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February 14th, 2019


We’re celebrating Valentine’s Day in our own way at the OSU Press. We have a passion for literary projects that celebrate the earth and bring to light ecological issues, so what better way to show our love for eco-lit than by highlighting some recent and forthcoming books:

Speaking for the River: Confronting Pollution on the Willamette, 1920s-1970s by James V. Hillegas-Elting

Oregonians in search of a fascinating ecological history need look no further than the first book describing the causes and implications of the pollution of the Willamette River. This major Oregon river’s history of pollution and ongoing rehabilitation has affected local communities and ecosystems. In Speaking for the River, independent historian James V. Hillegas-Elting takes a close look at this ‘blot’ on the record of a state known for its commitment to environmental protection. Hillegas-Elting’s history of the iconic and imperiled Willamette focuses on the period starting in the 1920s through governor Thomas L. McCall’s push to clean up the river. Though progress has been made, protecting river quality, like love, takes constant care and maintenance.  

California Condors in the Pacific Northwest by Jesse D’Elia and Susan M. Haig

The California condor once soared the skies of the Pacific Northwest, from northern California to British Columbia. While some people may not think agree that this bird of prey is gorgeous and glorious, we definitely do and this year, we choose the California condor as our true Valentine. In order to learn more about our scavenger Valentine, we’re revisiting California Condors in the Pacific Northwest. This book explores cultural relationships between Native American tribes and condors, investigates the condor’s history from prehistoric time to the early twentieth century, and evaluates potential causes of regional extinction. It’s a must-read for anyone who loves the California condor as much as we do.

If you’ve enjoyed us gushing over our nature, you’ll want to know about this two forthcoming Spring titles:

Field Guide to the Grasses of Oregon and Washington: an illustrated guide to all 376 species, subspecies, and varieties of grasses. Read more about the book here.

Same River Twice: The Politics of Dam Removal and River Restoration: three case studies of major Northwestern dam removals that share lessons for communities worldwide.



February 8th, 2019

The OSU Press team in Corvallis, Oregon is anticipating some very snowy days are on their way this week. Our Griffis Interns Zoë and Carolyn prefer to spend cold afternoons inside with a good book.

Check out their snow day reads below, and stay safe and warm when the snowflakes start falling!



I’m in the middle of Homing Instincts, a collection of essays by New Yorker-turned-Oregonian writer Dionisia Morales. As a fellow coast to coast traveler (I grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania and moved to Corvallis, Oregon for my MFA at OSU) I deeply connect with her writing on identity, travel, and home. Below is an excerpt from the essay “Blue Means Water”, one of my favorites so far, in which Dionisia writes about the geographic particularities that make up her childhood home:

“When you grow up on an island, you can circumnavigate the limits of your world by following a forever-arcing line. There are different names for different kinds of islands, names like islets or keys. An island in a river is sometimes called an eyot or an ait, words I have never seen written on any map. We didn’t have a special name for where we lived; I didn’t know there could be a special name for it. We just called it the city.”


Homing Instincts is a wonderful read for a snow day when you might be imagining the spaces you call home, whether near or far away. This book is also longlisted for an Oregon Book Award! Congrats, Dionisia.



If you’re looking for a children friendly book for the cold days ahead, I suggest Ellie’s Strand: Exploring the Edge of the Pacific. While staying warm indoors, children can read a story set outdoors on a later winter day. The book focuses on Ellie and Ricky who travel to the Oregon coast, help with a one-day beach clean-up, and discover much about animals and tidepools.


Through Ellie and Ricky’s outdoor adventures, the story explores ocean conservation and the power of volunteering. Ellie’s Strand is beautifully and charmingly illustrated that may inspire young readers to sketch and draw. This book is a wonderful way to stay cozy inside and still enjoy the beach!

February 1st, 2019

Although it’s still winter, we are looking ahead to Spring and all that the new season brings: blossoms, brightness and books. Yes, books! We’re excited about our forthcoming releases and our Spring catalog is available now. The catalog highlights The Eclipse I Call Father, an essay collection on absence, Same River Twice, an examination of the politics of dam removal and river restoration, Edge of Awe, an anthology of personal impressions of the Malheur-Steens country, and many more. Today on the blog, our Griffis Publishing Interns each highlight a Spring book that they are looking forward to reading.



Gifted Earth Cover

This spring I’m looking forward to spending more time outside enjoying the beautiful Oregon outdoors, and the OSU Press Spring Catalog features a book perfect for my interest in the botanical culture of the Pacific Northwest. Gifted Earth: The Ethnobotany of the Quinault and Neighboring Tribes does more than help readers identify regional plants: it also promotes a sustainable relationship between readers and the environment.

This respectful and balanced attitude towards plant usage is a core value of the book. Collaboratively written by the Quinault Indian Nation and Douglas Deur, Gifted Earth captures the beauty of the plants it describes in over 80 color photos.

Each of the descriptions of the plants shared in Gifted Earth features a summary of the plant’s cultural significance and tips for gathering and using the plant. Throughout these entries you will find writing on ethical plant usage guided by Native American resource management principles, touching on issues from land access to Native American gathering rights.

