OSU Libraries | OSU Home
July 30th, 2014

New non-fiction from Justin Wadland, Trying Home: The Rise and Fall of an Anarchist Utopia on Puget Sound, explores the historical realities of Home, Washington’s turn of the century “practical experiment in anarchy,” and an array of colorful former residents, whose experiences ranged from practicing free love, spying for a detective agency, defending free speech at the Supreme Court, and for one couple—who resided in a tree house that doubled as a popular dining spot—an elf-life existence.

On the blog, Wadland continues his present-day exploration of Home—and his conversations with current residents—that set Trying Home apart from a conventional history narrative. Wadland writes of a recent return to Home: how, even after he’s completed his book, he still searches out Home’s mysteries—including the former site of that storied tree house.

Want to explore Home yourself? On August 23rd, the Key Peninsula Historical Society will host Justin Wadland for a book event and ice cream social at the lovely Cape E Farm & Vineyard.


For many years, Sylvia Retherford, or Stella as her friends called her, served as the local historian of Home. As the granddaughter of founders George and Sylvia Allen, she came by her passion honestly. The six volumes of her Compilation of Writings and Photos Concerned with the History of Home, Washington can be found in several nearby libraries, and it is a treasure trove for anyone interested in the practical experiment in anarchism that once existed on Joe’s Bay.

I acknowledge my huge debt to Sylvia in Trying Home, but while I was working on the book, I was unable to meet her in person. I had heard that she had Alzheimer’s and sadly, could no longer remember the history she loved so much. So I was deeply gratified to receive an email from Sylvia’s daughter, Leila Luginbill, telling me that her mother, who has since passed away, would have approved of my book. Leila had purchased her parents’ house and was now living there, and she asked: Would I like to visit and see her mother’s collection? Of course, I would.

We met a few weekends ago, and Leila had spread out the binders and photo albums on the bed upstairs. She asked whether I was looking for anything in particular. I was hoping to see a photograph of the “famous” tree house that Joe Kopelle and Franz Erkelens resided in for several years. She remembered a big photograph, one which was colorized, and it didn’t take long to find it in an album, along with another from a different angle.

Just like utopia, there is something alluring about a tree house. At the book launch, a man approached me who had done a considerable amount of research on Home and published it in a zine. He wanted to know if I had ever found the site of the tree house. Since I had written a short chapter about it, I could say that it was on the outskirts of the settlement, but I had never been to the exact spot. I put the question to Leila as we were looking over the photos. Sure, she could show me the general location—she had grown up visiting Joe Kopelle and his wife.

After we finished looking at and talking over the binders, we walked up 6th Street, away from Joe’s Bay, then turned left on C Street, which we followed down to the Key Peninsula Highway. There, we cut through the parking lot of Lulu’s Homeport Restaurant and Tavern, crossed the highway, and walked down a road into Happy Valley, a slight depression in the land. At the lowest point, a blue and white sign with a picture of salmon identified Home Creek, and we could hear the water burbling out of the culvert below the road. Surely this was the one where Joe and Franz used to wash their dishes and in which the trout would nibble off the remains of the food.

We strolled a little past the creek and Leila pointed to a stand thick with what looked like birch trees. “Their house was somewhere in there,” she said but admitted that it was hard to tell because so much had changed. Apparently, even though Joe moved to the ground out of consideration for his wife, the couple’s residence remained rustic: they lived in a lean-to against a giant stump, a stove inside to keep them warm. Joe would point to another stump nearby as the site of his tree house.

Speaking of Joe and his wife, Leila continued, “I loved to visit them. They looked like little elves, with round little cheeks. They were small people, coming up to about here.” She held her hand up to just below her shoulder.

Even though the book is done, I am still learning about Home from the descendants of George and Sylvia Allen.

—Justin Wadland

Justin Wadland works as a librarian at the University of Washington Tacoma Library. He holds an MLIS from the University of Washington and an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific Lutheran University. His reviews and creative writing have appeared in Rain Taxi Review of Books, The Believer, Crab Creek Review, and other publications. After growing up in Michigan and Vermont, he now lives with his wife and two sons in Tacoma. To learn more, visit his website.



OSU Press is grateful to Leila Luginbill for providing these photographs.

July 2nd, 2014

Award-winning author Barbara J. Scot's new memoir, The Nude Beach Notebook, is steeped in the landscape, history, and culture of Sauvie Island. Lovers of Sauvie Island, and lovers of exquisite prose, can hear Scot read from and sign copies of The Nude Beach Notebook in Portland next Tuesday, July 8th, 7 PM, at Broadway Books and Saturday, July 12th, 7 PM, at St. Johns Booksellers.

But first, Scot joins us on the blog to reflect on the origins of her place-based narrative.


A few years ago, Tom Booth, one of my editors at OSU Press, suggested that it might be time for another book about Sauvie Island. Did that pique my interest at all? I did, after all, live on the island, or rather, lived moored to the island in our houseboat that floated on the Multnomah Channel of the Willamette River. And my emails to him concerning the book we were working on then often included details of the island’s natural history I had observed that day; the wing-beats of low-flying cranes in the autumn, a sea-lion surfacing with a salmon outside my window in the spring. 

