• Busting the Corvallis Hip-Hop Myth
    No Comment
    Mac Moss 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, 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.

    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.

    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

    Read more ...
  • Bras Gone Bad: Improper Sizing Brings Health Risks, But There’s Hope
    No Comment

    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

    Read more ...
  • Sex Trafficking Update: Navigation Help for Local Survivors
    No Comment

    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

    Read more ...
  • Happy Dolls for Hospitalized Kids
    No Comment

    HappySmilesJudeWardJude Ward has undergone 14 separate surgeries in the short three years he has spent on this planet. Each time he goes in to Portland for treatment, he takes his Happy Smiles doll with him.

    “He’s the poster boy for the program,” founder Trenee Zweigle announced proudly.

    Zweigle conceived of the Happy Smiles for Kids dolls years ago while working as a nurse at Lamorinda University Medical Center in California, assigned to the children’s oncology ward. She first created the Hospital Buddy and Chemo Buddy dolls, which she gifted to the children she encountered, suffering from tumors and regular surgeries.

    What the kids suffered from most, however, was loneliness. “The kids just want us to sit there and hold their hands,” Zweigle explained.

    Since she and the other nurses could not abandon their other duties to stay by the kids’ sides, Zweigle conceived of the Happy Smiles model for comfort and companionship. Zweigle mentioned incorporating the dolls into treatment, with her and other nurses saying things like, “Let me poke your buddy first and you’ll see it’s not so bad.”

    “I just wanted [the dolls] to have a big, giant, happy smile to cheer them up,” said Zweigle. She and like-minded nurses now work to sew dolls out of lace, ruffles, and other cotton materials. Each even comes with its own hospital gown. Though they initially paid for the materials out of pocket, the demand soon exceeded their meager budget.

    Zweigle now works with local teen groups like Big Brothers Big Sisters. The teen group Civil Air Patrol in Eugene helps her in handing out the dolls, which she donates to different hospitals monthly. Zweigle is currently trying to earn enough money to create a large order as well as to outreach to other states. She is seeking volunteers as well as donations of cutesy cotton materials, ruffles, lace, and ribbons.

    For more information regarding volunteer and donation opportunities, visit http://happysmilesforkids.com/contact or contact Trenee Zweigle directly at 541-232-8689.

    By Ariadne Wolf

    Read more ...
  • Kendama in Corvallis?
    No Comment

    kendamaLocal professional kendama players Haley Bishoff and Molly Harney have recently begun hosting weekly kendama jam sessions at Franklin Square Park (12th and Polk), Tuesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. But what exactly is a kendama?

    Though calling it a jam session might make it seem like a kendama is some sort of instrument, a kendama is actually a Japanese toy. It consists of a ken, which is the handle and its three cups, and a tama, which is the ball attached to the ken by a string. The goal for both private practice and sport is to master various tricks with hand-eye coordination and a lot of patience. Worldwide, the kendama community is massive. In Corvallis, the community is new but growing fast.

    “[Corvallis is] a perfect place to try and create a kendama scene because of how many young people there are,” said Bishoff, who also happens to be the world’s first professional kendama player. While the sport is currently predominantly male, Harney added that the “ladies’ scene is growing and it is amazing to see more and more girls and women join the community!”

    Ready to learn something new this summer? The first event was held on June 21; sessions continue throughout the season on Tuesdays at the park.

    “The meetups will consist of mini games with prizes, contests, and making new friends who also love kendama,” said Bishoff. “Anyone is welcome, and everyone is encouraged to come, even if they have never picked up a kendama before.”

    By Gina Pieracci

    Read more ...
  • Kitten Training Classes? New Research Suggests Cat Stereotypes Are Just That
    No Comment

    Kittens2Kristyn Shreve, a graduate research fellow in OSU’s Human-Animal Interaction Lab, or HAI Lab, loves cats. She plays with them, talks to them, and, most importantly, studies them. It turns out we know rather little about cat cognition. Science has a lot left to tell us about the best way to communicate with our feline friends, including whether or not they even consider us friends at all. And this is where the research at the HAI Lab comes in. A study they are currently conducting aims to shed some light on the ways in which cats and humans socialize with one another. Not only that, but as part of the study, free kitten-training classes are given, providing a foundation for communication between owners and cats. This is research that has not been done before, and, looking at the numbers, is sorely needed.

    While pet cats outnumber their canine counterparts by almost 10 million, over 3.4 million cats are surrendered to US shelters every year. Of these 3.4 million cats, at least 27% are given up due to “behavioral issues” or “cat-owner incompatibility.”

    “We just do it everywhere for puppies, Petco, PetSmart, dozens of trainers have training places to take your puppy—it’s something most people do,” said Shreve. “For cats, people either think they can’t do it, or it’s not necessary to do it.” However, in this case the numbers speak for themselves and beg the question, is there something we could be doing better?

    House Calls and Lab Trials
    I have never considered myself a “cat person.” The few occasions on which I was exposed to cats only reinforced the stereotypes in my head that cats are aloof, cats are destructive, and cats wake you up at 5 a.m. demanding food. Now, I have seen people who really seem to enjoy having cats. They truly love their cats, and claim their cats love them right back. My uncle would joke that since adopting his furry friends, they had done a wonderful job of training him—and that didn’t seem to bother him one bit. While the shared bond between human and animal seems like common sense when talking about dogs, many who don’t own a cat themselves (and some who do) may be hesitant to believe a cat can care. Unfortunately I was in that camp until I, like roughly 30 percent of American households today, found myself the voluntary owner of a pet cat. Now, studies like the one taking place at the HAI Lab are beginning to prove what many cat owners felt from the start—that indeed there is a bond between a cat and its owner.

    Testing for evidence of a human-feline bond at the HAI Lab begins with a house call. A kitten is placed in a room with a stranger. The stranger sits inside a small circle and is inattentive to the kitten for two minutes. “We’re basically looking at how much time the cat spends in proximity to them within the circle, and if they’re in contact with the human or not,” said Shreve. After the first two minutes the human gets to show attention to the kitten in whatever way feels natural. More often than not, the kitten getting the attention spends more time in contact with the human. After that portion of the test, the stranger is swapped out for the kitten’s owner and the test is repeated. The goal is to show whether or not familiarity will influence a cat’s attitude toward a given person.

