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Some Realities of Landslides and Other Mass Movements on the Landscape

Duane Slide 2013

Slide on Duane and 5th St in Astoria in 2013.

I. GENERAL CONCEPTS OF MASS MOVEMENTS

Mass movements are important geomorphic processes in many parts of the world.  Landslides and other mass movements can occur whenever the particular landscape is unstable.  Land Stability relates to the resistance to movement.  The term best used to describe this resistance is ‘Shear Strength’.  The factors involved in shear strength include: level land; solid material [rock]; compact material such as clay or sand; non-expanding clays such as illite; vegetation cover [trees, grass, etc.]; good internal drainage so that water does not accumulate within the material; and typically conformity of material [for example all sand].

Land Instability relates to slope failure and the movement of materials.  The term best used to describe the susceptibility to slope failure is ‘Shear Stress’.  The factors involved with increasing shear stress include: steep slopes; unconsolidated, loose material; unconformity of different materials [for example sand over rotted rock over solid rock]; cracks or joints in rocks; expanding clays such as vermiculite or montmorillonite; loss of vegetation [especially the binding effect of roots]; saturation with water [for example springs or heavy rainfall events]; added weight such as structures or roads; undercutting of slope such as a roadcut; heating and cooling; wetting and drying; and freezing and thawing.

The basic causes of mass movement relate to the excess of stresses to resistance.  In other words, when shear stress [instability] becomes greater than shear strength [stability] a slope will fail.  Increased stress may come from added materials from upslope that can cause rapid failure.  Heavy rains can increase pore pressures to expand or push material away from the slope face.  Such movements can be related solely to a heavy rainstorm, BUT most often there is a lag time from the rain event to the infiltration of rainwater to the buildup of pressures in the material to the slope movement.  The author has seen such a ‘lag’ on numerous occasions in St. Vincent and Jamaica in the West Indies and even here in Oregon.

The importance of any given mass movement ‘event’ is determined by:  the amount of energy and material involved; how often it happens; what occurs between events to stabilize the slope; and the timing and size of the event.  In other words, how much is the event able to transform the landscape – from a major ‘slide’ to a few rocks tumbling down a hillside, AND what impact does it have on roads, structures, and human safety.

Mass movement of any material on slopes is under the influence of gravity and can be rapid or slow.  Rapid movements generally can be explained by such events as earthquakes; vibrations from road traffic or machinery; weight of water; lubrication by water; removal of material at the bottom of a slope; or the weight of buildings and other structures.  Often the sudden alteration of a landscape is caused by high amounts of precipitation.  Bedrock can give way on a joint or fault or crack.  Such failure often is related to the bedrock layers sloping in the same direction as the general land surface slope.  The failure is compounded if the rock layers are composed of different minerals and textures of materials [such as a combination of mudstone, sandstone, and basalt].

Unconsolidated materials can experience shallow or deep landslides depending on the character of the materials involved.  Deep slides are the result of shear stress increasing with depth and exceeding the shear strength.  The material gives way as the mass becomes unstable.  Other natural factors may be of lesser importance overall, but do contribute to movement in addition to precipitation.  Freezing, heating, and wetting processes all contribute to the expansion of unconsolidated materials and the pushing up of these materials from the surface.  The ‘pushing’ often is uneven because the mixture in the material may freeze, wet, or heat in variable ways depending on the size of the individual particles and the minerals involved.  As these same materials thaw, dry, or cool the materials contract in varying degrees again depending on the particle sizes and minerals.  Thus, materials are more loosened on the sloping landscape and subtly moved down slope by gravity alone.

Different terms are recognized depending on the types of movements that occur.  ‘Falls’ describe breaks at joint planes or cleavages in rocks and result in the breaking off of rock faces on a hillside leaving a steep, exposed cliff with fractured bedrock.  Angular blocks and slabs pile up at the base of the slope.  Trees and other plants are broken and scarred by the rocks.  ‘Slumps’ usually occur where there are differing shear strength layers and failure comes in the layer or layers where shear stress exceeds shear strength.  A steep back wall exposes the rock or unconsolidated material.  The movement often is a back rotation that uproots trees and other plants and tips them back toward the slope.  ‘Flows’ usually need water that can come naturally from rainfall or springs and also from irrigation or watering of lawns.  The flow has a lobate form that buries ground plants and soils and can bend trees.  ‘Slides’ slip over one or more surfaces and are helped by wetness [can be slippery or solution of minerals], earthquakes, and/or steep slopes.  A concave scar exposes rock or other material at the back of the slide.  The displaced mass may move a few feet to more than a mile downslope depending on the size of the event.  Trees and other plants are broken and bent.  ‘Creeps’ usually are quite slow, deforming the slope and tilting objects on the surface.  Tree roots usually are bent to reveal the down slope movement.  Otherwise, creeps are the most subtle mass movements.  However, creeps can expand into something more dramatic if the shear stress increases for any reason.

Some examples help to illustrate the complexities of mass movements.  In 1970 ‘rock avalanches’ attributed to large slope failures killed 18,000 people in Peru.  Experts described complex landslides involving the detachment and flow of masses of rock from a cliff face or steep slope.  At first it was a simple transfer of rock on a planar surface.  The rock rapidly disintegrated as it fell away from the cliff and soon became a flowing body of highly fragmented debris that was deposited as an ‘apron’ beyond the foot of the failed slope.

In a 1982 study of mass movements in the Oregon Coast Range, the kinds of movements varied with the materials and their mineralogy.  ‘Debris avalanches’ occurred in non-expanding clays with low water-holding capacity.  ‘Creep’ was attributed to shear stress and deformation of materials.  ‘Slumping’ was attributed to shear stress along failure surfaces.  Both creep and slumping mostly happened with expandable clays [smectite and montmorillonite].  ‘Earthflows’ were slow and deep with moisture involved and with mixed mineralogy.  Poorly crystallized minerals with ‘gels and coats’ on the mineral grains resulted in abundant pores [water present] that accounted for a fluid behavior.

No matter the type of mass movement, the results seem to create three distinct slope segments.  The ‘Detachment Zone’ often shows a sudden failure along a surface leaving a concave shaped form sometimes referred to as a ‘slump scar’.  The ‘Transport Zone’ involves fragments transformed into a debris flow or fall or creep.  Often there is high velocity movement and little debris is deposited here.  The ‘Depositional Zone’ is where the material loses its momentum and comes to rest when it reaches a gentle slope [often the valley bottom or a near level street].

Once the materials come to rest, the upper slope material [detachment zone] and lower slope material [depositional zone] re-adjust to slope angles of stability.  These angles, called ‘threshold angles’ or ‘angles of repose’, vary with the type of materials transferred or remaining.  In general, the steepest threshold angles are in jointed and fractured rocks [around 45 degrees] and the lowest or gentlest are in clays [around 10 degrees].  Sandy slopes [dunes], talus slopes [broken rock debris], and colluvial slopes [finer gravity transported material] have moderate threshold angles [ranging from 20 to 35 degrees].  Thus, even after a major mass movement event, smaller and still significant further movements can be expected until all the affected materials stabilize at their threshold angle[s].

Evidence of instability and the presence or threat of mass movement events can be observed in any unstable or mass movement prone landscape.  Some of the best evidence includes:  a steep upper slope [greater than 45 degrees]; fresh exposure of soil or other loose material; lobe shaped forms, especially on lower slopes; bent or scarred trees; tilted fence posts and telephone/electric poles; seepage of water along the slope [springs, etc. may indicate a convergence of sub-surface water from different sources]; water drains [gutters] and lawn sprinklers; unconformities of materials [loose over compact] on a slope; buried soil layers; cracks in foundations; and slumping ‘arcs’ of pavement on streets.

II. MASS MOVEMENT REALITIES APPLIED TO ASTORIA

A good place to start in looking at the types of materials and their distributions throughout Astoria is the Soil Survey of Clatsop County [U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service, 1988].  The report contains descriptions of all the soil types that are found in and around Astoria, airphoto maps of the distribution of each soil type, and evaluations of the soil types for varied uses based on the soil properties.  One caution about using this soil survey report is that the boundaries between soil types are somewhat general.  From investigative work by the author, more detailed soil sampling and soil type identification are needed for evaluations of specific sites [such as individual property lots or exact areas affected by mass movements].

There are two main groups of soil types that are of importance in Astoria related to mass movements.  One group consists of ‘terraces’ on the more gently sloping landscapes.  The soils of this group are called Knappa loams and Walluski silt loams.  These soil types occur on level to gentle slopes [up to about 10 degrees].  The location of these soil types in Astoria suggests that these materials include colluvium and thus are a part of the ‘depositional zone’ that was described in part I above.  The general locations of these materials are:  on the northside of Astoria eastward from about 5th Street to east of the Performing Arts Center and southward from about Franklin Avenue to Irving Avenue; from the Millpond area eastward to about 37th Street and southward from Marine Drive/Lief Erikson Drive to Irving Avenue; and on the southside northward of the Old Youngs Bay Bridge, mostly west from 7th Street to about Dresden Street and upslope to about McClure Avenue in the eastern sector and to about Niagara Avenue [Former Gray Elementary School area] and Alameda Avenue in the western sector.

The other group consists of colluvium [“soil material, rocks, or both, moved by creep, slide, or local wash and deposited at the base of steep slopes”].  These soil types occur on slopes ranging from near level to 45 degrees and are the soil materials most likely to undergo mass movement again.  The soils of this group are called Ecola silt loams, Templeton silt loams, and Svensen loams.  The Ecola and Templeton soils are derived from siltstone debris and the Svensen soils are derived from sandstone debris.  The general location of the Svensen materials is:  north of Olney Avenue to about Niagara Avenue and east of 7th Street including the area of Astoria Middle School, Shively Park, Coxcomb Hill [Astoria Column], and the Transfer Station/future John Warren football stadium.  The general location of the Ecola and Templeton materials is the rest of the higher portions of Astoria including: the areas upslope from Alameda Avenue and West Bond Street in the west; upslope from Niagara Avenue [near the old Gray Elementary School] and Astoria High School, McClure Avenue [west of 7th Street], Klaskanine Avenue [east of 7th Street] in the south and extending beyond the water reservoir [at Williamsport Road] and wrapping around the south and east sides of Coxcomb Hill; east of the Astoria-Megler Bridge upslope from about West Duane Street to about 5th Street and then upslope following Irving Avenue eastward to join the sector wrapping around the east side of Coxcomb Hill.

The locations of these soil types in Astoria suggest that these are materials in the ‘detachment zone’, the ‘transport zone’, and parts of the ‘depositional zone’ that was described in part I above.  These soil types also represent the landscape above the detachment zone that is very vulnerable to further mass movement as the material either drops off a cliff face or continues to move seeking to achieve the ‘threshold angle’ or ‘angle of repose’ discussed in part I above.  These soil types in the deposition zone also are subject to further movement because they are loose and may be in the process of re-adjusting to reach a threshold angle.

The areas mapped as these soil types include: portions that are very shallow to ‘soft’ bedrock; significant portions that have rotted siltstone, sandstone, or even basalt over this bedrock; and portions that have more than 5 feet of unconsolidated colluvium material over this bedrock.  Thus, it is hard to predict where mass movements may occur or how much material might move because of the uneven, irregular depths to the underlying bedrock.  However, some general traits of these soil types and their materials can be stated.  All of them have increasing clay content with depth.  This clay may not be an expanding clay, but it does hold larger amounts of water which allows the material to be ‘lubricated’ and to move.  Also, the increased weight of this stored water can contribute to elevated shear stress.  All of these soils are described in the soil survey as being vulnerable to collapse of roadcuts and being “subject to sliding and slumping because it is very plastic and underlain by highly fractured bedrock”.  Also, the soil survey cautions that limits to  ‘development’ for recreation sites, building sites [including dwellings], and ‘local streets and roads’ are ‘severe’ due to the slopes and potential mass movements.

In conclusion, about two-thirds of Astoria is subject to mass movements of varying kinds.  The extent and severity of any one event is hard to predict.  However, the soil survey report and its maps provide a good starting point to show where movements can be expected; the survey was used by the author to generate the discussion presented in part II.

Another source of information to be used for future mass movement considerations in Astoria is the new data and maps of landslides released by the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) [released in October 2013].  The DOGAMI scientists used LIDAR, a laser-mapping technology to locate 120 landslides within the Astoria city limits; 83 of these have moved in the last 150 years [and more or less confirm the information in the soil survey report].  The scientists then used the inventory of mapped landslides to create landslide susceptibility maps.  About 55 percent of Astoria is classified as “highly susceptible to shallow slides” where movement occurs along a plane less than 9.5 feet deep.  About 37 percent of the city is “highly susceptible to deep landslides” where movement occurs along a plane at depths greater than 15 feet.

III. SOME MASS MOVEMENTS IN ASTORIA’S PAST

The following discussion is not intended to cover all the history of landslides and other mass movements in Astoria.  Rather it is written to illustrate that many parts of Astoria have experienced land movement events – some very large and some small.  The discussion also will point out that there have been important changes to the infrastructure of parts of Astoria because of these previous mass movements.  The discussion uses newspaper articles and photos from the mid-1950s [some of which refer to earlier events] and newspaper articles and photos from about 2003 to the present [some of which also refer to earlier events].

Two particular areas seem to be the focus of mass movements that occurred from about 1949 through 1954 according to a collection of accounts in Astoria and Portland newspapers that the author was able to look at recently.  One location centered on the north side of Coxcomb Hill and the other on West Commercial Street at 1st Street.  On the north side of Coxcomb Hill there were several different events.  Starting in 1949 and extending into 1950 an earth flow happened on the hill between 18th and 21st Streets and affected 23 homes from Irving to Grand.  By October 1950 area residents were relieved to know that 17 inches of rain in that month “failed to cause any new movement of the Coxcomb hill slide which crawled down the slope for many weeks last winter”.  However, in November 1950 there was a “slight movement of earth” about 50 feet above the top of the Coxcomb hill slide area.  This movement was dismissed by city engineers as “merely an adjustment of the ground” and “not connected” to the Coxcomb slide itself.  “The old slide area remained stationary… and a drainage system installed there last summer [1950] by the city was working well”.  In 1952 there was another slide in the same location on Irving Avenue near 22nd Street where several houses were wrecked and “five were moved by owners to other parts of Astoria”.  In December 1953 a mass movement began in the same area of a slide in 1920; “the slippery clay of Astoria’s north slope began flowing at 27th and Irving… producing the city’s third major slide disaster in five years”.  Apparently it was slow for more than a week after about 4 inches of rain, then the earth “speeded its movement”.  The flow was about a block wide between 27th and 28th Streets from Irving to Grand and also affected the end of 25th Street and Grand.  About 10 houses were affected, water and sewer lines were severed, and about 300 feet of pavement buckled on Irving Avenue alone.  The newspaper photos were dramatic!

The statements issued by city officials in December 1953 regarding the mass movement[s] from Coxcomb hill were very revealing.  First, the earth was falling away from Irving Avenue, not pushing down on it.  However, photos of the roadway show severe buckling.  Second, “the system of creeks flowing several hundred feet above Irving Avenue has absolutely no connection with the slide and has no effect on it”.  More recent understanding of water flow and especially subsurface water movements affecting mass movements would refute that statement.  Third, “the recent logging operation on Coxcomb hill has no bearing upon the present earth movement… experts believe removal of trees tends to stabilize the earth”.  In fact, plants, including trees, and especially the roots of these plants helps to stabilize slopes [contributing to shear strength].  The author has seen many, many mass movements following logging on sloping landscapes, especially with soils similar to those underlying the hills of Astoria.  Fourth, “the center of the slide is the center of a fill which was made in a natural draw at least 40 years ago.  A slide occurred in the same spot in 1920”.  There should have been no surprise that another movement event would occur in this location!

A map was published in the January 10, 1954 Oregonian showing “Astoria’s three slide areas” is very revealing [see map attached].  There must have been mass movements both on the north slope and on the south slope of Coxcomb hill since that date because of several ‘missing streets’.  On the south slope, 8th Street now is discontinuous [rather than paralleling 7th as shown on the map] from Klaskanine to Nehalem; now McClure Avenue does not continue east of 7th Street; and Lewis, Nile, Ohio, and Potomac streets do not exist [they were east-west streets between 12th and 15th streets which also no longer exist] near the present location of Astoria Middle School.  On the north slope, now Madison Avenue does not extend east of 16th Street; Lexington and Jerome Avenues do not extend east of 17th Street; 18th Street does not extend south of Grand; 19th and 21st Streets no longer exist; 20th and 22nd Streets do not extend south of Franklin; there now are only dead end streets of  18th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th off the ‘reconstructed’ Irving Avenue; and 19th Street no longer is the route to the Astoria Column!

The area of West Commercial Street and 1st Street seems to be of concern from the late 1940s.  In October 1950 the newspapers reported no movement in the slope area where the fear of a slide caused the installation of a new drainage system in summer 1950.  However, in January 1951 residents of the west Commercial Street hill told city council “there has been earth movement ther this winter despite the new drainage system installed last summer”.  The city officials responded that the movement might have been much worse without the drainage system!  Starting in December 1953 and continuing into 1954, there was a significant mass movement centered on 1st Street and West Commercial Street.  One report indicated that it was about 400 by 500 feet and another report said 300 by 600 feet.  Regardless, the event damaged at least 26 homes and displaced at least 30 families.  In addition to 1st and West Commercial, homes and pavements were affected on Hume, West Bond, and West Duane streets also.  The land was visibly sliding downhill… it “moved as much as 2 feet an hour, tilting and toppling the houses”.  Reports continued to show that houses were moved an average of 12 feet and some up to 20 or 25 feet.  The movement “occurred in a short period of time and slipped more violently and without sufficient warning to get houses out”.  Photo captions included: “fissures opened in paving, deep into earth, as relentless downhill movements persist.  Soapstone, underlying clay soil, is blamed for slide as water seeps down the rock”; and “paving sunken estimated 35 feet below former level”.  In February 1954 the West Commercial slide continued about 50 feet west of the one reported earlier.  In early 1954 Astoria City Council also “heard strong recommendations by state officials that studies be made to determine if there are other potential slide areas in the city”.

In October 1954 Astoria city council responded to another movement event, this time at 38th Street and Harrison Avenue.  Emergency measures were taken to install new drainage flumes in a slide area described as “an old one which has been moving gradually for many years…”.  The newspaper made reference to 1902 maps on which the area “is marked as a slide area, and there has been earth movement there ever since”.  Now, Harrison is discontinuous in this area.

“Geologic studies show that when water seeps down to the soapstone [ie. siltstone] it serves as a tilted, literally greased, skid down which 10 to 30 feet of overlying clay soil slides of its own weight, carrying buildings with it.  The resulting movement is a mudflow, not a landslide in the strict sense of the term”.  There was “some speculation that the severe earthquake of 1948 may have contributed to the movements since”.

Fast forward to 2004 and the author’s arrival to live on the North Oregon coast.  Almost immediately newspaper articles in the Astorian and Oregonian pointed to continuing mass movement issues for Astoria.  The first discussions concerned the 2002 slide that had been edging down hill near 33rd Street and “finally gave way”, at an estimated 35 feet deep.  Associated with this movement event was the contention that it “was triggered by the botched construction of a retaining wall at Marine Drive and 32nd Street”.  Essentially, the construction work related to “a small commercial development on the site” that cut into the base of the slope in the ‘deposition zone’ and almost immediately pushed the shear stress beyond the shear strength level and gravity flow took over.  Apparently, persons were “familiar with the land movement in the neighborhood by the shifting and settling that plagued the original store that sat on the site from 1910 to the 1970s”.  Some of the damage to upslope homes, roads, and other structures was attributed to the building of the ‘new Safeway store’.  However, continuing cracking of foundations, walls, and pavement and severed water and sewer lines.  Related surveys revealed the earth movement was up to 40 feet deep and was the result of the removal of a large amount of earth at the base of the slope.  Sensors placed in the soil measured as much as 16 inches of movement in the neighborhood above the excavation site after the work began.  Twenty-eight properties suffered damages.

In January 2006 a mass movement event occurred in the South Slope neighborhood on Bridge View Court upslope from Astoria High School.  After weeks of rain, the earth beneath a new home began to move downhill.  The home was declared uninhabitable when the backyard gave way leaving “a cracked and muddy incline with fissures 30 feet deep”.  An “arc shaped fault line” extended behind this house and the one next door.  Both the storm sewer and sanitary sewer lines had to be re-routed above ground.  The land down slope is the location of Astoria High School.  Students were “being warned to stay off the hillside, where the deep cracks and tilting trees pose a hazard”.  The homeowner assumed “the site was safe because the city had approved it”.  In fact, “a geotechnical evaluation of a building site on a slope is required by city code only if it’s within 100 feet of a known slide area”.  [The city code should be changed to reflect the data available from the Soil Survey and the DOGAMI landslide maps].  The area of the subdivision “was not a known slide area”.  However, there was a “known slide area several hundred feet away, below Waldorf Circle, where there was a landslide onto the high school track in the late 1950s”.  [The whole hillside upslope from the high school has ‘prime mass movement potential’]!

In January 2007 another landslide happened in the same area as the 1953-54 ‘West Commercial Street’ slide described above.  “Persistent heavy rain over the last several years, including a record 22 inches in November, gradually raised the water table and eventually reactivated an old slide”…  The new slide area was bounded by Bond, West Duane, Hume, and First streets and the land was owned by the city which “has prohibited its redevelopment”.  The city closed Commercial Street between 1st Street and Hume Avenue and 1st Street between Duane and Commercial Streets.  Eventually, Bond Street was opened as a one-way street westbound.  By March, 3 inches of rain in one weekend caused “significant movement”.  The slide continued to move “in the same boundaries as the old slide [1954] and is almost a mirror image of it”.  The recent heavy rains “allowed loose clay on top of 30 foot deep siltstone formations to slide downhill”.  Geotechnical engineers said the earth was moving “as far down as 20 to 30 feet below the surface”.  There were 10 to 12 foot vertical drops from the edge of the slide to the material moved below.  Eventually, this slide expanded beyond the bounds of the 1954 slide, especially down slope onto Bond Street and upslope into Duane Street.

In December 2012 a landslide brought down trees and mud behind the Clatsop County Jail on Duane Street which dead ends behind the jail.  Strong winds swung the trees around in the soil that had been saturated by rain.  The trees then toppled down a steep hillside.  [In looking at this location, the steep hillside represents the ‘slump scar’ of a former mass movement or the ‘detachment zone’ described in part I.  The debris from the landslide covered Duane Street [the ‘transport zone’ as described in part I].

IV. CONCLUDING COMMENTS

Two important questions can be raised related to the preponderance of mass movements in Astoria.  1] What has been known about the ‘potential’ for mass movement events to occur?  2] What can or should the City Council do ‘going forward’ from the present to protect people and property in Astoria?

1] The potential for mass movement events first can be reflected in the history of known events over the past century.  Newspaper articles, photos, personal accounts and other evidence alone are enough to convince one that mass movements in Astoria are a real threat.  The city of Astoria is “so well known for its unstable geology that the ‘Astoria Formation’ is a term found in geology texts”.  “The city has all the ingredients needed for a ‘high-hazard classification’ for landslides”.

Resolution No. 08-23 ‘A Resolution of the City of Astoria Adopting the City of Astoria Multi-jurisdictional Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan Addendum’ adopted by the City Council on October 20th, 2008 and approved by the Mayor on the same date in part recognizes the threat of landslides:
*“Where it appears a landslide, or other earth movement hazards may be present… may require a site investigation and report by a city approved engineering geologist or soils engineer”;
*“Land divisions in areas of steep slopes, unstable soils, weak foundation soils, or landslide potential will be permitted only after a favorable site investigation report has been completed”;
*“The City has drafted a Geologic Hazard and Hillside Development Ordinance which will guide development related to earthquakes and landslides”;
*“A map showing past slides can be found within city records”;
*“The majority of the city is located in areas of high landslide hazards” [map explanation];
*“Astoria is at risk of landslides because of its location on the hillside above the Columbia River and Young’s Bay.  The extent of the landslide hazard includes most of the residential portion of the city”; *“The city of Astoria ‘Areas of High Water and Past Slides’ map originally developed in 1974 and updated as recently as 2008 identifies previous occurrences, location and extent of earth movement in the City of Astoria”;
*“The city of Astoria’s vulnerability to landslides… is high due to location of critical facilities and residential development within landslide prone areas… the probability of landslides is high”.

City of Astoria Comprehensive Plan [of 2009?], Section ‘Geologic and Flood Hazards’ CP.390 ‘Background Summary’ discusses earth slides:
*”The area on which the City of Astoria is located has experienced many earth slides throughout its history”;
*”The sharp escarpment on the north side near the top of the main ridge indicates that a major movement of land took place many years ago”; [most likely this was in 1700 when a significant earthquake triggered the last great tsunami – recognized by local geologists and soil scientists and other experts]
*”Most of these slide areas are in a siltstone and claystone sedimentary rock unit”;
*”There are two types of slides common to Astoria: …shallow earth slippage generally not more than two feet in depth… the deep (and much more serious) landslide caused by rotation or movement along a slippage plane caused by water pressure build up within the earth… preventing construction in landslide areas is the best deterrent”.

CP.395 ‘Conclusions and Problems’ includes comments on landslides:
*”Since 1950, it is estimated that sixty to seventy homes have been seriously damaged by earth movement… cost of street and utility repairs is estimated to be over $2 million”
*”The Engineering Department has detailed information on recent landslides (during the last 50 years)… the City has acquired … much of the active landslide areas on the north slope”;
*”The City Engineer, land agent and Building official all have access to geologic data”;
*”The City and other public agencies own most of the lands on the south slope”;
*”The City has an opportunity… to control how new subdivisions are designed, thereby reducing landslide hazards”;
*”Geological information indicates that the bedding planes under Astoria generally dip toward the south, and that the landslide potential on the south slope… could be considerable as development increases”;
*”Great care should be taken to insure this area does not experience the same problems encountered on the north slope of the City”.

CP.400 ‘Geologic and Flood Hazard Policies’ includes comments on landslides:
*”Where it appears a landslide, or other earth movement hazard is present, the approval of the City Engineer will be obtained before a building or development permit is issued”:
*”The City Engineer and/or Planning Commission may require a site investigation and report… in such cases”;
*”The City Engineer will file copies of all geologic and soils reports… furnish copies of them to interested persons”;
*”Land divisions in areas of steep slopes, unstable soils, weak foundation soils, or landslide potential will be permitted only after a favorable site investigation report has been completed”;
*”The Planning Commission will submit site investigation reports to the City Engineer for evaluation”;
*”The City Engineer and/or Planning commission may require the submission of detailed topographic maps in steep slope areas, indicating the location of drainages, springs or other natural features”;
*”Site investigation reports… will generally indicate where construction may take place without enhancing earth movement hazard… the location of evidence of potential or past earth movement”.

The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries [DOGAMI] landslide maps at 1:8000 scale have been available to the City of Astoria since about 2008. “The city has long been aware of the jeopardy – it had the maps for five years before they were released publicly last week”.  These maps are in the public domain as of October 2013.  There are 3 different ‘layers’ depicted on 3 map sets: Map set 1 are landslide inventory maps for the City of Astoria – colors on the maps show existing mapped landslides’ Map set 2 are corresponding shallow landslide susceptibility maps – colors show areas at risk for landslides with depths of failure less than 15 feet; and Map set 3 are corresponding deep landslide susceptibility maps – colors show areas at risk for landslides with depths of failure more than 15 feet.  “These maps and results are valuable… they aren’t for site specific evaluations.  However, they give planners an idea of what is out there and where to focus their efforts”.  These maps greatly decrease the risks of making mistakes in development and building decisions.

