• Meet Animal House’s Dave Stepnicka
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    animal-houseIf you’ve ever been to Corvallis’ Animal House, you’ve likely met the shop owner, Dale Stepnicka. Stepnicka opened the store in 1983, and has been breeding animals and selling them ever since. Beneath the surface, however, there is much more to the story.

    Before opening Animal House, Stepnicka started off as a kung fu instructor in California. Throughout high school he had taken lessons, and when he was a senior he began to teach classes. When he eventually earned his black belt, he found himself teaching classes to both adults and children.

    He moved from California to Oregon before starting up his business, and Stepnicka loves it here.

    “I love the beauty of Oregon and the people,” he said. “I don’t think I could be in retail this long if I didn’t love the people.”

    After that, he found himself in the business of wholesale fish, and even owned a bird ranch. When he realized that wholesale wouldn’t support his wife and two children, he switched to retail, and has been selling pets ever since.

    “I’ve loved animals throughout my life, and I love raising them. It’s just a very gratifying hobby,” said Stepnicka.

    When asked about his favorite animal, Stepnicka replied that he doesn’t have one, but “once you have a bird in your life, you can’t live without one.”

    Stepnicka works around 40 hours a week at Animal House, but that’s not all he does. He also maintains several fish tanks in the area, including a 40,000-gallon shark tank. He visits those tanks for an hour a day, five days a week, and he visits ponds that he cares for three days a week.

    “It’s like it’s not work,” he added.

    Stepnicka breeds many of his own animals to sell in the store, including goldfish, axolotls, exotic birds, bearded dragons, snakes, and tropical fish. They are born in his house or in his outdoor greenhouses. One of his breeder birds, a Moluccan cockatoo, is estimated to be nearly 65 years old.

    Since these animals were raised in his own home, Stepnicka knows they were treated well, not smuggled, are disease-free, and are marketed as the correct species.

    “I’ve seen tattooed fish… smuggled birds… birds that were bleached and dyed to look like a more expensive species,” said Stepnicka.

    His goldfish are also free of the koi herpes virus. Koi herpes affects all types of goldfish and has an 80 to 90% mortality rate. Stepnicka pulled a huge volume off his bookshelf and opened it to reveal pictures of what the virus can do. It fills the gills with the virus and very quickly suffocates a fish to death.

    Every pet store in the area has dealt with this issue—except for Animal House. The reason? The only goldfish that he imports are feeder fish, and they live in their own separate tank.

    According to Stepnicka, the hardest part of the job is keeping everything healthy.

    “It takes constant diligence. You have to observe everything carefully,” he said.

    The Animal House isn’t just a cool store to go and see your favorite animal in. Attention to detail and a rich history make it an ideal outfit for those who love animals and seek that special connection with their retailer.

    By Moriah Hoskins

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  • Kitty Meow Meow… It’s the Cat’s Meow?
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    kittymeowmeowOnce upon a time there was a kitty named Henrietta who loved to talk. Indeed she loved talking so much that every time she meowed, she meowed not once, but twice. As it turns out, Henrietta lives here in Corvallis with her cat-mom Heidi Sterling, owner of Kitty Meow Meow in-home pet sitting. Although Sterling and her employees do most of the work, Henrietta is credited with naming the business.

    Kitty Meow Meow (KMM) began over 12 years ago shortly after the liquidation of a video store Sterling had operated for two years. Feeling lost and a little uncertain what to do next, Sterling thought to herself, “I love animals and have always wanted to work with them. How can I combine that love with a business?”

    Sterling and her three employees boast over 30 years of combined professional animal care experience. However, beyond professional experience, it is often the sheer love and respect clients appreciate most about hiring KMM. Sterling explained, “They like the deep bonds that I and my helpers form with their pets, the diligent care we give to their animals, [and] our attention to detail.”

    From grooming and dental cleaning to boarding caged animals, Kitty Meow Meow has experience meeting the needs of many different types of pets. Their most popular service is the vacation sit, which includes feeding, potty duty, exercise time, and “lots of cuddle time, of course.” Beyond this, KMM offers 10-minute check-ins, basic and deluxe dog walks, vet and grooming taxiing, hotel visits for traveling buddies, and outings to the dog park.

    It’s that loving dedication that keeps people coming back for more. “It’s a truly special relationship that forms between the client, the pet sitter, and the pets,” explained Sterling. Many a KMM client has become hooked after just one visit. While Sterling didn’t have a percentage off the top of her head, she attests that many clients end up staying with her for years. When last she checked, there were over 350 folks in her client database.

    “They like that we’re insured and bonded, and that we have knowledge about important facets of pet care, such as identifying health issues, administering medications, [and] coping with behavioral issues,” explained Sterling. Another fan favorite, KMM sends cute pet pics during their visits, “and I’m sure they appreciate that we have a healthy touch of OCD when it comes to leaving their house and pet areas just as we found them, or better.”

    Sterling reminds us that animals are complex emotional beings just like you and me. She points out that without love, interaction, stimulation, and exercise, animals often become depressed and more susceptible to illness. While we bring animals into our homes and lives to experience their love and companionship, to Sterling, “it makes sense that we should give them back all of that in return.”

    “This is how I have always seen animals and felt them in my heart. This is why I dedicate my life to serving them and loving them,” said Sterling, “and this is the spirit of Kitty Meow Meow.”

    If you need your kitty or doggy taken care of, but want to make absolutely sure they are getting the love they need to thrive, drop a line to your local pet pals at Kitty Meow Meow. If you have trouble getting ahold of Sterling, look for her at the next pet day—I am sure you will find her.

    Check out services, rates, and pictures of pets including Henrietta at http://www.kittymeowmeow.com./

    By Anthony Vitale

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  • A Tired Dog Is a Happy Dog
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    dogrunner2Dogs need to run. It’s in their genes, and whether you have a Jack Russell terrier, a mastiff, or a little Chihuahua, expending that energy is an important aspect of healthy doggy lives. Unfortunately between school, work, travel, and all the burdens of being human, we don’t always have the time or energy to take little Spunky around the neighborhood. However, thanks to Megan Sweeney, the Corvallis Dog Runner, you can rest assured that your pet is getting both the exercise it needs and the loving care it deserves.

    Since her time as a high school student, Sweeney has worked in vet clinics, animal boarding facilities, and pet grooming salons. Drawing upon 15 years of animal-loving hard work in the industry, Sweeney single-handedly opened Corvallis Dog Runner a little over a year ago. “Most other pet sitters aren’t insured, which is a big thing for me,” said Sweeney. “I like to keep everything legit.”

    While Sweeney will happily take care of your goat, chicken, or even a mischievous iguana, running and long walks are her specialties. “Me and both my employees are very active so we can go on really long walks or runs,” said Sweeney. “I think a tired dog is a happy dog so I just want to wear them out.”

    Don’t worry—Sweeney assures us that she won’t force your dog to run. Instead she caters the exercise routine to the animal and often does a run-walk interval so they can catch their breath.

    “Dogs typically need between at least half an hour to an hour of exercise a day,” explained Sweeney. “Cats, too—cats actually need to be stimulated and be playing.”

    Sweeney attests that stimulation not only helps your pet’s overall well-being, but can prevent behavioral issues as well.

    “That’s when a lot of problems arise, coming from just not being entertained,” she noted.

    Beyond exercise, Corvallis Dog Runner stands out for its use of technology. It’s one of the few—potentially only—pet businesses in town harnessing the convenient power of online booking. Registering your pet is a breeze.

    If that’s not enough, Sweeney and her employees carry GPS trackers allowing you to see when, where, and for how long the Dog Runner crew exercised your fur baby. “Each session is recorded so you can see from three months ago how far we walked versus now,” explained Sweeney.

    As Sweeney’s full-time job, not only does she have the time and availability to accommodate her growing list of new clients, she also has the flexibility to support a base of regulars.