I’d give it some thought, I said, and I spent one winter reading and taking notes from old island histories and on-line editions of explorer’s journals, but in all honesty, I was thinking of other things. I had one last family mystery that wanted solving now that I was nearing my biblical allotment of three-score years and ten. Where was my brother, lost thirty years to alcoholism? Why had this brother, to whom I had been so close as a child, wasted his life? Or had he? The physical part of the search was the easiest; more difficult tasks were to define what family meant, the extent of family responsibilities, and what constituted a meaningful life.

The Nude Beach on the Columbia River side of the island where I walked my dogs at first light each morning started the process, the mists rising in spiral columns like dancing ghosts. I walked the island, past oak trees with 600 growth rings, through aisles of Oregon Ash. I noted the arrival of purple martins in the spring, the day when the osprey came back. 

But it was the ghosts of the past culture of Sauvie Island that offered the most helpful metaphors for my own understanding: fog canoes, an onomatopoetic language with the sound of wind, a brother who carried his sister’s body on his back.

I emailed Tom Booth. “I think I’ve written a book about the island,” I said. “It isn’t exactly what I set out to do but it seems to be about the importance of place in understanding one’s own life. And my place is Sauvie Island.”

“I’ll take a look,” he said.                                                          —Barbara J. Scot

In addition to The Nude Beach Notebook and Child of Steens Mountain (with Eileen McVicker) Barbara J. Scot is the author of The Violet Shyness of their Eyes: Notes from Nepal, a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Book Award winner; Prairie Reunion, a New York Times Notable Book; and The Stations of Still Creek. She taught public school for twenty-six years and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal.

To hear more from Barbara Scot, check out her author interview in The Oregonian. You can order a copy of The Nude Beach Notebook online here.

June 6th, 2014

Katrina-Ann R. Kapā‘anaokalāokeola Nākoa Oliveira, Native Hawaiian scholar and author of the recently published Ancestral Place: Understanding Kanaka Geographies, joins us on the blog to reflect on the multiplicity and complexity of what is often reductively referred to as “a Hawaiian sense of place.”


As a Kanaka (Native Hawaiian) geographer, I have long been fascinated by the notion of “a Hawaiian sense of place.” I have seen this phrase employed at airports, development project sites, and institutions of higher learning in Hawaiʻi as a marketing strategy to entice visitors, potential homeowners, and students seeking a unique Hawaiian experience.

Yet, as a Kanaka growing up in ka pae ʻāina Hawaiʻi (the Hawaiian archipelago) my understanding of this concept is not tied to material gain; rather, it is a form of environmental kinship in which the Kanaka is genealogically and spiritually linked to the ʻāina (the land; that which feeds).

I wrote Ancestral Places: Understanding Kanaka Geographies to give readers snapshots of various geographic Kanaka practices. While each chapter of the book represents a different snapshot in place and/or time, collectively, these images form a collage of key aspects that inform a Kanaka geography. The book explores:

•    Ancestral cartographic performance methods that Kānaka used to “map” their ancestral places and retain their moʻolelo (historical accounts)

•    Fluidity of place; how Kānaka transform space into personalized place

•    The capacity to receive and perceive stimuli from environment; sensory stimuli informing collective understanding

•    Mele koʻihonua (cosmogonic genealogies)

•    Genealogical connections Kānaka enjoy with the ʻāina, (land) akua (gods), and all living organisms in their environment

To reduce Kanaka geographical practices to a singular “Hawaiian sense of place” is impractical and impossible. As Kānaka, each of us have our own intimate connections to our one hānau (sands of our births) and the final resting places of our kūpuna (ancestors). Our senses of place vary from ʻohana (family) to ʻohana and from place to place. Thus, I make no assertions as a complete guide to all Kanaka understandings of place and geography; rather, I offer my manaʻo ( thoughts) as a way of addressing some of the major themes of Kanaka geography for anyone seeking to better understand Kanaka relationships to place.

—Katrina-Ann R. Kapā‘anaokalāokeola Nākoa Oliveira

Purchase Ancestral Places here.

Katrina-Ann R. Kapāʻanaokalāokeola Nākoa Oliveira is a Native Hawaiian scholar. She was born on the island of Oʻahu and raised on the islands of Maui and Oʻahu. She is an Associate Professor of Hawaiian and the Director of Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language within Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She earned dual Bachelor’s degrees in Hawaiian Language and Hawaiian Studies as well as a Master’s and a PhD in geography.

May 23rd, 2014

Chemawa Indian School in western Oregon, one of the nation’s oldest federal boarding schools and the longest still in continuous operation, is an emblem of a system that has intimately impacted countless lives and communities. In her new book, To Win the Indian Heart: Music at Chemawa Indian School, out last month from OSU Press, Melissa Parkhurst records the history of the school’s musical life. As Parkhurst worked on the book, she serendipitously relocated to Forest Grove, Oregon, Chemawa Indian School's original location.

Today on the blog, Parkhurst reflects on this unique experience—what it was like encountering her research in her day-to-day experience, as well as in the historical fabric of her community.


