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May 11th, 2017

Author Gail Wells joins us today to reflect on her and Pat McCord Amacher's work to help tell the story of Norma Paulus, the first woman to be elected to state-wide office in Oregon. The Only Woman in the Room provides an unprecedented look into Paulus's life and work-- a career in public service that spanned nearly 30 years-- with lively anecdotes that will appeal to everyone from historians to everday citizens.

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When Jennifer Viviano called me in the spring of 2013 and asked me to collaborate on a biography of her mother-in-law, Norma Paulus, I eagerly accepted. I admired Norma, and that would have been reason enough. I also relished the prospect of another tour through that brief, bright time in Oregon politics, the mid-1960s through the mid-'70s, when Governor Tom McCall and a forward-thinking legislature seemed to be moving our state into a new era of equality, prosperity and environmental health.

I came of age in Oregon during those years, a bookish, idealistic high-school girl. I'd revisited the territory four decades later when I collaborated with Betty Roberts on her autobiography, With Grit and By Grace (also part of OSU Press's Women and Politics in the Pacific Northwest series).

Betty was a Democrat and Norma is a Republican, but they were sisters across the aisle-- key members of a feisty legislative women's caucus that helped pass landmark laws that ensured women's and consumers' rights and established an enduring (so far) land-use planning system. They were women I looked up to. I was grateful to be invited into their world long enough to help each tell her story.

I discovered, however, that telling Norma's story presented a distinct challenge. She had recorded many hours of oral history, and there were boxes and boxes of documents-- newspaper clippings, floor notes from her time in the legislature, campaign memos, transcripts of speeches, meeting minutes, and other materials. But she had not written a manuscript, and by the time Pat and I got to work she was in poor health and was unable to sit for any more interviews.

So, with her and her family's blessing, we reconstituted her story from the oral history and other materials, augmenting these with interviews of friends and family members. We did not try to "be" Norma; we didn't feel comfortable ghosting ourselves in a false first-person narrative. So we told the story in the third person, using our own words, but always striving to infuse the storytelling with Norma's spirit.

With all due modesty, we think it's a terrific story. Norma gets the credit for that, of course. She was certainly a pioneer for women in public life, but she is also a complex and extraordinarily interesting person. We did our best to let Norma's light shine through the simple, prescribed contours of "role model."

April 26th, 2017

On Monday night at the Oregon Book Awards, Jarold Ramsey was honored with the C. E. S. Wood Distinguished Writer Award, presented to an Oregon author in recognition of an enduring, substantial literary career.

OSU Press has been fortunate to have a long and fruitful history with Jerry Ramsey, stretching across three decades. In 1990, he encouraged us to reissue Nehalem Tillamook Tales, for which he wrote a new Introduction. He co-edited The Stories We Tell, an award-winning anthology of Oregon folk literature. A move back to his family ranch north of Madras in 2000 inspired the essay collection New Era: Reflections on the Human and Natural History of Central Oregon. Next year, OSU Press will publish a companion volume of essays entitled Words Marked by a Place. Ramsey was introduced at the ceremony by Portland poet Armin Tolentino, who has graciously allowed us to share his remarks.

 

Armin Tolentino (left) with Jarold Ramsey. (Photograph: Laura Stanfill)

Armin Tolentino (left) with Jarold Ramsey (photograph by Laura Stanfill)

 

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Here from the start, from our first of days, look:
I have carved our lives in secret on this stick
of mountain mahogany the length of your arms
outstretched, the wood clear red, so hard and rare.
It is time to touch and handle what we know we share.

 

So says the speaker in Jarold Ramsey’s poem, “The Tally Stick,” and how fitting that today we get to celebrate this year’s C. E. S. Wood Distinguished Writer Award as a sort of tally stick for Jarold’s lifetime of devotion to literature. His is a career that has been notched over and over, and not just with his own work, but with the words of those who have collectively shaped our literary landscape.

Jarold Ramsey, at any given moment is a poet, essayist, scholar, editor, mentor, mountain climber, letter writer, and, according to rumors, connoisseur of mail order novelty products such as joy buzzers and itching powder.

Though he was on loan to Upstate New York for 35 years as a beloved English Professor at the University of Rochester, his heart has always belonged to central Oregon, and it was inevitable that he’d find his way back. His poetry is steeped in this landscape; it is an echo and benediction through the canyons.

But for many it is his meticulous work compiling and editing American Indian literature for which we are most grateful. The seminal collection Coyote Was Going There and its companion book of essays Reading the Fire are both considered foundational to any scholarship on Northwest folklore, but more importantly, emphasized theses stories as art, not trinket or bauble, but a manifestation of human creativity to be valued as much as any literature we teach to our kids and return to in times of celebration and grief.

One story in the collection, called the Sun-Box from the Warm Springs tribe, describes how Crow smashed Eagle’s sun box, thus releasing light into the world. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Jarold had a major part in doing the same for Northwest Indian literature, freeing it from archives of university basements to be living art with us all today. After all, Jarold helped ensure that any discussion of American Literature is by definition incomplete if it doesn’t include American Indian Literature.

Please help me in welcoming to the stage our 2017 C. E. S. Wood Distinguished Writer, Jarold Ramsey!

Armin Tolentino, April 24, 2017

April 18th, 2017

In honor of Earth Week, here are some books from OSU Press that celebrate the environment. The first Earth Day was on April 22, 1970, activating 20 million people to participate. The Earth Day Network has since grown to include 50,000 partners in almost 195 countries, helping to build an environmental democracy. Working through education, consumer campaigns, and public policy, The Earth Day Network hopes to further diversify their movement for change.

 

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Accidental Gravity by Bernard Quetchenbach

(2017)

Quetchenbach leads readers through a series of essays, covering his move from upstate New York to the western United States. Quetchenbach chronicles his journey from the urban and suburban to the wild lands of Yellowstone National Park. The first half of the essay collection focuses on his time in urban areas, such as New York. In the second half of his collection of essays, Quetchenbach explores the current environmental issues threatening the Greater Yellowstone area-- wildfire, invasive species, and the constant flow and increase of tourists-- in the context of climate change and other present day pressures.

