Tag Archives: New York

Raising the Perfected Pup: Establishing the Holiest of Bonds Between the Monks of New Skete and the Dogs They Train

-Emily Fraysse

Within the first fifteen minutes after my 8-week-old tri-colored collie arrived at my house for the first time, I had to jump into my 40-degree pool at nine o’clock in the morning completely clothed to rescue the poor fella due to his disobedient behavior. Before my collie, I had a rottweiler/border collie mutt that decided it would be fun for my family to wake up to a half-eaten couch, or to swallow a rubber fish and squeak every time he barked. The truth is, I should have sent both of my dogs through the dog training program at the New Skete Monastery.

After the countless hours of expensive puppy training (which both of my dogs failed miserably), the occasional “accidents,” and finding my brand new pair of slippers chewed up, I wondered to myself: is there a perfect way of raising a puppy? Is there some sort of hidden secret that Cesar Millan is not telling us?

Apparently, the monks in New Skete have perfected this difficult, yet rewarding task.

In upper-state New York, the monks of New Skete understand the unique and spiritual bond between man and dog, allowing them to master the art of raising a puppy. The brothers have over 40 years of experience under their robe belts as well as five books published on the subject.

Their first dog, Kir, inspired the Monastery to set up a German Shepherd breeding program, as well as a two-and-a-half week training program for other puppies who have not been raised through the Monastery. The training program teaches the dog basic commands like sit, stand, and lie down, and how to overcome any behavioral difficulties. It includes boarding, exercise, daily training, and a final interview between the owner and the brother that trains the pup.

The key to raising a pup is simple: with love, dedication, and respect, any dog can be transformed into an obedient and loving friend.

Those interested in adopting one of the German Shepherds that have been raised and trained through the Monastery may add their name to an extensive waiting list, and those wanting to take advantage of their training program for their own pet can apply at their website.

Image by tlindenbaum.

Home Exchange: Traveling on a Budget


-Emily Fraysse

The daydreams of lounging in a villa on a sandy white beach in Barbados or skiing to your hidden log cabin in the Swiss Alps could become a reality. And that reality is only a percentage of the price through home exchange. Ultimately, it is “you stay in my house while I stay in yours.”

There are two types of home exchanges: hospitality exchange and home exchange. Hospitality exchange means that the family who lives in the house allows others to stay at their home simultaneously at designated times. The benefit of this, besides the social aspect, is the in-house tour guide. Home exchange happens when each party switches houses completely at a time that is convenient for both to swap.

While many people can be leery about swapping houses for multiple reasons, the number of reasons why you should take the plunge exceeds those. It can be a scary concept to stay at someone’s house that you’ve never met before or allow others to stay at your house, so the exchange relies on mutual trust. With thousands of successful house exchanges per year, the exchange is rewarding in more than one way.

The swapping works best for people who have an alluring home to offer and those who are okay with having strangers living in the house and touching valuable items. Once you’ve found a potential host, get in contact, exchange information, and be clear about your expectations before the swap occurs. After all the nitty-gritty details are finalized, I’m sure you’ll feel less like you’re living in a stranger’s home and more like living in a friend’s.

So, now where would you like to go?

Home Exchange programs to look at:

Home Exchange

Love Home Swap
Trade to Travel
Home Link
Intervac Home Exchange

Some of my personal favorite spots:

Watamu, Kenya

Noosa Heads, Queensland

Whistler, British Columbia

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

Buleleng Tejakula, Bali
Pecatu, Bali

Kilalloe, County Clare

Amelia, Umbria


Ko Samui, Surat Thani

United Kingdom:
Lewes, East Sussex
Beadlow, Bedfordshire

United States:
South Beach, Florida
Battery Park City, New York

Image from http://blog.barterquest.com

A Community Art Project: Before I Die

-Jamie Hershman

What do you want to do before you die?

When I first pondered the question, I kept coming up with short term goals. But, thinking in the long-term, I know what I want to do before I die: make a difference, whether that be through my story-telling, or traveling the world and working hands-on in making a difference. Who knows? All I know is before I die I want to do something meaningful that will make a difference or impact somebody else’s life for the better.