2] What the City Council can do going forward to protect people and properties from mass movement damage mostly focuses on the strict use of the documents and maps outlined above.
*The DOGAMI landslide maps should function as the basis for all land use planning decisions.
*Site specific work must be done as outlined in the City of Astoria Comprehensive Plan.
*All statements within the Plan that include the phrase “may require” need to be changed to “WILL require”.
*The City Geologic Hazard and Hillside Development Ordinance must be adopted [if it has not been done already].
*The requirements for comprehensive geotechnical reports prior to construction must be enforced and a reputable geotechnical firm hired.
*The subsequent construction must be closely monitored by the City Engineer to insure the report guidelines are followed precisely.
*The City Planner and City Manager must recognize the hazards that go beyond the selling of lots or ‘buildable lands’ in potential mass movement areas – do not allow the philosophy of “let the buyer beware” to sway decisions.  The potential damages to the landscape go far beyond these ‘lands’ to the infrastructure damages – streets, utility poles, sewer lines, water lines, and other things for which the city would be responsible to ‘fix’.  Learning from the past, the costs could be enormous and FEMA or other agencies probably would not be there with funds to help.


Astoria For Sale

The city’s attempt to more aggressively market some of their “excess” properties (empty lots and larger parcels) through a local real estate company draws protest from a wide variety of residents

bulldozerThe Great Depression (that’s the one in the 1930s and early 1940s) brought many tax foreclosures to the Astoria area, which in turn brought a good deal of land into the hands of Clatsop County. Starting in the late 1940s, after World War II, much of that land was sold to the City of Astoria for ridiculously small amounts of money (i.e. between one and ten dollars!). Since then, the city has been trying to sell this bounty of land, but hasn’t made it a priority, so that only when a potential buyer approached the city did it respond, and after many decades, the city was still left with many properties that it considered “excess to critical city need”, or “not associated with our duty to provide essential services or recreation opportunities to our citizens,” according to the city manager, Paul Benoit.

At the beginning of 2013, the Astoria City Council set a goal to remedy that situation. City staff went to work, hiring Mike Morgan, the mayor of Cannon Beach and a long-time consultant with the city, to lead the effort to set up a program to start selling off this property. From a total of over 1300 properties that the city owns, the team pared down the list to 37 properties, and developed a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a real estate company to act as the agent for the sale of these properties. They also proposed a plan to allow adjacent property owners to get first dibs on these properties, before listing them to the general public.

By August, Area Properties had been brought on as the agent, and the plan was approved by the council unanimously. Letters went out to adjacent property owners in October. Only then did they, and then after coverage of a subsequent city council meeting, most other local residents, find out about the program.

What’s For Sale
The initial maps of city-owned properties for sale, dated August 8, were available by request from city staff. They were black-and-white versions of the county tax lot maps, and were divided into four areas: Alderbrook, Uppertown, West End and South Slope. These maps included mostly relatively small lots, with one notable exception. Taking up almost a quarter of the Uppertown map was a combination of three contiguous lots that were labeled 38th to 40th, Lief Erikson to Land Reserve; Irving, 35th to 38th; and 900 Blk 36th. This area includes a system of trails, piles of logged blowdown, and towering evergreen trees. Nearby residents, and others shown the map, were amazed that this land was deemed buildable and was on the list.

west end and south slope map

West End & South Slope. The large circle in the center of this aerial photo is the property at the west end of Niagara Avenue. It forms part of a large forested area in back of Astoria High School that is owned partially by the Coast Guard. A cluster of forested properties to the west of Astoria Middle School on either side of 7th St. are also part of the sale. The small circle near the bottom of the photo is the house already sold. Near the top are several properties for sale that are on a relatively steep forested hillside that is the result of several slides. The Port of Astoria is at top left, with downtown Astoria at top right.

 

Bernie Wood, a teacher at Clatsop Community College, was concerned not only about the larger parcel (Irving, 35th to 38th, from above) in back of his house on Irving Avenue in the Uppertown neighborhood, but also a much smaller lot that he had been using as part of his backyard. The smaller lot, which runs along 36th St. in back of four houses that front on Irving, is the kind of property that the city was highlighting in their presentations to the public in the early days of the project. Driveways, alleyways, land used as gardens and for garages and sheds – small lots that somehow the city never sold and many property owners didn’t even know wasn’t theirs. Wood and his neighbors were concerned that a developer might get a hold of this property, and combined with the larger property behind it, might build right up to their houses. One of the owners on the block has put in a bid of $4000 for the smaller property.

At the request of several residents, the city eventually provided aerial maps with the properties for sale marked on them, as well as updated tax lot maps. On the new maps, about 3/4s of the 38th to 40th, Lief Erikson to Land Reserve property was eliminated from the sale, evidently due to its being outside the city’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). At the November 18th city council meeting, a letter from Terrie Remington (a resident on Irving) was read by Bobbi Brice, and after further testimony from Wood, the mayor asked the council to remove the Irving, 35th to 38th parcel from the sale. The council agreed unanimously.

uppertown map

Uppertown. The blue oval indicates the property to the south of Irving Avenue that was removed from the sale. Still for sale are a large, steep parcel extending from Highway 30 up to Grand Avenue on the eastern edge of the Uppertown neighborhood, and several parcels to the north of Irving Avenue that form part of a greenbelt corridor bordered on the west by the 1950s slide zone. These proper- ties are at 22nd, 27th, 28th and 29th Streets. The small red circle above the blue is the property behind Wood’s home on 36th St. City property on Mill Pond is also for sale. The top of the aerial photo is the East Mooring Basin, and the bottom forested area includes reserve (watershed) land owned by the city, but not for sale at this time.

 

Jan and Vicki Faber were shocked when they received their notification letter. They, like other adjacent property owners, were given 4 days to bid on the property on the 2900 block between Harrison and Irving. As a result of Jan’s testimony at the October 21st city council meeting requesting more time to make their decision, the council decided to review the whole process and extend the decision time to 4 weeks.

A quick look at the aerial maps combined with zoning maps shows that most of the properties for sale under the city’s program are forested or wooded sections of Astoria that are zoned residential. Sales of these properties and subsequent development would have the potential to disrupt wildlife corridors and change the character of many areas of the city. The most affected areas would be Uppertown; along Irving Avenue from the eastern end to 18th Street; and the South Slope, especially at the end of Niagara and down 7th St.

alderbrook map

Alderbrook. Several properties for sale are scattered along Ash and Birch St. in Alderbrook. Additionally, steep, heavily forested land to the bottom left is part of the sale. Most of Alderbrook is wetland. One of Astoria’s water treatment ponds is just visible in the upper right hand corner.

 

As of this writing, bids are still being taken from adjacent property owners, and none of the properties for sale has been marketed to the general public.

The Opposition Mounts
Adjacent property owners weren’t the only ones who were surprised by the city’s property sales program. Once the program became generally known, the city council chambers were packed with folks who testified against the sales, and it became the talk of the town.

Confusion reigned at the November 4th council meeting, with several people demanding better documentation of the program before it could be allowed to continue. At the next council meeting on November 18th, the city provided aerial maps and a presentation to the audience on the background of the program and where the properties for sale were located.

Testimony at both November council meetings was overwhelmingly against the sales, for various reasons. Art Limbard, a geologist who lives in Warrenton but teaches ENCORE (Exploring New Concepts of Retirement Education; see encorelearn.org for more information) classes in Astoria, was very skeptical about the geological stability of much of the land under consideration, and cautioned against any sales of public land before further studies were done. Fred White, a retired landscaper who lives on Irving in the famous 1950s slide zone, also cautioned against selling property that was slide-prone.

Shel Cantor, a retired engineer who’s lived in Astoria for 10 ½ years, provided a good case for holding off on sales of property in the current market. He stressed that 2013 and 2014 would be the worst possible time to sell land, as the value is rock bottom, and likely to increase in the near future. If the city’s fiduciary responsibility is to get the best deal for our land, Cantor argued, then we should hold off with these sales for at least another year.

In a letter to Councilman Drew Herzig earlier this year which he updated after attending the November council meetings, Limbard expressed concern about the property for sale at the end of Niagara: “I call attention to city land to the west of 3rd off Niagara and Madison on the ‘south slope’ – land that currently is forested. To me, there are good reasons why this land has not been developed and is forested. The unstable slope conditions are vulnerable to the weight of buildings and roads and it appears that landslips have occurred in the area in the past.” He goes on to state: “In fact, there is evidence that many parts of Astoria are affected by naturally unstable slopes, made more hazardous by so-called development. Cutting into the base of slopes, adding weight to slopes with homes, other buildings, roads, etc., and ‘lubricating’ these slopes via watered lawns and disturbed drainage patterns compound the mechanisms of slope failure.”

Sue Skinner, a nurse practitioner at the Lower Columbia Clinic in Astoria and a longtime resident, criticized the city for not providing more information to the public about the sales much earlier in the process.

Several other residents testified at the two November city council meetings, citing various reasons for their opposition to the sales, including potential destruction of wildlife habitat, inability of some adjacent property owners to purchase city property at this time even if they wanted or needed that property, questions as to the necessity of the city selling property at this time, concerns over process, and worries over the future value of their property and character of the city.

Where Do We Go From Here?
Despite impassioned pleas and alternatives presented at the council meetings and via email, the council voted 4-1 (with Herzig dissenting) to continue the program as envisioned earlier in the year. The people had prevailed, noted Mayor Van Dusen, in removing some property from the original set, and giving adjacent property owners extra time to decide whether to make a bid on neighboring property. Herzig noted, however, that the public was obviously against the program, even in its modified form, and as a representative of the people, he could not in good faith vote for continuing it. (Herzig voted with the rest of the council throughout the year to approve the program.) Unlike some previous land use decisions by the Astoria City Council, where there was plenty of testimony on both sides of the issue, this decision saw only negative testimony by the public, and the council sticking to their guns regardless. The main reasons given for continuing on with the sales program were: decreasing water and sewer rates by attracting more people to the city; lessening the burden on city staff for maintenance of city property; and bringing in more money to city coffers, both for the capital improvement fund (from the sales) and the general operational fund (from property taxes).

This public land sale brings together several projects that the city has been working on in the last few years. Relatively uncontroversial was the one sale already achieved by the program – a house located on the South Slope that the city bought to settle a lawsuit by the previous owner after the house was flooded due to an error made during a water system repair. The city lost money overall on the deal, but saw the property go onto the tax rolls, with the new owner a prominent property management firm in the area.

A large wooded area at the western end of Niagara Avenue was the subject of a council meeting about a year ago, where the city proposed packaging the property – which had been platted many decades ago as a new subdivision but never sold and developed – with a local realtor for sale as “needed” single-family housing. That parcel is one of the larger ones in the current sale. Neighbors of the property have been vocally against selling it, fearing their property value and quality of life would both go down. So far, though, no nearby property owners have bid on that parcel, or any part of it.

However, there have been several written bids submitted to the city by Area Properties, working with adjacent landowners. The process is that each of these bids will be reviewed by the city council, with a public hearing also scheduled on each so that the public can weigh in. The first public hearing has been scheduled for December 16, at the next city council meeting, and will consider the following offers:

5300 Block of Alder Street, Alderbrook, 0.23 acres, James and Mary Huber, $19,000.
1st & W Grand, Uniontown, 0.23 acres, Robert Jacob, $7,200.
400 Block 3rd St, Uniontown, 0.11 acres, Lawrence & Carol Thomas, $15,000.
4600 Block Birch & Ash Sts, Alderbrook, 0.79 acres, Michael & Lorna Zametkin, $16,000.
4700 Block Ash St, Alderbrook, 0.41 acres, Susan Brookfield & Michael Cowan, $26,500.
1600 Block 5th St, South Slope, Lance & Katherine Freeman, $8,500.
600 Block Exchange St, McClure’s Addition, 0.11 acres, Roger Dorband & Patricia Barnes, $6,500.

After all bids from adjacent landowners have been considered, Area Properties will list the properties not already sold on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so that the general public can bid on the properties in the usual way of real estate transactions. However, the council has directed that there will be no minimum bid for these properties, and potential buyers can pool resources to bid on any property, or any part of each one. The council will be the final arbiter of any multiple bids on a property, and any conditions on the sale.

The city has given mixed signals on whether the property sales program will continue after the final disposition of the initial 37 properties has been determined. There has also been no indication of how long this current program will continue. With a good portion of the large wooded lots throughout the UGB of the city already or potentially for sale through this program, local residents have formed a group called Friends of Astoria’s Natural Areas (see box), and are seeking ways to preserve what has become a treasured part of Astoria.

Friends of Astoria’s Natural Areas (FANA)
Residents opposed to the sale of some of these properties, mainly due to the possible loss of natural areas in the city, are banding together to possibly purchase some of this property, influence the sales in a way beneficial to the maintenance of the natural areas, provide volunteer labor for maintenance, and also work with the city on planning approaches that might keep these properties public. Their first meeting will be held at the KALA Gallery at 1017 Marine Drive on Tuesday, December 17 at 7 pm.

 

In an open letter to the Astoria City Council, Cantor states, “The procedures for this sales program can be modified to comply with your fiduciary responsibilities, encourage good-neighbor purchases, and preclude the sell off of city-owned land to developers, speculators, and mini-timber-barons.”

Summing up the feelings of many, Skinner states in an email to local residents, “There are so many reasons why preservation of open space is crucial – the water(shed), the air, the stability of hillsides, the preservation of a little bit of wetland… We are sitting on riches beyond gold here. Please attend the Astoria City Council meetings, find out what’s going on, and speak out.”

City Manager Benoit agrees. In a recent op-ed, he concluded, “…stay engaged and keep a close watch. An informed and involved public, advising and working together with elected leadership and city staff, is a key to keeping the community on a positive course.”


Oysterville Sea Farms – Putting the Oyster Back in Oysterville

cannerytoday

The Oysterville Cannery today. Photo by Oliver Robbins

For generations before the pioneer settlers arrived, Chinook Indians gathered oysters and camped in the area that is now Oysterville. They called it “tsako-te-hahsh-eetl” which, like many Indian words, had two meanings: “place of the red-topped grass” and “home of the yellowhammer (or red-shafted flicker).”

restoration1Soon after the first white settlers arrived, Oysterville became a rowdy, lusty boomtown. By 1855 its population and importance were such that it became the seat of Pacific County, Washington Territory. The town had many firsts – a school, college, newspaper, and finally, in 1872, a church – First Methodist.

Late in the 1880s fate took a hand: the long awaited railroad line ended at Nahcotta, an isolating four miles away, the native oysters became scarce and, without the possibility of a local livelihood, residents moved out en masse. Finally, in 1893, the courthouse records were stolen in the middle of the night, and the county seat was moved to its current location in South Bend. Oysterville gradually became the sleepy little village it is today. (adapted from the Oysterville Restoration Foundation website)

restoration2The only oyster business in town these days is Oysterville Sea Farms (OSF), founded in 1991 by Dan Driscoll, a third-generation oyster farmer who grew up in Seattle, but spent his summers in Oysterville helping his dad on the farm and learning the ropes. After graduating from the University of Washington with degrees in Communications and Psychology, he moved to Los Angeles to work in the film business. “Life was good down there, but not fulfilling,” he told me.

He lived and worked in LA for seven years before returning to the Northwest, to visit his family in Oysterville. It was October 1990.

“My dad told me that he had a business that was not good enough to sell, but too good to give up, and asked if I wanted it. I said sure, but only if you and mom give me the cannery. They did give me the cannery, which was pretty mean of them, because the cannery was in such bad shape then it was a liability,” he recalled.

restoration3His father helped to start the process of restoring the cannery building and his mother “even went to the Oysterville design review board to get their approval, got our first shoreline exemption permit, and our first building permit for the Oysterville cannery restoration project.”

Short History of Oysterville Cannery
In 1939 the property on which the building is located was sold by Ed and Randolph Sherwood to a partnership called Northern Oyster Company, made up of Glen Heckes, Roy Kemmer and Ted Holway, all active oystermen with sizable oyster beds. The building went up in 1940, and received massive government contracts after the start of the U.S. role in World War II in December 1941. Ted and Virginia Holway eventually owned 100% of Northern Oyster Company, and in 1966, they signed a contract with their daughter Ruth and her husband Dick Sheldon to sell them the company.

In 1969, oyster canning operations at the Oysterville Cannery were shut down. The Sheldons retained Northern Oyster Company, which included the oyster beds, equipment and boats. This left the Holways with the cannery and no means to support it.

restoration4

Les Driscoll in the field.

In 1973, Les Driscoll (Dan’s father) began selling both oysters and non-seafood items at the cannery in the summertime. Soon after, the Holways gave the Oysterville Cannery to Les and his wife Virginia Ann. On April 21, 1976 the Oysterville Cannery Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Restoring the Cannery and Building the Business
Driscoll and his parents spent about 20 years restoring the cannery, partially financing the project (which Driscoll says costs “in the hundreds of thousands”) by selling shellfish and other items marketed under the Willabay label. Finally, in 2011, the restoration was pretty much complete, and Driscoll set his sights on starting to recoup his investment, and continuing to involve the community in the business. Most of the oyster farmers on Willapa Bay sell their oysters wholesale to markets on the West Coast and beyond. But OSF is a retail operation, both on-line and fresh at the cannery.

In June 2011, an anonymous complaint was received by Pacific County concerning the selling of certain items at the cannery. The complaint alleged that OSF was out of compliance with Pacific County’s latest development and zoning ordinance, adopted in the early 2000s. That ordinance strictly limits the type of development and business activity allowed on the shoreline of Willapa Bay. Since that complaint, OSF has been clamoring to comply and stay open, but has also been fighting many of the decisions of various state and local agencies.

oysterville1940
Though these battles are on-going, the gist of the whole debate about whether OSF should or shouldn’t be allowed to continue to follow its business plan is best summed up in the testimony of Alan Trimble, a professor at the University of Washington, who has worked in the Willapa Bay area for over a decade, at a Pacific County Planning Commission meeting on November 3, 2011. The following is a shortened version of that testimony.

Should OSF Be Allowed to Do Business?
“My name is Alan Trimble. I’m a scientist at the University of Washington. I’ve been working here about a decade now and we live in Nahcotta right across from the port. I’m a marine ecologist. My profession is to worry about the science of water quality and things living in bays, and I’ve devoted a decade to this particular estuary and I have to say it’s a pretty special place – entirely by accident.

“People will claim that they are responsible for keeping it the way it is, but actually the fact is it’s the way it is because we already removed most of the resources from this place and most of the businesses failed. If you look at ancient pictures of Raymond, South Bend and Nahcotta and Oysterville, there were restaurants, there were bars, there were hotels, there were roads, there was a railroad, and there were several mills all over the bay. There was a very large industrial business, and in fact the Oysterville cannery was in the commercial district of Oysterville.

dan16“All of it is gone, essentially, and now we’re left with what we’ve got. I completely understand the desire to try and keep working buildings on the water working, given how hard it is to get any new buildings ever built anywhere. It’s very hard. It’s also extremely hard to start up a new shellfish business – the number of permits required and difficult things that people have to do to try and even begin to do any shellfishery in this bay is nearly impossible.

“So I would suggest that we don’t actually have the problem we think we have. It is not that somebody is here trying to petition this place to put in a Wal-Mart or a power plant or a pulp and paper mill. This is someone who’s operating the one and only (talk about unique!) building of its type on the bay. There are no others. No one else can come through here and petition to change this kind of building (that they also happen to have) into a restaurant, or a place that sells T-shirts, or an art studio, or anything else. There aren’t any other ones.

“So I don’t see the conflict, frankly. I don’t see the specter on the horizon of hundreds of large businesses coming to the edge of the bay looking to scoop up the last three remaining historic buildings and turn them into some corporate empire. I don’t see it. And I do see that the protections that the federal government has on historic buildings (and there’s a reason why they have them)…it’s almost impossible to keep them standing. Most of those places have to have limited liability corporations and nonprofits to get donations just to keep the building standing. And they have to do all sorts of special events and things to keep those buildings viable and to continue to comply with permits: put in new septic systems, upgrade pilings, whatever it is that they have to do to continue to exist no matter where they are. It’s really expensive, and having a business with only one aspect – let’s say that the only legal aspect was to sell shucked oysters, and that was somehow in the county codes – there wouldn’t be a business standing on this peninsula. If that’s all they did, they’d be gone.

“People have diversified: they sell clams, they sell crab, they sell salmon, they sell other things to remain viable. I think we’ve all been in the other stores around the bay that sell clams and oysters and soda pop and other things. It’s not a big deal to sell a T-shirt, really, with respect to water quality.

“So, my two-cents-worth as a scientist is this: Puget Sound is trashed, and will be forever. So is Chesapeake Bay, so is Willapa Bay: if you look at it from the perspective of what it used to be, it is nothing like it used to be. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s almost nothing left of what it used to be, species-wise. It’s dominated by introduced species that we farm, trees that are planted at ridiculous densities to be harvested to make paper, and a few houses. It is nothing like it used to be.

“My paramount goal as a scientist is to keep this place working as a sustainable community that uses the resources we have and the people we have – jointly – to succeed in progressing into the future.

Dan the Oyster Man

Dan the Oyster Man

“Dan’s business, while it has some warts (it hasn’t been perfect, and I don’t think anybody would say that it has) is a reasonably good model of how to succeed against all the pressures that are out there. I think that I would suggest that this group figure out a way to reach a legitimate compromise to show a model of how a sustainable, small, multifaceted, waterfront business can actually work – because there aren’t any other ones: it’s the only one we have. Right, we have canneries, but nobody can go there and buy anything. We have people that ship to faraway places, but nobody can go to you to buy anything. It’s not a…it’s a different thing: those are industries. This (Oysterville Sea Farms) is not an industry.

“Finally, I see absolutely no threat whatsoever from this kind of business – in fact this specific business – to the water quality or health of Willapa Bay. I can’t find one. It may be there, but the county has specified an ungodly-expensive septic system, and they don’t pump seawater and they don’t dump fresh water into the bay, and they collect all their garbage and they don’t even have a real kitchen in the building over the water – it’s across the road on land.

“People walk out on the dock and look around, and sit on decks in chairs, and eat some food and talk to each other, and see the beautiful bay out there, and begin to understand what aquaculture is all about. It’s the only place on the whole bay where they can do that. It’s the only place that you can sit and enjoy eating oysters while you’re watching a dredge dredge oysters in front of your face. And the thought that that’s going to go away and that’s going to be a positive benefit to the bay I think is asinine.

“So let’s not confuse the issue of whether this is opening the door to the world destroying Willapa Bay. If there was a whole waterfront district like there is in Seattle and Tacoma and Olympia and Chesapeake Bay, with hundreds and hundreds of waterfront buildings out over the water with old pilings rotting into the bay, and somebody was going to bring in a Costco or a Wal-Mart or IBM or Intel and put a factory there, that’s a whole other thing – and I bet you a lot of people would show up at a meeting like this to talk about that.

“But that’s not what this is about, so I don’t want us to be confused about that.”

While the dust settles from the legal battles, OSF goes on. In future installments of this story, we will delve a little deeper into the issues and the various players in the debate, and hopefully document the solutions that allow Driscoll and OSF, along with the rest of the Willapa Bay shellfish companies, so important to Pacific County’s economy, to continue to deliver the great shellfish they are known for locally and worldwide.


Astoria Armory Redux

a vision, a resource, a plausible future

jack benny USO

Overflow crowd of naval personnel witnessing Jack Benny performance. May 10, 1944. Photo courtesy of Heritage Museum library.

On July 9th, several people responded to an invitation to an open house at the old Armory building, bordered on the south by the old Lum’s dealership, on the north by the Bowpicker fish & chips boathouse, and on the west by what’s now the Clatsop County Historical Society Heritage Museum, in Astoria. The invitation read in part “…it would be a shame to lose this incredible resource as there is nothing like this building anywhere on the North Coast.”

How true.

armory

Present day Armory building and Heritage Museum. Photo by Bob Goldberg

From the outside, the Armory building is pretty nondescript. But as you step inside, you stare up at a fine example of a lamella roof, and step onto a gym floor that looks brand new. You can imagine the stands full of people cheering on the Astoria High School basketball team; chairs filling the floor and the stands and bleachers full with Jack Benny on the stage for a USO show; lights flashing, music blaring and kids whizzing around on their roller skates; kids dancing to “Waltz of the Flowers” in pink satin tutus for Jeanne Maddox’s Christmas dance recital; or a packed house to take part in the Scandinavian Festival.

Yes, lots of history in this building. Designed by John E. Wicks and his daughter Ebba Wicks Brown, and erected from joint federal, state and county funding by local builders, the Armory building added a gym, recreation center and community armory to the existing USO hospitality house (now the Heritage Museum, and formerly Astoria City Hall) in 1942. Used as an armory during World War II, the main floor gym became the home of the Astoria High School basketball team afterwards, as their gym (now Clatsop Community College’s) didn’t have any place for spectators. Many great tournaments and games were played there, according to Jon Englund, who was AHS’s center in the 50s. Englund, now head of Englund Marine, remembers playing in the Coast League, and coming in second to Milwaukie in 1955. “In big games against Seaside, the place would be packed, with over 3000 people. It was great,” Englund told me. He said the Royal Chinooks, a semi-pro basketball team, played there in the 50s, the Harlem Globetrotters paid a visit, and there was wrestling and special events “that were a big part of my life.”

Also in the 50s, there were home and auto shows at the Armory, where the basement would be used for the cars. Skip Hauke, the current president of the Astoria/Warrenton Chamber of Commerce, remembers these shows, as well as the Astoria Regatta coronation ceremonies. In particular, he remembers being the train bearer for Regatta queen Lidia Dorn when he was 5 years old. “I still kid her about that when I see her,” he said.

buffalo springfield

Buffalo Springfield, a touring band, played the armory in the 60’s.

Still a recreation center in the 60s, the building was a lot less used after the high school moved to its current digs on Youngs Bay – with a new athletic building with plenty of seating – in 1957. The Scandinavian Festival, now at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds, was held at the Armory during this time. “I went to my first Scandinavian Festival there. There were tarps on the floor and a small square stage where someone was telling great Ole and Lena jokes,” recounted Janet Bowler, who has been involved with the festival for decades. And there were some big rock bands that played the Armory, including “Buffalo Springfield and The Zombies in the late 60s, Deep Purple in the mid-70s, sometime after Smoke on the Water came out..  Canned Heat also played late 70s,” according to HIPFiSH editor and publisher and Astoria native Dinah Urell. Another Astoria native, Peter Huhtula, remembers a group called People! playing at the Armory in the 70s. Their cover of The Zombies’ “I Love You” peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 1968. So, the Armory rocked through the 70s!

But by 1980, the county was looking to sell the Armory building, and finally, at the end of August 1981, four prominent local businessmen – Darrell Davis, George Brugh, Chuck Taggart and Rod Gramson – bought the Armory building at an auction, as the only bidder. Plans were for a convention center and office space, but instead, the Expo Center roller rink opened its doors at the site on Friday, November 27, 1981.

Lillian Baeten, a recently retired school bus driver and “fancy” skater, was the manager of the rink in the 80s. She remembers good times as the public – mostly kids – packed the building on Friday and Saturday nights, and came to free Christian skate night on the first Wednesday of the month. She was part of the congregation of the Clatsop (formerly Jireh) Christian Center, with her friend David Adams as pastor. The group bought the Armory building in 1994, and retained ownership until the current owner, the Columbia River Maritime Museum, bought it in 2002. According to Adams, “We had a congregation of about 140 people, and over 1000 young people came to

nixon and steinbock

Vice President Nixon and Mayor Steinbock outside the Armory. February 14, 1959. Photo courtesy of Heritage Museum library.

know Christ during our time there. We were the holy rollers!” Adams’ plan was for a church downstairs and a youth center on the main floor. The group did manage to completely redo the gym floor, add new windows, replace the aging roof and other small remodeling efforts while they owned the building.