 

 

Asserting Native Resilience by Zoltán Grossman and Alan Parker

(2012)

The indigenous nations are at the forefront of today's climate crisis, with their cultures and economies among some of the most vulnerable to climate-related catastrophes. Native peoples are working toward a response to this crisis that serves as a model for both Native and non-Native communities. Many of these Native American nations in the Pacific Northwest, First Nations in Canada, and Indigenous peoples around the Pacific Rim have already faced the consequences of droughts, flooding, reducing glaciers and snowmelts, seasonal shifts in winds and storms, and changes in species on the land and in the ocean. Using their tools of resilience, they have been enabled to respond to these environmental changes and protect the habitats of salmon and other culturally vital species. They are strengthening their defenses to give support to their communities, mitigate their losses, and to adapt where possible.

 

Boundary Layer by Kem Luther

(2016)

When referring to atmospheric science, a boundary layer is the band of air nearest to the ground. This boundary layer is teeming with lichens, mosses, ferns, fungi, and other diminutive plants in the Pacific Northwest. Kem Luther takes readers through a journey of discovery as he explores the life that thrives there and introducing these life forms to readers and scientists alike. Along a windswept beach, readers are shown how the violent crash of sea and land creates the home of some of the world's most endangered plants, including the nearly-extinct pink sand-verbena. Through Luther's luminous prose, readers are told what these boundaries have to say, not only about the in-between places of nature, but of the borders that lie between species and ecosystems, culture and nature, and science and the humanities.

Building a Better Nest by Evelyn Searle Hess

(2015)

For fifteen years, Evelyn Hess and her husband David lived in a tent and trailer. They had no electricity, no running water, and were situated on twenty acres of wild land along the Oregon Coast Range. When the decision came to build a house, they knew it would have to respect the lessons of simple living that they learned from their camping life. Evelyn Hess chronicles the adventures of the construction of their home while seeking a model for sustainable living, not only for the home, but beyond its walls. Many questions arise throughout the process, centering around the idea of a better nest. What makes it better? Better for whom? It isn't merely just purchasing the latest recycled floors, but participating in cooperative work in employment, research, activism, and in life.

 

 

Collared by Aimee Lyn Eaton

(2013)

"Just as the humans involved in the wolf debate deserve to be seen as individuals, not stereotypes, so do the wolves. They are not the boogeyman, or storybook monsters aiming to prey upon the young and old. They aren't cuddly pets or religious icons. They are Canis lupus Wolves." -- an excerpt from the introduction

Aimee Lyn Eaton brings readers to the front lines as they follow her through the meeting rooms in the state capitol to ranching communities in the rural northeast corner of the state. Through her in-depth research, on-the-ground inquiry, and field interviews, Eaton shares the story of how the wolves returned to Oregon and the repurcussions of their presence in the state.

 

Diary of a Citizen Scientist by Sharman Apt Russell

(2014)

Hundreds of thousands of volunteers are monitoring climate change, tracking bird migration patterns, finding stardust for NASA, and excavating mastodons. With the number of citizen scientists alone, along with new technology, research conduction is being reshaped. Through this timely exploration of this phenomenon, nature writer Sharman Apt Russel allows readers to join her yearlong study of a little-known species, the Western red-bellied tiger beetle. Through her humorous and lyrical voice, she dives into her persistent and joyful tracking of the insect she refers to as "charismatic," "elegant," and "fierce." However, she must negotiate the realities of climate change in her journey patrolling the Gila River in Southwest Mexico, even as she celebrates the beauty of the still-wild and rural landscape.

Escaping into Nature by John F. Reiger

(2013)

John Reiger, wildlife conservationalist and environmental historian, recalls the outdoor adventures that readied him as a young man for the practices of the great sportsmen-conservationists of the past, with a particular focus on George Bird Grinnell, Theodore Roosevelt, and Aldo Leopold. Finding solace in nature, Reiger entered the outdoors as an escape from the psychological abuse within his family. He soon found himself intrigued by the study and pursuit of insects, fishes, and birds to be exciting in themselves. Through this process of discovery, he found that it was only by participating in the life and death of other creatures that one can learn to truly value the natural world, be a part of it, and be inspired to work for its conservation.

 

 

 

Finding the RiverFinding the River by Jeff Crane (2011)

In 1992 landmark federal legislation called for the removal of two dams from the Elwha River to restore salmon runs. Jeff Crane dives into the debate over development and ecological preservation, presenting a long-term environmental and human history of the river as well as a unique look at river reconstruction. Finding the River: An Environmental History of the Elwha examines the ways that different communities—from the Lower Elwha Klallam Indians to current-day residents—have used the river and its resources, giving close attention to the harnessing of the Elwha for hydroelectric production and the resulting decline of its fisheries. Crane describes efforts begun in the 1980s to remove the dams and restore the salmon. He explores the rise of a river restoration movement in the late twentieth century and the roles that free-flowing rivers could play in preserving salmon as climate change presents another set of threats to these endangered fish.

 

For the Love of Rivers by Kurt D. Fausch

(2015)

Winner of the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, For the Love of Rivers draws readers over the reflective surface of streams in order to view and ponder what was beneath, and how they work. Fausch uses his years of experience as a field biologist to explain the underlying science that connected these aquatic ecosystems to their neighboring forests and the organisms found there-- including humans. Fausch introduces readers to the work of Shigeru Nakano who was a pioneering river ecologist who served as an inspiration to other scientists around the world with his innovative research on stream-forest connections. For the Love of Rivers is more than a book about stream ecology. It is a celebration of life and its connectivity, pondering the bigger questions. Why are rivers important to humans, and why is it our nature to want to be near them? What can we do now to ensure the future of these essential ecosystems?

 

A Guide to Freshwater Fishes of Oregon by Douglas F. Markle

(2016)

Douglas F. Markle provides one of the first comprehensive and authoritative guides to the native and non-native fishes found in Oregon. Identification aids and images for most of the 137 known species and subspecies are provided, while larval and juvenile stages and hybrids are also illustrated in some groups. Many Oregon fishes are difficult to identify due to their great diversity, size, or a lack of study. Making use of established naming conventions while also highlighting apparent biological diversity, this compromise between the accepted nomenclature and a system reflecting the true biodiversity of Oregon's fishes are reflected in the delicate balance between scientific communication and the organism's place in nature.

 

Hiking from Portland to the Coast by James D. Thayer

(2016)

Hiking from Portland to the Coast is a guidebook for both the experienced and casual hikers, exploring many trails and logging roads that crisscross the northern portion of Oregon's Coast Range. Each of the 30 trails included in this guide are accompanied by a "backstory" which serve to highlight the rich histories of Native Americans, white settlers, loggers, and railroad operators.

