“Always tell the truth. Always take the high road. Live each day like it could be your last. Drink it in. Be adventurous, be bold, but savor it. It goes fast.” — Ben, from the movie, “Captain Fantastic.”
Once you drive down the road overlooking Olalla Slough, you end up on a 6.7-acre paradise. Before humans emerge from the ranch-style house, the visitor is greeted by clicking of tongues, screeches and whistling.
Ram Papish and his wife, Dawn Harris, have a residence that includes an outbuilding called “The Love Shack.” No, the B-52’s song is not on a loop. Rather the colorfully painted aviary is home to a dozen parrots affectionately named, Love Birds (genus Agapornis).
There are other avian family members on the property, in another aviary — blue fronted Amazon parrot, Solomon Islands eclectus and an orange winged Amazon parrot.
I am first greeted by Dawn who has a cold soda for me in hand. I recognize her from one of the trainings I was a part of with the Oregon chapter of the American Cetacean Society as part of my certification to become an ACS naturalist. That was March 2019.
She works as the visitor services coordinator for the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
Then Ram emerges with his N95 mask in hand — we all three agreed to the interview and photo session outside.
I first met Ram at the State of the Coast conference at the Salishan Resort. That was November 2019. He imparted a tidal wave of facts and riffs about what it means to be an artist. He is king of anecdotes tied to a life as an illustrator and field biological technician.
Today, on a sunny late June 2020 day, he reiterates at his home what he told the large group at Salishan last year: He considers himself “an illustrator . . . and artists look down their noses at illustrators.”
At the State of the Coast conference, young people abounded, including youthful scientists presenting their research through the elegant process of postering, a mix of science and illustration, something very close to Ram’s heart as he considered in these parts, “The Wayside Interpretative Panel” impresario for the Oregon Coast.
The State of the Coast crowd was in awe of Ram’s hand-painted pants — colorful tufted puffins adorning his trousers is one way to get an audience’s attention.
On the minds of many at the breakout session was, “How do you become an artist?” First, Ram answered in the negative:
“When I went to college, I didn’t think I could make a living at it. I sent out dozens of portfolios to publishers and children’s book publishers. I was really naïve.”
The introduction to art class at Cornell was a turning point in his pursuit: “The professor was basically trying to teach us how to be a snobby artist. I wasn’t going to have any part of that.”
Without question, Ram’s personal and professional drive is to connect people to nature. He works on commission — paid gigs assigned by Oregon State Parks, other agencies and publishers. His drawing avocation started when he was very young; by age 14 he was designing nesting dolls.
Birds of a feather…
Ram and Dawn met in 2002, at the Newport Christmas bird count. He was a single guy and she was married at the time. The three were friends until her divorce. Ram and Dawn eventually dated and then tied the knot.
Dawn beamed ecstatic about their birding trips, including one to the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) where penguins and albatrosses were part and parcel on their birder’s log.
She’s from South Carolina, having attending K12 in S.C. Ram is originally from San Diego from a hippie family fulfilling a vagabond lifestyle.
“My father considered himself somewhat of a poet, a man of letters,” Ram says, smiling. They lived in a tent and spent time in trailer parks. “I was outside all the time.” In eighth grade the family ended up in Eugene.
He is one of five — four boys and one sister. He laughs as Dawn relays how they range in age from 40 to 50.
“Outside” for Ram meant observing nature.
Dawn’s community college years encompassed Manatee Community College in Sarasota, Florida. From there, a BS in wildlife ecology from University of Florida and an MS in the same field from Oregon State University. She ended up as a seasonal employee with US Fish and Wildlife doing work in California on seasonal wetlands and mallard duck transitional ecosystem research.
Ram, the archer
Pronouncing his name means knowing Ram (variant of Rama) is the most common male name in India, the Sanskrit origin meaning as “archer; pleasing.” Think “raw” plus “hmm.”
We have much territory to traverse around Ram’s incredible illustrations and his early proclivity for and talent with drawing.
As a couple, they fit perfectly, as Dawn, 48, and Ram, 47, frequently finish each other’s sentences. It’s obvious Dawn is his biggest fan. I ask them what makes for a good marriage, or couple. Dawn seamlessly states: “We have so many shared interests.” Those include gardening, landscaping, bird watching and travel.