    “I have people that use me three to five times a week every week all year, so those are my main clients,” said Sweeney.

    Sounds pretty neat, right? Just wait a couple years, because Corvallis Dog Runner is looking to open a cage-less boarding and doggie daycare once they find the perfect spot.

    In the meantime, check out the Dog Runner website, give Sweeney a call, and get your doggy, cat, goat, or iguana some extra TLC. After all, tired pets are happy pets and happy pets make happy pet parents. Whether you are headed out of town, unable to run with your pooch, or just terribly busy, Corvallis Dog Runner has got your back… and your pet’s back, too.

    Run, walk, stay, scoop—Corvallis Dog Runner does it all. Check ‘em out at www.corvallisdogrunner.com. Also, take a gander at cute animal pics on Instagram at www.instagram.com/corvallisdogrunner.

    By Anthony Vitale

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  • Pets o’ The Advocate and Their Assistants
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    johnny_wemblesWembley-Don ‘Wembles’ Von Lipschitz

    Assistant Johnny Beaver

    Weighing in at 30 pounds, Wembley-Don “Wembles” Von Lipschitz enjoys flopping, rubbing and lying on things, and gets very anxious when his food bowl is not overflowing.






    Assistant Steve Schultz

    Mocha swears whining will shorten one’s drive to the trailhead, protects the couch, and believes steak and carrots are God.






    Assistants Kyle Bunnell and Stevie Beisswanger

    Yeti is a sweet marshmallow monster. She’s been known to turn dog people into cat people.






    Assistant Regina Pieracci

    May knows Mandarin. Her family does not know Mandarin, but if they play YouTube clips of dog commands it’s almost like they do.






    Assistant Kiki Genoa

    Mosie is actually a cartoon.





    anthony-animalsHarry, Bo, Cecilia & Macy

    Assistant Anthony Vitale

    Bo has masochistic tendencies, often abusing his owners emotionally. Cecilia was born a baby and never grew out of it. Harry is a bastard with a fused retina and neurological issues. Macy is very proper, she gets mad when laughed at or insulted.





    Assistant Jamie Asunsolo

    Buddha is equally as offended as Asunsolo’s son about hiking.






    Acquaintance John M. Burt

    Chicken lived in Burt’s chicken coop. Eventually, Chicken decided Burt was too scary, with his soft words and bowls of food, and stopped coming around. All the best, Chicken.





    kara-animalsMolly & Melody

    Assistant Kara Beu

    Melody is fond of looking out windows, lying in boxes, and chewing on plastic.

    Molly loves making nose art on the car window and barking at pedestrians. She is an employed route carrier for The Advocate.




    matthew-animalsChesapeake, Fred & Alexandria 

    Assistant Matthew Hunt

    Fred is a corrugated cardboard construction engineering specialist.

    Alexandria has her status protected by diplomatic immunity.

    Chesapeake is Hunt’s only trustworthy animal companion.




    anika_dessaDessa, aka Lil Wheezy

    Assistant Anika Lautenbach

    Dessa is a super chatty house cat with little

    to no survival skills. She enjoys eating, lying around, and watching RuPaul’s Drag Race.





    Assistant Annika Darling

    Gauge is a happy dork obsessed with balls and fetch. His tricks are Eskimo kisses and telling secrets, meaning he’ll lick your ear if you lean down and ask him to tell you a secret.

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  • Let Your Pets Rest in Peace
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    pet-euthanisaIt’s hard to deal with the reality that your animal companions will not live as long as you do, that you will have to see more than one of them through their old age and ultimately to their death. If you have young children in the family, it can be even harder for them.

    The prospect of taking your pet to a veterinary clinic to be euthanized can be so unpleasant that you wind up putting it off, forcing your pet to suffer. In Corvallis, there is another option: having a trained professional come to your home to administer the shot. It may be easier on your family, and especially on your pet, for this to take place in a familiar environment, with familiar faces around. The only stranger, the technician, will be someone who has done the same for many other pets, and who will know how to put your animal at ease.

    There are several services providing at-home euthanasia in Corvallis. Oregon Mobile Veterinary Service and House Call Pet Service specialize in home visits, while some local vets will send qualified personnel to your home.

    All local vets use the same preparation: a large dose of barbiturate pentobarbital, which causes relaxation, then sleep before their final moments. Some give a separate sedative, while others go straight to the pentobarbital. Some give medication via an IV line, while others give it through direct injection with a syringe. It is the gentlest form of death yet devised, a good deal more humane than the death by lethal injection used in many states for killing humans.

    There is no problem with having an elderly pet put down because death is near, or because illness has reduced their quality of life. Most services reserve the right to refuse to kill a healthy animal, though, or one whose illness can be treated. Many vets consider “convenience” euthanasia unethical, and will refuse to do it.

    For more information on local at-home euthanasia provided by Oregon Mobile Veterinary Service and House Call Pet Service, visit www.oregonmobilevet.com and www.housecallpetservice.com, respectively.

    By John M. Burt

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  • Don’t Let the Dog Bite
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    aggressive-dog2No dog owner wishes to consider the embarrassing, potentially costly, and sometimes devastating instance of a dog bite. However, knowing what to do in such an event is crucial to an effective response.

    The Environmental Health Department of Benton County is the first necessary call following an instance in which you or someone else has been bit. The proper forms are available on their website, or via a quick phone call. The department advises prompt and thorough cleansing of the affected area, as well as a tetanus/diptheria shot if the victim is not up to date.

    Scott Krueger of the Benton County Health Department states that the department’s first step following a bite is to analyze the situation to determine the potential for the dog to repeat its aggressive behavior. They look to factors such as the victim’s proximity to the dog, whether they were approaching the dog or the house in which the dog resides, and the dog’s breed to determine their next steps. The department also questions whether the dog is licensed, as Benton County requires mandatory licensing for dogs over six months. Licensing requires proof of rabies vaccination for public safety. Owners who cannot provide proof are required to quarantine their dogs, as are individuals whose dogs have a documented history of aggressive behavior.

    Julie Flanery of Wonder Dogs offers dog training based on the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior’s concepts. Her business is located in Philomath. “I favor the side of prevention in all aggression cases,” said Flanery, who advises owners to be observant of their dog’s behavior, noting any triggers that might be causing distress.

    Flanery suggests owners with puppies or new dogs pay attention to the pet’s reactions to the world around them, introducing new forms of stimulation as slowly as possible. “It is best to get a handle on who this creature is before creating expectations or putting them in situations they are unable to cope with,” she said. Interestingly, that training “occurs whether you are purposeful about it or not.” Flanery’s basic philosophy in training is to “reward the behaviors you want,” while either ignoring or preventing the dog from completing behaviors that concern the owner.

    Flanery suggests an owner thinks of their dog as “a perpetual three-year-old.” Flanery added, “Problem behaviors can stem from boredom and lack of enrichment just as much as it can from opportunity and lack of training. It is all about finding a balance in each person’s household.”

    In addition to proper exercise that stimulates the mind and body, Flanery suggests that owners come to recognize their own dog’s particular signs of aggression or displeasure. Besides typical indications of stress like growling or barking, Flanery suggests, “There are many more subtle signs we do not read as well.” Among these are fear signals, including ducking or crouching when approached. She insists that dogs not be punished for these behaviors, as they reflect a dog’s fear level. When dogs are taught to avoid these behaviors, they often resort to biting for lack of any other means to signal their fear. In most bite situations, “Most likely warning signs were ignored, not detected, or punished out of the dog,” said Flanery.

    Many owners experience stress, financial difficulty, or embarrassment given a loss of control over their animals. Yet the liability of owning a dog who potentially presents a danger to the public is considerable. Dogs are energetic, sociable creatures, and when interacted with properly, can provide joyous companionship. It is the owner’s responsibility to equip their pet with skills needed to thrive in their environment and home life. After all, would you raise a toddler without expecting to teach them how to be a healthy, happy, and polite citizen?