 

 

 

 

A Hunger for High Country by Susan Marsh

(2014)

Very few women were employed by the United States Forest Service before the 1970's. However, during the new environmental and fair employment laws in the 60's and 70's, the Forest Service began to hire women in professional careers. For the first time, women worked as wildlife biologists, geologists, fishery biologists, and soil scientists for the U.S. Forest Service. A Hunger for High Country is a memoir of one of those women. Susan Marsh found herself in the national forests surrounding Yellowstone National Park. Serving also as a partial profile of a time and place, Marsh's book details the frustrations and failures of what was supposed to be her dream job and her story of a new beginning in the mountains of western Wyoming, finding solace and inspiration in nature.

 

Keeping Oregon Green by Derek R. Larson

(2016)

Derek R. Larson provides a new history of the accomplishments of Oregon's environmental era: the revitalization of the polluted Willamette River, the Beach Bill that preserved public access to the entire coastline, the Bottle Bill that set the national standard for reducing roadside litter, and the nation's first comprehensive land use zoning law. Along with these case studies, the often forgotten tale of what would have been Oregon's second National Park is included, which was intended to preserve the Oregon Dunes as one of the nation's first National Seashores. From archival research and source materials, ranging from the literary, to the poetic, to congressional hearings, this compelling study is deeply rooted in the culture, economic, and political history of the Pacific Northwest.

 

Leaded by Michael C. Mix

(2016)

Michael C. Mix provides a timely and deeply-researched account of one of the largest environmental disasters in western United States history. Mix examines the origins, evolution, and causes of the harmful environmental and human health effects caused by mining operations in Idaho's Coeur d'Alene Mining District-- the "Silver Valley"-- from 1885 to 1981. Industrial mining caused severe damage to area waterways and lands from releases of sulfur gases, lead, and other toxic metals in the first half of the twentieth century. In 1917, human health effects were brought to the forefront when Bunker Hill workers suffered from lead poisoning. However, despite these obvious devastations, the influence of the mine and lead industries in the state and federal politics, and scientific uncertainties about the effects of pollution, there were no effective federal laws regulating the mining and smelting industries until th 1970's. After the closure of these facilities, the area left behind was classified as the largest Superfund site in the United States.

Living Off the Pacific Ocean Floor by George Moskovita

(2015)

Captain George Moskovita offers readers a highly personal and often humorous look at the career of a commerical fisherman. After graduating from high school in Bellingham at the age of 16, Moskovita took his life to the sea. He found himself crabbing in Alaska, seining for sardines off of California, and for tuna off of Mexico, and catching soupfin sharks for their livers-- served as a vital source of Vitamin A during World War II. After coming to Astoria, Oregon, in 1939, he became a pioneer of the Oregon ocean perch fishery. In his sixty year plus career, Moskovita watched the fishery he had helped build become devastated by foreign factory processing ships. He bought, repaired, traded, and sank more boats than what most fishermen would work in their lifetime. This memoir provides a unique glimpse of Pacific maritime life in the 20th century, small-town coastal life after World War II, and the early days of fishery development in Oregon.

 

The Long Shadows by Simo Laakkonen, Richard P. Tucker, and Timo Vuorisalo

(2017)

Laakkonen, Tucker, and Vuorisalo-- and multiple contributors-- offer the first book-length work to offer global perspectives on the environmental effects and history of World War II. Based on long-term research, the articles selected give the best available studies in different fields and countries, with contributions touching on Europe, America, Asia, and Africa, this book has a truly global approach. The Long Shadows considers and contemplates the profound and lasting impacts left on global environments by World War II, including polar, temperate, and tropical ecological zones. Divided into three sections, the first gives an introduction and overview of the War. The second section examines the social and environmental impacts, and the third focuses solely on the history and legacy of resource extraction. In a fourth and final section, the authors offer conclusions and hypotheses.

 

Meander Scars by Abby Phillips Metzger

(2013)

Abby Phillips Metzger provides personal stories that recount a forgotten Oregon river, the Willamette, as it had existed before white settlement. Bearing the scars of development and degradation accompanying human settlement, the rich network of channels and sloughs are now long gone. However, through canoe trips and intimate explorations from the river, Metzger discovers glints of resilience: a beaver trolling through a slough, native fish in quiet backwaters, and strong currents that carry undertones of the wild Willamette. Through the tales of farmers and scientists alike, Metzger is led to ask whether that which has been scarred can fully heal, and whether a disjointed river can be whole again.

 

 

A Naturalist's Guide to the Hidden World of Pacific Northwest Dunes by George Poinar Jr.

(2016)

Ranging from northern California to British Columbia, coastal dunes and beaches provide unique habitats for plants, animals, and insects. In what may seem to be a barren landscape, hikers and beach walkers will discover the teeming metropolis of life with this guide.  Exposing the small, almost blind weevils that live under the driftwood and slowly degrade the wood, these beach hoppers leap up at every step and flee from vicious rove beetles, dune ants, and dive-bomber wasps. Taking a focus on the associations between dune plants and other life forms, this book includes over 600 full-color photographs and comprehensive data for biologists studying dune ecology.

 

 

The Next Tsunami by Bonnie Henderson

(2014)

On a March evening of 1964, ten-year-old Tom Horning woke up near midnight to find his yard had transformed. A tsunami, triggered by Alaska's momentous Good Friday earthquake, had wreaked havoc in his Seaside, Oregon home. It was considered the Pacific Northwest coast's first-ever tsunami. However, 20 years passed before geologists discovered that it was not Seaside's first, or worst, tsunami. In fact, massive tsunamis have been shown to have struck the Pacific coast every few hundred years, not triggered by distant tremors, but by huge quakes no more than one hundred miles off the coast. Due to advances in technology, scientists have been able to pinpoint the last megathrust earthquake on the Pacific Northwest's coast, coming in at 9 p.m., January 26, 1700, with a magnitude 9.0. This is one of the largest quakes the world has ever known. When the next one strikes, whether it be tomorrow or a hundred years from now, the tsunami it generates will most likely be the most devastating natural disaster in the history of the United States.

 

Public Lands, Public Debates by Char Miller

(2012)

"Watching democracy at work can be bewildering, even frustrating, but the only way individuals and organizations can sift through the often messy business of public deliberation is to deliberate..." -- excerpt from the introduction.
The subject of historic struggle and contemporary dispute, public lands in the United States are dearly treasured places. Environmental historian Char Miller explores the history of conservation thinking and the development of a government with stewardship as its mission. Within 19 essays, Miller uses the U.S. Forest Service as a gauge of the broader debates that have engaged Americans since the late nineteenth century. He examines critical moments of public and private negotiation to help explain the tensions that shaped the administration of public lands in the United States.