Liisa Penner, Archivist at the Heritage Museum, recalls that, “In the 1980s, my younger daughter had her birthday parties each year in the small room on the north side of the Armory and after the party they skated in the rink.”

The CRMM maritime museum added climate control to the basement to help with storing their artifacts, including boats. With their purchase of the old Builders Supply store and warehouse, the museum is looking to sell the Armory building, and that gave Robert “Jake” Jacob an idea. Jacob, architect and owner of the Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa, spearheaded the effort to save the Liberty Theater and helped found the Astoria Waterfront Trolley. So he began to think of ways to save the Armory building for the community. “There’s nothing like this building in our entire region. It would be great if a group of interested local and regional citizens could come together to save this unique structure. The inside of the building is stunning and the kinds of events that could take place there are so varied that it could also be an economic driver for our region. Astoria just can’t afford to lose a building like this — with the kind of historic relevance and huge space it offers. From sporting events, home shows, large concerts with a great dance floor, this space can be anything the community needs,” Jacob started telling folks.

armory stage

Stage, floor and old Clatsop Christian Center sign. Photo by Bob Goldberg

At the open house – which was attended by City of Astoria staff and city council members, Clatsop Community College management and staff, Astoria Sunday Market chief Cyndi Mudge, members of the Shanghaied Roller Dolls roller derby team, Maurice Hendrickson (a former National Guardsman), City Lumber staff, carpenter Tim Kennedy (who was wowed by the lamella roof), Hauke, Baeten, Constance Waisanan of Partners for the PAC, other local businesspeople and this reporter – Jacob told the crowd of his vision, some of his experiences in the building, and invited others to reminisce about the glory days of the Armory. Others involved in the effort to look into community ownership of the building spoke next, including Hauke and Mitch Mitchum. “We have a real opportunity here to do something terrific. The Armory could be an economic driver for the region as well as a fun project for citizens to be involved with. The integrity of the building is excellent, the hardwood floors are in perfect condition – and with some good ideas, a little clean-up and paint, we can preserve this treasure!” Mitchum said.

lamella roof

Lamella roof structure in Armory. Roof is 41 ft. at highest point. Photo by Bob Goldberg

The leaders called on Robert Stang, a local green developer, to work on a plan to get the ball rolling, and he’s done just that. With a promise of a 90-day window from the maritime museum to allow the newly formed Friends of the Astoria Armory to investigate the Armory building’s physical integrity and assess funding possibilities, and the willingness of Craft3, a non-profit community development financial institution with offices in Astoria, to become fiscal agent for the Friends, the ball is definitely in the community’s court.

Everyone I spoke to about the Armory thinks it would be a great community resource, an economic driver, and a chance to save an important historical treasure. It remains to be seen if Jacob’s vision will come true. We should know in a few months.

To be informed of the Friends of the Astoria Armory’s progress on the possible purchase of the Armory building for the community, or if you want to help, call 503-325-8687 and leave your name, phone number and email address. Someone will get back to you promptly.


DOWNTOWN: Energy and Passion Drive Astoria’s ADHDA

astoria 1970

Astoria before the big box era, a busy blue collar town on a sunny July afternoon 1970

If you ask Astoria Downtown Historic District Association President Dulcye Taylor, something big is definitely afoot in downtown.

“There’s a vibe lurking around Astoria,” Taylor said. “If you talk to people who’ve been here a long time, they’ll say it feels different.”

Before she relocated in 2006 and purchased a downtown business of her own – the Old Town Framing Company – Taylor thought of Astoria as a just-passing-through kind of place. “I drove through Astoria for 20 years without stopping, except to get a cup of coffee on my way out of town,” she recalled.

She wasn’t the only one. After two hard-knock economic decades, downtown Astoria was looking rather shabby, with vacant storefronts, peeling paint and seedy bars dotting the urban landscape.

Taylor, like many other would-be visitors, shoppers and business owners, stayed away.

Today, she can’t imagine living anywhere else, and things in the city center are different indeed: historic renovations are under way, verdant planters blossom along the sidewalks, new small businesses are hanging shingles and the tourists are arriving in droves.

This newfound vibrancy is no stroke of luck. It’s the result of several years of concentrated efforts by ADHDA, the City of Astoria and other local entities to revitalize a down-on-its-luck urban center.

The ADHDA was originally formed in 1985 to promote and preserve downtown Astoria, but the organization has waxed and waned since its inception. When Taylor arrived on the scene, she recalls, meetings were attended by perhaps a dozen people. She joined the board in 2009, and soon became president. When Taylor took the helm, the association had just $87 in the bank, she says, but it also had a new and enthusiastic board ready to get to work.

Today she’s president of a thriving association with a laundry list of recent successes under its belt, from downtown cleanup days to a host of popular local events, including the Second Saturday Art Walk, the Jane Barnes Revue, and the Pacific Northwest Brew Cup.

The new ADHDA has a hand in everything from preservation to promotions, from trash cleanup to small-business advocacy. It also functions as a mouthpiece for the local business community, enabling those with a stake in downtown to better communicate and collaborate with the City of Astoria, according to City Manager Paul Benoit.

“As we work on initiatives that affect downtown we do it with and through them,” he said. “We really use association as a touchstone for vetting or reviewing any proposals we may have.”

City employees including Community Development Director/Assistant City Manager Brett Estes sit on ADHDA committees to ensure the communication flows both ways.

The result? Local initiatives such as last spring’s streetscape improvement plan, which added benches, bike racks, bus shelters, planters and “Salmon Can” trash receptacles to the downtown area.

Downtown merchants wanted to spruce things up, Estes says, so the city, the Astoria Sunday Market and ADHDA worked together to apply for an Oregon Department of Transportation Grant to fund the endeavor. ADHDA has even coordinated sponsors to maintain the new landscaping.

“That’s something we wouldn’t have had the capacity to take on, but through this partnership, we were able to get greater things accomplished,” Estes said.

ADHDA is additionally guiding Astoria through its participation in the Oregon Main Street Program, a state-sponsored effort to revitalize historic commercial districts across Oregon.

An effort to synthesize all these undertakings into a larger, more cohesive vision is also gaining steam.

Under the guidance of Urban Strategist and Principal Michele Reeves, the ADHDA has embarked on a multi-month downtown assessment and identity program called Building Blocks for a Successful Downtown.

The process aims to provide a blueprint for revitalization informed by input from a broad swathe of the community, says Reeves, who likes what she’s seeing so far.

“Revitalization comes from people and people’s passions and where they direct their energy and efforts and resources,” she said. “One thing I judge when I go into a community is how much excitement there is … What’s exciting in Astoria is people get mad if they’re not included in conversation. You have a lot of people who want to be engaged.”

Reeves will work closely with Oregon Main Street Coordinator Sheri Stuart to guide Astoria through the Building Blocks program. Together, they’ll gather and synthesize plenty of stakeholder input, and they’ll teach local entrepreneurs how to market and promote their businesses based on a shared vision for Astoria’s future.

It’s an exciting time to live and work in Astoria, says Astoria native and ADHDA Business Development Committee Chair Susan Trabucco.

When she was a kid, downtown Astoria was the region’s shopping hub, with all sorts of shoe stores, hardware stores and dress shops.

“It wasn’t glitzy,” she recalled. “It was catering to a crowd of people who were loggers, fishermen and everyday folk … But there were a lot of living-wage jobs.”

After high school, Trabucco moved away, and when she returned in 1992 to raise a family of her own, downtown was on the definite decline.

The shoppers had retreated to Warrenton, where big-box stores were sprouting up like weeds. There were no tourists. And many local businesses had shut their doors.

Gimre’s Shoes co-owner Peter Gimre, a former ADHDA president who recently rejoined the board, has had a front-row seat for all the ups and downs.

His shoe store, in its third generation of family ownership, has been a mainstay in downtown Astoria through the decades. He’s excited about the new energy in town, and the new visitors it’s drawing.

“Twenty or 30 years ago, downtown was more or less like a shopping center where you could buy everything you needed,” he said. “It’s more individualized now … there are more coffee shops and more art shops, which drives people to downtown.”

A thriving city center creates a rising tide that helps businesses stay afloat for the long haul, according to Gimre, but revitalization requires patience.

“I think downtown is really on a resurgence,” he said. “But nothing happens overnight.”

In a sense, Astoria is returning to its roots as a polestar for transplants of all stripes, says long-time resident Susie McLerie.

In the ‘70s, McLerie was one of a number of artistic types who relocated to Astoria. They were potters, tailors, weavers and painters, and they lived off of the land and relied on each other for everything else as they worked to build an artistic community. They were eventually welcomed into the local fold, and many of them are still here, and still creating art.

Back in the ‘70s, Astoria wasn’t much to look at, McLerie recalled: “The downtown was pretty depressing and slow,” she said. “You didn’t really need town for much. You’d go for groceries to the Safeway or Hauke’s Market.”

Today, Astoria is drawing trailblazers of a new breed.

Baked Alaska restaurant owners Chris and Jennifer Holen see Astoria as a burgeoning foodie hub with an impressive array of dining experiences for a town its size.

Nurturing the growth of the larger downtown as lovingly as you nurture your own small business is something of a no-brainer, says Jennifer Holen: “People off the cruise ships always say to us, ‘You’re all so friendly!’ Well, we’re all so invested.”

There’s a lot to like about Astoria if you’re a small-business owner, says Taylor. Affordable rental and real estate makes it easier get a foot in the door, while a minimal corporate presence ensures visitors a novel, can’t-get-it-anywhere-else shopping and dining experience.

It’s an irresistible formula, agrees Patsy Oser, who recently relocated to Astoria from the suburbs of Chicago with her husband, David. They came for David Oser’s job, but Patsy Oser has quickly found her own niche.

She’s working as a volunteer librarian at Astor Elementary, she’s joined several boards, and she sits on the ADHDA’s Promotions Committee.

Awhile back, The Osers took a boat out onto the river with a visiting friend, and Patsy Oser was struck by the view of Astoria from out on the water.

“It looks like a storybook village,” she said. “It’s charming. It’d be nice to have that when you’re walking around, too. For Astoria to be as charming as the people who live here.”

The modern iteration of the ADHDA is capitalizing on just that asset – people power.

It boasts a board of nine business owners and workers, four active committees and two-dozen regular volunteers.

Last year, 85 of Astoria’s 225 businesses were members, Taylor says, and 40-plus citizens regularly attend meetings.

What might the final blueprint for Astoria’s future look like?

Attractive, walkable streets, enticing storefronts, ongoing historic restorations and the elimination of vacant lots are all part of the equation.

In January 2013, Reeves will take community members on a tour of another downtown tackling similar challenges. An identity-building and marketing workshop is set for February, and a public forum will follow in early spring.

In the meantime, there are shoes to sell, photos to frame, crabs to shell and an entire community to mobilize.

Taylor is also out to pique the interest of those who might just be passing through, like she once was.

“If downtown thrives, everybody thrives,” she said. “If you don’t have a downtown that people want to come to, they’ll come, get a cup of coffee and a scone, and they’ll leave.”

And as locals and newcomers alike continue to invest in Astoria, says Benoit, thrive it will.

“I can’t put my finger on it but there’s an optimism and a cooperative spirit between downtown businesses that’s keeping things move forward,” he said.

Gimre hopes the new momentum will carry downtown Astoria far into the future. “There seems to be this energy going,” he said. “I feel we’re in the second or third inning of a nine-inning game, and it’s just going to get better and better as time goes on.”

Patsy and David Oser are embarking on their very own historic restoration – they’re rehabbing an old house with river views. And they’re even trying to entice a few friends to join them in their new community, which has quickly come to feel like home.

McLerie is thrilled to see a fresh wave of transplants, tourists and entrepreneurs arriving, drawn as she was by the area’s natural beauty and its emphasis on history, preservation and tradition.

“This is home,” she said. “This is the place … One old-timer said to me when I first moved here: ‘It rains a lot here, but you grown good roots.’ I never forgot that. You can grow good roots here.”

ASTORIA’S SPARKLING DEALS
Check out Astoria Downtown Business Holiday Shopping Specials at www.astoriadowntown.com.

To learn more about ADHDA, visit http://www.astoriadowntown.com. To weigh in on the future of downtown Astoria, e-mail Building Blocks Principal Michele Reeves at Michele@civiliusconsultants.com.

One hundred and twenty years ago, Sven Gimre began his shoe business. 120 years later, Gimre’s Shoes is still going strong, as a family-owned downtown business, the oldest in the Western Untied States. Third generation owner and ADHDA board member Peter Gimre sees a cooperative spirit between business owners that’s keeping things moving forward, building a strong new core to carry long into the future.

ADHDA President Dulcye Taylor steps out in downtown Astoria. ADHDA recently partnered with the City of Astoria and Astoria Sunday Market on a streetscape improvement project that included the installation of ‘Salmon Cans’ throughout the city center.

Forty year Astoria/Alderbrook resident Susie McClerie was one of a number of artist folk that relocated to Astoria in the 70’s, who sought to build a close-knit cultural community in a place of natural beauty, in a city on the edge of the map. In addition to the art and craft potters, painters and weavers, folk musicians too began to light up the night in pubs and alternative locations in the city, adding to a cultural mix that bears seed to the new direction and roots of Astoria’s downtown redevelopment. One of those musicians and longtime folk programmer on KMUN, McClerie has many stories to tell of the peoples that make up the spirit of a downtown. Another story. – d. urell

ADHDA Accomplishments 2010-2012

  • Entered the Oregon Main Street Program in early 2010 and advanced to the Transforming Downtown level later the same year
  • Raised more than $20,000 and submitted a successful application to participate in the RARE (Resource Assistance for Rural Environments) Program, providing fulltime support for ADHDA for 11 months (2010, 2011 and 2012)
  • Secured donated office space and furniture
  • Applied for and received a $10,000 RBEG (Rural Business Enterprise Grant) and a $2,000 US Bank grant to complete a downtown inventory project and implement the inventory online
  • Presented an annual Fourth of July event (2010, 2011, 2012)
  • Presented the “Downtown Sparkles” holiday lighting event, including a free children’s movie, visits with Santa, and caroling at the Liberty Theater the Saturday after Thanksgiving (2010, 2011, 2012)
  • Coordinated the annual downtown clean-up day and expanded volunteer participation (2010, 2011, 2012)
  • Represented downtown during Planning Commission work sessions that led to the recently adopted Derelict Building Ordinance
  • Built an e-mail database and manage regular communications regarding ADHDA activities
  • Developed and maintain social media tools for ADHDA including a Facebook page
  • Elevated the visibility of ADHDA through regular media releases
  • Assumed coordination of Second Saturday Art Walk
  • Held regular monthly meetings and increased average attendance to 35-40 people
  • Have developed productive partnerships with the Astoria-Warrenton Chamber of Commerce, City of Astoria, Astoria Sunday Market and other organizations
  • Adopted the administrative and committee structure supporting the “4-point approach” prescribed by the Main Street Program and continue to build upon that structure
  • Conducted a consumer survey through the Business Development Committee
  • Volunteered at Chamber events, including the Crab Festival and Columbia Crossing, to raise funds for ADHDA
  • Presented the wildly successful Astoria Bicentennial Revue, raising $4,000 to $5,000 per year for the organization (2011 and 2012)
  • Facilitated information dissemination via online blog after the fire that destroyed #10 6th Street and Cannery Café, helping displaced tenants locate new space, connect with community members offering equipment, supplies and other relief, and connect with customers and clients
  • Launched an ADHDA website to provide news, events, and other organization information to the public
  • Partnered with the City and ODOT to develop, design, install and maintain a new streetscape improvement project consisting of new “salmon can” trash receptacles, benches, bike racks and lockers, bus shelters, planters and plants
  • Completed phase I of Building Blocks for a Successful Downtown — a presentation and forum with citizens, property owners and business owners — at the Bankers Suite in May
  • Secured additional funding from the City of Astoria, Astoria Sunday Market and Pacific Power to continue with phase II of Building Blocks for a Successful Downtown — a more comprehensive analysis and assessment during the winter of 2012/spring of 2013
  • Organized the Pacific Northwest Brew Cup, bringing brewers and beer lovers from all over the Northwest and raising more than $25,000 for the organization in September 2012
  • Secured over $10,000 annually in membership dues from over 80 businesses, organizations and individuals in the community (2011 and 2012)
  • Won Oregon Main Street Awards for:
  • Outstanding Promotional Event for the Passport Program at the Pacific Northwest Brew Cup
  • Honorable Mention for participation in the Downtown Astoria Streetscape Improvement Project
  • Outstanding Organizational Event for the Jane Barnes Revue

Nehalem Bay Area Three Gift Fairs

LAST yEAR, three Nehalem Bay area organizations experimented with publicizing and coordinating their holiday gift fairs. It was such a success, they’re doing it again on Saturday, December 1.

Great lunches will be available. The Nehalem Methodist Church is hosting its 42nd annual Chowder and Pie Lunch. The White Clover Grange will offer locally raised sausage and sauerkraut, vegan chili, plus baked goods. The Alternative Gift Market’s several soup and bread options will benefit the North County Food Bank.

You can top off your day by attending the area’s annual holiday party at the Nehalem City Hall. Tickets are $20 each for the buffet dinner and available at Nehalem Lumber, the Pizza Garden and Mirror Images. all three bazaars will be held from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Their locations and offerings:

wHITE CLOVER GRANGE, 36585 Hwy 53, about 2 miles east of Hwy 101, landmarked by a humorous cow sculpture, will emphasize locally produced food items including Lance’s Farm Vittles Christmas meats, Tallwoman Tonics herbals, and many varieties of jam, handcrafts, garlic braids, bird houses, plants, and crocheted items produced by Grange members as well as the Rockaway Lioness organization.

To top off the Grange bazaar, a quilt and a leg of lamb basket will be raffled. Proceeds will be used to maintain and improve the historic Grange building, keeping it available for community use.

THE ALTERNATIVE GIFT mARkET, Pine Grove Community Center, 225 Laneda Avenue, Manzanita, provides a different direction in meaningful holiday giving. Shoppers make a contribution to any of a large variety of local nonprofits or worldwide projects. They then receive a gift card (one for each donation) to give friends and loved ones to let them know a gift was made in their name to a cause that will benefit others. Local groups represented include Lower Nehalem Watershed Council, CASA, Food Roots, Lower Nehalem Community Trust, CartM, Fire Mountain School, and Rinehart Clinic.

In 2010, two-thirds of the funds raised were for local nonprofits and one-third for international projects. The Market is sponsored by Fulcrum Community Resources, whose mission is to create sustainability in north Tillamook County. NEHALEm BAy uNITED mETHODIST CHuRCH, 42nd Annual Christmas Bazaar & Clam Chowder Luncheon, 10th & A Streets, Nehalem. This long-running bazaar has several traditional components including a “boutique” of hand-made gifts and crafts, Granny’s Attic rummage sale area, potted plants ready for giving, a bakery and candy table, and particularly special, a Kid’s Shopping area, where children can purchase gifts for others at very affordable prices.

All proceeds from the Methodist bazaar go to the church’s charitable work, much of which is right in Tillamook County: Healthy Families, Good News Club, and Marie Mills as well as others in this country and overseas.


ON RAIN matt love

North Coast photographers dive into the wet stuff.

Inspired by the courage of Oregon writer Matt Love to commit to a year’s worth of columns on rain, it was thus upon us. When it fi rst hit, (the rain) there was a collective response from North Coasters . . . shock. We had begun to get used to this “other worldly climate” ruled by the sun, somehow imagining it to be the new standard.

To creatively usher in the true season, HIPFiSH in partnership with Lightbox Photographic Gallery in Astoria, called upon the region’s photographers — whose medium has high potential to connect us with the moment. In these few pages they share images and impressions that may serve to transcend.

Also this month of November, the photographers on these pages, celebrate their medium at LightBox Photographic Gallery in the annual Members Exhibit. You’ll fi nd an ON RAIN exhibit in addition to a vast selection of images from the regions many talented photographers. Enjoy!

– Dinah Urell

Finally, the rain fell on the Oregon Coast, after a record summer/fall drought.

Thank
Ken Kesey! Now I can’t launch my new literary endeavor: a column on
rain for Hipfi sh, written in real time, with the modest ambition to
become the greatest column on rain in the history of world journalism.
And probably the only one.

I
live on the Oregon Coast, a place where a direct hit of black latitude
and white longitude (a small mountain range near the ocean) creates a
perfect gray cloistering and geographical claustrophobia that produces
and average of 300 cloudy days and 70 inches of orographic rainfall a
year. It is also a place that receives a vast majority of its
precipitation in the winter, as opposed to other areas in North America
east of the Rockies that receive most of their rainfall in the summer.

It
can rain 100 inches in one year here. The word pluvial is a noun
defined, “as a period marked by increased rainfall” and an adjective,
“relating to or characterized by rainfall.” The Oregon Coast is pluvial
in winter. That is the last time I will employ pluvial in this column.
It sounds terrible, academic.

I
recently fi nished a biography of James Cain, author of The Postman
Always Rings Twice and Mildred Pierce and came across a line that
startled me. This is a paraphrase: “A writer with ambition has to become
a pelagic fish,” meaning he has to swim out to open water where it’s
deep.

Is rain deep? Is there any chance a column on rain could end up a success?

A
national book deal where I sign the contract in a big city where people
dressed in suits wield umbrellas as a fashion accessory? What is
success in writing? What is ambition? I don’t know but I do know I want
to write about rain in a way no one ever has before. Perhaps I will
include some science, but I much prefer impressionism to meteorology and
making mix tapes to stored music in clouds. (Memo: while writing this
book, make a mix tape using only rock songs with the word “rain” in the
title.)

My portable
Italian typewriter, rescued from a Newport thrift store, a virgin,
stands ready to pound out this tome. I choose to write on a typewriter
because the sound of a manual typewriter in action almost exactly
replicates the sound of a hard rain hitting the skylights of my cabin.
Furthermore, I’m into tactile things these days and if rain is nothing
else, it is tactile. Rain will never be digitized.

I
don’t know where this column begins, let alone will end. Conceiving an
ending seems as improbable as locating compassion in a Republican’s
heart. I’ll just follow E.L. Doctrow’s lead: “Writing is an exploration.
You start from nothing and learn as you go.” I will explore the rain
with the same pioneering zeal as Jacques Cousteau explored under the sea
with his invented equipment. In his incredible memoir The Silent World,
Cousteau wrote:”Sometimes we are lucky enough to know that our lives
have been changed, to discard the old, embrace the new, and run headlong
down an immutable course.”

Actually,
I walked down my immutable course and it was raining, always raining.
During the winter I had suffered an emotional crisis and decided to walk
right into the rain in hope of discovering a secret passage through the
misery. I found it. I embraced rain and let it transfigure me.

Perhaps
I’ll write on my columns on that. Or perhaps it’s nobody’s business but
mine—and hers. She didn’t really get the rain. Is it any wonder we’re
not together?

Matt
Love lives in near Newport and is the author/editor of eight books about
Oregon, available at independent book stores or his web site at
nestuccaspitpress. com. He can be reached at lovematt100@yahoo.com and would love to hear your rain story.

 

d o n f r a n k

Father
and Son. If you don’t play in the rain, you don’t play. Of all the
lessons a father can pass onto a son, perhaps it is the tutorial from
the son to the father which stands out. Life is short, and messy, and
wet, and what are you waiting for? Time to play, especially in the rain.

m i c h a e l m a t h e r s

Flavel
in the rain. Knowing that a light was always on, I arrived at the site
pre-dawn , set up my 10’ ladder and 15’ tripod, so I would be level with
the house and not trespassing. Most important was my strap-on golf
umbrella. Some neighbors must have called the police, because 2 squad
cars showed up. As they got out of their cars, I said “Don’t shoot, it’s
only Umbrella Man. I’m a professional photographer.”

d a v i d l e e m y e r s

The
views from my home in Astoria are at once epic and intimate: big skies
and big water, thick with weather. Rolling clouds, fog, and every form
of water and wind. The light ranges from luminiscent to soft and heavy. I
have come to feel at home in this, to treasure the everyday and exult
in the extremes. Is it odd to find comfort in the rhythm of the rain on
my roof, of wind and hail on my windows? I think not: I suspect I have
company in this.

b i l l j e n s e n

As
a photographer native to the Pacific Northwest rain must be embraced.
It expresses itself as refreshment, a cleansing element, a power of
growth, a refractor of light, an atmosphere translator. A single fi gure
with umbrella hints of rain and a somewhat monochrome palette tells us
it’s likely winter. The division between cement and dune provides a
contrast and solitary, but safe and shielded, path through which to
progress.

z a n  h a r e

All
of us have driven to Portland and back in the pouring rain. Defroster
on high, wipers slapping frantically back and forth. I was on such a
drive recently with my husband. The sun was shining through the trees, a
tantalizing promise not yet fulfi lled. I captured this image through
the window expressing the rain experience that we all share.

don frank

The
Tides By The Sea has provided a dry respite for visitors since 1928.
The south Seaside landmark has an army of ocean front rooms to watch
both the rain and tide roll in from the comfort of a cozy sofa. The
glorious views belie the hard truth that the rainy season can be a rough
one. Buildings get battered, roofs ripped off, and trees torn down. But
all dogs need to get out for a walk and so we stray from the comforts
of our rooms and with luck, fi nd appreciation for the showers.

r e b e c c a a k p o r i a y e

In
this night photo, the rain falling on my windshield provides a light
show before my eyes, rain pounding on my rooftop provides the
soundtrack, and the silhouette of the VW punctures my memory. I have
been here before. Camera in hand, I set up for a fairly long exposure.
When I took this photo I had just moved here from the Arizona, where
rain falls mainly during a brief monsoon season. I thought I would miss
those remarkable sound and light shows. Now I know. Rainstorm drama is a
powerful Northwest photographic subject.

d o n f r a n k

The
futile attempt to keep equipment dry when shooting in the rain fails to
compare to the real challenge: How do I make this photo interesting?
For this project, I looked downward, not upward. The end of a raindrop’s
journey is the same as the Timeless Time smokes pack. Both wind up on
the ground, hardly an afterthought for anyone. The rain is supposed to
be cleansing, but in this case, it only mocks the ugliness of
thoughtless litter by making it a beautiful subject.

m i c h a e l g r a n g e r

With
the onset of the rainy season this photographer awakens to the drama
and the excitement of the approaching storms as visual and sensual
treats, never complaining of the gray wetness that bring beauty, life
and renewal to the North Coast.


Why you should vote NO on measure 81 – The GillNet Ban

Ballot Measure 81 is deeply flawed and will cause harm to fishing communities on the lower Columbia River, through economic loss and denial of traditional lifestyles and foodways. Hipfish Monthly strongly endorses a no vote on measure 81.

Measure 81, which would ban the use of gillnets by nontribal commercial fishermen in the inland waters of Oregon, but would allow the use of seine nets (which have been illegal for non tribal commercial fisheries on the Columbia River since 1948) is the most recent clash in the long and unnecessary battle between recreational and commercial fishermen over allocation of salmon in the lower Columbia River. This effort to outlaw gillnetting in the Columbia River is the first attempt in several years with any real teeth to it. Measure 81, ingenuously titled the “Protect Our Salmon Act”, is the brainchild of Texas-based Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and other organizations like Stop Gillnetting Now. These groups were unable to raise enough funds to back the initiative within Oregon. 89% of the funds used to generate signatures for Measure 81 were from a donation of more than $500,000 from one resident of Washington State.

