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February 25th, 2014

OSU Press publishes books that celebrate and explore aspects of African American history in the Pacific Northwest. (For more on OSU Press publications that honor the significant contributions African American women have made to Oregon, click here.) In particular, OSU Press has established a legacy of publications that aim to acknowledge and recount the historical realities of both African American experiences and the struggle for civil rights in Oregon.

In Oregon’s Promise, An Interpretive History, published by OSU Press in 2003, author David Peterson del Mar endeavors not only to provide readers with a general history of Oregon, but to go beyond and beneath pioneering narratives to examine Oregon’s often overlooked margins—like Oregon’s earliest African American inhabitants—who struggled to be included in Oregon’s promise.

Peterson del Mar brings us the words of a man who came to Oregon in 1844, who remarked: “I’m going to Oregon, where there’ll be no slaves, and we’ll all start even.” Ten years after the publication of Oregon’s Promise, OSU Press published Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trial in the Oregon Territory by R. Gregory Nokes. Breaking Chains elucidates the story of slavery in Oregon and sheds light on the fact that many of the state’s earliest constituents—especially its African Americans—never got their chance to do exactly that—start even.

It’s hard to say what in the book’s premise best captures the complexity of the attitudes surrounding slavery in Oregon at the time. There’s the fact that a slaveholder who settled in Oregon kept his slaves and his slaves’ children, whom he promised to free, in bondage for almost ten years; that one of those slaves, when finally freed, took his former master to court and won; or that Oregon was admitted to the union as a free state—but with a voter-approved ban on African Americans written into its constitution: the only free state ever admitted to the union with such a ban. You can read an excerpt from the book here.

Also published in 2013, Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in the Civil War Era by Richard Etulain reinforces the manner in which the political landscapes of early Oregon made the state a far cry from a ‘far corner’ and, especially when it came to Abraham Lincoln—whose close ties to the area informed his military policies, his views on civil and legal rights, and his stance on North-South ideological conflicts—Oregon’s influence was strong.

Thanks in part to publications like Breaking Chains and Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in OSU Press’ recent seasons, these crucial narratives are now closer to Oregon’s cultural, literary, and scholastic spotlights than ever before. To honor this work, and to celebrate R. Gregory Nokes’ nomination for the Oregon Book Award, OSU Press is pleased to announce its 2014 inaugural Book Giveaway. This week, you can enter to win a free copy of Breaking Chains—and read it just in time for the Oregon Book Awards Ceremony on March 17th.

There are three ways to enter. You can either:

  • leave a comment below with your name and e-mail address (comments are private)                  
  • tweet @osupress and say that you’d like to be entered to win a copy
  • e-mail the Press at osupress@oregonstate.edu

You can vote for OSU Press and Breaking Chains for the 2013 Readers’ Choice Award here.

You can learn more about nominee R. Gregory Nokes by visiting his website here.

Other books of interest are available for your perusal; click on their covers to learn more.

Books can be ordered online, or by calling 1-800-621-2736.

February 18th, 2014

Last month at the 2014 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, Ken Albala’s latest book, Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food: Perspectives on Eating from the Past and a Preliminary Agenda for the Future, recently published by OSU Press, won in the category of Culinary History. Today, Albala, a Professor of History at the University of the Pacific, joins us on the blog to offer his perspective on the potency, and the palatability, of cooking from the past. 

The Cookbook as Historical Source

People often ask me how to do historical research using cookbooks. There are several different approaches, all legitimate. On one level, it’s interesting to see what people liked to eat in the past. Their preferences were very different from ours. In the Renaissance, they used a much heavier hand with spices than we would and they liked food finely pounded and sieved–mostly because they ate with their fingers. Sugar also appears in places we find surprising, on a roast chicken, or sprinkled on a plate of pasta. They also ate a much wider range of game animals and in one of my favorite cookbooks by Bartolomeo Scappi, personal chef to Pope Pius V in the 16th century, there are even recipes for hedgehog and bear.

