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June 3rd, 2019

Red Coast

 

We’re delighted to tell you that The Red Coast is now available!

 

Aaron Goings, Brian Barnes, and Roger Snider present an accessible and engaging history of radicalism and anti-radicalism in Southwest Washington from the late nineteenth century until World War II, focusing on Wobblies, “Red” Finns, and Communists.

 

The authors write that The Red Coast demonstrates “that at one time Southwest Washingtonians organized by the thousands to protest injustices great and small, ranging from the horrors of laboring in a deadly workplace to the insult of a short paycheck.”

 

To learn more and purchase the book, click here.

 

 

 

And if you’re interested in learning more about the histories of labor and unions, we recommend reading the following titles:

Beyond the Rebel Girl


Beyond the Rebel Girl explores women’s roles in the Industrial Works of the World (IWW) in the Pacific Northwest from 1905-1924. By doing so, author Heather Mayer challenges the predominantly male and masculine narrative about IWW. Women played a vital role in many efforts, including fundraising and organizing.

 

In a OSU Press Interview, Heather Mayer gave two important examples of women’s involvement, stating, “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.” Additionally, women brought food to men in prison and helped spread important information, among other necessary actions.



 

 

 

Marie Equi

 

Mayer explores historical figure Marie Equi as does Michael Helquist in his book dedicated to her: Marie Equi: Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions. This account of the life and work of Dr. Marie Equi is an inspiring narrative of activism in Oregon during the early 1900s.

 

Bettina Aptheker writes, “With meticulous archival research, including access to oral histories, Helquist presents this generous, passionate, and complicated woman in a respectful way that Dr. Equi herself would undoubtedly have appreciated. A splendid contribution to both feminist and lesbian history.”

 

To learn more about this title, click here.

 

 

 

 

The Color of Night

The Color of Night examines a murder trial that captured the nation’s attention in the 1940s. Robert Folkes, a young, black trainman from South Central Los Angeles, was charged and convicted of the crime of murdering a white, newly married southern woman. The trial, conviction, and execution of Robert Folkes by the state of Oregon revealed how many in the West thought about race, class, and privilege.

 

Throughout The Color of Night, Max G. Geier mentions how the union in South Central supported Folkes and his mother during the trial. The books also touches on the racist practices of unions in Portland and the civil rights efforts to change them. The Color of Night will appeal to readers who are interested in the history of race and labor relations as well as working conditions.



May 30th, 2019

Interested in the linguistic heritage of the Pacific Northwest? Northwest Voices is for regional residents, language lovers, and anyone interested in learning more about the fascinating ways that language, culture, and place intersect.

 

In Northwest Voices, editor Kristin Denham gathers perspectives from a variety of contributors, including a middle school teacher, a tribal linguist and language teacher, and the leader of the Lushootseed Language Institute, among others. These chapters cover everything from place names in the Pacific Northwest to Indigenous language revitalization to addressing the common belief that the region is “accent-less”.

 

Enjoy an exclusive preview to Northwest Voices in the following excerpt from Kristin Denham’s chapter “Language and Power, Language and Place”:

 

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Before there was a Canadian and US border or provincial and state borders, there was still a region—a region with borders defined largely by the natural geographical boundaries of mountains, rivers, and coastline, and the trade routes that followed them. The use of Ichishkiin (also known as Sahaptin) spanned the Columbia River, and Athabaskan languages were spoken across what is now the coastal California and Oregon border, oblivious to these modern-day state boundaries.

 

Spread throughout this region are the speakers of many Indigenous languages. The contributions by Hugo, by Zenk and Cole, and by Miller (all this volume) acknowledge cover of Northwest Voicesmany of these languages, and the place-names throughout the region (Richardson, this volume) are a daily reminder of the peoples who have long lived there. Parts of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana have been designated as “language hotspots” by National Geographic’s Enduring Voices Project and The Living Tongues Institute, an Oregon-based organization devoted to the documentation, maintenance, preservation, and revitalization of endangered languages around the world.

 

The region is one of the five hotspots in the world because of its high number of diverse Native languages that are from different “genetically diverse” language groups (as different as English and Italian, in some cases; in others, as different as English and Chinese) that are highly endangered. When an entire group of languages is no longer spoken, we lose not only linguistic information that is of great importance to linguists, but also, as Crawford puts it, “The loss of linguistic diversity means a loss of intellectual diversity” (1995, 33).

 

Consider, as an example, ways in which a language can encapsulate certain kinds of knowledge: the Halkomel’em Musqueam people group certain kinds of fish under the “salmon” label: sce:ɬtən. This includes fish that are called steelhead trout and cutthroat trout in English, but which genetic analysis has shown are, in fact, of the salmon genus, and not trout at all. Such information about flora and fauna from peoples who have lived in the region for millennia can disappear right along with the language, as well as, of course, the loss of culture and of identity, which are so closely tied to language. Our languages are important; each one and its many forms should be carefully considered as an integral part of language and place.

