International Headliners from Benton County’s Backyard

Some impact is generated through and by the grapevine – the same grapevine that cast national and international spotlight, and stirred social media craze, on these three Corvallis-dwelling citizens in 2017. 

Many of us tuned in, in awe and disbelief, over the controversy that came of restaurant owner Cloud Davidson’s Irish pub, turned tiki bar, turned back to Irish pub – providing a public example of how cries of cultural appropriation on social media can apply great pressure and scrutiny on local businesses, despite good intentions. 

Then there was the goat-yoga craze, thanks to our own, Lainey Morse. We hear they’re going down-dog with goats as far as Africa now. 

Featured on National Geographic and other things and stuff, Kristen Vitale continues to gain international attention for her catspertism and research at Oregon State University, proving over the years that, no, not just dogs – cats are capable of behavioral conditioning, unconditional love, and loyalty, too. 

Cloud Davidson

1. Cloud Davidson: Tiki Gate 2017

Controversy was sure to follow Cloud Davidson’s decision to turn his well-loved Irish pub into a tiki bar this past June. However, no one could have guessed that the controversy would be enough for Davidson to reverse his decision and return to Irish roots.

Public outcry began when a local Polynesian woman took her concerns to Facebook, over some decor she found offensive, namely tiki masks and the restaurant’s new name, Hapuna Kahuna. Davidson chose the name as reminiscent of days from his childhood spent visiting relatives near Hapuna Beach in Hawaii. 

The post sparked a raging social media debate on cultural appropriation, looping in other businesses from Portland deemed guilty of the same insensitivities. Ultimately, Davidson decided to take down the tiki, even after his first attempt at public apology, when he removed the masks and changed the name. 

Cloud and Kelly’s made its return in September, with its esteemed bangars and mash, and lamb burger. Not defeat, but rather care for the people’s nostalgia and for his own, is what Davidson says influenced his final decision in returning to Irish roots.

Lainey Morse

2. Lainey Morse: Goat Yoga Innovator

Morris’ success began with a farm and goats that made her happy and helped her through difficult times. She originally started a “Goat Happy Hour” as a form of animal-assisted therapy before someone approached her to do yoga in the field where the goats lived. The rest is history. Now there are over 180 Goat Yoga businesses around the world, and it has been in the news every single day since August 26, 2017. Morris is currently working on a series of books about Goat Yoga, and hopes to help make goat therapy as prevalent as equine therapy in the near future.

Kristyn Vitale

3. Kristyn Vitale: Catspert

Kristyn Vitale is a PhD research fellow at OSU specializing in cat behavioral science, and last spring, her team shook the Earth by providing evidence that cats actually enjoy our company. On top of that, Vitale also holds kitten training classes, where she strengthens human-feline relations across the community while simultaneously collecting data for her research into the cognitive abilities of cats. She intends to continue her research, and eventually prove that cats can be trained to do specific tasks. Imagine a world where cats are put to work sniffing out drugs, explosives, or disease. I’ll imagine one where my cat pitches in for rent.

For information about the cat training classes, visit Vitale is married to Advocate writer and editor Anthony Vitale.