Chemawa alumnus and musician Max Lestenkof (Aleut, class of 1969) articulated: “you make a complete circle in life, when you do music.”

One of the full circles I personally traveled happened by accident. While working on the research for To Win the Indian Heart, I took a job teaching in the Music Department at Pacific University, in Forest Grove, Oregon. Forest Grove, a small city in the Willamette Valley, about 25 miles west of Portland, was the original home, 1880-1885, of the school that would become Chemawa. Several catastrophic fires shaped Forest Grove’s early history, and it was a fire that destroyed the girls’ dormitory, causing enough damage to bolster the case to move the school to its current location, just north of Salem, Oregon. 

Walking the Pacific University campus and the streets of Forest Grove, I wondered, what remnants of the original campus might still be present? Would the residents of Forest Grove have any sense of the Indian school as part of their community’s history? And if the earliest students of Forest Grove Indian School could talk with us today, what might they say of their experiences of music and the school?

Lecture notes from Rick Read (an esteemed former archivist at Pacific, now deceased) suggest tantalizing evidence that a single building from the original campus existed as late as the 1990s and may still be standing today. Despite many hours spent with town historians, plat maps, and the streets themselves, I’ve become convinced that the original campus is likely gone.

Some town residents, particularly members of the Friends of Historic Forest Grove, are keenly aware of Forest Grove’s role as the original site of the school. Early school newspapers are kept in the archives of FHFG and of Pacific University, as are transcripts of locals’ remembrances that span the early 20th century.  

Of the students themselves, we see the early “before and after” photos circulated to suggest the students’ profound transformations at the hands of the school’s assimilationist campaign. More privately maintained were the records of many students’ early deaths while at school, as they faced new diseases while living in a foreign setting. Also, we know now that—despite the photos—most of the school’s early attendees already had some familiarity with Euro-American culture, through their interactions with settlers, missionaries, and Indian agents in their home communities.

In the early campus newspapers, which served as promotional materials for the school, we see administrators’ accounts of school bands, though we do not know the extent to which membership in the early bands was compulsory or voluntary. Letters from alumni who proceeded to work at other Indian schools as music teachers are perhaps the first evidence that music could be life-giving for some students, offering a source of joy, competence, and sometimes even a livelihood.

Despite the school’s attempts to erase all aspects of the students’ Indian identity, the story of music at the Forest Grove Indian School involves both strength and agency, with some students using their musical training to bond with each other, sustain themselves, find teaching jobs, and share their craft with other young Indian people. In my book, I chronicle the subsequent phases of music instruction, as the school moved to its current location in 1885 and came to enroll as many as a thousand students at a time.

Chemawa Indian School stands today as the nation’s oldest continuously operating Native American boarding school. It has abandoned its assimilationist mission, becoming instead an institution that encourages Native American students to take pride in their heritage. By engaging in school bands, choirs, dances, pageants, garage bands, and powwows, students mine sources of resiliency that help many to survive and bounce back from the hardships of school and life after Chemawa. 

—Melissa D. Parkhurst

You can order To Win The Indian Heart here.

Melissa D. Parkhurst is an instructor of music at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, where she teaches courses on World Music and Music History. She earned a doctorate in ethnomusicology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her current research interests include First Nations music in the Pacific Northwest, how music promotes personal and community resilience, and the role of music in cultural revitalization.


Photographs courtesy of Pacific University Archives. For more images from the early Forest Grove Indian Training School, please visit the university's digital exhibits.

May 22nd, 2014

The OSU Press is seeking a highly qualified and motivated undergraduate or graduate student intern. This paid internship provides an outstanding introduction to scholarly book publishing, an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the general operations of a university publishing house, and the opportunity to work with publishing and library professionals. The OSU Press intern plays a vital role in the Press’s success and is an indispensable member of the OSU Press publishing team.

The position includes a focus on digital book publishing and online and traditional book marketing. Projects may include: researching online marketing trends and best practices; implementing preparation of backlist titles for various digital formats; and implementing social media campaigns and other marketing strategies for digital and print books.

Position length: Average 12 hours per week; full academic year position starting September 2014 (summer 2015 negotiable)

-Demonstrated interest in book publishing and/or marketing
-Basic computer skills (Word and Excel experience required; Experience with Photoshop and InDesign, Drupal and other Web page creation software, new media, and social media highly desirable)
-Excellent writing and verbal communication skills
-Meticulous attention to detail
-Ability to work independently and as a strong team member
-Ability to lift boxes up to 40 pounds
-Must currently be an enrolled student at OSU

Application deadline: May 28, 2014.

To apply, please send a résumé, name and contact information for at least two references (one on-campus reference is preferable), and a letter of application that addresses the following:
• your interest in the position
• the skills you would bring to the position
• the skills you would hope to develop in the position

Please deliver the materials by email to:

*Photo courtesy of Pete Scavenger

May 12th, 2014

Today on the blog, Barbara Wilson of the Carex Working Group and co-author of Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest, Second Edition, available from OSU Press, chronicles how the group of botanists carried their methodology out of the field, through the publication process, and into the pages of their guide.

