculture Design Course that’s spread out over several months in the summer and fall. We all also have our own projects outside of the house, but at the same time are all very invested in this place. Mostly we’re all very interested in exploring ways in which we can sustain our needs at home, instead of outsourcing them and spending most of our lives apart from the place and people we love.


My bed project is expanded upon on our blog listed below, but basically I needed a new bed one day and didn’t want to purchase one because beds are weird and chemically and I have no idea where or how they’re made. So I thought, “why not make one!? How hard could it be?” Fortunately because we do a lot of building around here, we had all of the tools and spare lumber for the job. I did source some nice scrap untreated cotton canvas for the mattress and bought some localish straw to stuff it with.


I love making my own things. It’s one of the most satisfying activities to partake in. I’m so incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to spend a large portion of my days making my own furniture, clothing, food, and artwork instead of performing ultimately meaningless tasks for someone else hours on end so that I can pay for yet another person to provide for my needs. It’s not perfect, certainly not always so dandy or easy, but it is always rich and meaningful. And that’s what matters.


Jamie: Would you share some of your favorite internet links?

Sarah: – Awesome shoe company in Oregon – The society for barefoot living’s homepage – Permaculture demonstration site and home – Great Portland organization that puts on the Village Building Convergence – My garden inspired earring website – A magazine that I really love!

Look out soon for my film’s website!

Thank you so much, Sarah, for taking the time to answer my questions! You are so interesting, and this interview only scratches the surface. Please everyone reading this, feel free to ask her more questions, and I will make sure she sees your comments.

so you want to plant some seeds…

A lot of people have asked me lately, “Is it time to plant?” and “What should I plant right now?”

Here in Arizona, we are coming out of the dregs of summer. If you were dedicated, you may still have some plants in your garden that are thriving: peppers, chiles, eggplant, okra, and melons or squash. The rest of you have a bunch of dried up sticks. But never fear! It’s time to bust out the shovels and rakes once again! It’s time to plant all the things!

What do I plant?:

-leafy greens: including lettuce, kale, spinach, swiss chard, celery, mustard, bok choy, arugula, parsley, cilantro (all of these grow GREAT in pots too, so if you are one of those people with no actual “garden” then plant these (seeds are fine) and stick them in full sun.) You don’t need to cut the head either, you just pull the leaves off the plant and it keeps making more! Neverending salad! Also, swiss chard is an amazing one to have because not only is it a good looking plant, but you can eat the leaves in a salad or saute them with butter and garlic. I find the leaves to have a nice umami flavor-it’s a bit salty.

-broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower: And if you usually don’t like these, it’s probably because you’ve never had it fresh. These particular vegetables get really bitter when old. So give it a go.

-root vegetables: carrots (rainbow variety is fun!), parsnips, radishes, turnips, BEETS!!!!

-snowpeas and peas

-onions, leeks, garlic

How do I plant them?:

You need to ask yourself some questions:

-Where do I have FULL SUN? This means sun all of the day? None of this shady area of the yard nonsense or morning sun stuff-winter vegetables need ALL OF THE SUN.

-In this sunny area, will a garden bed fit or am I going with pots?

-How much money do I have? Starting from seeds is the cheapest way to go. But, you get the most production from plants starts. (Also, in order to get Brussel sprout production, you need to start with starter plants. Trust me, the season just isn’t long enough in Phoenix for the plant to develop sprouts. Garden beds can be as expensive and elaborate or as basic and cheap as you want. You will need to and compost and soil amendments to your soil. And a can of earthworms doesn’t hurt either. You can get your soil tested to be super scientific if you are into that, but I’m really lazy, so I would just dig up that part of the yard and add in as many bags of compost that you can afford.

-Drip system or hose watering?

Once you figure out what and where, it’s how:

Next, is the actual shoving seeds into the ground part. This sounds easy, but it actually takes a long time. It’s super fidgety. Go get yourself some wooden shims or stakes and a sharpie too so you can label all the things.