While she has no artistic bent, Dawn supports spiritually and emotionally Ram’s commissions, which include wayside panel illustrations up and down the coast. He has painted more than 100 panels reflecting the area’s diverse ecosystems and flora/fauna.
His interpretations entice the visitor to reflect on the ecology but also to realize the illustrator behind the images is deeply ensconced into the land. It’s a case of love for and deep reflection of nature.
Anyone hiking around Toledo high school might hear those love birds (the parrots) and other rescued parrots this birding couple has helped settle in this exotic land (for an Amazonian bird, yes, Toledo is super exotic).
I try and find more than eight feeders and eight bird boxes on the property. As I leave their home, Dawn shows me the mason bee box they made. I am happy to recall that this April, the couple came in second statewide with 48 bird species sightings in the backyard one-day bird count.
“The earth is what we all have in common.” — Wendell Berry, Naturalist and writer
There are questions about what comes first, art or the environment. There is a passion in art, and yet for Ram, it’s nature that he works with as his universal canvas. Berry’s comment isn’t lost on Ram.
He uses water color techniques with acrylics. He is in his studio showing me the new iteration of his techniques using a computer screen, program and smart pen to design and illustrate work.
He’s working on a junior biologist book for K3 youth. It’s a cool learning tool, sponsored by the Alaskan Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. He’s got one double-page ship cut-away illustration with the goal for readers to spot 15 rats Ram has strategically drawn onboard.
As a panel illustrator Ram knows “less (text) is more.”
“No more do we have textbooks on a stick,” he stated at the conference about the old style of wayside or historical signage where page after page of text dominated markers and panels.
He utilizes the “Rule of Threes” — three seconds to read the headlines; 30 seconds to glance it over and get the gist; three minutes to read everything including the captions.
His work includes tidepool life in Pacific City, shorebird stop-over on the Bandon Marsh, tidepool explorer at Cannon Beach, sea bird islands at Ecola State Park. He has illustrations in field guides, to include Oregon birder books.
He’s a veritable encyclopedia of ecosystems, bird life and aquatic, river and terrestrial species.
In the field
The couple can’t wait for outdoor activities and group meetings to resume with the Yaquina Birders and Naturalists group, of which Ram is president.
Both Dawn and Ram have been speakers on separate occasions for the Oregon Chapter of the American Cetacean Society. Birds and their habitats are their focus, with Ram’s added panoply of art from the field.
Dawn has seen many changes in the Fish and Wildlife Services and her profession: more women. She reflects on what has influenced women to embrace nature and the outdoors.
She attributes this to the power of narratives of such female scientists like Rachel Carson (“Silent Spring,” 1962) who is considered the mother of the environmental movement and who also worked for the Fish and Wildlife Service. Add to that Jane Goodall, Sylvia Earle and thousands of female scientists and educators growing the field to include girls interested in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math.
Obviously, the STEAM. movement — add Arts to STEM — links to Ram’s avocation.
For Harris, wildlife comes first. For Ram, art comes first but his art would be a shell of itself without the integration with and interpretation of the natural world. They have no children, and their lives are intertwined with landscaping, gardening and those darned long-living rescue birds.
The whimsy Ram imparts is universal. He has some amazing paper mâché masks and animals, such as a bigger-than-life turkey vulture. Two books he illustrated and wrote for children — “The Little Fox” and “The Little Seal” both published by the University of Alaska Press — captivate the child’s imagination and wonder for the seal’s and fox’s world.
Ram reiterates he’s always willing to go to public schools to wow youth with his incredible background in art and science, while deploying his flair for public speaking to captivate young and old alike.
A fast-paced PowerPoint with all his illustrations projected on a screen are both impressive and awe-inspiring for young and old.
The best things in nature
The biggest thing Ram misses in this time of lockdown is the summer sea bird camp coordinated through the Pribilof Island Seabird Youth Network, which covers four volcanic islands in the Bering Sea. He’s been the wildlife illustrator there for more than eight years.
