• Yellow Brick Roads… A Smart Economy Is an Art Economy
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    03_Corbin_SHOWROOMTo say that art is a major force in human culture is an understatement of no small significance. Its greater historical role has been one of both driving cultural development, and being driven by it. Able to record the full measure of thoughts, feelings, and ideas of a contemporary population, art helps us deal with who we are, were, and will be. Yet despite this glowing resume, it’s also an abused and misunderstood institution. In the 21st century, much of human culture treats art education as useless, a lost cause in a world where the value of a degree is elevated only by its financial thoroughfare. This juxtaposition often paints art as the ultimate impractical indulgence, though reality has another story to tell—one of a grueling, yet rewarding practice that struggles to enter the local and regional economies that benefit from it.

    (photo from a recent Madelaine Corbin performance in the Footwise Window)

    Look, and Leap
    To work our way toward understanding art’s role in the local economy, we must first look at what goes into that role’s very existence. A perfect example of the lowest rung of artist in terms of financial success, I’m a senior Bachelors of Fine Arts student at OSU with plans to get my MFA immediately after and go into teaching. While I’ve had more success than most in my position, I still pay about 10 times more a year into art than I make—and the only reason that isn’t worse is because I’ve had free spaces to work (a downtown studio space in Corvallis averages about $400 a month). After school I can look forward to trying to outmaneuver 100 to 300-plus other applicants that will be out for the same teaching jobs. My first 10 years will be likely spent scrounging for part-time community college work. It’s rough, but it was never a secret.

    Showing professionally is perhaps even more of an uphill battle than teaching. Even on the low end, for people that are showing in spots like coffee shops and restaurants, the pricing required for work to be viable as a form of income has pretty much eliminated anyone below the upper-middle class income bracket from the potential buyers pool. This makes it incredibly hard to sell in your own market. In fact, most artists I know couldn’t afford their own work. It’s either that or you charge less and run the risk of permanently undervaluing your work, making it harder to sell in the future. Ironically, that’s more likely to happen if you actually do well early on.

    This of course hits galleries just as hard, considering a number of them are dependent on the standard 50% commission that comes along with sales. This leads to being highly selective about who gets an exhibit, in turn making it harder for people on the way up to get a show in the first place.

    If an artist is part of the Artist 1% (though it’s more like less than 0.001%), they might also attain what’s known as gallery representation—an exclusive relationship between gallery and artist that not only comes with a sizable chunk of prestige, but a working relationship that truly does work for both parties.

    “They represent me, but I represent them as well,” said OSU Professor of Fine Arts Julie Green, who has such a relationship with Portland’s Upfor gallery. “[It] makes me try harder in the studio. It encourages me to apply for opportunities, grants, and residencies. And perhaps this all makes me a better artist.”

    Green spoke of the positive relationship she has had with Upfor, noting an increased visibility for her work. Another convenience is that commercial galleries of this kind often store libraries of their represented artist’s work, which can be made readily available for potential buyers, or as was the case with Green recently, the board of an artist fellowship she was just awarded who needed to pick out work for a recipient’s group exhibit.

    A reciprocal relationship, representation, thought of as one of the art “holy grails,” is still no guarantee of success or financial stability.

    The Business of Art
    Artists come in all shapes and sizes, but so do galleries and other art businesses. Ignoring the national and global art worlds, in any given American city or town you’re bound to see non-profits, commercial galleries, studio/shops, group exhibitions spaces, and more—all working to facilitate different ends of the art trade.

    During my research I was able to interview both Cynthia Spencer, director of the Arts Center in Corvallis (a nonprofit), and Theo Downes-Le Guin, director of Portland’s relatively new commercial gallery, Upfor, about some of the pitfalls inherent in running an art-based business.

    Like all businesses, they have to deal with rent, utilities, maintenance, advertising, and personnel. Unlike most others, however, their customer base is extremely niche almost by default, no matter what part of the art community they are facilitating. A literal labor of love, Le Guin said that “very few people choose to make art, or write about, sell, or curate it unless they take what they are doing extremely seriously and are emotionally committed.”

    Upfor, a commercial gallery with a stable of represented artists, has its own unique issues. Le Guin said that his major challenges involve “building awareness and winning the loyalty of artists, collectors, and institutions. [It] takes a sustained investment. Even if you do everything right, and I’m sure I haven’t, sometimes you just can’t define your community fast enough.” Beyond that, Upfor must also contend with other challenges associated with Portland’s particular market, where “the collecting base is very small and tends to favor regional buying or blue-chip purchases made in major markets.”

    On the nonprofit side of the fence, the Arts Center’s major obstacles involve “sustainable funding with a shrinking amount of allocated funding. Greater competition for people’s time. Fewer people receiving arts/music education in school, so much of our outreach is spent ‘preaching’ the gospel of the benefits of the arts,” according to Spencer.

    “Our biggest challenge is juggling fundraising, coordination of many programs, and providing adequate marketing and community outreach for it all. I was lucky to inherit an experienced, dedicated staff who work as hard as they can, but it always seem like there is more we should be doing—just don’t have the funding to give them the time to creatively do more,” stated Spencer, who believes that the best work the Arts Center does involves collaboration with others. “Public schools and teachers, several departments at Oregon State University, the Corvallis Arts Walk team, Samaritan Health Services, and many others. These allow us to bring arts experiences to many more people in the community than just at our downtown galleries.”

    And speaking of the Corvallis Arts Walk (CAW), they are not a business. Just art business owners, artists, curators, and others who have created a coalition of mutual support on their own time. No business owner in Corvallis has an excuse for not knowing about the CAW, considering that their efforts bring a metric ton of people downtown every month.

    Non-Art Business? No Such Thing
    Corvallis isn’t an art mecca (or even close), but it has a very vibrant scene. From dozens of skilled, prolific locals to visiting artists of regional notoriety who show at venues like the Arts Center and OSU’s Fairbanks Hall, to student and teacher artists at OSU, there’s a lot going on here per capita. While you’d be hard-pressed to find a business on this planet that doesn’t use art in some way, at least two local Corvallis outfits have not only fully embraced, but supported the local arts community: American Dream Pizza, and the shoe store Footwise.

    An uncommon fact is that the owners of Footwise once made a living as glass artists from 1976 until 1990, giving them a leg up in understanding art’s role in the community.

    “Footwise’s primary presence in the art community these days is the window space we donate,” said co-owner Dee Mooney. “There are month-long art displays in [the] 24-foot-long window on 3rd Street.  On Madison Avenue we often have arts-focused organizations showcase their work or event.”

    Known both inside and outside of the arts scene, the Footwise windows are highly recognizable downtown landmarks.

    “[They] have become a destination, bringing customers and window shoppers to the store, as well as enhancing our reputation. It’s gratifying for us, Footwise owners and employees, to be giving this space to the Corvallis arts community,” Mooney added.