C. lacustris

We Carex Working Group members were excited that OSU Press agreed to publish a second edition of our Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest. This would be an opportunity to revise the identification key, update nomenclature, modify a few maps, improve some of the photos, and make minor updates and corrections in the text. And clarify the Carex subbracteata confusion. Definitely clarify that.

The process became more exciting than we intended.

Our first big concern was adding Carex species recently discovered in Oregon or Washington.  Each species needed a page of text plus a page of pictures. We needed to keep the number of pages constant. Additions included natives Carex eburnea from northeast Washington and C. subbracteata from the coast, as well as introduced C. distans, C. divulsa, and C. hirta. (Fuzzy C. hirta was collected in Portland a century ago, rediscovered in 2010.) 

C. lacustris

We decided to go with the split in Carex capillaris, which meant adding native C. tiogana from Steens Mountain. Let’s see . . . six added sedges meant twelve added pages. We saved two pages by recognizing only Carex heteroneura, not its two subspecies that couldn’t really be distinguished. That left ten pages to find. Where?

We cut “Excluded, Extirpated, and Not (Yet?) Discovered Species” from five pages to two since most of the species covered there had been found or never would be. Reformatting “Sedges with Distinctive Traits or Habitats” gained a couple more pages. Using a smaller font in the index helped, too. We sacrificed the ethnobotany section; much though we liked it, it didn’t help people identify sedges and we needed its four pages. (We tucked as much ethnobotany into individual species accounts as we could.)C. lacustris

Updating the key was simple because we had been revising our personal version of it all along. Improving the text was fun. Finding photos of the new sedges was harder, especially since we wanted to be sure the identifications were correct. We ended up corresponding with botanists from Michigan, Illinois, Germany, and Romania to get the photos we needed. 

Sorting out Carex subbracteata and C. harfordii took a lot of correspondence and much looking at specimens, but we did it. We hope. Both species have full treatments now.

C. lacustrisIn late summer 2013, as we neared the end of our rewriting, we learned that Chris Reidy and Kathy Pendergrass from the Natural Resources Conservation Service had found Carex hirsutella, native to eastern North America, on a farm in Linn County. We went out to investigate and confirmed the report. This was a very interesting find, but our main concern was “Two more pages! We need two more pages!”  Fortunately, we discovered that we had misidentified Carex projecta. Removing its account freed up the needed pages.  

At last the revision was completed. We took a jump drive with the text and photos to OSU Press. There, our wonderful editor Jo Alexander told us exactly what she thought of the hundreds of changes we had made. This was supposed to be a revision, not a new book! Yes, of course she would make the changes, but we were asking a lot! Finally we got proofs and carefully read through it again, of course finding small errors we had missed. 
C. lacustris
Then Rex Crawford and Joe Rocchio of the Washington Department of Natural Resources reported that they had found Carex lacustris in far northeast Washington. Aaaargh!!!!! We had heard that C. lacustris probably grew in northeast Washington but there were no specimens to confirm its presence there. We’d mentioned it in the first edition, even put it in the key, but since no one found it we omitted it from the second edition to save space. 

When photos confirmed that this new report of C. lacustris was accurate, we just had to include it. We timidly phoned Jo Alexander and explained. This was a native plant. Could we add it to the key and put a photo and a paragraph somewhere? Anywhere? Please? After a pause, Jo said, “You really want to give it two pages, don’t you.” Well, yes. “I’ll find a way. Get the text and photos to me as quickly as you can.” And so Carex lacustris made it into the book.

C. lacustris

We can honestly say that the second edition of the Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest is up to date. We hope that it will be at least as useful as the first edition for those dealing with the Carex sedges of this area.    

—Barbara Wilson

Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest is available here


The Carex Working Group is made up of Oregon botanists fascinated by sedges, grasses, willows, and other difficult-to-identify plant groups. In addition to writing about and photographing sedges, CWG teaches plant identification workshops; completes botanical inventories, rare plant surveys, and natural resource planning projects; and conducts taxonomic research on plants of the western United States.

Images by Joe Rocchio. All images are Carex lacustris, by and used with permission from the Carex Working Group.

April 21st, 2014

Jay T. Johnson and Soren C. Larsen are the editors of A Deeper Sense of Place, released by OSU Press last fall, and the recent recipients of a collaborative fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies to begin their next book project, being-together-in-place. Jay Johnson is also a recent recipient of the Association of American Geographers Enhancing Diversity Award.

On the blog, Johnson and Larsen use their own experience to reflect on the evolution and intricacy of collaborative research as a whole—and, like A Deeper Sense of Place itself, put academic work within Indigenous communities and the process of collaboration into conversation.


When Soren Larsen and I proposed a session at the 2010 Association of American Geographers annual meeting in Washington DC on the topic of research collaboration, we had no idea how many of our colleagues would have such extraordinary and moving stories to tell about their transformative experiences of working within Indigenous communities. Our call for papers asked authors to present the “real stories of academics—some Native, others not—who have worked collaboratively with Indigenous communities and in so doing have had their own geographical understandings questioned, challenged, and finally expanded into deeper senses of place.” We were overwhelmed by the volume and enthusiasm of the response. The call attracted so much attention that we ended up with three sessions at the conference, and the clear impression that a shift had occurred in the academy towards a new way of thinking about and doing collaborative Indigenous research.