 

Ricky's Atlas by Judith L. Li

(2016)

Serving as a sequel to Ellie's Log: Exploring the Forest Where the Great Tree Fell, Ricky Zamora brings his love of map-making and his extraordinary curiosity to the arid landscapes east of the Cascade Mountains. Upon arrival, he encounters a thunderstorm that leaves his family and neighbors scrambling to deal with a wildfire that had been sparked by lightning. Ricky and his friend Ellie begin to see how plants, animals, and people must adjust to life with wildfires. Color pen-and-ink drawings vividly illustrate the plants, animals, and events encountered in Ricky's summer adventure. Teeming with actual historical, physical, and ecological data about the region, upper-elementary school kids will enjoy the mixture of the factual and the fictional.

 

Rivers of Oregon by Tim Palmer

(2016)

Award-winning author and photographer, Tim Palmer, brings together over 140 photos and evocative, informative text capturing the life, beauty, and magic of Oregon's remarkable array of waterways. The book's texts work to address the nature and ecology of these flowing waters, as well as the joy it brings to travel in these waters and the historic saga of Oregon's commitment to preserve, protect, and restore the best of their state for future generations. Readers will travel with Palmer through the underwater views of riparian forests, from distant mountain summits, and on the seat of a kayak. This photographic journey enables readers to gain different perspectives on the many features that provide us with water, life, and with scenes that would leave us deeply impoverished if we were to lose them.

 

Toward a Natural Forest by Jim Furnish

(2015)

In 1965, Jim Furnish joined the U.S. Forest Service. Filled with enthusiasm, naivete, and pride for such an accomplished legacy, he could not have been prepared for the crisis that would rock the agency to its foundations, as an environmental movement questioned the Forest Service's legacy and legitimacy. The agency tumbled through a wave of lawsuits from environmental groups in the late 20th Century-- a time most recognized by the spotted owl controversy that shut down logging in public forests in the Pacific Northwest. Caught between the powerful timber industry that had been having its way with the national forests for decades and organized environmentalists who believed these lands had been abused and deserved better care, the agency was brought to its knees. This book gives an insider's view on this tumultuous time, presenting tales of evolution within the agency's and author's environmental consciousness.

 

Through a Green Lens by Robert Michael Pyle

(2016)

At an early age, Robert Michael Pyle discovered that he had a greater affinity with words than he did with numbers. Despite this affinity, Pyle was not moved to write until a powerful experience in the summer of 1965, bringing his pen to paper with his passion for the natural world, leading to his first heartfelt essay. This began a devotion to natural history, nature conservation, and language-- and how they all meet in the literature of the land. Arranged by decade, Through a Green Lens provides samplings of Pyle's work over fifty years. This book is acute and uncommonly attuned to the physical world, giving readers a remarkable window into the natural setting of our life and time.

 

 

A Week in Yellowstone's Thorofare by Michael J. Yochim

(2016)

The most remote place in the country, outside of Alaska, is found in a region of Yellowstone National Park, ironically named the Thorofare for its deep history as a route traversed by fur trappers. Set within a week-long expedition taken by the author and his three friends in 2014, A Week in Yellowstone's Thorofare is a history and celebration of this still-wild place. Through first-person accounts of park rangers, archival documents, and Yochim's own experiences, readers are able to dive into what makes wildness seperate from wilderness. Demonstrating the importance of wild places, this book chronicles the struggles through which it has remained protected from visitors today.

 

 

 

 

Wild in the Willamette by Lorraine Anderson and Abby Phillips Metzger

(2015)

Oregon's Willamette Valley boasts rich opportunities for outdoor recreation that are often overlooked. Wild in the Willamette is a guidebook to the natural treasures found in the valley, extending far beyond the I-5 corridor. Anderson and Metzger incorporate natural history sidebars and essays by notable local authors to connect people to the best hiking, biking, and paddling the mid-Valley offers. From families with young children, day hikers, long-distance backpackers, kayakers, canoeists, bird watchers, to cyclists, there is something out there for everyone of every skill level. Wild in the Willamette comes equipped with illustrated maps and keys to the many attractions in the area. It serves as an essential guide to the natural wonders of Oregon's mid-Willamette Valley.

 

 

Where the Wind Dreams of Staying by Eric Dieterle

(2016)

Eric Dieterle captures the emotional storms of a boy, and a man, hoping to find meaning in a place, or a place with meaning in this powerful memoir. Dieterle's journey brings him from the plateaus of eastern Washington and through the landscapes of seven other states, ending in the shadow of the San Francisco peaks in northern Arizona. Through a series of essays, Dieterle's struggles with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and failed relationships are tightly bound to the surrounding landscapes, ecosystems, and ecologies so that a person and place become lost in one another.

 

April 13th, 2017

The centennial observance of the United States' joining World War I gets underway this month, and Michael Helquist, author of Marie Equi, will participate in the World War I Centennial Series, sponsored by the Oregon Historical Society. On April 19, Helquist will present his current research on how Oregon aggressively embraced the Espionage and Sedition Acts during the war years. His research presents for the first time a tally of Oregonians arrested for disloyalty and a description of their cases.

The WWI period in Oregon was the first time that residents in the state were subjected to investigation and surveillance in their daily lives. Helquist notes that never before had ordinary individuals collaborated on an extensive basis with federal authorities to conduct surveillance of one another. Many historians and writers have asserted that the assault on WWI dissent became the start of an emerging surveillance state in the U.S.

Helquist explains that he became intrigued with this period of Oregon history while researching the life and times of Dr. Marie Equi, the only woman in the state to be convincted and imprisoned for sedition. Helquist's award-winning biography-- Marie Equi: Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions-- will be available for purchase and signing by the author.

Also presenting at the April 19 event will be Dr. Michael Kazin, Georgetown University professor and author of War Against War, The American Fight for Peace 1914-1918. Kazin was also one of the featured historians who participated in the PBS American Experience: "The Great War."

 

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"Dissent and World War I in the United States and Oregon"
Wednesday, April 19, 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Avenue, Portland, OR

This event is free and open to the public. See Helquist's website for more information on Dissent and Resistance and Marie Equi.

March 22nd, 2017

Bernard Quetchenbach, author of this April's Accidental Gravity, takes time today to expand on and explore the ideals surrounding creative non-fiction. What is the line that separates fact from fiction? Perhaps to some, fiction requires a successful suspension of belief. To others, it may depend entirely on the interpretation of the individual. The landscapes we have grown to know and love carry their own history, both known and unknown to those who walk the land today. While some of these histories may seem outlandish or unreal, just because no one was around to witness, doesn't mean the tree didn't make a sound.