    The next test brings the kittens into the lab at OSU. For two minutes the owner sits in the lab with the cat, showing attention if the cat comes within the proximity circle. Then the owner is asked to leave. “This is the one that people get sad about,” said Shreve. “A lot of time you hear [the kitten] crying, but you see a wide variety [of behaviors]. Some cats don’t care at all that the owner is gone, some cats cry the whole time. It’s a way of measuring the attachment style between the kitten and the owner, and that lets us see if the attachment style changes after the class experience or not.” Don’t get too sad—kitten and owner are reunited for a final two-minute sitting session before all is said and done.

    The kittens are then given a cognitive bias test designed to see how optimistic or pessimistic the cat is. The kitten is placed in a room with two strangers on either side of a room. One plays with and gives attention to the kitten any time it comes near, the other ignores it completely. The session is repeated until the kitten readily approaches the friendly stranger, but avoids the inattentive one. A third stranger is then brought into the mix and sat in the middle of the room. The researchers look for how long it takes for the kitten to approach the new stranger. “An optimistic cat would approach right away thinking that person might reward them,” said Shreve.

    Finally, the kittens are given a social referencing test. Humans use social referencing all the time with one another. By looking at the person standing next to us, we gauge their emotions and intentions and react accordingly. But can a cat pick up on human emotional cues? For this test the kittens are placed in a room with their owner and a small fan with streamers attached to it. It’s not necessarily meant to be scary, just unfamiliar. First the owner looks neutrally at the fan, the way I assume pretty much everyone looks at fans. In the second phase the owners are given a script. “It’s basically, ‘What a good fan! That’s such a nice fan! Don’t you like the fan?’” said Shreve, using the sing-song voice we all reserve for pet-talk. “It’s to let [the cat] know that this is something okay, it’s not scary. We see if the kittens adjust their behavior to the response, the emotional cues given by the owner.”

    Training Results
    All of these tests have been performed before, but on other animals, humans, or even adult cats. This new study applies them to kittens, and then checks to see if the results change after a six-week kitten training course.

    “Even without the scientific tests, with the training alone, we are seeing that they are able to be socialized outside of the home—even after 10 weeks, which is what a lot of people have said you can’t do,” said Shreve. The training alone is impressive. I’ve seen cats walking on leashes, responding to commands, and jumping nearly five feet into the air. After the classes, all these tests are re-administered and compared to the initial results. For owners who learn to communicate with their cat through training, it’s not unrealistic to think that the cat-owner bond would show up stronger in the tests.

    “A lot of these ideas we have about [cats], they aren’t panning out, it’s not what we are seeing,” explained Shreve. We have become inundated with cat memes and kitten pictures to the point of madness and yet we hang on to the old stereotypes that cats are hedonistic, self-serving freeloaders. While there may be some truth there, Shreve and the HAI Lab are turning the cat’s untrainable reputation on its head. Bottom line, they are paving the way for a better human-animal future by decreasing the likelihood of pet surrendering and increasing the bond shared between pets and their owners.

    So, if you and your kitten are interested in scientific progress, training, or even just strengthening the bond you share, you are encouraged to take part in the original research taking place at the HAI Lab. A fresh round of kitten classes and testing beings in July. If you and your kitten are interested, just email Kristyn Shreve at kristyn.shreve@oregonstate.edu.

    By Kyle Bunnell

    Read more ...
  • Movie Release Threatens Second Animal Abuse Outbreak
    No Comment

    PacificBlueTang2Pet stores are wonderful things. After walking in, one almost always finds oneself peering into cages and tanks to see what the critters are up to. Children can often be found excitedly pointing at clownfish and blue tangs in the fish section, all thanks to the release of 2003’s Finding Nemo. However, saltwater fish are not for beginners—a sad fact that led to many unnecessary deaths in the wake of the film’s popularity. With the June 17 release of the sequel, Finding Dory, experts have been anxiously waiting to see if the demand for these fish will spike again.

    Back in 2003, when the original Finding Nemo was released, everyone wanted their very own Nemo for their children. More clownfish were harvested from the ocean than ever, so much so that the Chicago Tribune reported this May that the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to have clownfish put on the endangered species list. Now the focus is about to shift to Dory’s species, the blue tang. What’s more concerning is that while clownfish can be bred in captivity, blue tangs cannot. This puts them at an even higher risk for endangerment, or even extinction if pet demand soars like it did before.

    Upon reaching out, Petco and Petsmart declined interviews on the basis of corporate policy. Looking into the stores themselves, Petsmart does not have a saltwater section in their Corvallis location, although Petco does have one in their Albany store. There they had warning stickers displayed on every other saltwater tank with a picture of a smiling Dory that said that blue tangs are not for beginners and to contact an associate for help.

    While it is nice to see steps being taken to help stem the tide of post-Dory impulse buys, that problem is just one of many negative aspects of the fish trade. Petco’s shelves remain lined with classic goldfish bowls, despite goldfish actually needing about 30 gallons per fish with heavy-duty filtering. They also sell betta cubes and vases, though betas need at least 2.5 gallons plus filtering and heating to live a healthy life. This is made worse by the fact that keeping a tank that small healthy and cycled is difficult even for those with experience. Of course, they’re not the only ones. Petsmart sells a half-gallon betta cube with a divider, so you can cram two fish into an unfiltered soup of freezing, uncycled water complete with piles of excrement and uneaten food, for the price of one!

    With Petco and Petsmart monopolizing the fish market in a way that normalizes what most experts would call abuse, where are responsible fish keepers and seekers to turn? The Animal House here in Corvallis offers a different perspective on animal welfare.

    Dale Stepnicka, the owner and founder of Animal House in 1983, remembers when Finding Nemo came out. “There were a few more sales than usual… mostly to long-term customers. You can’t give in to making sales when it comes to animal life,” said Stepnicka.

    Animal House tests every customer’s water before selling and asks about tank parameters. Robyn Harris, the store manager, said that they require buyers to own a fully cycled tank before they sell a fish.

    “We make sure the person is educated,” said Harris.

    Additionally, they take great care of their own fish as well.

    “Fish that are shipped here are put into a copper system quarantine before being sold. Most parasites and diseases can’t handle copper,” said Stepnicka.

    Not only are the fish quarantined, but they are sorted into far more segregated tanks than chain pet stores. Each tank has its own system of filtration to prevent the spread of disease. Animal House is also the only fish-carrying pet store in the area that has avoided being hit by the koi herpes virus. This is due to a dedicated breeding program. Every goldfish and koi the store sells is bred by Stepnicka, excluding feeder fish which are kept separately. This particular virus spreads easily and can kill just 24 to 48 hours after exposure, destroying the gills of the animal. According to one of Stepnicka’s books in the extensive library in his store, the death rate of the virus’ victims is 80 to 90 percent.