Gifted Earth is as fascinating and comprehensive as it is user friendly, guiding readers through the foliage and into a new understanding of the living tradition of plant use in the Quinault Nation.


Red Coast CoverThis academic year I became slightly more involved in the Coalition of Graduate Students, a union at Oregon State University, and also read Beyond the Rebel Girl, a narrative that examines the role of women in the Industrial Workers of the World in the Pacific Northwest. Now I find myself interested in learning about the past and present state of unions and radicalism in the Pacific Northwest. This Spring, I am very much looking forward to the release of The Red Coast, a thorough and accessible history of activism in Southwest Washington from the late nineteenth century until World War II. While the book highlights radicalism, it also delves into anti-radical forces that fought against the work of organizers. I’d recommend The Red Coast to both academics and general readers who are interested in histories of activism and labor.

January 22nd, 2019

This winter we at OSU Press were thrilled to publish Governing Oregon: Continuity and Change, a close look at the systems of governance and policies that shape Oregon life. Featuring contributions from twenty seven political experts and insiders, this book is essential for any reader interested in understanding the current issues of our state. Today editor and author Richard Clucas is joining us on the blog for a Q&A with Griffis Publishing Intern Carolyn Supinka:

CS: What were some of your goals in editing and writing Governing Oregon? How did this book come about? Do you think it fills a gap in literature on Oregon politics?


RC: There are just very few books on Oregon politics and the ones that exist tend to be biographies. But there is just not a lot out there. The last book to offer a comprehensive view of Oregon politics was published more than a decade ago, and it was structured much more as a textbook.


Early on, the four editors got together and discussed what we wanted to do in writing a new edited book on Oregon politics. The one thing that struck us immediately was how much Oregon politics has changed over the past twenty years. We quickly decided we wanted to capture the change.


But as we got talking, we also recognized that there were some central parts of Oregon politics that had not changed, such as the lack of a sales tax and the state’s unique kicker law. Thus, we came up with the subtitle of continuity and change.


One of the things we did not want to do is to write a general textbook on Oregon politics. Instead, we wanted to capture some of the central characteristics that have defined Oregon politics since the beginning of the new millennium. We also wanted to be comprehensive. The result, I feel, is a much more dynamic and readable portrait of state politics than if we had gone the textbook route.


I have to give credit to Ed Weber at Oregon State University for playing a central role in helping bring the book together. He was the one who called for the first brainstorming meeting. He also spearheaded a two-day workshop with all the contributors, which was underwritten by the U.G. Dubach Chair endowment at OSU. Of course, this was a real team effort. Priscilla Southwell and Mark Henkels worked diligently on different parts of the project. We also had a great group of contributors.


CS: Governing Oregon highlights the polarization of political climate in Oregon and the divide between the rural and urban areas. What are some of the issues these areas are divided on and why is this essential to understanding Oregon politics?


RC: It is impossible to talk about Oregon politics without talking about the state’s political divides, especially between the rural and urban areas. The divide we see in Oregon among the regions is similar to that in other parts on the country, though there are some specific historical events that were important in creating this divide in Oregon. We talk about these influential events in different parts of the book. At the root of the divide are economic and social differences between the regions. Since the early 1980s, many of the rural parts of the state have faced continuous economic challenges, while the urban areas have enjoyed considerable economic growth and diversification. Along with the economic division, the urban areas have grown more populous and more racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse. There are other differences that less frequently noted, such as in access to high technology and the media.


Many of the contributors discuss this divide, but the chapter by Alexandra Buylova, Rebecca Warner, and Brent Steel on “The Oregon Context” does the most thorough job in explaining why we see this divide and how the divide, in turn, shapes the state’s politics. As they and other contributors point out, these social, economic, and cultural differences create different public policy issues in the different parts of the state while also generating different ideas about the proper role of government in society. The result is a profound split between the regions.


We don’t just focus on the divide, though. One of the things that has changed in Oregon over the past twenty years is that the Democratic Party has become more dominant. Twenty or thirty years ago, the two parties were about evenly matched, creating conflict and gridlock in trying to govern the state. The polarization has not gone away. It is just that the more liberal side of the state—the parts electing Democratic Party candidates—has become more dominant.


CS: In your chapter on “Changing Partisanship, People, and Pressures in the Legislature,”you note the changing demographics of Oregon legislature, which has been and still is dominated by middle/upper class heterosexual cis able-bodied white male legislators. What changes and constants have you observed in the composition of the legislature, and what are barriers to further diversity?


RC: Yes, you are right, the legislature remains dominated by this demographic group, though there have been some significant changes. The most significant one has been in the number of women elected to the legislature. In the 1960s, there were fewer than 10 women in the legislature. Over the past decade, those numbers have grown significantly. Today, one-third of the legislators are women. Female legislators have also begun to control many of the top leadership positions, including serving as House Speaker and the majority leader in both chambers.


There has also been some improvement in the representation of racial and ethnic minorities. The big change can be seen not in this most recent election, but in the previous one. During the 2017 session, there were four African-Americans, four Latinxs, and one Native American serving in the legislature.