Rather than gawk at these strange dishes, my inclination has been to cook them, whenever possible using the same cooking utensils, over an open flame and of course meticulously sticking to the written directions without substitutions. As it turns out, cookbook authors knew what they were doing. I have never made a dish from the past that didn’t turn out right, nor one that was anything less than delicious. From this kind of historical research we get a glimpse not only of the taste preferences of our forebears, but also an idea of what daily life was like for a good proportion of the population, both the professional male chefs as well as the women who cooked for households.

In reading and cooking directly from old cookbooks, most importantly, we get a sense of the aesthetic values of the past, much the same way listening to Bach on an original harpsichord or looking at an old painting in person tells us exactly what people valued. I think it is a shame that we don’t have a large literature and critical vocabulary for culinary history of the caliber that art historians and historians of music have long enjoyed. People in the past ate pretty much every day, so why not try to understand their culinary arts with the same depth that we study other arts?   

There are other ways to read cookbooks without getting your hands dirty though. Much as any historian is trained to read between the lines and look for clues in any primary source document, cookbooks are also a remarkable resource. For example, if an author instructs to start by killing your chicken, you can be fairly confident that it was written for a rural audience. The number of people served, although rarely specified, can also be guessed from the proportions called for. If it is one chicken this would have been a small household, perhaps a family. It’s very clear when chefs are writing for professionals working in noble or royal households; they use huge proportions and exotic expensive ingredients.

Sometimes an explicit food culture will be apparent in a cookbook. Some focus on national dishes as a matter of patriotic pride. Some recommend spare and frugal foods as a means of attaining health, longevity or sometimes piety. Others may suggest avoiding animal products as a way to be penitent during periods of official fasting. In other words, recipes often reveal an entire worldview, a social and political outlook, even an ideology of food. For example, a cookbook written in the late Middle Ages known as the Menagier de Paris was composed by a wealthy elderly townsman for his young bride. The author assumed that he would die first and that his widowed wife would need extensive household skills, including cooking, to attract a new husband. While very revealing about patterns of marriage and the structure of families, the recipes themselves were often borrowed from a much more famous royal cookbook, the Viandier of Taillevent. What this suggests is that this man was not only of middling ranks, but he was a social aspirant, trying his best to teach his young bride how to make elegant dishes so she could pass as a woman of stature.

Take a look at this recipe which comes from Hugh Plat’s Delightes for Ladies (London: H.L. and R.Y., 1628, pp. 71-2) and see what you can discover between the lines. And if you are adventuresome, try cooking it. A beef brisket works very well, it’s corned (salted) beef.

How to keepe powdered beefe five or sixe weeks after it is sodden, without anie charge.

When your beefe hath beene well and thorowly poudred by ten or twelve dayes space, then seeth it throroughly, dry it with a cloth, and wrap it in dry clothes placing the same in close vessels and Cupboards, and it will keepe sweete and sound two or three moneths, as I am credibly informed from the experience of a kinde & loving friend.

–Ken Albala

Ken Albala is Professor of History at the University of the Pacific and author or editor of sixteen books, including Eating Right in the Renaissance, The Banquet, and Beans: A History (2008 IACP Jane Grigson Award). Albala edited the Food Cultures Around the World series, the 4-volume Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia, and is now series editor of AltaMira Studies in Food and Gastronomy, for which he wrote Three World Cuisines: Italian, Chinese, Mexican (Gourmand World Cookbook Awards best foreign cuisine book, U.S.). Albala also co-edits the journal Food, Culture and Society and has co-authored two cookbooks: The Lost Art of Real Cooking and The Lost Arts of Hearth and Home. He lives in Stockton, California.

You can order Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food here.