A new community art project has whole neighborhood’s pondering the question, as well. It began with artist Candy Chang turning the side of an abandoned house into a chalkboard, having many slots open for residents to share what they want to do before they die. After the death of a loved one, Chang decided she wanted to up her spirits and the spirits of her community.

With the great response and participation from Chang’s community, there have been more and more walls going up throughout the world. “Before I Die” walls have gone up in Brooklyn, NY; Montreal, Quebec; Portsmouth, NH; and Queretaro, Mexico, as well as many other places. More are in the process of going up as well within the year from Johannesburg, South Africa to Denver, Colorado and Wolverhampton University in England.

These walls allow people to write down their hopes and dreams, and all responses are taken on record. This positive community art project is inspiring people to find and follow their passions. From past responses, many want to travel the world and reconnect with old family members. The walls encourage people to truly stop and think about what is going to make them happy in life. Some responses are funny, while others are a little more serious, but all have meaning to the person who wrote them.

Other groups have started projects to encourage people to find their passions with the “before I die” phrase. A group of four guys called The Buried Life made a list of 100 things they want to do before they die and have gone on a mission to complete every item, which MTV picked up as a reality television show. The Buried Life has influenced many young people to create their own bucket lists and try to complete them.

With so much negativity in the world, these walls provide a little center of hope for those who want to believe in their dreams and for those who want to lead better lives. Chang started with just a wall, but her one idea has sprouted walls up throughout the world and has changed the normality of the day-to-day life by encouraging people to find their passions.

So now, take some time and think about it. What do you want to do before you die?

The Fashion String: Eugene Fashion Week 2012

-Tamara Feingold

You’re sitting in the front row and you could practically reach out and touch the models walking past. The designer is following her models for the final walk and the line features strappy outfits of deep blue velvet next to Springy floral dresses. The crowd applauds the designer and the massive black pit of media at the end of the red carpet runway snap photos.

You’re not in New York. You’re not in Milan. You’re not in Paris. You’re at Fashion Week 2012…in Eugene, Oregon.

I’ll be candid here. When I decided to attend Eugene Fashion Week, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Local styles that come to mind are tie-dye, Birkenstocks, flannel shirts, and biking messenger bags. Eugene may be a mecca of art when it comes to music, visuals, and crafts (a.k.a. things you would find at downtown’s Saturday Market), but let’s be honest- it’s no fashion metropolis.

However, this year’s Fashion Week may have changed my mind. The event took place over three days with the “Lingerie and Bathing Suit show” on Wednesday at the Oak Street Speakeasy, the “Ready to Wear and Evening Wear show” on Friday at the Broadway Commerce Building, and the “All Ages, Avant Garde and Costume Show” on Saturday, also at the Commerce Building.

I chose Friday’s show and was unexpectedly very impressed. Revivall Clothing by designer and co-producer of Eugene Fashion Week Laura Lee Laroux was especially original, with detailed and sometimes fringed leather belts topping full floral skirts with multiple layers and patterns. Paired with either heels or cowboy boots and lavish feathered hair accessories, Laroux’s designs manage to ride the often difficult line between voguish invention and wearably realistic. Laroux herself is flighty and adorable, and she even stopped to talk to me for a few minutes in between shows despite her waiting models backstage. “Each year, Eugene Fashion Week gets bigger,” she said. “We realized we were doing three hour shows last year, so we decided to start splitting it up.”

Deluxe by designer and co-producer of Eugene Fashion Week, Mitra Chester was charmingly Candyman-esque with high-waisted double button shorts, vintage red striped bow tops, and white gloves. The line, entitled “Postmodern Pinups,” was refreshingly preppy, and therefore almost anti-Eugene. The designs also stood apart from much of the “repurposed clothes” to appear thoroughly well crafted. Fortunately, it’s easy to find Chester’s designs locally as she co-owns both Deluxe and Kitsch.

Amanda Prussak also presented her new line, “Orphan No More,” and her use of color was perfect for Spring 2012. With bold combinations of cobalt blue, tangerine orange, hot pink, and sage green, Prussak’s designs are sure to bring us out of our rainy Eugene slumps.