 

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Northwest Voices will be available June 2019. Preorder your copy here!


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Kristin Denham is Professor of Linguistics at Western Washington University. She received her PhD in linguistics from the University of Washington. She is co-author of Why Study Linguistics, Navigating English Grammar, and Linguistics for Everyone, and co-editor of Linguistics at School: Language Awareness in Primary and Secondary Education and Language in the Schools: Integrating Linguistic Knowledge into K–12 Teaching. She teaches courses on syntax, Salishan languages, language and identity, endangered languages, English grammar, and linguistics in education.

May 8th, 2019

Contreras Photo

It's May, and we are welcoming springtime flowers and a brand new book here at the OSU Press office! Edge of Awe: Experiences of the Malheur-Steens Country is fresh off the press. This anthology explores the perspectives and experiences of visitors to this beautiful region in eastern Oregon with a special focus on birds and featuring illustrations and poetry by Ursula K. Le Guin. Today on the blog, editor Alan Contreras speaks with OSU Press Griffis Publishing Interns Carolyn Supinka and Zoë Ruiz.



What inspired you to put together this anthology on the Malheur-Steens region? How did you select the contributors for the anthology?


There have been other books on the region that focus on the birds, a family’s history, the 2016 infestation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters, and the general cultural history. There has not been a book that focuses on the experiences of visitors to the region, which seemed to me worth doing.


Most of the older material that I included was fairly obvious. Dallas Lore Sharp’s classic chapter from Where Rolls the Oregon and Charles E. Bendire’s bird reports are examples. I knew contributor Dave Marshall from our work on Birds of Oregon published by OSU Press in 2003,and I knew contributor Tom McAllister in part through his writing and in part through Dave. Both Tom and Dave came to Malheur as kids early in the 20th Century, and they also visited as adults.  


The harder part was choosing the essayists for the closing segment. In most cases these were people I knew whose experiences at Malheur were distinctive and different. There could have been hundreds of these, of course, and I intentionally chose a variety in terms of both age and experience.


How did you first come to visit the region? Can you describe your experience?


This is my 49th year visiting the Malheur-Steens region; I first went when I was 14.  Anyone who has come here knows what their first visit in spring is like. There are birds everywhere and many of them are unique and spectacular: cranes, avocets, yellow-headed blackbirds, and phalaropes.


Edge of Awe coverMalheur-Steens region has impacted a lot of writers, scientists, and individuals. Why do you think this is? What are some things about the region that draw people in?


The combined impact of the biological diversity and the large scale of the landscape is hard to match. There are places with one or the other but not both. Also, the spring and fall experience is very different owing to the seasonal change in hydrology and access to Steens Mountain in fall.


You’re currently volunteering at the Malheur Refuge Headquarters. What’s a typical day in the life of a volunteer?


There are two kinds of volunteers, those who work for the refuge and those who work for the nature store. In practice we help each other out, but there are several different functions. I signed up to be the front desk docent because I am too old and fat to do trail maintenance or move objects around the refuge. Also, I know the birds and the locations really well so most of the tourist questions are easy to answer.


My day begins with opening the front desk at HQ, dealing with security steps, making sure that the feeders and brochure racks are full and seeing if there are any special news items for the day such as road closures. After that it is mostly answering tourist questions.. I have some free time during which I keep a running count of birds I see and hear from the deck. As I write this at the end of April, I am finding a bit over fifty species a day, which is good for an area sixty feet wide.


What do you hope people who may have never visited the region take away from Edge of Awe?


A desire to have their own unique experiences in this beautiful and distinctive part of Oregon.


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To purchase Edge of Awe, click the link. All royalties from the book go to Friends of Malheur, which supports user access such as trails, signage, The Nature Store, and more.


Alan L. Contreras fourth-generation Oregonian who has been visiting the Malheur-Steens region for five decades. A graduate of the University of Oregon and its law school, he is retired from work in higher education. He is the author of several books published by Oregon State University Press, including Afield and Birds of Oregon, and has also published three poetry collections, a book on state regulation of colleges, and others. He lives in Eugene.

May 2nd, 2019


Want to learn more about an important part of ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest? Field Guide to the Grasses of Oregon and Washington is a beautifully illustrated guide to all species, subspecies, and varieties in the region. Co-author Cindy Talbott Roché visits the OSU Press blog to answer some questions that our OSU Press Griffis Publishing Interns Carolyn Supinka and Zoë Ruiz had about the book and the process of studying grasses.

What are the ways in which grasses are an essential part of the ecosystem in the Pacific Northwest?