    By Ariadne Wolf

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  • Post-Election Editor Reflections
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    steveschultz_picTrust and Engagement, or Else
    By Steve Schultz, Editor-in-Chief

    If I told you our leaders are among the most integrous, hardworking, and gracious folks in our community, even when we don’t necessarily agree with them, would you take me seriously? Would you even lend me your ear for a moment? I hope so, because no relationship or society is going much of anywhere without some trust and a little deference.

    At age 56 I can recall from youth a public discourse concerned that post Watergate, citizen confidence in our leaders and institutions may be so shaken that society would speed right past skepticism to a default cynicism—and what do we have now? Echo chambers of mass vilification, a polarization that has our formerly checked and balanced political pendulum swinging wildly while nothing actually moves.

    This devolved dialectic rewards the bombastic rather than the bold, with the consultancy class’ cruel efficacy choosing the negative over the forward leaning and cleaving ever tighter voter demographies until we are all separated from one another with the assurance that the other side must either be ill intentioned or dolts, we have become dismissive of one another, even angry. This environment favors the Svengali and bully.

    And now revolted and cowering in our corners, we are no longer listening, not to our leaders or prospective leaders, and not even to each other. We do not trust anymore. But the danger is that without hearing and trusting, we are not making distinctions, and in no small part, this is how we’ve arrived at Trump, a spectacle rather than a leader.

    This has started to seep into the politics of our fair little local burg—witness last year’s local GMO ordinance campaign and this year’s Republican county commissioner candidates or Democratic nominee for Secretary of State. While none of these campaigns succeeded, I would posit Trump could not have in the past, and the well-being of our future requires renewed mental alacrity and openness from us all, along with a good dose of willing engagement.

    These last few years moderating debates and working on this paper, I’ve seen up close and personal the power of leaders acknowledging what they know and what they don’t—and the acceptance of facts as facts—all the while open mindedly working out the best solutions available at the time, even knowing they cannot achieve everything they would like. These folks actively seek and engage differently minded folks. Look for all these traits in prospective leaders, be those traits. And to paraphrase Michelle Obama, in the face of anyone going low, go high—and I would add in the words of Trek character Jean-Luc Picard, engage.

    steviepic-290x290Fine Lines
    By Stevie Beisswanger, Associate Editor

    I know dark comedy. As a mental health service provider, I’m well-versed in the world’s most blatant and appalling injustices. I am trained in coping mechanisms and forms of therapeutic, nonviolent intervention. From the outside, it may appear the mental health of our nation is in a state of rapid degradation. That’s not what I see.

    We are all in the thralls of a reactive backlash, some of us angry and confrontational, others  overly agitated, wanting just a second of silence from the raw spewage (sewage of the mouth or brain) that is social media. At the end of the day, everyone has their own opinion; the floodwaters of expression are upon us.

    While exposure to this inner turmoil is surely taxing, I submit a positive outlook. We need to talk, and even more, we need to listen, respectfully debate and compromise. Reformation—revolution, even—requires open communication and tactical stratagem. We live in a fast world, but proactivism takes time and positive regard takes grace. While our many heads mull over the what-to-dos, it’s okay to slow down, to breathe, find silence where we need it individually.

    Right after (::cringe::) Donald Trump was announced President-elect, I stepped outside for some air. Through a thick blanket of fog, I saw stars searing in the sky, light years above our small speck of a planet. In that moment, the vastness and beauty of the world outweighed the ugly. The heavy uncertainty and tension in the air hadn’t quite dissipated, but I could accept it.

    And so the world is laughing at us. Let’s laugh with them. I mean, it’s a little funny (in the darkest of ways) that the mean orange man who screamed from my TV screen as a teenager will soon be burning a hole in the chair of the Oval Office while his minions hold power. Over the last week, I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, I’ve worked out furiously and danced to forget. Now it’s time to laugh together, or cry if we have to, then do something about it, peacefully—because violence and hatred are counter-productive. C’mon, America, we should know this by now.

    We need to figure out how to move and communicate effectively toward continued sustainability and unification of the human race. The going will get tough, the questions will be loaded, and triggers will be pushed. We’ll have to find safety in exposure, poise the fine lines of activism, and lift each other up with warm shoulders and a dash of sarcasm (or whatever your brand of humor). It’s a weird world, and we’ve no choice but to roll with it.

    johnny-beaverFood for a Thoughtless Pandemic
    By Johnny Beaver, Associate Editor

    I’m under the impression of a few things right now: 1.) That nobody wants to hear anything more about the election; 2.) That I’m one of them; and 3.) That sometimes you have to do stuff you really don’t want to do, because it’s your job and you’re worn out, despite the fact that it’s actually a good idea. That said, like John McCain, I’m a maverick. One foot in, and one foot out of convention.

    “I don’t like Trump. I see the result of the election as a wake-up call to our cultural and intellectual disparity. I think our educational system has abandoned even the most vague attempts at teaching critical thought. I think the result of this is a population that forms snap opinions based on nothing, and that we are not culturally prepared to deal with how easy the Internet has made it for people to: A.) get very intellectually lazy; and B.) get very intellectually dishonest,” said Johnny Beaver, associate editor with The Corvallis Advocate.

    That’s it. However, I haven’t met the word count requirement, so I think I’ll be proactive here and use the rest of my word count for something more important. I’m not nearly the poet I used to be, so transcribing the drying of paint is out of the question. Instead, my backup: a list of what I ate over the last few days:

    One small Pepsi-brand Pepsi, two Orange Crush sodas, six or seven bottles of water, two veggie burgers with baked beans, some breakfast rolls, chips of assorted varieties, some disgusting sugar cookies, some mozzarella sticks, a veggie platter, way too many apples, crackers and cheese, a bunch of lithium, a small handful of sand, probably some bugs, a few burritos, a grilled cheese with some killer Ortega chilies, and some other stuff I can’t remember. Not very healthy, but I was on vacation, sort of.

    All joking aside, this is how I feel. Can’t turn to the people I agree with because they’re really meeting the status quo of our shared generation by… well, doing what I described they were doing in this week’s As the State Turns. And I sure as hell can’t turn to those I disagree with, because I’m disgusted with what I see as an abandonment of human decency for a perceived (and totally false) practicality.

    Happy holidays, these will be.

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  • 2016 Presidential Election Fallout
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    gelserIn wake of the results of the 2016 presidential election, as shocks reverberate throughout the nation,  wind ourselves peering through a thick layer of tension and foreboding, to see people scrambling by—doing their best to chin up and problem-solve new ways forward.

    The local Corvallis community is just one in the masses of places and people severely impacted by this election, however, hopes remain. Upon checking in with some of our city’s citizens and leaders, we see, overall, a steadfast resolve and propellant force. You can bet our city is determined, and doing their best to remain positive. But don’t just take it from me. Hear what some of our state and city leaders have to say, how they’re planning to take care of themselves and others in this time of change and needed unification.

    Senator Sara Gelser, Oregon State Legislature
    “As a community member and legislator, I will continue my efforts to amplify the voices of those who are living in the margins and shadows of our community. That role is even more important now as so many have expressed an overwhelming fear of the future. I plan to continue to speak out against acts of overt hate and violence, and bring attention to discrimination in its more subtle, pervasive, and systemic forms.

     I also plan to go back to work developing policies that ensure that Oregon’s economy works for every Oregonian, that we have an education system that is responsive to the needs of all students, and that we protect the social services safety net that is so essential to so many Oregonians. We’ve made a lot of progress in Oregon in recent years, and I expect we will continue to edge forward with that work here in our corner of the world.

    Finally, I am heartened by the overwhelming number of young women and girls who have reached out to me over the past week who are inspired to get engaged as community leaders and run for office. I look forward to mentoring these women and continuing to encourage an ever more diverse panel of candidates to run for local, state, and federal office and to serve on boards and commissions.”