The camp works with youth, many Aleut, covering these areas:
• Open doors to careers in science and natural resource management.
• Increase sense of ownership and understanding of local resources.
• Provide training in marketable multi-media skills.
• Provide education in seabird ecology, research and conservation.
Dawn reiterates how disappointed Ram is now that the camp has been cancelled due to Covid-19. The youth are big losers, since they will miss the collective IQ and creativity of the staff, the comradery amongst themselves, and the amazing ecosystem splendor including 11 species of birds that breed on the island.
As part of the team, Ram works in a partnership between the Pribilof School District, the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island, the City of St. Paul, Tanadgusix Corporation, the St. George Traditional Council, St. George Island Institute, the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and the wider scientific community.
The program’s website, http://seabirdyouth.org/ shows the amazing facial and body language of not only the youth getting so much out of the time, but also people like Ram, who in many photos has these ear-to-ear grins while he’s mentoring and instructing youth.
Both Ram and Dawn assert this is the best way for young and old to learn, engage in life long critical thinking and to continue on as mentors and teachers themselves, whether they go into educational fields or not.
Where are people — students — going to get the in-the-field and on-the-canvas wisdom Ram Papish brings to the proverbial table unless they are there, hands on, with him, in a learning environment with the tools of the trade — camera, brushes, paints, photographs and field research?
Ram qualifies as a unique illustration instructor at the Sea Bird Camp because he has also had 20 field seasons working as a biological sciences technician studying birds and other wildlife, primarily in Alaska. He’s a hands-on artist who encourages youth to create art.
What’s more inspiring to youth than an illustrator who has his work published in books and publications, including the Handbook of Oregon Birds, Northwest Birds in Winter and Oregon Birds?
His last big outing was in January, at the OSU Extension office for a talk, “Drawing on Nature: Connecting People and Wildlife Through Art.”
From paperboy to illustrator
We’re looking at the round plates adorning the kitchen where Dawn is setting up some chips and salsa. It’s a new obsession Ram is involved in creating — sgraffito. These are amazingly simple images of nature, and birds, to include one of my favorites, a kingfisher. The word is derived from the Italian, “graffito,” a drawing or inscription made on a wall or other surface (think graffiti) .
In ceramics, sgraffito is a technique of ornamentation in which a surface layer is scratched to reveal a ground of contrasting color. Ram mentioned this at the State of the Coast talk, too.
Before Ram was designing dolls, he was a paperboy. He recalls how in Eugene he was throwing the newspaper on the lawn of who would be one of his illustrator idols — Larry McQueen.
“I recognized him from a biography of him I had been reading.”
McQueen is still around, and his biography and bibliography are deep when you go to his page on Artists for Conservation.
Here’s a snippet from McQueen’s page:
“I grew up in the small town of Mifflinburg in central Pennsylvania. Birds fascinated me from the start. With colored pencils, I attempted to draw birds that I observed on early morning forays around the neighborhood. One of the first books my parents gave me was “The Junior Book of Birds” by Roger Peterson, illustrated with a small selection of paintings done by several bird artists of the time. Each illustration in this slender book presents the bird in a full page of habitat. As a child, these images influenced my perceptions of the bird in nature, profoundly. Around the age of ten, I was given two books with impressive artwork: a 1937 edition of reproductions of Audubon’s ‘Birds of America’ and another large volume entitled ‘Birds of America,’ with illustrations by Louis Agassiz Fuertes. I have since studied the original work of these great bird artists, with veneration. The inspiration of others continues and I regard as pivotal, the paintings of the great Swedish wildlife artist, Bruno Liljefors, of early 20th Century.
At age twelve, I was invited to be a founding member of the Bucknell Ornithological Club at Bucknell University, close to my hometown. Involved with regular meetings and field-trips, I was learning about ‘ornithology’ as a subject, and my birding skills greatly improved.”
At age 15, Ram tells me he worked at a public relations firm producing illustrations for brochures and advertisements. At 16, one of Ram’s paintings was hung in the US Capitol building.
He was the political cartoonist for the South Eugene High School newspaper. “I did a lot of political cartoons.” Pen and ink drawing was his forte.