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting a pet fish after seeing Finding Dory, but when it comes to animal life, doing the research to properly care for a pet should be the highest priority. With fish species from the Finding Nemo series, many of those purchases in recent years have only contributed to death and endangerment. There are plenty of great starter species, and for many people fish-keeping can be a very rewarding practice. Maybe we should all just leave Nemo and Marlin to hang out in their anemone, and get a betta fish a nice five-gallon tank.

    To learn more about responsible fish-keeping, head on over to Animal House’s downtown location at 646 SW 4th Street, or visit http://www.facebook.com/animalhousecorvallis.

    By Moriah Hoskins

    Read more ...
  • Portland Builds Another Bridge Suicide Barrier
    No Comment

    Freemont BridgeOn the south side of the upper deck of Portland’s Fremont Bridge, construction workers are currently building a 1,100-foot chain link fence. The purpose of this barrier is to slow down people planning to attempt suicide by jumping off the bridge into the Willamette River below.

    Three years after a similar barrier was constructed on Southwest Portland’s historic Vista Bridge in August of 2013—an endeavor prompted by local Bonnie Kahn, who persuaded city commissioner Steve Novick and the Portland Bureau of Transportation to implement experimental fencing in order to lower suicide rates—the Oregon Department of Transportation has taken on the $250,000 job of building a second barrier on another bridge in the area that is also commonly used for suicide.

    Kahn, a small business advisor who worked in an office below the Vista Bridge, noticed bodies piling up over the years. After speaking to Oregonian reporters on the topic in February 2013, she realized it was time for a change and sent the city her research. The data she had collected showed that at least seven locals had jumped to their deaths from the Vista Bridge between 2003 and 2013.

    The members of local suicide prevention groups are among those who helped persuade officials to create a second barrier, which would seem appropriate as the Fremont Bridge is the busiest in all of Portland. According to a reporter who spoke last month on Portland’s KGW TV News, about 122,000 cars cross the Fremont every single day. Spokespeople of anti-suicide groups and crisis hotlines agree that this barrier, though not wholly impossible to climb, will slow down potential jumpers and give them more time to reconsider the choice to leap to their deaths.

    The bridge will run from the east to the west shore of the Willamette River. According to the KGW report, government research has shown that bridge barriers prevent 90% of jumper-suicides—that is to say, 90% of those planning to attempt suicide stop and change their minds when faced with a barrier. ODOT worked with mental health advocates and officials in drawing up plans for the barrier.

    In Oregon, the state with the country’s 10th highest suicide rate, projects like this one are not only invaluable in preventing suicide, but also in increasing recognition of Oregon’s suicide problem and fostering community dialogue surrounding the issue.

    The most recent statistics released by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention list suicide as the 10th leading cause of death in the country. Each year, 42,773 Americans die by suicide, and on average, 117 suicides occur across the US every day. Suicide rates have increased since 2005 from just over 10 per 100,000 individuals to nearly 15 in the year 2014.

    In Oregon, suicide is the eighth leading cause of death, and one person will die by suicide approximately once every 11 hours in the state. More people in Oregon die by suicide than homicide every year. It’s the second leading cause of death for Oregonians aged 10 to 34 years old and the third leading cause of death for ages 35 to 44.

    The Plan for Youth Suicide Prevention and A Call to Action are two of Oregon’s leading state plans for strategizing prevention of suicide and facilitating research on the subject. Oregon’s House Bill 4124, passed in April of 2014, addresses the specific issue of youth suicide in Oregon through the improvement of the aforementioned plans by requiring interventions, increasing the ease of access to prevention services to mentally ill youth, and obliging hospitals to report incidents of attempted youth suicides and self-harm.

    If you, a friend, or loved one are considering suicide, please call one of the Benton County Mental Health’s crisis numbers at 541-766-6844 or 1-888-232-7192, or reach Corvallis’ Community Outreach Crisis Line at 541-758-3000. For people in other areas of Oregon, please visit http://www.suicide.org/hotlines/oregon-suicide-hotlines.html for a list of the crisis hotlines that exist in each city.

    By Kiki Genoa

    Read more ...
  • Corvallis’ Summer Reading List
    No Comment

    summer readingSummer is here, and with that we Oregonians seemingly get that renewed itch to read. After all,  the warm weather and late sunsets provide ample time to dig into a good book. For readers who are anything like me, finding the perfect book is a chore, the shortcut for which is asking around for suggestions—and now let’s make that even easier. Here’s a who’s who of who is reading what this summer.

    Ed Ray, OSU President

    Presidential Courage by Michael Beschloss
    I have always enjoyed reading early American history and Michael’s book covers the period from 1789-1989.

    Poems Written by Rita Dove (1974-2004)
    Rita Dove received the Stone Award at OSU for her lifetime literary achievements. She is a wonderful poet and a former National Poet Laureate.

    Biff Traber, Corvallis Mayor

    Most of my book reading is for entertainment; I get plenty of serious reading from city business. Most of my reading is suspense mystery novels with a little historical fiction thrown in. And I read what I can find perusing the library or used book sales.

    Carolyn Rawles, Library Director, Corvallis-Benton County Public Library

    Turn Right at Machu Picchu
    by Marks Adams
    This book is a combination of personal narrative of a trip to Machu Picchu with historical background on the site and its “rediscovery” by Hiram Bingham III. It’s supposed to be very funny.

    Honeymoon in Tehran by Azadeh Moaveni
    I’m reading this book written by an Iranian American journalist. Earlier this year I read her previous book, Lipstick Jihad, about her life in Iran as a young single professional woman, and this second book follows her as she meets and marries an Iranian, becomes a mother, and decides to again leave Iran.

    Andrew Hudgins, OSU Professor

    Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads by Paul Theroux
    I’m moving to Tennessee and I’m interested in what Theroux, who is always engaging and thought-provoking, has to say about the rural South, especially since he interviews my old friend Randall Curb, who introduced him to the part of Alabama famously explored by James Agee in Now Let Us Praise Famous Men.

    Reynard the Fox: A New Translation by James Simpson
    I remember reading some of Reynard’s exploits when I was a kid and thinking, “Wow, they let kids read stuff where the bad guy always wins and the good guys lose! What’s up with that?” It was strange and awesome reading. So I’m eager to read them as an adult in a new and full translation so I can figure out what’s up with that.