February 3rd, 2014

Issues surrounding the Columbia River Gorge are an ongoing source of conflict, emotion, and interest. And who better to chronicle the history of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Act, the legislation that incited both conservation and controversy, than Kathie Durbin—renowned journalist and native Oregonian? In a recent review of her book, Bridging a Great Divide: The Battle for the Columbia River Gorge for the Oregonian, Jeff Baker calls the book Durbin’s “last, best story.”
Today, we share an excerpted foreword from Bridging a Great Divide, written by Durbin’s longtime friend (and fellow OSU Press author) Roberta Ulrich. Ulrich offers readers an intimate glimpse into the lengths Durbin went to finish her final book—further evidence of her indomitable legacy.

I have just returned from a hike in the Columbia Gorge and it reminded me how much we owe Kathie Durbin for giving us the story of how this magical place was preserved—and how the battle to keep it continues. Wildflower blossoms glistened through raindrops; I didn’t know the flowers’ names but Kathie would have. Giant moss-covered evergreen trunks towered into the low-hanging clouds and their branches diverted the worst of the rain. Kathie would have reveled in this slosh through the woods.

For Kathie journalism wasn’t just a job; it was a passion. She was dogged in pursuit of a story, thorough in gathering facts, accurate in reporting, and fiercely competitive. She was intense about the things she cared about. Many relished her sly sense of humor that skewered the self-important—and sometimes herself. She stepped on some extremely large toes, but even public officials who endured her interrogations respected her integrity.

Kathie earned her journalism degree from the University of Oregon in 1975, and found her true calling at the Oregonian—in her assignment to cover the environment in 1989. The six-part series, “Forests in Distress,” that Kathie co-wrote in September 1990 was called “the turning point in the long battle over the fate of our forests.”

That battle over logging old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest—a fight that came to be called the “spotted owl wars”—brought Kathie a national reputation. She even won rare respect from the often-insular Washington press corps, whose members tend to disdain reporters from the hinterlands. The forest conflict spilled into Congress and the administration of George H. W. Bush and the Capitol reporters recognized the caliber of Kathie’s coverage.

After Kathie left the Oregonian in 1994, she co-founded and co-edited Cascadia Times. She also chronicled the lengthy forest battle in a fine book, Tree Huggers: Victory, Defeat and Renewal in the Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign, published in 1996. That book remains the definitive history of the struggle over management of Northwest forests. She continued writing about environmental issues for High Country News, National Wildlife, Audubon magazine, Defenders of Wildlife and the Seattle Weekly. The Tongass National Forest caught her attention and she produced another fine book, Tongass: Pulp Politics and the Fight for the Alaska Rain Forest, in 1999. At times Kathie might have found life easier had she been willing to confine her work to less controversial issues. Instead, she continued to find ways to do the work she seemed meant to do. As she neared retirement she began to think that the history of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act and its effects would make an interesting book. She was right.

Freed from daily journalism in 2011, she sought out the people who had created the act and the people who implemented it and the people who fought against it. As she was completing the interviews and beginning the writing she was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. It was ironic—as she herself noted ruefully—now that she could devote all her time to a project she really cared about, she was forced to race cancer’s intractable clock. She won that race; the book that resulted is truly a triumph of reporting, history, description, and analysis—and an excellent read to boot.   

Through chemotherapy and radiation she worked on. Even as her strength failed she kept writing. She finished the manuscript working in bed after she was hospitalized. “That’s a real deadline,” she said with a mischievous smile.

“This is my legacy,” Kathie had told a friend, explaining her determination to finish the book in the face of her devastating illness.

It is a fitting legacy from a noteworthy reporter who cared about the world she lived in.

--Roberta Ulrich
You can order Durbin’s book here, and read more about Kathie here and here.


January 16th, 2014

 Spring is rapidly approaching and with it come new books from OSU Press. We’re excited to share previews of the ten new books being released in the coming months, all of which are available for pre-order now!






Bonnie Henderson’s The Next Tsunami: Living on a Restless Coast shares the compelling story of how scientists came to understand the Cascadian Subduction Zone—a fault line capable of producing earthquakes even larger than the 2011 Tohoku quake in Japan—and how ordinary people living in zones vulnerable to tsunamis cope with the knowledge that when the next one strikes—this year or hundreds of years from now—it is likely to be the most devastating natural disaster in the history of the United States.