    Mooney also pointed out that public artwork helps create an identity for a town. If one were to strip Corvallis’ city center of its public art, it might be hard to recognize from any number of other Pacific Northwest downtowns.

    Around the bend, American Dream has made it clear that art was hard-coded into their doctrine back when they were founded in 1989. There is wall-to-wall artwork of one kind or another at their locations, most notably the paper plates patrons decorate and hang. Their shirts state plainly: “Music Art Beer Pizza,” and they’ve been relentlessly friendly to the art community.

    Earlier this year they hosted a successful “Eat and Draw” by Oregon State University’s Art Club, Montage, of which I can guarantee there will be more. Last month they celebrated the Monroe location’s 25th birthday with an in-restaurant concert featuring local favorites Linden Wood, Summer Soundtrack, and Ludicrous Speed.

    Many more businesses around Corvallis have embraced art, and as a result, the artists have embraced them. I first started working with The Corvallis Advocate due to their willingness to give word space to art-related content, over the last five years having run countless artist profiles and art-related articles. Other local places that graciously support either visual art, music, or both include Imagine Coffee, New Morning Bakery, Sunnyside Up, Cloud & Kelly’s… the list goes on and on.

    Mutually Assured Success
    If you are involved in business or city government, you have likely heard the terms “creative economy,” “creative class,” or “cultural economy.” That’s because these terms will be defining the future of our cities and towns. Something we’ve all known for a long time is that a vibrant downtown attracts people, and people bring money—but it goes much further than that.

    In 2011 the American Planning Association (APA) released a series of briefs that not only broke down the important relationship between culture and business, but made it abundantly clear that the smart economic developers, municipal leaders, urban planners, etc. were making it the highest priority.

    Their key points concentrate on looking at the issue during a planning phase, but they also apply to the nature of art’s relationship with business as a whole, speaking of a multiplier effect that can enhance economic development by sandwiching “firms, artists, and cultural facilities together.” Additionally, the brief explains that a community in general can spur development just by taking stock of its cultural assets and properly marketing them.

    Their data points not only to an increase in potential sales, but recognizes that an economy that helps keep artists and art businesses afloat will attract a stronger, more diverse workforce, which leads to an increased quality of life for everyone.

    Even if after all this you’re still one to scoff at art and its impracticality, smart money says that the gravy train is covered in paint, a poet at the helm, hip-hop, indie, noise, and jazz coming from every window, and perhaps a performance artist on the roof, dressed as a canary, doing something inexplicable.

    Working closely with artists not only bolsters an individual business, but the entire town economy. This is a fact. And it just might make a difference for those of us working to create the opportunity itself.

    To view the APA planning briefs, please visit the following website for their report on vitality: www.planning.org/research/arts/briefingpapers/vitality.htm. The Corvallis Arts Walk can be found all over town each third Thursday, or at http://www.corvallisartswalk.com./ For an eyeful of Madelaine Corbin’s brilliant and varied artwork, visit http://www.madelainecorbin.com/.

    By Johnny Beaver

    Note: Today it has come to my attention that community staple and long time art scene friend Sunnyside Up has lost their lease. They will be missed by Corvallis, and definitely so by the many artists that were able to exhibit on their walls. Thank you personally for my two showings over the last couple of years. So sorry to see you go!

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  • Corvallis’ Dumb Luck Offers Something of Substance
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    CrowdShotThere’s a delicate balance between confident defiance and heart-on-your-sleeve vulnerability that gives punk music its real appeal—Corvallis’ Dumb Luck straddles that line with ease. The six songs on the band’s debut EP Tides (2015) are fast, loud, and short, with the longest song, in true punk form, clocking in at 3 minutes and 16 seconds. Justin Groft (guitar) and Caitlin Garets (bass) trade off on lead vocals, and most songs feature at least one group sing-along. Buzz-saw guitars spit out relentless eighth notes over Wes Walker’s pounding drum beats. You expect broken strings, sweat, and blood.

    Plenty of pop-punk bands exist primarily to be loud and exciting, writing lyrics as an afterthought. Not so here. The lyrics are where Dumb Luck especially shines, successfully avoiding pop cliches while they grapple with the existential angst of adulthood. The title track questions the stability of our lives, asking, “Are we playing at survival?” and concluding that the “Final message is you’re on your own. / No one will catch us when we fall.”

    The track Four Corners confronts the confines of religion: “Brush up on your history. / It’s a new disease… There will be no progress, no leap forwards, until your empire burns down.” Heavy stuff.

    Dumb Luck’s band members are currently mixing their as yet untitled follow-up EP, which they expect to release in early fall. They will be performing with The Carys and South Korean band …Whatever That Means at Interzone Cafe on Tuesday, July 26. Want to get an upfront listen? Head on over to https://dumb-luck.bandcamp.com./

    By Daniel Watkins

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  • Beverly Cleary’s Portland
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    ramona-quimbyIf you grew up in Oregon, you probably read Beverly Cleary’s books. Then again, if you grew up in an English-speaking household, you probably read Cleary’s books. But if you read those books and found your eyebrows rising at mentions of The Oregonian or Swan Island, you had a special relationship with them, because you knew that Beezus and Ramona and Henry were Oregon kids, just like you.

    In Walking with Ramona, a book that explores Cleary’s Portland, author Laura O. Foster describes a walking tour through Portland which allows you to see the places where Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins had their adventures. It’s based on an actual Cleary-inspired tour Foster used to lead, but the book contains more information, along with photographs of the locations as they were during the mid-century time period that most of Cleary’s books were set in.

    Besides locations of events in the stories, Foster also points out locations with real-world significance to Cleary’s life—the houses she lived in, the libraries she read in, and monuments in her honor, such as the Beverly apartment building at 43rd and Sandy, as well as the Beverly Cleary School at 33rd and Hancock, which Cleary herself attended as a child.

    Besides the walking tour (which can be supplemented by driving or bus riding if your legs aren’t up for the entire course), Foster describes locations beyond Portland of significance to Cleary, including the Yamhill Farm where she spent her earliest years and the Saint John’s Landfill (now a park) to which Henry Huggins once rode in a clawfoot bathtub.

    Foster begins her tour “at Northwest 33rd Avenue and Brazee Street, on the west edge of Grant Park.” Hundreds of stops later, it returns to Grant Park, where you’ll see a sculpture garden where Cleary is honored in bronze.  Not with a statue of herself, but with something better: statues of Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, and Henry’s dog Ribsy.

