Brian's Photo Blog — Article 569
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Photograph in the Summer, Geek Out in the Winter
Sunday 5 June 2016   —   Category: Outings
At the beginning of 2016, as I was contemplating the coming year, as well as my six years of unemployment, I felt that I would like to find some way to put my decades of computer experience to some good use. So I began to search the Web for volunteer opportunities in my beloved Portland.

One organization I found was Free Geek. As you can read by following the link to their Web site, they have a mission to refurbish old computers for schools and nonprofits, and to responsibly recycle computers to keep that toxic waste out of landĀ­fills. It sounded like something worth investigating further.

On February 25 I went to Free Geek — located at 1731 SE 10th Avenue in Portland’s Central Eastside — for the first time, to attend their mandatory orientation tour. Between that day and May 5, I ended up going to Free Geek six times for a total of 15 hours of volunteering.

Their system for volunteers is very well organized. After gain­ing experience and showing proficiency at one level of in­volve­ment, you need to pass a test to move on to the next level. Even though I have a lot of experience, I didn’t want to skip any steps. I started with Hardware Identification, moved on to System Evaluation, and then to Quality Control. Sometimes it was a bit boring, but I was glad to be there to do my part in achieving a greater good.

After the May 5 session, I realized that out of the eight trips I had made to Portland so far in 2016, six of them had been for Free Geek. Out of the other two, one had been to visit my son on his birthday, and only one trip had been solely for the pur­pose of a photographic outing. Things seemed to be getting off track!

Of course, all of those trips had been made during Oregon’s nine-month rainy season. And each time I went to Free Geek, I also visited quite a few pubs and restaurants around Portland. But with the short dry season approaching, I for sure didn’t want to spend the summer inside pubs and Free Geek’s warehouse!

An outing to Portland, which includes a three-hour, 150-mile round-trip drive, requires a lot of time, energy and money. I don’t have enough of those resources to be able to go to Port­land as often as once a week. Even though these outings do bring me emotional life and energy, twice a month, or perhaps a third trip on occasion, is all I can swing.

As I was looking over my growing list of potential Portland trips this summer, I came to the conclusion that photography must have the priority during the short dry season. There is plenty of time for geeking out at Free Geek during the long rainy season.

Even though combining Free Geek and photographic outings could be logistically difficult, I was able to squeeze in quite a bit of photography and exploration before and after those six Free Geek sessions. What I experienced and photographed have been documented in the following articles, in chronological order. The first title I have not yet had time to present, but will in the near future. Not bad — nine articles from six trips! For that season it was a win-win situation. I came to Portland to help Free Geek ac­com­plish their computer mission. And that provided the op­por­tu­ni­ties for me to accomplish my mission of exploring and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing parts of Portland I had never been to before.

But as I shared above, for the time being I’m putting Free Geek on hold, and devoting myself exclusively to some months of Portland photo outings.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 569
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