When Native culture became a topic of formal academic study in the nineteenth century, most fieldworkers simply took collaboration to mean finding a way to gain access to the community or identifying the best cultural informants—if, that is, they thought about it as collaboration at all. Much of the research from that time was extractive, manipulative, or “salvage” in nature. The nature of collaboration changed—albeit slowly—over the course of the twentieth century. Institutional ethics statements and procedures guarded Indigenous rights in the research process, and legislation began to protect their control of material culture, ancestral remains, and cultural knowledge. Protocols for the return of research materials emerged and research activity itself focused increasingly on the social, political, and environmental concerns of Indigenous peoples. Perhaps most notably, some Native people became professional researchers themselves. A distinctively Indigenous geography came to fruition, one that eschewed the abstract and conceptual aims of the academy and grounded research instead within Indigenous ways of knowing and learning.

While the academy was taking research with Indigenous communities much more seriously by the 1970s, much has been written since then questioning the depth, quality, and process of collaboration. Are researchers really including the community and its leaders as collaborators with decision making power over how or even if the research will take place? Are the academics taking the time to build the relationships needed to understand the needs and perspectives of the community? Do collaborative projects really accommodate the radically different ways Indigenous people think about and do research? Or are they just “old school” research projects under the guise of collaboration? What are the interpersonal elements of the research process that don’t ever get talked about (at least not in research journals and formal reports), but are nonetheless critical to successful and meaningful collaboration?

The authors in A Deeper Sense of Place reflect on their own collaboration experiences to explore these and other questions. These highly personal stories come from Native and non-Native practitioners who are doing work in communities all over the world. They don’t just describe the challenges and joys of doing collaborative research, but instead trace the transformative process of a kind of research that draws together emotional, interpersonal, and geographical ways of knowing within the more conventional pursuit of conceptual knowledge and tangible outcomes like reports, databases, and articles. These are stories about the complex and awkward process of negotiating the inexorable relationships of power that infuse all collaborative research. These are stories about the reality that research always takes place, and that where research happens is just as important as why or how it happens. Finally, these are stories about finding a new sense of place—a new way of thinking about and doing research—that brings the art and practice of collaboration more fully into the fold of Indigenous geography.

—Jay T. Johnson & Soren C. Larsen

You can order A Deeper Sense of Place here. More information on the First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies series is available here.

Jay T. Johnson is an Associate Professor of Geography and Indigenous Studies at the University of Kansas and Soren C. Larsen is an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Missouri. 

April 7th, 2014

Renowned journalist and broadcaster Peter Laufer has written a new book, Slow News: A Manifesto for the Critical News Consumer. Slow News challenges us to reevaluate our relationships with the news, relationships that, Laufer argues, have deeply harmful effects—the intellectual equivalent of consuming an empty-calorie diet. Today on the blog, Peter Laufer reflects on current events to make a case for why we need to slow down our news. 

Was a friend or relative or colleague of yours on the lost Malaysia airliner? Were your neighbors inundated by the tragic mudslide in Washington state? Probably not. Nonetheless the CNNs of the world spewed unending accounts of both recent news stories, often reporting nothing. Reporters interviewed reporters who knew nothing but who did not hesitate to speculate. Reporters interviewed so-called experts who knew nothing but often did not hesitate to speculate.

Of course both are riveting stories of tragedy and we hoped for survival. Human nature draws us to such tales as we consider our own mortality and engage in what the National Enquirer told me years ago is the basic criteria for all its reportage: each story must either make you wish you were the protagonist or make you relieved you are not.

Nonetheless, unless we did know a passenger on the plane or a resident of Oso, Washington, how necessary is it for us to subject ourselves to the minute-by-minute stressors of the updates that spiked CNN's ratings? Aren't these examples of stories that can wait for us to digest them once they're resolved? Shouldn't we prioritize our news consumption, especially in this era of too much information?

I believe that such rationing is mandatory for our mental health. That's why I wrote Slow News: A Manifesto for the Critical News Consumer. It is a step-by-step guide on how to wean ourselves from the 24-hour news cycle. It is a paean to my motto, "Yesterday's News Tomorrow." We simply do not need all the dismal details of the daily downer creating anxiety and brain clutter in our overwrought heads.

Used with permission from The New Yorker

Of course it is imperative to know as fast as possible if there is a pending crisis in our midst. But when there is passing trouble half a world distance, details can wait until the reporters spewing noise at us at least know the basics of the story. And allowing ourselves to be consumed by the disaster-of-the-moment or the celebrity-divorce-of-the-moment diverts our attention from more difficult to analyze geopolitical world events that deserve our attention.  

Not too long after CNN moves its news cycle past the anomalies of Malaysia Flight 370, the Russian invasion of Crimea will continue to reverberate world affairs for hundreds of millions of us in America, Europe and Asia. So I invite you to join my Slow News Movement and reject addiction to faux news. 