    By John M. Burt

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  • Self-Service Gasoline Critique
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    gas attendantImagine weather so frightful, every drop of rain was determined to bring you down to the cold, hard asphalt. A world where crying babies sit idly in cars, crummy palms to windows, waiting for mommies and daddies to return from running errands. Cashiers so concerned with criminals—probably young criminals who couldn’t get jobs—they don’t even notice their coworkers flipping off crippled old people signaling for help. Imagine explosions, the air sullied with toxic fumes…

    This is a (slightly exaggerated) picture of what life would look like if Oregonians had permission to pump their own gas, extracted from the verbiage used by our very own legislature. Except for rural Oregonians, between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

    To spare our running-on-empty rural drivers from finding an abandoned pump in the wee hours, the State Fire Marshal declared this 12-hour-a-day exception in areas with populations of less than 40,000. Surprisingly, not too many rural attendants found graveyard gas pumping appetizing. Why? I don’t know. Who doesn’t love pulling all-nighters of breathing gasoline and repetitive motions?

    Where It All Started
    Since pairing up with New Jersey—or the Dirty Jerz as we Eastern-conceived call it—in 1951 and enacting a self-service ban at retail gasoline stations, Oregon’s Legislative Assembly issued 17 declarations that framed the task of pumping gas as seriously risky business, alongside arguing that legally requiring service attendants is a major job-generator. The declarations go so far as to fault Oregon’s “uniquely adverse weather,” which wreaks havoc via super slipperiness and reduced visibility for customers and cashiers in the face of everyday gas station mischief… Gosh, all that gas station mischief, you know?

    On all of my out-of-state stops to top off the tank, I never once felt so imperiled. The lengths of such legislative scare tactics are a baffling kind of comical, given that all other 48 states generally manage safe self-service environments, even through a hard rain. If the threats posed by our Legislative Assembly retained any merit, couldn’t we expect some statewide enforcement of precautionary measures?

    Basic Training, Emphasis on the Basic
    For Chazz Loftis, local ARCO station attendant at NW 3rd Street, training came in the form of a small handbook to quickly flip through before reporting to the pump. I’m not pointing any fingers at his superiors for brevity of procedure, because like Loftis, I understand how pumping gas is for the most part pretty simple.

    Trainings are only slightly more extensive—between one and two hours—for employees under Mitch Dong, owner of the Shell convenience store on SW 4th Street. Dong’s biggest concern is teaching attendants to make sure customer payments clear before leaving their pumps.

    Fire, Fumes, and ‘Full’ Service
    As far as I can tell, fire hazards are no focal point during training, as you’d expect after reading our Legislature’s declarations. Probably because ways of preventing flames are common knowledge—engines off and butts out. Our local attendants aren’t ordained firefighters, nor mechanics.

    It seems “full-service,” which ensures customers added options like window squeegees and oil checks, isn’t a blanket rule for Oregon stations. Neither the Shell or ARCO I’ve contacted are required to perform maintenance checks, a facet backed by the assembly as it claims self-service results in  “neglect of maintenance, endangering both the customer and other motorists and resulting in  unnecessary and costly repairs.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been offered an oil check, nor been saved from any imminent vehicular catastrophe at the pump.

    During our 11 billion annual fill-ups, only around 5,000 station fires are responded to, most of which are vehicle fires, sourced at cracked, leaking O-rings gone undetected—if not prevented by the “full-service” you’re not guaranteed. The odds of encountering a pump fire are slim, most obviously alongside the likelihood of being struck by lightning. On average, two gas pump-related deaths and 48 injuries occur annually, while lightning strikes kill 51 victims and leave around 297 injured per year, making death by lightning about 25 times more likely.

    I don’t disregard the intrinsic toxicity of gasoline. Drunk or ignited, gasoline can be lethal, but it poses little threat when handled at retail gasoline stations, traveling, as Dong says, straight from pump to tank. The average consumer is exposed mainly to toxic fumes, which, according to our heroic Assembly, “represents a health hazard to customers” so should be “limited to as few individuals as possible.”

    The inequity bared by this logic is reprehensible, as it indicates the dire consequences of breathing in gasoline fumes and then proposes we concentrate exposure to a certain job type, for the sake of the majority’s safety and convenience.

    If the law’s going to lay it all down on our attendants, why aren’t they given medical check-ups? Why aren’t they all wearing gas masks? For the same reason most of us don’t slip on the hazmat suit for a stroll down the street or when fetching the car from the shop. Everyday exposure to the general public renders little concern, yet it’s worth considering what happens when exposure becomes unleveled.

    Save the Young and Vulnerable!
    The declarations rally for the health and convenience of our most young or vulnerable populations: “persons with disabilities, elderly persons, small children and those susceptible to respiratory diseases.” Calling on the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires equal access to all consumers, the Assembly finds self-service retailers guilty of neglect in failing to provide aid to the less able-bodied. I don’t know, nor have I ever heard of, any self-service station that would purposefully ignore a customer, disabled or not. In these cases, we can clearly fault poor procedure, work ethic, or straight-up ignorance.

    Taking it straight to utero, the Assembly declares exposure is especially hazardous for pregnant customers. I wondered, then, what protocol was for pregnant attendants. Neither Dong or Loftis seemed to know of any clear directives given said circumstance, however Dong assumed a pregnant employee wouldn’t need to leave the job, unless doctor-ordered.

    The legislature’s declared finale, of course, calls on small children, whom if  “left unattended when customers leave to make payments… creates a dangerous situation.” There’s your grand-slam no-sh*t moment. Who leaves small children in cars these days? Just take them with you.

    The Job Debate
    Loftis admits that constantly breathing in gasoline is probably taking some kind of toll on his overall health, but he’s not too concerned. The gasoline service industry is probably more of a placeholder than a permanent position for most. Dong marks his employee stay-rate between a couple weeks to 10 years, the record held by his veteran assistants, who likely take pleasure in the ease of the trade.

    The monotonous simplicity of such a job can be a fast track to taxing boredom. And having to encounter all permutations of humanity can only add to agitation, as many attendants are subject to stigma and maltreatment. Loftis is well-treated “half of the time,” and who knows how attendants fare beyond the bounds of our happy little borough.

    The argument that the ban creates jobs—around 98,000 jobs to be exact—while providing “sustained reduction in fuel prices” is strongest in sway, yet not so sturdy. Prices depend on multiple variables such as state taxes and regulations, and distance to pipelines and refineries. Basic economy suggests the added cost of labor forces gas prices up. Some economists estimate Oregonians spend an extra three to five cents per gallon.

    As gasoline is a generic and visibly priced product, economists say the disproportionate mix of (most) single-service and (some) full-service stations—a.k.a. those that offer oil checks and maintenance—in Oregon influences competition to stay in the higher range, as single-servers are able to circulate costs on par with full-service competitors. Any excess profit expected to be gained by owners if attendants were eliminated would likely be lost to competition, kept in the pocket of the consumer.