Slow News


Peter Laufer’s Slow News: A Manifesto for the Critical News Consumer makes a provocative plea to news consumers: “Don’t become a news junkie,” take a step back from the frenetic barrage of instant empty-calorie news that has become integrated into our daily lives to consider news both thoughtfully and thoroughly. Laufer offers twenty-eight rules—including “Trust accuracy over time” and “Know your sources”—to guide us on the gradual quest for slower, most meaningful news.



Nude Beach


In The Nude Beach Notebook, Barbra J. Scot explores her reluctance, and longing, to reconnect with a much-loved brother, lost to alcoholism for thirty years. Scot’s long, meditative walks on the nude beach of the idyllic Sauvie Island near Portland, Oregon, and the unique individuals she encounters on the beach, as well as stories about the native people who once lived on the river, become a lens for exploring family responsibility, faith, and the importance of place as a means for exploring and interpreting one’s own story.



Trying Home


Justin Wadland’s meticulously researched Trying Home: The Rise and Fall of an Anarchist Utopia on Puget Sound is the fascinating true story of the rise and fall of Home, Washington—a practical experiment in anarchism. Wadland weaves his own discovery of Home into the linked narratives that explore the iconoclastic individuals who inhabited an attempt at a utopian community in the Pacific Northwest during the early 20th century.  





Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Foster Church’s new book, Turning Down the Sound: Travel Escapes in Washington’s Small Towns, guides adventurers into the engrossing small towns of Washington. With maps, photographs, and recommendations for more than thirty-five towns in all corners of the state, Turning Down the Sound vastly expands the resources available for readers and travelers keen on encountering what Church calls American tourism’s last frontier: its small towns.



Indian Heart


In To Win the Indian Heart: Music at Chemawa Indian School, Melissa D. Parkhurst combines histories of Chemawa alumni with archival records of campus life. The book examines the prominent forms of music making at Chemawa—school band, choirs, private lessons, pageants, dance, garage bands, and powwows. Parkhurst traces the trajectory of federal Indian policy, highlighting students’ creative responses and the ways in which music reveals the inherent contradictions in the U.S. government’s assimilation practices.





Salmon Is Everything: Community-Based Theatre in the Klamath Watershed is the script of a play developed by director Theresa May to give a voice to the central spiritual and cultural role that salmon play in tribal life. It also presents essays by artists and collaborators that illuminate the process of creating and performing theatre on Native and environmental issues.




Ancestral Places


Katrina-Ann R. Kapā‘anaokalāokeola Nākoa Oliveira’s Ancestral Places: Understanding Kanaka Geographies explores the deep connections that ancestral Kānaka (Native Hawaiians) enjoyed with their environment. Oliveira’s language moves fluidly between Hawaiian and English, terms are nimbly defined, and the work of the field is embodied: geographic layers are enacted within the text, new understandings created—not just among lexica, but amidst illustrations, charts, terms, and poetry.



 ThereforeAn annotated translation of the extraordinary autobiography of Dr. Moisey Wolf (1922-2007), “Therefore, Choose Life...” is an important addition to the literature of Jewish experience and deepens our understanding of the human condition in the twentieth century. Wolf ’s narrative skill and evocative personal insights, combined with Judson Rosengrant’s judicious editing, annotation, and elegant translation, provide the reader with direct access to a world that has seemingly ceased to exist, yet continues to resonate and inform our own lives in powerful ways.





Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest: Second Edition is an illustrated guide to all 169 species, subspecies, and varieties in the genus Carex that grow in the wild in Oregon and Washington. This updated second edition includes eight additional species documented in the region since the guide was first published, along with an improved identification key, updated nomenclature and taxonomy, revised range maps, and improved illustrations.



 For more information about these titles and more please reference our spring catalog. If you'd like a print copy of the spring catalog request one by sending us an e-mail at OSUPress@oregonstate.edu.