-Open your packets with scissors. (organic seeds are way awesomer, so buy them from a nursery or the internets) Tearing the packets open gets seeds caught in them.

-You pretty much follow the planting instructions on the packet. (But the general rule is the tinier the seed, the closest to the top of the soil it goes.) Almost every seed will sprout, but not always. You plant and bunch of seeds, you wait and wait until you think nothing is ever going to happen, then they all start coming up and you have to “thin” them. This means, you have to rip out a whole bunch of sprouts so as they grow into plants, they don’t crowd each other out. Expect this especially with carrots. Those stupid seeds are so tiny, and if you don’t accidentally spill half of them, you’ll lose your mind at another point and simply start sprinkling them down anyway.

-Water water water. Seeds in the ground=watering three to four times a day. You have to keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout and the roots develop. Once that happens (they look like little plants, then you can back off on the watering.

From here, it’s a matter of thinning and weeding. Any questions?

interview series! jeff moriarty!

Hooray! My interview series is back by underwhelming demand! This first interview* is actually the last interview from the previous series. I, uh, couldn’t manage to gather my thoughts enough to post it last time, and Jeff was so gracious about helping me wrap it up to post this time! So thanks Jeff!

Jeff Moriarty and I originally met through The Internet. I think. He’s pretty famous on the Phoenix scene because he constantly works to make the metro area a more creative place built on community. He’s been a founder or an organizer for several really cool events like Ignite Phoenix, Social Media Club, and ImprovAZ. If you heard about all those people riding the light rail here in Phoenix in their knickers or the flash mob dressed like Where’s Waldo at Tempe Marketplace , you can blame Jeff.

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Jamie: Tell us a little about yourself.

Jeff: I have two knees that work well. I have a back and neck that don’t, due to car crash when I was younger. My hair has never killed a man. I believe in change, in motion, in exploration. Savor the world around you, but don’t take it too seriously. Find something new, for as much as you know there is infinitely more about which you have not a clue.


Jamie: “Not taking your world too seriously,” why did you develop that philosophy?

Jeff: Not taking the world seriously isn’t a philosophy I cultivated with intent. I got a dose of reality when I was very young, and it made me very sullen, quiet, and bitter. I kept chasing that darkness until I finally started to laugh. Laughter is about pain. It is a primal noise we make to each other, like monkeys hooting in the treetops, when we find a shared element of the human condition. Look at any joke, any funny story, and you will find at its heart a story of someone being embarrassed, hurt, confused, mocked, or otherwise suffering. Laughter is how we release that fear, for ourselves and others. Once I saw that, it became hard to take the world seriously. It’s not like any of us are going to get out of it alive.


Jamie: For someone with so public a presence, you are very private. Why?

Jeff: I just don’t think there is that much interesting about me worth sharing. Plus, because very little offends me I have a tendency to upset people with some things I say and do if I’m not careful. So I’d much rather explore and share with other people. And make them laugh, of course.


Jamie: Tell us an imaginary story about how you met your wife.

Jeff: It was my last assignment. The Sensei had promised me. Few Ninja were allowed to walk away freely, so I suspected a trap. The assassinations went well, as did the bank robbery, the government overthrow, the cooking of dinner, and the counting of all the grains of sand on the beach. For others, perhaps difficult, but such is the value of training. When the clowns finally came, I was ready. Their noses and flowers, the honking and squirting, it was a sordid affair. But at the end, covered in meringue though I was, I stood triumphant. The woman who was to be my wife saw it all. An innocent bystander to the carnage of the Big Top Smack Down, and she did not flinch. I knew then I would marry her as the first act of my newfound freedom. She ran fast and far, but I am tireless and I know mind control.


Jamie: Which do you like better: Ignite Phoenix or Improv AZ? (And you have to pick one so we can start a controversy.)