The biggest problem with using the initiative process to change fishery regulations with respect to the Columbia River is that the new regulations would apply only to Oregon commercial fisherman, wholesalers, and processors. If Measure 81 passes, Washington non-tribal commercial fishermen will continue use gillnets to harvest salmon and sturgeon in the Columbia River.

Another major problem with Measure 81 is that although the authors would have you believe otherwise, it merely boils down to an allocation shift of harvest (and the accompanying incidental bycatch) from the gillnet fisheries to the recreational fisheries. Measure 81 will in no way contribute to the recovery of endangered stocks of Columbia River fish.

The issues surrounding the Columbia River fisheries are complex. The fisheries are jointly managed by state (Oregon and Washington), federal, and tribal agencies whose overall goal is to conserve threatened and endangered fish populations and at the same time, provide maximum opportunities for both recreational and commercial fishing in the Columbia River. Individual fishing seasons are set by the Columbia River Interstate Compact, a partnership between the fish and wildlife departments of the states of Oregon and Washington who work together to craft concurrent regulations that apply to the Columbia River fisheries. When you average out the total allowable harvest allowed to non-tribal fisheries, recreational fisheries are allocated 80% of the catch and commercial fisherman get 20%.

Confusing the issue further, in reaction to Measure 81, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has come up with a somewhat more equitable plan that would phase out non-tribal gillnetting on the main channels of the Columbia River and require the development of alternative fishing methods such as purse seining for commercial use. Under this plan, commercial gillnetting in off-channel areas such as Youngs Bay would continue. (See sidebar for more information on Governor Kitzhaber’s plan.)

In response CCA and many of the other organizations that originally backed Measure 81, feel that they have already won, have stepped back from their campaign and are now offering support for the Governor’s plan. Some groups, including The Association for Northwest Steelheaders, have even submitted Arguments in Opposition to the Measure 81 section of the Oregon Voter’s Pamphlet.
Despite this, Measure 81 is still on the ballot.

The hot button issue with respect to both sport and commercial fisheries in the Columbia River is the incidental take (death and/or harvest) of protected and endangered native (wild) salmon during the seasons when hatchery or healthy wild runs (and there are some) are targeted.

Disguised as conservational rhetoric, Section 1 of Measure 81 declares that gillnets “indiscriminately kill or injure large numbers of endangered wild salmon and other non-target fish and wildlife species.” This and other statements in Section 1 of Measure 81 are inaccurate and misleading, blaming the commercial fishing industry for the decline and extinction of salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia River. In actuality, the current major stresses on the long declining wild salmon population in the Upper Columbia River are the dams, particularly those without fish passages like Grand Coulee Dam, whose installation ended the historic runs of huge “June hogs” (Chinook salmon from the spring run that individually could weigh as much as 100 pounds). In contrast, the greatest threat to the native salmon population in the Lower Columbia River is loss of habitat due to urban development, logging, and pollution.

The authors of Measure 81 would have you believe that sport fishermen do not harm or kill any endangered salmon or steelhead. “Every fishery that releases fish has a mortality rate,” says Hobe Kytr, spokesperson for Salmon for All. The mortality rates for by catch in the commercial fisheries has been extensively studied, but according to Kytr, there has never been a mortality study done on the sports fishery.

In addition, the passage of Measure 81 may mean that “only Oregonians who purchase salmon tags will have access to locally sourced Columbia River fish,” stated Kytr. This will remove salmon from the plates of many Portland locavores.

Kytr contributes a shocking fact with respect to Measure 81. “Sport fishermen contribute only 1% (through purchase of fishing licenses)
toward the vastly expensive hatchery bill. 85% of the money for hatchery programs comes from the Federal Government. The fact is that taxpayers, all of us, everyone in the United States, is paying that hatchery bill. Why should the sport fishermen, who constitute less than 6% of the population, get all of the fish? It’s all about greed.”

In other words, everyone in the United States owns those Columbia River hatchery fish and should be able to get a chance to eat them. Sports
fishermen are basically getting a free ride, yet they still want more.

As well as preventing Oregon commercial fishermen from using gillnets in the inland waters of Oregon, Measure 81 would also ban the sale in Oregon of any fish caught by Washington fishermen on the Columbia River. It is not clear whether the confederated tribes could continue to sell their catch in Oregon, or if processors in Washington could sell fish to wholesalers, retailers, or restaurants in Oregon.

Conceivably, it could become illegal for consumers to drive across the bridge to Washington, purchase gillnet caught salmon, and bring them back to Oregon. The only option remaining to an Oregon consumer might be to eat the fish in Washington, and “smuggle” it home in your belly.

Negative economic impacts from the passage of measure 81 would not be felt by commercial fishermen alone. It would also affect seafood processors, restaurants fish dealers, retailers, and.

Although brothers Mark and Steve Fick, lifelong Astoria residents, are not descended from a long line of commercial fishermen like some families on the North Coast, they both derive all or much of their livelihoods from salmon in the Columbia River. Mark, a Columbia River gillnetter since 1977, said of Measure 81: “It makes me angry that this is portrayed as some sort of conservation issue when it has nothing to do with conservation. It’s a share grab from one group to another. A lot of people don’t understand how that works, that both sport and commercial fishermen are killing endangered and protected fish. Measure 81 would shift all of the allowed killing of endangered and protected fish to the sport industry.

Hooks stress and kill fish, too. If we are going to be having gear restrictions, we should probably be doing it sport-wise too and get rid of hooks, they’re deadly. ” Steve Fick, owner operator of Fishhawk Fisheries, a small seafood processing plant on the waterfront in downtown Astoria, pulls no punches when talking about Measure 81. “CCA, has set forth a goal to eliminate the oldest commercial fishery west of the Rockies. This should be an Oregon issue, for Oregonians, and by Oregonians. This affects our community in so many ways. Socially, part of the fabric of this community is a natural resource-based economy. Philanthropically, a lot of the local funding for scholarships, youth programs, and non-tax based funding programs for schools comes from natural resource-based industries like commercial salmon fishing.”

In further discussion of the issue, Steve Fick is knowledgeable and unapologetically blunt. “With CCA, and the other organizations behind Measure 81, it’s all about greed. It’s not about fairness. It’s not about environmental issues, sustainability, or the recovery of the fishery. It’s about them catching more fish. I have worked very closely with some of these organizations to recover salmon so that we could all share in the benefits. Now, they want to get rid of us. It’s a slimy backstabbing approach [to fisheries regulation]. This isn’t what being an Oregonian is about.”

He continues, “All of the people that work in this community, the people that work in the processing plants, the support industries on down to the latte stands. We are all of under attack by a bunch of bullies. It’s not fair and it’s not right. Salmon is a significant part of my seafood processing, it’s something that can’t be replaced. It will have a devastating affect on a lot of people with full-time jobs.”

Lisa (née Tarabochia) and Gordon Clement own Clemente’s, an upscale seafood restaurant located in downtown Astoria. The menu at Clemente’s is centered around Columbia River salmon for much of the year. Salmon harvested by members of Lisa’s family, using gillnets. For at least four generations, some members of the Tarabochia family have made their primary living as commercial fishermen, often on the Columbia River. Lisa Clement stated, “If Measure 81 passes, it would affect us tremendously because we are a restaurant that sources from a small radius around us, that’s central to our belief system. We believe that it is very important to eat what is harvested and caught locally. With Measure 81, we would have no opportunity to obtain the local fish that our customers desire. I would not be able to serve salmon any other time than during June and July when I can get fresh red salmon, caught by my family in Bristol Bay, Alaska.”

Industries that rely on business from Oregon gillnet fisherman would also be hurt by Measure 81. Kurt Englund, of Englund Marine and Industrial Supply in Astoria believes that passage of Measure 81 will “greatly affect our business. We serve the gillnet industry, if that goes away, we would have to find another industry’s worth of business to replace it, which is extremely hard to do, or we lay people off. Having to cut staff back would be the worst thing for us. We would experience loss of sales, and we would also have dead inventory. We sell nets and many other items specific to gillnetting, there would still be some business from

Washington and tribal gillnetters, but there would also then be a glut of used gear for sale by out-of business Oregon gillnetters. We also sell boat parts, boots, raingear, and knives to gillnetters and would experience loss of sales in those categories. This is a major deal for us.”

Small businesses, offering specific services to the gillnet industry, will be profoundly impacted by Measure 81. Columbia Pacific Marine Works, located near Pier 1 at the Port of Astoria owned by business partners Bob Zakrzewski and Lasse Vedenoja. The shop specializes in the repair and installation of stern drives on boats. “We bought this business in ’97”, stated Vedenoja, “a friend of mine used to own it and he passed on. A guy that works for us has been with us ever since, we go back 15 years.” Zakerzewski said that, “70% of our business is from the gillnet industry. If Measure 81 goes through, we’re done, we will be out of business and will have to close our doors. That’s four full-time
employees who will be out of work.”

The possibility of lost incomes, lost livelihoods, even lost traditional and favorite foods is tough to swallow for a small town like Astoria,
whose entire economy was once based on fishing, shipping, and logging. It doesn’t have to happen. Please vote no on Ballot Measure 81. If you are in favor of, or are still undecided on this issue, please take a careful look at pages 69-73 of your Voter’s Pamphlet before you vote. The list of persons and organizations who submitted Arguments of Opposition is surprisingly long and includes the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, the Confederated Tribes, the Oregon restaurant and Lodging Association, and many others too numerous to list here.

Hipfish Monthly gives a special shout of “Thank You!” To Hobe Kytr of Salmon for All, who although not quoted extensively in this article, was instrumental in clearing up much of this writer’s confusion with respect to the regulation, biology, and recovery of Columbia River fisheries. Any errors herein should be attributed to the author and not Kytr or Salmon for All. For more information on a subject far vaster than the scope of this article can do proper justice, visit salmon for All’s No on 81 online FAQ page at: nomeasure81.com/ frequently-asked-questions.

Measure 81 in Brief

Section 2 ORS 508.775- (1) Amends the portion of the law requiring a vessel permit in order for an individual to operate a vessel in the Columbia River gillnet salmon fishery to: “Notwithstanding any other provision of the commercial fishing laws, it is unlawful to use a gillnet or tangle net to take salmon, steelhead, or other fish in the inland waters of the state of Oregon.“ Removes the portion of the law allowing Washington permit holders to land salmon caught in the Columbia River in Oregon.

(2) Amends the portion of the law that makes it unlawful for a fish buyer or processor to buy fish taken in the Columbia River gillnet fishery from someone not having a vessel permit to: “Notwithstanding any other provision of the commercial fishing laws, it is unlawful for a wholesaler, canner or buyer to buy or receive salmon, steelhead, or other fish taken by a gillnet or tangle net from the inland waters of the state of Oregon. “ (3) Amends the law such that the changes in (1) and (2) above do not apply to tribal fisheries.

Section 3 ORS 509.216 (a) Requires the commission to “permit the use of seines for the taking of salmon in the Columbia River.” (b) Allows the commission to permit the use of “fixed fishing gear for the taking of salmon by commercial purposes from the Columbia River” You can download a PDF file of the complete text of Measure 81 at: nomeasure81.com/wp-content/ uploads/2012/…/Measure-81-text.pdf. To see
the full text of the current applicable laws, go to: oregonlaws.org and enter the ORS number of interest (e.g. 509.216)

Governor Kitzhaber’s Plan
On August 9, 2012, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber sent a letter to the heads of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), outlining how he would like Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Commission to resolve the long conflict between recreational and commercial fishermen in the Columbia River. He stated that changes in the management of the Columbia River Fisheries must be made and that changes (like Measure 81) that do not benefit both recreational and commercial interests are unacceptable.

Kitzhaber requested that the process begin immediately so that the rule making process can be completed by the end of 2012.

Key elements of Kitzhaber’s plan include: Phasing out non-tribal gillnets in the mainstem of the Columbia River during a defined transition period of a few years.

Reserving the mainstem of the Lower Columbia River for recreational fishing only. Segregating gillnetters to off-channel areas such as Young’s Bay and Blind Slough.

Redistributing the commercial share of mainstem fishery harvest impacts to recreational fisheries.

Enhancing off channel fisheries by increasing hatchery production in those areas and changing/expanding boundaries and/or creating new locations where commercial fishing will be allowed.

Development of alternative selective fishing gear (e.g. purse seining) for commercial mainstem fisheries.

Working jointly with the State of Washington to develop concurrent policies. (Laws enacted under Measure 81 would apply to Oregon only, causing differing policies in a joint use area.)


Measure 81 in Brief


Section 2 ORS 508.775- (1) Amends the portion of the law requiring a vessel permit in order for an individual to operate a vessel in the Columbia River gillnet salmon fishery to: “Notwithstanding any other provision of the commercial fishing laws, it is unlawful to use a gillnet or tangle net to take salmon, steelhead, or other fish in the inland waters of the state of Oregon.“ Removes the portion of the law allowing Washington permit holders to land salmon caught in the Columbia River in Oregon.

(2) Amends the portion of the law that makes it unlawful for a fish buyer or processor to buy fish taken in the Columbia River gillnet fishery from someone not having a vessel permit to: “Notwithstanding any other provision of the commercial fishing laws, it is unlawful for a wholesaler, canner or buyer to buy or receive salmon, steelhead, or other fish taken by a gillnet or tangle net from the inland waters of the state of Oregon. “ (3) Amends the law such that the changes in (1) and (2) above do not apply to tribal fisheries.

Section 3 ORS 509.216 (a) Requires the commission to “permit the use of seines for the taking of salmon in the Columbia River.” (b) Allows the commission to permit the use of “fixed fishing gear for the taking of salmon by commercial purposes from the Columbia River” You can download a PDF file of the complete text of Measure 81 at: nomeasure81.com/wp-content/ uploads/2012/…/Measure-81-text.pdf To see the full text of the current applicable laws, go to: oregonlaws.org and enter the ORS number of interest (e.g. 509.216).


Voter Beware – The 2012 HIPFiSHmonthly Election Guide

LNG. Walmart. J.P. Moss and Astoria Parks & Recreation. Casinos. Charter schools. Taxes. The kicker. The economy. The new high school sports stadium. Sprawl. Jobs. And sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

Some of the local issues that you’ll be thinking of when you attempt to fill in your ballot for the upcoming November elections. (Well, rock ‘n’ roll isn’t specifically on the ballot…)

Welcome to the 2012 HIPFiSHmonthly Election Guide, your handy, free source of information on some of the candidates and initiatives on the ballots of voters on the northern Oregon and southern Washington coast.

It’s a leap year and a year divisible by four, which means that there are plenty of initiatives, ballot measures and referenda requiring your approval or not, in addition to many local council races, and of course the usual state and federal stuff – you know, like the president, your congressman (or woman), the governor (in WA), and those judges you know nothing about.

Ballots in Clatsop and Tillamook counties in Oregon, and in Pacific County in Washington, have contended elections for most of the races this cycle, which is good news. And many of the ballot measures are certainly contentious.

Referendum 74
Let’s start with SEX (now that you’re paying attention…). If you reside in the great state of Washington, you get to decide whether a law passed by the state legislature earlier this year concerning same-sex marriage will stick.

A bill to legalize same-sex marriage passed the Washington State Legislature and was signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire earlier this year, but opponents gathered enough signatures to force a voter referendum (Referendum 74) on the legislation. The bill allows same-sex couples to marry, applies marriage laws without regard to gender, and specifies that laws using gender-specific terms like husband and wife include same-sex spouses. After 2014, existing domestic partnerships would be converted to marriages, except for seniors. It preserves the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform or recognize any marriage or accommodate wedding ceremonies. The bill does not affect licensing of religious organizations providing adoption, foster-care, or child-placement. The law becomes effective only if it is upheld by the upcoming vote. (from Wikipedia)

In Washington, several groups are promoting a yes vote on Ref. 74 – Equal Rights Washington (http://www.equalrightswashington.org/), Approve Referendum 74 (https://www.facebook.com/ApproveRef74), Washington United for Marriage (http://www.waunited.org) and local chapters of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, http://www.pflag.org). In Oregon, Basic Rights Oregon has a marriage equality program (http://www.basicrights.org/programs/marriage-equality/) that is actively working to pass Ref. 74. The National Organization for Marriage (www.nationformarriage.org/) and the Archbishop of Washington are against the measure. It is leading comfortably in the polls. HIPFiSH endorses the referendum wholeheartedly!

Michael Pierce of Astoria Hemp Works sits behind the counter at his store on Marine Drive in Astoria. Photo by Bob Goldberg

Initiative 502 and Measure 80
On to drugs. There are ballot initiatives in both Oregon and Washington concerning marijuana. To give a better perspective on these measures, we talked with the proprietor of Astoria Hemp Works, Michael Pierce (no relation to Jim Pierce, running for Clatsop County Sheriff). Astoria Hemp Works makes and sells eco-fabric clothing, but also doubles as an art gallery, and is located at 1062 Marine Drive in Astoria. In the store, you’ll find clothing and accessories made from hemp, eucalyptus, bamboo, soy, organic cotton, wool and silk. Business is good, and they’re thinking about expansion.

Pierce has mixed emotions about the Oregon ballot measure, Measure 80, or the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA), which would regulate the growing and selling of marijuana, similar to hard liquor. “There’s only one sentence in there about hemp,” he told me. Not only that, but Pierce is not sure that a control board is the answer. “It’s burdensome on the state. It would cost $20 million for regulation,” he added. “It’s too vague; it should be like tobacco.”

The sale of tobacco is regulated so that minors can’t buy it legally from any store in Oregon. It’s also taxed heavily, and the proceeds are earmarked at least partially to prevent smoking, especially minors. Pierce thinks this model would work well for marijuana.

The corresponding measure in Washington, Initiative 502, doesn’t deal with industrial hemp at all. In other respects, it’s similar to Measure 80 in Oregon. Here’s the gist from the initiative’s sponsor (New Approach Washington, http://www.newapproachwa.org/): “This law legalizes the possession of marijuana for adults age 21 and older. The only marijuana that would be legal to sell in this state would be grown by specially-licensed Washington farmers and sold in standalone, marijuana-only stores operated by private Washington businesses licensed and regulated by the state. There would be a 25% sales tax, with 40% of the new revenues going to the state general fund and local budgets, and the remainder dedicated to substance-abuse prevention, research, education and health care. Advertising would be restricted. A new marijuana DUI standard that operates like the alcohol DUI standard would be established.”

Pierce told me that the Oregon initiative, trailing in the polls, has had its money pulled out to work on the Washington initiative and another similar measure in Colorado. In any case, for all such initiatives dealing with cannabis products, the federal government holds sway. Until cannabis is removed from Schedule 1 drug status, these state initiatives will only be advisory. So when I asked Pierce what his ideal marijuana/cannabis/hemp initiative would be, he said, “Appeal to Congress and the President to remove restrictions on cannabis from Schedule 1.” The Yes on 80 campaign’s website is at http://www.octa.org/. Notable endorsements are former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and both of Oregon’s Senators. And you can add HIPFiSH to that list! Look for the No on I-502 campaign at http://www.nooni502.org/. For more information about Oregon’s initiative, go to http://oregonmeasure80.org/. There’s lots of information about cannabis initiatives in several states at http://norml.org/about/smoke-the-vote.

So, will Pierce vote for Initiative 80? “On balance, yes,” he said. “It’s better than what we have now.”

Initiative 1240
Sex, drugs, and now… schools. The Washington Public Charter Schools Initiative would allow up to 40 public charter schools in the state over a five-year period. There would be an evaluation at the end of the five-year period to determine whether additional public charter schools should be allowed.

Washington is one of only nine states where public charter schools are not currently allowed (as most HIPFiSH readers know, a charter school was recently rejected by the Astoria School District, but many exist in Oregon). And Washington voters have turned down charter schools in previous ballot measures in 1996, 2000, and 2004.

The bankroll for this campaign is coming from some heavy hitters in the tech business and beyond: Bill Gates – $1M; Alice Walton – Walmart heiress – $600k; the Bezos family – Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon – $1.5M; Nick Hanauer – described as a “venture capitalist” living in Seattle- $450k; Paul Allen – $100k; Katherine Binder – EMFCO Holdings Chairwoman – $200k; and the McCaws- (McCaw Cellular) – $100k. Wow, I wish I had that kind of money to give to educate the kids of my state! It is supported by the League of Education Voters (http://www.educationvoters.org/), Stand for Children (http://stand.org/washington), Washington State Roundtable, Seattle Chamber of Commerce and Association of Washington Business. And rejected by everyone else.

For more on this initiative, see the People for Public Schools website at http://peopleforourpublicschools.org/, and the Washington Coalition for Public Charter Schools site at http://yeson1240.com/.

Warrenton City Commission
Time to move back to Oregon, and hone in on the unlikely political battlefield of Warrenton. The city commission there has been pretty much a given for years, but suddenly, when the LNG issue is heating up again, and there are rumors of Walmart coming to town, all three positions available in this election are up for grabs, and there’s only one incumbent in the mix!

HIPFiSH asked the candidates to weigh in on LNG and big-box development, probably the two biggest issues regionally at this time. Here’s what they said.

Position 1
Mark Kujala (incumbent) vs. Merianne Myers

Kujala is the native son, and has taken over the family seafood business. He’s been on the commission since 2006, and has been involved in the LNG battle and the onset of the big box takeover of Warrenton. Myers is a relative newcomer, but has made her mark in the community, owning a restaurant in Gearhart and serving on the boards of several local non-profits. And she is one damned good cook! It would be fair to say that Kujala is the more conservative and Myers the more progressive of this pair.

Kujala on LNG
I have voted twice on the Calpine/Oregon LNG project during my term on the Warrenton City Commission.  I voted “no” on the zone change to I-2 water-dependent industrial.  In that instance, I believed that the public did not have ample opportunity to comment during the public hearing, and I was interested to hear from Warrenton citizens.  I also voted “no” on the code interpretation that permitted an LNG terminal as an “outright” use in an I-2 zone. I believed that this type of facility was more consistent with a “conditional” use and certainly not appropriate for other I-2 zones in the City of Warrenton.

Myers on LNG
The current version of Oregon LNG’s proposal is to build an export rather than an import facility.  It’s a whole new ballgame and time for a fresh look at the proposal. In order to review the siting of such a facility in Warrenton, I would want answers:
•    How many construction jobs would be created based on actual projects elsewhere?  How many of our local workers would get work, what kind of work and for how long?
•    Are there companies in our area that are certified to construct such a project in a location that has been identified as high risk for earthquake and/or tsunami?  Would that piece be contracted out of state?
•    How many jobs would be provided to local workers beyond the construction phase?  Which jobs require skill sets we don’t possess locally and how many of the remaining jobs are family-wage jobs with benefits?
•    What actual income would our community realize from this facility and what tax, energy and/or zoning concessions would we have to make to get it?
•    What are the potential hazards to our collective health?  Human lives, our waterways and wildlife are all in the impact zone if something goes wrong.  Sadly, things have gone wrong occasionally elsewhere. Are our local public safety folks confident that we are positioned to deal with disaster should it occur?  Are there safety considerations beyond the explosion scenario (i.e. hot water and pollution discharge into the river)?
•    What is the realistic negative impact on our already beleaguered fisheries and fishermen based on what has happened elsewhere?
•    Do we have the ability to supply huge increases in water and power to run a facility of this magnitude without raising our rates or affecting our local supply?

Kujala on big-box development
I have advocated for updates to design standards in Warrenton, and I am happy that we are working with the Warrenton Planning Commission to adopt new standards. I believe in a transparent and open public process. I recently argued against the appointment of a Hearings Officer to review the latest retail store application. If an application is not consistent with the Warrenton Comprehensive Plan and zoning laws, and doesn’t meet construction design standards, I will not support it.

Myers on big-box development
The development of Highway 101 in Warrenton has brought jobs and low cost goods, but it is not without consequences. My questions in considering a new development would be:
•    How many jobs will be created for local workers? Are they full time, family wage jobs with benefits?
•    Is the demise of local businesses which inevitably accompanies big box presence a fair trade for cheaper prices?  What is the jobs trade-off?
•    Will the proposed store require zoning exemptions to fill or otherwise impact wetlands and streams?  How will those exemptions impact the water table, drainage systems, etc. that affect the quality of life in our communities?
•    How will the development impact traffic?

Kujala also mentioned accountability and accessibility within city government, support for direct election for Mayor, public safety and infrastructure improvements, economic development and partnerships with non-profit groups, community organizations, and schools (full statement available on the HIPFiSH website).

Unlike the federal elections, it is refreshing, but somewhat unenlightening, that the challenger doesn’t rip apart the incumbent’s record. But Myers did add, “There are three obligatory considerations when weighing important decisions – people, planet, profit.  Finding the sweet spot where those three intersect is the goal. Leave one of them out and you have a great big mess that will ultimately have to be cleaned up and will probably cost a boatload of money to do so. When pressured to make a decision before the research has been done, I opt to quote my mom who replied to impatient kids, ‘If you need an answer now, it’s no.’”

Position 2
Roble Anderson vs. Henry Balensifer III

The veteran (Anderson) vs. the young upstart (Balensifer). Anderson is a retired Air Force veteran who has worked in various local industries. Balensifer manages the Wheelhouse Coffee Co. in the Pilot House building on the Astoria waterfront. He also is known for his entrepreneurial exploits at Warrenton High School, starting a fisheries business there, and more infamously, for his George Fox University prank of hanging a lifesize cutout of then-Sen. Barack Obama, who was campaigning for president, by the neck from a tree. Balensifer is currenly on the Warrenton Planning Commission. His grandmother Barbara Balensifer was a former mayor of Warrenton. In this race, Balensifer is the more conservative candidate, with Anderson more progressive.

Anderson on LNG
I care deeply about the health, welfare and safety of the people who live here. I feel that all decisions concerning LNG need to be closely examined with respect to how it will affect the health, welfare and safety of the people who live, work, shop and play in this community. I do not feel any so called  “Acceptable Loss” is acceptable.

I well understand people’s concerns for growth and new jobs however, I remain to be persuaded that LNG is worth the risk to our health, fishing fleet, roads, existing jobs, infrastructure, public safety, fish and wildlife.  I also have grave concerns about the possible release of carcinogenic toxins into the environment from LNG processing.  The issues of hundreds of trucks bringing raw building materials and dealing with a boomtown of construction workers has not yet been addressed at all.  Imagine 5 years of this heavy construction!   I have not yet heard a compelling case for the need or suitability of Liquefied Natural Gas facilities here.  As a veteran I feel that the wholesale export of our Natural Gas is a security threat to the entire United States. We need to be moving toward energy independence not dependence.

My stance on the future of Warrenton is that we will have growth but it must be compatible with the uniqueness of this town while maintaining a safe, pleasant and healthy environment for the people who live here.  I believe growth must feature a useful benefit for the residents of this area and not just that of outside special interests.  As a City Commissioner I will critically and objectively review any application for LNG commensurate with the massive impacts it could have on this community.

Balensifer on LNG
Because I am on the Planning Commission I cannot comment on developments that I may be deciding on in the future.  What I can say is that Warrenton has changed quite a bit in the past decade and I think we need to look at our zoning and comprehensive plan to check in and evaluate how we want to continue shaping/growing Warrenton.  Specifically this would require a lot of citizen input to ensure it is what the entire city wants.