    Leftover funds from eliminated attendants might be utilized for better jobs and better technology, which snuffs the declaration claiming, “appropriate safety standards often are unenforceable at retail self-service stations in other states because cashiers are often unable to maintain a clear view of and give undivided attention [to customers].” Here we see how outdated the mandate really is. High-tech 24-hour surveillance sounds much better than forcing graveyard gas shifts on employees.

    Away with Arbitrary Law
    I think it’s safe to say the legislature dug its own grave with all they’ve declared, gunning for the “young people” they claim self-service leaves stranded and unemployed. Oregon was last reported with the 12th highest unemployment rate in the US, plus these are the same young people they subject to the majority of exposure, a contradiction leveling the injustices they declare self-service stations impose on vulnerable populations. The only “public welfare” promoted, or form of protection the prohibition provides, is from our own stupidity, which probably varies just as much as the person pumping for you.

    I know Oregonians are extremely attached to their cushy driver-side seats, warm and out of rain’s reach, but all we’re doing is planting bodies in unnecessary middle ground and fostering fear and incompetence. As of now, any pursuit in learning to pump will land Oregonians a $500 fine. I say, the restriction is plain arbitrary, given the simple biomechanics required—or if pumping gas really is so hazardous, the people doing it deserve a far fairer package.

    By Stevie Beisswanger

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  • Oregon Originals: Our State’s Most Noteworthy Staples
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    Oregon-CoastMultnomah Falls At 620 feet tall, Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon. This popular and beautiful waterfall, located in the equally beautiful Columbia River Gorge, is visited by close to 2 million people each year.

    Oregon Coast – With 363 miles of shoreline, most of which allows public access, the Oregon Coast is often referred to as “The People’s Coast.” That’s right. You can park the car somewhere near the shoreline, littered with state parks, and enjoy a day at the beach for little to no money. Those views of the mighty Pacific sure are purdy.

    Nudity – With the World Naked Bike Ride and plenty of strip clubs in Portland, plus nude-friendly hot springs located across the state, it seems like Oregonians will use just about any excuse as an opportunity to bust out the birthday suit.

    Crater Lake – This gorgeous blue body of water is 1,943 feet deep. That makes Crater Lake the deepest lake in the United States.

    Hells Canyon – According to Travel Oregon, Hells Canyon is the deepest river-carved gorge in North America, reaching 7,913 feet. That’s deeper than the Grand Canyon. Woah.

    Ancient Forests – From the 1,000-year-old cedar groves in the Opal Creek Wilderness to the old-growth forest made up of towering Sitka spruces, Oregon has wood aplenty. Our state’s beautiful forest lands are luckily being protected these days much more than in the past.

    Craft Beer – There are almost 200 brewing companies in Oregon, according to oregoncraftbeer.org. More than 40 of those beer-producing companies are located in the Willamette Valley (score!). It’s no lie that the proud inhabitants of the Beaver State enjoy funky, hoppy, malty libations.

    Rain… with a Side of Rain – This year has been pretty soggy so far, but most of us don’t mind. We have our rain slickers and umbrellas with us at all times. Or we don’t mind getting caught in the rain. Most recently, a rainfall record of 25.27 inches for December through February was set at the Portland International Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

    Beavers – We can’t make a list of all things Oregon without including this toothy rodent. There are beavers aplenty at OSU and throughout Corvallis. The majestic beaver is even prominently featured on one side of the state flag.

    Volcanoes – Mount Hood, Lave Butte, Three Fingered Jack—these are just a few of the many volcanoes in Oregon. We love lava just as much as we love beavers and rain. Bonus factoid: Portland is the only major city in the U.S. to have a dormant volcano; Mt. Tabor even has a city park area.

    By Abbie Tumbleson

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  • Oregon Graduation Rates Low, But on the Rise
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    capsAcross the nation high school and college graduation rates are on the rise, with gaps in minority education steadily improving. However, is the U.S. on track to meet its goal of a graduation rate of 90% by 2020? Oregon is proudly doing its part, ranking fourth in the country… fourth from the bottom, that is. But hey, it certainly is the 47th best place to graduate high school on time.

    Since 2010, Gradnation.org has compiled U.S. on-time high school graduation rates from “hundreds of trusted national partners” in an effort to monitor progress and help the country with its learnin’. According to Gradnation, at the 2013 school year’s end, the Overall Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate for Oregon was 68.7%, the lowest in the country.

    Oregon managed to increase graduation rates to 72% by the end of 2014, surpassing Alaska, Nevada, and New Mexico—however, falling 0.5% short of Georgia. Gaps in minority education in Oregon have also improved between 2011 and 2014 with a 6.2% and 7% increase in black and Hispanic graduates respectively. Some of the overall increase is due to Oregon recently including modified diplomas in their graduation rate calculations. A modified diploma is awarded to students who cannot, for medical or disability reasons, meet regular academic standards.

    The good news is that Corvallis is on top of its game. Corvallis High School had a 90% on-time graduation rate and Crescent Valley an 83% rate in 2015. South and West Albany high schools also scored high with rates of 86% and 98% respectively.

    During the annual “State of the University” speech, OSU President Ed Ray declared he would raise the six-year graduation rate at OSU to 70% by 2020. This may be a bit ambitious, considering the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that only 55.5% of first-year students in 2013 succeeded in graduating within six years. In fact, for the 2013 incoming students, only 30.3% of the 10,107 counted students graduated within the standard four years. However, OSU does have the second highest graduation rate among Oregon public postsecondary institutions.

    From economic opportunities to differences in educational systems between states, a plethora of factors influence graduation rates across the country. Graduation rates are on the rise, but according to the latest Gradnation report, we are falling just short of the goal of 90% by 2020. Oregon has indeed risen from the bottom, but that should only motivate us to keep up the momentum.

    By Anthony Vitale

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  • LGBTQ Oregon: Current Status and History of Struggle
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    gay_kissing_pdaOregon has come a long way in the last couple of decades, now supporting an efflorescent LGBTQ community. One Gallup poll from March last year reported Portland as having the second largest LGBT population in the country, with 5.4% of citizens identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Overall, 4.9% of Oregon’s adult population identifies as LGBTQ and 16% of same-sex couples are raising children, as reported by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP).

    Oregon is one of 14 states MAP found to have a high overall policy tally, marking an abundance of laws and policies protecting LGBTQ equal rights. Generally, our state’s gender and sexuality policies are fit and fair; however, a grim history of oppression is cast over a past century of LGBTQ Oregonians fighting for rights.

    Discriminatory laws in Oregon held steady since 1853, when Oregon enacted a zero tolerance policy over acts of sodomy. By 1913, “offenders” faced up to 15 years in prison and a sterilization law condemned “sexual perverts” and “moral degenerates.” This sparked our nation’s first gay rights referendum, with Oregon voters repealing the law by a 56% to 44% margin. However, sterilization reached a broader criminology in 1932, when the law was amended to withhold any definition of said “perverts” and reproductive potential was eliminated as grounds for exemption. Around the same time, Portland police officers were issuing psychological tests assessing arrestees’ degrees of masculinity or femininity.