When you couple this along with the election of Oregon’s second female governor, it means that the state government has become more inclusive and representative. However, women and minorities are still underrepresented in Oregon government and there remain many barriers to improving these numbers. Some of this underrepresentation, especially among women, may reflect societal constraints placed on them, yet the challenges are also political. Women and minorities are often simply discriminated against in receiving financial and other support to run for office.


CS: Governing Oregon notes how Oregon’s progressive energy policies set it apart from many other states. How did clean energy come to be a priority for Oregon? Do you think Oregon’s policies may influence other states to adopt similar policies?


RC: Most of the nation’s attention has been focused on the federal government’s efforts, or lack of them, in addressing the environment threats we face. The reality, though, is that the vast effort to address these problems have been taking place at the state and local level. State legislatures have become the undisputed leaders in directing climate policy in America. One article I recently read said that it is as if the states have been on “steroids” when it comes to addressing climate change.


Oregon was the first state to impose mandatory limits on carbon dioxide emissions on power plants. It has taken steps to encourage the production and use of cleaner, more efficient, renewable energy. These steps include establishing a Renewable Energy Action Plan, expanding efficiency standards for state-owned buildings, and creating a quasi-governmental organization to provide cash incentives and technical support to encourage private investment in renewable energy. The state has also adopted a ban on coal-fired power.


While these are meaningful steps, it does not mean that there are not other important energy issues confronting the state. Among the big ones are the transportation of fuel, including proposals to construct liquified natural gas terminals and pipelines in the state.


Even though the federal government has been slow to respond, state governments recognize that the problems associated with energy, the environment, and climate change need to be addressed. Whether or not other states directly copy the legislation enacted in Oregon depends in large part on how successful our policies appear to be in addressing these issues.



CS: Governing Oregon addresses the destruction national and state governments have caused to indigenous communities, including the termination policy of 1953 in which Congress eliminated tribes as political entities. What are the current issues facing tribes today?


RC: Justin Martin and Mark Henkels put together the chapter on tribal government and provide a brief history of the challenges facing tribes in Oregon, though much of their chapter focuses on how Oregon tribes have become leaders in developing positive relationships with the state government, one that is based on government to government relations. This approach has benefited Oregon tribes, enhancing the independence of their governments and allowing them to play a more assertive role in local, state, and federal affairs. It is a very interesting story.


Of course, there are many challenges that still confront Oregon tribes. Justin and Mark focus particular attention on tribal gaming. The development of tribal casinos has helped Native American communities, improving job opportunities for tribal members and building tribal economies. Yet the future success of tribal gambling is not assured. Justin and Mark discuss some of the potential challenges that may affect tribal gambling in the future and reduce this boon in revenue and jobs. 


CS: This past fall midterm elections were held, and the incoming representatives elected to the House will be the most diverse class in history. Can you share your thoughts on the results of the recent elections in Oregon, and what do you anticipate the impact of these results will be?


RC: The increase in diversity is important because it brings in new and different perspectives on the issues confronting the nation and the state, and it leads to different types of bills being introduced and enacted. As I mentioned earlier, though, women and racial/ethnic minorities remain underrepresented in Oregon, as they do at the national level, which means that while their concerns are being better represented, there is still much progress to go.


The most significant impact the recent election had on Oregon politics is that it enabled the Democrats to retain control of the governor’s office, while expanding their hold over the Legislative Assembly. They now have a supermajority in both chambers, which means that they can pass tax measures without the support of any Republican.


There are, however, some roadblocks that will limit the Democrats’ actions even though they have the supermajority. While the political parties have been acting more like cohesive teams in recent years, the Democratic legislators and their constituents still do not agree entirely on how every issue should be addressed, so some intra-party differences may stop the Democratic leadership from steamrolling everything they may want. Plus, opponents can always use a referendum, or a threat of a referendum, to restrain the Democrats.


There is another roadblock too, which will limit what the Democrats can accomplish, and that is simply time. The legislature is only in session for a little over five months. As a consequence, the party leaders have to decide what issues to emphasize this sessions and which ones to hold off until later.


In our book, we talk about the conflict and gridlock that frequently threw Oregon’s government into chaos in the 1990s, making it difficult to govern the state. Despite the potential roadblocks that may limit the Democrats’ success in the current legislative session, the party’s success at the polls last year puts it in a strong position to get what it wants and to avoid the conflict which once hobbled the government.


Buy Governing Oregon: Continuity and Change here and read more about the issues Richard discussed with us today!



Richard A. Clucas is Professor of Political Science at Portland State University and the Executive Director of the Western Political Science Association. He is a co-editor of and contributor to Governing Oregon: Continuity and Change.


December 3rd, 2018

  We’re thrilled to feature some great news from OSU Press author Tim Palmer in this week’s blog post. In Wild and Scenic Rivers: An American Legacy, Tim shares 160 gorgeous photographs he has taken of wild rivers throughout North America. The photographs and histories of these rivers will soon inspire many more people outside of the pages of his book, as Tim will explain!



