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The Diva Returns: Angela Meade sings for us at AMF 2012

angela_meade
When Coloratura Soprano Angela Meade stepped on the stage of the Liberty Theater at last year’s AMF concert-staged opera, all in attendance were waiting with bated breath to hear what this Centralia, Washington native had to deliver. While safe to say that most in the audience were not so completely familiar with her, the buzz was on due to the festival marketing publicity touting her rising success. But then after all, one might think, if she’s really that good, would she be here?

Before the first aria was completed it was breathtakingly apparent that the artist on stage was undeniably gifted. To hear Ms. Meade was utter joy. A supple voice, yet with incredible power, as if she were drawing up the sweet dark roots of the earth and expelling the energy in fountains of delicious bel canto vocalization curling through the architecture of the Liberty Theater. You could feel the collective gasps throughout the audience and you could feel her music, sensual and liquid.

Since that time, Meade has been very busy debuting prestigious festivals, world class opera houses, and a recent “stupendous debut at the Deutsche Oper Berlin” according to AMF Director Keith Clark.

This one of many similar opera critic comments; When the Metropolitan Opera’s 2012 Beverly Sills Artist Angela Meade starred in the company’s recent production of Ernani, she gave “a true star-making Met performance” (WQXR) that “showed what this uncommonly gifted rising artist is capable of” (Anthony Tommasini, New York Times).

Meade is also the winner of the 2011 Richard Tucker Award, as is her counterpart in the upcoming AMF production of Bellini’s Norma, Soprana Ruth Ann Swenson. Swenson won it in 1993. In a solo AMF concert last year Swenson too, gave audiences a taste of world class vocal divinity.

Less than four years after her professional debut in 2008, Meade has quickly become recognized as one of the outstanding vocalists of her generation. The New York Times said of Ms. Meade, “Norma counsels peace in “Casta Diva” (the opening aria in this Bellini opera said to be one that makes or breaks a star), and Ms. Meade sang it beautifully, filling the long-spun lines with rich, unforced sound, shaping the phrases with bittersweet poignancy, gracing the melody with tasteful embellishments and lifting her voice to majestic highs.” According to bio info, Angela Meade joined an elite group of history’s singers when she made her professional operatic debut on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera as Verdi’s Elvira in Ernani substituting for an ill colleague in March 2008.

In 2011 Keith Clark was the winner of the prestigious American Prize for Opera Conducting, for the Astoria Music Festival production of Alban Berg’s modern opera Wozzeck. Sometimes you have to blink, and say “Really, in Astoria?” Really.

Angela Meade, Ruth Ann Swenson, Met Baritone and beloved AMF returning artist Richard Zeller, and Cuban-born Met Opera Tenor Raul Melo making his AMF debut; four of America’s finest operatic soloists take the Liberty stage on June 16. An excellent opportunity to test the waters of this ever-live art form.


 

monica hugget

Reknowned Baroque Violinist Monica Huggett

10th Annual Astoria Music Festival Highlights

Expansion.

AMF in its tenth year! Astoria may be on fire this June, yes very hot, music lovers. Newly elected Board of Directors President Diane Tiedeman states, “We are excited to present the biggest and most challenging festival in our short ten-year history. Our Artistic Director Keith Clark has assembled a remarkable roster of international artists and varied repertoire, and we invite music lovers to visit our historic town to experience our motto: Big City Music – Small Town Prices – Victorian Charm.”

This year the festival spans three weekends including mid-week performances; over ninety performers and students will gather in Astoria, Oregon for twenty-two performances of symphonic and chamber music, educational events, and two operas, June 15 – July 1. If you have not received a season brochure, pick one up at the AMF office on Commercial Street in Astoria.

Hold it your hands and visualize the joy of experiencing classical performance artistry and then get your tickets! While there have been some well-tempered price increases – the prices, repeat the motto, are small-town-prices.

AMF cornerstones return. The brilliant chamber pianist CARY LEWIS and Director of Chamber Music leads returning festival favorite, cellist SERGEY ANTONOV and debut AMF artist MARTIN CHALIFOUR, Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in an opening Saturday recital matinee, June 16, performing Czech composer, Smetana’s Trio in G minor. On Friday June 22, Lewis and Festival Chamber Players present a concert of Shubert, Poulenc and Mendelssohn. The following night Keith Clark conducts the AMF Orchestra in full Brahms.

pitcairn

Elizabeth Pitcairn

The elegant, passionate American violinist ELIZABETH PITCAIRN in her fourth AMF appearance, performs Bernstein’s Candide Overture, Beethoven, and Lalo’s Spanish Symphony on Sunday 17. Her only performance.

Don’t miss another opportunity to hear RUTH ANN SWENSON, uber-glorious Met star, in a Sunday Viennese matinee on June 24. Pianist Alexandre Dossin plays Mozart, and the North Coast Chorale joins the Festival Orchestra in music from Die Fledermaus.

Very New: MONICA HUGGETT and the Portland Baroque Orchestra (PBO). Hugget is one of the most significant Baroque artists today, a life-long dedication to the proliferation of Baroque-era music. Hugget and PBO perform J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations. The Goldberg Variations, originally written for harpsichord, will be performed at 2pm, Saturday June 30 by Portland-born, International artist Andrew Brownell on piano. That evening, the same work, in an arrangement for strings by renowned contemporary conductor-arranger Dmitir Sitkovesky will then be performed for strings by PBO.

This year’s multi-media artist is J Walt. Walt is an Academy Award-winning video artist who creates real-time animated 3-D film to live music. The computer is his palette. J Walt and the Los Angeles Virtuosi perform: SPONTANEOUS FANTASIA. One would say “a very modern version of Disney.” Wednesday June 20 at the PAC.

More enhancing Baroque. Grace Episcopal Church, a beautiful 1886 sanctuary by Candlelight. Lute player Hideki Yamaya, The Astoria Festival Baroque Band and Voices perform 17th century Italian music in an intimate totally candle-lit evening. Tuesday, June 19.

And so much more . . .


 

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Venues
Liberty Theater
PAC: Clatsop Community College Performing Arts Center
GEC: Grace Episcopal Church
FPC: First Presbyterian Church
FBC: First Baptist Church

FRIDAY JUNE 15
7:00 pm FESTIVAL PRELUDE: BELLINI, STRAIGHT UP – Private Home Music lovers will sip Bellinis, Italy’s favorite cocktail, as Portland Opera historian Robert Kingston discusses 19th Century Bel Canto style and its greatest masterpiece, Bellini’s Norma. Pianist Cary Lewis and Festival. Artists perform Bel Canto-influenced music of Chopin and Paganini.

SATURDAY JUNE 16
4:00 pm CELEBRITY MATINEE RECITAL – Liberty Theater Los Angeles Philharmonic Principal Concertmaster Martin Chalifour and cellist Sergey Antonov, both prizewinners in Moscow’s prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition, join pianist Cary Lewis for a very special opening matinee.

7:30 pm OPERA IN CONCERT BELLINI’S NORMA – Liberty Theater Angela Meade, Norma; Ruth Ann Swenson, Adalgisa; Raul Melo, Pollione; Richard Zeller, Oroveso; Festival Orchestra and Chorus, Keith Clark Conductor. Sung in Italian with English Super Text

SUNDAY, JUNE 17
Noon CANTATAS, COFFEE AND CROISSANTS #1 – FPC Young Artist Vocal and Instrumental Recital (Free Admission)

4:00 PM FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA with ELIZABETH PITCAIRN – Liberty Theater Elizabeth Pitcairn, Violin Keith Clark, Conductor

PROGRAM: Bernstein Candide Overture; Lalo Symphonie Espagnole, Op. 21; Beethoven Symphony No 5 in C minor, Op. 67

TUESDAY, JUNE 19
7:30 PM BAROQUE BONANZA by Candlelight GEC Seventeenth Century Italian music for voices and original; instruments in Astoria’s historic Grace Episcopal Church of 1886, featuring Portland’s Baroque lutenist Hideki Yamaya, San Francisco violinist Noah Strick and others.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20
7:30 pm J-WALT’S SPONTANEOUS FANTASIA PAC with THE LOS ANGELES VIRTUOSI – A Fantasia for our time: Live real-time 3-D video to chamber music by Saint-Saens and Satie, including The Four Seasons of Vivaldi and Piazzola. Perfect entertainment for all ages, especially grandparents who can still remember Pink Floyd laser light shows! THE LOS ANGELES VIRTUOSI: Olivia Tsui, Violin (Shanghai); Sebastian Toettcher, Cello (Berlin); Mark Robson, Piano (Los Angeles)

THURSDAY JUNE 21
7:30 pm MUSIC IN THE MAKING: RUTH ANN SWENSON MASTER CLASS PAC An inside look at the making of an opera singer. Soprano Ruth Ann Swenson and opera coach David Burnakus lead a rare public master class with outstanding young Vocal Apprentice Artists. Watch them put finishing touches on Mozart’s The Magic Flute and other operas. One of the world’s finest Mozart singers, Miss Swenson will impart a lifetime of insight to a new generation on the brink of professional careers.

FRIDAY, JUNE 22
7:30 pm ASTORIA MUSIC FESTIVAL ALL-STARS – Liberty Theater Festival Chamber Players, Cary Lewis, Piano and Director.

PROGRAM: Schubert Fantasy in F minor for Piano, Four Hands, D. 490; Poulenc Sextet for Winds and Piano; Mendelssohn Octet in E-flat Major for Strings, Op. 20

SATURDAY, JUNE 23
11:00 am CLASSICS 4 KIDS #1 PAC Concert for Families and Children (Free Admission)

4:00 pm SERGEY’S HAPPY HOUR MATINEE – Liberty Theater Chamber Music and Chat with cellist Sergey Antonov, San Francisco Ballet Orchestra Concertmaster Roy Malan and pianist Cary Lewis.

7:30 pm FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA plays ALL-BRAHMS – Liberty Theater Anthea Kreston, Violin; Jason Duckles, Cello; Keith Clark, Conductor

PROGRAM: Brahms Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80; Brahms Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, Op. 102; Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

SUNDAY, JUNE 24
Noon CANTATAS, COFFEE AND CROISSANTS #2 FBC Young Artist Vocal and Instrumental Recital (Free Admission)

4:00 PM FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA in a VIENNESE MATINEE – Liberty Theater Ruth Ann Swenson, Soprano; Sergey Antonov, Cello; Alexandre Dossin, Piano; Astoria Music Festival Vocal Apprentice Artists; The North Coast Chorale, Denise Reed Hines, Director; Keith Clark, Conductor

PROGRAM: Strauss Jr. Die Fledermaus Overture; Haydn Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Hob. VIIb; Mozart Piano Concerto No 21 in C Major, K. 468; Mozart Concert Aria with Piano Obbligato, “Ch’io mi scordi di te?”; Strauss Jr, Die Fledermaus: Act II Finale

TUESDAY, JUNE 26 – THURSDAY, JUNE 28
YOUNG ARTISTS WEEK: FREE CLASSICAL JAMS ALL AROUND TOWN! Venues Include Fort George Brewery, The Bistro, Clemente’s, and More

FRIDAY JUNE 29
7:30 pm VOCAL APPRENTICE OPERA: MOZART’S DIE ZAUBERFLiTE PAC Young artists from around the country in a fully staged production of W.A. Mozart’s final opera The Magic Flute.. Sung in German with English Dialogue and Super Titles. With The Festival Instrumental Apprentice Chamber Orchestra Maddox Dance Studio Little Ballet Theater

SATURDAY, JUNE 30
11:00 am CLASSICS 4 KIDS #2 PAC Concert for Families and Children (Free Admission) KMUN Troll Radio Review Presents Mozart’s Magic Flute for Children

TWO WAYS OF HEARING BACH
2:00 pm ANDREW BROWNWELL, PIANO – Liberty Theater TWO WAYS OF HEARING BACH’S GOLDBERG VARIATIONS Original Version for Keyboard

7:30 pm PORTLAND BAROQUE ORCHESTRA, MONICA HUGGETT, CONDUCTOR – Liberty Theater TWO WAYS OF HEARING BACH’S GOLDBERG VARIATIONS. Arranged for String Orchestra by Dmitry Sitkovetsky. Presented in cooperation with The Oregon Bach Festival

SUNDAY, JULY 1
4:00 pm VOCAL APPRENTICE OPERA: MOZART’S DIE ZAUBERFLiTE PAC See June 29 for Performance Details


3rd Annual Tenor Guitar Gathering

A weekend to tune into a unique music passion
June 1 – 3

This Year’s Events
All events are open to the public and even if you don’t play a tenor guitar, or any instrument, you are encouraged to come and enjoy this unique, fun, quirky, informative musical experience. “An Evening of Tenor Guitars” is only $15 and the tenor guitar workshops, all four of them are only $60.

The four day tenor guitar weekend starts out THURSDAY, MAY 31 at 7pm at The Sand Trap in Gearhart where THE WANDERERS will perform from 7pm until 9m.

ON FRIDAY, JUNE 1, we will be meeting in front of the Bridgewater Bistro at 10:30 am to get on the 11am Trolley followed by a tenor guitar lunch buffet from 12:30 until 2:30. There is limited seating and a fixed menu so you need to make a reservation by calling 503-325-6777 or 877-357-6777. Not only will you get a great meal for only $20 (beverages not included) but you will hear Lowell “Banana” Levinger of The Youngbloods, play his five string tenor guitar and perform songs from his latest album, “Even Grandpas Get The Blues”.

Tune in to KMUN between 3 and 4, and listen to Carol Newman’s show “Arts Live and Local” to hear tenor guitarists talk about….tenor guitar.

That same day, Friday, there are two more events planned. Doors open at 6:30 pm at The Astor Street Opry Company Playhouse, who have been very gracious about providing their wonderful space for a sing a long – play a long fundraiser to support KMUN. A donation of $5 or more will get you in to play and sing all kinds of fun folk songs, or whatever songs we can figure to play. It’s going to be one big fun hootenanny. Bring your voices, instruments, and maybe some lyrics would help. The event ends at 9pm.

But Hazel’s Tavern has THE RENEGADE STRING BAND performing from 10pm until midnight with tenor guitar players sitting in. So we’re heading over there right after the sing and play along!

Saturday, June 2, at the Performing Art Center starting at 9am and ending at 4pm, will be four tenor guitar workshops for $60. That comes to only $10 an hour. The workshops are open to the public even if you don’t play an instrument, you will learn a lot, get to ask questions, and hear inside information from Lowell “Banana” Levinger, Spider Murphy and Mark Josephs.

Banana

The four day Tenor Guitar weekend culminates on Saturday evening with AN EVENING OF TENOR GUITARS featuring the greatest line up of tenor guitar players in the world. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, for $15, to hear Josh Reynolds and friends, Spider Murphy, Lowell “Banana” Levinger, Myshkin, The Renegade String Band, The Wanderers, Mark Josephs, and special guests for a wonderful evening of tenor guitar music from 7pm until 9:45pm.

Then we are all going over to The Voodoo Room to hear Spider Murphy and his band play from 10pm until midnight!

On Sunday, June 3rd, the fourth and final day, we will meet at The Coffee Girl to jam from 9am until noon. Myshkin, as part of her tenor guitar world tour, will be performing at The Ft George on the last night from 8pm until 11pm.

If you would like to support the Annual Tenor Guitar Gatherings in Astoria, Oregon you can visit: http://www.tenorguitargathering.com/ and buy your tickets to AN EVENING OF TENOR GUITARS, TENOR GUITAR WORKSHOPS, and buy this years T-Shirt!!!

A Brief History of The Tenor Guitar
In the 1900’s the most popular stringed rhythm instrument was the four string tenor banjo, tuned like a cello, CGDA. The tenor banjo added a percussive rhythm sound to large orchestras. As the guitar gradually replaced the tenor banjo in popularity, a simple solution was to put a tenor banjo neck on a guitar body to produce a “guitar like” tone. Part tenor banjo, part guitar, this hybrid instrument, the “tenor guitar” was born out of necessity.

Because the tenor guitar had four strings, people would sometimes tune it like a baritone ukulele, or the top four strings of a guitar DGBE. Nick Reynolds, of The Kingston Trio, did this. Nick was the first inductee to the Tenor Guitar Hall of Fame in a ceremony held here in Astoria in 2011. He is the most well known tenor guitar player of all time.

Tiny Grimes, a jazz player, also tuned his tenor like the top four strings of a guitar. He had small hands and liked the feel of a smaller neck. Some people tune it GDAE, an octave below a mandolin. The shapes of the chords are the same, but their names change.

The Annual Tenor Guitar Gatherings
The Annual Tenor Guitar Gatherings started in 2011, has brought new focus to the instrument. There are many groups and individuals who use the tenor guitar to achieve their musical “voice”. I became aware of Robin Hunte, from Barbados, for example, who started a group in 1962 called The Merrymen. Robin drives the group with his four string tenor guitar. He recently acquired a new Blueridge tenor guitar, made by Saga instruments, one of a small handful of companies that offer new tenor guitars.

I can tell you that more and more people, once they hear and play and learn about a tenor guitar, fall in love with the small size of the instrument and the beautiful sound that comes from it. Accordions, Didgeridoos, Guitars, Harmonicas, Autoharps all have their own festivals. A “Tenor Guitar Gathering” had been long overdue. Astoria and tenor guitars have become a perfect fit.

Tenor Guitar Capital of The World
Astoria, Oregon has become the “unofficially recognized” tenor guitar capital of the world. This year will mark the 3rd Annual Tenor Guitar Gathering and will bring together more tenor guitar players, performers and workshops than ever before. There will be a tenor guitar lunch buffet at the Bridgewater Bistro, a sing a long fundraiser for KMUN at the Astor Street Opry Company Playhouse, workshops and An Evening of Tenor Guitars at The Performing Art Center, tenor guitar music at The Ft George, The Sand Trap, Hazel’s Tavern, The Coffee Girl and The Voodoo Room. We’ll be playing tenor guitars on The Trolley and may be jamming at Gordo’s Astoria Guitar Company.

What People Have To Say

“The 4-string tenor guitar has made a significant contribution to American music and culture. Historically, C. F. Martin & Co. is proud to have defined the tone of tenor guitars for the world and we are excited that there is a resurgence in popularity of these unique and fun instruments.”

Dick Boak
Museum, Archives and Special Projects
C. F. Martin & Co., Nazareth, PA

“My Dad, Nick Reynolds, used to say, “It’s all about the music.” I am proud to help support the Annual Tenor Guitar Gatherings in Astoria. The music of The Kingston Trio continues to touch people all over the world. My Dad was a wonderful performer who gave his very best every time he played his tenor guitar and sang with the Trio. It’s comforting to know that he is recognized for his achievement, albeit inadvertently, for his playing of the relatively unknown four string tenor guitar.”

Josh Reynolds

“When The Brothers Four started out at the University of Washington in Seattle we were totally “powered” by the Martin Tenor Guitar.  It was the sound of our first 2 or 3 albums recorded for Columbia Records., including our first single release, “Greenfields”.  As I think back on it now it seems likely that the trademark sort of open-stringed arpeggio introduction to that recording would have not been possible on anything else but those two Tenor Guitars. A lucky moment!”

Bob Flick
The Brothers Four

“I’ve been playing a 1954 Martin Tenor Guitar since 2006.  A bout with tendonitis in the left elbow caused me to quit playing the six string guitar for about a year.  I bought 1954 Martin to see if the smaller instrument would help with the elbow.  I always loved what Nick Reynolds played on his tenor guitar, so it was an easy decision for me to try one out.  The elbow healed, the 1954 Martin is fine, and singing partner for the past 53 years, Bill Murlin and I have worked the Tenor into our Wanderers act full time.  We look forward to bringing the Martin to Astoria in June!”

Carl Allen, The Wanderers

“I came to tenor guitar through mandolin, after playing guitar for 15 years I picked up a mando and started writing songs on it, then began to do solo shows again and wanted to play those songs, but not so tiny-sounding. My vintage Martin Tenor has a lovely deep tone for such a small instrument, and I swear it is haunted, in a good way, by whatever songs got played on it in it’s youth (the ‘30’s and ‘40’s.) I have written a few songs on it that feel like they were given to me by the instrument, most especially the song Ruby Warbler, that I named my band after. So glad to be coming back to the Gathering, a great chance to get together with other fans of this sweet instrument.”

Myshkin

“The more people are talking about tenors, the more people are playing them. I’m spreading the word everywhere I go. I’m at the Jazz Festival in New Orleans right now, and I can tell you that everyone here loves the tenor.”

Spider Murphy

“The two most common questions I’m asked about the tenor guitar are, “Why a tenor guitar?” and  “What’s the difference between a tenor guitar and a 6 string?”  The answer is an easy one. The tenor guitar has a clear, sweet voice of it’s own.  It works beautifully as a rhythm instrument, as part of a section or as a stand along solo instrument. I play a Martin size 5 or half size tenor from 1929, a new Martin Custom tenor, a National Reso-phonics tenor with a steel body and an archtop electric tenor made by Paul Lestock of Arrow Guitars and Mandolins.  Each guitar has it’s own personality and history.

I went to the Library of Congress and The Smithsonian to research tenor guitars and players when the tenor first grabbed my attention and heart.  About 75% of the players I found were black musicians from the early black string bands from the 1920s through about 1935.  They were centered in the Midwest around Chicago and St. Louis and also in Louisiana and Alabama.    

I’m  thankful for the players and builders who are breathing new life into the instrument today.  The tenor guitar is a voice from our American past that reaches beautifully into the future.  It’s a voice that could have been lost but thanks to the efforts of Mark Josephs, Paul Lestock, Josh Reynolds, Dick Boak and many others in the modern music community the tenor guitar will be with us for a long time to come.”