    Dr. Erin Prince, Superintendent

    All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

    The Goldfinches by Donna Tartt
    I am currently reading a number of professional books around educational policy and leadership, so those two Pulitzer Prize-winning books are a nice change of pace for the summer.

    Rep. Dan Rayfield, State Legislator

    Napoleon, A Life by Andrew Roberts
    I greatly enjoy reading non-fiction about important figures who impacted US and world history. I recently finished reading two books about FDR.

    Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-zoo by Mercer Mayer
    Our 4.5-year-old son often dictates which books we read and this is one of his favorites; I’m sure we’ll read it at least four or five times per week.

    Bonnie Brzozowski, Reference Librarian, Corvallis-Benton County Public Library

    Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach
    Roach’s humorous, engaging yet informative style can make any topic fascinating. She did it with corpses, the gut, sex, and space and now she tackles war. Roach has a talent for investigative reporting and goes straight to the action relaying stories that are often unbelievably hilarious and/or jaw-dropping. I’ve never read a Roach book I could put down and expect this one to be no different.

    Homegoing: A Novel by Yaa Gyasi
    A debut novel by a Ghana-born woman raised in Huntsville, Alabama about two sisters in 18th century Ghana leading two very different lives. The story follows one sister in Ghana and her descendants through years of warfare as well as the other sister who ends up in the American South. I love a generational saga set in history, so this is just right up my alley. I’ve heard this novel described as “visceral,” “magisterial,” and “stunning” and I can’t wait to tear through it.

    Governor Kate Brown

    Standing at the Water’s Edge: Bob Straub’s Battle for the Soul of Oregon by Charles K. Johnson

    Fire at Eden’s Gate: Tom McCall and the Oregon Story by Brent Walth
    I just finished Governor Barbara Roberts’ book, Up the Capitol Steps. Now I want to re-read Governor Straub’s bio by Chuck Johnson, and Fire at Eden’s Gate about Governor Tom McCall.

    Sandy Smith, Grass Roots Bookstore

    Barkskins by Annie Proulx
    I am looking forward to reading Barkskins by Annie Proulx (Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author of The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain). It has been more than 10 years since Proulx has written a novel. This looks to be a masterpiece, 10 years in the writing: an epic, dazzling, violent, magnificently dramatic novel about taming the wilderness and destroying the forest, set over two centuries. The book will be released June 14.

    Jack Wolcott, Grass Roots Bookstore

    Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
    I can’t wait to read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which publishes on July 31. Although written in script form rather than as a regular book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will provide the rare opportunity to return to the magical world of Hogwarts and revisit characters who feel like old friends. The eighth story in the series supposedly picks up with Harry as an overworked Ministry of Magic employee, husband, and father of three, the youngest of whom, Albus, struggles with the legacy of his father’s past.

    Cynthia Spencer, Corvallis Arts Center

    Being Mortal by Atul Gwande
    Gwande is a compelling writer about the medical community, who is also a compassionate advocate for doing the best by his patients.

    Avenue of Mysteries by
    John Irving

    I’ve been hooked on Irving since college and I’m always curious if he manages to toss in another bear or prostitute.

    Allegedly Illiterate

    Every year, there are folks that don’t respond to our invasion of their reading list privacy, so we fictionalize in sort of good fun:

    Rumor has it Police Chief Sassaman will be writing instead of reading, a memoir on law enforcement in a university town with no donut shop: tears. Fellow enforcer Sheriff Scott Jackson said the only use he has for The Advocate comes in stacks that can be bundled into bricks to construct the new Grappo Correctional Facility in Central Park. Jimbo Ivy of Majestic Theatre fame only responded in eerie whispers: plays… plays… plays… plays… and then he fell over.

    Advocate Publisher Steve Schultz scared the hell out of me, words imperceptibly oozed softer than a pin drop from his expressionless reddish face, I could only make out: imagery… interns… too many adjectives… every… year. He is now resting comfortably, possibly unaware of the office renovations going on around him.

    By Liz Sterling

    Read more ...
  • Fresh Exhibits at June Arts Walk
    No Comment

    Francisco2Ever notice that we list the Arts Walk from west to east every month? Yeah, we didn’t either—until someone said something about it. So we’re doing the opposite this month, because yolo. Whatever direction you walk it, there are a number of fresh exhibits this time around, including a vibrant installation from recent OSU BFA graduate Francisco Morales at downtown’s Artworks, as well as a chance to soak up some work from literally a dozen wildly successful  teaching artists with the OSU faculty show at the Fairbanks Gallery.

    We like the variety this month, and we’re pretty sure you will, too. So, happy hoofing! Here’s the complete rundown.

    2nd Street

    341 SW 2nd St. • 4 to 8 p.m.

    Digital illustrations by K. Lars Lohn as he bravely explores his creative process with contemporary tools and includes some embedded playfulness for the mind. Art and play are inescapable companions in his work and the outcome of his process results in a beautiful, thought-provoking, surprisingly satisfying visual experience.

    341 SW 2nd St. • 4 to 8 p.m.

    Summer of Play. They have mazes, puzzles, games, hide and seek, fun creative exercises, and challenges throughout the month and during the Arts Walk.

    341 SW 2nd St., Ste. 3 • 4 to 8 p.m.

    Batik and encaustic artist Shari Carlson breaks the rules of tradition to achieve vibrant colors, minute details, and flowing lines culminating in a story that will touch you. Every animal has a story and each batik and encaustic sculpture includes the narrative of her experience with it.

    361 SW 2nd & Adams • 4 to 8 p.m.

    Taking on favorite games and transforming them into… books, jewelry, prints, and sculptures.

    THE RABBIT HOLE (Laurel Thompson & Rachel Urista Studio)   340 SW 2nd St., #12
    4 to 8 p.m.

    Rachel’s small abstract paintings from the series When Mirrors Chase Sky are featured. Packed full of intense color, expressive line work, and paired with poems and notes from the artist. This studio will also have original coloring books, prints, and cards for sale.

    209 SW 2nd St. •  4 to 8 p.m.

    Coast to Coast Landscapes. Russ, without a last name at press time, taught community college physics for 27 years and now works as an artistic blacksmith. In 1986 Russ discovered Vistas and Vineyards and was soon doing pen and pencil drawings. This artist has served 11 years as artist in residence at Tumacacori National Historical Park in southern Arizona.

    115 SW 2nd St. • 5 to 8 p.m.

    Rhythm and Motion exhibit. A variety of community artists interpreting elements of dance and movement into a diversity of visual art.