With a wide range of innovative designers and talented performers like Mood Area 52, I almost forgot I was in Eugene. Worry not, though. Our city still has, and always will have, its beatnik roots. After all, the hipster sitting in front of me at the show was sipping green yerba maté out of a mason jar. Classic.

A Cheesy Perspective

-Sam Bouchat

I love cheese. It’s a journey to deliciousness–pizza, burritos, sandwiches, lasagna. All of these delicacies require cheese. But NPR recently reported on a campaign by the nonprofit group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, against my beloved cheese.

The group posted billboards in New York, Wisconsin and other locations slandering the tasty dairy product. These billboards, hosting less-than-savory shots of overweight individuals along with messages like “Your Abs on Cheese” or “Your Thighs on Cheese,” are getting almost entirely negative feedback–even by the not-so-objective media covering the campaign.

NPR writer Allison Aubrey wrote in an article, “Wow. This is a long way from the ‘everything-in-moderation’ message.” Forbes contributor Michelle Maisto commented, “It seems odd that PCRM should choose to go after cheese, when sugar, soda and meat seem perhaps more likely targets.” Maisto questioned the PCRM’s stance that cheese should not be consumed at all by anyone, asking “But what about that of my toddler, who for the time being has her pediatrician’s blessing to consume whole milk and whole-fat yogurt?”

The Huffington Post food section mentioned that it “doesn’t hide its love of cheese,”  and that it is “fairly aghast at this new ad campaign.”

My curiosity was piqued when I realized that the majority of the main media sites covering this–of the few that did–chose to include it not as news, but as opinion, and an overwhelmingly negative one at that.

The Wall Street Journal covered the story with a straight news angle and the reason this topic was covered as an opinion story becomes obvious upon reading. The Journal’s story is a mere 123 words, and boring to boot. Such a story doesn’t inspire much reader debate and, in fact, has only two reader comments (compared to NPR’s 198 or HuffPost’s 881).

To be publicly anti-cheese is pretty risky; people love it, people are passionate about it, and some of those passionate people happen to be journalists. But some of those people are also bloggers. Jezebel, a popular culture blog for women, picked up the story and ran with the headline “New Anti-Cheese Ad Campaign is Pure Evil,” while African-American culture blog, Bossip simply asked, “Tell the truth, would these ads keep you away from your favorite pizza???” That’s for you decide.

Follow Sam at @sambouchat

Under Your Skin: Vegan Tattoos

-Hannah Doyle

When considering a tattoo, most people think about where they want their tattoo, how they want it to look, if they should get color and how much pain it will cause. Rarely does it cross the mind to wonder what exactly is in the ink that tattoo parlors use. It seems pretty straightforward; ink is ink. However, most don’t know what is used to make tattoo ink, and for some, knowing might alter their decision entirely.

Most tattoo parlors offer permanent, traditional tattoo ink. The colors of tattoo ink depend on the ingredients in the pigment. Carbon or iron oxides make up the pigment of traditional black tattoo ink. The Carbon is commonly made from charred animal bone or bug excrement. The pigments are suspended in a carrier like alcohol, distilled water, or glycerin. Many traditional inks are suspended in an animal-based glycerin that contains animal fat.

The FDA doesn’t regulate traditional tattoo ink and the ink supplier isn’t required to list the ingredients of the ink on their product. This can be troubling to some, especially those who are vegan or have a conscience about bits of animal permanently sitting in their skin.

Fortunately for those who don’t want to use traditional tattoo ink, there are alternatives. There are vegan tattoo parlors that use vegetable-based glycerin and have black tattoo ink pigments made out of logwood. Vegan tattoo parlors are not common but many are located in areas like Portland, Los Angeles, and New York.

However, some tattoo artists question the quality of vegan black tattoo ink versus traditional. Since vegan tattoo ink isn’t Carbon-based, which is where the animal bone comes in, artists don’t think it works as well.  Although, most vegan tattoo artists say that there is no difference.

When it comes down to it, it’s all about personal preference and doing research. Just be sure that before emblazoning “Vegan” or “PETA” on your back, you understand what is being embedded under your skin.

Photo taken by Gene Coffey at Tattoo Culture