Grasses are definitely one of the more unappreciated life forms. It’s hard to know where to start. Underneath us, I guess, in the soil is as good a place as any. Grass roots not only hold soil in place, but contribute to its health and development by adding organic matter and creating structure and pores for water to percolate. In addition to preventing erosion along rivers and streams, they purify the water that flows over them. Grasses feed herbivores ranging in size from ants to elk, and provide habitat for an astounding variety of native mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects and more. Many of our major crops are grasses: wheat, oats, rice, barley, corn, rye, millet; grasses used for hay and pasture for livestock. In urban ecosystems, we use grasses for landscaping, parks, and sports settings; grass surfaces allow water to follow its natural cycle of absorption and storage in the soil, rather than running off immediately as it does on paved surfaces. Some sports use artificial turf, but can you imagine a golf course (other than mini-golf) with anything other than natural grass?

Are there any dangers that Pacific Northwest grasses face at this time or in the near future? 

Native grasses in the Pacific Northwest face numerous threats in a wide variety of environments. Most of the disturbances are directly or indirectly associated with humans. Populations of native grasses are destroyed by urban development, farming of wildfires, and invasion of their habitats by aggressive non-native plants (weeds). In our photography work, it was particularly difficult to find native grasses in coastal environments. For example, grasses introduced in order to stabilize dunes have eliminated the habitat for grasses that requireDunes stabilized by introduced European beachgrass no longer provide habitat for native grasses. Photo by Robert Korfhage moving sand. Wetlands have been drained, prairies converted to fields, and pastures are full of introduced grass species. But, the coast is not the only place where native grasses are being replaced. In the forests both east and west of the Willamette Valley, falsebrome is forming a monoculture under the tree canopy. In the shrub steppe east of the Cascades, annual grasses such as cheatgrass, medusahead and ventenata are replacing perennial bunchgrasses. Rare grasses are decreasing in a number of habitats in Oregon and Washington, but the ones that surprised me when we were preparing the distribution maps were five annual species that hadn't been collected for almost 100 years. They were originally found in naturally disturbed sites, such as floodplains, riparian areas and vernal pools. These habitats have been largely overrun with more aggressive introduced plants. 

It took you almost two decades to make this book into reality. Can you describe the process of putting this book together? What were some of the challenges as well as high points of the process? How did you stay committed to the project? 

As you can imagine, the book evolved over time and the end product is probably not what any of us envisioned at the beginning. Bob and I had planned a field guide that described and illustrated important grasses in Oregon and discussed ecology and uses, probably without technical keys. I think that the Carex Working Group (Barbara, Dick and Nick) were planning a field guidebook just like the one they had published on sedges. In search of subalpine native grasses, we're headed to the top of South Sister. Photo by Robert Korfhage.There clearly was no call for two field guides to grasses in Oregon and there was more than enough work for all of us, so we joined forces on it. Early on, we met as a group to discuss funding, content, and format, (including how to illustrate it). One of the early decisions was to use photographs, not line drawings. I remember this clearly because I had recently finished illustrating grasses for the Flora of North America in which every taxon was shown with inked line drawings. The vote was 4 to 1 in favor of photos. (Yes, I was the 1.) A subjective cost/benefit analysis supported adding the state of Washington (cost of 30 additional grasses vs. benefit of the western Washington market). The Carex Working Group obtained funding for their time, and Bob and I set about perfecting our skills in photographing grasses, which are particularly difficult because their narrow leaves blend in with their surroundings and move in the wind. In addition, the identifying parts are generally small. Our techniques, equipment, and software improved so much over time that in the end we didn’t use any of our photographs from the first five years.

The highpoints for Bob and me were all of the amazing locations we went in search of the diversity of grasses in Oregon and Washington. My favorites were the top of South Sister for two alpine bluegrass species, and Ice Lake and the Matterhorn in the Wallowa Mountains for alpine bluegrass and fescue species, and the hinterlands of the Little Owyhee for Nevada needlegrass. We traveled from British Columbia south to Nevada, covering both sides of the Cascades.

Of course, we couldn’t get everywhere at the right time, so Barbara and Nick sent us numerous boxes of grasses from their travels, too. One of the major challenges was when the funding ran out for the Carex Working Group and progress stalled for a few years. After that point, I decided to shed other responsibilities and make a big push for completion. It had reached the point of “fish, or cut bait,” and all of us had invested way too much time to just throw it away. I started working full time on photo layout, filling out the descriptions to improve consistency, and getting the distribution maps started. The Carex Working Group had written and tested the keys; Dick stepped up and reworked the keys and descriptions and reviewed maps, while Bob edited the photos to perfection.