Anderson on big-box development
I recently retired giving me the opportunity to dedicate a large amount of time toward making Warrenton a safe and environmentally friendly place to live.  We now have the big anchor stores in place on Ensign Avenue and Highway 101.  I envision Warrenton will continue as the major shopping center of the entire North Coast region. New growth must pay for itself and follow established guidelines for building design, streets, sidewalks, and land use laws.  The residents of Warrenton should not be forced to pay for incoming business development.  An area within the North Coast Business Park should be considered for future light industrial development that will be attracted by the unique mix of small town and separate big box shopping. This growth will provide the increased jobs and tax base necessary for a thriving community while maintaining Warrenton’s unique downtown area and small town feel.  The old downtown of Warrenton needs to be revitalized by using available Urban Renewal funds to refresh the public infrastructure, develop vacant lots, and help clean up derelict buildings. I see old downtown becoming a friendly place for people to stroll and visit.  We can envision small specialty stores, services, art studios and coffee shops which would be showcased by an attractive and fully accessible street landscape.  Downtown Warrenton will become the community hub with access to our beautiful rivers, parks and trails.

Balensifer on big-box development
Warrenton has changed a lot since the 2008 passage of the Comprehensive Plan. I believe we need to review and revise the Plan and our zoning in an effort to ensure the needs of our citizens are addressed.

There was an attempt to get Balensifer to elaborate on his views regarding LNG and big box development, but he did not respond.

Position 3
Tom Dyer vs. Ken Yuill

Yuill on LNG
First, I would like to say that I am against exporting our natural resources.  Every time I see a load of logs going to the Port for export, yes jobs are being created, but how many more jobs could we have if those logs went to a mill for processing and then the finished product exported.   The debate over the LNG is heating back up. I would like to see more service lines installed to areas in our own county, if not throughout our entire country, that does not have the availability of natural gas. More service lines mean more jobs; however, this comes down to simple economics, cost versus revenue. The final say on if and where there is an export facility will come from FERC.  What we need to do is make sure that if this plant is built in our city, the City Commission places a public safety tax on every cubic foot of natural gas that goes into that plant for export.   Whoever is the consumer of this product needs to pay for the added demand on our Police and Fire Departments, not the taxpayer.

Yuill on big-box development
With the consideration of the big box stores there are advantages and disadvantages. Our City Commissioners set in place a very large Urban Renewal District that included the majority of the big box store area.  As more stores come, there will be more tax revenue set aside for improvements to other areas of the district. This year $1.3 million has been allocated to the Warrenton Marina along with money set aside for the improvements to the storm water pump system.  Before this, there just was not enough revenue to make these types of improvements.  One of the problems the city faces with the big box stores is the added traffic and the greater burden to our Police and Fire Departments. I feel that each store that is 100,000 square feet or larger needs to be examined on how they can offset this type of burden to the taxpayer.

Dyer did not respond to the questions. In this race, Dyer is more conservative than Yuill.

If all of the more progressive candidates win their races, it would change the direction of the Warrenton City Commission dramatically. Much like the county commission changes last year, many important decisions coming up soon in Warrenton could set the tone for the region in the years to come. We’ll see what happens. None of the candidates appears to have a web page, so to contact them, see the Clatsop County elections page at http://www.co.clatsop.or.us/page/298?deptid=2.

Measures 82 and 83
This pair of measures would first authorize private casinos in Oregon in general, and then specifically authorize a casino, in particular, to be built in Wood Village, near Troutdale, east of Portland. Presently, only Native American tribes can operate casinos in Oregon.

The organization Still Bad for Oregon (http://stillbadfororegon.org/) opposes both measures, as do (not surprisingly) the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde (http://www.grandronde.org/). For a positive take on the measures, visit the website of the developers of The Grange casino complex, rejected once already by Oregon voters (Measure 75 two years ago), at http://www.thegrangeoregon.com/. According to Wikipedia, there are 20 states (and two US Territories) that allow commercial casinos in some form, including Washington. The approximately 450 commercial casinos in total produced a gross gaming revenue of $34.11 billion in 2006.

Measures 84 and 85
How much should we pay and how should we allocate our taxes in Oregon? Measure 84 would eliminate the current inheritance taxes for extremely rich folks, while Measure 85 would send any corporate kicker rebates to K-12 schools.

The Yes on 84 campaign can be found at http://endoregondeathtax.com/, while the opposition can be found at Defend Oregon’s website (http://www.defendoregon.org/no-on-measure-84/), where you can also find arguments in favor of Measure 85 (http://www.defendoregon.org/yes-on-measure-85/). The organization Our Oregon (http://ouroregon.org/) also favors Measure 85.

Tillamook County Commission
Position #1 on the Tillamook county commission is being contested by Lisa Phipps and Bill Baertlein. This is the second try for Phipps, who lost a close race in 2008, while she was still mayor of Rockaway Beach. A win for Phipps would put a much more progressive stamp on the commission, which, unlike in Clatsop County, is elected at large for its three positions. Phipps and Baertlein were the top two vote-getters in the May primary. For more information on Phipps’ campaign, see http://electlisaphipps.com/. Baertlein’s website is at http://www.baertlein.com/, with a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ElectBaertlein.

Astoria City Council
Two positions are open for the Astoria City Council this election cycle. In Ward 2, incumbent Peter Roscoe has a challenger in Drew Herzig. Roscoe has been on the council since 2005, when he was appointed to fill a vacancy. To find out more about his campaign and supporters, check out his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PeterRoscoeForCityCouncil. Roscoe is the owner and operator of Fulio’s Restaurant in Astoria, and a long-time resident of the city.

Herzig is the relative newcomer, arriving on the scene a couple of years ago. He’s been involved in many non-profits and charities, educational programs and arts organizations. Of the two, Herzig is definitely the more progressive. Contact him at (503) 325-1895 or
drewherzig@yahoo.com for more information.

In Ward 4, Russ Warr, the incumbent, had no challengers by the cutoff date to be included on the ballot. Four years ago, Warr squared off against me in a race that was decided by 3 votes. I’m deciding whether to launch a write-in campaign for the Ward 4 position. You may see those green Vote Bob signs from last go-round, and a new website and Facebook page in the coming days. Believing strongly that no election should be left uncontested, and this one being the only one I am eligible for, I may just go for it. What do you think? Use the comment box below this post to let me know what you think.

Wrapping Up
There are many other races and local ballot measures that were not mentioned here, and you should do your best to get all the information you can before voting. County election offices in Clatsop (http://www.co.clatsop.or.us/page/298?deptid=2), Tillamook (http://www.co.tillamook.or.us/gov/Clerk/Elections%202012/2012ElectionsInfo.htm) and Pacific (https://wei.sos.wa.gov/county/pacific/en/elections/Pages/default.aspx) counties are your best first places to look. For each race or measure, do as much research as you can, using this guide and any other credible sources you can. And when all else fails, follow the money. There’s even a website for that (http://www.followthemoney.org/)! The 2012 election, like all major elections, is a really important one for the country, and for us here in the Columbia-Pacific region. Voter beware, but do vote!


Out of the Closet With Female Rapper JenRo

Jen Ro’s video CLOSET opens the film weekend Friday, Oct. 5

JenRo is an out, proud female rapper.

If that sounds like that might be unusual and downright tough in the rough and tumble world of the rap music business, it is. But don’t tell her that. JenRo is just doing what comes naturally, making music, something she has done her entire life.

JenRO’s first time rapping on stage was at the age of 10 years old. She’s never stopped.

Today, JenRO has released four independent albums under her own successful indie label RO Records. She has toured numerous cities across the country with a dedicated and growing fan base that follow her every beat. Her music videos have been featured on the lgbt-focused network, LOGO, along with a documentary she is featured in, “Pick up the Mic.”

But The Astoria Queer Film Weekend will be one of the only places to see her new music video, “Closet.” The music video details the struggles JenRo faced after she came out as a lesbian and what many might see as a very young age. HipFish spoke to JenRo about her latest project and here is what she had to say:

JenRo, where did you grow up?
I was born and raised on the West Coast in the Bay Area of California.

When did you come out?
When I was 13, in 7th grade. Pretty damn young, but I was proud and it made me who I am.

When did you get involved with music?
I grew up around music all my life. My dad was a DJ and my older sister is a musician. I started playing drums for jazz band in 6th grade until high school. Got my first beat machine when i was 15 and been writing music at young age. I’ve been involved in music dam near all my life.

Did you ever get bullied as a kid?
I never really got bullied, but I was more like the bully. I had a lot of anger when I was young and just wanted to punk everyone, including the boys. It was fun to me back then, but I look back and found better ways to take out aggression,

Do you find it difficult to be a queer musician?
Not really, because I accept myself for whom I am. That’s where it has to start: within yourself. God gave me this gift to share with the world.

Why did you make “Closet”?
I made it to share with everyone my experience on coming out and to let people out there who haven’t came out, that they are not alone.

How personal is this music video to you?
Closet is very personal; coming out is a big deal when you’re young and finding yourself. So I wrote this with my heart and people have told me that I have changed their life.

What are your hopes for “Closet”?
I want it to influence those who may feel alone in this world. I want them to know that I went through a similar situation growing up.

Would you like to make more films/videos that deal with subject matter such as bullying?
Most definitely. I have done some other bullying PSA with youth and plan to do more,

What is the message that you would like young kids to learn from your video?
Don’t be afraid to be who you are. Don’t be afraid to be different and learn to love yourself no matter what.


In The Garden With The Marble Faun

Filmmakers Jason Hay and Steve Pelizza (left to right) at the Maysles Brother’s Theater in NYC.

The Astoria Queer Film Weekend will be the West Coast premiere of The Marble Faun of Grey Gardens.

There are very few documentary films as worshiped (especially by gay men) and analyzed (specifically by film buffs and critics) as the 1975 documentary Grey Gardens.

This is the true story of two very quirky and reclusive socialites/hoarders (much like Astoria’s own Flavel family) who also just so happened to be relatives of a First Lady named “Jackie.” The lives of the these two “Edies,” as told by acclaimed documentary filmmakers David and Albert Maysles, have gone on to influence film, fashion and pop culture. Everyone from photographer Bruce Weber to director Gus Van Sant have found inspiration in this film. An instant art house classic The Beales; story has been adapted for the stage and as an Emmy-award winning feature for television.

This seminal documentary may focus on the story of a quirky mother and daughter, but within that tall tale, filmmaker Jason Hay was intrigued by another person in that “cast,” a particular character who he believed might be worthy of a documentary film of his own: Jerry Torre, aka “The Marble Faun.”

“I had come to the end of my personal research of Grey Gardens, and it stood out that there was this really missing story about Jerry,” says Hay, who lives and works in Portland, Oregon. “Not much was known about his life before or after. With very few living links to Grey Gardens, I wanted to help fill in more of the story. What we found was that the original documentary wasn’t even the most amazing part of his life, and the film grew and developed from there.”

Torre, a native New Yorker born and raised in Brooklyn, was given the nickname “The Marble Faun” by Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale. He is now a New York-based sculptor and spends his time pursuing his lifelong ambition, carving stone at the Art Students of League of New York.

“Not only does Jerry have a phenomenal story to tell, but he is also an enthralling raconteur,” says Hay. “His story unfolds as a classic American tale. A compromising childhood, then a dash for freedom leading him indirectly to Grey Gardens, a formative event in his life. Later awakening to his sexuality in the 1970′s in New York City, going on to travel in Europe and the Middle East under unique circumstances, and sadly falling into some of the darker passions in life. Eventually pulling himself up and dusting himself off, he decides to heed a lifelong call to carve stone and discovers his love for the craft. Jerry Torre’s sculptures help free him, and he fully develops into the beloved individual he is today.”

So how did Hay initially track down The Marble Faun?

“After researching where to find Jerry, I connected with him through email and he then reached out by phone,” says Hay. “We met up in New York to discuss the project I had in mind. Shortly after, I met up with a long-time friend, Steve Pelizza, and we started working on the film together.”

The real two Edies and Jerry Torre the “Marble Faun.”

Filming of “The Marble Faun of Grey Gardens” first stared in 2009. Both Pelizza and Hay were living in New York City at the time and shooting as much as possible. “It is 100-percent natural with no second takes. The cinema verite style is as much of a tribute to the original documentary by the Maysles, as it is a story about Jerry. Since this was our first film, everyone, including Jerry, was really involved with every aspect.”

This includes filling in the blanks left out in the original documentary.

Says Hay: “The nature of Jerry’s stories at first was Grey Gardens focused. As we went on, he got comfortable that we were telling his whole story and topics got a lot more personal. He was very forthcoming about being a runaway child, his troubles with addictions, and medical concerns. Very little was left out.”

According to Hay, from a cinematic standpoint, Pelizza developed a slow and methodical way of dealing with the camera and Jerry as a subject. This method worked well for both the subject and the filmmakers.

“It lends well to what we encountered; Jerry, the mansion, the stonework. Taking a careful, close look at Jerry’s many facets, the viewer is invited to explore all of these stories, instead of being overwhelmed by the whole picture at once” says Hay. “We shot 30 hours of film over the course of a year. There were a lot of sculptures completed and filmed during the time. We could do a whole documentary about his 300-pound marble sculptures.”

After returning to Oregon from the Maysles Institute, in New York’s Harlem neighborhood, where they first premiered this film, Hay and Aggregate Pictures’ main focus is getting through the final stages of production.

“This story is far from being just about Grey Gardens. Jerry’s story encompasses many personal issues of social relevance, making him very identifiable. It also makes for an engrossing film. To that end, we are getting it seen at festivals, such as the one in Astoria, which will be the West Coast premier,” says Hay. “The final goal being theatre and DVD releases.”

And did Torres get under their skin, much like the Beales did for the Maysles brothers?

“Jerry impacted both Steve’s and my life incredibly,” says Hayes. “We formed a life long friendship, working together for 3 years. During the whole process, we knew that we were making a friend as well as a movie.”


QFOLK/HIPFiSH PROUDLY PRESENTS Q-FILM WEEKEND – Astoria Oct. 5-6 @ KALA

ASTORIA Q-FILM WEEKEND SCHEDULE

Q-FILM HIGHLIGHTS

PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS AT BROWN PAPER TICKETS

In the Garden With The Marble Faun

Out of the Closet With Female Rapper JenRo

Q-Film Dance Celebration and Cocktail Party

QFOLK/HIPFiSHmonthly proudly presents “Astoria Q-Film Weekend,” Friday and Saturday, October 5 – 6 at KALA Performance Space. The first time event features three separate screenings, (Friday night, a Saturday matinee and Saturday night), including two short features and a selection of short films. Event programmer Sid Deluca, in collaboration with the South Texas Underground Film Festival (LGBT programming) has assembled a wide spectrum of works; from documentary to drama, comedy, music video and even science fiction, all from the queer perspective and experience. Low-budget D.I.Y. to big studio quality, the program also includes two west coast premiers.

Deluca, a recent transplant to Astoria, coincidently screened his own short film Poison Oaks last October 2011 at the Big Fat Gay Movie Night at the Columbian Theater.

Poison Oaks is a comic, B&W homage (mockumentary) to the original 1975 documentary, Grey Gardens (directed by filmmakers The Maysle Brothers — Gimme Shelter, Salesman), which chronicled the declining years of Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter “Little Edie,” who were the wildly eccentric paternal aunt and first cousin of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. In 2009, HBO aired the film Grey Gardens on the life of the Beale women starring Drew Barymore and Jessica Lange.

Now back to one of QFILM Weekend’s exciting west coast premiers, The Marble Faun of Grey Gardens Filmmakers. Jason Hay and Steve Pelizza are presenting their doucumentary based on the life of Jerry Torre, who at the time of the original Grey Gardens film, was a 17 year old gardener/handyman on the Beale’s East Hampton, condemned and crumbling estate. Torre became an accidental celebrity, who then disappeared from the public eye. Filmmaker Jason Hay took interest in Jerry’s story with the result, his new documentary. (see the accompanying feature for the rest of the story)

It was Jerry Torre that connected Sid Deluca with the Portland-based Jason Hay after seeing and loving Deluca’s Poison Oaks. This past June, “Marble Faun” debuted in NYC at The Maysle Brothers theater – and now makes its west coast premier right here in Astoria.

Equal parts the genesis of Astoria Q-Film Weekend, is Deluca’s association with South Texas Underground Film Festival and its programmer Mariella Sonam-Perez. Deluca’s film won two awards at the South Texas 2011 festival; Spirit of The Underground and Original Soundtrack, and will screen again at the 2012 festival. Deluca turned to Sonan-Perez for her participation in the development of a film screening event in Astoria, after being impressed by the diversity of her programming in the LGBT arena. Sonan-Perez was excited to help plant seeds for a future festival, beginning with the concept of Q-Film Weekend. While films have been selectively chosen to represent a broad spectrum of topic and style, Q-Film Weekend is in the spirit of a film festival — it did not do a submissions call, but worked directly with the South Texas Festival and various film and video makers directly. A multi-venue LGBT film festival, supported by a filmmaker submission call is a future vision.

“I didn’t know just how open and arts-loving this town was until I moved here, and my film was shown at Big Fat Gay Movie Night at the Columbian Theater. It was a pleasant surprise and it made me realize how an event like Q-Film would certainly be a success. We’ve got great films, we’ve got a great venue, we’ve got a great town. I hope that this intimate-style mini-film fest will be an exciting new event that offers film as a socially aware medium as well as entertainment,” says Deluca.

Although the seating for each screening is limited, we look forward to this opportunity to present an LGBTQ film event of this caliber. The schedule of films offers a diverse look at the many issues facing the lives of LGBTQ peoples. We welcome all film lovers with respect and dignity. Get your tickets folks.

Q-FILM HIGHLIGHTS

Amongst the current 12 films slated (also with a TBA list in progress), on the schedule is yet another west coast premier, SALTWATER, the Friday night short feature which explores the issue of “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” in the life of a former Navyman, in addition to his personal challenges of coming out. The film also marks the acting debut of openly gay Australian rugby star, Ian Roberts.

  • Poignant short film, EMBRACING BUTTERFLIES from the Czech Republic, reunites two older women on a chance meeting, and rekindles childhood memories of a crush between them, and a possible future love affair.
  • Bollywood love story, YOU CAN’T CURRY LOVE, lushly filmed in Indian and co-starring Indian soap star Rakshak Sahni who finds surprising love on a business trip back to his homeland.
  • And jumping right off the screen, is Oakland, CA rap star Jen Ro, with her music-driven biographical coming out film, called CLOSET. Portland Queer Band Mattachine Social, who played earlier this year at KALA, filmed a music video in Astoria, featuring the pre-boarded Flavel House.

Friday and Saturday nights present Film Shorts and one 80 minute feature oer night. The 4pm Saturday matinee features all Film Shorts. Each screening presents new films. Please see page 13 for ticket buying info. Film goers can purchase all three screenings for a discount. Each screening event is $15. All three screening events is $40.

The Film Viewing Experience at KALA

HIPFiSHmonthly Performance Space, KALA, hosts the event. The refurbished vintage storefront will be fully curtained for optimal viewing, is equipped with professional sound and light, features cabaret table seating, cocktail specials, beer and wine, and complimentary movie snacks.

Seating is limited to 40 seats per screening. Due to the limited seating, tickets must be purchased in advance, online at Brown Paper Tickets. www.brownpapertickets.com If access to online purchase is not available please call HIPFiSHmonthly to arrange for ticket purchase. 503.338.4878.


Q-FILM WEEKEND SCHEDULE

• Friday, October 5, 2012
Film Shorts and Feature Short
West Coast Premier
7:30pm – 9:30pm
doors open 7pm

Closet
Oakland, CA rapper Jen Ro explores her own early coming out in this emotionally charged music video. 4 Minutes.

I Need A Hero
Director – W.H. Bourne (Los Angeles, CA/New Orleans, LA)

Starting with the infamous quote by then Marvel Editor in Chief Jim Shooter, “There are no gays in the Marvel Universe”, I Need a Hero briefly follows the progress of LGBT representation in comics from Northstar coming out in the late 80’s, to Archie comics Kevin Keller, to Bunker in the New Teen Titans. It also takes a look at independent comics written by LGBT creators as well as the characters they create. Finally, the film explores the effects of LGBT characters on fans. 15 Minutes

Femmes Want Revolution
Directors: Simone and Haley Jude, San Francisco, CA.

A glittery, revolutionary romp. 4 Minutes

Polly, Jennifer, and Melissa
Director – Diego Ramirez (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia/Mexico)

An androgyne by the name of Polly recalls an episode of post coital anxiety while Jennifer confesses to a disquieting priest, and Melissa poses flirtatiously for the viewer. Mixing Sci-Fi, Queer and Horror- POLLY, JENNIFER AND MELISSA is a provocative performance-based video challenging gender roles and identity politics. 5 minutes

• 30 Minute BREAK – Complimentary Movie Snacks and No-Host libations

SALTWATER
(West Coast Premier)
Directed by Charlie Vaughn, Los Angeles, CA

This American Indie drama follows several endearing characters as they wade through life seeking happiness, peace and ultimately, love. Will (Ronnie Kerr, Vampire Boys 2, Shut Up and Kiss Me) leaves the Navy after many years, soon reunites old friends and begins to start his new civilian life. His friend Rich (Bruce L Hart) tries to set him up with ruggedly handsome Josh (Ian Roberts-a former Australian professional rugby player, actor and model-Cedar Boys, Superman Returns, Little Fish). While there is immense chemistry between the two, timing and certain ideals never seem to align. When a shocking tragedy happens the two are paired up to pick up the pieces and sort through the after effects. Saltwater is a story about men of all ages, finding love, losing friends, navigating their way through life and knowing it’s the journey rather then the destination that’s important. 81 Minutes

• Saturday October 6, 2012
FILM Shorts Late Matinee
4pm – 6pm
doors open 3:30pm

CLOSE
Mattachine Social- Portland, OR

Music Video shot in Astoria featuring drag star Tammy Whynot. 3 Minutes

AMERICA’S MOST UNWANTED
Director- Shani Heckman, San Francisco, CA

A moving and provocative video project focusing on LGBT foster youth who have emancipated and what their lives look like today. 23 Minutes.

Surprise Short TBA.

YOU CAN’T CURRY LOVE
Directed by REID WATERER, Los Angeles, Ca.

Westernized guy Vikas has been obsessing about his straight boss Thom for years, much to best friend Amrita’s displeasure. But when a business trip sends Vikas to New Delhi and he meets handsome Sunil, the desk clerk at his luxury hotel there, everything changes for him. Amazed by Sunil’s sweetness and India’s beauty, his initial disgust at the transfer turns into a love affair with both. When a return to London and his boss inevitably arrives, Vikas must make the most painful decision of his life. A crowd-pleasing, east-meets-west, boy-meets-boy love story… with a Bollywood twist! 23 Minutes

15 minute break – Complimentary Snacks and No-Host Libations.

POISON OAKS
Directed by Sid Deluca, Astoria, OR

Shot with a $200 budget, this DIY “mockumentary” pays tribute to Grey Gardens with nods to John Waters and Andy Warhol. 27 Minutes followed by a Q&A with Director

• Saturday, October 5, 2012
Film Shorts and Feature Short
West Coast Premier
7:30 pm– 9:30pm
doors open 7pm

Embracing Butterflies
Karen Davidsen, Czech Republic.

Louise has lived her whole life in self-denial. An ordinary-seeming day takes an unexpected turn when she meets Anna, whom she went to school with as a young girl. Going down memory lane and the symbolic appearance of two girls brings up hidden emotions, insight and the thought that it’s never too late to embrace your butterflies. 8 Minutes

Daddy’s Big Girl
Directed – Reid Waterer(Los Angeles, CA)

Overweight and uninspired Millie attempts to finally reconcile with her father, but his half-dressed male companions keep getting in the way. 17 Minutes

Welcome To New York
Directed and written by Steven Tylor O’Connor- Los Angeles, CA

A comedy short film based on story by Sean David. It starring Sherry Vine, Sean Paul Lockhart, Lauren Ordair, Ashleigh Murray, Megan Kane, Matthew Watson with Casper Andreas, Trey Gerrald, Shacottha and Steven Tylor O’Connor. Welcome to New York is based on the stories of young New Yorkers, both gay and straight, and their first time experiences in New York City. 30 Minutes

• 30 minute BREAK – Complimentary Movie Snacks and No-Host Libations

The Marble Faun of Grey Gardens (West Coast Premiere)
Jason Hay (Portland, OR) and Steve Pelizza (New York, NY)

Jerry Torre is a sculptor at the Art Students League in New York City. He is best known for his appearance in the original 1975 Maysles Brothers documentary Grey Gardens. He was referred to by Little Edie Beale as “The Marble Faun.” The unique and colorful life of Jerry Torre. Join Jerry as he recounts tales from his troubled childhood, his escape to Grey Gardens, his travels overseas and learn more about this earnest man’s tumultuous life. Jerry has overcome much adversity in his life and his story is an inspiration to many who have suffered the same trials and tribulations. 80 Minutes Followed by a Q & A with Jason Hay


Q-Film Dance Celebration and Cocktail Party on Saturday, October 6, following the last screening-closing the weekend. Complimentery to ticket holders. $5 for non-ticket holders.

PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS AT BROWN PAPER TICKETS

Astoria Q-Film Tickets must be purchased online at Brown Paper Tickets. This is great service based in Seattle, WA that makes selling and reserving tickets in advance easy for small event promotors as well as large events. It is a socially-responsible company that donates a percentage of sales to charitble organizations, and charges a small service charge of .99 cents plus 3.5% of the ticket fee to the buyer.

Just go to www.brownpapertickets.com and search Astoria Q-Film Weekend and purcahse tickets for each date of show or “season pass” if you would like to attend all three screenings at $40.00 Tickets will be on a will-call list, and you also have the option of printing the ticket at home. NOTE: If you do not have access to online purchase please call HIPFiSHmonthly to purchase your ticket. 503.338.4878


FARMSTOCK II Sept 1-2, Fred’s Farm Extravaganza – Local Food, Music and Fun

THE SECOND annual Farmstock Festival is coming soon to a farm near you. On September 1 and 2, Fred’s Homegrown and KMUN Coast Community Radio are teaming up again for a weekend of local food, music, and fun at Fred’s Farm in Naselle, WA.

Farmstock is the brainchild of former chef and restaurateur turned farmer Fred Johnson and is held on the grounds of his historic farm. It is a harvest celebration of everything that is fresh and local.

“We’re inviting all aspects of the local food infrastructure to participate in Farmstock, growers, processors, and consumers. Ultimately, we need to keep our food dollars local, build a local food system of production, processing, and distribution,” says Johnson.

He believes we can start this process by forming personal relationships between stakeholders at social/educational events like Farmstock. “It’s an active investigation into a localized food system.”

Although the premise of Farmstock is serious, the end result promises to be enjoyable. Good local food, good local music, fun and conversation in a beautiful setting. It’s a chance to gather with old friends, make new ones, and maybe learn something along the way.

As of Hipfish press time, the Farmstock schedule has not yet been finalized. A summary of event highlights follows:

MUSIC
Last year, Kim Angelis was a crowd-pleasing hit. Angelis returns to the Farmstock stage with her husband Josef and the bellydancers. Other Confirmed acts as of Hipfish press time include Nice Nice, Michael Hurley, Anitize, Sweet Young Thing, and Ma Barley, with more likely to sign on. Catch live music at Farmstock from 10:30am – 10pm on Saturday.