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Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area straddles the Montana/Wyoming border, with the Crow Indian Reservation to the north. It's not a place you pass on the way to anywhere else. Because I happen to live more-or-less nearby, I've been exploring this out-of-the-way corner of the public estate for decades. Bighorn Canyon is a kind of foil, if you will, for the legendary, beloved Greater Yellowstone to its west. One is world famous, the other obscure; one biologically rich and, by interior West standards, lush, the other dry, austere, and hardscrabble.

Despite the spectacular terrain, the canyon's ultimate appeal is idiosyncratic. Adulterated by Yellowtail Dam hidden in a rock fold at the canyon's north end, the Bighorn River is not pristine. The most sought-after wild animals are feral horses, members of the PBS-star Pryor Mountain herd-- the canyon is wedged between the abrupt face of East Pryor Mountain and the more extensive, somewhat aloof, Bighorn range across the river. Even the wild sheep are not quite pure, having been introduced to the Bighorns before making their way over the ice into the rocky barrens across from Devil's Canyon. More obviously human artifacts are scattered around the prehistoric Bad Pass Trail. Later, frontier characters like pioneering journalist/cattle queen Carolyn Lockhart and dubious entrepreneur Doc Barry left enduring traces on the landscape. Most of us know locales like that, not iconic places we might have dreamed about as kids-- Yellowstone or Wrigley Field or Stonehenge-- just places, unique and strange, full of stories without form or resolution except for the shaping that occurs when experience finds a home on the way to memory. That hidden cove or canyon you think no one else can see.

I started writing poetry seriously, so to speak, in college. When my interest in essays emerged later, I worried about the burden of truth as literal reality; being accountable to the actual if subjectively encountered planet seemed like an awesome responsibility. Writers always have potentially conflicting loyalities: to the sentence, to memory, to theme and coherence. I suppose when I write nonfiction my ultimate loyalty is to the is-ness we call the world, that numinous whatever in which our lives-- real and imagined-- happen. The payoff for such loyalty in nonfiction is that reality has the right to be bolt-out-of-the-blue unexpected or coincidentally perfect. Anything, as we say, is possible.

We know that we perceive a mediated world, that the boundary between fact and fiction is never exact and impervious. But we're finding the peril of taking that too far-- reality as virtual, fact as "alternative." If objective reality is an illusion, solipsism is a more dangerous one. If you were standing on the brink of Bighorn Canyon, or slogging through snow and gumbo mud in tracks left by shoeless horses, you wouldn't doubt your surroundings. You'd be cold, for one thing, and the wind would be cutting. A golden eagle could be edging the canyon, and a flock of pinyon jays might nose around the old post office at Hillsboro, Barry's ghost town.

You would be there.

A writer, no matter how gifted, can't give you that. Reading about the canyon, however, just might remind you of your own accidental place-- a ravine in Indiana, a fogbound California shore, a ruined farmstead in Vermont with cows grazing on what was the roof and a sleigh still intact in the outbuilding rubble. Maybe just a city pier on Lake Ontario. Some place you couldn't have made up as strange and resonant as it is. A place with consequences you can fall through if you aren't careful, where unexpected meanings can be uncovered and created simultaneously.

One cool March day among the junipers and wild horses ended with a last short walk to the edge of Bighorn Canyon. Below it was already evening, and the ochre rock walls were starting to fade. Until, that is, a crepuscular sunshaft spotlighted a full-curl bighorn ram surveying the shadowed depths from a briefly glowing ledge across the water. It was an ephemeral moment of transcendent circumstance. Too much, you might reasonably conclude. I wouldn't believe it either. If it hadn't happened just that way.

February 28th, 2017

Dr. Robert Fox is here with us to expand on his book, Science without Frontiers. Taking inspiration from earlier lectures, Fox dives into the history of scientific innovation and the ideologies behind these advancements. Whatever the aspirations of individual scientists or the status of projects underway, science is always subject to surveillance and the interference of shifting political agendas. Today, Fox gives a few real-life examples of the ways that politics have affected scientific inquiry throughout history.

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Science without Frontiers had its origins in the three lectures that I gave at Oregon State University, Corvallis, as Horning Visiting Fellow in the Humanities in May 2013. When I gave the lectures, I had no idea that, barely three years on, the ideals of the free exchange of knowledge and the free movement of people would assume the immediacy that they have today. In the lectures, I addressed the challenges and aspirations that came, from the mid-nineteenth century, with the accelerating proliferation of scientific books, specialized journals, and press and conference reports. In the face of the growing volume and diversity of knowledge, the procedures of information retrieval assumed unprecedented importance. In the sciences, responses to what was widely seen as a crisis of overload included abstracting journals (Pharmaceutisches Centralblatt was the first of them in 1830) and a new generation of bibliographies and other finding aids.

It is tempting to interpret such innovations as a simple response to a practical problem. But in Science without Frontiers I argue that the push to facilitate the access to scientific knowledge and promote its circulation was also driven by a broader, universalist ideology with a strong pacifist streak. When two Belgian lawyers, Paul Otlet and Henri La Fontaine, launched their International Institute of Bibliography in Brussels in 1895, they did so in the belief that in cataloguing the sources of human knowledge in all its forms, they were taking a first step on a road to a world at peace. Their guiding principle was straightforward: so long as knowledge was open to all and nations and their peoples communicated freely with one another, war between them would be inconceivable.

A similar motivation fired the Norwegian-American sculptor, Hendrik Christian Andersen, who published his plan for a utopian city that he conceived as a World Centre of Communication in 1913, when the tide of universalist sentiment was at its height. Within months, however, the Great War dealt a fatal blow to Andersen's hopes and seriously inhibited the work of the International Institute of Bibliography. Quite suddenly, sciene became the property of the belligerent nations, with consequences in the development of poison gases and other science-based weapons.

In important ways, the coming of peace in 1918 did little to allay wartime enmities. The exclusion of German scientists from conferences under the aegis of the newly established International Research Council (IRC) and the associated ban on the use of the German language at the IRC's conferences constituted assaults on the universalist ideals to which the scientific world had adhered, or at least paid lip service, since the beginnings of modern science in the seventeenth century. And worse was to come. The consolidation of totalitarian regimes in the 1920s and 1930s, in Soviet Russia, Italy, Germany and Spain, resulted in the subordination of the scientific communities of these countries to what their governments variously construed as their national interests. The hardships that Nazi authorities inflicted on Jewish scientists were all too symptomatic of a rejection of any notion of science as a part of a seamless web of learned culture.