As an author, you never know who will see your book, or what might come of it.

            Last week I received news that the Postal Service will release twelve Forever postage stamps in 2019 and four of those stamps feature rivers illustrated in Wild and Scenic Rivers: An American Legacy. The four rivers are the Snake in Grand Teton National Park, the Skagit in Washington, the Flathead in Montana, and the Ontonagon in Michigan.


These new postage stamps commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. In 1968, Congress passed this measure, which bans further damming or harmful developments that are under purview or funding of the federal government. The intent was to balance the momentum for development of rivers with conservation of the highest value streams. The initial act included the Rogue River's designation in southern Oregon, stopping a dam that had been proposed at Copper Canyon. Oregonians banded together to support protection instead, which was vital because our salmon and steelhead runs have enough trouble as it is. They would have been decimated if that dam had been built.


          Oregon has portions of 59 rivers and tributaries in the Wild and Scenic program—the most among all states, and yet the mileage involved is  less than 2 percent of Oregon's total stream miles. To adequately protect Oregon's finest natural rivers, much remains to be done. Additional rivers are eligible and worthy of inclusion in both the National Wild and Scenic program and in a similar state system. Streams that are especially clean can be designated by the state as "outstanding resource waters" with safeguards from future pollution. Further withdrawals from waterways where the flows are important to native life can be avoided, and better setbacks for clearcut logging and aerial spraying of herbicides can be established under state law.












I'm gratified to know that the Wild and Scenic Rivers program will be broadcast to Americans through these commemorative stamps.


See all the new Forever stamps here, and watch for them in 2019!




Tim Palmer is the author and photographer of three Oregon State University Press books: Field Guide to Oregon Rivers, Rivers of Oregon, and Wild and Scenic Rivers: An American Legacy. See his work at www.timpalmer.org.


November 27th, 2018

 The history of the Industrial Workers of The World (IWW) is a fascinating story of a radical labor movement in the 1900s. The members were referred to as “Wobblies” and fought tirelessly for social justice. While historians have focused on this movement and their work, the role of women in the IWW has long been overlooked.

 Heather Mayer researched the role of women in the IWW and compiled what she discovered in Beyond the Rebel Girl, one of our most recent titles. In this interview, Meyer shares her experience of conducting this important research, learning more about key figures in the movement, and the origin of her interest in radical history. This interview was conducted through email with Zoë Ruiz and Carolyn Supinka, our Griffis Publishing Interns.


Heather Mayer will be at Powell's on Wednesday November 28.






ZOË RUIZ: In this book, you’re challenging the predominantly male and masculine narrative about the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in the Pacific Northwest. While IWW members are often depicted as young, single, and male, Beyond the Rebel Girl widens the lens and includes the history of members who were women. There were many members who were wives and mothers in the group. How did women who were wives and mothers, who had familial responsibilities, make a significant impact on IWW in the Pacific Northwest?

HEATHER MAYER: They had an impact in ways that I think have been easy to overlook. For example, in 1908 Wobbly Joe Walsh helped to organize the “Overalls Brigade” of hobo Wobblies who hopped trains from out west to join the national convention in Chicago. It’s a pretty standard story in the history of the union. But when I was reading an article in the Industrial Worker, they noted that his wife, Dollie Walsh, joined them and helped to organize meetings along the way. That’s pretty important to their success, and yet often goes unnoticed. Kate MacDonald edited the Industrial Worker when her husband was arrested. Edith Frenette arranged for boats to take Wobblies into Everett during the free speech fight. Women brought food and supplies to men in jail. Women with families couldn’t always risk arrest by speaking on the street, for example, but they could help with fundraising and spreading information about what was happening.

CAROLYN SUPINKA: Can you share about your experience researching the role of women in the Wobblies? What was it like researching a group that has been overlooked?

HEATHER MAYER: For my first big research trip, I was really excited to visit the Reuther Library at Wayne State University when the Industrial Workers of the World collection is held. They have 180 boxes of material, and I came away from that trip with maybe a few sentences that I used in the book. No wonder the previous histories of the union didn’t say much about women! I also realized that I was going to need to be a lot more creative in my research.

ZOË RUIZ: I’m curious about your historical research of the Everett Massacre and the Tracy Trial. In the book, you write, “The Everett Massacre is one of the most infamous events in the history of the IWW, but little investigation has been made into the role women played in the events…” How was this experience for you in terms of research and writing? Did what you discover through your research surprise you?

HEATHER MAYER: Studying the Everett Massacre is really where I started to think that there might be more to the story. When you read Wobbly Walker C. Smith’s book The Everett Massacre that came out in 1917, there were photographs of women at the funerals--there were 18 female pallbearers. Women testified during the trial, and Edith Frenette, one of the women, was portrayed as the ringleader by the mayor of Everett. It seemed like there was a story there, and the more I dug in, the more I found. But for every lead I was able to follow, there were a lot of names like Mrs. Smith or Mrs. Jones that I couldn’t find any more information about, which was, of course, very frustrating.