Marcy Marxer – Two Time Grammy Winner

Words from Mark Joseph
Tenor Guitar Gathering Organizer

I GREW UP IN ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey and started playing guitar in 1960 when I was ten years old. Playing chords came easy and I evolved into a sought after rhythm guitar player. I played rhythm guitar and sang in a four piece rock band called “the Super Jam Blues Band”, and later, “The Whazooz”. We played for High School dances and private “sweet sixteen” parties. When I graduated from High School I graduated to playing in bars. In 1974 I joined a swing trio and we were an opening act for Ry Cooder, Randy Newman, Horace Silver, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee and numerous others. I met Johnny Shines, Professor Longhair, Walter “Shakey” Horton, Bucky Pizzarelli during that time and learned a little bit from observation. It was a magical time in my life, “pre straight job”, so to speak.

My Mom bought me a harmonica when I was 18. I learned what I know today from meeting harp players much better than I, who took the time to share invaluable techniques that you can hear in my recordings and live playing. When I was 40, I started playing the ukulele, similar to guitar but very different in the musical approach….and bought my first tenor guitar when I was 50 years old. I just finished an album that’s all about the tenor guitar. It’s called “TENOR ELEVEN”, fifteen songs played on tenor guitar with vocal and harmonica accompaniment.

I never saw myself as a promoter, and still don’t, but I do feel the desire to bring tenor guitar players together at one time and one place, and that place is Astoria. Music continues to be special to me. It has opened doors to new friendships and improves the quality of my life. I have worked in Los Angeles as a clerk at an Outpatient Cancer Center and will bring my uke in and play for patients. It makes them sing and smile and forget where they are for a moment. It is uplifting to them and to me as well.

I spoke to a stranger on the phone recently who’s coming to this year’s gathering. He told me he plays baritone ukulele and is thinking about playing the tenor guitar. When he searched the web for information he came across the gathering. He booked himself into the Hotel Elliot and is very excited about attending. That’s the kind of thing that makes me hustle to make these gatherings happen, and the fact that they’re a lot of fun for me and everyone who attends. I think that everyone in Astoria has worked together to make this quirky event come to life, it’s not unlike a band that rehearses for hours and then gets on stage and puts that wall of emotion out there as if it was all so easy.


In New Light: Four Original Plays by Keyaho Rohlfs

asocticketwindowA May Celebration and Much More than Melodrama at Astor Street Opry Company

Anyone familiar with the Astor Street Opry Company (ASOC) knows this hard-working theater group is responsible for bringing the community, and a great portion of those visiting the area, the fun melodrama, “Shanghaied in Astoria”. This humorous and historical musical provides audiences of all ages a great way to enjoy local theater, learn about the area, and have a great time hurling popcorn at the villains.

“IT’S THE HEART AND SOUL of the company and the community. We’ve become bigger than theater. It’s a tradition and an event that belongs to Astoria,” says ASOC’s Production Manager and Events Coordinator Judith Niland.

judyniland

ASOC Founder Judy Niland says "Bye-bye porta potties, bye-bye!!!"

It is this “backbone” of the ASOC repertoire, running every summer for the last twenty-eight years, that allows ASOC to be a great deal more than just this one production. So, too, is Judith Niland. Her tremendous efforts as manager, publicist, grant writer, event coordinator, facilitator, and artist, make ASOC a far bigger thing than just a community theater. Current ASOC Executive Board President, Chuck Meyers, speaks of her, alone, as having been the ASOC for the last 25 years. She has devoted a large part of her life to keeping the theater arts alive, well, and housed in Astoria. Having lead the capital campaign to acquire the permanent home for ASOC, and having spent the last quarter century developing the management repertoire for the theater, she, now, wishes to teach, share, and pass on the duties and traditions of this outstanding community theater.

“ASOC’s been my life’s work, accidentally, and it was Del Corbett’s life work, too. He’s the one that taught me.”

Recently, after spending time away from the theater to recover from foot surgery, Judith realized she could no longer perform the myriad of tasks, and juggle all the balls required to make the variety of theater at ASOC happen, forever. This wake-up call drew her attention to the need to educate and share the finer points and details of what it takes to run this theater, as a volunteer, with the other ASOC Board and Committee members. She wants to offer the opportunity to other volunteers to become proficient in the many facets of ASOC operations, as well as, allow herself more time for her own artwork. As a trained children’s book and fairy tale illustrator with a college education in Book Arts, her first love is drawing. Arthritis has kept Judith from returning to the book press, but she remains very passionate about pursuing her metaphysical design style and symbolic art.

Her health, while keeping her from some art forms and reducing her relentless participation with ASOC, allowed her the time, while recuperating from surgery, to read more, and, specifically, lead her to more of Seaside playwright, Keyaho Rohlfs’ plays. This inspired the upcoming ASOC Fundraiser, “In New Light”, three one-act plays and one monolgue written by Rohlfs.

“It’s great to remind the community that ASOC has always done other kinds of theater. That’s why we existed, and people forget about that…’Shanghai’s’ always been the vehicle to get there, but never the end result. You have to give those growing beyond the melodrama something else to do. This is a chance to feed some of that. His (Keyaho’s) work comes from a place in his heart and really touches people,” commented Niland of her interest in working with Rohlfs.

“Everyone loves working with him. He’s very centered, intelligent, and strongly spiritual. His stuff works on multiple levels. He doesn’t care if people get it, or not, as long as they walk away thinking.” She continues, “I found his plays to be trips into a real, yet, imaginary world full of odd heartfelt characters, connections, and synchronicities that are similar to how I shape my world. I have studied the metaphysical world ever since I was a teen, and it is something that brings me peace and balance. Life is all about how you feel, and his work helps me remember that, and that is what is real.”

Director of Rohlfs’ one-act play “Centerpiece,” Anne MacGregor, agrees that his work is like poetry that goes in and out of time and emotions, and leaves audience members to ask “What was that?”, “How’d we get there?”, and “That was really interesting, what was it?” She added, “His writing is so superior, he is a channel. Everyone picks up their own thing-it’s amazing. I don’t know what he’s going to do with his work, but I would go on doing it forever. It’s a dream come true for any good director.”

To say that Playwright Keyaho Rohlfs speaks freely about his work and writing process is akin to saying, writing plays is a cakewalk. He draws the comparison of his play writing to pulling stories from an orphanage of abandoned imaginary friends.

“When kids get a certain age they’re told no more imaginary friends. I always wondered what happened to all the imaginary friends- where did they go?”

So, he offers them a place to reside, in exchange for their stories, which he diligently puts to paper in the form of stage productions-one act plays, monologues, and full-length plays.

In New Light cast

A partial cast for In New Light with playwright Keyaho Rohlfs (center).

“The really cool thing about theater is how you can manifest all these imaginary friends, and make it real,” says Rohlf, and explains that he explores the barriers between real and imaginary, looks inside and outside the self to channel the voices he believes are out there, and, if listening closely, can be heard. When asked about the layered, spectral quality of his work, Rohlfs replied, “I think that when we can see the invisible realm, then, we have something to talk about, and when we feel the full force of nature, then we have something to share.”

In his work with Astor Street Opry Company, Rohlfs believes it to be much more than a community theater. “This playhouse is really special; it’s the most community-minded, community theater around. There’s activity here year ‘round, day in and day out for all ages. It has a really big heart.”

And no stranger to the Astor Street Opry Company he is. In the three years of ASOC’s New Works Festival, an original script writing contest that solicits, celebrates, and produces selected one-acts plays and monologues submitted from all over the country, Rohlfs submissions have been selected and performed every year. This festival was initiated in 2010, for which his monologue, “Tallulah” was accepted and produced. The festival performance was directed by ASOC Production Committee Chair, Anne MacGregor, who performs the role in the reprisal of “Tallulah” for the May Celebration fundraiser.

In 2011, his one-act play, “Centerpiece” was a final selection, performed by Patricia Shannon, Bill Dodge, and Ann Bronson. In this year’s festival, his comedic monologue submission, “Captive”, was produced. Performed by Aly Hansen and Kirk House with direction by Del Corbett, this funny, sweet and talent-filled piece is about a teenage girl who appears center stage, singing, dancing, juggling and believing she is being held captive by a crazy bunch of community theater people. Rohlfs participation in the ASOC New Works Festival for the past three years has brought critical acclaim to the ASOC. In the name of creating a new slot for original stage productions, ASOC has chosen Keyaho’s two previously performed stage pieces, along with two new one-act plays to perform in a showcase of his work. His beautiful use of language offers an astonishing depth of emotions, as well as an alluring sense of human nature. This May Celebration of “In New Light” offers a unique opportunity to enjoy poetic and eloquently written theater concerning relevant issues of our time. This is a fundraiser to kick-off the phase three of ASOC’s capital campaign to build indoor restroom facilities and an office.

In New Light: 4 One Acts in a Night
The four performances of “In New Light: An Evening of Original Artwork from Playwright Keyaho Rohlfs” will reprise two pieces previously produced for ASOC’s New Works Festival (Centerpiece and Tallulah) and include two new one-act pieces. Included in the showcase is “Centerpiece” with Tom Brownson performing the lead role, originally performed by Bill Dodge in the 2011 production. This one-act play finds an elderly, homeless couple who have fallen on hard times, brought about by the current economic meltdown. They seek shelter and comfort in the warmth of stage lights, reflecting, reminiscing, and celebrating their lives together. Anne MacGregor directs this repeat performance, again. She also performs the monologue, “Tallulah”, an elderly woman’s poetic monologue about an adventuresome life, well-lived, joined by the playwright’s very own jazz saxophone accompaniment.

Premiering in this showcase production are two new one-act plays, “Signing Out” and “Mahpiya”. “Signing Out” portrays a road weary musician returning to his hometown to visit his father in a nursing home. Here, he gets help from a plucky nurse, and makes some unexpected choices. In “Mahpiya”(A Native American word meaning “Sky”) several stories combine, as a girl surrounded by devastation, manifests her identity in a spiritual journey, spanning generations; this tale includes an interesting amphibian.

Directed by Keyaho Rohlfs and Anne MacGregor, the cast includes: Anne MacGregor, Patricia Shannon, Tom Brownson, Ann Bronson, Markus Brown, Barry Sears, Mark Erickson, Elias Enyart, Avery Hartzel, Tiffany Simmons, Brian Allen, Jane Hill, Julie House, Anabel Knight and William Grammer.

In November 2007, Astor Street Opry Company acquired a permanent home in Astoria. By July 2008, the first production on the new stage of “Shanghaied in Astoria” was up and running. Where the cost to purchase a theater space was covered through a designated capital grant and donated funds, the additional $125,000 needed to make the building a safe and a comfortable public space was not. In Fall 2010, the ASOC Board secured a mortgage with Clatsop Community Bank to help where grant monies were being discontinued due to economic cutbacks. After years as a vagabond theater troupe, being set back with every move, ASOC was finally housed in its own stable and improved theater building. Now able to settle and to grow, the theater added more family programming and an original script writing contest.

“We’re still getting used to using the building-during the daytime, at night, rehearsing at dark. That’s what we (ASOC) have to do now to maintain a theater, and keep it going financially. We have to have something playing all the time, said Niland. Niland, whose efforts and countless hours made the theater purchase a reality, is now squeezing in a new fundraiser into the very full ASOC theatrical calendar. Two weekends in May between “The Real Lewis and Clark Story: or How the Finns Discovered Astoria” and the start of “Junior Shanghaied” offers a time slot for some alternative theater options to raise funds for the third phase of the ASOC Capital Campaign which will make possible the construction of public restrooms and an office.

The Astor Street Opry Company (ASOC) presents a special performance fundraiser, “In New Light”, featuring four original pieces by Seaside playwright Keyaho Rohlfs. Three one act plays and a monologue will be presented on May 18th, 19th, 25th and 26th at 7:30 pm at the ASOC Playhouse located on 129 West Bond Street in Astoria, Oregon; doors open at 7:00 pm. This is a kick-off for ASOC Capital Campaign Phase Three “Pennies for Potties (or Big Buck for Bathrooms) Drive”. This evenings is a celebration of live and local entertainment with a special silent auction of original art and the unveiling of the“Yakko~Eino” Fundraiser Thermometer and the “Toilet Seat Pennies Toss” collection jar. Tickets for this fundraiser are only $8 for singles and $12 per couple and can be purchased by calling 503-325-6104 or online at www.astorstreetoprycompany.com.


Finding your place: 3 Artists

Roger & Natalie

Astoria artists Roger Hayes and Natalie Orr

Eva Kirk, Natalie Orr, Lulu Quinn
Roger Hayes Writes/Curates

Opening at KALA
April 14 – May 1

ARTISTS TEND to create micro-environments. Generally this is informed by their milieu, which creates the defining aesthetic tenets. Here in Astoria we start out with a setting that is highly conducive to the creative process, but understanding its’ characteristics is what sets it apart. The milieu is rife with art, and there is a healthy amount of cross fertilization from artists who’ve arrived here with a vision. I like to think that we are living at a particularly fecund moment, when some defining characteristics of ego are laid by the wayside, and group reflection is encouraged.

In starting this show we played with the idea of the eternal return, the attraction of our small metropolis, what brings folks back here, and what generates the first appeal that captures new comers fancy, and the rebirth of a city, which is perhaps always latent. Longing for place is a key part of the defining search of nascent growth.

Within the Romantic cannon, the eternal return could be called a longing for place. Early Twentieth-Century Expressionists, Die Brucke, and Der Blaue Reiter conveyed this effectively. This was the first kernel concept for this show, beginning with the Expressionist/ Romantic leanings of Natalie Orr’s art, as it displays an affinity for Chromatic Futurism, and a bucolic sense of the inherent power of nature.

What becomes revealed in Natalie’s art is a dialectic of external, internal, objective, and subjective, that is like a protective armor, that contains a consuming flame; again a Nietzschean reference to the poles of creation and destruction.

Landscape Use

Natalie Orr, Landscape Use

NATALIE: “The viewer is engulfed in flames. The culture ingrained in me is intrinsic. There is a hierarchical difference where sameness and difference are not as accurate. The two become balance. The artist accesses the observer of “myself”, as a type of ego solidification…an embrace of the observer…this is not ego currency. The ego receives and expels for free, a selective experience. Sameness in the flames, hiding in the flames, the same perceptual mode that can’t be measured”.

Natalie refers to both the work, and its process, as “the spark of creativity within (which) ignites, producing energy. You hide yourself in the flames, and build a bed of clues… (you) fall into the flames, recognizing (the) validity of the observant perspective. Deus ex machina”. The viewer becomes inextricably involved in the works’ existence.

And also as a testimony to the worth of the work, “art is a problem solved spiritually. A journey that goes nowhere, but feels as its primary accomplishment”. We can look at “will to power”, but there seems to be a larger fabric from which the players are sewn, especially as Natalie cites “the Heraclitan cosmic child, who plays on without preference to outcomes”.

The inverse of this spectrum shows a charged cityscape, which was also a primary source of interest with Neue Berliners such as Otto Dix, Max Beckman, G. W. Pabst, et al. Lulu Quinn shows a strong affinity for this recurrent theme of urban decay, or deconstruction, through her use of nouvelle funk, similar to Phillip Guston, Kaz, Ralph Bakshi, or any graffiti artists.

Recently Lulu has stated that Astoria is the reference point, a place from which instructive and inspirational cues are taken, the over-riding goal is beauty, but as we know this is continually redefined; the eternal return of creating vision.

There is a consistent sense of the urban as fun, in Lulu’s paintings, in a highly individual and inspiring manner, again, with playfulness. This reminds me of Red Grooms. Perhaps it is the novel willfulness that makes it attractive, or maybe it is Lulu’s particular vantage point, of a Utopian interior view of what the rest of us see as grimy and hum-drum. Echoes of the cityscape reveal the artists’ personality.

Lulu describes Astoria as a catalyst from memory, a place that lacks veneer, and allows a natural and unmodified response, and a truer sense of feeling. The synchronous feeling here comes from “being yourself”, which in a media saturated culture seems a significant goal. Is this the lack of stimuli perhaps, or a true vacuum in which the artistic impulse is free to muse? Along with this comes a general underlying sense that art exists for no real purpose, at least in the sense of a commodity.

Recently Eva Kirk has presented a restless wanderlust and searching which is typical of this process that we are identifying in this show. Her search has been far reaching, and has been preceded by intensive aesthetic explorations which are experimental in nature.

Exploration by travel, gives way to exploration in art.

ed3

Eva Kirk, ek3

EVA: “it’s hard for me to say what they (the paintings) will lean towards until I start, because it always changes, (I’m) definitely picking up inspiration from my travels.“ Eva cites “the interconnections of mundane moments, finding your Heart amidst modern day confusion and meaninglessness, wisdom of the ocean, (and) goofiness”, which can’t be under estimated, because in the play of spirit one experiences loss of self, and merges with the greater zeitgeist. Again, agents of change, such as travel, maximize this effect, and help to depersonalize the search, making it more “cosmic” in scheme.

“I use a lot of different mediums but mostly collage and found things and I don’t really know why, I just see something and it either calls me to use it or it doesn’t. Sometimes I will make a piece of art, but then end up taking it apart and using pieces of it to create something else. I feel like that could somehow fit into the idea of eternal return”.

Goofing on your environment can be a healthy way to get a collective reality check. I see these artists as healthily engaged and caring, on the path to the next conversation. Certainly we are standing amidst a tradition here in Astoria. That’s defined every day you get up, and gauge the surroundings. The “return”, in so far as it works, can be seen as the nascent “seeds” that these artists bring back with them after their travels, or perambulations around the village. Getting away is searching, and inevitably it draws you back to confirm the pieces that started the search.

At the moment there seems to be a return to traditional representation, in the format of painting. Even so, it is couched in an atmosphere of experiment(s). Discord and chaos are necessary, and if you can learn to sustain dissonance, your view expands, and the search is for possibilities.

To quote Natalie, “The process involves relinquishing rightness”. That might be the entire concept currently under consideration. What I would add here is that the restless spirit of change has a healthy presence. I liken this Dionysian approach to the earliest forays of automatism of the Surrealists Robert Desnos, and Andre Masson. The edifice of empiricism may be a bed stone, but it is not the grounding wire that channels our creative energy.


WTF is Going On? WTF is Going On!


Shane and Amy Bugbee’s Deep Art Blast. Celebrating creative revolution from past and present eras.

So you’ve seen the artfully-rendered flyers, the cryptic YouTube videos, the postings on Facebook, and the copies of the free Extreme Times broadsheet that have been floating all over town these past few weeks. You’ve heard whispers, rumors, conjecture. You may even have picked up some funny rumbles on your internal seismograph. All of which leads you to one simple, pertinent question…

WTF is the WTF Fest?

WTF FEST • FRIDAY APRIL 27
6-9pm Astoria PAC 16th & Franklin
9pm to Midnight (18 and Over please)
@KALA • 1017 Marine Drive
$10 (sliding scale) admission at both events.

Pose that question to event organizers Shane and Amy Bugbee, who are bringing this self-described “chaotic, artistic, multi-media, multi-generational, multi-musical-genre event” to four Northwest cities, including their adopted hometown of Astoria, and even they have a hard time defining it. “It seems like it was all planned, and actually it wasn’t,” Shane says. “Me and Amy act out in these weird ways; we don’t even realize we’re acting out sometimes, but we do and things like this start falling into place. Must be because it’s an election year.”

As it happens, WTF Fest grew out of a project in the works since our last election year. In 2008, Shane and Amy threw their dog and turtle in the back seat of their Chevy Blazer and embarked on a year-long road trip across the United States, armed with only $180 in their pockets. Oh, and a laptop, a video camera and a digital recorder. The laptop to test how far they could go with social media and their own resourcefulness as their major means of support; the camera and recorder to document it all – the travels themselves and the encounters they had along the way. The result: a forthcoming book and a full-length documentary, both entitled A Year at the Wheel, excerpts of which will be screened at WTF Fest.

It was at a panel to discuss the Wheel project at the 2010 South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas that WTF began to take shape. The Bugbees had already gotten a taste of the “anti-SXSW” shows and events designed to counter the “corporate” nature of the official event two years before; now, sitting in the thick of it, they conceived some SXSW counterprogramming of their own. An event that, like many others, combined art, music, poetry and performance, but with a uniquely radical feel. And I do mean “radical,” as WTF’s core performer came straight from the source: one of the many people they befriended on their cross-country jaunt just happened to be one of the few bright lights of the sixties counterculture whose filament hadn’t dimmed or burned out entirely. “John Sinclair was in our movie,” Shane says. “He was right there in New Orleans and I knew he’d work with us. So I came up with this great idea for something that’d be real easy and real cheap, which, of course, turned out not to be so cheap or so easy. So we realized the only way this was going to make any money would be to do it in the Pacific Northwest, closer to home, so we added five extra dates” – shows in Eugene (4/22), Portland (4/23), and Seattle (4/28 & 29) in addition to the two here in Astoria – “on top of that.” Plans for the Austin event eventually fell through, but thanks to Shane & Amy’s talent for artist management and promotion, not to mention a social networking structure even more supportive of ambitious grassroots projects than it was four years ago (a good chunk of the funding has come via Kickstarter), it keeps morphing and growing. No two events will be the same; the core group of artists and performers will be augmented in each town by everything from skate-punk bands and “circus revolutionaries” (really) to comedians and people who only think they’re comedians (full disclosure – that last category consists solely of the author of this piece).

sinclair then

John Sinclair - Then...