—Peter Laufer

You can order Slow News here.

An award-winning author, journalist, broadcaster, and documentarian, Peter Laufer has written more than a dozen books, including Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq, Forbidden Creatures: Inside the World of Animal Smuggling, and The Dangerous World of Butterflies. He reported for NBC and CBS radio around the world, and wrote and produced several documentaries as an NBC news correspondent, winning the George Polk Award for his study of Americans incarcerated overseas. He is the James Wallace Chair in the School of Journalism and Communications at the University of Oregon in Eugene. To learn more, visit his website here

March 26th, 2014

Tomorrow, March 27, 2014 is the 50th anniversary of the Good Friday Earthquake: an enormous earthquake off the Alaskan coast—the largest ever recorded in North America—and the tsunami that hit the West Coast of the United States afterward. Bonnie Henderson, whose latest book, The Next Tsunami: Living on a Restless Coast—just out from OSU Press—was described in a recent LA Times book review as “by turns a story of obsession, a geologic mystery and an inquiry into how we deal with disasters — or, more often, don't” joins us to reflect on that anniversary, how best to move forward, and to share rare color snapshots* from the scene in Seaside, Oregon, a day after the tsunami struck 50 years ago. You can also tune in to OPB's Think Out Loud tomorrow at noon to hear more from Bonnie Henderson.  


Tomorrow, March 27, 2014, marks fifty years since a massive earthquake on the Alaskan coast—at 9.2, the largest ever recorded in North America—generated a tsunami that didn’t just slam the Alaska shoreline but killed people and damaged homes, businesses, and other structures as far south as Crescent City, California.

As geologist Tom Horning—who was asleep in his family’s cottage in Seaside, Oregon, when the tsunami reached the northern Oregon coast and surrounded the cottage like a moat—has said about the not-infrequent tsunami warnings his town receives, “it gets people in Seaside thinking about tsunamis, and that’s a good thing. But it gets people thinking the wrong way.”

Thinking the wrong way about tsunamis—overreacting to warnings of tsunamis coming from far away, then when nothing much happens, tuning out discussions about tsunami preparedness—may ultimately be hazardous to your health and that of your neighbors all along the Pacific Northwest coast.  

Courtesy of Tom Horning











Plate tectonics is a complicated subject, and a relatively new theory. The term “plate tectonics” didn’t appear in print until 1969; back in 1964, any scientist who took it seriously was considered something of a crackpot by most of his colleagues. But it takes just a little understanding of how the plates that compose the Earth’s outer crust grow and slide and collide to understand why the Oregon coast—indeed, the entire Pacific Northwest from Vancouver Island to Eureka, California—has been and will again be struck not just by leftover waves generated by an earthquake from far away but by a local tsunami: series of huge waves from an earthquake just a few dozen miles off our own shoreline, one roughly the size of the quake that surprised Japan on March 11, 2011. 

The last time such a quake occurred here was around 9 p.m. on January 26, 1700, when the strain of pressure from the North American plate (the piece of crust under Oregon and Washington) slowly colliding with the offshore Juan de Fuca plate finally gave way, causing the Juan de Fuca plate to suddenly dive under the North American plate. Native people living here experienced that as a huge, five-or six-minute-long earthquake. Fifteen or twenty minutes later, their shoreline villages—every cedar plankhouse, and every person who hadn’t thought to run to high ground, as oral history no doubt suggested they do—was swallowed by the sea.

So what is the right way for people in Seaside—for anyone who lives on or visits or cares about the Pacific Northwest coast—to think about tsunamis?

Denial is one option. There’s no reason to think the next tsunami will happen in your lifetime; it might not strike for hundreds of years. So many other disasters could befall you before then; why worry?

The trouble is, it could happen literally any day. Oregon State University geologist Chris Goldfinger figures there’s about a 12 percent chance of a “full rupture”—shaking the entire 600-mile-long Cascadia Subduction Zone, as the fault line is called—sometime in the next 50 years. He estimates the chances of such a quake on just the southern portion of the fault line in the next half-century at upwards of 43 percent.

Courtesy of Tom Horning











Worrying won’t help, nor will seawalls, nor warning sirens: the Big One will immediately knock out power, silencing the sirens. Education can help, particularly of the kind the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries has provided with its updated tsunami inundation maps: look at the map and know where you’ll go if the earth starts shaking. New bridges, strong enough to remain standing through a magnitude 9 earthquake, are essential in a town like Seaside, with two rivers to cross between the beach and high ground. And visionary leaders are key—people such as Doug Dougherty, superintendent of the Seaside School District, who is seeking support to move one high school, a middle school, and two elementary schools out of the tsunami inundation zone.

Visit any elementary school classroom, ask who likes science, and you’ll see faces light up and arms shoot up. I’ve found the same sense of wonder among the geologists I’ve interviewed: an unabashed enthusiasm for the serendipitous delight of discovery. For the rest of us world-weary adults, an interest in science tends to be driven by worry: about climate change, or pollution, or looming natural disasters. Too much worry, however, and we get overwhelmed and just stop paying attention.