December 23rd, 2013

It's been a rewarding year of publishing at OSU Press. Many thanks to our fabulous authors and partners. We're pleased to take a moment to celebrate the authors and books of 2013.

Happy and peaceful holidays to all...

Calif CondorsAva HelenLincoln


  HoldfastEscapingBreakingHuntingHere on the EdgePNW CheeseCollaredGrow FoodAccomplishinDeeper SenseSalmonMeanderBridging

November 13th, 2013

We are pleased to welcome OSU Press Acquistions Editor Mary Elizabeth Braun as a guest on our blog as part of the University Press Week blog tour! The tour continues today at Texas A&M University Press. A complete blog tour schedule is available here.

UP Week logo   There are many ways to define a region, yet no single definition can completely capture its essence. The diverse books published by university presses help define and describe the complexity of various regions, covering everything from a region's history, culture, flora and fauna, geography, natural history, ecosystems, watersheds, and political history, to its folklore, literature, and art. They may include reprint editions of out-of-print regional classics, as well as newly written books. Such books are usually written for general readers as well as scholars and students, with an emphasis on good writing and accessibility, and published in attractively designed, well-illustrated editions. Increasingly, such books are available electronically—some with digital ancillaries—as well as in print.

Dragonflies coverSlugsButterflies

Regional books from the Oregon State University Press focus on the Pacific Northwest. Some of our authors define the Pacific Northwest strictly by political boundaries, others define it by watersheds and landforms. Some include northern California, or Alaska, or western Canada, or western Idaho and Montana, while others are adamant that the region comprises only Oregon and Washington. Of course, the definition of the region has shifted over time. Our books include an atlas of the Pacific Northwest and an atlas of the state of Oregon; several regionally-based scientific reference books and field guides, such as Dragonflies and Damselflies of Oregon and Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest; and books about land-use planning, natural resource management, wildlife policy, Oregon viticulture, and cheesemaking in the Pacific Northwest. We recently published our first children's book and an accompanying teacher's guide, Ellie's Log: Exploring the Forest Where the Great Tree Fell, which was inspired by research done at the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest in the Oregon Cascades. 

Our literary books include the anthology Long Journey: Contemporary Northwest Poets, edited by noted poet David Biespiel; the six-volume Oregon Literature Series created by the Oregon Council of Teachers of English; many memoirs by women and men who have lived and worked in the Pacific Northwest at different points in time; and our first novel, Brian Doyle's Mink River, which has sold more than thirty thousand copies since its publication in 2010.  Books in the Northwest Photography Series present the finest Pacific Northwest historical and contemporary photographs in book form, complemented by an online digital archive, curated exhibitions at museums, schools, and libraries, and education programs. 

We continue to expand our list in Native American and Indigenous Studies, which includes titles such as Teaching Oregon Native Languages and Oregon Archaeology and the forthcoming books To Win the Indian Heart: Music at Chemawa Indian School and "Salmon Is Everything": A Community-Based Play from the Klamath Watershed. Our political books include a series by Pacific Northwest women politicians; To the Promised Land: A History of Government and Politics in Oregon, written by Tom Marsh, a long-time Oregon high school history teacher and state legislator; and A Force for Change: Beatrice Morrow Cannady and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Oregon, 1912-1936. Other recent books include titles about slavery in the Oregon Territory, the first authoritative account of the unsolved murder of more than thirty Chinese gold miners on the Oregon side of Hells Canyon, and noted historian Richard Etulain's cross-continental history about Abraham Lincoln's strong connections with the Oregon Country on various political issues. Glenn May's book Sonny Montes and Mexican American Activism in Oregon is a major contribution to Oregon and Chicano history, along with Mexicanos in Oregon: Their Stories, Their Lives. We have published books about two WWII conscientious objector camps in Oregon, and our reprint edition of Oregon poet laureate William Stafford's book Down In My Heart: Peace Witness in War Time continues to sell well.   