WORKSHOPS
This year, a wide variety of free workshops will be presented on both Saturday and Sunday. Subjects to be covered include Beekeeping, Seed Saving. Eating Locally Seasoning Globally, Community Gardens, Yoga, North Coast Food Web Mobile Gardens, Blacksmithing, Biochar, Maritime Gardening Challenges, Lager and All-Grain Beer Brewing, Tinctures 101, Farm Habitat Restoration, Growing and Using Lavender, Making Fruit Wines, and more. Have a skill or interest you would like to share by offering a workshop? A few slots are still available. Contact Carol Carver at river4mama@yahoo.com. There is no registration for workshops, just show up. A schedule will be available closer to event time at the Farmstock page on Facebook.

VENDORS
Vendors will exhibit and sell their wares on Saturday only from 10am on. Expect to find handmade wares ranging from arts and crafts to consumable items like produce, pickles, tinctures, and more. KMUN will hold a raffle for a quilt and other items. Farmstock t-shirts and totes are available for $15. If you would like to vend at Farmstock, contact Julie Tennis at julietennis@gmail.com.

FOOD COURT
An informal food court will be located near the barn kitchen all day Saturday and Sunday morning. Tasty offerings will showcase ingredients from farms in the area. Hungry festival goers will be able to purchase pizzas, vegetable tempura, BBQ pork, vegetable kebabs, seafood, non alcoholic beverages, sweet treats and much more. Don’t forget the ever-popular Fort George Beer Garden, open on Saturday.

Fred Johnson will demonstrate cooking techniques with Oregon pink shrimp, kindly donated by Bornstein Seafood, on Saturday afternoon. Additional food demos are in the works.

Joanne Rideout and Tom Hartland of KMUN hold the raffle quilt.

FARM DINNER
The special Farm Dinner at 1pm on Sunday will highlight local ingredients. The menu includes salmon, spicy green beans, Mexican corn pudding, roasted root vegetables, sautéed greens, salads, dessert, and more. Tickets for the dinner are available at KMUN and are $25 until August 31, $35 at the door (cash or checks only at the door).

Sponsors are wanted to assist with funding onsite preparation and infrastructure prior to Farmstock. Donations will go toward covering the cost of mowing the fields to be used for parking and camping during the festival and will help feed the army of volunteers. Up-front costs are expected to be around $1000 – $1500. Sponsors will be given food credits that they can spend at Farmstock and their names will be included on special limited-edition Farmstock t-shirts. Email Fred Johnson at homegrown@wwest.net for more information.

VOLUNTEERS
Volunteers are wanted to help with parking, food and beverage service, general schlepping, cleanup, etc. FMI or to sign up, email julietennis@gmail.com.

For the Farmstock flyer, driving directions, and event schedule, go to: coastradio.org/farmstock.html or visit the Farmstock page on Facebook.

Admission to Farmstock is free, parking is $5 per vehicle, camping (no hookups) is $20 per vehicle. Camping spaces are available on a first come, first served basis. All monetary transactions onsite at Farmstock are by cash or check only. An ATM is located about one mile away at Bank of the Pacific in downtown Naselle. Festival goers are encouraged to leave their dogs at home.

Proceeds from fees and tickets go to support Farmstock and KMUN. Fred Johnson raises vegetables and organically certified hay on his 70-acre historic farm, located at 201 S. Valley Rd., Naselle, WA. He is especially known for his tomatoes and greens. He sells produce to local restaurants, and to the public via CSA subscription, and at farmers markets. He caters weddings and other events at his farm and owns a hardwood flooring business. Visit him online at fredshomegrownproduce.com.


Shanghaied Roller Dolls

WE BE JAMMIN’ (AND BLOCKIN’) in Astoria

Their first public derby bout, The Prohibitchin’ Party vs The Tease Party… set for August 18

“Hurricane”, belts out the resonant voice of Head Coach, Rusty House, and the slender vessel of Robyn Koustik, skate name, “Hurricane Ka-Ream-Ya,” pulls ahead of the pack, covered in pads, tights, and helmet, like a ballistic bobble head doll. She laps around the track, and attacks the other skaters with menacing intensity to progress through the mob of ladies on wheels, lacing their bodies together to prevent her advancement; she knocks, she swoops, she wriggles her way through the intimidating lot. There is so much action and strategy to get around the track, the skaters have to be mentally engaged without floundering on the basic skating skills set required to participate in roller derby.

The Shanghaied Roller Dolls set out on this skating odyssey about a year ago, after the suggestion of a derby league was tossed out on Facebook. A few initial meetings, organizational gatherings, and a contact with the Clatsop County Fairgrounds, all lead to the Fall 2011 formation of a budding roller derby recreational team, Shanghaied Roller Dolls. Practice began at the fairgrounds, which have been generously made available, when not otherwise engaged, since actual practice began in October 2011. One of the original founding, dread-locked members, Tara Allen, skate name “Kiss Me Dreadly,” recalls that early on it was apparent an experienced coach was needed. As a result of going to The Daily Astorian to announce the new derby team formation, and the solicitation of skaters, referees, and coaches (an extensive list of volunteers is required to help the team with everything from selling tickets to keeping track of skater points and penalties) the team found its first coach, Walt Sabe. An experienced flat track skater from “a totally distant past,” Walt came to the team to teach basic skating and equipment maintenance skills. At age 69, he comes to every practice and dons his skates, operating as an assistant coach to Rusty, and the skate coach.

“The minimum skills is the first plateau, they’ve got about six plateaus above that, (he laughs) part of it is learning the practice jams… a major plateau is learning how to think when they’re doing the practice jams,” says Walt.

Walt has been a tremendous resource to the team, as well as the help of established derby teams like Portland’s Rose City Rollers, and the now defunct Shadow City Rollers of Longview, Washington, which connected the Dolls to Bench Coach, Amanda Farmer, skate name “Scars Volta.” Completing the coaching team is the fourth coach for fitness training, Coach McBruiser, Orly Ben Jacobs, an active duty Coast Guard Member. Head Coach House not only appreciates having his coaches, but the huge advantage of the proximity of the one of the largest Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) member leagues, The Rose City Rollers, who have assisted The Dolls with numerous resources, significantly guest referees.

Tara remembers starting with her first pair of skates, a $20 pair of Chicago skates, a tall, leather, lace-up skate that had been rented out in Seaside, when people used to skate along the promenade. It was something to start with, but that style of skate really is not ideal for roller derby.

Julie House, married to the head coach.

“You need to able to squat down and bank your feet”, says Julie House, skate name “Petulant Frenzy,” she adds, “If you are going to put any money into derby, the first thing you should buy is the best padding you can!”

With that comment, Tara pulls up her pant leg, and reveals a large, bruised patch on her knee. The conversation turns to bruises, injuries, and equipment. Coach House admits this is inevitable when you bring derby women together. Among the investment of time, money, sweat, and tears, what makes this all-volunteer organization of women skaters, ranging in size and in age from early 20s to 40s, persevere? The answers are as varied as the team members, themselves; exercise, dramatic flare, adrenaline rush, me-time, spiritual and emotional victory, competition.

Coach House, skate name “Spicy Tuna Roll,” adds “These women (who participate in derby) are not like anyone else. It’s one of the things that keep myself and the other coaches coming back, and putting in the time, and going to the clinics, and doing the research, because these women are amazing, smart, and competitive!”

The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association is the international governing body for the sport of women’s flat track roller derby and a membership organization for leagues to collaborate and network. The WFTDA sets standards for rules, seasons, and safety, and determines guidelines for the national and international athletic competitions of member leagues. There are currently 156 WFTDA member leagues and 58 leagues in the WFTDA Apprentice program. Shanghaied Roller Dolls are currently processing their paperwork with the WFTDA to be an official “Apprentice League” Member. The first bout with another derby team, The Slaughter County Roller Vixens from Bremerton, Washington, is slated for September 15th. The next FRESH MEAT, an endearing term for new recruits training, begins Sunday, August 26th. For more information, visit www.shanghaiedrollerdolls.com, or check them out on Facebook at Shanghaied Roller Dolls Fans.

INAUGURAL BRAWL!
Sunday • August 19

Be sure to catch the Inaugural Brawl! on Sunday, August 19th at 5pm at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds, where two teams, ‘The Prohibitchin’ Party’ and ‘The Tease Party’, both, comprised of Shanghaied Roller Dolls, will face off in their first public derby bout. Tickets are available at www.brownpapertickets.com, or at the door for $10 (Ages 10 and under are free.). Come out and support these amazing ladies and badass mothers (Most of them actually are.) on wheels!


Spirit in the Waves – Women Who Surf The North Coast

Sydney Nelson rides the clear blue Pacific.

THE WATER is ice-crystal-blue and the waves are breaking hard against the rocky shore. It’s raining sideways, I am shivering under my wool hat and fleece jacket; the sky is a typical Oregon-coast-grey. I watch my husband, a black neoprene figure with a scruffy beard, balancing over the slippery rocks leading down to the ocean. There are a handful of other surfers already out there. They are harmoniously following an unspoken pattern of turn-taking as they paddle, one at a time, into the oncoming swells. Some are skillfully scaling down the face of these mountainous waves; others are being spit out from the barreling mouth, board soaring through the air, body dropping into the mass of turbulent white water at the bottom. Most of the black-suited bodies are masculine figures; but every once in awhile I detect a feminine silhouette gracefully gliding down the enormous face. I watch in awe, as my heart vicariously skips a beat, who is that?

Anyone who has visited our open beaches on a sunny, summer Saturday has witnessed how much joy the ocean can bring people of all ages. You can find people riding waves using everything from their own bodies to kayaks, but these “weekend warriors,” as passionate as they are about the ocean when they are on vacation, may not be aware of what surfing means to the year-round local surfer around here. While some were born and raised here, others migrated to our coastal towns years ago for the sole purpose of surfing. What most established local surfers would say they have found here is a tight-knit community of surfers, who protect what they love with a vengeance. Localism is heavy, especially in the winter months when the waves are large and the coveted surf spots are working. Given the intimidating conditions, one may assume that all of the year round ocean dwellers are men; that assumption is far from true.

There are many awe-inspiring female surfers in our community that, with steady commitment, charge our icy-cold waters year round. They are of all ages, walks of life, and skill level, but they are united by a common bond: a love for the ocean and the willingness to face whatever She throws their way.

I hail you back to that cold, rainy, winter day, when I stood watching a female figure gracefully cascade down the face of a giant wave. Who was that woman? Her name is Sydney Nelson.

Sydney Nelson
Seaside, Oregon

How long have you lived in Seaside?

I came to Seaside 16 years ago, planning to work, just for the summer, at Cleanline Surf Shop. I was living at Mount Hood at the time, but I fell in love with it here; all aspects: the beauty, the surfing, the community, and I never left.

How long have you been surfing?

18 years. I was a sponsored, competitive snowboarder for 15 years, but I got injured and couldn’t do it anymore. After that, I got serious about surfing.

Did you have a teacher, or are you self-taught?

I am self taught, I learned completely on my own. I was on a mission to learn and I was determined. The local guys befriended me when I moved here and we would all surf together. I’ve been obsessed with surfing for as long as I can remember. Even when I was living in Arizona as a kid, I knew surfing would become a huge part of my life, I just didn’t know when.

How long did you co-own the Seaside Surf Shop?

I co-owned Seaside Surf for 10 years, but it was time to make a change. Doing what I loved for a living was hard, it added an element of stress to my surfing and it was starting to change surfing for me.

How was your transition into the surfing community when you first moved here?

I got some grief, but I was determined, and you have to earn it. I understand the localism here, it’s necessary. I don’t think violent or destructive localism is necessary, but we’ve got to protect and respect this area, in all ways; picking up trash on the beach, shopping locally, and respecting the beauty of this place. All the locals are really good guys, with huge hearts, but this is where they were raised, it’s their backyard, and they want respect for their backyard.

Do you think that women treat each other differently than men treat each other in the ocean?

Women are much friendlier to each other. There are times when we are edgy, but for the most part we are more accepting by nature.

What role does surfing play in your life?

Surfing is my whole life. I plan my days around what the surf is doing. I can’t do anything with my day unless I know what the surf is doing.

What’s the one thing you would tell a woman interested in picking up surfing around here?

No matter what you think, or how un-cool it seems, do not start on a shortboard. Learn to surf on a longboard and your frustration level will be so much lower. Also, you’ve got to be a good swimmer, because you can’t just rely on a flotation device.

Born and raised in Cannon Beach, Julie Nelson has taken her love for surfing across the nations. For the last two years, she has dedicated her life to the non-profit humanitarian surf organization, Surfing the Nations. Now based in Wahiawa, Oahu, she travels around the world working with underprivileged children, forming relationships with them, and teaching them how to swim and surf. Here’s what she had to say about growing up as a female surfer in this area and how it’s evolved into what she is doing now.

Julie Nelson
Wahiawa, Oahu

How long have you been surfing?

10 years, I started when I was 14.

Who taught you?

I sort of taught myself, but I was always in the water with my dad; my dad is a natural fish and I’m a daddy’s girl, so I was always with him. My best friend, Micah Cerelli kept me surfing in High School, and Mark Mekenas (owner of Cannon Beach Surf Shop) poured the culture of surfing into my life, and that was really what led me to what I am doing now.

With both the extreme elements and the heavy localism of this area, have you always felt comfortable in the water?

Yes, because my dad had me in the water from day one, and that gave me a lot of confidence; the consistency of being in the water all my life took away the fear. I also always stuck with a crew that included guys; they would block for me, cheer me on, and make sure I made it out every time.

In what ways has surfing impacted the direction your life has gone?

It has allowed me to realize how far I can go using what God has given me. I’ve found that it’s hard to find a surfer that doesn’t believe in something bigger. Surfing opens your eyes to the power of creation; it makes you realize that there’s something greater.

Surfing is a common language no matter what culture I am in. It’s an instant connection with people who don’t’ speak the same language as I, and that serves to further our relationship. Surfing has allowed me to reach the nations, the surf board is simply a means of my day, but the culture is what makes me who I am.

Do you have a surfing mentor?

I’ve had several at different times in my life. When I was learning how to surf, it was my friend Micah; she always pushed my skills. Later, it was Mark Mekenas, who helped to develop the professional side of my surfing. I began teaching lessons for him at Cannon Beach Surf, when I was 15, and now I am the department head of the Surfing the Nations Surf Department. Right now my mentor is Charis Ifland. She influences me in every way: skills, passion and professionalism.

Do you see yourself ending up back here on the Oregon coast?

Yes, definitely. Growing up on the Oregon coast is the best blessing, but also a curse, because you can never stay away.

My next interviewee, Beth (Gergick) Catt, is as dedicated as they come. She is 7 months pregnant and still riding waves. Originally from Florida, she spent time in both California and Portland, before moving to the Oregon coast 5 1/2 years ago to surf our much colder Pacific Ocean breaks.

Beth (Gergick) Catt
Seaside, Oregon

How long have you been surfing?

I started 19 years ago in Florida.

Did you move to Seaside for the surf?

Yes, I was living in Portland and driving to the coast every week to surf. I decided that I needed to just move to the ocean.

Have you been surfing consistently throughout your pregnancy?

Yes, but I have to be more cautious now of what conditions I go out in. I also have had to alter my paddling position. I have to bend my knees and put my butt up in the air to take the pressure off the baby. (Beth gets down on the floor to demonstrate and it’s quite entertaining.)

Who taught you how to surf?

Ever since I was a little girl I had been drawn to surf culture. Growing up in Florida I was always playing in the ocean and I have always felt really connected to the ocean. My brother surfed and I begged him to take me out but it never really happened.

At the end of High School I decided to stop waiting around for someone to teach me, so I bought a board and went out on shore-pound waves, clueless about what I was doing. My friend, Joanna, was my only friend who would do it with me, we were addicted. Finally, my friend, Shawnie, started taking me out to the official local breaks at New Smyrna Beach Inlet.

How was your transition into the local surf community when you moved to Seaside?

To this day, I feel extremely lucky that I had an easy transition. People have been nothing but welcoming and supportive in the water. At times I had to make the first effort with some of the women in the ocean to show that there was no competition with me and that it was all about camaraderie. I was always just so stoked to be surfing with other women. I use to feel like I had to prove myself up and down the Oregon coast, and it was actually pretty freeing for me when I surrendered that ego and just surfed when and where I wanted. I got better and started having that fun stoked feeling again that I originally had when I first started surfing. I have a humble respect for the women around here that I see charging bigger surf than I am comfortable with.

What role does surfing play in your life?

Surfing has changed the whole course of my life. I have only allowed myself to live in places where I could be near the ocean, which has shut out many opportunities, but opened up many opportunities as well. Surfing has taken me through Central and South America, to Indonesia, Canada and Mexico; a lot of that traveling was by myself. It has thrown me into new cultures, which in turn has molded me into a much more open-minded person. It has changed what’s important to me. I would much rather live in a shack near the ocean than a mansion in Ohio…no offense to Ohio.

I had the realization one day that I use the same words to describe God, Love and the Ocean.  I need them, I crave them, I am in awe of them, but I know that if I don’t respect them, I am in trouble.

Judi Lampi began swimming competitively when she was 14 years old. She’s a two-time All American Swimmer, with 4 years of collegiate swimming under her belt, and over 15 years of competitive swimming through Masters Swimming Club. She began surfing a year and half ago. At 53, she refers to herself as an “advanced beginner.” To say she’s inspiring would be an understatement. I had the privilege of sitting down with Judi to talk about what inspired her to start surfing, how it has impacted her life, and what her future goals are as she continues to pursue this enlivening sport.

Judi Lampi
Warrenton, Oregon

How long have you lived in Warrenton?

I moved here from Portland 9 years ago.

What inspired you to start surfing?

When I moved here in 2003, I took part in Northwest Women’s Surf Camp with Lexi Hallahan and I really enjoyed it, but I didn’t get passionate about it yet. A friend of mine started surfing and he and I got into it together a year and a half ago. We would go 2-3 times a week. We hired Lexi and did semi-private lessons with 2-3 people. Then my friend moved away and I started surfing by myself. I hired Lexi for private lessons; she’s my “surf coach.”

In what ways has surfing impacted your life?

It has put excitement back into my life; it energizes me and gives me something to look forward to. I have lost 27 pounds since I started surfing and now that I feel energized, I want to be in better shape. I started taking a yoga class and that has really helped with my balance. Surfing has inspired me to be a healthier person; when you are on the beach and in the water, you feel good about yourself.

As a new surfer, how have you been treated by other surfers in the water?

Everyone is really nice. They answer questions for me and I get to visit with some really interesting people in the parking lots. Now that I have been surfing for awhile, I find that I start to see the same people. They recognize me and say hello; that’s really nice when you are surfing alone.

How has your history of competitive swimming influenced your surfing?

It has given me a lot of confidence in my swimming abilities when I surf, but I know that I still have to respect the ocean.

What are your personal surfing goals right now?

I still have a lot of work to do, especially dropping into waves. I am out past the break now and learning how to angle my board on my drop. I am focusing on turning my board into waves and riding down the line. With Lexi’s guidance, I set goals for myself and once I achieve those goals and gain the confidence I need, I tackle the next ones. One thing that I really want to learn more about is how wind direction and tides affect the swell.

Do you see yourself surfing for the rest of your life?

Yes, definitely.


GARDEN TOURS GALORE on the Coast this July

On the south slope of Astoria, gardener Martin Buel has been procuring the last details of his botanical masterpiece in preparation for the locally famed Lower Columbia Preservation Society’s 12th Annual Garden Tour.

Buel, a retired landscape architect, who designed other people’s gardens for a living in Florida, upon moving to Astoria, procured a small family home with a hilly back lot. This for Buel, an opportunity to create a long-desired collector’s garden. While one could describe Buel’s work as a breathtaking masterpiece, because upon first descent it does take the breath away, it is a breath of discovery.

The 2/3 sloped acre is a literal maze of winding pathways, leading the stroller passed a fecund greenhouse of tropical’s, through a deep grove of mystic cedar trees, tucked-away sitting benches, yarded clearings, and montage after montage after montage of tubers, bulbs, perennials, and edibles (a large amount hardy orchids). Buel has planted and nurtured over 200 plant varieties. It seems you could probably spend hours tripping along and enjoying each wild clumped surprise.

Buel describes his work as “a natural cottage garden with a Japanese flair, built for contemplation rather than ‘Butchart’ pizzazz. “ Different from a Japanese garden though, Buel has taken care to emphasize the luscious floral pathways, foregoing Japanese accoutrement, such as lanterns and furniture, opting for the beauty and artistry of pure botanical.

“It’s a collection blended into artistic sense based on texture, form, fragrance and color,” says Buel, and he adds, “And no garden should be without edibles.”

Broccolli, Brussels sprouts, squash and the like are planted amongst the decoratives, in places Buel thinks (knows) they will grow. Almost exclusively organic, Buel’s goal is to have something blooming 12 months of the year. He notes that his garden is based on influences rather than any specific style, and credits the English responsible for the decorative hybrid, of which he finds the Astoria climate to be of parallel success.

Buel, who is partially-sighted, is an instinctive gardener, who also puts an incredible amount of labor to his creation, then producing something magnificent, magical, and yet intentionally peaceful.

There are many gardens to see on this wonderful annual tour. And gardeners are known too, to have a competitive spirit. Count on having lots of surprises.


Lower Columbia Preservation Society’s 12th Annual Garden Tour

Lower Columbia Preservation Society (LCPS) has scheduled its 12th Annual Garden Tour for Saturday, July 14th, from 10am until 3pm. On the day of the tour, the tickets may be purchased at 17th Street and Grand Avenue in Astoria from 9:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Admission is $1 per person or $10 for LCPS members.

Tour-goers will delight in six residential gardens, all bursting with color, unique design, unusual plantings, and interesting hardscape. The owners will share their challenges, successes, favorites, even their failures and disasters. The tour will be held rain or shine.

Raffle prizes for garden-themed items, dinners at local restaurants, and season tickets to next year’s Music Festival will be sold for $1.00 each or 15 for $10.00. Following the garden tour a reception of beverages and refreshments will be served at the last garden on the tour where the winners of the raffle prizes will be announced. Winners are not required to be in attendance.

Proceeds from the garden tour will be used to promote the organization’s mission and its educational programs. For more information about the garden tour, call 503-325-3245.

Individuals who join the Lower Columbia Preservation Society on the day of the tour will receive the LCPS membership tour rate of $10. Membership in the organization is $15 per year per person or $25 per household, and includes free or discounted lectures and workshops, the newsletter “Restoria”, emails notices of preservation related news and events.


Music in The Gardens • 6th Annual Long Beach Peninsula Garden Tour

The 6th annual GARDEN TOUR on the Long Beach Peninsula, titled “Music in the Gardens” will feature 7 private gardens this year, and a wonderful variety of live music, delectable food, and beverages. Included for the first time is the Leadbetter Farm, known for its lighthouse structure at the northern most end of the Peninsula. These combined offerings will encourage you to linger, experience and enjoy the Peninsula’s beautiful outdoor rooms.  And in addition, meet the gardeners who have mastered the art of successful gardening on the coast.

Saturday July 21st, from 10am to 4pm Tickets, at $15 will be available for purchase starting one week before the tour at The English Garden in Seaview, The Basket Case Greenhouse in Long Beach and Adelaide’s Books & Coffee in Ocean Park.  Proceeds benefit the Water Music Festival Society, supporting its music events throughout the year.

“The Water Music Festival Society, a non-profit organization, provides high-quality, affordable music programs for residents and visitors in southwest Washington State. WMF expands cultural opportunities, increases awareness of diverse types of music, and promotes educational outreach.”  www.watermusicfestival.com. Garden Tour Chair-Nancy Allen 360 642-2507.
6th Annual Spade and Wade Garden Tour

The Tillamook County Master Gardener Association will hold its sixth annual Spade and Wade Garden Tour on Saturday, July 21, from Noon to 5:00. The six gardens, located mainly in Tillamook, will include such features as unique garden design, wide plant variety, topiary, vegetables, use of native plants, original combinations of color and texture, and beautiful garden settings. Visitors will have the opportunity to see which plants grow and thrive in our various microclimates and how gardeners deal with the challenges of deer, elk, salt and wind. The tour is self-guided, and gardens may be visited in any order. Also included in the tour is TCMGA’s own Learning Garden where refreshments will be served.

Proceeds from the garden tour will support college scholarships for deserving county residents, the Learning Garden at the county fairgrounds, and gardening education throughout Tillamook County.

Passports for entry into the gardens will cost $15 and may be purchased at the OSU Extension office in Tillamook, or the Pioneer Museum. Passports will contain garden descriptions and complete driving directions. TCMGA is a non-profit making organization.  For more information, call 503-842-3433 or 503-355-2655.

 


It’s a Mean, Green, Flying Machine… Highlife Adventures ZipLine Tours

ZIP IT GOOD!

I look over at my guide Samantha who clips me to the cable and indicates that I am ready to go. I walk down the graveled incline until my feet leave the ground and I begin to glide. I pick up speed, and am swooping down a grassy slope adjacent to a small lake, shouting with joy, accompanied by the ziiizzzzzzzz sound of the pulley wheel rolling along the cable.

I am surprised as I flash over a small inlet in the lake and out of the corner of my eye catch a glimpse of a plastic pink flamingo in the water below me. Then, it’s time for me to pick up my feet and come in for a landing as guide Haley eases me to a stop. I stand up and Haley unclips me from the cable. It is my first ever experience on a zip line and it is over all too soon. Fortunately, my tour has just begun, as there are seven more zip lines to experience at High Life Adventures, a newly opened guided zip line course in Warrenton.

High Life Adventures is situated on 30 acres a mile southwest of the Astoria/Warrenton Airport. Owners/operators Lancey and David Larson have lived on the property for 22 years, raising three children there. The site is a secret little gem, all but invisible from the adjacent highway, with forested slopes surrounding a beautiful small lake.

David Larson, longtime operator of a logging and excavating business, has been playing with zip lines since childhood. He installed a zip line over the lake on the property twelve years ago, and had tinkered with it over the years, but it was his wife Lancey who came up with the idea for High Life Adventures.

“We had gone to Hawaii about a year and a half ago, and did a zip line tour there. It dawned on me when we were flying home that we had the perfect piece of property for that sort of business. When we got home, I started researching the zip line industry. We went to Boston to attend a conference on Challenge Course technology and zip lining. We took several classes, then hired a consulting firm and an engineer and went to work.”

David Larson put in a lot of time on the construction of the zip lines. “We started laying out where the lines would go in, finding the high spots on our property. We used a range finder to figure out the angles where the zip lines work the best. We were able to fasten the zip lines to our heavy equipment [from the logging and excavating business] and pre-tested them before we built any structures. We built everything according to industry standards, then added a few things that we feel actually make it safer.“

Shane Dean, the Larson’s son-in-law, stepped up to plate to help with the most difficult part of the process, obtaining the necessary permits from Clatsop County. “With waiting periods, and notices that were sent out to neighbors and more, it took a year, ” says David. “The County was very helpful.”

Fifteen months and many hours of hard work later, the zip line course was complete. High Line Adventures began offering tours this May, three weeks ahead of schedule.

Recently, I was complaining to a friend that I have reached a stage in my life where I don’t seem to have adventures any more. Soon afterward, a visit to High Life Adventures caused me to retract that statement. Even a reformed adrenaline junkie turned couch potato like me can get a thrilling, but safe adventure fix by riding a zip line. Having a moderate fear of heights gives me that extra squirt of happy hormone rush.

Cathy Nist’s Big Zipline Adventure


The zip line course at High Life Adventures is designed to introduce the participant gradually to the concept of flying through the air while suspended from a cable. My fellow travelers and I geared up by donning climbing harnesses and helmets. Attached to each harness is a trolley, a framed pulley wheel that clips onto the zip line, a steel cable mounted at an incline. Riders start at the top of the slope and are propelled by gravity to the other end of the line.