Sinclair is not only WTF Fest’s biggest “name,” but also the skeleton key to its philosophy – he may be forever associated with radial causes and political insurgency, but it’s his artistic affiliations that will ensure his legacy. (Read a White Panther Party manifesto, then crank up the MC5’s Kick Out the Jams, and tell me which one retains its power and immediacy four decades on.) The younger artists drawn into WTF Fest’s orbit – the likes of Ugly Shyla (creator of dark, creepy dolls and “shock performance” artist), Ruby LaRocca (horror/erotica actress-turned-auteur), and Rick Shapiro (raw, caustic stand-up who, unfortunately, will only appear at the Portland and Eugene events) – channel the temper of the times into their art in much the same way, albeit in a more intense, amped-up manner appropriate to these days of rampant rage. “I saw it when we were going across the country,” Amy says. “People realizing that maybe America’s not such a welcoming place for certain of us – they’re angry, but they’re active, they’re looking for a way to use that anger. Some people take that and join a mass movement, like Occupy or the Tea Party, and some prefer to express it in more personal, individual ways. And things get so polarizing and ridiculous, especially in an election year, that the only people I want to pay attention to are the artists.”

“This is how we as creatives campaign, in a way – around what, I don’t know,” adds Shane. “But WTF Fest and things like that are how we deal with these times. It’s our way of being active and political without being ‘politically active.’”

APPEARING AT THE ASTORIA WTF FEST:

sinclair now

John Sinclair - Now.

JOHN SINCLAIR
Founder of the White Panthers, manager of proto-punk monsters the MC5, psychedelic cause célèbre, blues/jazz scholar, poet, author, broadcaster, activist, and perhaps the only person to have a John Lennon song named after them without having to marry him first – John Sinclair was and remains one of the pillars of the American counterculture. His 1969 arrest and conviction for passing two joints to an undercover police officer turned him into the hippie movement’s Number One Martyr, culminating in the 1971 “Rally for John Sinclair,” a truly impressive gathering of performers (including Allen Ginsberg, Stevie Wonder, Archie Shepp, Bob Seger and, oh yeah, John & Yoko) that helped result in the Supreme Court’s overturning his conviction and the rewriting of Michigan’s marijuana laws – a shining example of the power of art to effect social change that lives on in events like the WTF Fest. Unlike some of his peers, too many of whom softened up, sold out, burned out or faded away, Sinclair continues to keep the faith. His radio show can be heard at www.radiofreeamsterdam.com, he had a regular column for High Times magazine, and he sells John Sinclair Seeds through his website. You figure out what grows from them. (www.johnsinclair.us)

dave archer

DAVE ARCHER

DAVE ARCHER
Dave Archer’s outer space paintings have adorned the sets of Star Trek – The Next Generation as well as several of the Star Trek films; graced the covers of books by SF legends Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, and Jack Vance, among others; and been shown at the Hayden Planetarium in New York as well as the world headquarters of AT&T. But that’s not the impressive part. The impressive part is that his paintings are rendered on glass using a million-volt Tesla coil as his brush! Another fellow traveler on the underground railroad of the counterculture, his roots extend all the way back to the San Francisco Beat scene of the early 60s, and his appearance at WTF Fest is sure to be – you will excuse the term – electric. (www.davearcher.com)

dave densmore

DAVE DENSMORE

DAVE DENSMORE
Densmore probably needs no introduction to most Astorians, as his appearances as part of the annual Fisher Poets Gathering here in town are already legendary. Described by WTF Fest organizers as “an authentic Alaskan tough guy,” Densmore has literally made the harrowing and dangerous world of the ocean his life – he was even the skipper of a commercial fishing boat at the age of thirteen! His words, presence and presentation are, like his livelihood, tough, harrowing, and beautifully real, and sure to inspire anyone who experiences it. (www.davedensmorefishermanpoet.com)

ugly shyla

UGLY SHYLA

UGLY SHYLA
“Fear, Loathing, Lipstick and Art” goes the credo of this Cajun dollmaker, performance artist, alternative model and bona fide Voodoo priestess. You can call her work dark, disturbing and in-your-face, but don’t look for an agenda underneath it all. “Unlike some artists, I really have no clue why I do what I do or what it’s even about in a way,” she says. “I’m on the journey just like the people that see my stuff are. I’m like a medium or channeler, I’m just the vehicle. Sometimes I feel the need to make things addressing certain subjects – it’s like what Southern Baptists refer to as a ‘burden’.” I won’t give away what she has planned for WTF Fest (mostly because it’ll be different every time), but suffice to say it will make an impression. As the carnies used to say, “a minute to see, a lifetime to forget.” (www.uglyart.net)

ruby_monica

RUBY LAROCCA & MONICA PULLER

RUBY LAROCCA & MONICA PULLER
LaRocca and Puller’s recently-formed production company is known as Snatch Devil Devil Snatch, which may give you some indication of where their interests lie. As might the titles of some of the 60+ films on LaRocca’s ever-expanding resume, including The Devil’s Bloody Playthings, Orgasm Torture in Satan’s Rape Clinic, and Night of the Groping Dead. And if that doesn’t get the point across, note that LaRocca is also a contributor to the newly-published Have a Heart for Horror Cookbook. Devoted to exploring the dark, fertile ground where horror, eroticism and femininity meet, LaRocca and Puller will be at all WTF Fest performances, filming, performing, and who knows what else. (www.rubylarocca.com)

esmerelda_strange

ESMERELDA STRANGE

ESMERELDA STRANGE
San Francisco-based singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Strange draws from the vaudevillian tradition of the one-man band – she plays accordion, drums and sings all at the same time – but it would be kind of a stretch to call what she does “traditional.” Her music has been described as “acoustic electro-clash goes to the punk rock circus in Mexico,” and her lyrics, sung in both English and Spanish, are as salty, saucy and brassy as the artist herself. She has toured with Cyclecide, the world’s only punk rock bicycle carnival with pedal-powered midway rides and wrote and performed the music for the Lifesize Mousetrap, a 25-ton Rube Goldberg-esque assemblage of kinetic sculptures handcrafted to resemble a very large version of the classic children’s game, both of which seem manifestly appropriate and very WTF. (www.esmereldastrange.com)

LONNIE D. WAGES
Another hard-bitten survivor-made-good, Wages has seen the world, done time, beat cancer, and even did a stint as roadie for Willie Nelson. A devoted advocate of marijuana legalization as well as a skilled singer/songwriter, Lonnie comes to WTF Fest to perform several of his original compositions, some of which have been recorded by a number of country legends.


COAL casts its shadow

Approval of six proposed coal export terminals will face national, regional and local opposition. Learn more on both camps.


Following in the footsteps of Lewis & Clark, trains loaded with coal from mines in the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming could be converging on the Lower Columbia and other port towns along the Pacific Northwest coast in the next few years, if several proposals for new export terminals are approved.

In what seems like a replay of the LNG saga here, companies are lining up, plucking down hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for the permitting process, and carefully picking the ports and counties in which to pitch their proposals. In some cases, coal export terminal proposals are popping up in the same places as LNG terminals that are still pending, or were long ago shelved.

Weary from the LNG fight – which is still going on as the terminal and pipeline proposals switch from import to export – citizen groups, environmental organizations and even some business groups are already gearing up for a series of long battles combating the new proposals for coal export.

Coming on the heels of the largest recession since the 1930s, there are many in the region that argue that coal exports will be a boon to the local economy, and welcome the new proposals. Before one lump of coal has been loaded onto a ship headed to China, the two sides are already flinging numbers and accusations at each other. And the stakes are high, because we’re talking really big numbers here, like up to 100 million short tons of coal a year, or 10% of the current usage of coal in the U.S.

It’s All About Supply and Demand

The fossil fuel industry – including natural gas, oil and coal – is experiencing a boom in the U.S. Prices are rising, mostly due to increased demand from booming Asian economies. Improved technologies have allowed heretofore unattainable reserves to be recovered. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, which uses water and chemicals to force gas and oil out of deep shale formations, has brought prosperity to many towns across the country unseen since the 1970s or even earlier. Tar sands oil from Canada has started to flow to and through the U.S. And new mining techniques are allowing more coal to be recovered from existing and new mine sites. Regulations have been eased to spur the production of more domestic energy.

Due to the recession, rising gasoline prices, better vehicle technology and efficiency, the threat of climate change and associated regulatory changes, demand for fossil fuels has decreased in the U.S. in the last few years. When you take increased supply and add it to decreased domestic demand in a global market where demand is increasing rapidly, you get more pressure to export. LNG import terminals have become export terminals, there’s a net export of finished petroleum products for the first time since the 1950s, and coal exports have almost doubled in the past few years (though still below historic highs in the 1980s and 90s).

And you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

The Proposals

It turns out that the shortest (and cheapest) route between the Powder River Basin coal mines and China is through Oregon and Washington ports. Therefore, as the map (from an opposition group called Coal Free Northwest) shows, the proposals for terminals and associated rail lines to export Powder River coal are all on the Columbia River or Pacific Ocean (or associated bays) deepwater ports.

Applications for permits and agreements to investigate the potential for coal export at these ports started coming in about a year ago. Let’s travel by train, barge and ship, and follow the black gold to its potential loading and unloading sites in Oregon and Washington. We’ll take several routes from Spokane west, starting with the northern spur to Cherry Point, near the border with Canada and close to North America’s largest existing coal export terminal (operated by Westshore Terminals, shipping over 29 million tons a year in over 200 ships) just north of the Tsawassen ferry terminal in Delta, B.C.

gatewaypacific

Terminal site, courtesy of the Gateway Pacific Terminal website

Gateway Pacific Terminal
In March of 2011, Pacific International Terminals, a subsidiary of SSA Marine, “one of the largest shipping terminal operators and stevedores in the world” (from the terminal website at http://gatewaypacificterminal.com/), submitted preliminary documents to Whatcom County, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and state agencies to kick off the environmental review process for a proposed deep-water marine terminal at Cherry Point in Whatcom County, between Ferndale and Blaine. The terminal would provide storage and handling of up to 54 million metric tons of exported and imported dry bulk commodities, including coal, grain, iron ore, salts and alumina, but mostly export coal. In a related project, BNSF Railway Inc. has proposed adding rail facilities adjacent to the terminal site and installing a second track along the six-mile Custer Spur.

A permit was issued for a terminal at this site in 1997, but the new proposal has been determined to need a full environmental review, including an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The review will be carried out jointly by the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Whatcom County. According to Ecology’s web page on the project (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/geographic/gatewaypacific/), the timeline puts completion of the EIS in 2014, with scoping starting in June of this year, and a draft EIS issued in late 2013. The lead agencies will ask other agencies, tribes and the public what they think should be analyzed in the EIS, including things like stormwater, wetlands, air emissions, noise, and traffic, as part of the scoping process.

For more information on the project review, contact Alice Kelly of Ecology’s Northwest Regional Office at akel461@ecy.wa.gov or (425) 649-7128, or if you would like to get on the Whatcom County e-mail subscriber list for the project, send your email address to pds@co.whatcom.wa.us, and in the subject line type “GPT Subscriber List.”

Heading a little south, we travel along the Yakima/Tacoma branch of the Coal Export Railroad to the Port of Grays Harbor, founded in 1911. Once the leading port for timber export, Grays Harbor now leads the U.S. in exports of soybean meal and is the number one seafood landing point in Washington State. It has been diversifying its portfolio recently, with coal perhaps in the picture in the next few years.

Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad (RailAmerica) Terminal

terminal3

Terminal 3, proposed site for coal terminal, courtesy of Port of Grays Harbor

In late 2010, RailAmerica officials approached the Port of Grays Harbor about building a coal export terminal at the port’s Marine Terminal 3 near the Hoquiam sewage lagoon. It was once a Rayonier-owned dock and log yard. Willis Enterprises now operates a wood chip facility there.

According to an article in The Daily World, Hoquiam’s daily newspaper, in July 2011, Gary Lewis, RailAmerica’s vice president of industrial development, is quoted as saying that the project will likely be delayed until at least 2013, in order to complete additional studies and planning. The proposed terminal could export up to 5.5 million tons of coal a year from that site, according to Lewis.

Gary Nelson, executive director of the Port of Grays Harbor, told me only that there is a proposal for developing a coal or grain terminal at Terminal 3, with an access agreement signed with the proposed terminal’s operator, which has been in effect for about a year, with “maybe another 90 days to go before considering an extension or further action.”

For more information on this proposal, contact the Port of Grays Harbor at (360) 533-9528, or try Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad at (360) 482-4994.


For our last stop in Washington, we’ll travel from Spokane towards and then along the Columbia River, on the Vancouver spur, to the industrial waterfront of the city of Longview.

millenium

Former Reynolds Metals Co. site proposed for coal export terminal, courtesy of The Daily News

Millenium Bulk Terminal
Millennium Bulk Terminals, a subsidiary of Ambre Energy, an Australian company, has proposed building a $600 million export terminal at the former Alcoa aluminum smelter site west of Longview. The company plans to export up to 44 million tons annually by 2018 or 2019, which would mean 16 trains would be traveling through Longview daily to the terminal. County planners have proposed a $200 million plan to upgrade the area’s rail system by 2016 or 2017.

In February, Millennium submitted applications for a Joint Aquatic Resources permit application to the Army Corps of Engineers, a 401 water quality certification to the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology), and a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit and a Shoreline Conditional Use Permit to Cowlitz County. These three agencies will conduct a coordinated environmental review of the proposed facility, similar to the procedures laid out above for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal in Cherry Point, Washington.

An application submitted last year for a much smaller operation was withdrawn after opponents uncovered internal company emails that spoke of hiding the larger numbers from the public.

According to Mike Wojtowicz, the Building & Planning Director for Cowlitz County, the proposed terminal in Longview is about 6-9 months behind the process just getting under way for Gateway Pacific.

The proposal, according to the Millenium website, is to build out the terminal in two phases. The first stage would include the construction of a new dock at the site, and raise the coal export capacity to 25 million metric tons. The second stage would upgrade the existing dock, currently used for import of alumina; and storage on site, currently used for coal for the adjacent Weyerhaeuser pulp and paper mill and other bulk materials, for additional import and export capability, especially for coal export.

For more information, contact Wojtowicz at wojtowiczm@co.cowlitz.wa.us or 360-577-3065.


And now we’ll continue our tour along the southern banks of the Columbia River, as our train pulls into the Boardman Industrial Park at the Port of Morrow, just east of the town of Boardman, Oregon. Ironically the current site of Oregon’s only coal-fired electricity plant, slated for phaseout by 2020, a different kind of terminal is proposed here, part of a scheme that includes facilities at Port Westward, near Clatskanie.

The Morrow Pacific Project
The Army Corps of Engineers has extended the public comment period to May 5 for the shoreline development permit application submitted by Coyote Island Terminals, LLC, an offshoot of Ambre Energy North America, itself a subsidiary of Ambre Energy in Australia, to develop a new transloading facility for bringing coal in by rail and transferring it to barges on the Columbia River at the Port of Morrow.

boardmanindustrialpark

Satellite view of the Boardman Industrial Park at the Port of Morrow, site of teh barge loading facility proposed as part of the Morrow Pacific coal export project, courtesy of Google Maps

Comments should be sent to: Mr. Steve Gagnon, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, PO Box 2946, Portland, OR 97208-2946, or e-mailed to steven.k.gagnon@usace.army.mil. Additional information may be obtained from Gagnon at (503) 808-4379 or at the e-mail address above. Reference project #NWP-2012-56.

The coal would be barged from Boardman down the Columbia to Port Westward and loaded onto ocean-going “Panamax” vessels to be shipped to Asia. Initially, approximately 3.85 million tons of coal would be shipped through the facility each year. At maximum capacity, the facility would be able to handle 8.8 million tons. That would translate to approximately 5 trains to Port of Morrow, 5.5 loaded barge tows from Port of Morrow to Port Westward, and 1 Panamax ship to Asia per week initially, increasing to 11 trains, 12 loaded barge tows, and 3 Panamax ships per week at full build out.

In January, Port of St. Helens commissioners unanimously approved a terminal services agreement with Ambre Energy that allows for an initial 5-year lease and options to extend it to 25 years. At this point, the company is doing feasibility studies at Port Westward under the one-year contract, which can be extended another year, and then month-to-month, according to Pat Trapp, the executive director of the port.

For more information, contact Trapp at (503) 397-2888 or trapp@portsh.org. The terminal’s web site is at http://morrowpacific.com/.


Continuing along the rail line that runs along the southern banks of the Columbia, we get a great view of the Columbia Gorge and the Portland Metro area before coming to our next stop at Port Westward in Clatskanie. Right near the site of a proposed LNG import terminal that never materialized, another proposal for moving our black gold out via the Columbia River has emerged.

Kinder Morgan Port Westward Project

port westward

Port Westward, Clatskanie, site of proposed coal export terminal, from Kinder Morgan presentation

Kinder Morgan Terminals, “the largest independent terminal operator in North America, with more than 180 terminals that store petroleum products and chemicals, and handle bulk materials like coal, petroleum coke and steel products” (from their website), has proposed to build a $150-200 million coal export terminal at Port Westward, with the potential to move up to 30 million tons of coal obtained by rail from the Powder River Basin.

Port of St. Helens commissioners approved a lease option agreement in January that extends 18 months, with the ability to add another 12 months to that, according to Pat Trapp, the port’s executive director. The port will hold the land for that time, and if both parties agree that the project could go forward, another vote will be taken by the port commissioners on a full-time lease, Trapp told me. The port’s role is to “facilitate collaboration between the project and the community.” All necessary permits would be obtained from the proper agencies once the proposal was given the go-ahead by Kinder Morgan and the port, according to Trapp.

For more information, contact Trapp at (503) 397-2888 or trapp@portsh.org. The terminal’s web site is at http://portwestwardproject.com/.


One last port of call for the Coal Export train, and that is the Port of Coos Bay, down on the southern Oregon coast. Heading south down the I-5 corridor from Portland, we pass Salem and Eugene, before heading southwest along the recently renovated and reopened Coos Bay Rail Link. Right near the site of the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal, our journey finally ends.

Coos Bay

End of the line at Coos Bay, site of proposed coal export terminal. Photo courtesy of the Port of Coos Bay.

Project Mainstay
Several companies recently approached the Port of Coos Bay with requests for possible development of a bulk facility within the Port’s jurisdiction. The Port asked the various parties to express their plans in an “Expression of Interest”, and these were evaluated using criteria such as experience, environmental record, financial strength, port involvement and project timeline. The winning proposal came from an overseas company, according to Elise Hamner, Communications and Community Affairs Manager at the port. Out of four proposals, three for coal export, Project Mainstay, which would be located on the North Spit (upper middle of the photo) on 80 acres and have a capacity of 6-10 million tons of coal (the smallest of the four proposals evaluated), won in every category of the evaluation. Project Glory proposed a 26 million ton throughput, but came in dead last.

An “exclusive negotiating agreement” was entered into between the port and Project Mainstay, which expires on April 15. According to Hamner, it will likely be extended. The goals of the agreement are to come to financial terms on the sale or lease of port property, establish a timeframe for development and permitting, agree on design, set a target date for start of operations, and get reasonable financial and volume guarantees from the operator. The identity of the potential operator of the coal export terminal is being withheld due to a confidentiality agreement.

For more information on Project Mainstay, contact Hamner at ehamner@portofcoosbay.com or (541) 267-7678, or search through the commissioner packets at http://portofcoosbay.com/packets2011/ and http://portofcoosbay.com/packets2012/, the meeting minutes at http://portofcoosbay.com/mintues/, and the public requests page at http://www.portofcoosbay.com/publicreq.htm from July 2011 to the present.


The Opposition

Back in 2004 when proposals for LNG terminals started coming in, the opposition was mostly composed of small, local groups near the proposed sites. It wasn’t until the routes for the pipelines associated with these terminals became known that bigger groups, such as Columbia Riverkeeper, became involved

Not so for coal export. The opposition has been organized and broad-based from the start.

Beyond Coal Campaign
On the national level, there is the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign (www.beyondcoal.org). From humble beginnings in 2002, the campaign has grown into “a force to be reckoned with,” says its leader, Mary Ann Witt. According to Witt, over 150 proposed coal-fired power plants have been stopped. No new proposals have been submitted in the past few years.

In addition to stopping new plants, Beyond Coal has a goal of retiring one-third of the existing coal-fired energy plants and replacing them with clean energy. They’re about a fourth of the way there.

The campaign’s Coal Exports leader is Cesia Kearns, who works out of the Portland Sierra Club office. A veteran of these types of campaigns, Kearns told me, “the coal companies will have a fight if they pursue these coal export terminals.” The campaign has already filed a lawsuit against the Port of Coos Bay for charging them to view documents related to the Project Mainstay proposed export terminal there, and the local district attorney has ruled in the campaign’s favor. And they sponsored a rally in Salem on April 9, where they attended the State Land Board meeting and presented petitions to stop the Oregon-based terminals.

Power Past Coal
“A growing coalition of organizations sharing a common interest to prevent the West Coast from becoming a high volume coal corridor,” Power Past Coal (www.powerpastcoal.org) is an opposition coalition of groups including Climate Solutions, Columbia Riverkeeper, Earthjustice, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Sierra Club, Washington Environmental Council and the Western Organization of Resource Councils.

Columbia Riverkeeper
One of the Power Past Coal coalition partners, Columbia Riverkeeper (www.columbiariverkeeper.org), is no stranger to fossil fuel export schemes. They are currently the lead organization in the fight to stop the LNG terminal proposed for the Skipanon Peninsula in Warrenton, and have ties to groups fighting the pipeline associated with this project. Originally proposed as import terminals, the two remaining west coast proposals, Oregon LNG in Warrenton and Jordan Cove LNG in Coos Bay, are looking into applying to export LNG to Asia.

Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, summed up the group’s objections to coal export along the Columbia River to me in a conversation we had a couple of weeks ago.

“Do we protect our quality of life in a vibrant estuary and coast or do we sacrifice it for dirty coal and LNG? The residents view the lower Columbia as a healthy place to work and raise a family. The gas and coal giants see a convenient location for massive industrialization. These are not compatible views. We can’t have both. Coal giants are seeking approval to make the lower Columbia the world’s largest exporter of dirty coal.  This would dramatically change the face of our communities and our river.