He did illustrations of jet boats for a business on the Rogue River; wildlife scenery for different chambers of commerce; designed nesting dolls of endangered species for the Nature Shop. That was by age 16.
He’s still a lifelong vegetarian, incubated at birth by plant-based diet parents. “When you grow up without eating meat, you just can’t stomach it.”
Dawn bends with Ram’s dietary choices, but she still dives into BBQ pork when she ends up back in North Carolina. Ram is experimenting with sushi — tuna — and so far, he’s faring well.
Dawn and Ram’s last trip together on a flora and fauna safari was in Tanzania on the Serengeti plain during the heart of the migration. “The power of those herds of wildlife I have not experienced before. I took around one hundred thousand photos,” he tells me.
For most of us, we will have to vicariously live those trips, through the prism of colors Ram deploys and the interpretations he makes with brushstrokes as our naturalist guide to the art of nature.
Maybe Ram really is the Doctor Dolittle of the illustrator’s world, and he is in good company, with one of this country’s more well-known “illustrators” defining his art:
“Some people have been kind enough to call me a fine artist. I’ve always called myself an illustrator. I’m not sure what the difference is. All I know is that whatever type of work I do, I try to give it my very best. Art has been my life.” — Norman Rockwell
PH: What’s the most difficult aspect of wildlife and conservation settings to paint?
RP: I find people to be difficult.
PH: What would you tell a young person wanting to major in and practice with art?
RP: Start networking immediately. I worked at many different agencies and companies as a biotech that later hired me to do artwork. That type of connection building tends to pay off in the long run.
PH: What animal in the wild would you like to see and why?
RP: Helmet Vanga of Madagascar and Blue Crane (most easily seen in South Africa) are high on my bird bucket list.
PH: Thought experiment — If you believed in reincarnation, what animal would you want to come back as and why?
RP: Great Sapphirewing. They live in the beautiful high Andes and spend their days in cool comfort sipping sweet nectar from alpine flowers. Also, they are relatively free of external parasites.
PH: What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
RP: A rainbow of different artwork including different styles, more sculpture, paintings on glass, computer-based drawings, 3D murals.
PH: Wildlife illustrations can enhance the visitor experience by “adding an extra dimension.” Can you expound on this?
RP: I feel that one of the reasons art is appealing is that it depicts reality through the filter of another person’s vision.
PH: What’s your dream commission?
RP: A series of books called “The Secret Life of Birds.” Each lavishly illustrates the natural history of a different bird species.
PH: If you Google, “greatest wildlife illustrators,” it’s all men. What is up with that do you think?
RP: Like in many professions, traditional gender roles have a strong historic influence. This will change over time.
You’ve got to start thinking about this as an ecosystem. All these plantations might as well be growing corn. But if you want clean water, salmon, wildlife, and high-quality lumber, you’ve got to have a forest. — Mike Fay, a Wildlife Conservation Society biologist and National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence
Seeing a pair of bald eagles, a possum and a black bear just minutes into my trip to an interview is, to say the least, icing on the “Eco Cake.”
Especially now, with so many people in various stages of isolation and paranoia — restricting time outdoors has a double-whammy effect on our mental health, but also on the health of a community who expects in-person participation and face-to-face debate.
Virtual bird watching and online hikes just don’t cut it.
My assignment is to catch a 30-something scientist — coordinator of a non-profit — doing what he loves best: hands-on, in-the-field work, coordinating with landowners on projects to restore river refugia.
I met Evan Hayduk, 35, with Mid-Coast Watershed Council when I first moved to the coast from Portland. That was Jan 2019 at Oregon Coast Community College for a dual presentation as part of the Williams Lecture series.
“Shedding a Scientific and Humanitarian Light on Climate Change” was a one-two punch featuring Hayduk alongside Bill Kucha, well-known artist and founder the 350 Oregon Central Coast.
That night unfolded as a contrast in personalities, age and emphases. Kucha is a 70-plus-year-old two-and three-dimensional artist who also composes and performs his music, guitar in hand. Hayduk opened up the talk with a detailed PowerPoint that emphasized the power of natural tidelands/wetlands to not only purify water for species like salmon, but also as natural mitigation for carbon dioxide absorption from fossil fuel burning.
