Oregon Blog Updates
I grew up in a household where money was tight. Really tight. Sometimes it was tough for food to get on the table. My folks always somehow made food happen, tho.
But we never, ever homeless.
And I'd never really thought about it this way, either:
My children and I were living in someone else's home, sleeping in living rooms and on couches and I was sharing a room with my teenage daughter while my son was sleeping in the family room. All the while, I had a job. I went from full time work, to part-time work and back to full time work, while going to school online, all in that year.
My oldest daughter, Samantha, attending college in Washington state, also had no place to call home. She was sleeping on friends' couches from night to night and several times even slept in her car. It was her last year and we were selling anything we could to pay for her to eat and get to the schools where she was student teaching.
I think it's easy to buy into the stereotype that homelessness is sleeping on the sidewalk or under a bridge, often handicapped by serious mental illness. At least it has been for me.
This thought-provoking and well-written piece is by Wendy Alexander of Hillsboro and is a must read. She has a job. She's a student. And she and her kids have been homeless even though she's employed. Her story is staggering to me not so much because it breaks the stereotype, but because it's so obvious that homelessness could actually happen to most anyone. A lot of people live paycheck to paycheck. One or two paychecks lost due to illness or some other trauma could have them out of their home.
But there's more here to ponder:
While teaching in Washington, my daughter's school had a "Dress Like a Hobo Day." Obviously, this is meant to be a fun dress-up day for the staff and kids. But what was supposed to be a spirited entertainment turned into a public mockery of abject poverty. The interpretation of "hobo" was kids dressing filthy and straggly. My daughter Samantha overheard some kids poking fun at others and making jokes about how one girl was not dressed up for hobo day because she dressed like that all the? time.
One student asked my daughter, her teacher, why she did not dress up like a homeless person. My daughter replied that she just didn't want to participate that day, as another staff member looked on quizzically. After the student left, Samantha confided to the other staff member, "This IS how I dressed when I was homeless."
At the risk of being labeled too "politically correct", we're better than this.
For some reason, KATU reporter Anna Canzano thought it would be a good idea to post this on Facebook:
Because the President of the United States should not be allowed to relax and watch a basketball game when there's a big kerfuffle going down, it seems.
Fortunately, the denizens of Facebook weren't having it. She's rightly eviscerated in the comments.
Apparently, 14 Emmys and an Edward R. Murrow Award for Continuing Coverage aren't an inoculant against poor social media judgement by a reporter. If journalists can't figure out how to do basic management of the medium as reporters, then they're truly accelerating their own downward spiral.
It's always a bonus when a Portlander doubles down on the keeping things weird front. This time it's with Sam Pardue, the brains behind Indow Windows.
Now, in an unexpected twist, Indow, is cashing in on a diet craze. A growing number of people are going “paleo” to avoid such health problems as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, which they blame on eating cultivated grain. Instead they eat like paleolithic humans: grass-fed meat, vegetables, fruit, roots, even bugs. There could be 3 million practitioners in the U.S., says Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint, a guide to going paleo. Die-hard practitioners don’t stop at food. They sleep in totally silent darkness—or try to—because humans are made to sleep in dark, quiet places such as caves, not in apartments located above neon signs and honking traffic.
In addition to holding in heat or air conditioning, Indow Windows keep out most street noise, a selling point in bustling cities, to paleo adherents or not. In September, Pardue started selling a new model in black (as in blackout), letting in zero light for $250 per normal-sized bedroom window.
I feel like this is the kind of thing best discovered and nurtured in Portland.Hipster cave dwellers and vampires, unite!
And now, let's Span the State!
Ten years ago, a group of property owners in Florence filed a lawsuit claiming that it was unconstitutional in Oregon for the Governor and native tribes to enter into a compact to build a casino. Last week, they lost in the Oregon Court of Appeals. Interestingly, the Three Rivers Casino & Hotel has been open for almost ten years anyway. Seems like that horse left the barn awhile ago, but the landowners promise to continue their fight.