After a short orientation, we walked over to Alder, which at 400 feet long with an average height of 15 feet above ground is the bunny slope of zip lines. The course progresses through a sequence of increasingly challenging traverses around and over a seven-acre lake, eight zip lines that add up to nearly a mile of gliding opportunity. As we continued through the tour, the lines became progressively longer and higher.

The fifth line, Hemlock, which launches off of a steel and wooden tower on the side of a hill, was a real white-knuckler for me. I had to open a little gate in the railing and step off into thin air to get going. It took a real leap of faith to do it, and it was not easy. I had to trust that the equipment was going to hold me (it did), that the cable wouldn’t break (it didn’t), and that I wouldn’t flip out of the harness and auger headfirst into the ground ever so far below (I didn’t). Nonetheless, I believe I screamed something about peeing my pants as I rocketed toward a narrow-looking alleyway through the trees on the opposite slope (I didn’t). What a rush!

The Larsons are justifiably proud of their green business, the zip line course is pleasingly landscaped and although the site is an active tree farm and has been selectively logged over the years, it doesn’t look it. Over 2100 trees have been planted on the property since 2009. In construction of the zip line course, as much recycled material as possible was used. (The zip line cables are new as are the harnesses, trolleys, and safety equipment). The zip line support structures and the office/shop building were built from lumber salvaged from trees blown down during the 2007 storm. The steel pilings used are repurposed drill casings and oil tank supports obtained from the Port of Astoria. Best of all, the tour itself has a low carbon footprint. No fossil fuels are expended as visitors walk between zip line stations, hiking up moderate slopes on graveled trails and roads. Gravity does the rest.

I asked Lancey if it was difficult to open up her family’s personal property to the public. “No,” she replied, “because we enjoy watching people have a good time. I love it when we see people zipping across and they’re laughing and whooping and hollering.” Indeed.

The final three zip lines of the tour are by far the most enjoyable and exciting. Huckleberry, at 930’ really gave me the feeling of flying for the first time as I zoomed down another grassy then shot out across the lake. Maple took me so low over the water that I was able to lean back and skim the water with my hand. I’m told that the guides can pull on the cable, causing a rider’s lowest body parts to bounce in and out of the lake. I chose to not to finish up with a wet butt. Spruce and Willow are tandem lines that stretch 1200’ from the top of the aforementioned tower, crossing the length of the lake. We were encouraged to race each other to the finish. As I outweigh my teenaged opponent by more than 100 pounds, I zoomed past him without even intending to, ziiizzzzzzzzing to a finish as my feet churned up twin rooster tails of gravel.

Lancey Larson

Lancey Larson, co-owner and High Priestess of Highline Adventures.

After two hours of zipping, I was tired and happy. My blood was zinging through my veins and I felt as if I were addicted to a new drug. I had watched my fellow “zippers” conquer their fears and gain confidence in them. That’s a powerful thing to see.

While I don’t plan to jump out of an airplane anytime soon, I know now that it’s never too late to experience adventure as long as I am willing to keep myself open to it. Scratch that off the bucket list!

Unlock your inner Tinker Bell or Peter Pan at…

High Life Adventures
33136 SE Hwy 105
Warrenton, OR  97146
503-861-9875

Tours are available hourly from 9am – 4pm, seven days a week, rain or shine, March through October. Tours take approximately two hours. Participants must weigh between 60 and 300 pounds and be fit enough to take a moderate hike. Wear comfortable clothing and closed-toed walking shoes.

Cost: $99 for adults, $69 for children 15 and under with a 10% discount for parties of 10 or more, and a 20% discount for parties of 20 or more. Walk-in tours may be available, but it’s best to book ahead. Watch videos and book tours online at highlife-adventures.com.


The PAC – Its Wonderful Past and Uncertain Future

The PAC today. Photo by Bob Goldberg.

Trinity Lutheran Church, circa 1925


Mention “historic theater”
in Astoria these days, and perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is the Liberty Theater, which opened in 1925, and is in the midst of major renovations today. Or perhaps Shanghaied in Astoria, or the more recent take, The Real Lewis & Clark Story, melodramas performed by the Astor Street Opry Company, which tell Astoria’s history with a tinge of Scandinavian humor. But if you were around these parts in the 1970s, the only historic theater in town was the Clatsop Community College Performance Arts Center (PAC), a converted Lutheran church, which showcased an enormous amount of work of both local playwrights and traditional theater, amongst many other activities.

The PAC Stage

Designed by Astoria architect John Wicks, Trinity Lutheran Church was constructed during the Depression on the site of the original Convent of the Holy Name, at 16th and Franklin. In 1974, Trinity Lutheran merged with the Zion congregation to become Peace Lutheran Church, and the congregation was moved to another Wicks-designed building at 12th & Exchange. The abandoned church was then acquired by Clatsop Community College and reopened in 1977 as a performing arts center. The PAC, as it’s affectionately known, housed the college’s theater, music and dance programs until the mid-1990s. Initially, CCC introduced a series of music elective courses such as music history, music theory, and piano practice rooms in the basement level. Then local pianist/music educators, the late Betty Phillips and jazz composer Chris Parker were at the helm of the small music department.

Juanita Price, 2011 George Award winner for community service, branch librarian of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) in Astoria, and active with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), remembers the early years of the PAC well. She told me that the Tuesday noon concerts, originally for students only, became very popular with the community quickly. “The public starting showing up at these concerts and talks, because people didn’t want to go up the hill [to the main college campus],” Price reminisced. She remembers the Brownsmead Flats performing, and an atmosphere similar to many free noon concerts you see in bigger cities. In addition to music, dance and theater, Price said that the PAC has been used for political forums, speeches, lectures and other AAUW events, even in the early years.

Susi Brown, a retired teacher from the Knappa School District and most recently owner of Pier Pressure Productions, told me, “The college’s theater program produced a minimum of three shows a year, including student-directed one acts. For a time during the 1970s, CCC had a strong and very well attended summer theatre curriculum. At one time, there was an outstanding music program which included concert band, orchestra, jazz chorale, and private and class lessons in the curriculum. Also, during the 1970s and 80s, CCC had a full-time dance instructor offering jazz, modern, tap, yoga, choreography, and performance classes.”

A late 70s English comedy was one of the first fully staged theater productions at the PAC. Locals look closely.

According to Brown, some of the notable plays performed at the PAC as part of the theater program were HMS Pinafore, A Doll’s House, Endgame, Stop the World, I Want to Get Off, Carousel, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (set on another planet, sometime in the distant future) under Reed Turner; Nude with Violin, Music Man, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Old Lady Shows Her Medals, and The Madwoman of Chaillot, under Del Corbett; Steel Magnolias, Nunsense, Rumors, and The Princess and the Pea, under Gay Preston (with Larry Bryant as tech director); Antigone under Karin Temple; and Talking With, Buried Child, and Lysistrata, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bridge To Tarabithia, under Karen Bain.

The PAC also housed community and high school theatre productions by the Clatsop County Aids Coalition, the North Coast Readers Theatre, the Mossy Rock Players, the aforementioned Astor Street Opry Company, Coaster Theatre Readers, Columbia River Repertory Company (later to start the River Theater), Knappa High School, and Clatsop County Community Action (Diary of Anne Frank), according to Brown.

Jennifer Goodenberger, a local artist, pianist and composer, attended CCC in the late 70s and early 80s as a music student, and later returned as an adjunct faculty member in the music department. During her tenure as a student and teacher, she helped put on the many musicals that were performed in the PAC. She wrote a kabuki-style score for Rashomon, a Japanese crime drama based on a story by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa and the famous 1950 Kurosawa movie. She also wrote the score for the other-worldly version of Midsummer Night’s Dream. The repertory dance show Mood Indigo was one of Goodenberger’s fond memories. Put on by Vicki Durst, CCC’s dance instructor, Goodenberger was music director. She remembers a bustling PAC, with rehearsals, classes, recitals, lessons, listening rooms, concerts, plays, and huge audiences.

Josh Hilbur and Mark Davis in the original Hitchin’, 1997.

Measure 5 decimated the performing arts curriculum at CCC in the early 90s. This left a hole that a showcase of local talent filled with the original play Hitchin’, written by Brownsmead Flats’ member Ned Heavenworth, directed by Mark Loring (who designed many of the sets at the PAC and is the brother of local flutist Shelley Loring,), choreographed by Vicki Durst (who also coordinated the PAC’s Arts on Stage program) and Carol Newman (currently host of KMUN’s Arts Live and Local and dance instructor, among so many other activities), starring, among others, Marko Davis, Mark Erickson, Jason Hussa and Mike Wangen (all big names in local theater to this day), and featuring original music written and performed by the Brownsmead Flats. Performed to sellout crowds at the PAC in 1997 and again in 1999, Hitchin’ tells the story of a middle-aged man confronted with his rebellious teenage son and his past in what Heavenrich described as a “partially autobiographical tale about coming of age and letting go, a result of a mid-life crisis brought on by my dad’s death in ‘88.”

KMUN Troll Radio Revue, born of the River Theater and transferred to the PAC.

From almost the beginning, the PAC has been home to many local musical, choral and dance programs. The North Coast Symphonic Band has rehearsed and played at the PAC since 1979, participating in the college’s Arts & Ideas program for many years. The North Coast Chorale has put on many a memorable concert at the PAC, and some musicals to boot, including HMS Pinafore and Amahl and the Night Visitors. The North Oregon Coast Symphony has been performing at the PAC since their inception. Little Ballet Theatre students have participated in the Arts on Stage spring Young Choreographer’s Showcase at the PAC for many years. And since the closing of the River Theater, Coast Community Radio’s Troll Radio Revue has been staged at the PAC the last Saturday of each month. The Astoria Music Festival has used the PAC as the home of its apprentice program, as well as a venue for some great avant-garde performances (including J-Walt’s Spontaneous Fantasia this season).

Janet Bowler, former language teacher and flutist extraordinaire, remembers Foreign Language Day held at the PAC and the Masonic Temple across the street. “It was wildly popular with students who still remind me about it decades later,” Bowler told me. And Carol Newman remembers the Human Relations Task Force two-day conference in 1982, and many other speaking events about the Holocaust, war, environmental and local issues.

Recent years have seen some memorable shows at the PAC. Folk singers Jim Page, John Gorka and Tracy Grammer have graced the stage. Public radio personalities Jim Hightower, Amy Goodman and David Barsamian spoke to big crowds. Balkan dance group Balkan Cabaret gave workshops and concerts with crowd participation. The Tenor Guitar Gathering, in its 4th year, staged a 3-hour concert this past May that was truly inspiring. Spirit of the River, a fundraiser for Columbia Riverkeeper, has been held at the PAC for the past 5 years.

Marty Balin rocks the PAC

But the event that tops them all has to be the final afternoon of the Concert for Big Red, organized by the recently deceased Gordon “Gordo” Styler as a revival of the rock festivals of the 60s and 70s to benefit the recently half-demolished Big Red Building. When the musicians, stage, equipment, staff and audience at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds were soaked through and through by unusual, unrelenting rains in August 2008, Josef Gault, then the PAC coordinator for the college, found a way to get everything over to the PAC, and an overflow crowd witnessed an amazing show by Marty Balin and most of the original Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe McDonald, and Cold Blood.

With state funding falling every year, the college has recently indicated they cannot continue to fund the PAC at current levels, and has talked about selling the building. A coalition of local arts organizations, the Partners for the PAC, has formed to help maintain the PAC for affordable public arts and educational events.

If you’re interested in getting involved with this effort, please contact Constance Waisanen, 503-458-6853, cwastoria@live.com or SupportThePAC@charter.net.

Juanita Price summed up the sentiments of most of those community members I spoke with. As we finished our phone conversation, she said, “I can’t imagine the town without the PAC.”


How Basic Rights Oregon and rural campaigns across the state are building a majority for marriage equality

“This is an amazing time in history for the Pacific Northwest and the cause of equality,” say Jeana Frazzini, the Executive Director of the statewide LGBT organization, Basic Rights Oregon.  “For the first time ever, a sitting president has endorsed the freedom to marry, support is spreading across Oregon as we expand our majority for marriage, and Washington voters will go to the polls in November to decide whether to uphold legislation passed this year granting the freedom to marry to gay and lesbian couples.”

Basic Rights Oregon’s education campaign, Frazzini says, has led to a double-digit increase in support for marriage equality in Oregon.  “Each day, more and more Oregonians are looking into their hearts and deciding that treating others as you wish to be treated includes extending marriage to all caring and committed couples.”

The Astoria-based Clatsop County Marriage Equality Project, in over a year and half’s efforts, collected over 500 signatures in support of a marriage equality bill, setting up tables in numerous locations and events such as the Astoria Sunday Market, and Second Saturday Art Walk. “The response was overwhelmingly positive,” says committee member Dinah Urell, and furthers, “the group did a lot of outreach work to make it happen and the results were inspiring – so many people who care about their LGBT family member’s health and welfare.”

But despite these national and local successes, the effort to win the freedom to marry in Oregon—and across the country—is not a slam-dunk.

While more Americans are becoming comfortable with the idea of allowing civil marriage for gay and lesbian couples—some national polls say support is now over 50-percent—no state has yet to pass marriage equality at the ballot.  Every state that has enacted marriage for same-sex couples so far went through their legislature or courts.

That’s simply not an option in Oregon. Because voters here passed Measure 36 in 2004, our constitution bans same sex marriage. The legislature cannot amend the constitution on its own, and courts have refused to take up the case, so it will take another vote of the people to remove the ban.

Basic Rights Oregon made the hard decision last fall to continue building support for the freedom to marry rather than going to the ballot in 2012. A few months later, voters in North Carolina approved a measure banning gay and lesbian couples in that state from civil marriage. And just over a month ago, marriage equality opponents in Washington gathered enough signatures to force a vote on the state’s recent freedom to marry legislation.

“Every day without the freedom to marry is hard,” says Frazzini. “But going to the ballot before we are confident we can win would be devastating. We heard overwhelmingly from our supporters this past fall that we should continue and deepen that education work to build a majority for marriage before heading to the ballot, as early as 2014.”

“I think it was the right decision to wait,” says Jeanne St. John, President of the Oregon Central Coast Chapter of Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). “As we have more conversations, we’re building more support across the state.”

President Obama’s recent public announcement, in which he came out in support of same-sex marriage, makes him certainly the most high-profile person that has changed their mind, but he’s not alone. All across Oregon and the nation, people are changing their hearts and minds as they come to realize that treating others as you wish to be treated includes allowing civil marriage for caring and committed same-sex couples.

“Three years ago, when BRO started doing events (in Lincoln County) around it, we had a good turn-out, but now we see much greater support for marriage equality,” says St. John.  She and others continue to collect pledges in support of marriage equality at Newport’s Saturday Market and other venues. “We now have seven welcoming churches that are also collecting pledges and last summer, we published an ad in the local paper that had the names of 400 residents of Lincoln County who supported the freedom to marry. We turned that into a poster that was displayed all over the county.”

While Oregon does not have a measure at the ballot this year, supporting Washington and other states is important to supporters of the freedom to marry in Oregon and across the country.  “With each state victory, we build a climate that empowers elected officials, judges and voters across this country to look into their hearts and decide to support the freedom for all caring and committed couples to marry,” says Frazzini. “That’s why we’re spending this year expanding support for the freedom to marry.”

According to Basic Rights Oregon, it is not enough to win marriage on the state level.  It is also important to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act at the national level. DOMA prevents same sex couples (even in states with marriage equality) from accessing any federal marriage rights. Winning at the federal level will not provide freedom to marry in Oregon until we change our state laws, and winning in Oregon will not provide Oregon couples with any federal recognition until DOMA is gone. It is necessary to do both—win in Oregon and overturn DOMA—and Basic Rights Oregon is making strides toward doing just that.

“Basic Rights Oregon is currently engaged in an ongoing, nationally-recognized education campaign to build support for the freedom to marry in Oregon,” says Frazzini. “We’re committed to having a dialogue with our friends, family and neighbors and, ultimately, winning the freedom to marry as early as 2014.”

BRO has been traveling Oregon, hosting a series of community conversations about marriage and working to expand community support for the freedom to marry.  Their mantra is: “One person at a time, one conversation at a time…expanding the majority for marriage in Oregon.”

BRO kicked off the summer with a marriage road trip. Field staff traveled the state, meeting with community-based volunteers about how to expand the majority for marriage in Oregon. In May and June alone, Basic Rights Oregon staff held community conversations in: Ashland, Astoria, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, Newport, Eugene, Corvallis, Pendleton, La Grande, and Bend. One of those community conversations was held in Astoria on June 2nd.

“Basic Rights Oregon has met with folks in towns from Ashland to Pendleton to talk about how they are working to build a majority for marriage in their community and how to talk to our friends and neighbors about why marriage matters,” says Basic Rights Oregon Field Organizer Mike Grigsby. “We had a great meeting in Astoria…where we heard from local community members about how they’re working one conversation at a time to expand support for the freedom to marry.”

And what is the most important message that Grigsby wants to deliver? “My advice to anyone who wants to win the freedom to marry in Oregon is to talk to the people in your life about why marriage matters to all caring and committed couples. Many of the people we talk to across Oregon are slowly reconsidering their position on marriage equality as they talk to gay and lesbian couples they know.”

One of those couples having those conversations is from Astoria. Mindy Stokes and Katie Rathmell, who were present at the June 2nd meeting, appreciate the opportunity to discuss the issue with those in and outside their community.

“I think we are having the same conversation in rural areas as people are in bigger cities like Portland,” says Stokes. “We are in it for the same reason, to win over hearts and minds.”

Stokes said what she personally realized from the meeting was that some people like President Obama, go through an actual process before making up their mind about this issue.

“For some (undecided voters), marriage is something they take for granted,” says Stokes. “It’s something they don’t have to worry about it. It’s like the fact a fish in water doesn’t know its in water. It just swims along. That’s why it might take some people longer to realize we want to marry for similar reasons as other couples – to make a lifelong commitment to the person we love.”

Stokes learned something else from the meeting, something that has had a profound effect on her.  “When we talk to (undecided voters) about civil rights they get turned off,” says Stokes. “But they bond with us when we discuss the issue of ‘love.’ We really do have to win over people’s hearts before we can win over their minds.”

St. John agrees, and can’t wait to get the issue out in front of the voters in the coming months. “We need to get beyond theory and take action. I think people in Lincoln County will support us,” says St. Johns. “I think people here will work hard for it.’

It’s something St. Johns and her partner Kae Bates—both 69-years old they have been together for 30 years—have waited a lifetime for. “I didn’t think I would live long enough to see this but now I know it will absolutely happen,” says St. Johns. “It’s just a matter of time.”


Shadowboxing: Printmakers Roxanne Turner and Marcy Baker found and foraged treasures

mbaker_shimmer

Marcy Baker, Box Assemblage, Shimmer

Impermanent. Imperfect. Unburnished.

These might not be terms typically associated with the creation of fine art, but for Pacific Northwest-based artists Roxanne Turner and Marcy Baker, the world’s vast store of fragmented, forgotten and scattered objects is replete with creative possibility.

Both artists will exhibit the fruits of their artistic foraging at KALA this month in a show titled “In the Box.”

The show will feature almost 40 assemblages, each a multi-dimensional amalgamation of found objects and items from the natural world contained within its own repurposed box.

The seed for a two-woman show was planted when Turner and Baker began to take note of the common threads running through their work: botanical imagery and materials, refuse foraged from the modern world. And, of course, the format of the timeworn boxes themselves.

“It occurred to us that, while our assemblages – composed within the structure of reclaimed wooden boxes – share a similar aesthetic, they are developed in individual and complementary ways,” Baker said.

The Portland-based Baker began exploring the concept of art in a box when she found herself in possession of several old cigar boxes some years back. She quickly became intrigued with the artistic challenges and possibilities a box presented.

midori

Roxanne Turner, Box Assemblage, Midori

At the time, she was living in New Mexico and experimenting with ways to combine the rusty treasures she gathered on her long rambles through the high desert with wax rubbings, block prints, old letters and sheet music.

She began to create collages within the cigar boxes and fell in love with both the process and the larger concept it seemed to reference – finding beauty in the imperfect: a forgotten page of sheet music, an old ceramic insulator cap, and especially the rusted metal scraps lying forgotten in the sand.

“They’re beautiful little treasures,” she said. “I love how they can relate to something brightly colored, like a monotype, that pop of color and how that plays off the worn surface of the metal piece.”

The task of arranging the disparate objects into a coherent whole is by nature imprecise, and requires a bit of spontaneity.

She’ll sit down before an empty, hinged box and consider its shape, its edges, its sides, even its smell. Then, she’ll begin to arrange and rearrange, to bring in and take out pieces, to consider relationships.

“For me, it’s thinking about two sides and how they relate, what they’re saying,” she said. “They could be closed, they could be open, and you can see how they’re talking back and forth, the relationships between those two sides and almost the sense of a book being read, one side to the other and back again.”

The Astoria-based Turner began creating her own boxed art pieces in 2010. She’d spent 14 years focused on capturing tree and plant imagery in two-dimensional formats before she began to explore the box format.

Turner admits to being a “compulsive forager,” especially when it comes to plant materials, and her work incorporates seed pods, branches and blossoms brought home from locations both near and far-flung: Manzanita from California, seed pods from Australia and Japan.

Why the fascination with nature’s castoffs?

“It’s the forms,” Turner said. “They’re very sculptural, they’re as beautiful as animal bones; they’re simple and they’re just gorgeous forms. They’re sort of architectural and there’s so much variety.”

She also makes use of plenty of found and handmade materials: Japanese rice papers, collograph, textured monoprints, silkscreens.

Turner uses these objects in combination to riff on themes of life and its inevitable cycles: growth, ripening and eventual decay.

atelierdemo_1

Marcy Baker instructs in printmaking at Atelier Meridian studio in Portland.

She also draws inspiration from the Japanese concept of “wabi sabi,” which holds up the imperfect and the impermanent as beautiful within their own right and worthy of admiration.

As it is with nature, these assemblages will no doubt fall prey to the ravages of time, moldering, crumbling, changing irretrievably, and Baker is just fine with that.

“These plant materials will be affected by light and heat and humidity, and so they’re impermanent,” Turner said. “They’re not going to last, they’re going to change gradually over time, they’re probably already changing. So what you see today, the colors may change in a year or two. It’s kind of like performance art.”

IN THE BOX Opens Saturday, June 9, 5-9pm, in conjunction with the Astoria 2nd Saturday Art Walk.

The exhibit runs through July 8. KALA is located at 1017 Marine Drive in Astoria. Summer Gallery viewing hours beginning June 10, Sat-Sun noon to 5pm, and by appt. 503.338.4878 or 503.440.3007.


The epic silence of Iron Dad

Promotional art for The Invincible Iron Man vol. 5, #25 (second printing) (June 2010) by Salvador Larroca. From Wikipedia.

My thirteen-year-old daughter and I like action movies. Lately we’ve been into superheroes — Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man (1 and 2), and the Avengers.

Thanks to Marvel Entertainment for reinforcing a father-daughter bond. We’ve talked about which hero we like best, and second best. We’ve discussed how their back-stories are interwoven in the scripts so people who aren’t comic-book geeks can get a sense of each hero’s persona. Except for Thor, who claims to be a god, they are mortals who’ve enhanced their fighting skills with martial arts, bio-chemical agents, gamma-radiation, or futuristic hardware.

Hero stories have been around for ages, and I bet they do more than entertain us. They boost our morale and might help to dispel our fears. Maybe they raise our resolve to kick ass when some herculean hardship comes to town.

I’d like to see Marvel turn an average dad into a superhero. He could be watching a movie, say, and eats some supernatural popcorn grown by shamans. Suddenly, BAMM, he’s the embodiment of paternal power!

Just think what Iron Dad could do. He would know exactly what to say to kids in every situation, no matter how hard. Goofball snafus would be replaced with laser-beam humor. His storytelling would never cease to amaze. Young audiences would be cheered by the knowledge that his wisdom could banish any bogeyman.

Of course Iron Dad’s awesomeness would be anchored in the fact that he’s the world’s best listener. Rather than talk over kids, he would help them find their own words to make sense of whatever troubles come their way.

Sound like a blockbuster? Probably not. Needs more peril. The strength of every superhero is measured against the enormity of his adversary.

How about this: let’s say Iron Dad must face an unthinkable terror — one no Marvel hero has ever confronted.

He must deal with the suicide of a beloved teenage girl — a cherished comrade of his daughters and sole child of close friends.

If ever we needed a superhero, it would be then.


Lacking
the real thing, we make do with what’s at hand. I’m grateful for movie stars in cool suits surrounded by special effects.

People respond differently to tragedy. Some talk, others are quiet. One thing we share, in the wake of suicide, is the need to connect in life-affirming ways. Sometimes all a dad can do is engage in seemingly mundane diversions. Pass the popcorn, play catch.

For several nights straight we watched superhero movies I rented from Nehalem Bay Video. It was good to exchange a few words with the owner, Larry Gresham, on my way home from work. Larry likes superheroes, especially Captain America, and always takes time to help me choose movies depending on which family members are watching.

The culmination of my Marvel experience was taking the whole household to see The Avengers in Portland. First time at a 3D theater. Overwhelming.

As it happened, this re-connected us with another dad in a family of close friends in California. J.R. Grubbs assisted in the making of many of those movies and was listed as the first sound editor for The Avengers. Seeing his name in the credits was a highlight of the experience (especially for Jennifer, who prefers romantic comedies).

Last time we were at his home J.R. took us into his little backyard studio hut and showed us clips he worked on from Iron Man 2. We saw a first scene, cut from the movie, where the hero and leading lady sport their chemistry before she kisses his helmet and he jumps off a plane to go wow a crowd of fans at a high-tech convention.

J.R. explained what he did to bring that crowd to life. It isn’t simply a matter of overlaying pre-recorded applause. To make the cheering feel real he timed the sounds of singular claps to coincide with the hand motions of individuals. The task looked as tediously daunting as any I’ve seen — reconstructing a whole acoustic world in minute detail to surround the dialogue (usually the only sound recorded when the scenes are filmed).

As I write these words I’m suddenly aware of the familiar ritual of my daughter making an omelet. I listen to her crack the eggs, scrape the pan, and clink utensils. She chews and swallows then realizes her dad has stopped clicking at the keyboard and is staring at her spellbound.

How do we move on when the most precious vibrations of sound and light are suddenly absent from our senses? What is the sound of no hand clapping? What did heroes look like before they were born?


Driving
home from work I pull into the parking lot of Nehalem Bay Video. A man named Gordon Hempton is being interviewed on the radio. He is an “acoustic ecologist” who records the quietest places on earth. His life bears witness to natural soundscapes that haven’t been drowned out by man’s metal drone.

The interviewer paraphrases a profound finding he’s made that is summarized in a quote from his book.

“Silence is not the absence of something but the presence of everything.”

Over the radio Hempton shares a recording he made at one of the quietest spots in North America — the Hoh Rain Forest on the Olympic Peninsula. As I listen to that soft symphony in my car, sitting in the video store parking lot, I’m comforted beyond words.

We are all children in a society that often feels like its bound for self-annihilation. All I know to shift course is tune in more fully to family, community, and the creation that surrounds us. Cheer with a good crowd, yet remember everything contained in quietude. In this way I hope to help cultivate what a bereaved father-friend calls a “culture of kindness.”

Grief reminds us to nurture what’s beneath our hard exterior, the only thing that can absorb the silence.