Tidal wetlands are important habitats for salmon and a diversity of other fish and wildlife species. They also trap sediment, buffer coastal communities from flooding and erosion and perform other valued ecosystem services. — Hayduk
This is a story about a man, about his passion, about his vision to see a better world through several lenses, not exclusively through biology.
The first personality to greet me on the private land near Lobster Creek was Hayduk’s loyal two-year-old Australian shepherd, appropriately named, “Tahoma.”
“The original name for Mount Rainer,” Hayduk emphasizes. In fact, “Tahoma” is the Puyallup word for “Supreme Mountain,” and according to others, Tahoma translates to “the breast of the milk-white waters.” Or as Hayduk has heard, Mother Mountain.
Before his gig here with Mid-Coast Watershed Council (MCWC) starting 2016, Hayduk worked on Tahoma (Mount Rainier National Park) running the restoration crew at its native plant nursery.
Today, we are on one of four adjoining 40-acre chunks whose landowners have granted Hayduk and MCWC access to flood plain habitat and Little Lobster creek to “help restore once was a healthy complex riparian ecosystem.”
All water flows downstream
When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe. — John Muir
While the Alsea River is the mainstem of salmon runs, tributaries like Lobster Creek play a crucial role in salmon health. We are in an area known as Five Rivers, 25 miles east of Waldport. Alder, Cougar, Buck, Crab and Cherry creeks make up those five tributaries.
Within the Alsea Basin, the Lobster/Five Rivers watershed provides an important contribution to the populations of native fish. However, water quality problems, relating to stream temperature, have been documented in several sub-watersheds and along the main stems of both Lobster Creak and Five Rivers. The level of disturbance in the watershed has contributed to the degradation of quality habitat. [So states a 227-page scientific paper, from the Bureau of Land Management, “Lobster/Five Rivers Watershed Analysis.]
Hayduk is “eyes, ears and feet/hands on the ground” coordinator of this project. The day I show up, he has 164 home-propagated lupines and a couple of dozen Camus bulb starts. Zach and Casey from Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District (LSWCD) soon arrive as part of their regular brush-clearing duties to fight back the canary grass and Himalayan blackberry bushes, both pernicious invasive species in our ecosystem.
They have an auguring machine to dig holes for all these pollinating plants Hayduk and his wife, Jen, grew in their Waldport home garden. Jen is the interim director of LSWCD.
The husband-wife team met in 2008 when they both worked for a backcountry conservation crew near Port Angeles. She’s from Pennsylvania, and Hayduk grew up in Woodinville (near Seattle) with his two older sisters and parents.
My dad was a general contractor in Seattle. My family had 1.5 acres and turned it into a formal English garden, so I spent a lot of time with plants.
He tells me he always knew he’d be working with plants as he got older. He did an undergraduate degree at Santa Clara University. He graduated from the Evergreen State College in 2012 with a master’s in Environmental Studies. One of his more unique programming experiences as a student was contributing to the Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP) in school in Olympia.
I gravitate toward the prison work he did more than eight years ago. On SPP’s website, the goal is clear: “SPP brings together incarcerated individuals, scientists, corrections staff, students, and program partners to promote education, conserve biodiversity, practice sustainability, and help build healthy communities. Together, we reduce the environmental, economic, and human costs of prisons.”
Hayduk’s work now is all about conservation, restoration and replicating the natural systems that contribute to streambeds and streambanks gaining structures that make them prime refuge for young salmon and other species to blend into a natural ecological community, or web.
Stream Fish, Flora
Now there are some things in the world we can’t change — gravity, entropy, the speed of light, the first and second Laws of Thermodynamics, and our biological nature that requires clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean energy and biodiversity for our health and wellbeing. Protecting the biosphere should be our highest priority or else we sicken and die. Other things, like capitalism, free enterprise, the economy, currency, the market, are not forces of nature, we invented them. They are not immutable and we can change them. It makes no sense to elevate economics above the biosphere, for example.