A second world war only reinforced that rejection, as scientists were again called upon to serve their countries and turn away from their worldwide disciplinary communities. Even in the darkest days, however, the universalist dream did not completely die, and it re-emerged strongly iin the post-war creation of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). UNESCO's declared aim of promoting "the free exchange of ideas and knowledge" was precisely that of Otlet, La Fontaine, and Andersen, and since 1946 its initiatives have done much to transcend the barriers of nationhood, race, and language, while respecting the distinctiveness of cultures.

Even in the institution of UNESCO's power and influence, however, the passage from precept to practice has never been easy. Certain British and American administrations have viewed UNESCO's actions as unsupportive, even subversive, of their particular national interests, and they have withdrawn or diminished their support. And now, in our day, we find universalist ideals on the back foot once again as impediments to the free movement of peoples and the ideas and talents they bring with them show signs of being strengthened, not diminished. In the name of a recovery of control over our borders, a post-Brexit Britain seems intent on breaking with the UK's hard-won integration in the networks of European science, despite the intellectual and financial benefits that integration has brought for so long.

If science is to be pursued "without frontiers," we need to be sensitive to what is afoot. As history shows and this short book reminds us, frontiers that we may feel to have been removed or made less formidable have a nasty habit of re-emerging in the press of political events. In the present circumstances, that should be a matter of profound concern for all of us, scientists and non-scientists alike.

February 20th, 2017

Today Eric Dieterle, author of Where the Wind Dreams of Staying, shares what life has been like since the book's publication in October 2016. In his memoir, Dieterle reveals the events and experiences that shaped his search for a place he could call home. As his book advances between states, readers are further able to identify and connect with themselves through the storms of life. A big thanks to Eric for reflecting on the evolution of his writing life.

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In the five months since Where the Wind Dreams of Staying appeared on bookshelves, themes of isolation and connection have risen from the pages to play out in my post-memoir life. I should not be surprised, but I am.

It may be that I simply didn't know what to expect.

A week ago, I spoke on the phone with the chair of my thesis committee-- our first conversation in more than 30 years. He'd read the book, and wanted to congratulate me and tell me how much he enjoyed it. The workmanship impressed him. I told him how much it meant to me to hear that, for he was the professor who taught me so much about discipline and hard work at a time when I lacked much capacity for either.

Connections.

My mother wrote me a long letter, explaining what had been unexplained for decades, un-shrouding the mysteries cloaking my understanding of family history. My history. I would never have guessed the details of the story that now, even as I continue to process it, simply makes sense.

As I wrote the book, choosing carefully what to include and what to omit was more than merely a storytelling exercise. I wanted to balance disclosure with compassion-- for myself and for others-- and I feared rejection on more than just literary terms. I could imagine family, friends and coworkers recoiling, aghast that I had done this or said that, or appalled at the full spectrum of poor choices laid out before them. A lifetime of mistakes contained in 136 pages.

So far, compassion eclisped scorn. The column for sincere compliments contains a number of marks; the ledger of shame, regret and anxiety remains filled only with my own scribbling.

Still, I wince at the prospect of the recrimination I had so worried about when I wrote, and revised, and awaited publication. Because I never know what the next reaction might bring. If there is any reaction at all.

A few weeks ago, as I sat at a small table in the local iteration of a national bookstore chain, I decided to turn away from discouragement toward bemusement. Until that moment, I had not fully understood the capacity of people to not simply ignore someone, but to convince themselves that the periphery of their world simply did not exist. There I sat, next to a poster-sized cover of my book that was perched on a tripod stand, a stack of books in front of me, open to engaging all anonymous passers-by with a smile or even eye contact. Nothing. I was invisible. After about an hour of this, I decided that if I were ever to commit an offense that would cause law enforcement to pursue me, my best choice of escape would be to sit in a bookstore next to a poster of a book, inviting conversation or perhaps even a sale. No one would ever find me.

Isolation.

Please, I'm not complaining. I did sell six books that day-- four to the handful of people who attended my reading, and two at the table itself-- and I deepened my understanding of the human condition by observing those who so astutely managed not to observe me. So I'm a better person for it. A better writer.

As the weeks roll by, I'm mining the literary value of the highs and lows of post-publication experiences. Duality permeates the book: east and west sides of the Cascade mountains, interior and exterior landscapes, the promises of a spiritual realm and the pain of human endeavor. Each "fantastic book!" stands to counterpoint to the vacuum of non-response-- the non-stars, the non-reviews, the non-acknowledgement.

This is as it must be, and if something significant changes, I'll accept the new development as being part of the natural course of events in this writing life. Because honestly, I still have no idea what this writing life is, exactly.

As the author, I am merely the source of the lines. What lies between them-- and beneath them and in the margins-- may simply be empty, or is filled with what the reader experiences. Most of the time, I won't know either way.

Knowing the words are out there-- that needs to be enough for me.

February 2nd, 2017

Dr. Patricia Kullberg joins us today to give a sneak peek at her new book, On the Ragged Edge of Medicine, available March 2017. Dr. Kullberg has served as Medical Director of the Multnomah County Health Department as well as a primary care doctor for people living with physical, mental, and addiction issues in Portland, Oregon. On the Ragged Edge of Medicine  invites readers to take a deeper look at the world we live in, especially at the lives of the dispossessed among us.

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If we still thought of certain women as spinsters or old maids, Carla would have been one. That's what my mother would have called her six decades ago: a woman whose longing had fled before the impress of time. Carla was middle-aged, crumpled and dowdy, no shape to her skirts and blouses, no color either. She wore old lady underwear, like white cotton short shorts and full, white nylon slips, gray with age. You couldn't even buy a full slip anymore without going to an online specialty store, where, I was certain, Carla did not get hers. I was her doctor. I knew these things about her. I thought of her as someone who would never precede anyone through a door, who would not even complete a sentence if the signals looked wrong. She was well practiced in backing away. A woman peeping out from under a rock.

What I didn't know about Carla was this: she harbored a secret passion that would erupt with tragic consequences, ones that would implicate me in ways I had never anticipated.