Miss Massive Snowflake: “Like a Book” But not by the book.

miss massive snowflake

At KALA, June 9, Post Art Walk. 1017 Marine Drive in Astoria. w/Dramady. $3. 9pm. No Host Bar.

The music made by Portland’s Miss Massive Snowflake – who will be gracing the Kala stage on Saturday, June 9 – is a lot like the name of the band itself: a juxtaposition of elements that, on close inspection, make little or no logical sense, but it hardly matters because it somehow sounds right. The songs on MMS’ latest album, Like a Book (available from their label’s website, www.northpolerecords.org), bear a passing resemblance to pop songs. Put it on as background music and it might seem unthreatening, even innocuous. You will tap your feet, nod your head, and expect it to leave nothing more behind than an errant swatch of melody or two lingering pleasantly in the memory. But pay close attention and your head may freeze in mid-bob. What kind of pop song ends with a declaration like “Takes a lot of talent/To talk a buncha shit/And not get in trouble for it”? And follow that up a couple minutes later with a reference to Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro having sex? As you struggle to get that image out of your head, you start picking up other aspects buried in the mix – odd time-signatures, abrupt shifts in tempo, a blast of dissonant brass worthy of Radiohead’s “The National Anthem” – which subtly disfigure the shiny, happy face pop music exists to put forward. At which point you realize that, underneath its passing complexion, this stuff is downright weird.

All of which suits the man behind the band to an eccentrically-crossed T. “I’ve always been kind of a clean-cut-looking person,” says Shane de Leon, the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who serves as Miss Massive Snowflake’s auteur. “I don’t have any tattoos; I’ve always kept my hair pretty short. But I do have some pretty weird ideas, and I like the idea of flying in under the radar, being a freak without feeling like I have to advertise it.” No surprise, then, that de Leon’s music contains trace elements of some of pop’s greatest eccentrics, from the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne to The Artist Formerly Known As Something Other Than Prince. Like them, de Leon distinguishes himself by an inability to stand in one place long enough to be identified; just when you think you’ve figured him out, he’s already morphing into something different.

You can trace that elusiveness as far back as 1997, when de Leon followed some friends from his home state of Montana to Portland, where he joined their band Rollerball as trumpeter, clarinetist and sometime vocalist. Founded as a straightforward power pop band, they were already in the process of escaping their three-chords-and-a-straitjacket origins when he joined. Within a year, they had become something else entirely: a relentlessly experimental combo whose music pushed out in all directions at once while mysteriously remaining centered. Yet it says something about de Leon that he could be an important component of a band of infinite possibilities and still be unsatisfied. By 2004, “I was really getting into songwriting, but realized that it was hard to play trumpet and sing at the same time. I had never really played guitar, but decided to start because it seemed like a good way to accompany myself.” Thus, Miss Massive Snowflake. Conceived as “a calm, acoustic side project,” its first three releases were a series of CD-Rs with handcrafted sleeves designed by his daughter and contributions from other members of his family (including his mother on backing vocals). Far more song-oriented than Rollerball, MMS represented a step towards accessibility – “I’ve been challenging people with experimental music for over ten years now, and I’m ready not to have the audience look at me so quizzically all the time” – and a conduit for another side of his musical personality. “I’ve always liked pop music – Michael Jackson, Madonna, even Miley Cyrus. So I’m trying to make something that’s catchy, but we’ll never be too poppy, because I like to mess around with weird time signatures and strange chord changes.”

True to form, even the conventional is unconventional in his hands. Once a solo project with an ever-changing cast of supporting characters, it is now a bona-fide band: its lineup has solidified into a unit featuring bassist Jeanne Kennedy Crosby and drummer Andy Brown. “I’m trying to write more for the band now – more of a rock sound, with distortion pedals and barre chords. I’d never played feedback before! I’ve only started to use distortion and feedback the last couple of years, and I’m in my forties now – I’m starting out at a place where most people would be when they’re eleven years old! I’m way behind the curve.”

Not that Shane de Leon intends to stop moving, literally or figuratively. He continues to run his label, North Pole Records (one of whose bands, Dramady, will open for MMS on the 9th). As we spoke, he had just completed a 29-date tour of Europe (his fourth); plans are afoot to return there in the fall after playing dates throughout the US. And, of course, he intends to keep coming back to Astoria, as he has done twice a year since his Rollerball days. “I’m from a small town in Montana, and Astoria has that same kind of feeling. Especially the people. I think some of the weirdest people in the world, the people with the most creative thoughts, are in towns like this and not the big cities, and Astoria definitely has that. There’s just this great vibe here that I can’t quite define. It’s a pretty magical little city.”


Coastal Independent Bookstores and the “Gods and Goddesses” Who Own and Run these Gems of Coastal Community Culture

Owner of Godfather’s Books in Astoria, Charlie Holboke has been in the bookstore business in Clatsop County since 1978.

Our local north coast booksellers are a little naïve; at least that’s what most of them told me when interviewing for this story. These bookstore owners all believe independent bookstores are a necessary aspect of any livable community. They believe inviting, local bookstores furnished with comfy chairs, a cat, and stacks of good books sustain a community. They have the notion if they host book events and author visits and customer conversations their store can both indicate and incite a community’s health and cohesion. They hope ereading devices, and big boxstores with their sterile book sections filled with the same twenty not-very-well-written books, and online booksellers won’t impact the book market too much. A little naïve indeed.

But, as the roots of the word mean “native” and its etymological origins link to words like nation, kind, and gentle, the fact that these bookstore owners are a little naïve may be their – and our coastal community’s – saving grace.

All our local booksellers also love books. And reading. And words. Karen Spicer, the beret-wearing, coffee-drinking owner of Rainy Day Books in Tillamook, sits in her comfy worn chair and sweeps her arm along the length of her main room where stacks of books rise inside shelves, on tables, and even in piles on the floor. “Think about it,” she says with a wistful voice, “Twenty-six letters in the English alphabet, and look what’s here. If you can read, you can access every thought ever thought.”

Franz Hasslacher, co-owner of Ekahni Books in Manzanita agrees. He and his wife, Sherry, bought the store in December of 2009 because they “believe in books and information,” particularly the kind of books not noted on the homogenized bestseller lists. However, the Hasslachers came into owning a bookstore right when the state of the publishing industry, with the advent of e-readers and tablets, registered its greatest shifts in how people get that information. In the second quarter of 2010, just after the launch of Apple’s first iPad, the online mogul Amazon.com hit the dubious milestone of selling more ebooks than print books. While Hasslacher acknowledges the advent of ereading devices has taken its toll, he still has hope. “Young people and old people come into the store and say they’ll never buy an ereader because they like the tactile feel of a book. Whether there’s enough of them, who knows?”

All our local independent booksellers have that question “who knows” hanging over their heads. They know the book world has changed. They know the economy has tanked. They know the future of the publishing and distribution industries is murky. Some of them, like Karen Emmerling of Beach Books in Seaside who recently implemented Google ebooks on her website and will be a first timer at the book expo in New York this year, are trying to keep up. Other sellers may give up, though not without a fight.

Spicer has been in the business for twenty-five and a half years. She knew what she wanted when she bought the bookstore and claims she “pretty much achieved that,” which was to make her livelihood by being a proprietor whose store has idyllic days where a dad is reading to his kid in the children’s room, and another person is reading on the couch, and a mom is nursing her baby in the comfy chair, and there’s cool music playing over the speakers. In other words, a place where community happens. But those kind of days at Rainy Day are getting fewer and farther between. “What I’m experiencing [now] is that books aren’t revered like they used to be,” Spicer says. “They’re a penny on Amazon, a dime a dozen. So if people can’t get them for cheap, they don’t want them.”

Jody Swanson of Cloud & Leaf Books in Manzanita can relate to Spicer’s experience. “Occasionally I have people come in here, take a picture with their phone of a book they want, and then go download it.” Swanson has been impacted by the changes in the economy and the book market, and she worries, too. But, she says she still sees a lot of people who have “awareness about supporting indie bookstores.” She also repeats a few times during our interview how thankful she feels to have a good location in Manzanita with a lot of foot and vacation home traffic where people arrive with leisure time to read.

All our local booksellers know the most important aspect of an independent bookstore is the human interaction and quality service they offer. It’s one asset all the technology or money in the world can’t beat or buy. These local sellers get to know their customers and help recommend books off the beaten path to satisfy their unique readers’ tastes. All of them will make special orders for their customers.

“More than ever, customer service is important,” says Emmerling. “Personal connection is what keeps people coming back.”

Patti Breidenbach, the new owner of Lucy’s Books in Astoria, argues customers “want that personal touch you just can’t get at the ‘A’ place, the online store that shall not be mentioned,”she says with a giggle. She also notes how someone once told her a bookstore in a town reflects the education of the people. “A town without a bookstore is a sad town,” she says.

If you’re reading this article and nodding your head in agreement, do more than peruse in the nice chairs these sellers have set out for you. Buy a book. Or two. Or tons. If you’re too financially strapped to buy a book, then ask if the seller might like a donation of your cool used books, so they could turn around and sell them, hopefully at a profit. One smart customer, when hearing how our local libraries are struggling to survive and fighting to pass levies to keep their doors open, walked into Rainy Day Books, bought a $500 gift certificate, and then gave it to the library to use for new purchases – that way, his purchase was doubly philanthropic.

On the side of their sales counter, Cloud & Leaf Book has a poster from IndieBound, a program launched in 2008 to help bring together independent businesses. The poster is the IndieBound Declaration, which reads in part: “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for individuals to denounce the corporate bands which threaten to homogenize our cities and our souls, we must celebrate the powers that make us unique and declare the causes which compel us to remain independent. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all stores are not created equal, that some are endowed by their owners, their staff, and their communities with certain incomparable heights, that among these are Personality, Purpose and Passion.” If you truly believe bookstores are a sign of a thriving community, resist the soul-sucking ease of online shopping or buying a book while you’re also buying groceries. Save your soul – and your community – by supporting your local independent bookstore.


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Oz the cat, takes a nap at Beach Books. Photo by Erin J Bernard.

Beach Books

Karen Emmerling, owner
3700 N. Edgewood
Seaside, OR 97138
www.beachbooks37.com

In 2005, Karen Emmerling, a former advertising executive and t.v. manager, had been working with her husband in Gearhart when she “decided it was time to do something for me.” She took a trip to Wordstock, the bookseller and author extravaganza held every year at the convention center in Portland, and “knew I should have always been in the bookworld.” So, she Googled “how to open a bookstore,” and launched Beach Books in November of that year. Noting the risky move opening a new business in November on the Oregon coast, Emmerling laughs and says, “my timing has never been good.” Despite the riskiness of the endeavor, Emmerling has not only survived but thrived; last year was her best yet and this year is off to a good start.

BeachBooks2Her vision for her store was a “warm, inviting place where people feel comfortable talking about books. I wanted to share my love of books.” Beach Books sells primarily new books, but has some used, and a lot of regional and local author books as well. Beyond the comfortable chairs and welcoming cat, named Oz, Emmerling is serious about the quality of her customer service. She and her staff of four, offer monthly author luncheons, have ties to Pacific University’s Seaside winter residency program, provide a detailed website, create recommendation cards, send out a monthly email newsletter, update their Facebook page, offer discounts to book groups, and even make deliveries to locals during the summer months. Beach Books is an organizer of the first annual Seaside author event, “Written in the Sand,” to be held on June 23rd when more than 20 authors will gather at Downing Park to sign copies and read from their books.


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CloudandLeaf2

Jody Swanson (left) and customer at Cloud & Leaf. Photo by Erin J Bernard.

Cloud & Leaf Bookstore

Jody Swanson, owner
148 Laneda Ave.
P.O. Box 866
Manzanita, OR 97130
503.368.2665 (BOOK)
www.cloudandleaf.com

Eight years ago when Jody Swanson moved to Manzanita, she noticed there wasn’t a bookstore in town and she wanted to run a bookstore because she loves books. Her location and reputation as the local bookstore on Manzanita’s main Laneda Avenue has been a key component of her ability to expand her store after only two years and maintain one part-time and a few “on-call” employees. She specializes in new books, both fiction and non-fiction, and “more obscure things, whatever I find that I like,” she says. She’s also proud of her poetry selection. She’s an avid researcher, referencing several book guides before she orders, and she’s selective about what she chooses. Cloud & Leaf also sells cards, writing related gifts, small journals and magazines, and a few used books from Swanson’s own storage unit.

While Swanson acknowledges whatever she thinks is “good is subjective,” locals, tourists, and second home owners seem to trust her tastes and have come to rely on them. “I have a lot of people,” she says, “who are kind and complimentary about the store, and who appreciate our customer service, like the little recommended signs and reviews.”

Cloud & Leaf is a bookseller for the Manzanita Writers’ Series and offers periodic book events; she even once packed a rock band into her small store to help support a local writer.


cannonbeachbookco3Cannon Beach Book Company

Valerie Ryan, Owner
130 North Hemlock, Suite 2
Cannon Beach, Oregon 97110
503.436.1301
www.cannonbeachbooks.com

Cannon Beach Book Company owner, Valerie Ryan, bought the store in 1980 with a partner (John Buckley). They owned it together until late in 1983, when Ryan sold her half, and returned to Seattle. Twelve years later, she came back to the area, and bought the store, running it as the sole owner for the last 17 years. With the help of four employees year around and five in the summer, CBBC hosts frequent book signings,and co-sponsors off-site events with Cannon Beach Public Library, at Coaster Theatre, or “wherever we are asked to participate”. A recent event, “Get Lit at the Beach,” brought four bestselling authors to town for three days. This successful event will continue, to be held again on April 12, 13, and 14, 2013.

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Valerie Ryan chats with author Phil Margolin

Valerie majored in English in college. “When it became apparent that I was going to have to earn a living I realized that I could do what I loved best: surround myself with books; read them; write about them; talk about them; sell them.” She finds owning a bookstore to be “interesting, challenging, and always fun, a pleasure every day. “ Her daily interaction with colleagues, readers, and boxes of new books makes it “Christmas all the time.” She enjoys reading advance copies of what is coming up, as well as, the camaraderie with other booksellers in the Northwest and throughout the country. “I have learned a great deal about how people’s tastes change and evolve , but one thing is constant: a well-written book is easy to talk about and hand-sell. “ Selling hard-bound books is the obvious “backbone of the business”, but the advent of e-book formats poses an enormous challenge to retail booksellers. Valerie reflects, “It remains to be seen how that will play out. People tell us all the time that they love the feel, and look of a real book, but sometimes have succumbed to the electronic alternative for travel.”

As a small independent bookstore, Cannon Beach Book Company offers new and repeat customers an eclectic inventory from its extensive collection of literary fiction, to its carefully curated collection of sidelines. Customers frequently comment that in the CBBC library of fiction, children’s books, mysteries, and top regional and non-fiction titles, they find things they have never see anywhere else. Valerie and her employees are happy to fill special orders quickly and ship them anywhere. The inventory has recently expanded to include art supplies, along with their unique cards, Bookseats, Tokoloshe candles, lighted readers, book lights, and even a bumper sticker that says “Reading is Sexy.” “It is small and very discreet. We sell a lot of them to grandmothers…,” Ryan jokes, who, as is apparent, thrives to share the joy of reading with all coastal visitors and residents, young and old. -Edited by Lynn Hadley


Godfather3Godfather’s Books

Charlie Holboke, Owner
1108 Commercial St.
Astoria, OR 97103
503-325-8143
charlieholboke@netzero.com
godfathers.mosaicglobe.com

Charlie Holboke has been in the book business since 1978. He started with Turnaround Books in Seaside, which he ran from 1978-1999. Godfather’s Books in Astoria opened its doors in 1993, and is still serving customers from 9-8, Monday-Saturday (Most of the year), and on Sunday, 9-6.

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Photo: Dinah Urell

Currently, with four part-time employees, including Michael McCusker, editor and publisher of the paper, Times Eagle, and host of KMUN’s “A Story Told”, Thursdays from 9:30-10:00am, this book store vibrates with life. Godfather’s Books offers up a great metaphysical book selection, incense, beverages, and a comfortable space for getting to know locals, as well as local and worldly books and art. Holboke is inspired by the love of books: the smell; the feel; the contents. “I love to have a book in my hands, and thought it would be a pretty good profession to put books into other people’s hands, and, so far, that has been a pretty good thing.” In the last ten years, internet sellers, e-reading formats, and bigbox discount stores have made it challenging for the small, independent bookseller to stay alive and well. Charlie has addressed this challenge with caffeine! He was the first purveyor of coffee and espresso in Seaside in 1986, and has clung to his mug ever since, serving up espresso and gourmet coffee beans.

Godfather’s Books is not just a bookstore with coffee, it is an Astoria Institution: a social hub; a place for one-of-a-kind gifts; an outstanding used book collection; a spot to listen to the employees play music; a special refuge sheltering real, hands-on books and magic, where Charlie is as excited about bringing his customers new and used books as he was initially in the late seventies. Godfather’s hosts book events. The most recent was with Ken Babbs (One of Ken Kesey’s “Merry Pranksters”), who wrote Who Shot the Water Buffalo. On the schedule for Sunday, June 24th at 2pm, is Kurt Nelson, who has recently published two Pacific Northwest historical books, Fighting for Paradise and Treaties and Treachery. – Lynn Hadley


Ekahni Books

Franz & Sherry Hasslacher, Owners
387 Laneda Avenue
P.O. Box 64
Manzanita, O 97130
503.368.6881
sales@ekahnibooks.com
www.ekahnibooks.com

Franz and Sherry purchased the store from the original owners in 2009 (the store was relocated from Wheeler to Manzanita only a few years prior), and run the store themselves. They bought a bookstore because they “believe in books and information and always wanted to live at the coast.” Franz says owning the store is “about supporting local authors and local businesses and keeping our money in our community, or at least in the state.” Coast Community Radio, KMUN, recently named Sherry Hasslacher their business member of the quarter.

Ekahni Books specializes in local authors and local history, including self-published and print on demand books, and they have a new expanded used-book section. Franz and Sherry particularly liked the used book idea, because “there are no batteries, no clogging up landfills.” Franz notes that personal service in a bookstore is what’s invaluable. “We can figure out what the customers’ reading appetites are and suggest books when they come into the store. They want to read something other than the twenty books on Amazon or what’s on Oprah or the New York Times bestseller lists. Our store is more about finding that hidden treasure.” Ekhani is in partnership with the Manzanita Writer’s Series and is a bookseller for their author events every other month. The Hasslachers bought the store with the belief they’d be able to support themselves, but Sherry has taken another job to aid their income and the store is currently for sale.


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Photo: Erin J Bernard

Jupiter’s Books

Jupiter’s Rare & Used Books
Watt Childress, Owner

244 North Spruce St.
Cannon Beach, OR 97110
503-436-0549
www.jupiterbooks.com
www.upperleftedge.com

Twenty-four years ago, Mary Lou McAuley was living in Washington State when she received a “sudden tip from the cosmos” that she should move to Cannon Beach, and open a bookshop. Since then, Jupiter’s Books has showcased secondhand books and other wares in a recycled garage across from the park in downtown Cannon Beach.

The name “Jupiter’s Rare & Used Books” was adopted in 1990 by John Taylor, a local house painter, who suddenly knew, like a bolt from the blue, he was going to be the next owner. As a boy, John’s mom gave him the nickname “Jupiter” for some unknown reason. Taylor installed the wooden shelving that enables, current owner,Watt Childress, to fit some 15,000 titles in the space of about 500 square feet. While John was still the shop owner, he hired a washboard-playing hippie named Billy Hults. Hults had just moved to the coast from Portland, where he had been working at the Goose Hollow Inn to promote live music, and to help elect Goose Hollow’s owner, Bud Clark, as Portland’s mayor.

In 1992, Billy began publishing “The Upper Left Edge” while working at the book shop. “Our beloved Reverend Billy Lloyd Hults”, as he became known to his readers, enticed his bosom buddy and fellow writer, Michael Burgess, to join him at the coast. Burgess came to Cannon Beach, and served as anchor columnist for the publication. After work on most evenings, the duo would join other local literati at Bill’s Tavern for “vespers.”

In the late 90s, Billy sold “Jupiter’s” to two of his “vesper” brethren, Bob and Suzanne Ragsdale. This couple had made enough dough, after retiring from Microsoft, to keep Billy on to work in the shop, along with several other characters. Watt began visiting the shop circa 1989, and soon fell in love with a Clatsop County girl. He and Jennifer moved to the coast to live full-time in 2001. Childress started working at the bookshop, then, and would scout for additional inventory, on the side. Together, Watt and Jennifer purchased Jupiter’s Books in 2004; recently, reviving “The Upper Left Edge”, as an online journal. Musician, Wes Wahrmund works in the shop at least one day a week, and is known to bring his guitar to play, but you can always catch him Friday and Saturday nights at The Bistro in Cannon Beach.

“When I travel I see fewer shops like Jupiter’s, fewer places to peruse the shelves, and explore a selection of out-of-print stories and offbeat ideas,” Watt comments. “Many secondhand booksellers have shut their doors during the past decade — cutting brick-and-mortar costs, and shifting solely to online marketing. That’s too bad, because you can’t get the same experience at a website. Secondhand bookshops can be seedbeds for enlightenment, in my humble experience. Time and again, I’ve watched how seemingly random bits of information converge in ways we don’t expect. Suddenly, we’re holding a book we’ve never seen before, on a topic we hadn’t considered. Then real magic is unleashed, when some word opens up a conversation.” His aim is to provide the fertile ground for that process to continue. “People call it ‘browsing’, which makes it sound like a safe, sane dalliance, but on good days it feels more like getting struck by lightning.”

Childress finds, “The most challenging thing about owning a bookstore now is competing with large online marketers, and e-book promoters in a ravaged economy. Some folks will come here to browse, find something they like, then leave figuring they can get it cheaper, elsewhere. Often, they’re wrong. I confess that I get a little high when they come back, and I’ve already sold it to someone else.” What does the future hold for Jupiter’s Books/Jupiter’s Rare & Used Books? Mythic fiction has captured Childress’ attention, of late, who recommends “Someplace to be Flying” by Charles de Lint; look for a review online in “The Upper Left Edge”. Where there is mythic fiction, mythic non-fiction is soon to follow, along with more cosmic connections between customers and the interplanetary exploration launched at Jupiter’s Books in Cannon Beach. Edited by Lynn Hadley


LucysBooksLucy’s Books

Patti Breidenbach, owner
348 12th St.
Astoria OR 97103
503.325.4210
patti@lucysbooks.net
www.lucysbooks.net

Patti Breidenbach, a career high school art teacher in Idaho, had visited Astoria and Lucy’s Books several times on while on vacation over the years, and she’d always enjoyed the look and feel of the town and store. Last year, when her “age of retirement” coincided with longtime owner Laura Snyder’s decision to sell, Breidenbach made the leap into owning a bookstore, something “she thought she’d like to do.” Breidenbach and many locals already liked what Lucy’s Books had in stock – a quality collection of new and used fiction, non-fiction, and regional books, so she didn’t make many changes to the inventory because she wanted to treat the local customers right. She did add a few chairs upstairs to encourage more perusing, and is expanding the children’s book section.

Breidenbach is still organizing book events for Lucy’s Books at least every other month, if not every month once she really gets “into the swing of the dynamics of them.” Most of the book events are or NW and local authors. She runs the website and has one part-time employee.


rainyday1Rainy Day Books

Karen Spicer, owner
2015 Second Street
Tillamook, OR 97141
503.842.7766
rdb@gorge.net

As one of the oldest bookstores on the Oregon Coast, Rainy Day Books is a downtown Tillamook icon. In 1987, Karen Spicer starting working at the store as “a friend who followed a friend to help a friend,” when the original owner, the late local poet and social worker, Jean Wollenweber, decided to sell her store (originally named “Cat’s Paws”).

rainyday2Spicer, who “loves books and reading,” bought her share of the store after a few years, and has been the sole proprietor ever since, employing only periodic part-time staff to help clean, organize, inventory, price, and move several rooms and stacks full of new and used books. Rainy Day specializes in rare editions, and whatever Spicer, a rigorous bargain hunter, “could find at garage sales.” Her store is one of the larger ones on the coast and is often the place where a reader can find a book hidden on her shelves he couldn’t find anywhere else. She also has a selection of greeting cards, often by local artists.

Spicer says her bookstore is a “transformative place” and that she found herself there. “Books get in your blood and you won’t love anything more,” she says. Her cat, Webster, is seventeen years old and gets depressed when there’s no customers in the store.


Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula Book Stores

Time Enough Books

157 Howerton Avenue
Harbour Village, Port of Ilwaco, WA
360-642-7667
www.facebook.com/pages/Time-Enough-Books

Overlooking the Ilwaco marina, Time Enough Books sits among the harbor shops offering up both new and used books. Of the many shops and restaurants along the harbor walk, Time Enough Books, which opened its doors in May 2000, has 80/20% new and used books, respectively, and, now, operates seven days a week, year-round. What started as the personal collection of Karla and Peter Nelson, Time Enough Books grew to become a comfortable little book shop with a strong maritime book selection, a regular book group meeting place, and the home of Harper Lee, a golden lab who greets all patrons at the store. With the Ilwaco Saturday market on-going from May through September, this shop is a fun destination spot for all literary shoppers.


Banana Books

114 3rd Street SW
Long Beach, WA
360-642-7005
www.facebook.com/sobebananabook

Located in the old town part of the Long Beach community, Banana Books features used titles. Banana Books’ owner Ed Gray, along with his American Staffordshire, Sobe, serves up a diverse book selection, an espresso bar, and handmade jewelry, fashioned by his wife, Mary Johnson. For over 20 years, he worked as a book scout and wholesaler of rare books, opening the book shop nine years ago. The book store, which provides many an entertaining read to the May through September Long Beach visitors, operates year-round. Ed enjoys winter reading on the peninsula, and finds it very relaxing, though his book selling schedule makes it hard for him to find time to read. Open Friday and Monday 12pm-5pm, and Saturdays and Sundays 11am-6pm.

Catherine O’Toole Bookseller

1310 Bay Avenue
Ocean Park, WA
360-665-0004
www.biblio.com/bookstore/catherine-otoole-bookseller-ocean-park

Catherine O’Toole Bookseller, located in an historic 1880s Ocean Park building that was the former Methodist Church and Moose Lodge, houses an extensive book collection. She specializes in antiquarian, rare, and out-of-print books of over 68,000 titles. New local history and guidebooks are also available at her shop. Originally from Ireland, she has lived in the United States for over forty-five years. Catherine keeps her local book business viable by selling and shipping her wares all over the world. “I can’t resist books,” she says. “It’s very gratifying to be able to say to a customer, ‘Oh yes, I’ve got that.’”

Adelaide’s Books

1401 Bay Avenue
Ocean Park, WA
360-665-6050
www.adelaidesbooks.com

Cyndy Hayward opened Adelaide’s Books bookstore and coffeehouse in 2008. Cyndy, a Seattle attorney, moved to Oysterville, and bought the historic building across from Catherine O’Toole’s shop in Ocean Park. She named her shop after the former business owner and operator, Adelaide Taylor, who ran Taylor Hotel on this site from 1887 to the mid 1930s. She offers a variety of approximately 3,000 titles, ranging from children’s literature to poetry. Helping Hayward, her friendly, full-sized poodle, Miles, greets guests on game nights and for author’s reading events. Open Thursdays through Mondays, 8am-4pm.

(Thanks to Southwest Washington Zest, a wonderful blog site, for the resource of info on Peninsula bookstores. See www.southwestwashingtonzest.com)