    Anne Schuster, Benton County Commissioner
    “The morning after the election I wanted to paint a watercolor picture of a persimmon. It was therapeutic, allowing me to focus on the beauty of nature and not obsess over the election results. After that, I spent a lot of time talking with people in the community as I walked between various downtown meetings.

    The results from this election make me want to take care of people. To tell them they are not unwanted. I feel protective. Everybody counts!

    We can focus locally because we live in a stellar community. For the national level, I am not going to worry until I have to. Stress is the worst thing for one’s health. That takes us full circle back to painting persimmons…”

    Cindee Lolik, First Alternative Natural Co-Ops, General Manager
    “We live in a great community which acknowledges that everyone, regardless of economic status, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or political affiliation, deserves to be treated with the basic respect every person is entitled to as members of the human family. I will continue to work for expanding equity, justice, and sustainability in our community, and making sure our business continues to provide our community with healthy choices, that is the best self care I can strive for.”

    Bart Bolger, Veterans For Peace (VFP) and Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Member
    “I will rededicate myself to pursuing radical change—meaning getting to the root of the problem—and not settling for concessions offered by those in power.

    In this election, we see the result of many years of reformist change which did nothing to fix the underlying system. Reform works at the local level and on small problems, like adjusting a bus route to serve more riders. We cannot fix a national government beholden to big monied interests (capitalism run amok) nor a society afflicted with racism, patriarchy, and classism without big, radical change. It cannot be done by electing a different president or leader of the DNC. Self-defined progressives and conservatives alike are harmed by the current system. They just chose different paths to correct it, normally by accepting minor reforms that do not work over time. Even the “New Deal” was a concession and has been whittled away over the years.

    So I say, get to the root, work for radical systemic change and build a community and movement to advance that change.

    On an interpersonal level and of the most immediate concern, I will help to protect those most vulnerable to the anticipated policy and legislative changes that will place them at risk of physical and mental harm.”

    Helen Higgins, Boys and Girls Club Corvallis, CEO
    “We are acknowledging our staff and members’ feelings and then talking about how the work we do for kids makes positive and lasting change. Our staff is using this as a teachable moment with our youth to spur discussion on how individually and collectively they can get involved in our community to make a difference. And we’re encouraging staff to either stay off social media for the next little while, or counter any negativity by posting joyful or positive pictures or messages.

    This is a great time to really understand what resiliency looks like, how to overcome disappointment, or win gracefully depending on the view.

    Over all, stay optimistic as our country continues to grow up. This is either our terrible twos year, or our angsty adolescents, not sure yet!”

    Jay Dixon, Benton County Commissioner (2000-2016)
    “This last election day was clearly a shock for many people. I encourage folks to not speculate (another word for guess) about what might happen. Watch carefully, and if something untoward appears to be in the planning stages, band together with others who share your concern and take action. Although their power has been weakened by Tuesday’s results, our senators, congressmen, and congresswoman are still in place and can still be relied upon to help in many cases. While it may feel like the world is coming to an end, it is not (at least as a result of this election) and we have plenty to do to continue to carve out the kind of world we want to live in. We’ve had setbacks before.

    Don’t get caught up in all the rumors of things that may never occur. Have hope, band together, continue to pursue your goals, and surround yourself with people who share your goals and seek positive outcomes.

    Personally, I am seeking yet another career; I have some significant volunteer commitments.  With the help of family and friends, “I’ll Get By!” (for those of you who remember that old tune).”

    Lisa Wells, Co-Owner of Live Well Studios
    “One of the oldest meanings of yoga is to yoke, but not to yoke just anything, yoga refers to yoking a wild horse to a chariot. The human mind was observed to behave like a wild horse, liable to start and jump at any whim. Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutras some 2,000 years ago, says that yoga is attained through practice and imperturbability. In other words the wild horse of the mind can be trained to best benefit if we practice daily, remain steadfast and focused, and do not allow life’s irritations to divert us from our goals.

    In the Bhagavad Gita, a mythologic text contemporary to the Yoga Sutras, Krishna says that yoga is selfless action. Krishna tells Arjuna, the hero of the epic, that he must show up on the battlefield of life and act, do his dharma, his calling, and let go of the fruits of his actions. In a simple modern colloquialism: “Do the footwork and let go of the result.” Krishna is a god incarnate, Arjuna is a warrior. Krishna does not tell Arjuna to go into the forest and pray. He does not tell Arjuna to turn the other cheek or wash the feet of his enemies. He says, and I summarize, “You are a warrior, it is your calling to fight a righteous battle, you must show up and fight the battle before you. You may not win, but you may not turn away.”

    So what will I do in this time of turmoil? I will take the lessons of yoga and I will show up for my life. I will practice meditation and yoga postures and movement. I will stay strong and healthy so that I may arrive on the battlefield of my life prepared for what is put in front of me. I will do the footwork and let go of the outcome of my actions.

    In daily life, this looks like my mundane daily meditation. I sit in my garden lean-to every morning rain or shine for 30 minutes to an hour. Later in the day I will move my body through yoga postures, dance, bike riding, weight lifting. I will enjoy the moment of life that I am in. I will support those in need and I will step forward to defend the harassed and abused. I will minimize my participation in consumer culture and I will conserve resources. I will boycott companies that perpetuate abuse on the planet or other humans. I will write letters. I will call politicians and business people who have the power to protect both native people and the planet.

    I plan to be leaving to join the Standing Rock Water Protectors within the next couple of weeks. I am called to show up in support of those standing up on the battlefield of indigenous rights, the rights of the environment and the planet. I intend to be willing to put my body where my heart is and to show up where I am needed and can make a difference. If you would like to support Standing Rock and have North Dakota winter-reliable resources to gift to the Standing Rock Protectors (sub-zero shelter, propane stoves, solar panels, oak or ash firewood, financial donations) please feel free to contact me. Or offer your donations to the Native American Longhouse at OSU or directly to the Water Protectors online.

    Finally, I will keep these words of
    @sonofbaldwin in the forefront of my mind: ‘We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.’”

    Annabelle Jaramillo, Benton County Commissioner
    “Our county government will continue to serve all who live and visit here. I look forward to making Benton County a welcoming and safe place to be!

    I am a defender of civil liberties and an advocate for social justice. I will continue that work. Personally, I am turning to my family and close friends for support and will respond with my support for them.

    And tonight, my sisters and I will see and hear ‘Il Divo,’ a remarkable quartet at the Schnitzer auditorium in Portland.”

    Steve Lundeberg, OSU College of Business Communications Specialist, Journalist
    “For support I look to anyone who can join me in the belief that treating others how we wish to be treated is pretty much the foundation for being a decent human being. It’s really tough to be a quality person without at least making an effort to be kind, understanding, and empathetic. Most importantly I look to support from my girlfriend Laurie, who’s a member of multiple groups denigrated by the President-elect, and of course my main aim is to support her in any way I can also. Together we’ll work to prove that love conquers hate and that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. We plan to take an active stand, even more than usual, anytime we see acts of evil by people emboldened by the election results—or acts of evil, period. Beyond that, I’ll continue to coach baseball, where all that matters is a player’s talent and dedication; that is, whether gay or straight, white or black, Asian or Mexican, Christian or Muslim or Jew, it’s the content of someone’s baseball character and overall character that matter, which is a great concept for the rest of life to strive for.”

    Kim Scott, Trillium Family Services, President & CEO
    “[This year’s] historic election outcome has left many of us feeling saddened and confused, and others of us heartened by the potential for political disruption and change.

    In any case, our goal at Trillium Family Services is to continue to take care of each other, be supportive, and practice all of the things we have learned and continue to discover through our organizational journey towards trauma-informed care. Our efforts to transform Oregon into a safe, supportive place for ALL people to live, work, play, learn, and worship will continue to thrive.