    It wasn’t until around 1950 that the scientific community and social culture began embracing and empathizing with the LGBTQ community. Portland police officer Earl Biggs and the famed Dr. Alfred Kinsey joined forces after Biggs published Sex, Science and Sin: A Study of Normal and Abnormal Sex Activity of Our Time in Relation to Science, the Law, and Religion, in which Biggs called for decriminalization of consensual homosexual involvement.

    Rallies for gay rights finally reached the city streets in the ‘70s during Portland’s first outdoor pride celebration in 1975. Resistance persisted, however, as seen by one murderous hate crime reaching Salem streets and the extremist Oregon Citizens Alliance funding a constitutional ballot measure aimed at criminalizing LGBT Oregonians, both 20 years ago. One huge victory, albeit long overdue, occurred last summer, when same-sex marriage was finally legalized.

    Presently, our local community is packed with LGBTQ-friendly resources and support networks, including the Linn-Benton Gender & Sexuality Alliance, the social group Out-N-About for LGBTQ identifying and questioning youth, the ongoing Rainbow in the Clouds celebration every first Friday at Cloud & Kelly’s, and PRIDE Corvallis, just to name a handful.

    For a full list of LGBTQ-friendly organizations, visit https://lgbtqcorvallis.wordpress.com/resources-services/.

    By Stevie Beisswanger

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  • Boys and Girls Club Plans for a Teen Center
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    2015-12-07 BNG Corvalis_aerialThe Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis (BGCC) is about $1.1 million off a $6.5 million mark that will enable construction of the anticipated Center for Youth Excellence. The ongoing project is a collaborative effort between the BGCC, the Benton County Health Department, and local mental and behavioral healthcare provider Trillium Family Services. Further support comes from community and school district members, and all involved are tackling “big, hairy, audacious” goals, as detailed by Helen Higgins, CEO of the BGCC.

    Construction of the Center for Youth Excellence is slated to begin in the spring of 2017, followed by a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony in the spring of 2018. The intention of the center is to help end generational poverty in Benton County through increased self-sufficiency, academic support, and mental health access to youth members. Beyond Corvallis, the center is envisioned to service all within county lines, but will not extend to Linn and other neighboring counties outside target range.

    “We’re looking at how do we get as many teens across the county to get involved with employment services… because at the end of the day it breaks the cycle of poverty,” said Higgins.

    Of the club’s 2,400 youth members, a substantial number suffer from generational poverty. In Corvallis, 30% of people live below the poverty level, compared with 22% in all of Benton County. In the neighborhoods that surround the BGCC, 72% live at or below the federal poverty level.

    Currently, 65% of BGCC members are students of color or speak English as a second language. Fifty-two percent belong to single-parent households. These subcategories of youth are directly affiliated with low high school graduation rates, which we know to be a critical issue in Oregon. The club’s already making waves with its 100% graduation rate among its continued members.

    Standing as Benton County’s only public after-school youth service provider, the Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis offers affordable access with a membership fee of $25 per year. And better yet, the new center will provide what Higgins understands her teens need most: time.

    “We do a lot to sort of augment and provide more time to these kids,” said Higgins, noting the trend toward increased test-taking and accelerated academia in public schooling. Through curve pathways and taught self-sufficiency, plus mental health resources, the club will foster life readiness alongside emotional intelligence and well-being.

    Student members will get a kick-start on building resumes and learning basic work skills through employment opportunities at the center’s anticipated student-run cafe. The center is expected to have two stories. On the bottom floor will be the cafe, along with a handful of classrooms, a club room, small-scale food club, gatekeeper area, and gymnasium that will connect to the club’s current one.

    The second story will be a Student Health Center, filled with medical and dental professionals selected by  Trillium Family Services and the Benton County Health Department. Trillium is a Capital Partner to the entire project, and will be fundraising for their top floor, giving them complete authority over the space and programming.

    Higgins encourages movement between the two floors and units, but hopes the center will draw a larger high school crowd, who she suspects might shy away from current membership due to elementary connotations to the name “Boys & Girls Club.”

    “What we really wanted to do was create some individual identity, but maintain connection,” she explained.

    The long version of the center’s name will be the Dr. Ken Johnson Center of Youth Excellence, after Dr. Johnson himself, for contributing a sizable $1.25 million in funds for the center. Other large contributors thus far include the Starker family, donating $1 million, and the Duerksen family, pitching in $300,000. Higgins hopes the nickname “The Johnson Center” will gain traction and better suit the older age group.

    Already a major contributor to the BGCC’s success, Dr. Johnson was the visionary behind the club’s current Johnson Dental Clinic, installed eight years ago. Similar to the clinic, Higgins expects increased access to health services for children and families through the Student Health Center. The center should alleviate long waiting periods and the stigma associated with going to see mental health specialists, given open access and integration.

    “We don’t let the membership be a barrier to participation,” said Higgins. The club is known to target Medicaid members or families under OHP (Oregon Health Plan) but also offers scholarships to non-members—for example, those BGCC’s noticed showing up for services at the clinic without membership.

    “We want to embed mental health experts in our environment,” said Higgins. By integrating these services in the everyday function and student routine, teens are expected to gain confidence and comfort. The effect should be similar to the club’s integration of Old Mill employees among their undergraduate-level employees.

    Trained in detection and prevention, basic and crisis intervention skills, and therapeutic alliance, the integrated Old Mill staff have hugely contributed to the BGCC’s success, including an 80% drop in incident write-ups and a dramatic decrease in terminated membership—plus families are factored into the process so no that one is left in the dark.

    Trillium will similarly integrate mental health experts and skills trainers, while maintaining distinction. “We are not the farm home,” Higgins explained; rather the BGCC will work with Trillium and the Benton County Health Department in partnership and shared learning.

    Higgins stressed that the BGCC works alongside the school district as well. “They help us identify youth who will benefit from these services,” she said. Beyond that, Higgins has seen widespread community involvement.

    “We know we can’t do any of this ourselves,” she admitted, yet Higgins expects “really positive outcomes, because we have this team of people, bold in vision.”

    Higgins considers beating generational poverty a realistic goal—one which takes commitment, persistence, and considerable investment, but bears a capacity to change the lives of youth who systematically fall through the cracks. Being that the BGCC is a small-scale agency, Higgins takes pride in their ability to “do a lot of launch and learn,” evolving and expanding as need be to produce the best outcomes.

    The Center for Youth Excellence will provide a safety zone for kids to have access to integrated healthcare and education from both private and public sectors. In “trying to build many advocates for kids who don’t really have a loud voice in our community,” the Boys & Girls Club will balance inward and outward focus, while providing accessible guidance.