“Coal is dirty. It contains toxic pollution like mercury and lead. Hundreds of doctors have taken a stand against bringing coal to our towns because coal is linked to increased cancer, lung disease, and asthma. The costs are too great.

“Our communities would bear the brunt of shipping coal to China.  Dirty coal trains and terminals would foul our water and air.

“Building the world’s largest coal export terminals is not compatible with protecting salmon. Salmon need clean water and healthy habitat, not dirty coal. Studies have shown that coal terminals are a source of toxic pollution and that the coal dust harms salmon.  We don’t need any more slaps to our fishing industry.

Landowners and Citizens for a Safe Community (lsco.org), originally organized against LNG pipelines in the Longview area, has now shifted focus, and is fighting the Millenium Bulk Terminals proposed coal export terminal in Longview.

Citizens for a Clean Harbor (cleanharbor.org) has formed to fight the proposed RailAmerica terminal at the Port of Grays Harbor in Hoquiam.

Coal Derail

Photo by Paul K. Anderson, paulkanderson.com, from the cleanharbor.org website

Communities for a Coal-Free Gorge (coalfreegorge.wordpress.com) “envisions a Columbia River Gorge where the people can determine what materials are allowable for transport through their communities and watersheds.”

Coal Train Facts (coaltrainfacts.org) has organized to fight the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal in Cherry Point, Washington.
Though many of the effects of coal export will be felt by those of us who happen to live in the Columbia Pacific region, the larger implications of the export of Powder River Basin coal to Asia will be felt around the globe. While global energy companies and their associates will continue to reap large profits from their investments, in what can only be called “the tragedy of the market”, the continued use of coal to fuel the growing economies of Asia and elsewhere could inevitably destroy the planet through climate change and the runaway greenhouse effect.

Mike Wojtowicz, the Planning & Building Director for Cowlitz County, told me he was frustrated with the lack of a clear national energy policy, which resulted in Cowlitz County fighting the state Department of Ecology and other agencies over the rules regarding siting of coal export terminals. Pat Trapp, the executive director of the Port of St. Helens, countered that the coal being exported to Asia is private property, and restricting the flow of goods between private parties is not something the government should do.

But one has to wonder, if there’s a reasonable chance that coal export from the Pacific Northwest could contribute to accelerated climate change and global havoc, should we not pause and think through the consequences of this job-creating, economy-stimulating endeavor?

Coal Trivia

1. What state in the U.S. has the largest coal reserves?2. What is coking coal used for? Steam coal? How is coal made?

3. Which country has an advanced coal liquefaction industry and what country developed the technology for this process during what event?

4. Which country has the world’s highest reserves of coal?

5. Which country uses the most coal?

6. When will peak coal arrive?


Answers

1. Alaska
2. Coking coal – steel; steam coal – electricity; coal is made from living matter, pressure, heat and time
3. South Africa; Germany; WWII
4. U.S.
5. China
6. 2030-2100 depending on economic growth


ADDITIONAL REFERENCES

Northwest Coal Exports – Project of the Sightline Institute

Important Action from EPA on Coal Exports, Strongly Worded Letter from EPA Warns of Health Impacts of Coal Export, Urges Comprehensive Review – from the Columbia Riverkeeper website

Coal Free PSE – a new project of the Beyond Coal campaign

US Coal Market: Export Potential – a Platts.com news feature

STOP COAL – a group opposing the Roberts Bank coal port and other proposed ports in B.C.

Miner Ambre Energy in financial trouble as Queensland rejects its coalmine project – from The Australian newspaper

Coal Project Fires Up Public Interest – from the East Oregonian newspaper and OPB News

“Desperate” To Export: A Coal Industry Close-Up – from Ecotrope, OPB’s environmental blog

Westshore provides glimpse of Longview’s potential future with coal – from The Daily News newspaper in Longview

EarthFix Conversations: Coal Coming Through A Community Near You? – from KUOW’s EarthFix environmental news blog

Gateway Pacific Terminal Project – from Whatcom County’s Planning & Development Services web page

Coal Export Terminal – special section in The Daily News newspaper

Port Westward Coal Project Feedback Form – from the Port of St. Helens website

Here’s A Case For Coal – article in Columbia River Business Journal

 


Lower Columbia Time Bank

Lower Columbia Time Bank

Lower Columbia Time Bank crew (clockwise): Christopher Paddon, Pearl Rasmussen, Nancy Spaan, Theresa Barnes, Tallie Spiller (on the clock) Caren Black, Joseph Stevenson and Jennifer Rasmussen.

There was a time when we knew everyone in our neighborhoods, and may have even been related to many of them, a happy tribal existence, of sorts. All pitching in when one needed help, and every member filling a need, but in the fast-paced world of today, we barely know our neighbors much less what their needs or skills might be. Often friends, neighbors, and family members can be there to help out, but there are times when no one is available. Any part of our community, separated from family and friends, such as elderly or minority groups, may not have access to the help they need without paying for a service.

Hour-for-hour, you can invest your time in a new community economy

What if there was a way to rebuild a social network that helped people and their communities become more self-sufficient, and placed value and caring on everyday people needs. Voila! People are doing it, and the new system of time banking is working.

A time banking community offers voluntary help and services ranging from babysitting and dog walking to car repair and technical support from the people in your community. Time banking is like having an extended family to help out with rides to the to the doctor or the grocery store, help with chores around the house, or childcare. Time banking is a community “data-ing” service; a database of willing community members who care to offer their special or simple talents for the opportunity to bank “work hours” for use when they may need a lawn mowed, or help moving a piano.

The concept of time banking originated with founder Edgar Cahn in the 1980s. Time banking is meant to honor the unique talents and skills that all community members have to share, regardless of age, employment, or ethnic background, like teaching language, art, or music, helping with yard work or minor repairs, or simply running errands. By valuing the community as a resource for all its members as human beings with something to contribute, the time bank builds a rich infrastructure in the form of a community skills and services directory to promote exchanges that work beyond a price. Work value is redefined from what comes in a paycheck to what it takes to raise healthy children, build strong communities, revitalize neighborhoods, and make the planet a more caring and sustainable place.

Time banking brings people together, and turns strangers into friends. Have you ever wished you had someone around to give you a ride somewhere, help you run some errands, pick you up after you drop your car off for repairs, or just give you a hand when you need it? Who has never been stuck needing to move without sufficient strong bodies or, worse, yet, no truck!? Everyone has seen the bumper sticker proclaiming, “Yes, it’s my truck, and, no, I won’t help you move!” Luckily for the Lower Columbia region, a very different philosophy has been appropriated by an eight person steering committee, who have been working diligently to research and to bring the Lower Columbia Time Bank (LCTB) to the Northwestern Oregon and Southwestern Washington Coasts.

The LCTB steering committee is: Teresa Barnes, LCTB Financial Officer; Jennifer Rasmussen, LCTB Secretary; Pearl Rasmussen, LCTB Membership Coordinator; Tallie Spiller, LCTB Outreach Director; Caren Black, LCTB Adviser (Titanic Lifeboat Academy); Christopher Paddon, LCTB Supporter (Titanic Lifeboat Academy Board Member); Nancy Spaan, LCTB Supporter (Titanic Lifeboat Academy); Joseph Stevenson, LCTB Supporter, came together initially to find a Time Bank program that existed and could be employed as a template or mentor program. Having difficulty in locating a specific person to help with the set-up, they just dove into it, and, eventually, committee members discovered the Southern Oregon Time Bank (www.sotb.org) from Ashland, which provided a model they were interested in, and offered affordable software to establish the time banking on-line database for postings needs and skills to be exchanged.

For many of the committee members, the prospect of a better world through greater community connections factors prominently into the interest in creating a time bank. LCTB Founding member, Teresa Barnes, not only sees the time bank as the potential to develop a community give-and-take, sharing-based opportunity that functions outside of a strictly monetary system, but as an idea that fits perfectly into Astoria and the outer-lying communities.

“I never witnessed community-in-action until I moved to Astoria. There is already a strong tradition (of helping), here…(The time bank) arises out of a direct need from the community and sells itself.” Theresa is excited to share her skills, as well as her friends’ talents with the community. “Knowing that you can help each other out empowers a neighborhood”. She has already been approached by neighbors expressing their interest in the whole time bank idea. Teresa has been a resident of Astoria for the last ten years.

What is time banking?
Time banking is a tool by which a group of people can create an alternative model where they exchange their time and skills, rather than acquire goods and services through the use of money or any other state-backed value.

The hours earned or exchanged in a time bank are all of equal value, respecting each participant as an asset with something to offer the community, and accepting the fact that we need each other to build stronger communities. The current state of the economy makes this an opportune time to engage this “missing piece” to help with the political and economic future of the Pacific Northwest, commented LCTB supporter, Nancy Spaan. As the current economic system does not seem to benefit the general population, according to LCTB Adviser, Christopher Paddon, time banks offer people their own economy by enabling communities to be more neighborly and to put into action, the concept of reclaiming community economics. Time banks serve as a tool for creating the community that works for you, transforming communities into neighborhoods we want to live in versus communities we feel stuck in.

Caren Black of the Titanic Lifeboat Academy serves a very important role as adviser and mentor to the youthful and energetic LCTB volunteer staff. The academy provided the 501c3 wing to the Lower Columbia Time Bank, under which it has been allowed to fly. Raised in the midwest, Caren embraces the childhood memory of an era when neighbors helped one another in times of need. She recalls how communities valued and respected their citizens, based on what they would contribute to one another and the community, and not on their professional training, number of degrees, or salary.

“Health organizations believe time banks make people feel better, and cut the cost of health care . . . while some forms of barter are taxable, the I.R.S. has ruled that time dollars are not — because they value all work equally, work is done for a charitable purpose, and the exchange is informal and non-contractual.”
– New York Times (September 20, 2011)

Having grown up in and returning to Astoria after college, LCTB founding member, Pearl Rasmussen, felt a tremendous sense of community in Astoria after big storms hit the region. “Sometimes it takes a disaster for people to see what they’re capable of.” In the face of economic disaster, the time bank offers an appropriate response to helping each other. Pearl’s vision of the time bank operations builds bridges, and opens conversations between different parts of the community. In speaking with various community groups and encouraging participation, she has been able to make people aware of the skills they have to offer in a time bank exchange: reading a book to someone; speaking English with non-native speakers; helping with basic chores or repairs. The time bank serves as a “powerful tool for many community members to build self-esteem. It’s nice to have a conversation with people and see them sit-up a little straighter when they realize they all have skills to share.” Fellow LCTB founding member, Jennifer Rasmussen (no relation to Pearl) wants to support “cool things (happening) in my neighborhood, exchanging help, instead of money makes you a better neighbor.”

LTCB Outreach Director, Tallie Spiller appreciates a key tenet of time banking in the equal value placed in all work hours; everyone’s hour is equal to everyone else’s hour. “To give something that you want to give and then to be able to receive what you need is a really exciting idea.” Talking with different parts of the community, Tallie shares the concept and practice of time banking, “everyone sees how they can fit themselves into it.” The time bank benefits come from getting to know and to share with new people, and to become a bigger part of the community as a resource.

The LCTB staff is eager to initiate and to maintain the formation of LCTB; they stress the importance of flexibility in the growth and future of LCTB and its possible off-shoot time banks. LCTB, in its current form, desires to reach the communities all up and down the river, serving Southwestern Washington (Pacific and Wahkiakum Counties ), and Northwestern Oregon(Clatsop, Columbia, and Tillamook Counties).

How it’s going to work.
The launch date for the Lower Columbia Time Bank community tool is March 20, 2012. At which time the LCTB website, www.locotimebank.org, should be accessible for applications for membership, more information, and an orientation schedule. LCTB plans to make applications and membership available to those who are not on-line via telephone and postal mail. Applications are to be reviewed by the LCTB staff, and prior to participation, a quick and easy orientation is required to facilitate the use of the program. Completion of the orientation gains new members three time bank hours to start the exchange process. The time bank database allows participants to locate other time bank members’ “offers” and “requests” in their area to facilitate an exchange. Members make their own exchanges and report their own hours. Hours can not be swapped, sold, assigned a value, or given away. There are no membership fees and all exchanges are informal and voluntary. The all-volunteer LCTB staff is seeking technical assistance with the on-line software (Joomla!) and website.

For more specifics on time banking, prior to the launch date contact LCTB at lowercolumbiatimebank@gmail.com, or call (503)298-6709.


 

Time Bank
going back in time
Time banking is not barter. Barter economies have been in practice throughout history, but the idea of using time as a unit of exchange only appeared shortly after the Industrial Revolution. The origins of time-based currency can be traced both to the American anarchist Josiah Warren, who ran the Cincinnati Time Store from 1827 until 1830, and to the British industrialist and philanthropist Robert Owen, who founded the utopian “New Harmony” community. While both systems are based on the principles of mutualism and the labor theory of value, Josiah Warren’s currency was explicitly pegged to time as a measure of specific goods or labor. For example, 3 hours of carpenter’s work would be considered equivalent to 3-12 pounds of corn. Meanwhile, Robert Owen’s currency simply bore an inscription referring to a number of hours, which presumably could be exchanged for however many pounds of corn a farmer would deem adequate or labor of any kind.

The first successful contemporary time bank was started in 1991 by Paul Glover in Ithaca, New York. Following his idea, people began to exchange time, which led to the creation of a time-based currency—the “Ithaca Hours,” which even local businesses began to accept, and which still flourishes. Time banking and service exchange have since developed into a full-fledged movement, usually centered around local communities.


Tribal Identity: setting the record straight

THIS PAST September, a story ran in the local paper about the descendants of the Clark family returning a canoe stolen from the Chinook tribe by the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1806. That story was picked up by the wire services and ran in many papers across the country and around the world. The Clark descendants named in the story were 7th generation descendants of Captain William Clark. I am a 7th generation descendant of Chief Coboway, the Clatsop chief they stole the canoe from, and on behalf of all the Clatsops, I would like to set the record straight.

I and the other descendants of Chief Coboway I have spoken with all applaud the Clark family for making the effort to right a wrong done long ago, but it would have been nice if they had done it in a truly just and correct way by returning the canoe to the tribe it was actually stolen from.   As stated in the article, they gave the canoe to the descendants of “Chinook” Chief Coboway – who never existed.  Coboway was a Clatsop. We were and are a distinct tribe from the Chinook with our own traditions, language, and history. It is very hard for me and the rest of the tribe to understand how this whole story could unfold without any consultation from the Clatsop tribe.

Descendants of Coboway, as well as most Clatsop, Nehalem and Chinook were forced out of our homelands and ended up being welcomed in several neighboring tribal communities.  In Washington these included Bay Center, Shoalwater Bay, Chehalis, Quinault, Skokomish and Quilleute.  The Oregon communities included Siletz, Grande Rond and Hobsonville.  However, some of us were able to hang on and stayed in our homelands.    Some Clatsop and Nehalem chose to become members of those tribes; others chose to remain Clatsop or Nehalem.  There’s no confusion that some Clatsop and Nehalem are represented by other tribal groups, however, as a tribe, we are represented by the Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes.

My ancestor Chief Coboway was one of many that hosted the Lewis and Clark Expedition in our homelands.  He was frequently mentioned in the Journals as being an honest and generous man, traits we value greatly to this day.  It is my responsibility and privilege to carry on his legacy by supporting all people in our most traditional and sacred ways.  We as individual Indian Nations have similar struggles, but in today’s world, now more important than any other time, in order to save our culture, our heritage, and our inherit rights,  we must learn when to leave the pettiness at home and to stand united and help each other.   It is important that we see beyond the difficulties that are thrown in front of us to divide and conquer.  It is my fondest hope that we muster up support for our individual nations for each one of our tribes, and ignore the words, actions, or non-action, that are meant to harm or destroy.  It is the duty of ALL of us to support the truths of our histories.

– Richard Basch, Vice-Chairman of Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes

There isn’t any dispute that Lewis and Clark stole a Clatsop canoe, and Chief Coboway went to fort Clatsop to get it back. The journals of the Corps of discovery make that all very clear. They named their winter encampment Ft. Clatsop for a reason. It has been a common misconception that the Clatsop were some part of a larger “Chinook Nation” or tribe due to the similarities of our languages. In truth, the Clatsop had been deeply intertwined with the Nehalem and other Tillamook long before the Corp of Discovery came to Oregon.  Lewis and Clark commented on this as did Franz Boas and others studying Indian cultures in later years. There is a great summary of our history on our website here: http://www.clatsop-nehalem.com/history.html.

We in fact signed a treaty, with the US government in 1851 (not ratified for economic reasons.) There were also individual treaties for the Lower Band of Chinooks, Cathlamet Band of Chinooks, etc. and Nehalem, Tillamook and several other bands or tribes.
Assuming tribal affiliations based on language is a gross oversimplification of native relationships that Europeans have tried to inflict on us for hundreds of years. It is more convenient to lump tribes into groups, but it probably does not in fact represent anything Native Americans recognize themselves. For example, the Apache and Navaho languages are both Athabascan, but no one would suggest that they are the same tribe. In fact, there were many individual Apache tribes that did not associate themselves with the Apache nation. Likewise, the Shoshone, Piute, Ute, Comanche, Diegueno, and many other tribes speak Uto-Aztecan languages, but bear little resemblance to one another culturally.

The gift of an old growth cedar from the Quinault Nation to the Clatsop-Nehalem Tribes, federal grant funding, and a master carver helped to create the Dragonfly Canoe; this in conjunction with the L&C Bicentennial. For the Clatsop-Nehalem, their new canoe was reparation for one that was stolen from them by the Lewis and Clark expedition. Photo courtesy "The Journey of the Clatsop-Nehalem Canoe," by Roberta Basch. Available through the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.

I have been told that the truth about the relationship of the Clatsop and Chinook tribes is “murky” and can’t be sorted out with any certainty. It is not murky to us; it is clear in our oral traditions and is supported by all available evidence. I have also heard this situation being dismissed as some “squabble” between the two groups, and that we would have a better chance at federal recognition if we did it as one “Chinook” tribe. There is no squabble, and it is condescending to ask us to relinquish our identity and history for a convenient “feel good” story.

The story of the Clatsop and other Western Oregon tribes has been a long tale of loss and death since contact with Europeans began in earnest in the late 1700s’. Death mostly from disease, and loss of our homelands from the American Government not honoring the treaties they signed with us. In the case of the Clatsop, the government thought we would just die off before they had to deal with us. They succeeded in getting our land, but we didn’t all die. We are still here, and intend to stay. This story about the Clark family returning the canoe to the Chinook tribe, and calling MY Great Great Grandfather a Chinook chief is yet another case of others trying to ignore our existence, oral and written histories. It does not sit well with me or the other members of my tribe.

One other point regarding the canoe; the Clatsop-Nehalem tribe was awarded a grant from the national park service to build a canoe for the bicentennial comemoration of the journey of the corps of discovery, and as reparation for the canoe stolen 200 years before. You will find pictures and information on our canoe, “Dragonfly” on our website: http://www.clatsop-nehalem.com. Dragonfly was the first canoe built on the Oregon coast using traditional methods since the 19th century. We took part in those commemorations as the Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes.

At the end of the day, we would like people to understand the true story. We wish the best for our cousins across the big river. We are all people of the river, but we have our own identity.


A Tale of Two Canoes and a media slip

Two Canoes
As a freelance columnist I weigh in on many issues that are covered by the press. Sometimes the coverage itself merits comment, as evidenced by a local Indian story.

For me this story began six years ago when I was asked to participate in a potlatch – the traditional gifting celebration that anchors the indigenous culture of our region. This particular potlatch coincided with the Lewis & Clark bicentennial, and was hosted by descendents of the people who greeted the explorers here at the Pacific.

Why was a pale-skinned pup asked to stand beside Northwest Indian elders, overwhelmed with humility in front of 250 people? Because the Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes wanted a member of the local press to serve in the formal role of witness.
The historical context of that role humbles me. Conquest of this continent was often scouted by my kind — scribes who tell stories on paper. It can be argued that Lewis and Clark were journalists, dispatched to gather written intelligence for empire builders.

By contrast, indigenous people of the Northwest cleave to oral traditions. Though it surprised me at the time, I now understand why ten minutes into the potlatch I was asked to put away my pad and pen. My challenge was to watch and listen, with pure attention, then give an honest account from memory.

Since then I’ve written a number of columns in local newspapers about what I witnessed at that event. I’ve described how gifts were given in a ritual way, to join together people and tribes in a web of generosity.

At the center of those gifts was an old-growth cedar, gifted by the Quinault Indian Nation. Many Clatsop-Nehalem people who were displaced from their homeland went to live with the Quinault, who welcomed them. The gift tree was carved into a 32-foot seaworthy canoe, with guidance from a master carver trained in traditional native canoe making. This was made possible in part through federal grant funding.

The ceremonial presentation of that tribal canoe was a centerpiece of the potlatch. Everything about it was carefully thought out, including the timing to coincide with the bicentennial. For the Clatsop-Nehalem, their new canoe was reparation for one that was stolen from them by the Lewis and Clark expedition.
The vessel’s significance to the recovery of Indian heritage was newsworthy, especially in light of the timing. Yet despite sweeping press coverage of the bicentennial, the canoe was barely mentioned beyond my local columns. As often happens, truth was buried beneath a mainstream narrative. The cross-country adventures of famed white explorers, re-enacted by men in costume, brushed over the fact that those celebrities were also thieves.
So it goes, as it has for hundreds of years. The people who have lived here for millennia continue their work of cultural reclamation, undaunted by the gap between what’s written and what’s done. Like returning salmon, the Clatsop-Nehalem are determined to regenerate their relationship with their homeland.

This was clear during the past year. The tribes published a beautiful and informative book titled “The Journey of the Clatsop-Nehalem Canoe,” written by local artist Roberta Basch. Last July, Clatsop-Nehalem and Warm Springs families joined together to participate in a canoe gathering located in Swinomish, Washington. They paddled 407 miles and camped 22 nights in order to celebrate their culture with other native people.