    What is undeniably true is that our work makes a difference. We have been there for people who need us, we have taken on the battle of fighting stigma, and we have committed to being an inclusive, diverse and anti-racist organization focused on equity and fairness. Regardless of political outcomes, these ideals are still relevant, maybe even more so than ever.

    I am so proud to be the president and CEO of this organization and I invite you to join us in our efforts to Keep Oregon Well!”

    By Stevie Beisswanger

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  • Mental Health, Social Media, and the Fabric of Community
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    Benton County Courthouse Benton County Courthouse

    On election eve the Corvallis City Club hosted a public forum titled “The Election, Mental Health, Social Media, and the Fabric of Community” at the Boys and Girls Club. Speakers included a diverse panel from within our community voicing a clear message: this election has championed divisions within our society, emotionally scarred many, and left us isolated from one another—but there is still hope.

    Nick Houtman, editor of Terra magazine and former City Club president, opened the evening with this statement: “We saw that the American Psychological Association estimates that over half of the population is feeling stressed out about the election process.”

    He explained that, reflecting on this, City Club members have asked themselves, “How do we foster these healthy conversations about things that we may disagree about, but how do we do that in a respectful fashion?”

    Panelists responded by offering their perspectives on how the election has affected people’s daily lives and where things may be going in the future.

    Jill McAllister, a minister for the Universalist-Unitarian Fellowship in Corvallis, used fabric as a metaphor to describe the binding properties of community. She said it is “that material thing which is always being worn out, tearing, and being renewed.”

    “Politics,” said McAllister, “if you do some etymology, it basically means the shape of the community.” It represents the hierarchy of who is in charge, what boundaries are in place, and who is allowed into the club.

    “What we call religions have been common [everywhere], because really it’s just a human undertaking, a human endeavor,” said McAllister. It is the essential act of asking ourselves, where do we come from, why, and how do we act?

    “Whenever these questions are being asked and the answers are being given, that always becomes a political process,” said McAllister. “There is always a political process around how we incorporate these questions because they are intrinsically human.”

    The risk, especially in the US where we have 500 to 600 varieties of Christianity alone, is that religious traditions often lend themselves to widening ideological holes in the fabric.

    However McAllister reminds us that “when religion is at its best, it is helping to weave the fabric of society towards right relations, and you can see those elements in every tradition.”

    Local social worker Jana Svoboda wanted to talk about something more personal—reflections garnered from experience in her own private practice. In the last few months, she has seen a rise in MUS or medically unexplained symptoms.

    “MUS or psychophysiological symptoms are actual physical symptoms that show up in your body because you are stressed out,” said Svoboda. “Stress is a physiological process, it’s what we do when we are faced with more demands than our body thinks it can deal with.”

    Where is all this stress coming from?

    “In my private practice I have people who are triggered by the election because of their sexual trauma history, or their bullying history,” said Svoboda. “I have seen people triggered by their disempowerment history, because of having been the victims in the past of institutional racism which is now becoming voiced racism.”

    Svoboda points to Carl Jung’s concept of the shadow, the self, and the ego. “In the shadow, there is a lot of stuff—not all necessarily bad—but a lot of stuff that didn’t work well for us, so when it does leak out, it tends to leak out in pretty ugly ways.”

    “I think we are seeing a hardcore shadow election,” she said. The hope is that the release of these nationwide tensions is cathartic in the end, otherwise we have yet another xenophobic mess on our hands. Still, Svoboda remains hopeful and reminds us that “we also have these things called freewill and a critical mind—we can use those things to overcome those problems.”

    How can we be sure this is happening all over the country and not just in Svoboda’s practice or McAllister’s service?

    Daniel Faltesek, assistant professor of new media communications at OSU, uses computer algorithms to comb the Internet for certain media content. He is not spying on you, but looking for patterns of communication that emerge.

    One such pattern arose during the Republican National Convention this year. “We got about 650,000 entries in the matrix for that—489,000 of them are not original. So only 120,000 people even went out of their way to think of their own thing to say,” said Faltesek.

    This is what we call a media event. During such an event, “People tend to communicate less organically, they come up with fewer original Tweets…they share more things written by other people,” said Faltesek.

    People get sucked into the hype of a media event, but what were they going to do on social media before the event?

    “The technical term we have for what people do with social network is called ambient awareness,” said Faltesek. “You actually enjoy creating this sort of shell for yourself where you’re like, ‘Well, this is how the world is, this is how people are feeling.’”

    “By getting so into this media event, they started to shut off all of their regular opportunities to build their worlds and build that ambient awareness that they use to feel good,” said Faltesek. “The more they get involved in that world, paradoxically, the more they actually lose that world they want to be living in.”

    Fortunately, we have some control. The more you subject yourself to the same types of articles and attitudes online, the more of it your computer will feed you.

    “The algorithms can be manipulated by you to make the world feel the way you want it to feel,” said Faltesek. “If you haven’t shared in a while the algorithms, the great robots that run our world, will think that it’s something really important and will put it in everyone’s feed.”

    So post something happy. Change the subject and what you’re subjected to will change, changing the way you feel.

    By the end of the discussion, two quotes by people named Mark came to mind. The first is “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” The second is this: “Love thy neighbor,” because that is a power no government can take away. Think about that for a second, then go online and like some kitten pictures and post your favorite muffin recipe.

    By Anthony Vitale

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  • Coffee with Dan and Sami
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    dansamiLast Friday, District 16 State Representative Dan Rayfield met with myself and former campaign opponent Sami Al-Abdrabbuh for coffee at New Morning Bakery in downtown Corvallis to discuss the overwhelming civility demonstrated between Al-Abdrabbuh, Rayfield, and their mutual competitor, Andrew Freborg, at a recent forum discussion on ranked-choice voting.

    When Democrat Rayfield and Progressive Al-Abdrabbuh arrived, they immediately sparked up a conversation. Coffee in hand, we began discussing their experiences at the recent forum. I wanted to know how they managed to maintain a civil, even friendly, relationship despite representing opposing parties and competing for the same office.

    “In a smaller community, you care about the community,” said Rayfield. “Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump never have to see each other again, they go their separate ways.”

    Rayfield explained that if he drives around Corvallis honking and giving the bird, people will take note. However this behavior can go unnoticed on a massive scale, like in LA where you may not get that sense of community.

    “I think it is real easy to demonize each other in a much broader sense,” he said. “When you engage and talk with somebody in a personal manner, it’s much tougher to demonize them.”

    “We all should be surprised that Trump did not meet President Obama until last week, regardless of how sincere he was,” said Al-Abdrabbuh. “It’s just shocking for me that we have this divide and it’s not only on a national level, it’s also within our communities.”

    “Politics is about bringing everyone together and making sure people understand each other,” he continued. “If I had won, which I didn’t, I would have had to carry on with Dan and the Democrats.”

    Al-Abdrabbuh explained that since age seven he lived in Saudi Arabia. There he debated religion, politics, and everything in between with an Orthodox Christian family friend. “One day I told my dad, ‘My stomach hurts when I debate him,’” said Al-Abdrabbuh. His father offered two pieces of advice: one, never debate him again…or two, always assume the best.

    “He is our friend,” his father said. “Try to see what is common, what is different, and understand that maybe you will not change what he believes and he will not change what you believe, but you will understand him.”

    Similarly, Rayfield recounted an experience from his own childhood. His father was a colonel in the air force, a vice president of an insurance company, and a Republican. His mother was progressive, opposing nuclear testing and weapons dealing. Rayfield admits that his time as a boy was split between Dan Quayle rallies and feeding the homeless.

    These early experiences showed him that “they want the same thing, they’re just going about it in different ways, but they are good people.” He said, “I have this fundamental belief that we are all good on the inside, we are just going about it in different ways.”

    Libertarian Freborg mirrored this sentiment in an email response to the same prompt.

    “For me it comes from a place of respect, and the knowledge that from a values standpoint, all three of our goals were very similar,” he said. “We may have disagreed on the how of those questions, but we usually agreed on the what and the why.”