I knew doctoring would be difficult. But not like this. Forty-two years ago as I sat in the lecture hall trying to absorb the principles of pharmacokinetics or glucose metabolism, I thought challenges would evolve from the science: understanding it and applying it with sufficient care and finesse More often the science was the easy part. The hard parts were these:

  • Accepting the limits of medical science.
  • Battling the self-sabotage of mental illness and addiction disorders
  • Caring for patients who were hateful, manipulative, contrary, or hostile.
  • Challenging bureaucracies that places rules over human welfare.
  • Facing up to my own lapses of judgment or knowledge.
  • Cultivating a sense of humor and agency against an irrational system of care.
  • Bearing witness to the unnecessary suffering of a sick society.
  • Placing band-aids on the wounds of poverty, racism, and abuse.
  • Embracing the mysterious and unknowable.
  • Making peace with uncertainty.
  • Coping with failure.
  • Struggling to do something when there was nothing to do.

Writing about it helped. I first put fingertips to keyboard during the second year of my two-decade practice among the dispossessed in downtown Portland. My patients were homeless or marginally housed. They suffered all manners of acute and chronic physical and mental health disorders. Many had fled war and repression in the countries of their birth. Or abuse within their families of origin. Or conditions in their American home town that deprived them of safety and economic security, only to land in yet another place that would treat them scant better. They were not necessarily innocent, but they never deserved the nastiness of what was dished out to them.

The patient who inspired my first writing was, like Carla, white and middle-aged. She suffered all the ill effects of massive obseity, like diabetes and arthritis and social isolation. What is most seared in my memory about her was her unrelieved grief over the death of her only child some decades earlier. At the time my own son was a toddler and I was simply unable to contemplate her loss. It was too painful to imagine. Still, we had a good relationship I thought, until I unintentionally breached her trust. I was never quite sure what had upset her. One day she became furious with me for not attending properly to her problems and never came back. It was confusing and disheartening.

Putting words to paper forces you to elaborate, clarify, and crystallize. If you enter into the process with an open mind, you can discover things you didn't know. The act itself can enable you to acknowledge, to forgive, and let go. I employed the writing process often in the years to come. I had many opportunities, as so many times things did not go as planned. I had lots to sort through. On the Ragged Edge of Medicine: Doctoring Among the Dispossessed is a collection of fifteen stories I wrote. They are snapshots of fifteen lives as seen through the lens of ill health and the struggle to survive. Too many of these patients did not.

The stories include these:

  • A woman who tested my loyalty, found it wanting, and chose to forgive.
  • An elderly man who repeatedly, wittingly or unwittingly, sabotaged efforts to fix his problem and still emerged with a good outcome.
  • A modern day hermit who cultivated a large garden on forbidden green space smack dab in the middle of town and got away with it.
  • A fellow who crashed his own lifeboat by refusing his medicine, but managed to survive.
  • A young woman who could endure most anything but loneliness.

My stories ask a lot of questions. They don't provide a lot of answers. They are an invitation to look into a corner of the world that usually escapes the public gaze, precisely because what you will see is disturbing. We should be disturbed.

January 25th, 2017

In a time of political and administrative change, we have taken the initiative to collect and recommend a group of books focusing on women in politics and tackling stereotypes placed upon them because of their gender. As a part of #awesomewomen, we would like to spread the love and knowledge of these powerful women with our readers.

 

For more information on each book, follow the link in the book titles.

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Ava Helen Pauling

by Mina Carson

Ava Helen Pauling: activist for civil rights, anti-nuclear testing, peace, feminism, environmental stewardship, and wife of the famous Linus Pauling. Despite beginning her career in her husband’s shadow, she soon felt torn between her duties to her family and her passion in political causes--feminism.

 

 

 

A Force for ChangeA Force for Change

by Kimberley Mangun

African American journalist Beatrice Morrow Cannady was one of Oregon’s most dynamic civil rights activists. Between 1912 and 1936, Cannady tirelessly promoted interracial goodwill and fought segregation and discrimination. She was assistant editor, and later publisher, of The Advocate, Oregon’s largest African American newspaper. Cannady was the first black woman to graduate from law school in Oregon, and the first to run for state representative. A Force for Change illuminates Cannady’s role in advocating for better race relations and dispels the myth that African Americans played little part in Oregon’s history.


A Hunger for High Country

by Susan Marsh

Before the 1970’s, very few women were working for the United States Forest Service. However, because of new environmental and fair employment laws, Susan Marsh was hired on to the U.S. Forest Service around Yellowstone National Park. This was the first time women were being hired in the U.S. Forest Service as geologists, scientists, and biologists. Yet, what was thought to be her dream job became six years of frustration due to her inability to fit in, leading her to begin again in the mountains of western Wyoming.

 

Learning to Like Muktuk

by Penelope S. Easton

World War II veteran with a Masters in Public Health Nutrition, Penelope Easton journeyed to Territorial Alaska to work as the dietary consultant for the Alaskan Health Department. Taking this time to observe the effects of illness and disease epidemics, educational philosophies, and a scarcity of imported food supplies, Easton found herself fascinated by the food of the indigenous Alaskans, such as muktuk. Through her gained experiences, Easton advocated for the need of preserving native food customs.

 

Marie Equi

by Michael Helquist

Marie Equi, born in 1872, self-studied her way into medical school. After making the move to Portland, Oregon, she became licensed as one of the first practicing woman physicians in the Pacific Northwest. Alongside her medical work, Equi was active in the fight for women’s suffrage, labor rights and reproductive freedom, and became one of the first well-known lesbians in Oregon.

           

Naked in the Woods

by Margaret Grundstein

In 1970, Margaret Grundstein abandoned her Yale graduate degree in order to follow her husband, an Indonesian prince and activist, to a commune in the backwoods of Oregon. However, after being left by her husband for “freer love,” Grundstein was left with a choice. Would she be able to make it as a single woman in “man’s country?” Tensions rose and brotherhood became strained as food became scarce and lines were drawn over land ownership. Grundstein’s memoir illustrates the life of woman living during a period of rapid social change.

 

The Only Woman in the Room

by Norma Paulus with Gail Wells and Pat McCord Amacher

Norma Peterson Paulus was raised in Depression-era poverty in Eastern Oregon. Coming from a family of Democrats, she made the courageous move to switch parties, as she believed the Republicans were in politics for “all the right reasons.” She was soon appointed by Governor McCall to the Marion-Polk Boundary Commission in 1969, which helped launch her onto her path to Oregon House of Representatives in 1970. After three terms, in which time she took the reigns for environmental causes, women’s rights, and government transparency, she was elected as Oregon’s Secretary of State in 1976, not only as the first woman in this position, but the first woman in Oregon to be elected to a statewide office.