    “These kids have to put the work in. We bump them along, and provide resources, [but] at the end of the day, these kids have to believe and have to want to make these changes,” said Higgins.

    To help the Boys & Girls Club reach its financial goal, call Helen Higgins at 541-757-1909, ext. 201 or email her at hhiggins@bgccorvallis.org

    By Stevie Beisswanger

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  • Corvallisites Exhibit at Portland 2016, Featuring Matt Conklin
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    DSC_3321Biennial art festivals have conquered the globe over the last few decades, taking a seat at the head of the world art table. It’s essentially where everyone wants to be, from established artists to unknowns, to art lovers in general. Portland, being the city that it is, has its own biennial festival, which is traditionally filled to the brim with the best and brightest from the region. This time around, national art legend Michelle Grabner chose two artists from Corvallis while filling just 35 full exhibition spaces available. One was Oregon State University Professor Julie Green, and the other CEI Artworks Director Bruce Burris. The latter is no stranger to working within social contexts, and has chosen to share his space with local outsider artist Matt Conklin.

    Containing “bits and pieces” of projects Burris has been working on (from 3D work to drawings, signs, and more), his particular reception will open with Corvallisite Kaitlyn Wittig Menguec performing a variation on a series of Burris’ performances called The Corvallis Tree Being. The undoubted show-stopper, however, will be Conklin’s hand-constructed, richly colored 3D cityscapes. Instantly recognizable, in that most of us have spent time around similar models and objects, there is much to catch the eye, but also a a world of wonder beyond.

    I was instantly drawn to Conklin’s creations. As I see it, the trick to understanding them is to abandon all pretense (easier said than done, of course). What appears on the surface to be colorful models actually contain a tremendous intention of detail that results in the sort of abstraction that makes perfect sense to us at first glance, before a first thought is allowed to bubble up in our minds and pop into existence. Everything is somehow in the right place, the success of which is indicative of Conklin’s own lack of pretense. Buildings bespeckled with corporate ads that are both out of place and feel right at home. Spaces which are both new and recognizable. As an artist myself I can’t help but admire the freedom of his craft, which appears to operate under no rules but those he’s chosen.

    While interviewing Burris, I was made aware of another project of Conklin’s, a DIY zine (which will be available for a few bucks a copy) by the name of Matt Conklin’s World of Wonders, which serves, at the very least, as an important companion to his sculptural efforts. The zine is littered with words and visual art by 13 additional contributors, including the Arts Center’s Hester Coucke and OSU’s Anna Fidler. After viewing a number of pages, I felt as if I had been transported into a living, breathing dimension of Conklin’s art—not unlike what I experienced as a child with Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

    DSC_3313Onlookers might nod their heads and say, “Ah!” to discover that Conklin’s cityscapes are designed to facilitate model train courses. Though the trains that Conklin often sets up in and around his art will not be a part of his biennial exhibit, their influence on his work is apparent. Conklin possesses a large collection of electric trains and models, which he shares on YouTube (look for railroadguy100). Whether moving through traditional models or those from his artwork, the videos themselves are shot in a very non-traditional manner, elevating them to a form of art in and of themselves. At this point I’ve seen each one at least three times and will be back for more.

    For a deeper look at Conklin’s projects, visit http://outpost1000.weebly.com/matt-conklin.html.

    Though the reception for Burris’ collective space is this Saturday, July 9 at the c3:initiative (www.c3initiative.org), the show runs until mid-September. If you find yourself in Portland, be sure to check it out, as well as the larger salon exhibit at Disjecta ( www.disjecta.org for details), which will feature over 100 artists including Burris.

    Green’s Student Teacher Exhibit

    Julie Green’s Student Teacher exhibit can be found during Portland 2016 at both Disjecta and Umpqua Community College (UCC). Having studied with Green over several terms myself, I can attest to the fact that when she says her teaching philosophy centers around the idea that “the teacher is also the student,” it’s the real deal.

    Born of complete collaboration and the desire to exercise reciprocity, she and several recent Oregon State University graduates—Francisco Morales, Kaitlyn Carr, Abigail Losli, and Claire Harden—will select works for each other to be displayed, traveling and installing together as well. Like most of the biennial exhibits, Green’s will run from Saturday, July 9 through Sunday, Sept. 18.

    Now That You Want to Go…

    If you were curious about the UCC thing, that’d be because I hadn’t mentioned yet that Portland 2016 has associated events all over the state. This is a massive happening, with dates, times, and locations all over the place, but your central source should be http://portlandbiennial.org/, where you’ll find most of what you’ll need. The next couple of months provide a lot of opportunities for art surveying, though most of the receptions happen sooner rather than later.

    The move from single centers to regional power in the art world is something of great significance—and most important, to us living in Oregon, it gives us power to let shine what’s being created by our neighbors.

    By Johnny Beaver

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  • Local Self-Defense Courses For Women
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    self defenseSelf-defense courses offer a unique opportunity for women to gain confidence, techniques, and experience in fighting off attackers. Though no solution to rape or violence, these courses  certainly can ease the minds of modern women.

    Golden Naga Martial Arts Center at 857 SW Western Boulevard in Corvallis offers weekend group trainings specifically available to women. These trainings run three hours on Saturday and three hours on Sunday. No men are permitted on the premises during scheduled training times, until the final portion of the training: “padded attacker.” At this time, a man in full pads makes himself available for the women to attack.

    Such courses are particularly valuable for women recovering from rape and sexual assault, as pioneer psychologists point out from Babette Rothschild to Peter Levine. Both advocate retraining the body after trauma to reconnect with one’s capacity to employ a variety of strategies and resources in self-defense.

    Head instructor Geoff Watham of Golden Naga stated that the goal of the women’s defense trainings is to empower.

    “That’s a key word,” Watham said. “The purpose is really to provide tools and to provide confidence.”

    Golden Naga also offers training to young girls, beginning at ages six and seven. At these ages, Watham said, the girls can learn not just physical, but verbal self-defense, “in terms of setting boundaries and de-escalating a situation.” In general, Watham compared self-defense to building a wall. “Self-confidence is what you’re building it on,” he said. “If your self-confidence is good, you have a good foundation.”

    Other local instructor Michael Downing of Oregon Pound offers jiu-jitsu classes for women from noon to 1 p.m., Mondays and Thursdays in Philomath. Downing also offers family classes on Tuesdays and Fridays to children as young as six accompanied by a parent. Jiu-jitsu, Downing suggested, is perfect for women, as “grappling is [their] focus and that is typically how fights end up.”

    Check out Oregon Pound’s women’s self-defense classes at www.oregonpound.com/wbjj/, continuing noon through 1 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays at the Philomath Training Center, 24495 Bridge Court, Philomath; or call Mike Downing for more information at 541-929-5503.