–– Canadian scientist and TV series producer David Suzuki
It goes without saying rehabilitating an ecosystem like a Coastal Range temperate forest is much more complicated (and complex) than sending a projectile into space.
Evan Hayduk is one of these “forest triage experts” — he sees what 150 years of headstrong resource exploitation, unchecked razing of ecosystems and overharvesting have done and how difficult it is to put it all back together.
I met up with him on the land where he is rehabilitating riparian and river systems. This article was precipitated by my interest in Hayduk’s association with Mid-Coast Watersheds Council, most notably the monthly guest speaker series, “From Ridgetop to Reef.”
He also has just received an impressive laurel: American Fisheries Society’s 2020 Rising Star Award. This is a recognition of Hayduk’s work as someone early in his career through a partnership with NOAA and the National Fish Habitat Partnership:
“Hayduk was recognized for the quantity and quality of his restoration projects and his cooperative work with agencies and landowners.”
He sent me the entire package — the award, the letters of recommendation, projects he has worked on, his college transcripts. As I’ve learned in the Deep Dive column reporting/writing, we have some real gems on the coast. Hayduk could be a superstar in a larger non-profit and in a bigger demographic.
His job with MCWC — promoting freshwater and coastal fish conservation — is one-part grant writer, one-part field expert, one-part people manager, one-part public engagement/relationships impresario. He told me that he goes to landowners with those streams, creeks and rivers run through their properties in order to find ways to encourage stream health and restoration mitigation.
My time with him in early June focused on the process of dropping 60-foot trees into streams, crisscross fashion. This might seem counterintuitive as a best practice for stream health, but in fact, it’s a dynamic natural way to rebuild stream beds and create a functioning healthy floodplain and wetlands cohesion.
He tells me this replication of an ecosystem’s natural hydrodynamic process creates these weirs and in-stream structures that “spread the creek out,” keeping gravel beds intact all the while connecting cold water refugia to the floodplain.
The most challenging aspect of these projects comes down to humans.
“We need to work with land owners,” he tells me. “I sort of see myself as the glue between everybody.”
He shows me this riparian floodplain near the Upper Little Lobster Creek where he and his crew of volunteers have planted conifers, including cedars, and other plants to help revitalize the power of those trees to hold in soil. When the deciduous alders age out (around 60 years), they have a tendency to fall. Conifers live longer and they too will fall and act as natural “damming structures” to replicate what a natural stream should be: a haven for salmon and other aquatic species.
I study all these saplings growing inside “cages” that protect their early growth from deer.
Wood Wide Web
“The wood wide web has been mapped, traced, monitored, and coaxed to reveal the beautiful structures and finely adapted languages of the forest network. We have learned that mother trees recognize and talk with their kin, shaping future generations. In addition, injured trespass their legacies on to their neighbors, affecting gene regulation, defense chemistry, and resilience in the forest community. These discoveries have transformed our understanding of trees from competitive crusaders of the self to members of a connected, relating, communicating system. Ours is not the only lab making these discoveries-there is a burst of careful scientific research occurring worldwide that is uncovering all manner of ways that trees communicate with each other above and below ground.” ― Peter Wohlleben, “The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries from a Secret World”
The connection between healthy rivers, functioning floodplains, and healthy fish, Evan emphasizes while putting planting riverbank lupine (Lupinus rivularis) in clusters of four, is trees. I learned much of these interlinked processes while teaching and living in Spokane, working on issues around the Spokane River, a highly urbanized and suburbanized river. Those forested watersheds have much higher water quality. Trees also provide a wide variety of ecological services.
Hayduk sources logs from many places, including Georgia Pacific other for-profit outfits, land owners and from projects on BLM, State and National Forest lands.
While the tree canopy lessens the erosive impact of rain and slows the velocity of stormwater flowing towards the river, trees trap sediments that build the floodplain while the roots stabilize the riverbanks.
I jump into some “ponding” water just below one of the crisscross tree structures Evan and his volunteers had dropped into this moving water refugia, Little Lobster Creek. I was presented with nice stretches of fine sand and cul-de-sacs of great pebble beds, perfect habitat for salmon redds. Hayduk showed me fresh water mussels. Crayfish were scrambling in the shallows piercing the shadows underwater.