ZOË RUIZ: Throughout the book, you allow historical figures and histories long forgotten to come alive. I was fascinated by the historical figure Marie Equi. She was an “open” lesbian, physician, and local celebrity, who was tried and convicted and spent almost a year in prison at San Quentin. What were your first impressions of Marie Equi? Did those first impressions change or deepen throughout the research and writing process?


HEATHER MAYER: Marie Equi has always been a fascinating figure in local radical history, and she is finally getting the attention she deserves with the biography Michael Helquist has written about her for OSU Press. I think from what we know about Equi’s personal relationships she could be challenging to be around, quite temperamental. But the working people of Portland really seemed to love her--I think because of the care she provided, taking on patients who couldn’t pay and supplying birth control information and abortions when it was illegal to do so. She was more than just talk; she concretely helped people. And, she was never afraid to stand up for what she believed in, even at great personal risk.


CAROLYN SUPINKA: To end on, can you talk about how punk music introduced you to the history of radicalism?


HEATHER MAYER: Punk music has long been associated with politics but bands that I listened to in high school like Good Riddance and Propagandhi explicitly connected listeners to authors like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, the anarchist publisher AK Press, or included audio excerpts of famous speeches on their albums. In addition to the music I was listening to, I was a freshman in college when the 1999 WTO protests happened in Seattle, and that brought a lot of attention to the anarchist movement. I knew I wanted to study history, although I initially focused on Ancient Greek history. What was happening politically when I was in college really shifted my focus to radicalism, birth control activism, and anti-war activism, all movements that I then traced back to the early twentieth century.



Heather Mayer is a historian interested in social justice movements in the United States. Introduced to the history of radicalism through punk music and the antiglobalization and antiwar activism of the late 1990s and early 2000s, she decided to focus her studies on the intersections of gender and labor activism. She received her PhD from Simon Fraser University and has been teaching history at Portland Community College since 2008. She was born and raised in Oregon and lives with her family in the Portland area.

November 21st, 2018

We at the OSU Press had a great time at the Portland Book Festival this year! Formerly known as Wordstock, the Portland Book Festival is a major regional literary event organized by Literary Arts that has brought together writers, publishers, and book lovers from the Pacific Northwest and beyond since 2005. This year the festival took place on November 10 in downtown Portland and featured over 100 authors who shared their work at readings, panels, and lectures. Read on to hear about our team at the 2018 Portland Book Festival.

 The book fair was bustling! The OSU Press was one of 80 vendors selling books and talking to readers and authors on Saturday.

 We got to say hello to our authors Greg Nokes author of Massacred for Gold: The Chinese in Hell’s Canyon, Sue Armitage author of Shaping the Public Good: Women Making History in the Pacific Northwest, and Kris Anderson, author of State of Giving: Stories of Oregon Volunteers, Donors, and Nonprofits. Marty and Tom were busy talking books and saying hello all day.

 We went to some amazing panels in the morning and afternoon on Saturday. Trevino Brings Plenty, Laura Da’, and Layli Long Soldier shared beautiful and moving poems and perspectives at the New Poets of Native Nations panel. Seeing Marilyn Chin, Eileen Myles, and Justin Phillip Reed at the Outside In: Poetry & Politics panel was incredibly inspiring as well.



 Meanwhile in the Portland Art Museum galleries, Son of Amity author Peter Nathaniel Malae was featured as a Pop-Up reader in the afternoon.  


Listeners gathered to listen to the opening pages of his novel next to the the painting Untitled (House on Cliff) by artist Anne Kutka McCosh.

In addition to OSU Press, the OSU MFA program was also present at the festival. During Portland’s Lit Crawl, OPOSSUM Magazine hosted a Literary Cabaret featuring writers of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction with accompanying musicians. OSU MFA faculty Marjorie Sandor, Keith Scribner, Tracy Dougherty, David Turkel, Elena Passarello were among the readers and musicians, and MFA alumnus Erica Trabold was a featured reader as well. The day of the festival, Elena Passarello moderated the panel Real Women: Badass Heroines featuring authors Karen Karbo and Amy Stewart, and Tracy Daughterty interviewed author Sara Weinman. It was wonderful to see OSU’s community participating in this year’s festival.

 Thank you to all who visited us at the Portland Book Festival, and thank you to those visiting us virtually too! We’re thrilled to be a part of this literary community with you.


November 14th, 2018

"The worst storm I have ever seen is approaching Portland and the Willamette Valley right now," meteorologist John C. "Jack" Capell warned listeners via radio on the evening of the 1962 Columbus Day Storm.

So opens A Deadly Wind, in which author John Dodge uses research and interviews with survivors of the storm to paint a picture of the event, sharing how the storm shaped the lives of Oregonians.

Today on the blog as part of University Press #TurnItUP week highlighting local publishing, John shares his findings from a different side of the storm’s history: how the event affected different age groups psychologically.


Young children rushed outside to the let the powerful winds propel their bicycles or lift them off their feet in fanciful flight. Friday night commuters drove home at the peak of the storm, mindless of falling trees, downed power lines and debris slicing through the air. Families huddled in their living rooms in front of single pane picture windows that bowed and exploded in gusts of wind. Homeowners ventured outside as the winds howled, determined to prop up and protect trees, patios, roofs and antenna, often in vain, and at great risk.