It's been a busy few weeks for local police in the towns of West Linn and Forest Grove. Forest Grove citizens seem to be having particular issues with items of clothing and unwanted text messages. West Linn..... well...click through and start reading under the "Life in West Linn" category. You'll thank me later.
The City View Charter School in Hillsboro is under some scrutiny this week for not reflecting the "demographics of the city of Hillsboro in race and income level..", as claimed on their website's FAQ. Hillsboro's poverty rate from 2007-2011 was 11.8%. Yet only 6% of City View's students are below the poverty line, according to the Oregon Dept of Education's report card. The school also rated "below average" on the state's report card relative to other schools with similar demographics.
Staying on the school theme: enrollment at Southern Oregon University is down 5.3%. That's the steepest decline of any of Oregon's state schools. SOU President Mary Cullinan attributes the drop to large graduating classes the previous two years along with regional economic issues. It's also reported that SOU has seen a decline in returning students.
Residents of LaGrande seem ready for a deep freeze to hit just to rid themselves of the massive numbers of aphids that have collected in the area. Swarms of the flying critters have plagued the area, with numbers greater than normal. Click through and see the image for this story, too.
The Oregonian's Jeff Mapes has a lengthy story this weekend headlined, "How Jeff Merkley of Oregon became a favorite senator of the activist left".
Of course, here at BlueOregon, lots of us have been fans for a long time. For just one example, I remember the 2007 profile written by Jeff Alworth, just before Merkley announced his run for the Senate.
You should read the entire Mapes piece, but here's a few choice cuts:
"Our members know who he is and see him as a real leader," says Anna Galland, executive director of Moveon.org. "He is a thoughtful progressive voice on almost all of the issues. I can't think of one he is bad on." ...
But when he gets rolling in conversation, Merkley will show a certain relish in the list of antagonists he's poked in five years in the Senate: "I've upset big oil, big coal, big Pharma, big agriculture." Merkley is firmly in the camp of populist Democrats who think their own party's leaders haven't been tough enough in taking on the financial establishment.
Merkley also makes himself a big presence on the activist circuit. More than almost any other member of Congress, he uses the Moveon.org website to propose petition campaigns to the group's 8 million members. His most popular: Urging support for his attempt to repeal a law that allows Monsanto to skirt a federal court order blocking the sale of some of its genetically modified seeds. That one's garnered 80,000 signatures. ...
"He gets the value of an inside-outside partnership -- of really using pressure from around the country to get Washington, D.C., to pay attention," says Adam Green, who heads the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. ...
This kind of grass-roots fundraising has become a big deal for Merkley. He's raised a whopping $1.8 million through ActBlue, a fundraising website used by activist Democrats to tap small donors. Only three other senators have raised more through the website.
"His votes and rhetoric tend to be left of center," says Tim Carpenter, national director of the Progressive Democrats of America. "When he was running, people didn't expect him to be quite as progressive as he turned out to be."
Of course, being a strong progressive doesn't preclude bipartisanship. In fact, this weekend, the Register-Guard hailed Merkley's work on ENDA - particularly citing his partnership with the Senator he ousted, Gordon Smith, to win over Republican votes.
Five of the Senate’s seven Mormons ultimately supported the anti-discrimination act, including three of the five who are Republicans. Most notably, Orrin Hatch, a Republican who has represented Utah in the Senate since 1977, shifted his vote after opposing earlier versions of the act. Merkley enlisted Smith’s support in persuading Hatch and other Mormons to support the bill. “He can speak from a perspective I might not be able to replicate,” Merkley said of his one-time rival.
Merkley was widely credited with winning 10 Republican votes for the bill, and rightly so. It was a rare bipartisan achievement in the Senate, and it came on an issue that remains divisive.
Now, that's my kind of bipartisanship -- winning over Republicans to support progressive legislation.