But what is happening beneath our feet right this minute is amazing, marvelous, fascinating: the Earth reshaping and recycling itself, too slowly to observe until, in a flash, everything changes. As a community, we need to take care of business: to take appropriate, effective steps to attempt to minimize loss of life from what will be this country’s biggest-ever natural disaster.

And then let it go. And enjoy the timeless pleasure of a walk on the beach.

—Bonnie Henderson

You can order The Next Tsunami here.

Journalist Bonnie Henderson is the author of two hiking guidebooks in addition to The Next Tsunami: Living on a Restless Coast and Strand: An Odyssey of Pacific Ocean Debris, which was an Oregon Book Awards finalist and was named one of the Best Books of 2008 by the Seattle Times. She has been a newspaper reporter, an editor at Sunset magazine, and a writer for a number of magazines including Backpacker, Ski, and Coastal Living. She is currently a freelance writer and editor focusing on the natural world. She divides her time between the Oregon coast and her home in Eugene, Oregon. For more information, you can visit Henderson's website here.

*The images, which show the same house from two different angles, are courtesy of Tom Horning.

March 18th, 2014

    Last week, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife released its 2013 Wolf Conservation and Management Annual Report. The document includes a wolf count and other statistics pertaining to Oregon’s wolf population. Biologists will use this data to determine the state of that population, and how wolves will be managed in Oregon in the year ahead.
    The report shows that in 2013, ODFW recorded a minimum of 64 wolves in 8 packs, including 4 breeding pairs. This number represents an increase of 18 wolves from 2012, but two fewer packs. The reasons behind this reorganization are still under investigation, but one thing is known for certain: the management of wolves in Oregon continues to shift as the state responds to both changes in the animal’s population and the ways in which humans interact with the species.
    OSU Press has conducted an interview with Aimee Lyn Eaton, the author of Collared: Politics and Personalities in Oregon’s Wolf Country, published by OSU Press last fall. Eaton’s responses shed light on topics ranging from the current state of wolf management to how the issues related to wolves continue to evolve. Like Collared itself, Eaton’s discussion will be of interest to anyone with a stake in the wolf debate.

In the last chapter of your book, ‘Moving Targets,’ you write: “the wolf issue in Oregon is not a static, flat issue. It cannot be summed up and topped off…it is a living, breathing organism with thousands of moving parts and it changes daily.” Are there any recent developments—shifts in policy or practice—since your book was published just a few months ago?

    Wolf management in Oregon has continued to change and evolve since the publication of Collared last October. Several new wolves and new packs have been identified by the state, and these animals are living and hunting in territories where wolves have not been present for decades. This has led to an increased need for collaborative management and ongoing conversation between wildlife managers and the public. One ramification of this increased presence was the recent January decision by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to allow livestock producers acting without a permit to kill wolves that are caught in the act of biting, chasing, injuring or killing livestock. As of yet this ruling has not been put into use, however, I believe it does hint at the steps being taken within the state to both empower livestock producers and protect wolves.
    Springtime is a notoriously busy time for wolf management in Oregon. Depredations often occur during calving season, and we might expect to see an increase in conflict as we move toward the warmer months. This will likely spur into action new policies and practices that so far have largely been only theoretical (see the addendum in Collared).
    Beyond the state, the federal government continues to debate the merits of removing gray wolves from the Federal Endangered Species List. A decision is expected in December 2014, and if delisting does occur we can expect further changes to wolf management throughout the state.

I was very interested in the title of your book, Collared. Why are Oregon’s wolves collared? What boons to ranchers, conservationists, and the wolves themselves do these collars provide? How or why did the collar become an emblem for your work—and your book’s title?

    Radio telemetry or GPS collars are one of the primary tools wildlife managers have in determining where wolves are traveling, living and hunting. These collars, which are fitted on animals by trained biologists, provide a wealth of information concerning the state’s wolf population and the habits of individual animals and packs. By analyzing the data from collared animals, the state is better able to actively manage and prepare for wolf/human conflict. For example, if data shows a wolf in close proximity to a known livestock operation, the livestock producer can be notified and encouraged to take extra steps to avoid depredation. In addition, these collars allow for the continued tracking and counting of the state’s population. This is information that has a direct impact on how Oregon’s Wolf Plan is carried out.
    Titling the book Collared: Politics and Personalities in Oregon’s Wolf County was a collaborative process. Several people at the Press were part of the conversation, and we discussed several options ranging from the very serious to the slightly silly. Ultimately, I liked how Collared hints both at the very real biological management plays in the wolf issue, and at its more cultural meaning when used in a verb form.

The majority of Oregonians haven’t been out to Wallowa County, and thus lack intimacy with what it means to live in close proximity to wolves. Can you reflect on how your own experience doing exactly that changed the trajectory of your work?