    Madison Avenue

    354 SW Madison Ave. • 4 to 8 p.m.

    Ugly Art Room will present a solo show featuring the anatomical stitching of NYC-based artist Hannah Lamar Koelbl. Hannah has been embroidering photographs, newspaper, and wax papers since 2007. In 2012 she began a master’s program in occupational therapy and completed a gross anatomy dissection, an experience which inspired the recreation of illustrations from her textbook, Netter’s Anatomy, in drawing and embroidery. Based on an aesthetic preference, she has chosen to work with the female reproductive anatomy in particular, and to explore the many textural and visual layers, as well as the associations we draw upon.

    425 SW Madison Ave., Ste. J-5
    4 to 8 p.m.

    Summer Color. Works in alcohol ink and acrylic. Karen’s first 5-foot-by-7-foot alcohol ink painting will be exhibited. New works in alcohol ink and acrylic texture studies on display and for sale.

    VOICES GALLERY • 425 SW Madison Ave., Ste. J1 • 4 to 8 p.m.
    Blue is the focus this month in their continuing Color Wheel series. Blue in the sky, blue in the water. Blue jays… blue bonnets… blue eye… blue jeans. Small gallery boasting seven members.

    STUDIO262 • 425 SW Madison Ave., Ste. H-1 • 4 to 9 p.m.
    Local artist and Studio262 owner Jennifer Lommers is bringing back her NeverEnding Story series of 128 blocks of little art forming one large tree to be completed over the duration of the show, June 7 to July 27.

    JEFF HESS STUDIO • 460 SW Madison Ave., Ste. 16 • 5 to 9 p.m.
    A selection of eclectic landscape oil paintings and quirky block printed work by local artist Beth Barnett. Some new work by Jeff Hess on display as well.

    700 SW Madison Ave. • 4 to 8 p.m.

    Reception for artists from IMAGINE exhibit Wes Cropper, Jim Hockenhull, and Lorraine Richey. Prints made with digital tools in many different processes. Still-presented as limited prints, traditionally framed and presented in the same manner as intaglio prints and serigraphs historically have been.

    4th & Monroe

    ArtWorks GALLERY (CEI) • 408 SW Monroe Ave., Ste. 110 • 4 to 8 p.m.
    Recent OSU graduate Francisco Morales will be exhibiting a continuation of his Serie de Expiación (Atonement Series) at Artworks CEI Gallery in downtown Corvallis for the June CAW. The exhibition will showcase a variety of printmaking and mixed media works. The show will run from June 16 to July 11.

    Library Area

    STUDIO BEATRICE • 230 NW 6th St.
    4 to 7 p.m.

    Local watercolor artist Molly Perry exhibits landscapes, florals, and local attractions. The work of many artists in a salon setting. Marshall Adams adds music, with libations from Spindrift Cellars.


    FAIRBANKS GALLERY • Fairbanks Hall, 220 SW 26th St. • 5 to 6:45 p.m.
    OSU Art Faculty. Diversity of styles and approaches to art, with faculty members working in the areas of photography, painting, drawing, mixed-media, printmaking, installation, and video. Evan Baden, Michael Boonstra, Julia Bradshaw, Kay Campbell, Anna Fidler, Julie Green, Stephen Hayes, Yuji Hiratsuka, Shelley Jordon, Andy Myers, John Whitten, and Kerry Skarbakka are included in this exhibit.

    Read more ...
  • Celebrating Summer the Pagan Way
    No Comment
    PaganKochThe summer solstice has historically been a time for celebration, the extended hours of daylight drawing out all the summer-smug citizens. Midsummer is a pagan holiday which occurs each year around summer solstice on June 21, and to date there are at least a couple local pagans, one of whom was willing to share his Midsummer plans and shed some light on modern paganism.Philip Koch belongs to the Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA), a Germanic neopagan organization founded in 1994 by Stephen A. McNallen. An Oregon transplant from Texas, Koch discovered the AFA three years ago after a near-death experience, which involved slicing his arm’s radial artery while moving a fish tank.

    “I had a lot of time to sit and think about things and reflect on how unhappy I was with life,” said Koch, who up until then identified as an atheist.

    What ultimately drove it home for Koch was the scar on his arm, starkly resembling the rune Eihwaz from the runic alphabet Futhark, which symbolizes life and death. Koch could not chalk this up to mere coincidence. “For a long time I thought to myself, extraordinary claims call for extraordinary proof. And I got my extraordinary proof.”

    Pagan Folk and Folkishness
    Koch was drawn to the Asatru folk for their strong sense of community through shared Germanic ancestry. One of the Assembly’s declared purposes is “the preservation of European peoples.” Essentially, the Assembly is a closed group of folkish followers with German, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic, and Dutch ancestry, unlike most universalist religions which are open to people of all heritages.

    Asatru is focused in part on the Nordic and Germanic indigenous religions. Both Nordic and Germanic pre-Christian religions were polytheistic, believing in multiple deities or gods and goddesses. Koch considers himself a “hard polytheist,” believing the deities exist as discrete beings or entities.

    Unlike others he’s seen “try to attribute [the deities] to some kind of quantum phenomena or Jungian archetypes,” Koch keeps his idea of the gods’ existence simple. “I know what I am, I know what they are; I’m a man, they are gods, and as far as I’m concerned that’s the extent of it.”

    “A lot of our faith boils down to be a good person and use common sense,” Koch explained. Most of the Asatru principles center around heritage, honor, and the pursuit of knowledge. There is a strong military background within the Assembly, founder McNallen himself a Vietnam vet.

    “We are very big on honor. We are very big on duty and the whole Viking thing does tend to attract a lot of people that are inclined to be that way,” said Koch.

    Honoring the Gods
    Koch described two types of rituals, Blot and Sumbel, in honoring and connecting with the gods. During Blot, a horn of mead is passed around a circle, and all who lay hands on the horn concentrate on putting their might or “maine” or goodwill into the horn, which is poured out and refilled by a priest or priestess—called Gothi or Gythia, respectively. The Gothi or Gythia lifts up the refilled horn, presenting it to the gods, who are believed to fill the horn with their gifts of wisdom, might, etc., so the horn can then be passed around and drunk from again.

    Sumbel focuses more on the folk’s ancestry and current members, consisting of three rounds of offerings through the horn. The gods are hailed in the first round, then fallen ancestors or heroes in the second. During the third and final round, a person sings a song or reads a poem, or even speaks on behalf of personal accomplishment.