Not long after that journey, the canoe story took a very strange turn. Members of the Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes were surprised by an article in the Daily Astorian (September 21, 2011). The press announced that the family of explorer William Clark was making a public gift of a new canoe to replace the one that was stolen by their ancestor’s expedition. Five days later a second article reported on this gifting.
Here’s the stunner: the Clark family gave it to the Chinook, a neighboring people who did not own the original canoe that was stolen. Moreover, news coverage advanced the claim that both the canoe and the story of its theft belonged to the Chinook. The press even referred to the Clatsop chief who suffered the theft as “Chinook” Chief Coboway.
Stories are a core part of human identity, as integral to the people of the Pacific Northwest as potlatches, cedar, salmon, and seagoing canoes. Understandably, a strong corrective action was requested by the Clatsop-Nehalem.

To date, that appeal has gone unanswered. Instead, the Associated Press spread the fallacious story to news outlets around the country. The impact of this coverage has been conveyed to me in writing by tribal member David Stowe, a 7th generation descendent of Clatsop Chief Coboway.

“It was shocking, surreal, and disturbing to me personally to see a member of my family, Chief Coboway, being referred to as a member of another tribe with no mention of the Clatsop tribe he belonged to,” writes Stowe. “The entire tribe is very unhappy with this effort to erase our tribal heritage, and is determined to put an end to this misinformation and get the true story published.”

Who among us would not be equally offended if our cultural heritage were displaced in this manner?

The situation grieves me, but not because I feel sorry for anybody. The more I learn about the Clatsop-Nehalem, the more assured I am of their resilience. The expropriated story of a stolen tribal canoe will not weaken their cultural revival.

What’s less certain is the future of a tribe we call the American press. Our integrity as witnesses is in need of repair, as evidenced by this and other stories. Can we reclaim our role as truth-tellers?

If so, part of our upstream journey involves a special canoe, gifted in a traditional way at a Clatsop-Nehalem potlatch.


A Contented Form of Feminism

So, two things got me thinking again.  I finished reading The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, and I received the December edition of Victoria’s Secret catalogue in the mail (I am apparently residually on their mailing list after buying underwear there a few times).

I have refrained from mentally engaging the complexities of gender related issues since I graduated from college.  I had a feminist professor who had a knack for getting me all riled up.  She was a beautiful combination of high heels and tri-athlete, challenging every societal norm that slightly marginalized women.  I couldn’t even sit through dinner with friends without finding myself hot and agitated, having been referred to, throughout the night, as a “chick,” a “hey man,” and a “you guys.”  They say “ignorance is bliss,” and I agree, because enlightenment sure is exhausting.

Tired of always being mad at my male friends, father, brother and anyone who accidentally called me a “girl” instead of a woman, or referred to God as a man, I decided to give up the feminist act and just live my life.  I have since shied away from gender discussions and turned my critical attitude inward.  Trying to make societal changes through argument and accusations only leads to frustration, which only leads to bitterness; this just keeps a person down.  Since college, in lieu of stirring up gender related conflict, I have instead gotten married, traveled, bought a house with my husband, worked a variety of jobs and given birth to two beautiful boys.

When that Victoria’s Secret magazine landed on my front step, I opened it up, furrowed my brow and flipped through the pages mindlessly.  “Cute underwear,” I thought.  “That would be a great nursing shirt,” I found myself saying out loud.  My husband and my two-year old came beside me to peer over my shoulder and check out the goods.  Asher, in all of his beautiful two year old innocence, said, “Mommy?” pointing at one of the Barbie Doll models with breasts three sizes larger than mine and much “less nursed” looking.  Breasts, to him, still solely signify nourishment, and any woman with breasts, is without a doubt a “mommy.”
“Look at these models!”  I said to my husband, “they are tiny!”  I have said this before many, many times.  This used to be one of my favorite hot topics, ranting about how ridiculously unrealistic underwear model’s bodies are, but in this particular moment, with my two year old staring down at the page and my husband smirking over my shoulder, I felt that familiar agitated burning feeling sneaking up on me.  Some of the women were literally made to look plastic; their skin iridescent and shiny, slightly bronzed and glimmered.  Others were so disproportionately small in the hips in relation to their breasts that I felt actual pain in my lower body just thinking about the simple mechanics of walking up a stair case with these measurements.

“No baby, that’s not Mommy, Mommy is real.”

The Help got me thinking in a whole different direction.  Since finishing the book, I had spent hours sitting, watching my babies, thinking of how my life has changed since becoming a mother; thinking about what it means to be a woman and a mother right now, at this time, in this country.  In what ways are we similar to the characters in this widely read novel set in 1960’s Mississippi that grapples with issues of racism, sexism and human cruelty?  In what ways do we bring our fellow females down in our actions, speech or judgments?  How are we making conscious efforts to lift each other up?  During an era when half naked Victoria’s Secret models seductively stare my two year old in the face and pop culture continues to promote derogatory, over sexualized messages about the female body, what are we doing to support and encourage one another?

I realize now that angrily picking apart the overuse of generic masculine pronouns in our language gets me nowhere on my quest towards encouraging other females to embrace who they are.  In fact, it demonstrates nothing supportive in my cause.  Instead of portraying myself as a victim-like, uptight female, I would rather be perceived as a woman who is comfortable in my own skin.  Now a mother of two boys, I find that I am faced with a huge responsibility.  I want my boys to be vessels of change in this world and I believe that it starts with teaching them how to love and trust themselves so that they may have the capacity to love and accept others.  I believe that teaching through demonstration is the most effective way to pass on knowledge.  My first goal is to be overtly respectful and loving towards my own body.  One way I have chosen to do this, is to openly breastfeed my babies.  I do this because it is a way that I can publicly embrace my valuable role as a mother and a female.  The more women who are made to feel comfortable doing this, the more mainstream this significant act will become.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the next generation of little boys could grow up appreciating breasts as something more than sexual objects?

I am also on a quest to be purposeful with my language.  The subtleties of language can have a dramatic impact on children as they learn about the world around them.    It means speaking in uplifting ways about both males and females, and in ways that don’t blindly categorize.  I always appreciated my Grandfather, who without a doubt, assumed that I would be running the motor and pulling shrimp pots every time we went out on his boat.  The confidence in his voice when he said, “Alright Erin, you’re up,” said, you are just as capable as the boys.  When he stood in the kitchen with an apron on and helped my grandmother make raspberry jam, he was demonstrating to me, at an impressionable age, that kitchen jobs were not gender specific, but dependent on an individual’s interests and hobbies.

Men like my Grandfather are the reason that I have decided not to be an angry feminist.  I don’t need to prove anything to anyone, or force people to change their ways.  I just need to be happy being me; pursuing my life without self inflicted limits and preconceived notions, embracing my individual female identity, and encouraging the women and mothers that surround me to do the same.  After all, being a contented feminist is much less tiring than being an angry feminist, and it may be more influential as well.


Eva Vecsernyes to America: “You Make Me Feel Like A Naturalized Woman”

Eva VecsernyesFreedom.  It’s a word you’ll hear a lot of this year, bandied about so often it’ll be surprising if no political entrepreneur goes out and gets it trademarked before the election cycle ends.  To many of us, freedom is a given, a fact of life, even a slogan.  But to Eva Vecsernyes – native of Hungary, single mother of two, eleven-year resident of Astoria, and, as of last month, fully-naturalized citizen – freedom is the operating principle of her life, the thing that informs everything she does.

“I am a very bullheaded person!” Eva smilingly exclaims.  “I don’t like being told what to do too much!”  Which is not, as you might imagine, the most comfortable attitude for a child growing up in Communist Hungary.  “There, I was told how to live my life.  I like to live my life on my own terms – I understand there are rules to be followed but this is my life, I only have one.  I don’t need my government telling me how I should live, where I should work, what I should read, what I should watch on television.  I am entitled to choose my own life, as a human being.”

And choose she did.  Just after eighth-grade graduation, fourteen-year-old Eva hopped a plane to Alaska and immediately found emancipation – not to mention extreme culture shock.  “Culture shock?  You’d better believe it!  I come from a country that was technologically – not necessarily behind but kept back.  I mean, they’re just finally getting color television!  Come on!  So you come from that to a place that has washers and dryers … you’re going, ‘what’s a dryer?  What’s a microwave?  What’s an automatic door?’  I didn’t know what to make of it all!”

If major appliances take some getting used to, imagine being confronted with a whole world of cultural referents undreamt of in a Hungarian teen’s philosophy.  “The movie Alien was not allowed in Hungary, for example – the government considered it ‘too violent’ so it was banned.  I remember my aunt protesting to have it shown and getting into a lot of trouble for it.  Certain movies were kept out of the country, there were certain books you could not read, and all pornography was completely illegal… so when I came here and saw how freely available it was, I was in complete shock!  To suddenly have all that in my face as a fourteen-year-old girl – to go from it being illegal to being everywhere…”

Cultural liberties are one thing, but Eva soon discovered that oppression is not just a product forged behind the Iron Curtain.  “My ex-husband is a native Alaskan.  I remember going to a potluck in his village, and the first thing they said when we got there is ‘no white women allowed’ and I had to leave.  Have I come across people who tell me ‘go back to your own country?’  Sure, but that’s just the bigots.  Who cares?  But to come across such a united front like that – that was very shocking.  It’s such a drastic life in Alaska in many ways.”  Freedom called again; she divorced and, with children Victoria (now nineteen) and Jonathan (seventeen) in tow, “bummed around” the lower 48 for a while.  “I was in Arizona for a little bit, then Texas, and eleven years ago, I came here for two days and haven’t left yet!

“Astoria got to me,” she says.  “There’s a lot of neo-classical architecture here, everything’s a little bit older, and there’s a real sense of history, which is one of the things I miss about Hungary.  And the weather is almost the same!  People are very open-minded around here; I’ve been made to feel very welcome, the local families treat my children like one of their own.  We were assimilated into the community very quickly.  I do get some people telling me ‘learn to speak English,’ because my accent gets heavy when I get a little upset… well, live with it!  It’s beautiful here – I really don’t want to leave!”

And now, she’ll never have to – just three weeks before we spoke, Eva made it official: she is now a full-blown citizen of the USA.  “Anybody who’s afraid of it, don’t be!  It’s the easiest test I ever took!  They give you a study guide for a hundred questions, and they say they’ll ask you up to ten.  I got asked four – who is the President, who is the Speaker of the House, if I’m willing to bear arms for the United States, and… there was one more question that honestly I’ve already forgotten!  Then they asked me to read one sentence, write one sentence and that was it.  It was really simple – I went into study mode like a crazy woman for two months for nothing!”  And what’s different now that she’s officially American?  “I can bitch in public now!”

But if you think that means she’s settled, think again.  “My son’s going off to college in the fall so after that, I’m a free bird!  I would like to go back to school and get my Master’s in literature, but at the same time I just want to pack up and go somewhere – I’ve never seen Africa, never seen Asia.  Nothing’s really holding me back, so why not?  I’ve been a daughter, I’ve been a wife, I’ve been a mother, it’s time to be me.  But Astoria feels like home, it does.  I can’t say I won’t flutter, but I’ll always fly back.”


The Pursuit of Happiness

Our lives are stories.
Research into human happiness has found that long term happiness is all about the stories we tell ourselves about the events of our lives. It turns out that these stories are in fact more important than the actual events. Collectively we have many stories in common. When we adopt a particular shared version we become advocates for the definitions congruent with that storyline. How we define terms like Democracy, Liberty, Freedom and Happiness are largely reliant on which cultural story we believe to be true. In turn the definitions we adopt profoundly effect our actions, which become the basis for the personal stories through which we view our lives.

Here begins a creation story.
Once upon a time in 1776 there was birthed a new nation. The founding fathers declared, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

They set out law, stating “We the People, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution…”

Not long after, perhaps four generations, during a difficult time for the nation, a war erupted. Speaking to thousands, over the bodies of the fallen soldiers of that civil war, the Leader proclaimed these words of hope: “That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom —and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

About a generation after the war of division was quieted, children were first tasked with the job of a daily pledge for the continuance of their government, “One nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

This is a powerful creation story we have. Most of us have repeated the pledge of allegiance thousands of times. Many of us cannot help but believe that as Americans we are part of a story both larger and more glorious than ourselves.

Enter the Robber Baron Story.
And then we go to work, and find that actually, we live in a feudal state. In this story we either believe that we are powerless minions, simply cogs in the machine, or if we are lucky, and better than others, we reside on top. Liberty is the reward for those having both God’s favor and the backbone to reach out and take what they want. “Get while the Getting is Good” is the moral of this story, and it has played a part in the darkest chapters of our nation. In this story our lives have meaning only to the extent to which we can get for ourselves, and unfortunately we can only get at the expense of others.

At several points in our history we have seen what happens when those who are writing our common story, our laws, are working not for our life, liberty, and happiness, but rather to keep the populace appeased while pleasing the powerful. The Robber Baron storyline brings us governance motivated not by the desire for a more perfect union, but by the opportunity to “make a killing.”

Then there is the Cooperation Story.

Iris Sullivan Daire

Iris Sullivan Daire - Co-Founder Blue Scorcher Bakery

The Cooperation story believes that “Together We are Stronger.” It is as commonplace as credit unions, granges, food coops and fishermen mutual aid associations. Since the very beginnings of our nation, people have sought to be stronger by their solidarity with each other. The cooperation story is based on reciprocity, and the healthiest versions include ideals for voluntary and open membership, transparent democratic process for decisions, autonomy, and community concern. It is less a story of dominance and coercion, and more the story of seeking consensus. In the Cooperation Story, if we hope to have a government of, for, and by the people, we must step up into the responsible stewardship of our nation to make it so.

When stories collide.
In January 1912, 100 years ago this week, 20,000 mill workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts went on strike, after mill owners declared new cuts to their starvation wages. Their rallying cry was “Bread and Roses,” requesting not only fair wages, but dignified conditions as well.

The women, men and children of the strike spoke several languages, but were united by their common aim, to engage in Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, ideals many had crossed an ocean to attain.

During the 1912 strike, a mill worker, Anna LoPizzo, was shot by police while participating in a peaceful protest. Mill owners influenced the authorities to arrest three union leaders for LoPizzo’s murder. Living the Robber Baron Story of strict hierarchy, they hoped to cripple the strike by jailing its organizers. However, because it was a collectivist movement, the strikers were working for their common liberty rather than individual freedom. Functioning with a broad definition of leadership, the strike continued despite the jailing of its primary organizers. The workers were living the cooperation story, working for something larger and more glorious than themselves.

A story for the future of our nation.
I hold these truths to be self evident: that all beings have inherent worth, that we are part of a whole that is much larger and more complex than we can ever hope to comprehend. That our words and actions have power, particularly when we work in small groups and at the local level. The biggest hurdle to democracy perhaps is the complacency of those who live within feudalism, and believe it to be liberty. These millions do not believe in their own power and so opt out of even the bare minimum of civic responsibilities. We must believe that our actions have weight, to participate within a democracy.

I believe that we participate most fully when we collaborate to govern ourselves, by actively making decisions. Deep democracy is transparent, dynamic, changing and diverse, and it requires embracing dissent. It happens when people meet and discuss their lives with the intent to find solutions not just for the most vocal, but for all.

Asking ourselves what we hold to be “self evident” is one way to understand where our biases may be and to reclaim the authorship of our story, which may in the end lead us to greater happiness. Perhaps my children will see and experience large scale democracy. Meanwhile, I just keep working on my piece, slowly practicing the skills I need to do the work, and trying to remember to keep sharing bread and smelling the flowers.

I invite you to join me in this story.


HEALTHY KIDS: No Cost, Low Cost Insurance for Kids

Judy Mahoney

Judy Mahoney, Healthy Kids enrollment worker

ACCORDING TO A STATEWIDE SURVEY carried out by the Oregon Health Authority, an estimated 560,000 Oregonians, or approximately 14.6% of the state’s population, went without health insurance in 2011. Of that number, approximately 52,000 are under the age of 19. Sobering figures, and yet there’s a bright side: that is down by half from only two years ago. For that, we can thank the efforts of Healthy Kids, an initiative launched by the OHA in 2009 with the goal of providing affordable, quality health insurance to all Oregon children. Since its conception, more than 90,000 young Oregonians now have access to comprehensive no-cost and low-cost health coverage and the peace of mind that goes with it, thanks in no small part to the tireless efforts of outreach and enrollment workers throughout the state.

In Clatsop County, that would be Judi Mahoney, a former Portland schoolteacher and longtime advocate for both children’s welfare and the improvement of Oregon’s healthcare system, who has served as an independent contractor for the Healthy Kids program since August, 2011.

“My husband works for the (Clatsop County Public) Health Department, and the Director, Margo Lalich, was looking for someone to fill this position. We had just moved here last year so I was looking for employment, and she knew that I spoke Spanish – I’m a former Spanish teacher – and she thought it’d be a good fit, since a good deal of the folks we work with are through the schools. Sometimes when you’re getting into the schools and trying to figure out how to promote something, it’s good to know the culture and the climate.”

Mahoney’s goal is to garner 120 new enrollments throughout the county by the end of her first year, a “quest” she takes seriously; while she works out of the Health and Human Services offices here in Astoria, she has no office of her own, which enables her to take Healthy Kids to the families who could use it rather than wait for them to come to it.

“I do house calls,” she says. “Folks call me up, I get a lot of referrals from schools as well, and typically I go to their homes, since that’s where people keep their pay stubs and other information I might need, and help sign them up. I also work a lot with Spanish-speaking families; all the handouts and brochures I have are available in Spanish, which is helpful.”

When she’s not helping families through the application process, she’s out drumming up awareness of the program; despite the enormous strides Healthy Kids has made in two short years, a lot of Oregonians don’t understand what it is, or worse, even know it exists.

“There’s been a little bit of marketing confusion. A lot of people have heard of the Oregon Health Plan, but when they hear about Healthy Kids, they may not be aware that it’s health insurance or even know what it’s about. So we’re working to get the word out.”

Allow me to do my part, then: Every Oregon child without health coverage is eligible for Healthy Kids, provided he or she is 18 years old or younger, live in Oregon and a legal U.S. resident. All eligible children must be uninsured for two months to qualify, though exceptions can be made under certain circumstances. There are no waiting lists and no child will be turned away because of pre-existing conditions. Children are covered for one full year after enrollment and coverage can be extended for as long as they are eligible. Depending on income, families will be eligible for No-Cost, Low-Cost, or Full-Cost payment options. (For more detailed guidelines, see contact information below.)

By any measure, Healthy Kids has been a rousing success so far. More Oregonian children have access to affordable medical care than ever before, and the program has helped the state win a $22.5 million performance bonus for surpassing its enrollment targets and adopting streamlined and improved application procedures. But, as long as there remains one child without health insurance, the work continues and challenges loom.

“I’m really the only one who’s officially working on this in the county,” Mahoney says, though several businesses in the community, including Darlene Warren Insurance in Warrenton and Knutsen Financial Services in Astoria, have offered up their services as “assister locations” to help families through the application process. In addition, members of various county agencies, advocacy organizations and business groups have joined to form the Clatsop County Healthy Kids Coalition, who will meet every six to eight weeks to discuss and devise new outreach opportunities. “I’d really like to see more people promoting this from all walks of life within the county. For example, members of the faith-based community could spread the word through sermons and newsletters; someone can sponsor a Healthy Kids soccer tournament; or even just simple word-of-mouth. Even if you have nothing to do with children, we’re a very well-connected community. Everybody knows people. And the more people we have to help promote what we’re doing, the more we can make some amazing things happen. I’m very optimistic.”

For more information, to apply for benefits or if you are interested in partnering with Healthy Kids, go to their website at www.oregonhealthykids.gov or call 1-877-314-5678. Check out their Facebook page – www.facebook.com/OregonHealthyKids – or follow them on Twitter – @OregonHealthyKids. Judi Mahoney can be contacted directly at judimahoney@yahoo.com or by phone at 503-358-2333.

Every Oregon child without health coverage is eligible for Healthy Kids, provided he or she is 18 years old or younger, live in Oregon and a legal U.S. resident.


The Blue Scorcher Bakery and Cafe Celebrates Transition to a Worker Cooperative

As the United Nations declares 2012 the International Year of the Coop, the Blue Scorcher Bakery and Café in Astoria is embarking on its path to becoming a worker-owned cooperative. The UN resolution entitled ‘Co-operatives in Social Development’ recognises the diversity of the co-operative movement around the world and urges governments to take measures aimed at creating a supportive environment for the development of co-operatives. So to, Blue Scorcher Bakery is joining the ranks of successful, diverse cooperatives in this region; The Astoria Cooperative Food Store, a consumer coop, The Tillamook Dairy, a producer coop, and Wauna Federal Credit Union and TLC Federal Credit Union, financial co-ops.

While consumer co-ops are owned by their customers, worker co-ops are owned by their employees. A worker co-op is a form of co-op established by workers to provide themselves with employment and full control of their work environment. Members are both the workers and owners, a simple enough definition given by the Northwest Cooperative Development Center (NCDC), that has helped dozens of co-ops throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Hawaii, and Alaska to organize or strengthen their operations. Executive Director of NCDC Diane Gasaway, who has been assisting the Blue Scorcher remarks, “Co-ops are not easy, they take time, research, education, training and a number of other resources to develop.”

All cooperatives follow the seven principles; Voluntary and open membership, Democratic member control, Member economic participation, Autonomy and independence, Education, training and information, Cooperation among cooperatives, Concern for community.

At a retreat this past October by Blue Scorcher employees, six gathered to formulate the plans and make the commitment to become member-owners, getting closer to the end of what co-founder Iris Sullivan Daire calls “a seven year journey toward a more formal, broad ownership.”