I think the keys are one of the strengths of this field guide; they aren’t just copied from another source and they include all of the grass taxa found in Oregon and Washington. This is an important feature. I have been frustrated with field guides that offer only a sampling of the flora. You never know, when you fail to identify a plant, if it is because you made a mistake using the key or if it’s something that isn’t in the book. This is why, when Barbara and Nick each came up with a species new to Oregon, after we had the book nearly to the final format, we squeezed those in. I must give Dick special credit for his tenacity in reviewing proofs because we went through six rounds of PDF proofs in the layout phase; bless OSU Press Editorial, Design and Production Manager Micki Reaman for her patience!  


We’re curious about your workshops on grasses. Who enrolls in your workshops and what do they learn during their time with you?

When I lived in the Rogue Valley, I taught grass workshops at the Siskiyou Field Institute, which was a great place to teach because we could walk out of the lab and explore a variety of habitats, from pasture and lawn to oak woodlands and serpentine slopes. Students in these workshops ranged from agency employees (BLM, Forest Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service) to lay botanistscurious about grasses. I stayed flexible and taught whatever level of grass identification the students were ready to learn. Lately, I’ve been working with Barbara inGrass workshop hosted by the Siskiyou Field Institute at Deer Creek Center. Photo by Robert Korfhage. workshops that are mostly geared toward professionals, who need to improve theirskills. We have one day in the lab with microscopes and one day in the field with hand lenses. The emphasis is on identification, but we talk some about ecological aspects as well. When we have the book in hand, I plan to offer more casual grass walks and workshops. 


Grasses seem difficult to identify. What were the challenges when illustrating grasses?  And, when out in the nature, what are some key things to look for when trying to identify grasses? 

Grasses are only difficult to identify in a relative sense. I think they are much easier than many sedges, for example, or mosses and lichens, which I’ve never learned. What these things have in common that are considered difficult to identify is that the important traits are difficult to see. In grasses, it is because the parts are small and most tend to be more-or-less green in color. The main challenge in illustrating the key Can you identify this grass? Of course not, we can't tell which Muhlenbergia it is either; its an example of how most field photos of grasses don't show the necessary details. Photo by Robert Korfhage.features is to get a sharp image of them. To do that, it’s important for them to sit still. Outside, the wind is formidable foe. Grasses will sway or tremble with the slightest air movement. Many of our habit photos were done inside with a black background so the key features are visible. I used the digital camera attached to my dissecting microscope and a stacking program to get pictures of the small parts. Now, you might assume that movement would not be a problem here and you would be wrong. The bent awns on lemmas will flip the floret over near the end of taking 20 photos to be stacked for depth of field. Then its time to start all over again. Long callus or rachilla hairs also move and require redoing the entire set. I know that I lapsed into technical terms there, but if you’re going to talk about grasses, you need to learn the terms. How awkward would it be if you didn’t know the names for leg and elbow and I had to refer to them as the appendage that you stand on and the place of bending ofyour appendage attached to the upper part of your body? Learning strange names can be difficult, but in the beginning of the book we explain all the new terms with drawings showing what they mean, label the parts on the photos of the grasses throughout, and finish with a glossary that defines them at the end of the book.

With practice, one also learns to recognize in the field what botanists call the "Gestalt" of grass species. This is a German word that means shape or form. In the use of this term, one recognizes not only the shape but also the habitat, season of the year and other clues. It is the same idea of seeing a friend in the distance and recognizing them by a characteristic gait or way of standing. Thus, this kind of knowledge allows you to recognize a grass on the side of the freeway as you whiz by.

 

Purchase Field Guide to the Grasses of Oregon and Washington here!

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Cindy Talbott Rochë illustrated grasses for the Flora of North America and has taught grass workshops; her experience with grasses spans both states over four decades.

 

Photo credits & captions: all photos by Robert Korfhage

1. Dunes stabilized by introduced European beachgrass no longer provide habitat for native grasses.

2. In search of subalpine native grasses, we're headed to the top of South Sister.

3. Grass workshop hosted by the Siskiyou Field Institute at Deer Creek Center.

4. Can you identify this grass? Of course not, we can't tell which Muhlenbergia it is either; it's an example of how most field photos of grasses don't show the necessary details.

 

 

April 29th, 2019

Dangerous Subjects Book Cover

Congratulations to OSU Press author Kenneth R. Coleman!

 

His first book, Dangerous Subjects: James D. Saules and The Rise of Black Exclusion in Oregon, won the Frances Fuller Victor Award for General Nonfiction at the 2019 Oregon Book Awards.


Dangerous Subjects examines the history of black exclusion in Oregon through the story of James D. Saules, a black sailor who was shipwrecked off the Oregon coast in 1841. Coleman follows Saules’ story as he settles in Oregon and is faced with mounting dangers and racism from white settlers and the government as Oregon Trail emigrants arrive in the region.