    Contact Golden Naga at www.goldennaga.com/site/contact2.html or stop by 857 SW Western Boulevard to register for a Women’s Self-Defense Weekend. 

    By Ariadne Wolf

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  • Oregon’s Un-REAL IDs: The Hobbled March of Progress
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    checking IDThanks to the passing of the REAL ID Act in 2005, the federal government now considers most state driver’s licenses “unreal.” This was a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission to the Federal Government aiming to establish minimum security standards for state-issued IDs. In short, the act prevents federal agencies from accepting forms of state identification that do not meet certain requirements. This will ultimately affect one’s ability to enter places like military bases and power plants, and also travel on commercial airlines.

    Currently Oregon is not compliant with the REAL ID standards, but was granted an extension period last year to continue developing a strategy for doing so. While the extension lasts until October of this year, it remains to be seen what will happen at that time.

    Washington, for instance, is one of four other states/territories that have been denied further extensions. While the majority of Washingtonians retain their standard issue driver’s licenses, a growing number have voluntarily acquired an enhanced ID at their own cost. While the effective date to provide a REAL ID for commercial air travel is October 2020 for all states, Washington already requires them to enter military institutions such as the air force Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

    While the REAL ID Act seeks to discourage terrorism by implementing higher standards for issuing state IDs, some argue that these new standardized IDs may lead to discrimination.

    On one hand, the federal government requires states to make IDs harder to counterfeit and increase the requirements of proving legal US residency, which is hard to argue against. However, the Department of Homeland Security released an online summary after receiving comments from the public. Concern was voiced that in the case of foreign nationals and other immigrants who could not obtain a REAL ID due to their status, they would be issued an ID displaying their non-American-ness, which may draw negative attention. Others complained that the act will divide the country into two groups: the haves and the have nots…You see where they are going with that, right?

    Is this a case of Big Brother watching us? While there has been apprehension at the state level as to how the government might use the act, the more tangible concern is the cost to both the state and the citizens. Arguments posed by Oregon legislature include accusations of federal overreach, secure sharing and storing of citizens’ data, and the cost to the state of reworking our otherwise shoddy licenses up to REAL ID status.

    Either way, this is going to happen sooner or later. Whether we redesign our driver’s licenses or offer other forms of enhanced ID, the days of casually strolling into military bases, power plants, and flying nationally are almost at an end. Then again, those things never really were all that casual.

    By Anthony Vitale

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  • Busting the Corvallis Hip-Hop Myth
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    Mac Moss

    Born in the Bronx from the blending of island and American folk art and culture, hip-hop is probably not the first thing one associates with the Corvallis music scene. In fact, it is surely the last. Yet, side by side or even intermingled with our local punk and indie movements, there are some incredibly talented locals telling their stories through their own unique styles and deliveries. It’s a scene that is often hard to find one’s way into, so consider this breakdown of major players and their upcoming gigs the key to opening that door.

    Hiram Cervantes
    Hiram Cervantes is a house DJ at Impulse Bar & Grill who has hosted the likes of E-40, Bone Thugs and Harmony, and Andre Nickatina—in our own town. Hiram maintains that Corvallis’ appreciation of hip-hop is “surprisingly still pretty big” and he finds spinning hip-hop tracks significantly more popular than EDM. Besides simply mixing and scratching tracks for people to dance to, Hiram also DJs for artists from Eugene and Portland visiting Corvallis. You can find him entertaining at Impulse on Fridays and some Saturdays.

    Definitely check out one of his sets, as he’s a bonafide turntablist in the tradition of Grandmaster Flash or Jam Master Jay—not just a guy choosing which song goes next on a playlist.

    Mac Moss
    Local legend Mac Moss (pictured), calling himself the “Oregoonian,” considers hip-hop to be a way of life. In his own words, “I wake up in the morning, I’m hip-hop. I go to bed, I’m hip-hop.”

    For inspiration to his music, he has no lack. He’s lived a storied life—born and raised in the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest. He served in Iraq for 13 months as a .50-cal gunner, part of the National Guard outfit out of Corvallis. Injured in the line of duty, Moss returned to the states and found himself on a path that involved pursuing his passion for music.

    Despite a fairly tumultuous life, he remains unhardened or jaded by this roller coaster. If you couldn’t tell from his Oregoonian moniker, Moss is a big fan of the Oregon-based, 1985 adventure comedy The Goonies.

    “I’m a goonie for life, goonies don’t die,” Moss growled. This is, in fact, part and parcel of the spirit of rap. To be able to rise above challenges and find your place through expression… a comedic spirit seems essential to being a good MC.

    There is however, a time to medicate—legally.  With his characteristic half-joking bad boy affectation, Moss chuckled, “If it weren’t for weed, I’d be in prison or dead. Society needs it to protect them from me.” Along these lines, he is currently working on a duet album with his producer Tony Snow, slated to be called Somethin ta Roll 2. Look for it in the future.

    If you want to hear a sound hard
    as concrete and rough as rugby, aka the Oregoonian, check out http://www.reverbnation.com/macmoss.

    Freemetz
    I met Freemetz of the funky experimental band Xenat-Ra at his currently under construction bar-cade, The Dam, on 4th Street. At the core of hip-hop, as with any artistic movement, is innovation. Not to diminish any of the other cats, who are very talented and original, Freemetz embodies innovation and experimentation.

    One might think of his style as a hip-hop version of psychedelic, jazzy, socially conscious prog rock with dope rapping. Evoking a clear Rage Against the Machine sensibility, much of his lyrical content is overtly political. As Freemetz stated, fiercely emphasizing his independent ethos and commitment to art for art’s sake, “Money only ruins music—it destroys creativity and artistry. It’s just a mind-killer.”

    Currently he’s hyped on an upcoming solo album titled Freemetz, as well as a podcast show by his project Channel Zero. Xenat-ra, in addition, will be playing at Old Nick’s Pub in Eugene on Friday, July 22, for those willing to stray from the Corvallis area to support a Corvallis artist.

    You can check out his music at https://freemetz.bandcamp.com/releases and that of the band Xenat-Ra at https://xenat-ra.bandcamp.com.

    Puma
    For a representative of the younger, college-age rap scene, one might check out rapper Puma of the local collective and independent record label Starfleet. Starfleet itself consists of seven members, including Puma, NappyTHC, Keepfalling, Cyborg, Kid Fresh, and Disciple.

    Asked to categorize his style, Puma suggested that he’s a mix of three inspirations: the Beastie Boys, Mac Dre, and Pacific Northwest indie-rap giants the Blue Scholars. When asked what hip-hop meant to him, he said, “Hip-hop is energy and ideas—an expressive force that enables me to get my voice.”

    Puma is particularly hyped about his label-mates NappyTHC and Mikey’s as yet untitled new and significantly lyrical album—which he will undoubtedly be featured on—slated to come out in the next few months.