Photograph of Kelso Airport in Southwest Washington Courtesy of the Cowlitz County Historical Museum, Kelso, Washington.

In hindsight, much of the behavior at the height of the 1962 Columbus Day Storm was naïve, impulsive and ill-advised. But the residents of the Pacific Northwest had no frame of reference, no experience to guide their actions in the face of an unprecedented and deadly windstorm.

Dr. Ralph Crawshaw, a Beaverton, OR.-based psychiatrist in 1962, studied the reactions of different age groups of storm survivors. He found that young children in the absence of a parent exhibited very little fear.

Walter Breitenstein was an eight-year-old walking home from school southeast of Salem, OR. that Friday afternoon as the winds at his back roared. “I leaned backward, spreading my coat open, making a little hop and the wind carried me effortlessly. It was like I was flying.”

He flew past his house, but was brought back to earth by the powerful sight of his neighbor’s livestock watering tank as it flew through the air and crashed into a nearby fence. “I decided I better go home,” he recalled.






Photograph of a crushed car in Portland. Courtesy of Oregon Historical Society.


Teenagers and young adults as a group confronted the storm head-on, shielding themselves with a sense of immortality. At the heavily-wooded University of Oregon campus in Eugene, students gathered outside in an excited group, enjoying the spectacle of the storm as trees fell all around them and power lines glowed with short circuits. Many teenagers hopped in their cars at the height of the storm to visit friends or witness the damage in their neighborhoods. “There was much socializing in this age group, for the exhilaration needed to be shared,” Crawshaw said.

Crawshaw found numerous examples of adults trying to protect their property as the storm raged. Bill and Carolyn Baker were living in north Seattle, WA. She was nine months pregnant when the storm struck. At the peak of the storm, her husband climbed on the roof to reattach the television antennae. “I was terrified that my husband would be blown off the roof and killed, and my child would be fatherless,” she said 40 years after the storm. Baker survived, but Lawrence Parrie, who was stationed by Sand Point Naval Air Station in Seattle, was the victim of tragic irony. He waited until the storm had passed Saturday morning to climb on the roof of his three-story barracks to repair a TV antennae. He slipped and fell to his death.

The storm struck the Portland, OR. region just as Friday night commuter traffic was beginning to build. Commuters heading home would have been better served riding out the storm at their workplace, Crawshaw noted. “However, they undertook harrowing trips home through flying debris, driving over downed high-power lines and searching out devious ways to get through the roads blocked by fallen trees,” the psychiatrist said.

After collecting hundreds of storm survivor stories to help shape “A Deadly Wind: The 1962 Columbus Day Storm,” I had this reoccurring thought: It’s a wonder more people weren’t killed or seriously injured."



Find A Deadly Wind here

John Dodge was a columnist, editorial page writer, and investigative reporter for the Olympian before retiring in 2015 after an award-winning career spanning forty years. Dodge is a veteran of natural disaster reporting, including the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, the 1989 Bay Area earthquake, the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, and numerous damaging windstorms and floods. He experienced the Columbus Day Storm as a young teenager and wrote about the storm at its twenty-fifth, fortieth, and fiftieth anniversaries. He lives in Olympia, Washington, with his wife, Barbara Digman.





November 1st, 2018

Today we’re inviting you to join Peter Nathaniel Malae as he travels to bookstores and literary centers reading passages from his new novel, Son of Amity. Peter has been a featured reader at Powell’s Books on Hawthorne and Third Street Books in Salem among other bookstores.



In this new novel by Peter, a family is caught in the crossroads of violence and loss in the small town of Amity, Oregon. Sissy, Michael, and Pika share a run-down house in Amity and must contend with their individual demons in a region plagued by poverty and addiction. Peter deals with dark subjects in Son of Amity with a steady gaze that also admits the moments of light and redemption.


Take a (virtual) seat in the crowd as Peter reads from Son of Amity and paints a picture of the town in which his story takes place:


“Poor, white people lived down here. Undernourished, overfed, jobless white people. HHS-invested white people. Gelatinous-spined, weighed down stooping from Ding Dongs and Swanson’s TV dinners white people. For all he knew, he could have been in the West Virginia Appalachians, the Arkansas Ozarks. Strings of spat Cope on the lawn, rusting tractors posted up in gravelly driveways. A trampoline with duct-taped springs and grips sitting on the fenceless divide of shared property lines, dozens of plastic toys scattered across the yards like miniature tornado towns post-blast, spotted beards of clumpy moss uprooting the tiles of rooftops. The white people were out there on the dipping, slanted, paint-chipped front porches, ass-planted on cushion-smashed chairs like toads on a rotting log. The chronically obese and tweaker-thin were both watching him come into their town without connection or invitation or permission, suspicious brown man in a beanie up to no good in his beat-up truck from post-war Japan. Fifteen miles an hour the legal cap, car show investigation of anyone entering the town limits.”