 

In this interview with OSU Press, Coleman speaks more about why he chose to share this history through the eyes of a historical figure, and the impact he hopes this book will have.


Get your copy of Dangerous Subjects here!

April 24th, 2019

Welcome back to Part 2 on our blog series on literature about rivers!

We're thrilled to feature this guest blog post by Peter Brewitt, author of Same River Twice: The Politics of Dam Removal and River Restoration.

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There’s always a dam.

 

The neighborhood where I live in South Carolina is built around a lake, created by a dam. The pond down the street from my wife’s home in Vermont? Plugged up by a dam. The environmental studies center where I teach? Just below one dam, which hides another, older dam – we see it when the water’s low. This afternoon I biked through Columbus, Ohio, where I attended the American Society for Environmental History conference earlier this month. In a brief ride I saw two dams.

 

Your own streams are surely dammed-up as well; there are 2.5 million dams in this country. If you want to find your own dams, you can check out the Army Corps of Engineers’ map. But the Army Corps only includes about 4% of dams, so keep your eyes open. It may take some effort – our local dams are so routine that we often don’t notice them.

 

But they shape the waters around us. Along with turning streams into lakes, dams stop silt from going downstream, fish from swimming upstream, and water from flowing naturally. They are one-stop shops for ecological destruction.

 

Now, to be fair, dams can be useful tools, and every aspect of human life has some environmental impact. But dams, for the most part, are no longer offering much benefit in return for the costs they put on nature. 80+ percent of them are past their useful lives.

 

So we’ve started taking them out. For most of the 20th century, dam removal was crazy, the province of radicals and novelists. Why, people asked, would anyone take out a dam? Dams were progress and prosperity and civilization. Most people didn’t think about the environment very much, and those who thought about it didn’t have much power. Now in the 21st century, nearly a thousand dams have been removed, 69 of them in 2018 alone, according to NGO American Rivers. People are coming to realize that old dams and degraded rivers don’t need to exist forever.

 

But in many places, dam removal is controversial. There are plenty of people who loved the dammed water-scape, and plenty of people who still can’t believe anyone would take out a dam. The politics of dam removal – the ways people fight for and against their dams – are dynamic and passionate. There are few laws about old dams, so people who care about their rivers, and their dams, are creating a new political landscape, and a new part of river history, as they go. In Same River Twice, I tell stories of three major dam removals and the people who made them, as part of the larger story of America’s rivers.  

 

The story continues to evolve. In 2018, dams came out all over America, from Georgia to Minnesota, from Maine to California. And in Columbus. Just a little downstream of the last little dam I saw, on the Scioto River, is a dam removal site. Above it stand the skyscrapers of the city’s busy downtown. Below them, the river’s returned to its natural channel, and the banks are lushly recovering. Along the bike path are signs sharing the history of the Scioto and some semi-technical discussion of its restoration. The Scioto River runs freely through Columbus.

 

 Learn more about the politics and history of dam removal and purchase Same River Twice here!


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PETER BREWITT grew up in Bangkok, Thailand, and East Alton, New Hampshire. After majoring in history at Dartmouth College, he spent five years as a naturalist, primarily in Yosemite National Park. He received his PhD in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he focused on environmental policy. He is now a professor at Wofford College, where he teaches and conducts research about the politics of ecological restoration. Same River Twice is his first book.

April 12th, 2019


Here at the 
OSU Press office in Corvallis, we’ve been watching the high flows on the Willamette this week and rivers are on our mind. Today we’re featuring three recent Press books that tell the story of rivers, in Oregon and around the world.

 

 

Speaking for the River book cover

Speaking for the River: Confronting Pollution on the Willamette, 1920s-1970s


Though the state of Oregon has a reputation for being green, one of its major rivers, the Willamette, has struggled with pollution throughout history and in the present day. James Hillegas-Elting looks to the past to explain the present, examining the complex political and technological issues that challenge this Or

egon river, and the communities and ecosystems that live alongside it. A must read for Oregonians and all interested in the health and protection of rivers.

 

 

 


book cover

Wild and Scenic Rivers: An American Legacy


Author and photographer Tim Palmer shares 160 breathtaking images of rivers in this book. All the rivers depicted are protected under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. In addition to highlighting their beauty, Tim investigates the importance of these rivers and the challenges they face. Also, several of the photographs from this book were recently made into postage stamps! Read more about this story and hear from Tim on the importance of these rivers in this blog post.

 

 


Same River Twice book coverSame River Twice: The Politics of Dam Removal and River Restoration


Using case studies from rivers in the Pacific Northwest, Peter Brewitt explores how dam removals, politics, and public policy intersect. This book is perfect for scholars of environmental politics, wildlife and public land professionals, and environmental activists.