The regional books we publish create an identity for the Oregon State University Press, as well as the region about which we publish. We help our parent institution fulfill its mission as a comprehensive public, research-extensive university, one of only two land-, sea-, space-, and sun-grant institutions in the country. We contribute to the economic, social, cultural, and environmental progress of people in Oregon, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond.

The bottom line? We publish well-written and engaging books for readers eager to learn more about the place in which they live or visit, and to facilitate their exploration, entertainment, and enjoyment of the region.

—Mary Elizabeth Braun, Acquistions Editor, OSU Press

November 12th, 2013

up weekThis week, OSU Press is pleased to celebrate University Press Week with colleagues around the globe.

Thirty-seven presses are participating in the 2013 UP Week blog tour. Each press will blog on a particular theme: profiles of university press staff members,  the future of scholarly publishing, subject area spotlights, the importance of regional publishing, and the global reach of university presses. You can view the complete schedule here. check out the daily round-ups at The Digital Digest.

Today, the tour begins at Duke University Press, where Priscilla Wald, Professor of English and Women's Studies at Duke University, writes about the slow future of scholarly communication.Then head over to Harvard University Press, where Jeffrey Schnapp, faculty director of metaLAB (at) Harvard and editor of the new metaLABprojects book series, blogs on the emerging currents of experimental scholarship for which the series provides a platform. At Stanford University Press,  Director Alan Harvey discusses the challenges presented by new technologies in publishing, and how the industry model is adapting to new reading-consumption habits. Alex Holzman explores the partnerships university presses and libraries can forge as the means of communicating scholarship evolves at Temple University Press. At the University of Minnesota Press, editor Dani Kasprzak discusses a new UMP initiative. Robert Devens, Assistant Editor-in-Chief for the University of Texas Press, writes about the future of scholarly communication at the University of Texas blog, and at the University of Virginia Press, historian Holly Shulman looks at the need for university presses to adapt to new technologies, while ackowledging the difficulties of doing so.

Ellie's LogCheck out Ideas Unbound, an online gallery of projects that highlight innovation in scholarly publishing. OSU Press's featured title, Ellie's Log, is our first children's book, which was recently announced as an AAAS Subaru SB&F Prize finalist.

Finally, we share this suggestion from our friend at The Well-Read Naturalist:  "...take a moment to visit the websites of your favorite university presses, leave a comment on their blogs or Facebook pages, perhaps even send them a tweet – using the hashtag #upweek – telling them how much you appreciate all the work they do to promote the spread of knowledge through their publications."

how much you appreciate all the work they do to promote the spread of knowledge through their publications. - See more at: http://www.wellreadnaturalist.com/2013/11/university-press-week/#sthash.91ytjyTR.dpuf
how much you appreciate all the work they do to promote the spread of knowledge through their publications. - See more at: http://www.wellreadnaturalist.com/2013/11/university-press-week/#sthash.91ytjyTR.dpuf


October 31st, 2013

We're pleased to welcome Abby Phillips Metzger, the author of the just-released Meander Scars: Reflections on Healing the Willamette River, as a guest to our blog today.

For the Sake of Mystery

Abby Phillips Metzger

When I was doing research for Meander Scars, I came across some astonishing facts about the Willamette River—ninety channel miles between Eugene and Albany gone, tens of thousands of snags blasted or removed from the channel, and thousands of cubic yards of gravel dredged and dumped each year. The consequences of these actions have created a simplified river system with far fWillametteewer off-channel habitats, which many species depend on to survive and thrive.

The facts are astonishing indeed. But one thing that struck me more powerfully than the data was public testimony from a 1971 proposal to install a dam within the Marys River drainage, a watershed within the 12,000-square-mile Willamette Basin. Both sides argued well, with supporters citing increased irrigation for agriculture and improved flood control, and opponents stating concerns for salmon and habitat loss.

