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Jake Parker

PSU Capstone


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participant impact

  • UP TO
    organic meals
  • UP TO
  • UP TO
    spent outdoors

Jake's actions

Ecological Principles

Practice Gratitude for Earth

This week, I will spend 20 minute(s) each day outside, practicing gratitude (prayer, meditation, journaling, etc.) for Earth and the nature surrounding me.



Choose Organic Ingredients

I will enjoy 1 meal(s) cooked with organic ingredients each day this week.


A Call to Sustainability

Watch a Documentary

I will watch a movie about a sustainability issue I would like to know more about.


Participant Feed

Reflection, encouragement, and relationship building are all important aspects of getting a new habit to stick.
Share thoughts, encourage others, and reinforce positive new habits on the Feed.

To get started, share “your why.” Why did you join the challenge and choose the actions you did?

  • Jake Parker's avatar
    Jake Parker 5/19/2020 3:10 AM
    ·         Intended for May 21st, 2020 – Flower Viewing, Reviewing Plants, & Indoor Plant Care 

    This post is an early one so that I’m not late on posting on the 21st! While the week may still be early, I just wanted to talk about the joy of a late Spring. 

    Due to the constant rain we’ve been experiencing in my suburb, it made me grossly aware of how dry the soil for my indoor cacti and orchids has become. Thanks to that realization, I spent all morning on Sunday soaking and draining my indoor cacti, replanting my Aloe Vera and another cactus into bigger pots, and carefully watering the three orchids (two of which are still blooming) I am watching over for my mom. Because my room has really big windows, I’m able to get a lot of light throughout the day and all of my room plants seem to love it. It’s very fun to see a newly replanted plant rebound super fast and start jutting out new growth in a day. On top of that, going outside into the rain to check up on my project’s potted plants lead me around my front yard to see all of the new flowers popping up. Multiple red roses, raggedy robins, clematises, some snow-bells getting ready to bloom, and several other flowers I forget the name of at the moment. I absolutely adore flowers and love to see them bloom, especially when there’s still drops of water resting on their leaves. I just feel calm when I look out at the flowers in my yard and can sometimes smell the sent of a new rose blooming in the rain. Just appreciating their beauty made me honestly feel warm and fuzzy inside, and I’m glad I can talk about it here with the class. This is just a photo of one of the three orchids, I hope you all like it. I'll possibly show more during a show and tell! 

  • Jake Parker's avatar
    Jake Parker 5/19/2020 3:03 AM
    ·         May 14th, 2020 – Rototilling Soil & Appreciating Nature through Sustainable food 

    Due to minor negligence this post was not posted last Thursday the 14th, I am very sorry for this and will continue to try to be the very best, like no one ever was  (please tell me you got that reference at least?!?!?!?) and post these updates regularly. 

    The two days before Mother’s Day, my dad and I somewhat panicked. During the continued quarantine we had no way of getting a super big surprise for her. So instead, we opted to create a garden space for her in the backside yard. She thought that due to my dad not feeling well and pulling a muscle in his shoulder and bicep that we were not going to have a in the ground garden this year. But with my dad doing the initial mowing and first rototilling of the soil, I spent  the next four hours raking the soil to get rid of excess grass and weeds, as well as rototill a second time and rake the soil one last time to even it out and try to remove any clumps or patches of grass still on the surface. When my mom came home from work, she almost cried because of how happy she was. It was very sweet and touching to see her so happy after a long day at work during covid-19. However, my work wasn’t done since she wanted to pick up peat moss and steer manure to help nurture the freshly rotated soil, I helped pick it up and proceeded to rake and spread it throughout the garden once we were back home. The worst part about the final raking wasn’t the smell, but the rabid number of flies, and the birds that came to eat them. One such fly flew up my nose and terrified me a little bit, and made me very happy to see robins, song sparrows and scrub jays descend on the freshly tilled land. This made me really appreciate how much the act of even tilling the soil had on my local ecosystem and made me excited to see some garden snakes, frogs and pollinators return once the plants start blooming. It was just calming to turn off my brain and work, and not worry so much for an afternoon. 😊   

  • Jake Parker's avatar
    Jake Parker 5/19/2020 2:59 AM
    ·         May 7th, 2020 – Washing Machine Repair or How Not To Support the Consumer Market   

    Warning: The following post was intended for May 7th and may contain themes not supported by the rampant consumer culture of America. Reader discretion is ill advised, fight the power!