 

Peter Brewitt will guest blog and focus on dam removals.

 

Stay tuned for Reflecting on Rivers, Part Two.

April 4th, 2019

We were thrilled to debut this new book at AWP 2019 in Portland and excited to share that it is available for purchase online.

Memory, place, and experience intersect in David Axelrod’s new collection of essays, The Eclipse I Call Father. David’s writing is lyrical and observant, reflecting his identity as a poet and traveler. Though he has lived and worked abroad for periods of time, David calls the Northwest home, and home is a central image in the essays of this book. Take a look at an excerpt from the essay “To Live as We Dream”, one of the essays in The Eclipse I Call Father  also featured online at Terrain:

 

 

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My parents’ house, which they built in 1960, was a tiny, white, Modernist tract house constructed from sturdy materials, trimmed in green, with clean, plain lines, and overall an expression of practical, affordable design. Situated at the middle of a crabgrass lot, it fronted the bucolically named Pleasant Place, one lot north of forests and marshes that on summer nights erupted in choruses of frogs. Standing on my bed and looking through the casement window screen (why were windows always placed so high on the walls of houses built in that era?), I looked out into darkness hallucinatory with fireflies and the Milky Way. In a recent dream, I moved back into that house decorated as it was in 1960: sleek Danish-style furniture, Fauvist and Cubist prints, the RCA Victor console stereo with its collection of LPs by Johnny Mathis, Peggy Lee, Sammy Davis Jr., and Nat King Cole. The accretions of over fifty intervening years of my life fit comfortably, if improbably, within the dream of that tiny house.

                   

Early in his classic exploration of the home, The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard dwells on the way the intimacy of childhood spaces persists throughout our lives, especially in reveries. Lost in daydreams, we don’t so much inhabit the memory of our childhood home; instead, we live in its absence as we once dreamed in its presence. I’m inclined to agree with this, though it’s the houses not lived in as a child but visited and departed with an unusual feeling of well-being that interest me now.

                   

That tract house my young parents built, and occupied as briefly as their marriage endured, always seemed untidy and cramped, at first full of manias, then a long bleak period of grief. It was quite the opposite of the houses of some of the family and friends we visited. Those houses always seemed aglow with the calm light of a November afternoon just before it begins to snow. Or in the oppressive humidity of an Ohio summer, those rooms remained cool, full of shadows the color of polished oak. Without exception, those were Craftsman houses.

                   

The heavy front doors or foyers of Craftsman houses open into living rooms with large stone hearths, the many-lighted and beveled-glass windows, dark and heavily grained woodwork, built-in cabinets with glass-paneled doors, dining rooms with large bay windows, and the sight-lines of one room opening into another, creating the illusion of spacious luxury. The walls above the wainscoting were often painted in pale green that contrasted with the dark-grained woodwork, intended to harmonize with the natural world. These were houses designed with such a deep sense of spatial balance, intimacy, and structural integrity it’s hard to believe today that they were the typical homes of many working-class and lower-middle-class families in my hometown. That such houses could be purchased as kits and built quickly, often for less than a thousand dollars, is mind-blowing.

                   

After more than a generation of shipping manufacturing jobs overseas, wage stagnation, the destruction of labor unions, and tax redistribution that transfers wealth upwards, today such working- and lower-middle-class families are lucky to be living in trailers or suburban ticky-tacky; lucky, that is, if they aren’t living in their cars, the homeless and dispossessed refugees of post-modernity.

               

Many of these same Craftsman houses now sell for as much as half a million dollars, even during the Great Recession we’re only now coming to the end of. At the height of its popularity, though, such architectural design was an expression of socialist idealism and respect; namely, the belief that all segments of society had access to domestic space that, at least in its design, nurtured the souls of its inhabitants and brought them into greater harmony with the natural world.

                   

That’s a lot of wishful thinking, and it would be folly to imagine such an ahistorical reality existed; but as an ideal, as an aspiration, I’m all for it now, and even as a child, sensed its power. In her survey of social reform aesthetics, “House and Home in the Arts and Crafts Era: Reforms for Simpler Living,” Cheryl Robertson quotes Kate Greenleaf Locke from a 1907 issue of House & Garden: “[Craftsman design] appeals to a wide circle and several classes. . . . there is yet in its atmosphere a delightful flavor of Bohemianism and the liberty and originality that camp life and studio life permits.” Robertson concludes: “the bungalow combined the attributes of taste, rusticity, and economy . . . [and applied them] to the villa, farmhouse, and cottage . . . [a] democratization of domestic architecture [that is] evidenced in ‘classless’ bungalows.” That’s surely a more thoughtful idealism about how we might occupy space and has proven far more durable than most contemporary, postmodern spaces. Many corporate spaces and post-war apartment blocks, by contrast, particularly those remnant examples of Brutalism, compound error upon error and become, in the critique of Christopher Alexander, forbidding “reservoirs” of stress. Such poured concrete, bunker-like buildings seem designed to allow for little else than the possibility of siege.