    “When I announced my campaign I made it clear that I only wanted to debate on ideas,” Freborg continued. “When you resort to insults and name calling and make the argument personal, you have ceded the arena of ideas and have already lost. We are all human beings, and as such are deserving of respect, and that is something I will always strive for, not just in this race, but in my personal dealings as well. And I know, deep in my heart, that Dan and Sami feel the same way because they demonstrated it on the campaign and in their personal lives.”

    But, is it as simple as just respecting each other?

    “There’s a fine line in the game of politics,” said Rayfield. “This is the thing that is fascinating, you [still] have to distinguish yourself to win a race.”

    How a candidate chooses to accomplish this is telling. Rayfield chose to actively help his opponents. As Freborg put it, “That speaks to his character, and his desire to ensure that District 16 had a rep that was fully prepared for the obstacles ahead, even if it wasn’t him.”

    Al-Abdrabbuh summed up politics nicely: “Winner takes all, but it takes us all to win.”

    Collectively their campaigns reveal that, despite the pernicious presidential election, opponents do not have to be enemies. Furthermore, when candidates truly respect the responsibilities that come with office, they can put selfish motivations aside and work together.

    By Anthony Vitale

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  • The Gift of Giving
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    soup-kitchen-1024x682Volunteering has become the second most popular form of holiday charity after donating, yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, volunteering has fallen 0.4% in the United States since 2014. Seemingly a small number, this results in a loss of 1,275,600 helpful bodies.

    With falling statistics, now more than ever we see a critical need for volunteers—especially considering that Oregon has the nation’s highest rate of child food insecurity, 29% according to the Community Services Consortium.

    Lucky for us, Corvallis has volunteer opportunities sprinkled heavily throughout the city. As Thanksgiving approaches, organizations such as Stone Soup, the Linn Benton Food Share, Jackson Street Youth Services, and more are putting together dinners and food baskets for local low-income individuals and families. Here’s the rundown:

    Stone Soup, a free, all-inclusive meal-assistance program, is preparing for their annual Thanksgiving dinner, which serves an average of 125 to 150 people each year. Stone Soup is always in need of volunteers, and will need to fill about 50 slots for the dinner itself. The program welcomes long- and short-term volunteers, as well as volunteering families. According to Director Susan Dunham, their main cook for the Thanksgiving dinner has spent 10 years volunteering for the event. Stone Soup also accepts financial donations, along with material donations of boxed, canned, and frozen food and produce.

    To get involved, email stonesouphelp@gmail.com.

    The Linn Benton Food Share is organizing another holiday food drive this season, and volunteers have already begun gathering food. Participants are now sorting and assembling holiday baskets to be distributed to families.

    There were 1,400 baskets distributed last year, according to Susan James, volunteer and gleaning coordinator. As the Linn Benton Food Share is solely volunteer-based there is always a great need for extra help, especially considering the average 5.3 million pounds of food that’s allocated annually.

    On top of the holiday food drive, on the last Thursday of every month
    the Linn Benton Food Share has an open house that gives out bulk and canned food to low-income households across the county. This month’s open house will be held today, Thursday, Nov. 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Food Share warehouse in Tangent, 33747 Looney Lane.

    Basket distribution will start
    Nov. 21 and volunteer opportunities last through Nov. 23. All ages are welcome to volunteer—parents must accompany children 12 and under. To sign up for the open house or holiday food drive, contact Susan James at sjames@communityservices.us or call 541-758-2645.

    Jackson Street Youth Services needs ingredients for their Thanksgiving dinner. Their licensing requires that all food they use is store-bought or made in a certified kitchen. Volunteer coordinator Aaron Kratzer explained, “What is useful for us is when people are able to donate the ingredients for parts of the meal. We’ve even had people donate a recipe and all the needed ingredients [like a pie with all the necessary parts, ready to make].”

    For more information on how to help, contact Aaron Kratzer at aaron.kratzer@jacksonstreet.org or call 541-360-0868.

    While on the topic of donations, the Vina Moses Center is accepting applications for children’s toys and Christmas food baskets, while CARDV, the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence, will be accepting gift donations through Friday, Dec. 9.

    For more information about Vina Moses Center’s holiday donations. contact Christine Duffney at 541-753-1420. For more information on CARDV gift donations, contact Jennifer Morris at jennifer.morris@cardv.org or call 541-758-0219, ext. 302

    Last on the list is the 13th annual Corvallis Turkey Trot on Thursday, Nov. 24, a fundraiser for the Parks & Recreation Family Assistance Fund. The proceeds from this event provide low-income families access to Corvallis Parks & Rec programs.

    Registration is $30 and the run begins at the Osborn Aquatic Center. For more information, email michael.fischer@corvallisoregon.gov  or call 541-766-7946.

    With times the way they are, spreading holiday warmth and support is important, so please, go volunteer, go donate.

    By Jamie Asunsolo

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  • It’s Healthy Turkey Time… In a Manner of Speaking
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    Food Stylist: Adrienne Anderson  Prop Stylist: Paige Hicks Food Stylist: Adrienne Anderson
    Prop Stylist: Paige Hicks

    Hello again, my fellow meat-elites. For better or for worse, we’re facing Thanksgiving in just a few weeks, and it’s time to pick a turkey to share with your family and friends. To save you some holiday season stress, I’ve put together an exclusive, health-conscious Thanksgiving insider’s guide to plucking the fittest bird in town.

    Corvallis Farmers’ Market Downtown Corvallis, 541-740-1542
    At this fall’s market, most turkeys have already been reserved, but a few may be left to buy in the weeks before Thanksgiving. Four vendors are selling turkeys this year, and Market Director Rebecca Landis recommends calling in to reserve turkeys before buying.

    Heritage Farms Northwest, a pork farm that also raises turkeys, offers poultry that is pasture-raised—a perk ideal for the most discerning of customers. Turkeys are not certified organic but are raised on feed free of GMOs. All turkeys are free of preservatives, hormones, and antibiotics.

    My Pharm is selling two types of turkeys at the market. One is a standard, conventionally fed turkey; the other is fed certified organic turkey feed. Both are pasture-raised and raised on GMO-free grains, and are preservative-, antibiotic-, and hormone-free.

    Red Bird Acres Farm also boasts pasture-raised turkeys fed a diet free of GMOs, preservatives, hormones, and antibiotics. Though Red Bird’s birds are not certified organic, the farm does offer an additional heritage breed of turkey that may still be available for reservation and/or purchase at the market. Heritage breeds at Red Bird Acres are considered especially healthy and often superior to the regular, broad-breasted turkey breeds because of the particular way that they are raised.

    Totem Bonum Farm, which offers non-certified-organic, non-GMO-fed turkeys that are pasture-raised, is also selling birds at the market this year and plans to bring turkeys to several other farmers’ markets in the region.

    Please visit the Farmers’ Market website at http://locallygrown.org/home/ for information regarding vendor locations and availability.

    First Alternative Co-op South Store, 3rd Street, South Corvallis, 541-753-3115
    This year, the Co-op will have four different varieties of turkeys: three from Mary’s Farm and one from Walkers Farm. The first type of turkey from Mary’s is fed with a 100% certified non-GMO blend of corn and soybeans. Though the grain it is fed is not certified gluten-free, it contains no wheat. These free-range turkeys contain no preservatives, antibiotics, or added hormones, and run at $1.99 per pound.

    A second variety of turkey from Mary’s Farm is certified organic due to the turkey’s feed being free of chemicals and pesticides. These turkeys are also free of GMOs and fed with GMO-free grains. They are $3.49 per pound.

    The third type of turkey Mary’s is selling at the Co-op is a heritage breed, which meets all the same standards as the first variety, except for a principle difference being that as a different breed of turkey it is not certified organic. The heritage turkeys are the most expensive at the Co-op this year, and are $5.99 per pound.