Jeff: I like Ignite Phoenix better than ImprovAZ because it allows people to showcase their passions, but I also love ImprovAZ more than Ignite Phoenix because it pushes people out of their comfort zone and makes them someone new. I like recursion, because it is recursion, and also recursion.


(photo credit: Ruth Carter)


Jamie: What has been your favorite Ignite Phoenix presentation ever. (And they are not like children-you can have a favorite!)

Jeff: Not trying to be evasive, but “favorite” is tough with Ignite presentations. There are funny ones, insightful ones, powerful ones, brave ones, well-presented ones, creative ones, influential ones, etc. One might be Luz Galusha-Luna’s “Typography as Personality” that she gave at the PodCamp Ignite we did. Wish the sound was better, because she did SUCH a good job conveying her passion outside her field.
Another favorite is Michael Wasserman’s talk about The Humanities in the 21st Century. Many people didn’t think this sounded like a very compelling topic, but Michael’s articulate, insightful view about the neglected role of the Humanities in modern education completely captured the audience and is one of the best Ignite Phoenix talks we’ve had.  But if I had to make my Favorite Playlist, it would probably be about 16 or so in there.


Jamie: Batman or Superman?

Jeff: I’m heterosexual, so I would not date either one.


Jamie: please share an internet link (or two…)


Bread People

Kim Jong Il Looking At Things


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I sat with Jeff this afternoon to get a couple of shots for this interview, and it was a beautiful conversation. I was reminded why I started these interviews in the first place. Jeff is a special person. He has these intense eyes, and he doesn’t flinch. And incredibly expressive hands. I like Jeff even more than I did this morning. I hope after reading this interview, you know what I mean. And feel free, as before, to ask Jeff your own questions in the comments.

Also, follow him on Twitter.


(*One thing you may notice about this next series is that I decided to use capitalization because it is fancier. And I am nothing if not fancy.)

laundry detergent

i like doing laundry.

i like ironing.

i can use it as an excuse to knit and watch the television.

well, you can’t knit and iron, but you get the idea.

anyway, i made my own detergent the other day using a recipe that ashley posted.

it was pretty easy, and once made, i poured it into my old laundry detergent container with the pour spout.

the nice part is saving money, and using the individual ingredients for other uses.

next i’ll be making homemade dishwasher detergent once my old store bought runs out.

grande seda


i finally finished the grande seda project by mirasol.

it’s a lovely horizontal cabled shrug/vest.

i used the recommended yarn called wach’i made of cotton and silk.

the pattern suggested a frog closure but i will probably stick with a shawl pin.

mirasol is a fantastic company in peru doing community projects.

they create beautiful yarn and write lovely patterns.

check out more about mirasol yarns and the community centers they build here.

interview with emily

I met Emily when I met her parents Jim and Joy. She’s the younger sister of Hannah, and she has two more younger sisters as well. Emily is a firecracker. She’s tough yet full of passion. She isn’t afraid to tell you what she’s thinking and I know this girl is going places. I enjoyed our interview, and I encourage you to share your thoughts or ask her questions in the comments below.

JM: Please tell us a little about yourself.

ES: i am almost sixteen (finally!) and i am a sophomore at a high school i love. i moved to this school from a dinky little charter school in Gilbert. the academic portion of the school was not up to par (and some of the kids weren’t that great either). i like to read and i do it constantly. writing is one of my favorite past times and i like to think I’m really good at it. i like school not just because of the friends I’ve made but because of my really cool teachers and just the feeling of being a part of a big school. i am in the ASL (American sign language) club and i am trying to find ways to become more involved in my school. i have a dog who is my pride and joy. she is such a character and i love her so very much. i like to sing and music is very important to me. i use it as an escape from my surroundings. walks are my favorite medicine and i take one whenever i can. I’ve been told that i always look upset and angry but I’m actually a quite serious person. i think a lot about everything. i am a very loud and opinionated person and i have no problem telling people what i feel. i am always there for my friends and i am (a lot of the time) the person they come to for help. i like being there and comforting them, and helping them through whatever problems i can. i may not seem like it sometimes, but i am a very compassionate person.