                   

 ***

               

In the summer of 2002, I visited a friend in Billings, Montana, who lived in a neighborhood like many in the American West, dating from the 1920s and full of Craftsman houses. His house, located near a corner on a narrow lot along a leafy street was, he stipulated, a “Craftsman cottage.” Inside were two bedrooms in which the original family raised five children. There were a multitude of kitchen cabinets, built-in bookcases in the half-walls between dining and living rooms, and wainscoting and hardwood floors. Filled with his sturdy antique furniture, it felt cozy inside despite the enormity of the Great Plains stretching north, south, and east for a thousand miles beyond the horizons.

                   

During that visit, we rose early one day and drove to the mountains above Red Lodge. The light that July morning in the Rocky Mountains filtered down through lodgepole pines. We slowed as we passed through a cluster of structures, a pre–Great Depression “camp” below the Beartooth Plateau, where we intended to spend our day hiking. Scattered throughout the dense trees above and below the dusty road were a dozen or so tidy cabins and outbuildings constructed from materials available in the surrounding forests: unpeeled pine logs, river cobbles, and mud. The screened windows, porches, and doorways, and the rolled green asbestos roofing, recalled an era deep in the past, the world of my grandfather’s coming of age during the Great Depression. It was a moment when citizens briefly shared a belief in our egalitarian national destiny. Call this again what it is: an ahistorical claim. Nevertheless, it’s the lens through which I was taught to perceive my country’s ideals, if not its reality.

                   

We passed by the camp so quickly, all I can recall with any clarity was a single fastidious cabin just above the road on the passenger side. It seemed more like a playhouse than a cabin. It was so tiny that it would have allowed just enough room for a bunk, maybe a bench, and a small stove on the front porch. Whoever had spent summers living there, I imagined, spent most of their days outdoors. When these cabins were built, only the most rudimentary road or, more likely, trail would have existed. Getting into that canyon would have required a good deal more effort than we made driving there in little more than an hour from Billings. These were very resourceful sojourners. Whoever they were, I immediately assumed I wanted to know them.

                   

That tiny camp in the immensity of a Montana canyon, like my friend’s cottage back in Billings, seemed an unlikely confluence of egalitarian ideals and domestic intimacy, a reservoir of calm and comradeship, at ease with the natural world into which it was unobtrusively tucked away.

 

***

 

The Eclipse I Call Father is available to purchase online here.


DAVID AXELROD is the author of eight collections of poetry, most recently The Open Hand and Folly, both from Lost Horse Press, as well as a previous collection of essays, Troubled Intimacies: A Life in the Interior West (Oregon State University Press). He is the editor of Sensational Nightingales: The Collected Poems of Walter Pavlich and the award-winning basalt: a journal of fine and literary arts, as well as the director of Eastern Oregon University’s low-residency MFA in Creative Writing. In the spring of 2019, he joined Lynx House Press as its managing editor.

March 15th, 2019

We’re celebrating Women’s History Month by sharing powerful stories by and about women from our recent titles.


Paulus CoverThe Only Woman In the Room: The Norma Paulus Story is an inspiring look at the life and work of Norma Paulus, the first woman to be elected to state-wide office in Oregon. This book follows Paulus’ journey, which includes surviving polio, graduating from law school with honors despite not having a college degree, running for governor, and being elected Secretary of State. Paulus, who recently passed away, left behind a powerful legacy in Oregon politics.

 

Remembering the Power of Words: The Life of an Oregon Activist, Legislator, and Community Leader tells the powerful story of Avel Louise Gordly, the first African American woman to be elected to the Oregon Senate. Throughout her career, Gordly worked to confront and renounce Oregon’s racist history. Her work and words will continue to inspire generations to come. Read more about Gordly’s legacy in our recent blog post.


Beyond the Rebel Girl by Heather Mayer sheds light on the important roles that women played in the Wobbly movement in the Pacific Northwest. Counter to the popular perception of International Workers of the World members as being mainly male, women were instrumental in Wobbly life and fights for justice. To learn more about Beyond the Rebel Girl, you can read our recent interview with Mayer.

 

Homing Instincts cover

Homing Instincts features essays by OSU MFA alumnus Dionisia Morales that investigate ideas of identity and home. Ranging from topics like rock climbing to love, and geography to pregnancy, Morales wonders what it means to belong in a world in which migration and social integration present urgent political and ethical questions. Homing Instincts is a finalist for the Oregon Book Awards for creative nonfiction.