    Unlike Christianity, paganism—or more specifically Asatru—doesn’t look at modesty with much esteem. “If you’ve done something great, you should be proud of it,” said Koch.

    Midsummer at the Hof
    Koch will be celebrating Midsummer at the Assembly’s new hof in Northern California the weekend of summer solstice. Hof literally translates to “house,” and theirs acts as the folk’s holy temple. Recently purchased and converted from an old grange hall, the Assembly is expecting folk from all over the country to gather at the hof to camp and feast in celebration.

    Koch described Midsummer as a celebration of “life and joy,” with the involved rituals of a lighter nature. There is talk of bringing out the Maypole—that delightful-looking activity where people move in circles, winding ribbon around a pole—though the ritual traditionally belongs to May Day, the pagan celebration of spring’s beginning.

    “It’s a mix of religious activities and socializing and mundane function kinds of things,” said Koch. Leaders within the Assembly will be taking the opportunity to meet and discuss organizational matters. The Assembly was led solely by McNallen until recently, when despite good health, he stepped down and appointed three councilman in his place.

    As for Koch, he sees himself stepping up within the Assembly eventually and taking on a more organizational role. Though he once considered going the Gothi route, Koch believes he can better serve the folk in the capacity of organizing events and getting people together.

    Midsummer at the hof is closed and not accessible to the public. For more information on the Asatru Folk Assembly, visit them online at Home – Asatru Folk Assembly.

    By Stevie Beisswanger

    Read more ...
  • Magenta Restaurant Chef Hoang
    No Comment

    ChefProfilePhotoDespite its upscale ambiance and high-end aesthetic, the Magenta Restaurant in downtown Corvallis is a local go-to for affordable drinks and Asian fusion cuisine. The Magenta first opened its doors in Corvallis on June 18, 1998, and is getting ready to celebrate its 18th anniversary.

    Executive chef and proprietor of Magenta Kimber Hoang suggests at least giving the restaurant a try. “Once they taste our flavor they will know,” she said.

    Hoang is Vietnamese and born in Laos. With no formal schooling or training, Hoang’s worldly knowledge of food was enough for her success. Growing up, Hoang learned from her mother in the kitchen, which, along with travelling, influenced her pursuit in culinary passion—in mixing tastes and textures from around the globe to create her personal recipes.

    Hoang chose the name Magenta because it is a color that most people don’t think about; it is not red or pink but an in-between color. The name is parallel to her style of cooking, a fusion of different foods.

    “Fusion is a combination,” said Hoang. “I think it is really important to use the word balance. You have to balance the flavors so it is not too this or too that.”

    The food at Magenta is made from scratch, and the produce is purchased locally or taken from their own garden, making meals extremely fresh. Magenta cuisine has a distinct flavor when compared with other local eateries. For example, the pho (“fuh”), a Vietnamese rice noodle soup, is made with a clear broth and loaded with flavor, containing zucchini, carrots, homemade meatballs, and peanuts.

    If you’re looking for a cocktail to pair with your meal, try “The Magenta.” The drink is named both for the restaurant and its color, and made with prickly cactus pear, lemon, and vodka.

    On Saturday, June 18 the Magenta will be celebrating its 18th birthday with appetizers and bubbly between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. To further celebrate, the restaurant will be offering 18 percent off your total bill, for both lunch and dinner, as a thank you for your continued support. Reservations can be made online at www.magentarestaurant.com/rsvp. Reservations are generally not needed but will guarantee you quick seating. For more information or to RSVP, search for “Magenta’s 18th Birthday” on Facebook or visit www.magentarestaurant.com

    By Kara Beu

    Read more ...
  • Juneteenth Celebration Slated for June 18
    No Comment

    SURJOn Saturday, June 18, the NAACP Corvallis branch will be hosting their second annual Juneteenth Celebration at the Thompson Shelter in Avery Park. The Juneteenth Celebration in Corvallis is a community event featuring food, music, games, and overall coming together to have a good time. In addition to fun and entertainment, the event includes poetry, Juneteenth history, and an opportunity to discuss serious issues within a fun and friendly environment.

    Beyond this, Juneteenth is the longest standing celebration of the abolishment of slavery in the United States. While Juneteenth celebrations vary in nature from place to place, one thing they have in common is a focus on education, self-improvement, and history. This year’s celebration in Corvallis will follow suit. In the spirit of self-improvement and education, organizers have dubbed the event a community celebration of freedom.

    Running from 1 to 4 p.m., this event looks to be a fun, inviting way to mingle and engage ideas. That said, not all the invitations to engage in matters of race in our fair little burg are the same. The Corvallis SURJ chapter has a very different way of messaging, but more on that momentarily.

    Juneteenth Origins, Intents
    Let’s first look at the origin of Juneteenth celebrations as they date back to Texas, June 19, 1865. For those non-history buffs out there, it is worth pointing out that Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863—a full two-and-a-half years before the message reached the black men and women kept as slaves within the borders of Texas. Reasons for this delay have been debated since that time, but at this point we will probably never know.

    “The first celebration was more about sharing stories and where they come from and things of this nature—hearing the elders speak and celebrating,” said Angel Harris, Corvallis branch NAACP member and Chair of the Community Coordination Committee. Harris has found an outlet for her love of bringing people together while organizing this year’s celebration, and the process has rekindled a deep interest in history for her. She explained, “I hadn’t heard of it until a couple years ago, so for most people it’s kind of new.”

    How can the longest standing commemoration of the abolition of slavery be new to people over 150 years later, you may wonder? Although by 1980 Juneteenth had become a fully recognized state holiday in Texas, the observance of the celebration declined from around the turn of the century up through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. “It was a really hard time, right, you’re trying to celebrate freedom but you really don’t have freedom, which is why you have the Civil Rights Movement,” explained Harris.

    However, the result of tireless dedication and the persistent demand for recognition has been an opening of hearts and minds across the nation. “Now it is gaining more popularity again, people are celebrating more, and they are realizing the significance of it,” said Harris. “We hold to that day as our Independence Day.” In fact, as of May this year only Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and South Dakota do not recognize Juneteenth as either a state or ceremonial holiday.

    Juneteenth in Oregon
    “Portland has been celebrating it for a while, but I don’t think a lot of people in this area know much about it, and it would be really cool if that could change,” said Harris. “As far as we can tell, last year’s was the first [Corvallis] city celebration.” However when you consider the success of last year’s celebration, it becomes clear that change is already underway.