    It’s very easy to characterize the individuals and communities involved in wolf management in Oregon. However, like our parents told us when we were young, you can’t know someone’s life until you have walked in their shoes. I chose to spend large amounts of time in eastern Oregon so that I could better increase my own understanding of what it meant to live in an area where wolves were known to exist, and also where many people thought they were a threat. I wanted to know the community not as a group of ranchers, but as individuals with hopes and fears. In order to talk about the issue from multiple sides, I felt it was necessary to enter the arena where things were most tangible. That being said, I also spent large amounts of time in offices, file rooms, coffee shops, courthouses and laboratories across the west as I attempted to increase my own understanding of the people and issues involved in wolf management.
    I believe this willingness to go into the field and meet the people directly involved in wolf management, or really any issue, is paramount to moving away from stereotypes and toward something that looks a lot more like understanding. In using this approach I wanted readers to recognize something of themselves in the book. I hope it was successful.

One person you interviewed in Northeastern Oregon explained: “to come out for wolves is to come out against your neighbors.” With this in mind, were you asked to choose sides? What sorts of responses did you receive as you were working on this project? Since the book itself has come out, what kind of reception have you received, from parties on both sides of the wolf debate?

    Throughout my research and reporting several people made assumptions about where I stood, however I don’t believe that I was ever asked directly to identify myself as either pro or anti wolf. Several times I was greeted with skepticism, but as with any controversial topic, I believe that’s to be expected. I was asking people to tell me what scares them, to tell me their hopes and dreams. They had a right to be wary of where I was coming from, and I did my best to earn their trust and respect by approaching their stories with care and consideration.
    The response to Collared has been very positive, with people on all sides of the debate calling it an honest piece of work. I’m not sure I could have hoped for more than that.

In the introduction of Collared, you narrate the story of the first wolf to re-arrive in Oregon—and subsequently get ‘deported’ back to Idaho. This action was later found to be in violation of the Endangered Species Act but, “at the time,” you explain, “the understanding of wolf management in the West was still in its infancy.” What life stage would you say it’s in now?

    It’s an interesting question. I would say we’re entering the early 20s of the issue's development. We have figured out some things — we know roughly who we are and how we are going to walk through this world, but we’re still prone to some bad decisions and the occasional misstep. Life isn’t quite comfortable yet, but some of the angst is beginning to fade and out there somewhere is the idea that things are pretty much on a good track.

You characterize the entire wolf debate as an issue with “almost no middle ground.” But one of the things that struck me most about your book is how incredibly even-handed you are, how faithful to temperance and presentation of fact. This tone seems to fly directly in the face of the bouts of “flawed reporting” that unfortunately seem to have run rampant in the course of these controversies (84). You allow your readers to formulate their own opinions—and seem to work tirelessly to not tip your hand. Was this your objective in writing this book?

    I think it’s in medicine where future doctors are required to take the Hippocratic Oath promising to do no harm. In a lot of ways that sums up my approach to writing Collared. Throughout the process I knew there were multitude opportunities for me to step in it, to make a mess of things, to drop the ball. In truth it was terrifying, and at several points I swore that my next writing project would be about something benign like dam removal, or nuclear weapons.
    Fortunately at the beginning of the project I was able to recognize that the story of wolves in Oregon doesn’t belong to me, or to any one person. Rather it belongs to all of us, and the most I could hope to do would be to present the information in the best way I knew how, then to get out of the way and let readers relate to the issue through their own experiences and beliefs. Every time I panicked about messing up, I would return to that philosophy.

Of the 2011 litigation that put a temporary injunction on lethal measures to manage Oregon’s wolves, Daniel Edge, former chair of the state’s Wildlife Commission, says to you: “there will be no winning” (70). But as a reader, the accord that’s stuck to resolve the suit reads almost as a resolution—or at least a policy whose intentionality Oregonians on all sides of these issues can be proud of. While I don’t want to ‘spoil’ the addendum for would-be readers of Collared, I would love to hear you reflect on what that agreement conveys about the needs and character of the constituents of Oregon—and the future of wolf issues in our state. (Especially given the care you take to differentiate among western states’ wolf management policies, which “reflect the concerns and realities expressed within these regions”) (102).

    I hope that Oregonians can be proud of the men and women from all sides of the wolf debate who have worked so tirelessly to manage not only for the health of wildlife and wilderness, but also for the prosperity and longevity of rural communities. The groups involved in the injunction and its resolution continue to work together, and trust in each other, to build Oregon’s future. It’s not an easy thing, and I believe one of the reasons they are willing to make it work is they see no better option. In working together they are each other’s best bet for long term sustainability.
    One thing to note, when the agreement was made the additional cost in manpower and work required by the implementation of the changes in the Oregon Wolf Plan was not necessarily considered. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf management program continues to largely be a two-person show. If we wish to see continuity within the program and the continued growth of partnerships and positive relationships we will have to figure out some way to bolster the program and its people.

You can order a copy of Collared or read an excerpt from the book here.

Aimee Lynn Eaton has worked with the National Geographic Society, the Bonneville Power Administration, the Freshwater Trust, numerous community newspapers, and as a science communicator at Oregon State University. She earned a BS in journalism from the University of Oregon and a MS in physical geography from OSU. Eaton’s writing has been published in The New York Times, National Parks Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, The Dirtbag Diaries, and a range of other national and international media. She lives in Central Oregon, where she grew up. For more information, visit her website, Notes from the Dry Side


Member of AAUP