    For the past week my house has not had access to a working washing machine. We have a front load washing machine that was given to us with a dryer of the same brand by my relatives who had purchased a new set. This set was originally manufactured in the mid to late 90’s and was given to us used but in good condition. We have not had many problems with this washing machine for the past five-ish years we’ve had it. It was a bit leaky, but we just chalked it up to being used and tried to minimize it as best we could for the past few years. However, on the 26th of April one of the springs holding the drum in the center broke and sent the door popping open and ruined the rubber ring that sealed the door and helped with draining and broke a few other parts as well when it dropped. It was horrifying, and we did not have a functioning washing machine until all of the replacement parts came on the 2nd of May. My parents and I collectively agreed that this was the worst time for the washing machine to go out, and promised if the repairs didn’t work we would use the laundromat for washing and eventually buy a new washing machine if needed. Thankfully, after a full day of teamwork with my dad, we were able to put a new spring in to stabilize the drum, a new rubber ring and other necessary parts for the washing machine. Essentially, we pulled a Million-Dollar Man and replaced some important internal pieces to make it wash better, last longer and be a lot quieter during the wash and spin cycles. I really hope some of you got that reference…. The point is, I essentially learned how to repair a washing machine by taking it apart and putting it back together again. Which made me think about one of the topics we touched on in class, consumption. While we could have simply said “fuck it” and bought a new washing machine, we spent time and a lot of effort on repairing it so we can get more use out of this free over two-decade old machine. We did not contribute to adding more scrap metal to a junk yard or landfill where it would simply rot and waste away. Instead, we used replacement parts and pure force of will in order to save this machine and not throw money at a problem and contribute to the negative side effects of buying a brand-new washing machine. It feels good to save old machines and not waste money on an industry that expects people to give up and buy a new one that’s more prone to breaking down.    

  • Jake Parker's avatar
    Jake Parker 5/19/2020 2:57 AM
    ·         April 30th, 2020 – Composting & Food Waste  

    The following post was intended for the 30th of April, no discretion is advised due to the contents being somewhat introspective. 

    This week was a simpler task (compared to the 23rd’s) that made me think long term about my own food waste. At the beginning of the term I decided I wanted to start a compost bin in order to cut down food waste and help my family garden next year thanks to the composted material. My main project for the term is creating a home garden and a meditative guidebook to accompany it. However, I wanted to be a little ambitious and think ahead for future gardens, which lead me to starting the compost bin. I read a guidebook on home composting with food scraps, food waste and similar biodegradable material. What’s so weird, is seeing how much food waste we’re actively recycling into the compost rather than throwing it all away. Every time I go out to refill the compost with more food scraps and discarded food, then stir it around with dead leaves and garden clippings, I can smell the decomposition loud and clear. Frankly, I’m glad its smell doesn’t radiate towards our house, but it makes me really happy to see our trash slowly start becoming next year’s fertilizer. And for context, I’m not talking just some banana peels and apple cores, I’m talking wasted plant-based food and scraps from peeling and chopping and cutting up veggies for use throughout the week. I’m already a quarter way full of just food scraps alone in one month. I can barely imagine how much it would all waste away in a landfill in a plastic bag, waiting for someone to return it to the soil it sprang forth from. It’s a bit mind blowing, and really makes me appreciate the soil and environments my food came from.     

  • Jake Parker's avatar
    Jake Parker 5/19/2020 2:55 AM
    ·         April 23rd, 2020 – Nature Appreciation and Cleaning Up My Environment  

    To preference this post and several following posts, I’ve been having some trouble with the Ecochange site lately and have been forgetting to post as frequently as I should due to this inconvenience. From now on, I will be posting more often and make sure to be timely. This post was originally intended for the 23rd of April, I hope you guys enjoy it.  

    For this week’s Ecochange I decided to spend some time outside doing yard work throughout the week, as well as replant some herbs I bought for my garden project. There is something oddly cathartic in seeing a project that you never imagined would be started actually come to a place where it looks nice and almost unrecognizable. A few weeks back I had cut down some dead and some low hanging limbs from a plum tree we have, only to leave the limb itself resting on top of a mishandled pile of scrap plywood and discarded car body parts. To give a minor backstory, my dad had allowed some construction workers in our area dump their job site scrap wood off in piles at our house so that we could get some decent firewood for the following winter and beyond. Instead, we got a ridiculous amount of plywood and only some usable pieces for fires in our wood stove. It was a shit show, a free one, but still a bit of a shit show which had crowded our side yard for a few years. Anyway, after cutting down the large tree limbs at the beginning of April, a long period of stormy weather and full body soreness prevented us from making any real progress until things started to dry up. Because I was impatient and wanted to cut up the tree limbs, I went outside in very cloudy weather and just spent hours cutting and pruning these limbs to be easier to cut up for later fire usage. Which lead to my dad coming outside and moving the plywood and pieces of scrap metal into organized piles for disposal and (I helped so that he wouldn’t get hurt by overexerting himself). We worked together to organize and clear the side yard of the limbs and the plywood before the rain set in, and we even found a few salamanders along the way! We moved them into spots where they could burrow back underground with ease and not get caught up in raking or any more clearing. It was a nice bonding experience and time spent clearing space for plants to spread and allow salamanders to roam free in the moist soil. 