One citizen’s poetic plea to leave the river alone stuck with me. He said that damming the Marys would take away the “mystery behind the bend.” In this old, forgotten report from a public hearing, I found a beautifully evoked description that spoke of a deeper loss from messing with our rivers, akin to what Robert Michael Pyle calls the extinction of experience. With diminished wildness comes diminished wonder, intrigue, and opportunities to explore what’s behind the next bend. The disappearance of ninety channel miles is a tremendous blow to an ecological system, and it is also a tragic loss of mystery.

And what a thing to lose. Mystery is perhaps one of the more provocative forces in human Meanderhistory, luring us to explore all crevices of the globe. It drives our science and our stories, our fables and our myths. In the words of theorist Paul Ricouer and a former English professor of mine, mystery gives rise to story, gives rise to thought. That is, all our rational pursuits first began as attempts to understand and unravel the world’s great mysteries.

Whether or not you believe this to be true, it’s an interesting way to frame ecological loss on the Willamette River. What will happen to our stories of the river with fewer enigmas to inspire them? And, following Ricouer’s logic, what will happen to our intellectual contributions to the natural world without the rich stories to nurture them?

The days of blasting snags from the channel and filling in sloughs are behind us, but the threat of losing the mystery behind the bend is still there, just in a different form—urbanization, climate change, population growth, to name a few. Fortunately, the Willamette contains a lot of mystery still, even though it has been armored with riprap, dredged, diked, dammed, and developed. As someone who likes to paddle the river, I can tell you that you might see a green heron hunched on a log, clouds of swallows swarming the frayed air, a slinky mink running in the soft mud, or the giant knotted trunks of cottonwoods much older than you.

The mystery behind the bend is there. It calls forth, asking us to be present and attuned. Becoming aware of the river’s remaining complexity might be one way to combat the forces that threaten to take it away.

So go beyond the next bend, and then the next. Let the unknown take you to some place new. Set adrift. Get lost in the current, and then tell me what you see.


AbbyAbby Phillips Metzger grew up near the Willamette River in Corvallis, and still lives there. She earned her Honors English degree and master’s in environmental science from Oregon State University. In addition to her current job as a writer and research communicator at OSU, she has worked in journalism, book publishing, and environmental education. She worked as an outreach coordinator for Honoring Our Rivers, a student anthology of art and literature celebrating Oregon watersheds. She also facilitates nature interpretation for children and adults during raft trips down the Willamette. Meander Scars is her first book.


October 17th, 2013

For twenty years, Steve McQuiddy has been uncovering the story of a conscientious objectors camp on the Oregon coast that plowed the ground for the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.

OSU Press is pleased to announce that his long-awaited book, Here on the Edge, is now available. HOTE cover

The author will present a slideshow and talk at Powell's Books on Burnside on Wednesday, October 23, 7:30 pm. and at the UO's Knight Library on Wednesday, November 6, 7 pm.

At Civilian Public Service Camp #56, located just south of Waldport, pacifists and political objectors spent their daylight hours planting trees, crushing rock, building roads, and fighting forest fires—fifty hours a week, for now pay. At night, they published books, produced plays, and made art and music—all during their limited non-work hours, with little money and resources. They were the Fine Arts Group at Waldport, and their focus was not so much on the current war, but on what kind of society might be possible when the shooting finally stopped.

“Nearly all the great social movements in history can be traced to small groups working in obscurity, sometimes for years,” McQuiddy observes. “It can be very useful for people to actually see the evidence of how small actions really can make a big difference.”

The talented group included poet William Everson, later known as Brother Antoninus, “the Beat Friar”; violinist Broadus Erle, founder of the New Music Quartet; fine arts printer Adrian Wilson; Kermit Sheets, co-founder of San Francisco’s Interplayers theater group; architect Kemper Nomland, Jr.; and internationally renowned sculptor Clayton James.
Other notables published by or involved with the Fine Arts Group include artist Morris Graves, poet William Stafford—OSU Press reissued his classic book, Down in My Heart, which recounts his experiences as a conscientious objector—fiery antiwar poet Kenneth Patchen, and iconoclastic author Henry Miller. After the war, camp members went on to participate in the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance of the 1950s, which heavily influenced the Beat Generation of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, who in turn inspired Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, leading the way to the radical upheavals epitomized by San Francisco’s Summer of Love.