“He wasn’t sure how he felt about what he saw. He knew being poor, but this was a different kind of poor, maybe even a worse kind. Seemed stagnant around here, like he was driving through a time warp, the people sitting in their own shit. In the city, everyone was moving on poverty. Sidestepping it, passing it on, lugging it across a borough for deposit.”



Take a look at our literary calendar and make sure you save the date for his upcoming readings --Peter will be reading at the Salem, OR Book Bin on Friday November 2 at 7 PM, and will be participating in a pop-up reading at the Portland Art Museum during the Portland Book Festival on Saturday, November 10!




Peter Nathaniel Malae is is the author of the novels, Our Frail Blood and What We Are; the story collection, Teach the Free Man; and the play, The Question. A former Steinbeck, MacDowell, Arts Council Silicon Valley, and Oregon Literary Arts Fellow, Malae lives in western Oregon.

Reviews of Son of Amity:

"From the farthest, wettest corner of war-damaged America, Peter Nathaniel Malae brings us the story of a family bound by a shared history of violence, and liberated by the miracle of shared mercy. Written with immense intellect and swagger, Son of Amity imbues the street-level realities ofour times in our cities, towns, prisons, and psyches with the power of myth."  Jon Raymond, author of Freebird and The Half-Life

"This is a tough, haunting, compelling bookone that deals withour society now, with violence and poverty and identity and the very real consequences of being in the crosshairs of war. What a marvel the language is, too. Every sentence is carefully built. Malae ia a powerhouse of a writer." Pauls Toutonghi, author of Dog, Gone and Evel Knievel Days


October 26th, 2018

 In 2016, armed militants took over the Malheur National Wildlife refuge in HarnePeter Walkery County, Oregon. For forty-one days, they seized the headquarters of the refuge and for three months, they occupied the community led by Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy. This month, Oregon State Press published Peter Walker’s Sagebrush Collaboration, the first book-length study of this militant take over. In Sagebrush Collaboration, Peter Walker contextualizes and researches the take over as well as considers the future of America’s public lands. Today on the blog, Walker provides an update about the Bundy's anti-federal revival tour, political ambitions and Harney County efforts to rebuild community.


Sagebrush CollaborationBooks have a beginning and an end, but the story that I attempted to tell in Sagebrush Collaboration began well before the events of January 2016, and continue to the present day.

In reality, there were two stories. The one I felt most important to tell—the one that virtually all media reports at the time ignored—was about Harney County’s success in building collaboratives that, in the words of one prominent local rancher, “inoculated us from the Bundy disease.” That story can be dated to the late 1990s and the early 2000s, when local ranchers, federal managers, the Burns Paiute tribe, environmentalists and others decided to try cooperative approaches to solving long-standing problems. That effort paid off handsomely when the Bundy family arrived. The Bundys offered solutions based on armed confrontation with federal authorities; but the community had their own solutions—ones built on principles of collaboration. The collaborative approach won, and quietly continues today. I continue to follow it.

The other story—the one that got almost all the headlines, then and now, was about the radical vision and strategy offered by the Bundy family. As it happens, my book ended at almost precisely the time when the Bundy movement shifted to a new phase. I turned in the first draft of Sagebrush Collaboration on December 18, 2017. With the generous permission of my editors at Oregon State University Press, before the book went to print I was able to update a few key events that occurred in early 2018. The most significant of these was the dismissal, on January 8, 2018, of all charges against the main figures in the 2014 armed Bunkerville standoff, due to mishandling of evidence by federal prosecutors.

Immediately, the newly-freed members of the Bundy family publicly declared that their fight was only just beginning. That declaration sent shivers down the spines of those of us who witnessed the trauma of the occupation of Harney County in 2016. What, exactly, would the Bundy family, now elevated to the status of near-mythic Goliath-slaying western heroes, do?

The obvious concern was that the Bundys would initiate new armed confrontations. After all, the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016 was a direct follow-on from the 2014 standoff at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada in 2014. The Bundys were clearly looking for a way to leverage their success in facing down federal authorities at Bunkerville into a broader anti-federal government movement. Although they failed in 2016 to transfer the Malheur Refuge to local control or ignite a wider anti-government movement, the Bundys gained extraordinary fame and public attention. Those of us who met the Bundys and understood the depth and passion of their anti-federal government ideology had no doubt that, once freed, they would attempt to leverage their greatly enhanced fame into further anti-federal government actions.

Ammon Bundy Stage

To date those actions have not included further armed confrontations—though many of us who have followed the Bundy story closely continue to believe that such confrontations are almost certainly only a matter of time. Instead, for the moment the Bundy family appears to be investing their energy in building a wider base of public support for anti-federal actions.

Whatever one thinks of the Bundys’ political ideology, there is no disputing their industriousness and talent for promoting their cause. On January 20, 2018, less than two weeks after all federal charges against the Bundys were dismissed, patriarch Cliven Bundy (wearing a “Not Guilty!” lapel button) and his son Ryan Bundy spoke to a large crowd in Paradise, Montana. Cliven challenged Montanans to “act like you understand the Constitution.” That is Bundy-speak for resisting federal authority. Notably, this first major public speaking event for the Bundy family after the dismissal of charges against them was organized with support from Montana State Senator Jennifer Fielder, the CEO of the American Lands Council—a group that promotes the transfer of federal public lands and is supported by billionaire anti-federal activist brothers Charles and David Koch. The Montana event was the first of many in which the Bundy family, with support from the wealthy and powerful, would spread their anti-federal gospel.