    Turkeys from Walkers Farm are free-range, antibiotic- and hormone-free, and are not certified organic but are all pasture-raised and fed turkey meal that is non-certified GMO-free but is, nonetheless, GMO-free. Walkers’ turkeys cost $5.19 per pound.

    Trader Joe’s, 9th Street, Corvallis, 541-753-0048
    Frozen turkeys are available right now, so be hasty. This Thanksgiving, Trader Joe’s is offering four different varieties of turkey, and one of them is certified organic this time around.

    The organic turkeys run at $3.99 per pound. They are free range and raised antibiotic- and hormone-free on local farms, while fed an organic diet made of gluten-free and GMO-free corn and soybeans.

    TJ’s also offers a certified-kosher turkey for $2.49 per pound and two turkeys that are all natural and raised on feed free of animal byproducts, each for $1.99 per pound. None of the latter three turkeys are, however, free range, so it’s highly recommended to get in and grab one of the organic variety as soon as possible.

    Trader Joe’s does not offer heritage breeds. All frozen turkeys are available to buy through Thanksgiving Day.

    Market of Choice, Circle Boulevard, Corvallis, 541-758-8005
    Market of Choice offers two types of natural, frozen, ready-to-cook turkeys this year, both from the Shelton brand, which raises turkeys on a farm in Ponoma, California.

    Shelton’s organic variety of turkey is free-range, certified organic, certified gluten-free, and contains no antibiotics and hormones. It is not certified free of GMOs. These turkeys are $5.99 per pound.

    The second highest quality turkey available at Market of Choice is Shelton’s all-natural variety, which is also free range and free of antibiotics and hormones, though not certified organic or GMO-free. The second turkey is not gluten-free and is not fed an organic, gluten-free, or GMO-free feed. This turkey started at $3.49 per pound, but went on sale for $1.99 per pound starting Nov. 15.

    If customers wish to reserve turkeys before buying, they must do so by Nov. 21. Otherwise, Market of Choice recommends coming in to find a turkey at about the 18th of November, as turkeys will arrive in the store between the 15th and the 17th.

    Natural Grocers, 10th Street, Corvallis, 541-758-0200
    Like the Co-op, Natural Grocers is selling turkeys from Mary’s Turkey Farm. Natural Grocers has two varieties of regular turkeys from Mary’s Farm, and had heritage turkeys and geese but are now currently sold out of all heritage breeds.

    Both turkeys are free-range and non-GMO-certified. One variety of turkey is raised on non-GMO organic feed, and is $2.69 per pound; the other is certified organic and raised on non-GMO certified organic feed, running at $3.99 per pound.

    The store ended up selling turkeys earlier than usual this year, and subsequently no more reservations are available, though customers can call and ask to be put on a reservation waiting list.

    By Kiki Genoa

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  • Space Neighbors Invasion: Album Lift-off at Bombs Away
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    imgp1548Longtime local groove scene favorites the Space Neighbors are funking up a frenzy in anticipation of their new album’s release at Bombs Away Cafe, Saturday, Nov. 19. The Neighbors have dubbed their new and second CD Crucial Pie, featuring eight live and four recorded tracks that fans will finally get to play from groovy gadgetry.

    The Space Neighbors have been funking things up in Corvallis for seven years, since the band got its start in 2009 when bassist John “Yohan Solo” Nevarro posted on Craigslist, looking to form a reggae/hip-hop group—ultimately leading him to drummer Rigel “VII” Woodside.

    Over time, some Neighbors have come and gone, and the band now consists of eight members, six of which—including Nevarro and Woodside—I had the utmost pleasure of sitting down with to get the spew on their new album, their bigger picture fixins, and how the Space Neighbors define themselves within the local Corvallis music scene.

    The Space Neighbors ‘Coalesce’
    “You’ve used that word 12 times already,” vocalist Melanie Reid quips.

    The Space Neighbors are indulging in a boisterous round of witticisms as we sit in the lounge area of their studio, while percussionist GalxC, in an upbeat and impassioned manner, describes the band’s synergy of sound as a coalescence, composed of synchronized vibes that produce an oozing force of positive energy on crowds as they perform.

    As a dedicated fan, I know these vibes, and am reminded of my first encounter with the Neighbors’ “disco gypsy jam funk” sounds—I remember being transported to an otherworldly plane of boogie, where the get-down jives feverishly spread whole body through all in the crowd.

    “It’s really been fun how the crowd likes this music, and it’s a big part,” said piano player Brent Carmer.

    Guitarist Nick Revard later explained the band and crowd dynamic as “a really push-and-pull kind of scene,” where the band and the audience feed off of each other, letting the funk feels free-flow between them.

    “When I’m singing as a performer on stage, I make a lot of eye contact… it makes a lot of impact,” said GalxC.

    Revard added, “Sometimes I’ll be taking a solo and I’m like totally distracted looking down… and I’m trying to end it and Rigel’s, like, not having it.” The others confirm an improvisational technique on stage and in the studio.

    “It’s definitely that improvisation and working off of the old, and that’s where the retro-future classics comes to mind, because it’s very old and absolutely building off tradition, but also new,” GalaxC explained.

    “Yeah, it’s all original but everyone feels like everyone’s heard it before,” said Revard.

    At its core the band maintains a traditional funk beat, while implementing varying styles of music and sound, from hip-hop and R&B to jazz, disco, and rock.

    “We all come from really different musical backgrounds,” said Carmer, who described Nevarro and Woodside as “hardcore funk,” while he and Rivard share jazz roots. GalaxC has meddled in heavy metal, grunge, and a whole list of other genres.

    Intergalactic Creation (or Coalescence, If You Will)
    The Space Neighbors practice and record for two or more hours twice a week in their studio, paying critical attention to detail and finetuning their music.

    “Usually what happens is we bring it in and we run through it … [and] someone will interject something that makes it shift a lot, and then we’ll keep working it until it becomes a song that it was meant to be,” said Revard.

    “It also seems like no matter who wrote the song we all lyrically rotate around Melanie.” Revard cops to stealing Reid’s harmonies and her having to continuously create new ones, pointing to (in my opinion) one of the most exciting aspects of any Space Neighbors song. Each shifts seamlessly between bouts of distinct sounds and harmonies.

    The band records during each studio session, and will often take breaks to stake out any prime parts. “We go back and we listen to the good parts… and take some seed that will become a song,” Woodside explained. Woodside is the master of this particular trick.

    “He seems to remember like, ‘Oh, it was minute 53 that we got to the real groove,’” said Revard.

    “Well, because he’s a scientist,” added GlaxC.

    Revard grinned, expanding, “He’s a groove scientist.”

    Woodside shrugged. “I have a PhD in Groovology.”

    “Yeah, definitely his PhD in groovology comes in handy,” Revard confirmed.

    How ‘Bout That Record?
    “Oh, it’s gonna be settin’ records,” said Revard.

    The band has been sitting on a sizable stash of songs, composed since releasing their last album, Escape Pod, in 2011. The band admits to being slow when it comes to releasing their music and lists people giving them a hard time as their number one incentive in creating Crucial Pie, featuring such Space Neighbors classics as “Higher Power” and “Little Green Man”.

    “A lot of people are banding our music and getting mad at us for not releasing,” said Woodside. The songs on their newest album, he admitted, were recorded “like a year ago.”

    “We’re so slow!” Nevarro exclaimed.

    “Hey, that’s fine,” said GalaxC, “That’s how you do good space barbecue—every vegetating barbecue needs time to marinate.”

    Revard nodded. “It takes a minute.”

    The Space Neighbors already have enough songs recorded for a third CD and plan to pump up production.

    “We’re gonna be on a new tight schedule here, so we’ll be crankin’ ‘em out at least yearly,” said Revard. I can’t tell if Revard is being serious, but am assured that the Neighbors are set on pumping up production.

    Livin’ In The Moment
    The Space Neighbors don’t have merchandise or swag to offer fans, and they don’t often travel far outside of Corvallis for gigs, but not out of laziness. The Neighbors are simply a “live in the moment” type of band.