  • Jake Parker's avatar
    Jake Parker 4/17/2020 12:54 AM
    So, this past week I started working on my long-term project for class, but ran into a little bit of a roadblock. My specific project is to create a sustainable garden and create an accompanying guide to home gardening as a meditative practice. What I found out, is that it is far easier to just buy plant starters, replant them into pots with potting soil, water and leave alone than it is to think up ways to find a little piece of mind amidst the chaos of everyday life. While we may all be trapped in quarantine and dealing with it in our own ways, I have just been zapped of most of my motivation this entire term so far. Even when I went out to buy my organic soil and pepper plant starters (an achiote, cayenne and sweet heat respectively), I just kept asking myself if this would even make any type of difference for myself or the sustainability of the greater biosphere. But, when I started to put them into pots and let my mind wander, I felt a rush of calm just wash over me as I worked under the sun. This type of relaxing calm is the same type of feeling I want to have my writings convey to the reader when they’re outdoors and letting their mind wander. Because of this minor revitalization of myself, I decided to try to spend around 20 minutes a day outside doing some form of care for my plants or working to create a compost pile to be used during the next growing season. Just being outside in the sun for a little bit, even to just look at my plants and breathe a little, really helped me appreciate being alive right now even during a pandemic. Being able to feel the warmth of the sun and be able to take a breather for a quick 20 minutes spread throughout the day really helped make a difference in my mental state and helped me really appreciate and want to take care of the nature around me. 
    Sorry for posting this so late, I had some tech problems with posting this earlier in the day. ☹   

  • Jake Parker's avatar
    Jake Parker 4/09/2020 1:08 AM
    So this week i decided to attempt to eat/drink at least one of my meals with only organic ingredients. In all honestly I accidentally did this by noticing some markings on the boxes of tea I’ve been drinking. These marks (seen in the photos below) show’d that these teas were both certified USDA Organic and part of the Non-GMO Project. Additionally, the Yogi: Mango & Ginger tea is also Vegan and a part of the Rain Forest Alliance! I got these both as part of a gift for my birthday back in March, and just started to drink them more recently, so I feel even better about drinking them knowing that their businesses are dedicated towards sustainable and safer farming/resourcing practices. As for the meals themselves, I’ve been eating at least one 100% organic salad a day with a organic banana and any other organic fruit on the side. This is usually just an O organics (Safeway’s organics brand) spring salad mix without any dressings. Sure it’s a bit boring, but the tea more than makes up for it! I’m trying to keep sustainability in mind for both my diet and my wallet in this course, so i’m glad this one worked out well. :) 

  • Jake Parker's avatar
    Jake Parker 4/01/2020 11:52 PM
    Hi guys, Jake here! Nice meeting you all on Tuesday, I'm really excited for class tomorrow morning. :) I just got done with one of the challenges by watching Birders a 2019 documentary on Netflix. This documentary talked about migratory birds who cross the Texas/Mexico border and the importance of these birds to both the ecosystems of Mexico and The United States, as well as their economic impact through tourism in both the US and Mexico. Additionally, this short documentary tried to give a compelling commentary on the negative effects a boarder wall would have on these ecosystems and the greater Biosphere of the region. The documentary focused on the birds themselves and the importance of their protected habitats as well as the fear of what will happen when the US government will  no longer allow protections on these locations or enforce stricter border control policies. I really enjoyed this documentary because it did a good job of showing multiple sides of this topic from business owners to ornithologists to researchers and conservationists in specific parks and protected areas along the Rio Grande and beyond. Additionally, this topic is important to me as a amatuer nature photographer amd nature writer who enjoys casual birding in my local areas when I am able to travel. At least during this time of self-isolation and quarantine we are still able to travel through our screens and our imagination.  :)