Explore research materials and photographs from the camp and read the author's blog at his website.

Read about Steve McQuiddy's experiences while researching and writing the book at The Oregonian.

See what Bob Welch has to say about Here on the Edge in the Register-Guard.


September 26th, 2013

Today we're pleased to welcome creator of the Pacific Northwest Cheese Project, author, and all-around cheese wiz Tami Parr as our guest blogger. Tami's new book, Pacific Northwest Cheese: A History, was released in September by OSU Press. Tami will be a featured author at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association conference in Portland next month.

PNW Cheese cover

I KNEW THAT if I wrote a history of regional cheesemaking, readers were going to want to know who was the region’s first cheesemaker. But in the early stages of research, I worried over how I could possibly sort out the answer to that question. After all, there were hundreds of dairy farmers that came to in Oregon Country in the nineteenth century and any one of them could have been “the” one. Worse, the moment would probably not have been recorded. How would we ever know?

As it turned out, the answer to the question “who was first?” came much easier than I thought. In fact, it turned out to be one of the easiest research problems that I solved while writing this book.

The answer came in several steps. In thinking about dairying in the Pacific Northwest I first considered that the native populations of the region lived off of the land and did not keep domesticated animals for food consumption. So clearly there were no cheesemakers among the Native American populations of the Pacific Northwest. In fact, dairy animals—cows, sheep and goats—were brought to the New World, and the Pacific Northwest, by Europeans. So I knew that elusive first cheesemaker would be found among the earliest Europeans who came to the region.

What next? We know that thousands of people came to the Pacific Northwest over the Oregon Trail during the mid- to late-nineteenth century, so it was tempting to look among those early homesteaders to find the earliest dairies and cheesemakers.

Fast forward for a moment to the twenty-first century…. if you’ve ever been to Vancouver, British Columbia you may know the Hudson’s Bay Company as a big department store on Granville Street, but in fact it’s one of the oldest corporations in existence. First founded, or “chartered” as they liked to say, in 1670, HBC was a global fur trading concern during the eighteenth and nineteenth century.

During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, many different countries were vying for control of the region we now call the Pacific Northwestern United States. HBC fur trappers were among the first Europeans to reach the region and they established Fort Vancouver in present at Fort Vancouverday Vancouver, Washington in 1824-5. What I hadn’t realized prior to doing research for this book is that, in addition to fur trapping and trading, the Hudson’s Bay Company also conducted extensive farming operations at Fort Vancouver and other sites around the Pacific Northwest in order to support its trading operations. HBC grew wheat, barley, peas as well as keeping large herds of cattle, sheep and goats.

While I wasn’t able to find any mention of making cheese (or eating cheese, for that matter) in the letters of John McLoughlin, Chief Factor at Fort Vancouver, a number of visitors to Fort Vancouver in the 1830s and 1840s mention the large on-site dairy and cheesemaking operations (very helpful for later research, thanks Narcissa Whitman!). 

One of the fun things about doing research on the Hudson’s Bay Company is that they kept meticulous records. I spent many hours at the Fort Vancouver research center combing through microfilm of nineteenth century inventory records, which list numbers of animals kept at every HBC establishment in the region. These records confirm the presence of dairies and dairy equipment at the Fort, as well as its satellite dairy operation on Sauvie Island.

If you’ve ever delved into your family history you already know that historical research is part detective work, part futility, and you’re often crossing your fingers hoping you will find that one bit of information that leads to something interesting. In this case, I’m thrilled that I was able to put a few pieces of information together and come up with an answer to a very important question!

Tami Parr, author of Pacfic Northwest Cheese: A History—Tami Parr, author of Pacific Northwest Cheese: A History



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