In 2009 co-founders Joe Garrison and Iris Sullivan Daire (married partners) began meeting more formally with a group of the workers who were interested in developing the business as a co-op. While Joe and Iris have officially been the owners in a DBA structure, “From the beginning it was a very participatory, collective business,” says Iris.

Flashback 2004, many customers to Blue Scorcher will remember The Bread Collective, the more humble beginnings of the busy bakery/café — about 5 folks gathered together in the back of a former restaurant, to bake good organic bread together and tasty cookies, and make it available to desiring consumers. What seemed rather experimental at the time has since evolved into one of Astoria’s most popular community gathering places. On a recent stormy weekday afternoon, there was a substantial crowd both at the bakery takeout counter and at the restaurant tables, where patrons enjoyed a daily special of fragrant garbanzo tangine soup served of course, with a gargantuan chunk of bread hand made in the bread oven a few feet away. Unlike most restaurants, here one of numerous chef/cooks delivers your meal to you, a touch that seems especially homey. The Blue Scorcher has also long been a large part of both the social and philanthropic scene in Astoria, hosting the late summer Lughnasa Fest, celebrating local growers and sustainability practices, Full Moon monthly dinner gatherings, making the dining area available to numerous types of events and bread donations to community organizations.

As the Blue Scorcher has curbed some if its own community productions, the focus now has turned to the work of creating cooperative bylaws, and membership agreements as six worker members step up to the cooperative plate with earnest monies. And while a worker-cooperative model serves a practical economic approach, Iris Sullivan Daire speaks passionately to the humanistic qualities that the coop structure allows, “When you have a voice, you are more fully human. When you are separate from what you do [in your place of employment] it becomes enslavement.” The cooperative environment, as the Blue Scorcher proves too, is creating space for people to transition in life and in their relationship to work.

New owner – worker Peggy Bondurant, a retired teacher, began volunteering and helping with some of the special events, “I loved the atmosphere and knew I was retiring soon and I thought this would be a great place to work part time.” After starting out as a barista, Peggy took a pastry making class in Portland and discovered “that I must have been a baker in a former life” and then I began baking pastries. Eventually her passion turned to chocolate, and after a trip to Ecuador to visit chocolate growers Peggy returned to the bakery and is now going wild as the Scorcher chocolate maker, her creations of dark Equadorian chocolate bars in the front case.

“I’m on the committee that’s writing the by-laws. I’m seeing other employees getting very interested and putting up earnest money. ‘I’m a lot more hopeful now that this will work.” While Peggy was excited about the prospect of becoming an owner, initially she had some concerns and questions. She credits Diane Gasaway of the Northwest Cooperative Center, who is guiding the Blue Scorcher employee owner process with helping her understand that process much better.

“Blue Scorcher contacted NWCDC for help in moving employees who had expressed interest in becoming worker-owners to make the commitment,” says Diane Gasaway, “It was evident to me that Joe and Iris were creating opportunity for the employees and they had educated them on the cooperative values of self-help, democracy, equity and solidarity. Therefore, I offered to help them look at and illustrate the potential earnings/or not employees might realize as being worker-owners. This fall some of the employees made a commitment to transition to worker-owners and we are now working through the revision of their organizational documents, including bylaws, which incorporate the Sociocratic governance principles.”

Enter Sociocracy. In addition to crafting cooperative bylaws, the Blue Scorcher, according to Sullivan Daire, will incorporate the sociocratic form of governance, and may be the first coop in North America to do so. Developed in Holland, the model also known as dynamic governance, is used by many successful businesses there. It presumes equality of individuals and is based on consent. This equality is not expressed with the ‘one man, one vote’ law of democracy but rather by a group of individuals reasoning together until a decision is reached that is satisfactory to each one of them.

Thumbnail sketch: it uses a system of circles to organize decision-making. Members of each circle are responsible for decisions within their domain. Rather than using ever larger circles to make decisions affecting more than one domain, each circle elected representatives to a “higher” circle.

“Consent is different than consensus,” explains Sullivan Daire, “ Consensus asks the question ‘does everybody agree’ and having a paramount objection is different than agreeing because you can support a proposal even if you don’t love it. When you ask for agreement it creates a sort of tyranny and people are not willing to be upfront with how they feel because they don’t want to be a jerk. But when you’re seeking consent you’re seeking concerns and disagreements. You want to expose that to see if there’s anything you’re missing and if the proposal has a big blind spot. Bringing out concerns creates a better proposal, and a humanly way to disagree, she adds.

Joe Garrison offers an example.” If you’re trying to do it democratically what it comes down to is a vote count. Let’s say you have 51 in favor of being open late and 49 against it, well you’ve got half the room being pissed about it and not cooperating. What this new model is trying to do is prevent people from separating. You’re all at the same table, all members of equal standing and when you have members opposed you get to say, wow, thanks for letting us know. What is it that you’re opposed to? That’s the gift that’s being brought to the table. A bunch of cheerleaders saying “yeah, we’re open late!, well there’s very little of depth and value there. The depth and value lies in the person saying “wait a minute, I see some problems there. So instead of separating camps and dividing you seek consent to being open late and moving ahead and using those concerns as the measurement criteria to determine if being open late succeeds or doesn’t. Joe also adds that a major criterion for decisions often lies simply in how the Blue Scorcher mission statement of “joyful work, delicious food and strong community” would be affected.

That mission statement attracts many long time customers who wind up becoming employees. “When I first walked into the bakery I was a customer and I picked up on the spirit. It looked like the philosophy of ‘joyful work” was true,” recalls Peggy Bondurant.

Another long time patron who came to work at The Blue Scorcher is Karmen Hughes, a owner-to- be, and 3rd year employee. With a background in the arts and no culinary training other than “being a mom,” Karmen, who is a vegetarian says, “It really was one of my only dining options. I knew Iris and they needed some help with prep so I began part time for about six months. Karmen proved herself and went on to become a full time chef, organizing the menus and the daily specials. Her own personal commitment of cooking with good healthy organic and seasonal ingredients made the job easier.

“Aside from the daily specials, which are inspired by what’s available that day the regular menu is consistent. People want to know that they come in and get a certain item. People love that. We have a loyal following, locally and beyond. People come from Portland very often. I think what we’re doing is very unique. Many people appreciate that the money stays in the community rather than going to an out of state corporate headquarters. I appreciate being part of that says Hughes.

Blue Scorcher’s roots can be traced back to 1995, when Joe, bike mechanic, met Iris, artist, his “bonnie bride to be” in Eugene. A year later Iris was offered a position at Clatsop Community College as a weaving instructor and the couple relocated to Astoria. Iris had been baking bread part time during her own college years. “We became friendly with Michael Henderson, a weaver who also baked bread and owned a bakery/café called Home Spirit Bakery. Michael kept telling Joe to give up that bike mechanic stuff and come bake bread with me,” recalls iris.

Eventually The Home Spirit Bakery closed (not to forget the wonderful breads of Rosemary Baking that also closed eventually). Enter The Bread Collective. Sullivan Daire was the only one with a baking background. “We operated for a long time with no name at all,” recalls Joe. “We just started making bread. We delivered to the Astoria Coop by bicycle.”

Bakers on a mission, they were approached by then-owner of the behemoth auto mechanic building, Robert Strickland. The building at the time was condemned. The city wanted all the broken windows fixed or they wanted the building torn down. “We actually had to crawl under the Do Not Enter tape to check out the space,”says GArrison, “We wound up signing a lease and Robert used the lease to leverage a loan to do repairs on the building.”

Of the former body shop says Sullivan, “So you’d go in and see heaps of bald tires and greasy chaos on the floor. The front door of the Scorcher is where the cars drove in. We signed the lease in fall 2005 and turned the electricity on May 2006. We had an untried oven and no explosion so we baked for Mothers day. We had a mixer that we got from a used car lot in Longview that somebody had seen in The Nickel Ads. It was crazy. That first summer we were just doing the Farmers Market and a few wholesale accounts. In September 2006 we were finally ready to open [as a public space].

A scorcher was the slang-term from the Victorian era for the bicycle, also those who rode them, as in those days, the bicycle was very revolutionary. Thus the new bakery, rather than “Green Scorcher,” laughs Sullivan Daire, “that sounded too much like an eco-terroist,” The Blue Scorcher was born.

Early on, it was difficult to attract employees to sign ownership agreements since the business needed to prove that it could survive the first few years successfully. “Something like 60 percent of new restaurants fail in the first three years, says Sullivan Daire, “We needed to get in the black.”

“And a big piece of it is that we have a bad business plan,” jokes Garrison. If by business you mean something that generates money at the end of the day… say you want to use more expensive ingredients, high quality organic ones. And you want to get them all locally. And you want to hand produce everything. And we’re going to do it with blue collar traffic so there’s a glass ceiling on how much you can charge. And we’re doing it in a rural area with a limited clientele base. At the time it really seemed like an experimental project.”

Rachel Douglas, another owner-worker bee, who helps keep the books at The Blue Scorcher, has shifted her own financial priorities since joining the staff.

“While there were a few other jobs out there where I may have made better money I felt that I had such a good opportunity to learn and build a resume. I felt like I was getting paid to learn. When I’m able to learn something new about the business it makes me want to stay, otherwise I’m likely to look for another job. “ Rachel, who’s described by her colleague Peggy as a “Jill of all trades” had worked as a barista at a non-cooperative coffee shop in Corvallis where she studied art history. “While my boss there was a great guy, there was nowhere to go other than being a barista. After a few years of working there I expressed interest in helping with management, and he wasn’t responsive to that.” Since coming to the Blue Scorcher, Rachel has worked as a barista, a pastry maker, a cook and a bookkeeper.

“At the bakery it seems like there’s no ceiling. I wanted to learn the books. I was encouraged and now I am doing the books there. “

Rachel feels that the spirit of a cooperative business fosters not only loyalty among the workers but among the customers as well. “Many people will not only buy the product itself but also what it stands for. I know personally that I tend to shop at cooperatives because I believe in what they’re doing and I want to support that. On the owner track and helping to write the by-laws she says, “I’m looking forward to this. Why not invest in your work? I feel as if I work like I own it anyway.”

Another member-owner to be, Tom Kulesa, is looking forward to more employees becoming owners as well.” Tom retired in 2005 from the Phoenix, AZ police department as a homicide detective. “In 2005 my wife and I took a trip to Astoria. We’d never been here before. The second day here we bought a house.”

“I had never worked at a restaurant before so I volunteered there for three days baking bread, to see if I liked it and they liked me. After the third day Joe offered me a job. I’ve been there a year and a half now. About a year ago I began talking with Joe and Iris about becoming a part owner in the collective. It sounded extremely interesting because it’s such a great atmosphere with such great people, especially after working for so many years where there’s so much negativity . . . You can become so cold dealing with that. Coming to work at the Blue Scorcher is the total opposite. I’m warming up,” laughs Tom. “My family says that I’ve mellowed quite a bit”. Tom sees himself working at the bakery for a long time and foresees the eventual expansions space-wise for more bakery room.

”Working with Blue Scorcher has been a very rewarding experience, says Diane. “They are committed, innovative, and willing to do the work. NWCDC provides general cooperative business development assistance, it’s up to those who will be members, who know their markets and industry, to make the commitment to understand and grow their business structure, policies, and operations.”

“I think because we’re not all about the bottom line profit and we’ve created more of a community space we have a very loyal local clientele. Bakeries are about comfort. Especially in these uncertain times people are attracted to that warm fuzzy nurturing quality that baked goods have,” says Sullivan Daire. After a seven year journey from humble local beginnings to a thriving operation with 30 employees and national web reviews, the “experiment” appears to have worked. “It’s winter in Astoria and we’re very busy,” notes Tom Kulesa.

As we all know here, that’s one major barometer of success.

The UN International Year of the Coop

The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution declaring 2012 the UN International Year of Co-operatives on December 18, 2009.

The UN resolution entitled ‘Co-operatives in Social Development’ recognises the diversity of the co-operative movement around the world and urges governments to take measures aimed at creating a supportive environment for the development of co-operatives.

The International Year of Co-operatives, or IYC, celebrates a different way of doing business, one focused on human need not human greed, where the members, who own and govern the business, collectively enjoy the benefits instead of all profits going just to shareholders.

Having an International Year of Co-operatives provides an opportunity to captivate the attention of national governments, the business community and, most importantly, the general public on the advantages provided by the co-operative model.

As the global voice of co-operatives, the International Co-operative Alliance is seeking to leverage the International Year to raise the public awareness of co-operatives worldwide.

One of the key aims of the International Year is to raise public awareness of the co-operative business model. Throughout the year the ICA and other co-operative organisations around the world will be using a whole range of resources to achieve this aim.

For more information on the UN International Year of the Coop go to: www.2012.coop.

Circles of Sociocracy

This diagram is hot off the Blue Scorcher sociocratic planning table.

Sociocracy is defined as “rule by the socios”, people who have a social relationship with each other. Dynamic governance is achieved through the foundational sociocratic principles of “creative self organization” and consent based decision making. as opposed to democracy: rule by the “demos,” the general mass of people.

Sociocratic Circular Organizing Method

Circle Structure: The primary organizational principle of sociocracy is a series of linked circles. Circle meetings are facilitated with a combination of open discussion and rounds to include everyone’s voice.

Leadership: Leadership is the responsibility of everyone. Generally there are roles that include a facilitator, a secretary, and representatives for communication between circles. Nominations and elections are open, participatory, and consent based (see decision process).

Aims: Each circle is organized around a practical and measurable aim (similar to a goal). Aim is objective and can be clearly communicated. It is in the context of vision and mission which are more subjective and motivational.

Decisions: Decisions are made by consent. Reasoned objections are sought to provide solutions related to achieving the common “aim”. Consent is defined by the parameters of what each person can live with in pursuit of the aim.

We the People

By John Buck and Sharon Villines is the first comprehensive presentation of the history and theoretical foundations of sociocracy in English-speaking authors. This is the go to “how to” sociocratic governance manual assisting the Scorcher “circle.” It includes personal narratives by the authors of their discovery of sociocracy, a history of its innovative development as a practical application by innovator Gerard Endenburg, extensive discussion of how the principles and methods are applied in organizations, and “how to” chapters.


Data processing with Janus in southern France

Watt in Paris

Photo: Willa Childress

“Be kind to strangers, lest they’re angels in disguise.”
– verse from Shakespeare and Company song

Offbeat questions arise while minding my bookshop in winter on the Oregon coast. Like — why does our calendar year begin with a month named after a double-headed deity who looks backward and forward at the same time?

I met Janus online, at Wikipedia. Few folks worship him, yet each year we summon his likeness to re-assess events and assure ourselves that man’s toehold on the future is sound. We do this in part by affirming the legacies of climbers who’ve died.

Steve Jobs, for example. Count me among the toastmasters of Janus who salute the late silicon-slinger who built Model Ts for the information highway. What do his contributions tell us about ours?

I first heard of Jobs in the 1980s, while waiting in line to use the computer lab at college. There, massive machines munched on data I’d gathered and spit back graphs correlating declines in species of winged creatures with human crowding.

It felt quantitatively cool, just saying the word “data” around the biology department. Paired with objectivist text those computer-generated graphs made my papers look as credible as George Will’s baseball columns.

Jobs replaced those IBM-sized beasts with portable critters that help us correlate data while sitting at home. I’ve spent much of my life communing with those critters, sharing bites of knowledge in leisure environments.

What does Jobs’ death at age 56 tell us about our tour of creation? The question inspires me to compute in a different light.

Consider the following data. The morning I learned of Jobs’ death I was traveling in Le Luberon massif, a small mountainous area in southern France. My family and I had awoken to an agrarian view from the window of a bed-and-breakfast in a 1,000-year-old abbey.

Our host Christophe shared the news of Jobs’ death by way of a little white cross he cut out and taped to one of the delicious apples he offered us for breakfast.

“Were you a fan?” I asked.

“Not really,” he replied with soft-spoken frankness. “To me he was just another big capitalist. But his death is all they are talking about on the radio this morning.”

“Here are some of my favorite American authors,” he said, handing me a cup of coffee. On a nearby counter he had erected a pyramid of books by Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick, and John Kennedy Toole, all in French translation. The sight of Toole’s “A Confederacy of Dunces” quickly prompted a soul handshake.

Over two days we discussed a myriad of topics — from archeological finds in the nearby fields to dry stone masonry, the Arab Spring, homeless kittens, and visual art we coaxed Christophe to bring out despite his claim that he’s no longer an artist. I was captivated by the web of code woven into his work titled “Saint George and the Dragon.”

“I am the dragon,” he confessed in a humble learned tone, like something a janitor might mutter to himself while fixing the hinges on the door to the school library.

Our exchange of information in Christophe’s kitchen will be treasured for the rest of my life. And it happened, in part, because we learned about his lodgings on our little computer.

So here’s to Steve Jobs, who dove into capitalism’s belly and personalized the big blue beast.

Wait, there’s more. I’m compelled by love of beauty and truth to toast a lesser-known legend who lived Apple’s “think different” slogan long before its founders were born.

I raise my glass to George Whitman, the late proprietor of a bookshop in Paris named Shakespeare and Company. My family would not have even heard of Le Luberon had it not been for an exchange with new friends at Whitman’s labyrinthine store of knowledge.

The files were downloaded at a gently mad tea party that started in his apartment above the shop. Whitman didn’t feel up to an appearance that day, yet he set the stage for a spirited salon of language arts aficionados. I sat beside a toppling stack of tomes crowned with an early edition of “A Moveable Feast.” On the other side perched John Kirby Abraham, an English expatriate who knew Josephine Baker and wrote a biography of the cultural icon.

That social flurry at Shakespeare and Company is now lodged in my mind, along with the exchange in Christophe’s kitchen. My synapses are upgraded by the interactions.

Not long after our visit, Whitman celebrated his 98th birthday and then died in that same apartment. In his wake he leaves six decades of info-connoisseurism and an un-graphable influence on visitors, many of them free-radical scribes. By Whitman’s own estimate, he provided transient lodging to 40,000 writers who slept among his shelves in exchange for work and tolerating his notoriously bad pancakes.

In an organic light, Whitman’s shop stands as an exquisite living computer rivaling anything made in Silicon Valley.

Still recreating in France, Janus assures me this mainframe view of life offers future apps for all travel destinations.

He predicts 2012 won’t bring a Mayan cataclysm here to the north coast of Oregon. It will, however, mark the end of public trust in top-down methods of data processing. As the wealth chasm widens people will realize the numbers we’ve used to quantify growth aren’t as cool as we figured — meaning they don’t correlate with median incomes.

Mass faith in the syndicated press will falter. More people will explore alternative means of processing news and opinion. The art of conversation will be revived and integrated into online social networks. A renaissance of readers will unfold as folks realize that writing is as fun as texting on those glowing screen-toys.

There may be blood. Some oil tankers of intel won’t navigate as swiftly amid the flood of freelance communication. In some quarters the deluge of democratized data may look like the end of the world. Let’s hope George Will maintains his composure by thinking about baseball.

For my part I’ll surf the flow of shared ideas here in my bookshop on the Oregon coast. I’ll correspond with bohemian friends and encourage them to visit Le Clatsop-Nehalem massif. We need to make sure tourism in our part of paradise is as compelling as it is in Le Luberon.

Humans are adept at language innovation when faced with dead-end programming. Put our heads together we might meet anonymous angels, keepers of Eden who suddenly know it’s time to open the door.


Riding the Wave: Ocean Renewable Energy on the Oregon Coast

La Rance Tidal Barrage

La Rance Tidal Barrage, in the Rance River estuary, Brittany, France, opened in 1966. It was the world’s first tidal energy system, and still the world’s second largest system, with a peak rating of 240 MW. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Energy – where it comes from, how we use it, how much we pay for it, and how we make the transition to an independent renewable energy future – will define us as Oregonians for generations to come. In 2007, we passed energy legislation – including renewable electricity and renewable fuels standards – that will keep Oregon in the forefront of the fight against climate change, and move us toward a clean energy future. Under these standards, 25% of Oregon’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2025.
– former governor Ted Kulongoski

The Oregon coastline is among the few places in the world that possess the four key elements necessary to tap into wave energy today: an abundance of energy generated by ocean waves border to border, internationally recognized experts leading the effort to develop the technologies to capture and convert wave power, the ability to supply that power to the grid, and sea ports ready to build, maintain and deploy wave energy conversion devices.
– Oregon Wave Energy Trust

VIVACE wave energy deviceGET READY for the next wave of energy projects in Oregon – offshore wind and wave energy, tidal energy from coastal rivers, energy from the California Current (which runs up the coast), and maybe even ocean thermal energy (OTEC) – ocean renewable energy.

According to a 2011 status report on renewable energy from the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), 2010 saw more than 100 ocean energy projects around the world reach various stages of development. By early 2011, offshore testing facilities were deployed in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, Portugal, Spain, Norway, Ireland and the U.S.

The La Rance tidal barrage (see photo above) began generating power off the French coast in 1966 and continues to today. Additional tidal projects have come on line, especially in Russia and China. Research into OTEC (which takes advantage of the temperature difference between surface and deep water) began at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority in 1974, and continues today at the Hawaii National Marine Renewable Energy Center at the University of Hawaii. Energy from ocean currents is studied at the new Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Florida Atlantic University in Dania Beach. And a new device called VIVACE (see photo at right), developed at the University of Michigan and being commercialized by Vortex Hydro Energy, can eke out power from currents of less than 3 knots, available in ocean, river and tidal currents around the world.

PowerBuoy wave energy device

Ocean Power Technologies PowerBuoy® “point absorber” wave energy device. The rising and falling of the waves causes the buoy to move freely up and down. The resultant mechanical stroking is converted via a power take-off to drive an electrical generator. The generated power is transmitted ashore via an underwater power cable. Photo courtesy of Ocean Power Technologies.