JM: Why did you choose to be in the ASL club?

ES: i’ve always been interested in learning a new language and i have yet to come upon one that is really interesting to me. i like the idea of knowing someone who can speak the same language as me but in a different way, like sign language. so i’ve begun with the group and next year i can take the actual class.

JM: This is the middle of your first year at a new high school. But you didn’t go to one of the feeder junior highs, you decided to leave a small charter school. Tell us about how and why you made that decision, and how has it panned out?

ES: my mom and i had been talking about me going to mountain view for a long time. it’s close to home and its where my mom used to go so she was a little biased. after my last year of junior high at a charter school in gilbert we decided that i would not be going back; mainly because the academics were not up to par. after a lot of struggling (on mostly my part) we decided mtn view would be the best place for me. it has worked out better than i expected. i fit in well and i have lots of friends. i enjoy doing all of the true high school things like joining clubs and going to football games. it’s a perfect fit.

(photo credit: Hannah Schroeder)

JM: You have a good relationship with your parents. What advice would you give to other kid’s parents if they wanted to have a good relationship with their kids?

ES: the reason i get along so well with my parents is because my parents are very open and that helps me to be open with them. they are very understanding and helpful and they do their best to not bring me down or get mad at me for my mistakes. they do their best to help me up, dust me off, and prepare me for the next big crisis (as a teenage girl i have a lot of those). parents just need to remember that every kid is different. they can’t hold their children back from who they want to be. and they can’t be condescending. children need help sometimes but parents can’t hold their hand throughout their whole lives. let go and let the child live and screw up. if parents hold on too tight their relationship with their children will become complicated and strained and that’s not good for anyone.

JM: You’ve been involved with some social activism in the last couple of years. Could you name a group that you are involved with and why you believe in the cause?

ES: i have been involved in some social activism. invisible children and laundry love are two of the organizations i have been involved with the most. laundry love is an organization my parents came upon that helps those who cannot pay for their laundry. my family, along with some other family friends, go to a local laundromat once a month and pay for people’s laundry. i have gone to a few protests and i always enjoy standing up for what i think is right. sticking up for the underdog is a priority of mine and when i feel like someone is being treated unfairly i will confront the situation head on. like when the person in charge of a peaceful protest is yelling at a pastor who made comments about our president and gay people. yes that has happened before. 🙂 people are people and we all need to be treated like what we are, human.

JM: What is Laundry Love?

ES: laundry love is an organization that my parents found out about from one of their friends. we go to a laundromat the first friday of every month and we pay for people’s laundry, whoever shows up. it’s been lots of fun and the people i’ve met are really nice and happy to share their stories.

JM: what do you think of those television shows about teen mothers and fathers?

ES: i find that the shows about teen parents are not trying to over glamorize the idea of becoming pregnant at a young age, like most of our society today. while giving them their own tv show and paying them may give others the idea to get pregnant and on tv is a bad idea, they don’t try to show that it’s a good thing. the tv shows show how complicated life will really be for everyone in the family. so yes i like them, but people may not have the best of intentions when trying to get on the show.

JM: Do you have an internet link you’d like to share?

ES: the only link i would like to share is for to write love on her arms. this organization is very important to me and has helped me a lot throughout the last 2 or 3 years. i want people to learn more about it and realize what they do and how they are helping people.

to write love on her arms is a non profit organization that helps teens and adults with addiction, depression, and different forms of self mutilation. they have people you can email and talk to and if you go on their website you can share your story. the staff even travel and speak at different cities around the nation. their purpose is to create a community of people who can all talk and share stories and just be there for each other. sometimes sharing your story and admitting you have a problem is the hardest and most helpful part of the journey.

(photo credit: Hannah Schroeder)