    Puma will be performing on Saturday, July 16 at 9:30 p.m. at Cloud & Kelly’s with most of the members of Starfleet and Eugene rapper Landon Wordwell, and at Avery Park on Saturday, July 23 from 5 to 10 p.m. with Starfleet and a number of local music acts. No cover has been set yet for either show, but you can keep tabs on the former at http://cloudandkellys.com/music_and_nightlife. We’ll post an update to our calendar when further information is released.

    In the meantime, grab an earful of Puma via SoundCloud, https://soundcloud.com/oipuma, or follow Starfleet on twitter @EloquentFU6S.

    Young Penitent
    Hip-hop is many things, not least of which is an avenue for expressing one’s spirituality. Young Penitent, a Russian Orthodox Christian, does just this, finding inspiration from his faith and writing a variety of songs as meditations on the human condition, scripture, and living right.

    Fairly new to rapping on the stage, though he has recorded a full album that hits all the marks for a serious rapper, he’s lately been regularly visiting the open mic nights in town with hopes of soon booking a show at Imagine Coffee.

    Asked about his writing process, he likened it to solving a puzzle. Starting with just a title or theme, it becomes a game to find the right words, the right syllable count and rhymes, without losing either rhythm or meaning.

    One other issue that plays a large role in his writing is mental illness, as, in his own words, he went through hell before he was able to get treatment. One project that is important right now for him is a show that he’ll be doing for the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) community picnic in July.

    You can listen to his album at https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/youngpenitent.

    By Joel Southall

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  • Bras Gone Bad: Improper Sizing Brings Health Risks, But There’s Hope
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    braBra sizing is generally thought of as something you uncomfortably try to do once with your mom and a tape measure, and then proceed to try to forget about for the rest of your life while you guess your size.

    We’re obviously doing it wrong, as Jamie Feldman reported in her article for The Huffington Post, “The One Thing About Our Bras We’re All Still Getting Wrong: The Sizes.” The article revealed that 64 percent of women are wearing the wrong size, and only 29 percent know it’s the wrong size.

    Wearing the wrong size can cause a multitude of problems, ranging from discomfort to scarring or permanent indents in the shoulders. The symptoms vary based on how the bra is pressing into your body—if it’s too big to be supportive, or too small to give you room to breathe.

    Bra chains such as Victoria’s Secret use “sister sizes” to get the average lady to fit into their size range of 30AA to 40DDD. I went to Victoria’s Secret and got sized, where I was given a 32DDD. This isn’t my size, but I was told that it was my sister size, and that it would fit anyway.

    The problem with this is that sister sizes only go so far. The bra was uncomfortable, and frankly, about as supportive as Donald Trump at a fundraiser for immigrant children.

    Donna Bella: The Local Solution
    Donna Bella on 2nd Street in downtown Corvallis has a different perspective on pushing sales in a teeny size range with sister sizing.

    Kari Gregory, a fit specialist at the shop, said they can order bras in sizes ranging from 28AA to 52L. Most of those sizes are carried in store, and are ready to try on.

    Not only does Donna Bella cater to sizing needs, but they also do post-mastectomy fittings, and will even bill your insurance directly for those purchases. They also carry prosthetics, post-surgical camis, lymphedema sleeves, and more.

    When I was sized there, I clocked in at a 28FF. The support echoed the average millennial’s feelings about Bernie Sanders, and it felt much, much better than a Victoria’s Secret bra.

    So, ladies, go get sized today. May your cup never overfloweth, and your strap never fall.

    By Moriah Hoskins

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  • Sex Trafficking Update: Navigation Help for Local Survivors
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    trafficingSex trafficking continues to be an issue of significant concern facing Oregonians today. Though many of the resources are centered in Portland, it is runaways from more affluent areas including Corvallis who feed this particular pipeline.

    The majority of the victims of sex trafficking are under the age of 25. Contrary to popular belief, sex trafficking includes any form of forced prostitution. It does not imply physically moving the victim across state lines or exploiting her or him in any other way.

    Locals know that Portland contains more strip clubs and sex shops than virtually any major city in the continental US. What many do not know is that the majority of workers in these clubs do not keep all or even most of their money. In reality, these women are likely to be exploited, denied union wages, and fired upon attempting to unionize. Many must give over their wages to pimps or other so-called “boyfriends” who exert various degrees of control over these women’s lives.

    Esther Nelson created Safety Compass, a local organization aimed at helping survivors navigate available resources and avenues towards justice. Safety Compass is unique in that it aims to help survivors in Corvallis and nearby cities, closing the prior gap between resources in Portland and surrounding rural areas.

    Nelson explained that while “Portland is its own continuum of care, that care is specific to the needs of Portland. The amount of resources are very different in rural areas.”

    Safety Compass supports survivors via emergency response advocacy at law enforcement request, using advocacy to identify survivors’ greatest needs then operating like a compass to “help people navigate the system.” This includes explaining options like restraining orders and support groups.

    Nelson described risk factors such as violence in the home, a past that includes stints in foster care, as well as teens who have run away from abusive situations.

    Approximately 90 percent of victims are recruited via social media; perpetrators use a variety of social networking sites to “fish” for victims, seeking those with distant relationships with their guardians or histories of involvement with juvenile detention or the foster care system. Statistics suggest that 68 percent of youth who are sex-trafficked are wards of the state or have been involved in the child welfare system.

    Nelson explained that there is no benefit to be gained in trying to narrow down a description of pimps, because pimps will simply change their image in a chameleon-like manner. However, johns, the individuals who pay to victimize those who are sex-trafficked, do fit a basic profile. They function according to their need for power and control. Most have access to consensual sex; rather, what they want is the experience of domination and manipulation.

    This is why “what sells in the industry is vulnerability,” said Nelson.

    Many pimps respond to this customer demand by deliberately recruiting youth. That’s why organizations like Safety Compass have begun programs that include speaking with local students at the middle school, high school, and college levels. They come at the request of administration or teachers, presenting programs carefully designed to meet the needs of their audience. This includes teaching warning signs of teen dating violence, as well as educating youth in healthy boundaries.

    The commonly held stereotype of an empowered, sexually liberated sex worker who enters the trade by choice in America is largely that: a stereotype. These stereotypes continue to plague both law enforcement and the wider community. Thus efforts to protect these individuals continue to stumble over the understandable confusion of those in a position to help.

    Other options for those seeking to escape sex trafficking include women-centered services such as women’s shelters and domestic violence organizations. Though many of these organizations also serve men, this aspect is less well-known and thus these services are less widely accessed.

    Service providers and other resources for the Linn-Benton area can be found at http://cardv.org/links.php. For more information on Safety Compass, visit www.safetycompass.org or call 971-235-0021.

    By Ariadne Wolf

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