Ocean energy companies started showing intense interest in obtaining permits here for their devices after an Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) report in 2004 showed Oregon had a huge potential for energy in its coastal waters. To date, one site off of Reedsport has been permitted for testing an Ocean Power Technologies PowerBuoy system (see photo) in conjunction with the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Oregon State University in Corvallis. Construction of the test device has begun, and it is expected to be in the water later this year. If tests are successful, a wave energy “park” could be developed in the area.

Here in Clatsop County, there are two potential wave energy projects that are beginning to gather some steam.

Feasibility studies are now underway for development of a series of wave energy devices that would double as marine firing range boundary demarcation and warning devices at the Camp Rilea Armed Forces Training Center in Warrenton. Stan Hutchison, of the Oregon Military Department, told me that the various National Guard stations around the state have a net-zero energy goal for 2020 (meaning that the bases must generate as much energy on site as they use) that will require each base to look at using various renewable energy technologies. Whereas solar is being used in Ontario and Christmas Valley, and solar, wind and geothermal in southern Oregon, at Camp Rilea, wind and wave energy will be the main contributors towards the net-zero energy goal. As Camp Rilea is also the new headquarters for emergency management in Clatsop County, Hutchison explained that renewable energy will be even more important, in case a repeat of the kind of disaster that struck the North Coast here in 2007 (The Great Gale) occurs, and we are cut off from supplies of fuel, as happened then. “We used vehicle fuel for the generators in 2007, and that left nothing for emergency vehicles. We don’t want to be in that situation again,” said Hutchison. Feasibility study results will be available by the summer. Hutchison said that the results would be shared with the community, and the whole process will be transparent.

Limpet OWC

Limpet (Land Installed Marine Powered Energy Transformer) energy converter sited on the island of Islay, off Scotland’s west coast. Terminator devices extend perpendicular to the direction of wave travel and capture or reflect the power of the wave. These devices are typically onshore or nearshore. The oscillating water column is a form of terminator in which water enters through a subsurface opening into a chamber with air trapped above it. The wave action causes the captured water column to move up and down like a piston to force the air though an opening connected to a turbine. Photo courtesy of Voith Hydro Wavegen Ltd.

Clatsop County is considering another very interesting wave energy project. The South Jetty that juts into the Columbia River Bar is due to be rebuilt by the Army Corps of Engineers in the near future. The county is investigating having a series of oscillating water column (OWC) wave energy devices (see photo) built right into the jetty rock structure, and collecting and using the generated power locally. Douglas County is investigating this same technology, and has received a preliminary permit to test the system.

After the initial flurry of activity on the Oregon coast, the ocean renewable energy industry has sorted itself out, and the state and other stakeholders have set about planning for an orderly ascendance of this newest of uses of the territorial sea (up to 3 miles out). While the 500 MW of energy available in the waves off the coast is tempting, there is a long way to go to realizing even a fraction of that potential. Christopher Paddon, sustainable energy technician program administrator at Clatsop Community College, told me that “the wave energy industry is where the wind energy industry was in the 70s.” He’s not optimistic that the industry will take hold in a big way in Oregon. But the state, coastal counties, and the industry are hoping that wave energy, along with the other ocean renewable energy technologies, will supply not only energy, but jobs and hope for a better future for our state. The ride could be bumpy, but will definitely be interesting. Stay tuned.

The Territorial Sea Plan Working Group, which met in Astoria in December, will be seeking public comment on the state’s new territorial sea plan, with inclusion of ocean energy, at two meetings in Clatsop County on February 17:

Camp Rilea: 11 am – 2:30 pm
Cannon Beach: 5:30 – 9 pm

For more details, see the Oregon Ocean web page.

REFERENCES

Ocean Renewable Energy Group (OREG) – The Ocean Renewable Energy Group (OREG) aligns industry, academia and government to ensure that Canada is a leader in providing ocean energy solutions to a world market. OREG works to advance the wave energy, tidal energy, and in-stream (hydrokinetic) energy industries in Canada and internationally.

Oregon Wave Energy Trust (OWET) – OWET is a nonprofit public-private partnership funded by the Oregon Innovation Council. Its mission is to support the responsible development of wave energy in Oregon. OWET’s goal is to power two Oregon communities with ocean energy by 2025.

Mapping and Assessment of the United States Ocean Wave Energy Resource – This project estimates the naturally available and technically recoverable U.S. wave energy resources, using a 51-month Wavewatch III hindcast database developed especially for this study by National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Centers for Environmental Prediction.

EPRI Ocean Energy Web Page – “Ocean energy” is a term used to describe all forms of renewable energy derived from the sea including wave energy, tidal energy, river current, ocean current energy, offshore wind, salinity gradient energy and ocean thermal gradient energy.

E2I EPRI Survey and Characterization of Potential Offshore Wave Energy Sites in Oregon – The purpose of this report is to identify and characterize potential offshore sites in Oregon for a 1,500 MWh annual energy output (500kW at 40% capacity factor) wave energy power plant feasibility demonstration and an envisioned 300,000 MWh per year (100 MW at 40% capacity factor) commercial plant.

Supporting the Oregon Territorial Sea Plan Revision: Oregon Fishing Community Mapping Project – The state of Oregon is developing a comprehensive plan to guide the potential siting of renewable ocean energy projects in Oregon’s Territorial Sea. To this end, the state is revising its Territorial Sea Plan (TSP), and has begun collecting information on the spatial extent of human uses that provide economic and socio-cultural benefits. One data gap identified was the distribution and spatial extent of commercial, charter, and recreational fisheries. Ecotrust and others engaged in collecting relevant information on these use activities. Our research team developed and deployed an interactive, custom computer interview instrument, Open OceanMap, to collect geo-referenced information from commercial, charter, and recreational fishermen about the extent and relative importance of Oregon marine waters.

VIVACE (Vortex Induced Vibration Aquatic Clean Energy): A New Concept to Harness Energy from Ocean/River Currents – slide presentation from Michael M. Bernitsas, Ph.D.: Professor UofM, Director, Marine Renewable Energy Lab, CEO and CTO, Vortex Hydro Energy.

Goal 19 – Ocean Planning, General Information for Clatsop County – The county’s Comprehensive Plan does not include a Goal 19 element.  In response to interest in ocean renewable energy (wind and wave) development along the Oregon coast, Clatsop County is considering comprehensive plan, plan/zone map, and zoning ordinance amendments that will address permanent structures in the territorial sea.  These include wave and wind energy devices, cables and pipelines, buoys, and other fixed structures in the territorial sea.

Ocean Energy Systems (OES) – As the authoritative international voice on ocean energy we collaborate internationally to accelerate the viability, uptake and acceptance of ocean energy systems in an environmentally acceptable manner.

OCS Alternative Energy and Alternate Use Guide for Wave Energy – The United States Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service (MMS), has prepared a final programmatic EIS in support of the establishment of a program for authorizing alternative energy and alternate use (AEAU) activities on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), as authorized by Section 388 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct), and codified in subsection 8(p) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA).

Oregon Surfrider Foundation Wave Energy and Territorial Sea Plan Campaign – The Oregon Chapters of Surfrider Foundation have been involved with wave energy development and the territorial sea planning process for over 5 years.

Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) – OPT is a leading renewable energy company specializing in cost-effective, advanced, and environmentally sound offshore wave power technology.

The Washington State Ocean Energy Conference: Deep Water Wind and an Ocean Energy Economy, Kitsap Conference Center, November 8-9 2011, Bremerton, WA – Program and Agenda.

Voith Hydro Wavegen Limited -A world leader in wave energy and wave power. Developed and operate Limpet, the world’s first commercial-scale wave energy device that generates wave energy for the grid.

The Hawai’i National Marine Renewable Energy Center (HINMREC) – Their mission is to facilitate development and commercialization of wave energy conversion (WEC) devices and ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) systems.

Oregon Shores Convservation Coalition (OSCC) Board Position on Renewable Ocean Energy – Oregon Shores supports effort to consider and responsibly test new ocean renewable energy technologies to help the state of Oregon, and the nation, move energy production away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy sources.

WETGEN (Wave Energy Turbine Generator) – The home for the HANNA Wave Energy Turbine.  The device harvests energy from ocean waves by means of the OWC (Oscillating Water Column) principle.

Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association (OCZMA) Ocean Policy/Marine Reserves/Wave Energy – A growing number of people, organizations, and foundations take a strong interest in state and federal ocean policy. And, because technology is evolving so rapidly, today, many new uses of the Pacific Ocean are being proposed. This represents big challenges and opportunities. And, it guarantees debates about ocean policy will become increasingly politicized and polarized over the next few years. Oregon Coast residents who care deeply about the marine environment, and, who seek to maintain access to recreational and commercial fisheries, should follow these ocean policy developments.

Our Ocean – A coalition of conservationists, scientists, ocean users, local leaders and business people from around the state working to preserve Oregon’s coastal legacy. Coalition members include: Audubon Society of Portland, Coast Range Association, Environment Oregon, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oceana, Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, Pew Environment Group, Surfrider Foundation.

Marine Current Turbines Limited – Set up to pioneer the technical and commercial development of tidal stream turbines.

Pelamis Wave Power – The Pelamis absorbs the energy of ocean waves and converts it into electricity.  The machine floats semi-submerged on the surface of the water and is made up of a number of cylindrical sections joined together by hinged joints.  As waves pass down the length of the machine these sections flex relative to one another.  The motion at each hinged joint is resisted by hydraulic cylinders which pump fluid into high pressure accumulators allowing electrical generation to be smooth and continuous.

Grays Harbor Ocean Energy Company – The Grays Harbor Ocean Energy Company was founded in 2007 in Seattle, Washington to develop large offshore renewable energy projects with focus on the USA.

Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC) – NNMREC is a partnership between Oregon State University (OSU) and the University of Washington (UW). OSU focuses on wave energy. UW focuses on tidal energy. Both universities collaborate with each other and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on research, education, outreach, and engagement.


Occupy Your Holiday: In this Economy, Give the Gift of Time

Holiday TimeThis holiday season give the gift of time; not a fine time piece, give a piece of your deliberate, hard-to-come-by time. Often, it is simpler to make up for insufficient time in the day by throwing material goods at the problem. “Sorry I can’t make it to your wedding. Here’s an extravagant kitchen gadget.” “Can’t make it to your soccer game, but I’ll pick up a new video game for you on my way home.” “Working late, won’t be able to go out with you, but will send some flowers.” These thoughtful gestures help cover the hole of one’s absence, but the cost really adds up, both in the wallet and in the relationships. The holiday season has become one huge materialistic bandage of consumerism to make-up for our lack of time to celebrate and to spend quality time together with our friends and family. Consumerism has come to be indistinguishable from the celebration of the Christmas holiday.

We purchase box upon box of material goods to spread the joy of the season, just to strike names off a list. Waiting hours to shop at the crack of dawn, we scoop up deals at the Post-Thanksgiving sales without regard of the impact on employees who lost holiday time with their families, in the name of our savings(money, not time). Spend your money and your time with great purpose, this season.

As pods of the 99% take over parks across America, we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the biggest corporate event of the year for the 1%. Months of marketing and mounds of money have gone into convincing the general public that we must have e-toys and e-trinkets of all shapes, screens, and sizes. Some of these devices are even thinly disguised as tools to facilitate more on-line shopping. ”Occupy” and “Move Your Money” movements are focused on boycotting these same big banks in favor of community banks and credit unions, but who benefits by the mega-debt we go into this time of year in charging all these gift purchases? Big banks! Huge corporate banks make millions off merchants’ backs in credit card processing fees and, no doubt, more from the interest on the accrued debit amounts that take the entirety of the new year to pay off. All in the name of holiday cheer, we go whistling to the brink of fiscal disaster to buy frivolous fad items and must-have techno-tchotchkees that break, or are out-dated before the final payment has been made. (Do you know where your “Zoo-Zoo” pet is?)

Take back the holiday from the greedy corporate money mongers! Refuse to run-up a god-awful debt that leaves you financially whimpering long into the next year. Walk past the big box stores in favor of handmade gifts, home-baked holiday treats, or frame that special photograph for that special someone. Not only are handmade gifts more personal and affordable, but they offer an opportunity to be expressive or create something meaningful with friends, family, or neighbors. Spending the time together in the kitchen or making holiday cards and gifts can be the most treasured gift of all.

Give your time meaningfully to charitable organizations as a volunteer. Consider volunteering at a community food bank or soup kitchen with a friend. Sometimes the nicest thing we can do for ourselves is to do for others; it only costs some time, and can really warm up that holiday spirit. Giving to your preferred charities or not-for-profit organizations in the name of friends or family members spreads love by alternative gifting; donations in memory of those that have passed away in the past year are a sincere gesture that mean more than flowers or a fruit basket to a bereaved family. Take time to see children in holiday performances, or friends’ art in galleries, play productions, and chorale performances, but, most importantly, share things you and your friends and family enjoy, together. December 9th is the National Day of Sharing; make it last the whole month. Instead of stacks of presents, opt for items that can be shared or played together. Board or card games offer a fun opportunity to share time together versus on-line games shared with a screen in solitude. Even shopping downtown with a friend is more fun than solo cyber-consumption.

Shopping on-line may appear to be a time-saver, but do you really ever get the right size if you can not try it on first? Shopping locally, supporting local artisans, and keeping your cash in the community gives your hard-earned money to the 99% pool. It’s easy to appreciate the concept of “shopping locally”, but it is far greater to follow, especially when it means contributing to the economic health of your neighborhood. Local businesses appreciate the holiday traffic and strive to serve their customers up a more festive and enjoyable holiday experience. Community bazaars, art fairs, and craft shows offer many gift options and showcase regional talents. Local merchants work hard to supply customers with unique and interesting selections of outside-the-box fashion, toys, accessories, gifts, and art that reflect where we live. This holiday season, when considering where to spend your precious time and money, bring it home for the holidays!


Concert for a Winter’s Night: Music for Chanukkah, Solstice and Christmas – December 22

Shelley and Jennifer

Shelley Loring & Jennifer Goodenberger

Flutist Shelley Loring and pianist Jennifer Goodenberger perform on Thursday, December 22 at 7pm at Grace Episcopal Church.  The concert will include Jewish, Celtic, Carols, holiday music, and original compositions to celebrate the Season. These long-term friends, who have until now been pursing separate musical careers, are thrilled to create music together for this concert.

Loring’s early years were spent performing with her father, a Jewish cantor. She has toured the Western States with the Community Concerts Association in addition to playing with many regional and local music organizations. Most recently she returned to performing her life-time passion – jazz and improvisation.

Goodenberger, was the producer for the legendary “Winter Solstice Concerts” of the late 1990’s. She is currently active as a recording artist and solo pianist, performing her original compositions and arrangements of folk and Celtic music. Her recordings are often used in the healing arts, and as film soundtracks. Go to jennifergoodenberger.com for a complete audio and art listing of her works.

Thursday, December 22, 7pm, at Grace Episcopal Church.  1545 Franklin Avenue, Astoria. There is a $10 suggested donation at the door. For more information, call 503-325-5310.


Kathryn Clair & Hanz Araki

One of a Kind Celtic Concert Series Comes to Pacific Northwest
Acclaimed Irish Musicians Join Together for a Unique and Memorable Show
Kathryn Clair & Hanz Araki with a host of Celtic friends comes to the Coaster Theater and an Intimate Solstice eve at KALA.

Kathryn Clair & Hanz Araki
Hanz Araki and Kathryn Claire, The Seven Joys of Mary, from their new release A WINTER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION

Musicians Hanz Araki and Kathryn Claire are proud to present a series of unprecedented concerts. These two diverse musicians lend their individual expertise and lyrical knowledge to four theme- based concerts that present some of the strongest and most beautiful elements of the Celtic tradition. This December, they are celebrating the release of the second of four accompanying albums, A Winter Solstice Celebration.
Ancient carols and foot-stomping jigs and reels share the spotlight with poetry, dance, and even a short Mummer’s play from songwriter Matthew Hayward-Macdonald.

This year’s concert features — in addition to Claire and Araki — Cary Novotny on guitar, All-Ireland harp champion Anna Lee Foster, Welsh-born bodhran (Irish frame-drum) player Matty Einion Sears, and vocalist Jody Katopothis.

“Each of us bring to the table a varied collection of songs and stories that reflect the same themes of longing, love, loss, beauty, and celebration. These concerts give us the freedom to explore some of these experiences thoroughly through the music that has arisen from the last several hundred years of human existence.”

Sunday, December 18th at the Coaster Theatre in Cannon Beach, OR. Show starts at 7:30pm. Tickets are $14 for adults and $8 for students.

Tuesday, December 20 at KALA in Astoria. Claire and Araki perform an intimate candlelit eve performance. Doors Open at 7pm. Performance at 7:30pm. Come early, for a seat and enjoy a beverage. Tickets are $8 at the door. The new cd release WINTER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION will be available. For a preview track go to www.hipfishmonthly.com.

In the late winter, “As I Roved Out” welcomes better weather and represents the traditional Maying celebrations of the British Isles and beyond, while the plight of the emigrant and laborer is presented in a collection of songs and tunes in the late summer entitled “The Emigrant Song.” Some of the darker and more macabre themes found in Celtic love songs are explored in “Songs of Love and Murder,” and completing the series is the Winter Solstice Celebration; celebrate the darkest night of the year with the light of music, storytelling and wonder.

Billed as “The next generation of trad’ music,” Irish flute player and singer Hanz Araki is the quintessential world music musician. He has toured internationally with Juno award-winning The Paperboys and The Casey Neill Trio; also The Bridies, Portland’s all-star Pogues cover band KMRIA among others, and is featured on over a dozen recordings and soundtracks, along with his own acclaimed CD’s. www.hanzaraki.com.

Kathryn Claire has asserted herself in a new generation of traditionally-inspired musicians. Her violin-playing exhibits a technical grace which is matched only by her truly captivating voice and she possesses the rare ability to move seamlessly across genres. Her deep love and respect for traditional music has long been a driving influence and those roots can be heard in her own original music.


“Let There Be Beauty!”

Michael FerrellHow Michael Ferrell, a NEW Seasider, finds joy in COMMUNITY!

WHEN HAIRDRESSER Michael Ferrell lacks inspiration as he’s about to cut a client’s hair at Beach Blondes, his salon in Seaside, he places both hands on her head and intones, “let there be beauty!” This invocation to a goddess of beauty hints at the mix of industry and business savvy with a restless spirituality that’s such big part of this guy’s make up.

After buying property at the north coast, Ferrell has demonstrated, in the short time he’s lived here, a willingness to get involved in the community and put his energy and creativity to work for good causes. He views doing hair as a calling, his business acumen continually tempered by a long-standing need to find meaning in this life and help others through his chosen vocation.

“I can make someone pretty and help give her the confidence to go to that job interview or make that life change,” Ferrell explains. That said, he’s done things like free makeovers and beauty consulting for women referred by the Women’s Resource Center. His customers are generally always women, and Ferrell’s wonderfully adept at endearing himself to his “girls.” In no time at all, he’s not just their beauty consultant but a good buddy and confidante. Does he cut men’s hair? “There’s only two haircuts men want, Ferrell quips, “short and shorter.”

His new shop/digs on Seaside’s First Street, just south of Holladay, was a serendipitous find, as he tells it. “We were playing ‘wouldn’t it be lovely if…’ while idly looking at commercial properties in the area and ended up making a silly (low) offer,” he recalls. The seller grabbed at it. Apparently, the house, zoned commercial/residential, had blighted Seaside’s landscape for years; the local police were a constant presence. “When my neighbor to the back found out we’d bought the place, she wept tears of joy,” says Ferrell smiling.

Now, he, his partner Marvin Hampton, and Milo, their black and white Chihuahua mix, divide their time between the north coast and Portland where Ferrell has a house and owns and operates another hair salon called Zen-Do. The couple quickly transformed their newly-acquired, decidedly dilapidated house, inhabited mainly by druggies in its past life. These days, the place simply oozes curb appeal, with the salon at the front and living quarters in the back and on the upper floor. The new owners have worked wonders with the place which remains a bit of a work in progress. Currently awaiting application on the salon’s interior walls are 10 gallons of Ralph Lauren Regent Metallic Colors paint.

Beach Blonde Salon

Photo by Don Frank

Already Ferrell is a member of the Seaside Downtown Development Association, in the throes of preparing for the town’s annual Festival of Trees at the Convention Center. He’s entered floats in the town’s Fourth of July Parade for two consecutive years. (On one float sat 15 females wearing platinum blonde wigs, black false eyelashes and white gloves, including his 80 year old mum. The ladies threw 80 lbs. of saltwater taffy to spectators.) Working with Seaside’s Beautification Committee, he’s also making plans in that busy brain of his to implement a flower box program for area businesses. “Flowers give people a sense of God and slow you down,” he declares.

Ferrell admits to having experimented with many different belief systems over time, including EST, Lifespring, the Church of Scientology, Catholicism and even a Pentecostal cult. “I was trying to fill a God-sized hole in my heart,” he says. Six years ago, he became attracted to Sufism. “It teaches that we’re each of us on a path…that all gods reach the same place. The emphasis is on bridging the differences that divide us and seeking out commonalities.” His Sufi name is Khaliq which means creator.

Every month, Ferrell goes to San Francisco for a World Spirituality Class taught by Mersheda Rabia Ana Perez Christi, a professor who teaches World Religion studies at Berkeley. Eventually, he’ll be a full-fledged Cherag Minister, able to marry and bury people. He says, “I don’t know what’s exactly going on with my life path. It could be hair or it could be something else.”

That something else is most likely his dream of a Cherag Ministry under an umbrella of services that include hospice care. With its seven bedrooms, Ferrell’s house in Portland would be an ideal location for this, he thinks. At one point, his former teacher, Ken Storrer, who was dying of Aids, ended his days there. Storrer was an activist, one of the leaders of San Francisco’s Shanti Project which helped people who were HIV positive or had other life-threatening diseases. Remembers Ferrell, “Ken would rescue people who were dying of Aids and were completely alone.”