    Harris explained that although they did not count, there was a turnout of around 80 people from all walks of life—“a diverse group of people, a cross-section of the city.” Among those in attendance were representatives from the mayor’s office and even District 8 Oregon State Senator Sara Gelser. Last year the celebration featured potluck-style food and a program of speakers, poetry, and music.

    This year, thanks to sponsors like City of Corvallis King Legacy Advisory Board and Collaborative Employment Innovations, food will be provided in the form of BBQ pulled pork, drinks, and other picnic-style eats. Other sponsors such as Corvallis Martial Art’s Dan Lowery and the Kidsthletics Club will be providing free martial arts, ZUMBA, and yoga demos for kids as well as face painting and crafts. Adults can expect derby Frisbee, “hangout games,” cards, plenty of conversation and getting to know one another, and good music for the duration.

    Before the festivities truly begin, the celebration will open with a 20-minute program. During this time attendees will experience the Black National Anthem followed by a short welcoming. Next will be a Juneteenth history lesson before poetry reading and dancing.

    “The program kind of centers us and brings us to the purpose of the event. Outside of that it’s just having a great time and coming together which, you know, we always need to do more of,” said Harris.

    Harris’ Goals
    Corvallis has an estimated population for 2015-‘16 of 54,462 individuals. Of those, 45,613, or 83% of the city, are identified as white. Nationally, the average white person lives in a census tract that is 79% white, the average black person lives in a tract that is 46% black, and the average Latino resident lives in a tract that is 45% Latino.

    So, beyond entertainment, the Juneteenth Celebration is a time for coming together in a deeper way. “We hope to create not only awareness and celebration, but some positive connections across the community,” said Harris. Harris explained that while everyone is having fun together, they also want to encourage dialogue and understanding. “Sometimes you can get isolated, and you don’t get to see the overview or the general view of what’s going on in the city,” said Harris.

    And, that brings us back to the Corvallis Chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice, or SURJ. For some, their viewpoint may at first glance seem confrontational.

    Corvallis SURJ
    SURJ has a branch here in Corvallis whose Facebook banner reads: “White People: What will we do to change our legacy of violence.”

    For some in our community, this dialogue is too inflammatory. The incendiary language, the accusative tone, and the singling out present in the banner turns them off. Unfortunately if they wrote these guys off that quickly, they may have missed links to the Juneteenth Celebration, among other thought-provoking and socially inclusive community events.

    Questions do come to mind, like is this banner appropriate for the community? Is this effective communication? Is the banner inviting, or is it offensive? Finding people to answer these questions is more challenging than one would anticipate. Notable facilitators of communication like OSU’s own Winston Cornwall and SURJ event speakers like Ken “Running Crane” Reel “respectfully encouraged” me to seek other speakers. As it turns out, this is a bit of a touchy subject.

    SURJ Corvallis chapter secretary Faith Reidenbach also failed to respond to queries about the banner.

    Moving forward, Harris, who had previously not seen the banner, offered her take. “I think for me, when I see that, it just reminds me of the things I’ve been studying—the history I felt like I didn’t know much about,” she said, referring to the American Civil War in which 750,000 US soldiers died, ultimately in the defense of and opposition to slavery in the United States.

    “I mean that’s pretty crazy to me, that we are willing to die to keep people as slaves,” reflected Harris.

    According to Harris, the Corvallis NAACP and SURJ have a dynamic relationship and their collaboration has been fruitful. This relationship also adds an interesting perspective for Harris. “This is the first group I have ever seen do this, as far as literally white people reaching out to white people in regards to race. For me it’s pretty bold because usually that doesn’t happen, that I have seen here in Oregon.”

    But does this make for effective communication? Is the message inviting, does it inspire an open dialogue? “It’s a pretty bold statement. It’s a bold statement because we could be all nice about it, but it’s not a nice subject. It’s pretty intense if you are the one being violated at least,” said Harris, herself more intrigued than turned off when seeing the banner initially, wanting to know why the SURJ banner was written as such.

    As for those turned off, does that reaction make their message somewhat offensive? Perhaps it’s a matter of personal interpretation. Harris is of the mindset that if someone is truly upset, “They need to take time to maybe go to a meeting and see what this is all about. Go check these things out and see because, like I said, I thought I knew about history, but apparently there is so much more to know.”

    However, this is the perspective of someone close to the subject, an active advocate of change. While Harris’ perspective is important to note, what might others in the community think?

    Tina Taylor is a counseling, mediation, and training specialist in Corvallis. One could say Taylor is literally in the business of compassion. Through her business she offers individual and couple counseling classes, facilitates training in communication and empathy strategies, and teaches Nonviolent Communication at the maximum security prison in Salem as a volunteer to the Oregon Prison Project.

    Taylor, who hadn’t previously seen the banner, had an initial observation: “In my work, in compassionate communication, I teach that any label of a group is likely to be heard as criticism and therefore very likely to lead to conflict.” In her 30-plus years of experience, Taylor has found that when people feel labeled or isolated, it becomes more difficult to come from a place of compassion and that people are often less understanding.

    Does signaling out a race then seem counter-productive, or overly critical? Taylor had this advice to give regarding issues where people intrinsically feel grouped: “The strategy is to offer empathy, and understanding that when people are upset about something, they are coming from a place of pain. The first step to healing that is to find out from them, what are they feeling and what are the needs that are not being met?” By offering empathy and discovering the real issues, we can begin to develop strategies to address all parties equally.

    But if the banner labels people, is it even appropriate in the first place? “The word appropriate is a general word, you know, who’s in charge of deciding what is appropriate and what is not,” said Taylor. “What I hear is that everybody is hurting. Everybody is hurting. The people who wrote that are hurting and they’re in touch with their feelings on behalf of other people who they see are hurting.”

    So it’s OK because everyone hurts? “We [often] don’t know what way to think and how to address conflict. We don’t have tools with that generally, that we are comfortable with,” explained Taylor. “That’s not what we are trained to do.” Understanding can be generated, however painful the process may be. Some people are naturally more empathic than others, but by keeping an eye on our emotions and reactions, we can change the patterns by which we deal with uncomfortable situations and how we receive painful messages.

    Attending an SURJ Meeting
    When I first came across the SURJ banner, it struck me as overly provocative. I thought to myself, that’s so intense, how do you expect anyone to want to listen? However, I thought about that banner for almost a month until I finally made it to one of the SURJ meetings at the First Alternative Coop. I didn’t find a bunch of anarchists or overly dramatic hipsters, just some totally normal Corvallis folks, some white, some not. We sat in a circle with name tags on our shirts and talked about what was going on around town.