    “I think a lot of it is about the live show,” said Revard.

    “Yeah, we really try to bring a party,” Carmer added.

    “We don’t have enough time to tell the crowd when the next shows are cause we’re just really in the moment for them,” said Revard. When the band finds time to browse their Facebook pictures, “It’s like a religious experience or something,” said Revard, “[like] some crazy church,” seeing the funk taking over the band and their crowds, the fervid release in their postures.

    The Space Neighbors have a steady base of supporters, some of whom they are proud to say sing along to their songs.

    “They show up and they’re there and they sing! They know the songs!” said GalaxC.

    “It’s amazing cause it’s like a 19th-century band where you can’t find their lyrics online, which means [people] can only learn them live when we’re playing,” said Woodside.

    “It’s a very hard town to make it in as a band.” Revard and the others can think of only a few other artists that have lasted as long as them.

    “We’re kind of like the barnacles, we’ve stuck around for a long time,” said Navarro.

    As far as local venues, they’re not naming any favorites, but fondly remember gigs spent at Tyee Wine Cellars, Thyme Garden, and Sky High rooftop in August. However, Bombs is the band’s home base, and where they play most often.

    “It could just be some street corner and we’d be super happy,” said Revard. “We bring such a positive vibe, it doesn’t matter what your age is, you just listen to our music.” The band reaches a wide demographic and has played for diverse crowds, young and old.

    “We really are community-focused in that we spark some life in the people we are reaching,” said Nevarro. “There’s a lot of important social issues right now and really the dream would be that we can make a big impact, at least locally.”

    The Space Neighbors will be projecting light years of positivity come November 19, during the release of their album at Bombs. They will also be playing at OSU’s CGE Brew-Off, hosted at Odd Fellows Hall in downtown Corvallis, Saturday, November 12. The Brew-Off will feature 30 local homebrewers and kegs from local breweries, and all proceeds will go to the Linn-Benton Food Share.

    Join the Space Neighbors for the official release of their new album, Crucial Pie, at Bombs Away Cafe, Saturday, Nov. 19, 9 p.m. to midnight. Don your tinfoil hats and spacesuits and get ready to funk the freak out, fellow beings.

    For more information on the CGE Brew-Off, visit http://cge6069.org/brewoff/. Tickets are $15 a pop.

    By Stevie Beisswanger

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  • Corvallis Arts Walk Rundown, Nov 17.
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    jeff_hess_jeffhessstudioAn eclectic mix of promising new shows are lined up for this month’s Corvallis Arts Walk, which somehow seems a little shorter this month, but maybe even the more satisfying. Sadly, as Studio262 plans to close early next year, this will be that gallery’s last reception, though they appear to be leaving in style—featuring no less than 20 artists this walk.

    Always one of our favorite freebie date night recommendations, this month’s walk promises to be especially impressive.

    2nd Street

    TEAL ARTISTS CO-OP • 328 SW 2nd St. •  4 to 8 p.m.
    Teal Gallery reinserts itself into downtown Corvallis every year and is always showing the work of new artisans. Gift-oriented, they carry fine leather goods, handmade soap, new jewelry, and woodwork. This arts collective showcases many Willamette Valley artisans. Their newest artists are painter Dale Draeger and glass artist Kelly Nutter.

    RACHEL URISTA STUDIO • 340 SW 2nd St., Studio 12 • 4 to 8 p.m.
    Abstraction Squared. A new collection of square-shaped paintings, furthering the ideas of line, geometry, shape, and color from the mixed-media artist. Snacks and drinks served.

    FRED AMOS STUDIO • 340 SW 2nd St., Studio 12 • 4 to 8 p.m.
    Fred Amos is working on a new series of Garden Art paintings inspired by the Corvallis Garden Quilt Show and the Avery Rose Garden. He is combining floral images with garden figurines to produce bright, colorful, and imaginative paintings.

    BRITTNEY WEST STUDIO • 340 SW 2nd St., Studio #3 • 4 to 8 p.m.
    See Brittney West’s new thought-provoking art created while at Vermont Studio Center’s month-long, artist-in-residency program in October. From paintings to installation, collage to sculpture, there’s an array of activist artwork waiting for your eyes.

    ART IN THE VALLEY • 209 SW 2nd St. •  4 to 8 p.m.
    Celebrate! Artist Phyllis Johnson says she uses texture and colorful backgrounds to inform her subject matter, and that this show is her response to the increasingly negative mood in our world today. She and the gallery hope the depictions of our fellow Earth inhabitants will serve as a reminder of the joy of living.

    MAJESTIC THEATRE • 115 SW 2nd St. • 5 to 8 p.m.
    Alt. Ed. Illustrations. Showcasing work from Laurel Thompson, Annie Mitev, and Anna Wills, all sharing a commonality of being homeschooled. The Majestic comments that these three artists are forces of nature, each with unique talents.

    Madison Avenue

    Bison! Bison! • 354 SW Madison Ave. • 5 to 9 p.m.
    Manuel Jaramillo: Recent Works. These works promise a subtle balance of simple, graceful composition with infinite layering and heavy knife work. Each piece draws its unique personality from an emotional connection to the process and medium.

    STUDIO262 • 425 SW Madison Ave., Ste. H-1 • 4 to 8 p.m.
    Holiday Art Show. The last Studio262 event with a reception for their Holiday Art Show during the Corvallis Arts Walk. Features over 20 local artists. This lovely “Buy Local Art” event continues through Dec. 30 with artists bringing new work in throughout the show.

    LIVING ROOM GALLERY • 425 SW Madison Ave. • 4 to 8 p.m.
    Exhibiting local artist Jessie Crawford presents wood burning and other works. Also features performances from American Tribal Style Bellydance!

    KAREN WYSOPAL • 425 SW Madison Ave., Ste. J-5 • 4 to 8 p.m.
    Luminescence: Alcohol Ink Paintings. An exhibit of new works created using new techniques with alcohol inks on Yupo paper and other experimental substrates.

    JEFF HESS STUDIO • 460 SW Madison Ave., Ste. 16 • 5 to 8 p.m.
    Working Studio. Preparations are underway for the January show at the Arts Center.  Working studio this month with more mess than bling on display, but 20% of all sales go to Standing Rock.

    THE ARTS CENTER • 700 SW Madison Ave. • 4 to 8 p.m.
    Reception for With Wings and Tails. Sweet, endearing works, some addressing animal life in a more realistic way. Includes works in clay, prints, woodcarving, sculptures, paintings, drawing, and photography. Participating artists are Christopher Adams, Liisa Barden-Rahkonen, Carol Chapel, Faye Cummins, Anthony Gordon, Patricia Giraud, Adriana Huyer, Frank Kolwicz, Renee McKitterick, Stan Peterson, and Sara Swink.

    4th Street

    Voices Gallery • 301 SW 4th St., Ste. 169 (new location) • 4 to 8 p.m.
    Gratitude. To celebrate their gratitude for the community and their new location, Voices Gallery is hosting a special gathering of artisans at the November Arts Walk. They promise gifts to delight the senses, face painting, music, and more.


    FAIRBANKS GALLERY • Fairbanks Hall, 220 SW 26th St. • 4 to 8 p.m.
    On the Brink. Kerry Skarbakka’s practice lies at the intersection of performance-based practices and staged photography. Over the past 15 years he has used his body as a physical metaphor, dedicating his artistic energies towards constructing scenarios channeled directly from the anxiety and fear associated with simply being human. Issues of uncertainty linked to war, equality, identity, politics, economy, and the environment are some larger examples of these external strains.

    Skarbakka’s images can be found in the collections of institutions such as the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. He serves as an assistant professor of photography at Oregon State University.

    For destinations reporting after press time, visit www.corvallisartswalk.com/events.

    (photo: artwork by Jeff Hess)

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