In our current age of environmental unbalance, Stephany Wilkes weaves a fascinating and timely account of the origins and importance of a resource present in all of our lives. Wilkes shares her story of becoming a certified sheep shearer along with the ecological concerns of the textile industry in Raw Material: Working Wool in the West, which made the longlist for the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA) 2018 Golden Poppy Award.

March 7th, 2019

Today on the OSU Press blog, we are looking at an important conversation that is happening in community-based research.

 

 

In Giving Back: Research and Reciprocity in Indigenous Settings, R.D.K. Herman pulls together twelve case studies in order to provide ways for researchers to move forward while working ethically in partnership with communities, and to identify areas where there is still work to be done. Below, read excerpts from contributor Maria Fadiman and R.D.K. Herman on the ethical issues researchers face when trying to give back to the communities in which they work.

 

From Chapter 8: “Are You Making A Million Dollars?” Reciprocity as Cultural and Environmental Reconnection by contributor Maria Fadiman

 

“Are you making a million dollars?” Don Jorge asked.

            “No,” I replied.

            He laid his hand on the bark of the tree and said, “We heard that a researcher in the next village made a million dollars,” he paused, “and didn’t give any to the people.”

“No money for me.”

            “Then why are you doing it?” he asked.

            That was a good question.

Why do I do what I do? I am an ethnobotanist studying the relationship between plants and people. My overall goal is to promote conservation and cultural retention from within communities. Through helping local people maintain their own plant knowledge, this can lead to a more concrete re-connection to the plants themselves and raise the value of the ecosystems in which these plants live. One of the issues I need to address on every project is: how do I compensate people for the time they take out of their daily schedule working with me and sharing their information?

 

 R.D.K. Herman:

As Maria’s story illustrates, those of us who conduct field research in Indigenous settings know that our success depends upon the assistance, cooperation and even aid of peoples in those communities. The framework and methods of research have historically encouraged an extractive approach to data collecting: the researcher goes in, obtains the data and leaves, returning nothing to the community, and sometimes even publishing or patenting knowledge and “discoveries” derived from the local informants to the detriment of the local people. While newer research methodologies recognize that this is exploitative, and have developed approaches to at least engage the local communities as partners in research projects, the notion of reciprocity in research is slower to take root.  Especially for those of us who engage closely in the lives of the peoples we work with—building relationships for the short, medium or long term—we have to negotiate these relationships constantly.  And particularly in Indigenous communities, that involves giving.

The act of reciprocity in Indigenous research involves a cross-cultural encounter wherein two (or more) sets of values, senses of obligation, social rules and ritual protocols collide.  Western notions of individual ownership and intellectual property come up against Indigenous notions of collective ownership—or no ownership, for how can certain things be owned by anyone?—and responsibility. 

The growing field of Indigenous Studies recognizes that as scholars—whether Native or non-Native—we are entering into a relationship with a community and its members that is rooted in trust, responsibility, integrity, and genuine concern for the wellbeing of that community and its knowledge and traditions.  Meanwhile, Native communities themselves are increasingly demanding more say over or about the nature of research projects in their communities and on their lands, and are willing to say No to projects that do not clearly serve their interests.

The aim of this volume is to discuss how research with communities can better accomplish reciprocity with those communities.  Despite recent university and professional-association ethics policies, individual researchers must define for themselves what the quality and nature of their relationships will be with the communities with whom they work. They must ask themselves, What does reciprocity look and feel like in my working relationships with communities? What institutional barriers must be navigated in efforts to develop reciprocal relationships with community partners? How do you know when the outcomes of a research project have upheld your ethical obligations or goals of reciprocity? How do you navigate the unequal power relations inherent in academic research with Indigenous and “other” communities, in defining appropriate ways of ‘giving back’? How can research be mutually beneficial, given the historical and ongoing relationships of power in centers of knowledge production? How are the multiple perspectives within an individual community navigated in efforts to ensure positive outcomes for research partners? Even for researchers who are members of the communities with whom they work, ‘giving back’ may present unique challenges and opportunities. Can research itself be a form of ‘giving back’?

Many of us are never sure whether our attempts at reciprocity got it right, so this volume turns to those who have had more experience in this matter, or given it more thought, or engaged in innovative practices to create different paradigms from that of extractive research.  There is much more that can be said on this topic, and this is not a cookbook or a how-to. Yet we hope that some maps to this complex territory may emerge.


 

Pick up a copy of Giving Back: Research and Reciprocity in Indigenous Settings and learn more about the work that is being done to address unethical relationships between researchers and communities.

RDK Herman is senior geographer at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. He has served the Indigenous Peoples Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers since 2000, and has authored work on decolonizing research methodologies. In 2000 he created Pacific Worlds, a web-based indigenous-geography education project for Hawai‘i and the American Pacific. 

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