Another piece may involve his grandmother’s ranch in the Wallowa Mountains… turning it into a retreat where those facing institutionalized care or death can transition with dignity, be comforted and, perhaps, find peace. Says Ferrell, “It needs a lot of work, but there’s an artesian spring on site and the most wonderful silence… a silence in which you can actually hear the voice of god with nature’s help or through your inner spiritual being.”

Right now, his focus is on hair, on bringing out your “outer fabulosity” as he might term it. Only time will tell how Michael Ferrell’s life will play out, though, given his myriad interests, boundless energy and big, big heart.

Beach Blonde Salon
720 First Ave.
Seaside, OR 97138
Phone:  503-717-5255
Website: beachblondesalon.com


Author Jan Bono: Life Time Learner & Life Teacher @KALA Dec 8

Jan BonoAT SEVEN YEARS OLD Jan Bono knew she would grow-up to be an astronaut, the president of the United States, a writer, or a teacher. Recent cutbacks to the NASA Space Shuttle Program may dampen her astro-aspirations, but with thirty plus years of teaching experience, and numerous years writing newspaper columns, short stories, plays, and blogs, running for the U.S. presidency may be her next undertaking. Her ability to find humor in the human experience defines her writing, from the magic of being a fourth grader to the joys of the holiday season.

Bono retired from public school teaching in June of 2006. Not one to sit and wait for things to come her way, she threw herself into play writing when she discovered a local community theater was holding a one-act play writing contest. Having never written a play or performed in a play, she took on the research of play writing with great gusto. Bono describes herself as, “one of those people who jumps in and paddles around.” No sooner had she dived in than she came out with first and second place in the contest with her newly written plays to be produced on the stage.

“I got bitten bad! When I won, I said ‘You mean I did it right?’” That was the start of her play writing career which, to date, includes nine one-act plays and a dinner theater mystery play. “A Christmas Trilogy: Three Holiday One-Acts” from her newly released short story collection, It’s Christmas!, will be performed in December by the Peninsula Players in Ilwaco.

Teaching is a calling for Bono and she gleans much of her material from her school days, having in November 2009 published “Just Joshin’, A Year in the Life of a Not-so-ordinary 4th Grade Kid,” a 63-story collection of humorous classroom anecdotes. Her frequent contributions to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series highlight her nostalgic and heart-warming tale telling talents, which she has compiled into short story collections. “I find humor everywhere. That’s what I do, (write) short, humorous stories. There’s something to laugh at every single day.” For over 10 years, she wrote a bi-weekly personal experience column for the Chinook Observer, which became, Through My Looking Glass, a collection of those columns.

“I write snippets of life and hope people find it entertaining.” “Recognizing the humorous experience and knowing that it’s universal, that’s why I write.” Having once found inspiration in a conversation overheard at a farmer’s market, she was caught paperless and called her home phone to leave the idea on her voice mail. Though rarely found without pen and paper, she commonly makes note of family quirks and humorous situations; she is currently putting together a collection of phone conversations with her mother, a ‘Jan Linkletter’s’ Moms Say the Darnedest Things sort of thing.

Jan has written an every-odd-numbered-day blog for nearly 3 years, with over 525 entries. The topics are wide-ranging, mostly inspirational with a Norman Rockwell-ian quality to her homespun, humorous posts, which all aim to be a little thought-provoking. Bono would love to make writing her full-time occupation, and fancies the idea of her books someday sharing the shelves with Dave Barry, Tom Bodett, and Erma Bombeck. Always the teacher, Bono still finds herself teaching adult writing workshops and incorporates life coaching into her busy schedule to help other adults live their best life and polish their writing for publication. She has facilitated a local writer’s group for the past 5 years, emcees a monthly “Authors’ Showcase” at an Ilwaco coffee shop, and also runs an editing business, TMLG Editing and Critique. She is currently in search of an agent to publish her cozy mystery novel. With many more writing projects on the horizon, Jan Bono is not content to rest on her past accomplishments.

“What I like to do best is write nice stories that are PG-rated, that have redeeming value and the essence of the human experience.” Look for her in your neighborhood, promoting her new book, It’s Christmas!, detailing humorous memories from her favorite time of year!

It's ChristmasIt’s Christmas! is a 226-page collection of 48 personal experience stories and three one-act holiday plays. The three holiday one-act plays will be performed at the River City Playhouse, 127 Lake Street in Ilwaco from December 2-4, 9-11 with Friday and Saturday performances at 7 pm, and Sunday matinees at 2 pm.  Books will be available for purchase at all performances, and may also be found for purchase on-line at janbonobooks.com.

Join Jan on December 8, Thursday at 7 pm for a reading and book signing of It’s Christmas! at KALA, the Hipfish Community Events Center on 1017 Marine Drive in Astoria. Happy Holidays-Shop Locally, Read Festively!


Spa at the Cannery Pier Hotel

Cannery Pier HotelA Finnish sauna, mineral bath, glorious body treatments and massage to suit your needs!

Spa at Cannery Pier Hotel Open House
Thursday, December 8 from 5 pm to 7 pm.
No. 10 Basin St., Astoria, Oregon
503.338.4SPA (4772)
Specially priced Gift Certificates, Food, Drink, Treats, Free Raffle and other surprises! Meet the professional therapists, tour the facilities and explore Astoria’s only Spa with an authentic Finnish Sauna and Mineral Therapy Hot Tub!

“OLEN UUSI NAINEN!” translates from Finnish to “I’m a new woman!” On my father’s returns from Astoria’s famed Union Town Steam Baths, he and my mother from their every Friday night ritual, my father would say in part English and Finnish, “I feel like an uusi mies.” A new man, that is.

A ritual of renewal is an integral part of Finnish sauna culture, and of many cultures on the globe. Renewal, replenish, a part of a natural cycle in the enjoyment of life. Sleep, obviously an essential, to go from one day to the next, does not fulfill a conscious need to get within.

If you are an inhabitant of the Columbia Pacific Region, you are familiar with the Cannery Pier Hotel that welcomes visitors to these shores, housing guests in an elegant, yet spare, homage to history. The sport where cannery Finns began a steadfast, egalitarian business of catching and processing fish and making sure the fancy east coast devils didn’t get advantage on them. The Union Fish Company.

Imagine how some of those hardworking Finns would have laughed at the thought that lumbering fish house would someday be the inspiration for a hotel. A brilliant plan that native Robert Jacobsen, at times had a hard time convincing people that it was much of an idea. But now, we can look out to the mouth of the Columbia and remember, and dream and reminisce.

And even better. You can look out from the Spa at the Cannery Pier Hotel, from the mineral therapy hot tub looking straight east, down the Columbia.

“On a foggy day, soaking int he hot tub, and gazing out on the river, there isn’t a better place to be,” says Spa manager Summer Oja. And that is where the folks at the Cannery Spa want locals to be.

The Spa at the Canner Pier is an elaborate spa system, designed for you, “local person” to enjoy with ease, comfort, and affordability. Spa manager Summer Oja has been in the business for 10 years, and her unique mission states, “Peace, tranquility, order and outreach.”

Spa at the Cannery Pier employs 5 massage practitioners and a facial specialist. They offer every type of massage, and manager Oja will help to facilitate and match you with a type of massage and practitioner that best suits you. Oja is not only the spa manager, but really the manager of the customer’s individual therapeutic needs.

Any treatment that you receive at the Cannery Spa includes the mineral hot tub and the authentic Finnish Sauna. This means, a 1/2 hour Head and Neck and Shoulders treatment ($55), comes with steam and hot tubing. At the turn of the 1900’s, Astoria was a blaze with public saunas. Today, well, not there aren’t any – but the smell of the cedar in the Finlandia Sauna System at Cannery Pier is divine. And the steam when you throw the water on the rocks with the wooden ladle… does a body good, oh yea!

Every month the Spa offers a “local’s special.” It could be up to 20% off one of many delicious body raps; Marine Minerals, Seal Algae, a decadent Chocolate Orange Wrap, or an Anti-Aging Flaxx-C Facial. Goodbye body toxins, hello cleansing.If you think thsi doesn’t work – well, experience before judgment rings loudly in this case.

Depending on how much you allow to spend on “self,” the availability of choice and budget is completely user-friendly at Cannery Spa. And, every fifth treatment, whatever yo design, is half off, too.

The body treatment packages, massage with facial, wrap or scrub are complimented with a spa snack plate; salmon and fruits and chesses and champagne. Plan a get together, with a partner or group of friends, and you will get “the treatment.”

Plan for regular therapeutic breaks in life, Cannery Pier is there to assist.On any visit, you choose a Young Living Essential Oil to compliment an aromatherapy sensation, plus, the Spa keeps Thieves Oil permeating to protect against airborne bacteria. Summer Oja and the crew at Cannery Spa are knowledgeable in many facets of alternative therapies to help sooth and compliment with natural remedy modalities.

Spa at Cannery Pier Hotel is a healing resource in our hometown, promoting proactive healthcare. Not a luxury, a necessity. Nonetheless, a very nice necessity, accessible and an awesome place to hang out for an hour or so to get what you need and deserve. Take time and discover this natural treasure, and tis the season, gifts of experience, that come in a pretty box with complimentary chocolates – consider that!


The Tortoise and the Euro

Turtoise and EuroNear the center of Athens you can walk through large tracts of public land covered in rocks, ruins, wooded areas, and dry-land vegetation. Go in one direction and you’ll find the Hill of the Muses. It’s a cool place to take a break from news of global economic decay.

My family wandered there one afternoon during a recent trip to Europe. On the hillside facing the Parthenon we could hear the roar of 100,000 citizens outside the parliament building, protesting cuts in worker pensions, reductions in the minimum wage, increases in taxes, and other bloodletting demanded by eurozone financiers.

The other side was quieter, facing the Mediterranean. There I scanned the ground requesting some sign to mark our presence, a practice I acquired as a boy while hunting for flint arrowheads. What was the significance of our being there at a time when world news outlets were focused on Greece?

That’s when I found the baby turtle – a χελώνα, or “chelōna” in modern Greek. Smaller than my palm, the creature was so tucked into the rocks that she could have easily gone unnoticed.

Since our first day in Europe I’d been thinking of my family as turtles. Living out of our backpacks brought to mind the claim that turtles carry their homes wherever they go. Like all creatures, of course, a turtle’s home is her natural habitat. Regardless of how self-contained we feel, all of us depend on the sharing of resources and the hospitality of strangers.

Greek folks are as generous as any people I’ve met. You appreciate this when you’re traveling on a fixed budget with a family for five weeks. Hoteliers gave us discounts. Restaurateurs brought us complimentary starters or desserts. Retailers added bonuses to our purchases. People gave us information, ideas, good advice, and more than a little good humor.

I’ve heard jokes are going around about Greek generosity, linking it with laziness or inefficiency. Such tales always reflect on the tellers. I saw no evidence of those other traits while visiting Greece. The businesses were well-organized; the restrooms were clean; the trains ran on time.

It was noteworthy that our being there coincided with Greece’s Independence Day, an occasion that marks the country’s resistance to fascist occupation during World War II. Greece paid dearly in blood and resources for that decision. Fascists invaded, killed, and plundered; but it took them much longer to occupy Greece than elsewhere. In part because of Greek resistance, Hitler missed his timeline for invading Russia and thus fell prey to winter.

The world owes Greece our gratitude for that historic sacrifice, which was never fully repaid. It appears that old debt never factored into the accounting of financiers who drive current economic deals. The so-called “haircut” agreed to by European lenders hinges on radical policy changes that will transfer Greece’s public assets into the hands of private speculators (like selling off public land to real estate developers, for example).

Returning from our walk, it made some Athenians smile to hear how much an American family loved their native turtles. This was a welcome shift from the topic of global money problems, which some would have us think stem from generosity rather than greed. Pay no attention to those who’ve made killings off individuals and governments, encouraging both to borrow and consume beyond our means.

Hailed as the earth’s oldest democracy, Greece also has a primal place in the history of money. I met a shop-owner near the Acropolis who informed me that some of world’s first coins — known as “mna” — were minted in her country around the late seventh century B.C. They were stamped with the images of turtles, creatures apparently held in high esteem.

“Our ancestors made the first coins heavy,” she said. “That way, one person could only carry as much as they needed. We had real philosophers back then.”

She asked me what the first money looked like in America. I told her shell beads were used by the original inhabitants of my homeland, which some natives called “Turtle Island.” But as I understood it, they didn’t think of them in the same way Europeans thought of money.

“Shells were exchanged to memorialize a collective bond or obligation,” I said. “But the economy of the first people was based on giving rather than profit-taking. A person’s social position was judged by their ability to distribute wealth, not hoard it for themselves.”

The woman’s eyes lit up when I described an American Indian potlatch — the traditional giveaway ceremony that anchored the economy of many native people.

“We have a special word in Greece that cannot be fully translated into any other language,” she said. “It is ‘filotimo.’”

She wrote it out in Greek and English along with the words “friend of your honor,” an approximate meaning. As she handed me the slip of paper, I gave her a coin that will some day be as widely used as mna is now (the destiny of all such trinkets in human history).

“This will be for good luck,” she smiled, putting the euro aside.

The little exchange was a beautiful blend of philosophy, faith, goodwill, and wit, like many I experienced in Greece. It made me feel good about the hard-earned cash I spent there. Better than I do about most of the transactions that define the habitat of today’s global commerce.

Perhaps a word for this feeling still rocks in the cradle of western civilization. If so, “filotimo” points to an ancient wisdom that’s been ignored in pursuit of quick growth, yet is essential to civic trust and our shared obligation to steward resources.

Moneylenders who think they hold Greece in the palms of their hands might benefit from a walk to the Hill of the Muses. If they go quietly, they may encounter something there that reminds them how humans with a long-view of community behave.

Maybe one or two would even have a change of heart, look around them and see more than real estate.


Thrown Under the Bus

Thrown Under the Bus

This month’s extended column by Stephen Berk addresses the recent personnel cuts at Clatsop Community College.

I write this piece as a concerned citizen who has spent most of his life connected with higher education, now as board member at Clatsop College. In that capacity, I have gotten a close look at the conditions that have now forced severe retrenchment on our local college just after we rebuilt our campus, celebrated our fiftieth anniversary and looked forward to an expansive future. As a board member I need to say that the argument and opinion I put forth here speaks only for me and not the Clatsop Community College Board as a whole.

On Wednesday, November 2, I awoke to a phone call from a friend who teaches at the College calling my attention to an email stating that fifteen full-time instructors would be laid off and listing who they were to be. Clatsop College is a tiny school compared to the community colleges in the I-5 corridor, where most of the state’s population resides. Like all the state’s rural community colleges, it is in a relatively isolated environment marked by small population. Clatsop is in many respects a unique school, having, for example, at its MERTS campus, one of the few maritime academies in the country. We are also well known for our outstanding nursing school and high quality art department reflective of the large number of accomplished artists who have migrated to this picturesque corner of Oregon.

But Clatsop College works at constant disadvantage and has frequently had to do without or dismiss important areas of study and the faculty representing them because of two main issues. One is an odd, rather technical arrangement which goes by an Orwellian name called the “equalization formula.” During times of economic downturn, such as the current Great Recession, community college student populations have traditionally grown, because out-of-work or underemployed people tend to return to school to learn new skills that may be in greater demand. This indeed has happened at Clatsop College, whose student population has grown by more than ten per cent since the recession began. Despite this impressive growth, it does not compare to that of the more urban areas in the state such as Portland and Eugene, where colleges have seen much greater percentage increases due to their much greater populations. The “equalization” formula says you give the lion’s share of the state’s rapidly shrinking community college budget to the bigger schools that are growing at a faster pace. That wouldn’t be so bad if our appropriation at Clatsop College remained the same. But in effect the money given the urban schools is subtracted from the rural ones.

Clatsop College’s high point of full-time faculty since I taught Western Civilization there in 2006-07 has been thirty-eight. By anyone’s standards, in a college that supports a substantial variety of vocational training programs and a general education curriculum sufficient for one to earn an associate of arts suitable for transfer to a university, this is a barely adequate sized faculty. However, Clatsop has been able to thrive partly because of the very excellence of that faculty. As one who spent my career at a large university, I have grown to have deep respect for the breadth of subject matter and availability to students that our hard working community college instructors provide. They are required to be master generalists, mentors, and counselors to a much greater extent than the more specialized and research oriented university professors need to be. Yet, even with the tremendous demand on them to be on campus and available to students and to do five class preparations per ten week term, a sizable number of instructors at Clatsop College manage to fit research and writing into their crowded schedule and have published scholarly books and articles and read papers at academic conferences.

Last year, the first when we were hit with the dire effects of the recession, mostly staff and administration absorbed the cuts, with one key administrative position, the dean of learning eliminated. But we also lost a talented young instructor in social science. This year we are slated to lose fifteen instructors, forty per cent of our full-time positions. This almost indescribable hit reduces social science to one full-time instructor, a psychologist. We will lose, among others, an accomplished historian, a creative young chemist, the only automotive instructor, a renowned ceramicist, our full-time business instructors, a popular, gifted Spanish instructor and our sole criminal justice instructor. Last year our head librarian was laid off, and this year we will now subtract the remaining professional librarian. The only way we will continue to have a librarian associated with the College is if we make the highly unusual move of merging with the Astoria City Library.

Why has this extreme situation been forced upon us just as we were starting to fill out much needed positions and after we had rebuilt our campus so that students had become proud to say they came here? The problem does not come, as some in the community think, from campus mismanagement, or from spending too much on our physical renovations. Our books are open to the public and have been regularly audited by impartial accounting firms. We also passed a rigorous accreditation procedure conducted last year by distinguished representatives of the Northwest Regional Accreditation Association. The rebuilding of our campus to meet seismic standards, to make it accessible for people with disabilities, and to replace antiquated facilities with modern ones was demanded of the College in the previous accreditation report.

PrisonThe second reason why we have just been decimated lies in larger political priorities in Salem, as in other state capitals, and in Washington. For the past thirty years, our statewide and national politics have been dominated by an anti-tax fervor. Along with this trend we have seen a mania for incarceration, characterized by “mandatory minimums” often passed in voters’ initiatives. The result has been augmented state expenditures on imprisonment and shrinking ones for education. Reflexive imprisonment throughout the country mostly for nonviolent drug related crimes largely among society’s lower orders has now led to over two and a half million Americans being imprisoned. This is a higher percentage than in any other country in the world, including authoritarian China and brutal dictatorships like the one in Myanmar (Burma). These two overriding policies, cutting taxes and locking up offenders, have worked together to vastly decrease opportunity for a majority of Americans and to turn us into a society domestically devoted to punishment and diminishment of opportunity.

If we simply consider costs, without even thinking about the quality of life we seek to create, our state and national policies are cockeyed. It costs anywhere between thirty and fifty thousand public dollars to incarcerate a person for a year, while it generally costs between two and five thousand to educate one. Even if you spend thousands more per student, as some localities do, with very beneficial effects, supporting public schooling pays off by producing an educated, resourceful public, who can adapt better to rapidly changing needs in a smaller world beset with ever larger problems such as climate change, pollution, overpopulation, mass poverty and disease. And there are much cheaper, more effective ways of dealing with offenders than costly imprisonment. We can spend public money on rehabilitative programs for drug offenders, and we can require varieties of community service – building, planting, and restoring infrastructure – whereby offenders can learn useful occupational and people relating skills. Organizations like the Western Prison Project have been researching, writing and agitating on this issue for many years. Supervised outside programs for offenders, carefully monitored by highly sophisticated tracking technology, are a lot cheaper and more constructive than creating gang ridden prisons mostly composed of people from poorer backgrounds, many of them African American and Latino. Rich criminals, like the bankers who bought the politicians who deregulated banking and legalized the theft and usury that characterized the subprime lending debacle, don’t do time for their crimes, because they paid to make what they do legal. Yet, they did a great deal more damage than the street criminal who gets twenty-five to life.

The anti-tax fervor that has accompanied massive spending on incarceration has squeezed all public education, from grade school through universities. This is part of a long time conservative movement to shrink taxes with particular attention to the ones that are used to help the lesser privileged gain greater equality of opportunity. The movement to privatize education and compel people to pay dearly for services governments have previously provided free or at very low cost for the public at large has been sponsored by billionaire funded propaganda mills with euphemistic names like Americans for Tax Justice, Americans for Prosperity, and the Club for Growth. In their fixation with punishment, and with national power projection in relentless militarism, these wealthy conservatives have gradually closed off opportunity to the masses by drying up support for education, the basis of social enlightenment.

In Oregon, a powerful anti-tax lobby now keeps emergency funding from being proposed for higher education. We have a lopsided tax structure in this state that relies on county property taxes and timber revenue to finance public education. In 2000, the “kicker,” which rebates surplus revenues above budget to voters, became part of the Oregon Constitution. Governors Kitzhaber and Kulongoski have tried to no avail to get the kicker transformed into an emergency fund to be used in recessions. But conservatives would have none of it. Instead, we now get the state holding back three and a half per cent of this year’s operative budget to apply to next year’s expected shortfall. This is what put Clatsop College from minimal to maximal layoff mode. The state now assists our community colleges at the level of sixteen per cent, down from thirty-three. Resistance to tapping new sources of revenue prevents consideration of measures such as a temporary limited sales tax, renewable yearly, and earmarked for the public education institutions most affected by the recession. The lack of any sales tax has long deprived Oregon from reaping tax benefits from its burgeoning tourist industry.

I believe Clatsop College will eventually find the means to recover. In the mean time we have some well seasoned professionals who can stand in the gap as part timers. But this bloodletting did not need to happen. The larger truth is that a generation which refuses to invest in its young, instead burdening them with debt, low wage jobs, and irreparable war injury is a generation that has lost its vision. And as the biblical proverb states, “Without a vision the people perish.”