    There was discussion about different insensitivities people had seen around town and how they were addressed or how they could be addressed in the future. They talked about what plans moving forward might look like—what kind of funding would be needed to offer events, campaigning for policy changes and what policies might need changing, even the possibility of obtaining a Diversity Officer for the city. Ultimately, I think the vibe of the meeting and my overall experience there was summed up by a question posed to the group by Reidenbach: “How can we meet each other, really meet each other?”

    Banner aside, I believe the Juneteenth Celebration is a good answer to that question. As Harris put it, “I feel like Juneteenth helps us come together and build relationships while having to work together for a better future across racial lines.”

    So, is the banner appropriate or effective or good or what? It’s not what I would have chosen, but then again it’s not really for me to say. If you have an emotional reaction to it, take some time and reflect. Ask yourself what it is about that message that is so jarring. If you have trouble wrapping your head around it, read about the Reconstruction Era or watch Ken Burns: Civil War on Netflix. Discharge those emotions beforehand, then go to a meeting and tell them, “I don’t get it; I am offended.” Ultimately, whether that message is the right one for Corvallis depends on how well we understand the issues it aims to address and how we express our needs as we move forward.

    By Anthony Vitale


    Counterpoint: Banner Words and Dreams

    With one side of my Euro ancestry barely escaping the Russian pogroms and the other side fleeing before the offer of an Auschwitz shower, my lily-white arse owns no part of the violence being called out in the SURJ banner posted on Facebook. And given plenty of folks with similar histories to my own and a humanity replete with non-white genocides, it’s tempting to dismiss this banner as sophomoric, except that its perpetuation of half-truth, divisiveness, and stagnation foment continued destruction.

    Yes, there is an American history of whites enslaving and perpetrating manifold horrors on black people, along with other white Americans being killed to stop that. But then, that history misses the more essential point, that humanity of all races have done unto other groups of people as they ought not for time in memoriam. The issue at hand is not of blacks and whites, but of twists in the human genome as expressed at this point in our biologic and social evolution.

    In other words, saying this banner is granular in the selection of its history would be charitable, but then that’s its point, an evocativeness born of oversimplification. The downside being the revulsion of those attracted more by honey than vinegar—which fuels the questions, are the repelled somehow less then, and can progress be made without them? And of the attracted, will an invitation to stew in past horror move the ball?

    One could argue that this isn’t the point SURJ is trying to make, but the logical corollary would have to be that the words or tactics or both don’t actually matter. But then, calls to fear and polarization are the same stock and trade that has a critical mass of our enormously powerful country possibly foisting a xenophobe on the world, who in a darkly ironic twist, would then administer over decades of individual citizens race and ethnicity data originally collected with all the best of intents.

    In short, words matter and human history for all its foibles has moments of transcendence. These are more often spurred by a dream and words faithfully aimed to compel the dwelling manifold of human conscience. A clanging invective only allures with an inflammatory power. It persuades a transient reactivity that at best repels the individual into escapism from a perceived toxic sea of noise pollution, or worse, leaves one tone deaf and unable to suss bullchips from sweetness.

    By Joel Hutton

    Read more ...
  • Good Samaritan Disability Games
    No Comment

    Lysa2Avid Advocate readers—if such a breed exists—may recall a feature from last February in which we followed former nurse Lysa Philipson’s battle against Lincoln Financial Group (LFG), Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center’s disability insurer. For those unfamiliar with the case, her story starts just over a year ago, when multiple autoimmune disorders rendered her incapable of work—and LFG denied her disability benefits.

    Last we wrote, Philipson had been approved by the Social Security Administration (SSA), after a grueling nine-month battle involving LFG and Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, whose hands were initially “tied” when Philipson asked for advocacy. Good Samaritan managed to do one nice thing for Philipson in early February, by amending her policy to include SSA disability determination as a trigger for benefits. We left Philipson on a hopeful note, assured that Lincoln Financial would stop with their stalling tactics and finally approve her for the benefits she worked for for over 30 years.

    Where we last left off, LFG stalled their decision another 45 days, requiring Philipson see a rheumatologist (who, as she guessed it, addressed the least of her issues). “I am beyond angry,” Phillipson wrote. “It was April 4, 2015 when I woke up and just knew my body was done.” LFG’s antics continuing, Philipson believes at this juncture that she will be taking them to court.

    In support of Philipson and other nurses at Good Samaritan, the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) bargaining department has issued contract negotiations that would prevent situations such as these from happening again. ONA has also voted to launch a Go Fund Me account for Philipson, with a $1,500 start. As told by ONA Communications Manager Kevin Mealy, the ONA bargaining unit executive team at Good Samaritan “has pledged $1,500 as an initial contribution and plans to raise more.”

    ONA’s contract proposals, which would affect short-term and long-term disability plans for nurses at Good Samaritan, are under consideration as the current contract agreement between ONA and Good Samaritan ends June 30. ONA has proposed two changes. First, that Good Samaritan “shall not make limitations on a nurse’s ability to opt-in at times of open enrollment based on prior opt-out decisions.” Currently, Good Samaritan nurses can only enroll in disability insurance plans at the time of hire, or after experiencing a qualifying life event. The proposed change would give nurses increased access to disability insurance during regular open enrollment periods.

    Second, ONA has proposed that if a nurse, such as in Philipson’s case, should experience issues in receiving long-term disability benefits, “the Medical Center will continue paying the nurse their FTE until the final determination is resolved.” This would have saved Philipson from months of zero compensation, or from draining her early retirement funds.

    “Good Samaritan needs to ensure all its employees receive the benefits they’ve earned,” Mealy said. “When there is a problem between Good Samaritan’s insurance company and a Good Samaritan employee, the hospital needs to support its staff and work to achieve a fair and timely resolution.”

    As for Philipson, the battle continues, alongside her declining health. “The stress of this disability game of cat and mouse is making me sicker and more stressed, and even more fatigued,” she said. We can only hope Good Samaritan and ONA can reach an agreement which gives better access to benefits for Good Samaritan employees, lest this horror story repeats itself.

    If you would like to help support Lysa Philipson, find her Go Fund Me account, set up by the Oregon Nurses Association, at https://www.gofundme.com/Help4Lysa.

    By Stevie Beisswanger

    Read more ...