Seaside Conversation for Earth Day

Seaside Signal April 27, 2011
by Rosemary Dellinger, editor

Denise Fairweather considers herself a steward of the land and is passionate about recycling. During the past 20 years, she has taken serious steps to reduce her carbon footprint and encouraged others to go "green" long before the practice was popular. Fairweather moved to the North Coast nine years ago and is the operator of fairweather house & gallery in the Historic Gilbert District of downtown Seaside.

Signal: Where were you raised?
Fairweather: I was born in Clark County, Washington., and raised on our family farm that is near our original 1854 Irish land claim. I grew up in the 60s and was the oldest of 5 daughters. I left the family farm at age 17 and trained to become a master florist. At the age of 21, my husband and I purchased a floral shop, and later opened a second location. We were in that community for over 20 years.

Signal: What was your occupation?
Fairweather: My first job was in retail, still is. I was very involved in Junior League and spent many years working for the Portland Rose Festival as a designer for the Grand Floral Parade. I was fortunate to have earned nine trophies for those endeavors ...using found and natural materials to create community floats. Later, when we moved to Portland, I was selected to be the creative director for several galleries in Oregon. Thinking outside of the box, and coloring outside of the lines ...I presented their shows, seminars and workshops. Still later, I was appointed to be an adjunct college professor, teaching planning and design.

Signal: How long have you been in Seaside?
Fairweather: We honeymooned in Seaside in the 60's and knew that we would retire somewhere at the coast. When life changed, I decided to live our retirement anyway. Seaside was my choice as it has a strong business network, in addition I have a younger brother who has lived here with his family for quite some time. Good alliances all around.

Signal: Tell us about your family.
Fairweather: I have one child, a daughter. She is married, and I have three grandchildren. She has moved 7 times in 13 years to

different locations for her husband's work. She is very skilled at becoming a part of a community wherever they are currently living. The children have thrived in many diverse locations. When she chose an Oregon college, we moved from Washington to Portland, near Reed College. There we embraced a progressive neighborhood campaign to disconnect rain gutters. We also chose not to do curbside garbage pick up and to recycle as much as possible. Since 1998 I have had a zero impact with consumer waste.

Signal: Do you belong to community groups, clubs, or volunteer on local projects?
Fairweather: Throughout my life, I have done a lot of things for the communities I have lived in and received quite a few accolades. I believe in giving back locally. Here I am involved in the Assistance League, Parks and Recreation, the Providence Foundation, United Way, the Oregon Food Bank and several others. Here in the store, I have artists who also work with me to give back to organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the Nature Conservatory. I am on my fifth year of having a business at the coast. Did you know that there are only handmade products and artists with ties to the Northwest in the store?

Signal: Tell us about your recycling philosophy.
Fairweather: It's all about thinking and making good choices. I recycle 100 percent. There is no garbage. I iron tissue and reuse drop tags. The product recipe is real wood that has been re-purposed and remade, or recycled glass. In fact, most of the businesses in the Gilbert District have found various ways to embrace recycling. Good things are happening.

Signal: If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Fairweather: It is such a family legacy to honor the land and being of Irish descent, I would have liked to have known John Muir. He is the founder of the National Parks. But, he started out as a shepherd and yet learned to appreciate the natural land. How did he motivate so many to preserve the parks for the following generations?

Editor's Note: Seaside Conservation is a weekly feature by Seaside Signal editor Rosemary Dellinger. It is an opportunity for local residents to learn more about their local neighbors in the Seaside area. www.seasidesignal.com