 

Remembering the Power of Words

by Avel Louise Gordly

Avel Gordly, the first African-American woman elected to the Oregon State Senate, gives an honest telling of Gordly’s life. As a black girl growing up in Portland in the 1950’s and 1960’s, she faced criticism for her ambition to attend college and her complete dedication to activism. Detailing the challenges faced in her decision to run for a seat in the state legislature. Gordly emphasizes the struggle of finding her voice in a time where her voice was denied.

 

Shaping the Public Good

by Sue Armitage

Drawing from the story of She Who Watches as a guide, Sue Armitage reveals the stories of women in the developing societies of the Pacific Northwest who created the history of our region. These women, of all races and ethnicities, were the guardians and active powers in the shaping of the public good, despite their inability to obtain positions of public authority.

 

Up the Capitol Steps

by Barbara Roberts

This memoir by Barbara Roberts surrounds the life of Oregon’s first woman governor. She began her mission of public service as an advocate for the rights of children with disabilities, eventually moving on to school board member, to legislator, to Secretary of State, and finally, Governor. With this memoir, readers are given the gripping details of hard policy decisions and Roberts’ personal ups and downs.

 

With Grit and By Grace

by Betty Roberts with Gail Wells

In the 1950’s, Betty Roberts took a step most often looked down upon by her contemporaries by going back to college at the age of 32, all while being a committed wife and mother. In this memoir, Roberts reflects on her experiences and struggles as she worked to break out of the prevailing stereotypes, working as a teacher and taking her career to be Oregon’s first woman Supreme Court Justice.

 

Yours for Liberty

by Jean M. Ward and Elaine A. Maveety

Between the years of 1871 and 1887, Abigail Scott Duniway stood as a leader in the woman suffrage movement and recorded the experiences and stories of the events that unfolded in The New Northwest--one of the only newspapers in the United States devoted to women’s advancement. Jean Ward and Elaine Maveety provide a selection of Duniway’s articles in this volume from her time as an editor, writer, and suffragist.

January 24th, 2017

Author, journalist, and broadcaster Peter Laufer published his book Slow News with the Press in 2014. Laufer provides readers with an examination of modern-day news consumption and creation. Considering the world we live in today--instant news, fast food, immediate gratification--it is important to take a step back to survey the information being presented to us. What is the validity of any piece of news? How do we determine what is “fake news?” What about accuracy? What is the true value of this constant stream of news? Today we are sharing with you an excerpt from Laufer’s book, Slow News. The excerpt, “Rule 9: Avoid Echo Chamber Reporting”, analyzes the meaning of journalism and the various bits of information introduced to us in our everyday lives attempting to pass as verifiable news.

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"Rule 9: Avoid Echo Chamber Reporting"

By Peter Laufer

 

 All journalism is investigative. If what is purported to be a news report is not investigative, it is merely clerical work.

 The New Republic’s critic Stanley Kauffmann famously said about Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, “This isn’t writing, it’s research.” He was wrong, of course, but it was a witty paraphrase of a famous claim against the work of Jack Kerouac by Capote: “This isn’t writing, it’s typing.” These exchanges of insults make me think about stories presented as news that aren’t.

 Remember in this era of Facebook and Twitter that Facebook updates and tweets from newsmakers are not news. They may be information, but that’s not news. News, since we were cavemen drawing on our cave walls, requires an intermediary: the journalist. If the caveman who whacked the mammoth came home and scrawled his own experience on his cave wall, that was autobiography. If another caveman was along on the hunt, watched the kill, came home, and recorded what he saw on the wall, that was journalism. Sometimes the newsmaker and the journalist can be one and the same, but that requires both a rare news event and rare reporting talent. 

 As for non-news, the worst offenders are news organizations that print or broadcast verbatim announcements from public relations agencies. There is nothing wrong with accepting material from PR functionaries as background for stories. But to stuff such propaganda as is into the news pages or a newscast is scandalous, the scandal made more egregious only by those print and broadcast businesses who completely prostitute themselves and sell the opportunity for self-promoters to appear as if they and their causes (usually commercial) were legitimate news.

 Almost as bad are the lazy reporters and editors who accept information without checking it and without advancing the story by reporting further developments. Crime statistics from the police are examples. Earnings reports from a company are others. An account of a battle by the military of one side of the conflict is still another example.

 That’s not journalism, that’s stenography—without at least verification, it’s just stenography. All news reporting should be investigative reporting. The latter term is redundant.

 There is a difference between information dumping and knowledge building. In today’s heavily mediated world we’re awash with information. We can Google anything and find factoids. We’re bombarded with information via the Internet and our mobile phones and other so-called New Media even while the relics of Old Media continue to thrive: books, for just one example.

 The Slow News rule is to seek information that builds knowledge. Thorough reporting about important world news developments or about news that interests us or about news that is particularly crucial to our lives builds knowledge, makes us smarter, better citizens, and makes us much more fun to hang out with.

 Beware of the Big Story Syndrome. When mobs of reporters flock to one story the result is needless repetition. Think about the hordes of writers and photographers waiting for the Chilean miners to come out of the bowels of the earth alive and well in October 2010. It was a thrilling positive news story, of course, full of human pathos and redemption. But think also of all the news stories that were going unreported or underreported worldwide all those days the miners were underground because of the resources that were shipped to Chile.

 When the world’s attention is riveted on one Big Story, it’s a good time to troll obscure news outlets to find intriguing news pushed from the front pages by the Big Story.

 Skillful media manipulators know how to take advantage of distraction. That’s why government and businesses tend to announce bad news when few are paying attention. Saturday afternoon is a good choice for obscurity. The weekday news reading/watching/listening routine is disrupted by the leisure of the weekend. The audience is at the beach or at the theater or sleeping late. The bad news slips with ease quickly into the ether, reported but often undigested. In 2011, for example, on the afternoon of Saturday, August 13 (which in Italy is more of a Saturday than any other because it is smack in the middle of the summer holiday period), the appointments of presidents and commissioners of the Italian public research agencies were announced on the Ministry of Education’s website. The editor of the Italian section of Scientific American, Marco Cattaneo, called this choice for a date “carboneria,” that is, “it looks like the news was meant to be kept hidden.”

 The Big Story Syndrome can distract the public just as thoroughly as a premeditated maneuver to hide bad news on the weekend. Seeks news that teaches something new.

 

The Slow News rule: All journalism worth your while should be investigative journalism, and sometimes it must be actively sought.

 

 

 

 

Laufer, Peter. Slow News. Corvallis: Oregon State UP, 2014. Print. A Manifesto for the                                     Critical News Consumer.

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