On their 2018 anti-federal revival tour, the Bundys’ message took on a darker and more overtly religious tone. On April 22, I attended an event in Modesto, California, sponsored by oil tycoon Forrest Lucas’ organization Protect the Harvest, at which Ammon Bundy accused the federal government of being controlled by environmentalists whom Bundy described as “enemies of humans” and of God. Bundy specifically and repeatedly called out by name one specific environmentalist leader, who he accused of worshipping “Baal,” a false god in Bundy’s view. Calling out a specific environmental leader as an enemy of humans and God appeared to invite violence against that individual—after all, one knows what to do with enemies of God. The concern is real, given that in 2014 two Bundy supporters at the Bunkerville standoff gunned down two police officers in Las Vegas, pinning a note on one of the bodies declaring the murder “the beginning of the revolution.” If not intentional invitations to violence, the Bundys say nothing to discourage such ideas among their more unstable supporters.

Hints of violence have been present in almost all of the speaking events by Cliven, Ammon, and Ryan Bundy in 2018, consistent with the unofficial but explicit Bundy family motto, to do “whatever it takes” to achieve their anti-federal political goals. On May 26, 2018, I attended a speech by Ammon Bundy in Yreka, California—home to the anti-government State of Jefferson movement—in which Bundy encouraged supporters to “stand” in defense of their water rights not in the courts but “there at the diversion.” It was an echo of the events of the early 2000s when angry farmers whose irrigation water had been shut off used chainsaws and blowtorches to seize water in the Klamath River that had been reserved for endangered salmon and local tribes. When a local organizer introduced Ammon Bundy to the Yreka audience, she recounted a conversation with Bundy by phone in which he agreed to come only if anti-government locals were “ready to stand”—meaning ready for civil disobedience. In the Bundy worldview, civil disobedience is all but synonymous with armed civil disobedience.

Bundy Flag

What is most powerful in each of the Bundys’ public performances has been their remarkable and clearly intentional successes in tapping into and stirring up strong emotions. There is no shortage of anti-federal government sentiment in the rural American West. The Bundy family, however, have become masters of transforming long-simmering grudges into a near-frenzied emotional state. At almost every speaking event in 2018, Ammon Bundy, for example, took out various military medals, flags, and uniforms given to him by ex-military supporters during the Malheur Refuge takeover. As Bundy takes out each item, he tells the tale of how veterans bestowed the gifts on him—which he declares that he did “not deserve.” In every instance, tears well up in Ammon Bundy’s eyes and his voice chokes up as he tells the stories. Invariably, tears flow down the cheeks of audience members as well. Tapping into the most potent symbols of traditional American patriotism, Bundy invokes the ideals of armed, patriotic heroism and transfers those ideals onto himself and his cause. And at every opportunity the Bundys invoke the blood sacrifice of slain Bundy supporter LaVoy Finicum—declaring Finicum a martyr for “freedom.” The call for further sacrifice in the cause of freedom is all but explicit.

Bundy Governor

While navigating toward the same goal of a federal-free, “sovereign” American West, Ammon Bundy’s brother Ryan has taken a different path—making himself an official candidate for the office of Governor of Nevada. It might seem a surprising choice; but not really. During the Malheur Refuge takeover in 2016, I heard Ryan Bundy specifically say that eliminating federal control in the western states cannot be achieved through conventional electoral politics because a single elected official will stand alone and will not be able to get the changes they want. Ryan Bundy is very smart, and it seems unlikely that he actually believes he is going to become governor. Like the Malheur takeover and the Bunkerville standoff, however, Ryan Bundy’s campaign for governor gives him a megaphone to speak to the public. More importantly, I fear that when Ryan Bundy inevitably loses his bid for governor, it will enable him and his family and supporters to say they tried to achieve their goals through conventional political channels. They will almost certainly claim the political system is rigged against them. That would “prove” to their supporters that further radical and potentially violent anti-government actions are necessary—that is, doing "whatever it takes."

Meanwhile, back in Harney County, the pioneers and innovators of non-violent, collaborative problem-solving approaches continue the unglamorous work of re-building community trust and relationships that can enable them to weather possible similar political disruptions in the future. Scholars, including myself, are seeking to understand how Harney County succeeded, and how the positive lessons from Harney County might be applied elsewhere. The ever-industrious Bundy family will no doubt refine their approaches as well. Which of these two stories prevails may literally decide the future of the rural American West.


Peter Walker studies the social factors that shape human interactions with the environment, with emphasis on the rural American West, and Africa. After the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in early 2016, Walker became almost a part-time resident of Harney County while writing this book. A native Westerner, Walker received his doctorate at UC Berkeley and has served on the faculty of the University of Oregon since 1997.


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