Hayduk emphasized that there are some healthy stream systems in our area where past disruptive logging practices and snag clearing have not been so impactful and permanent. However, the cost for this sort of project Hayduk is heading up tallies to $28,000 per acre, with invasive species, brush clearing and salvage log/wood placement as the large chunk of the bill.
The tree species that best work for the log weirs and dams are conifers, like Doug firs and cedar, that latter species having the added benefit of not rotting for decades while submerged.
It’s a no-brainer trees also provide shade for maintaining water temperature. To carry the analogy to the end point, we see fallen leaves, limbs and branches support food webs by providing food and habitat for insects that are food for fish, Hayduk states. Clean, cool water with more food equals bigger fish.
Nuances like growing alders on the flood plain or marsh plain encourages other species of trees to grow on the decaying fallen alder.
Looking at the ecosystem from a centuries-versus-a-few-decades perspective is important in understanding what Evan and others of his ilk are attempting. “Big conifers that fall help with grade control. Water tables rise. Conifers in the riparian areas can grow from 100 to 200 years before they fall into the creek.”
This concept of a “messy” stream refugia as being the most healthful for all species is anathema to the way most humans have thought about rivers. Scientists like Hayduk know fish get through any of the hurdles a natural stream environment presents them — even with huge logs and entire trees with root balls integrated into the water flow.
Big enough wood simulating log jams buy time to get refugia back to an interconnected vibrancy. Thus far, in this area, 28 structures have been laid on 2.4 miles of stream, Hayduk stated.
Fragility in a huge forest
He shows me areas where logging trucks came in and now the stream is bare of trees and also where channel incision had “down cut” incisions into the bedrock, not a healthy Coho or chinook refuge.
Again, this is a fragile complex system Hayduk and his cohorts work on. The flood plain is many yards beyond the actual stream channel. So, a 30-foot creek flood flow necessitates a 60-foot log or fallen tree.
The connection between fish, trees and rivers is now poised emerging in our urban areas as sound ecology and ecosystem management. Many cities, large and small, are recognizing the benefits of reestablishing the physical and emotional linkage between river, trees and the human community. For instance, San Antonio has its iconic River Walk, Chicago has just completed its riverfront, Washington DC has its Southwest Waterfront neighborhood, and Pittsburgh has reconnected neighborhoods to its three rivers via a network of urban trails.
We talk about the high turnover rate for positions like his own, as well as his wife’s at the Lincoln Soil & Water Conservation District.
His wife Jen knows the connection of little things put back into an ecosystem having global ramifications. She obtained her master’s degree at OSU in marine resource management.
Back to the glossary: Jen Hayduk could explain the power of blue carbon, which is elegantly illustrated by this marine plant species she was studying — seagrass (Zostera marina). These seagrass habitats provide important “ecosystem services,” including their ability to take up and store substantial amounts of organic carbon, known as “blue carbon.”
Again, the couple not only understands the fragility of homo sapiens as an individual species in a time of COVID-19, but how the cultural and economic activities can so easily be disrupted.
No more volunteers out in the field, Hayduk tells me, and many projects are on hold and grants stalled/delayed because of the lockdown.
The lack of human traffic might be temporarily beneficial to such threatened species as the Northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina), marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) and Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa), but Evan Hayduk would rather spend time in the field with people throwing in to help him with his work with river and wetlands restoration.
His background in human rehabilitation through ecological health started with people locked out of society, in tiny prison cells.
“The effects of nature on incarcerated individuals is powerful,” Hayduk tells me. His mentor was Nalini Nadkarni, Ph.D., Founder of the Sustainability in Prisons Project. “Prisoners spend limited time outside. But the program demonstrated they are good with plant stuff. It’s a powerful therapeutic tool, working with the Oregon spotted frog raising them from tadpoles all the way to adult frogs and releasing them into the wild.”
For individuals like Hayduk, “the cure” is being outside, working with/within nature, and with people (Homo sapiens), who are also part of the ecosystems, whether we recognize it or not.
Right now, Jen and Evan are tending a huge Waldport home garden, pickled goodies like carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers. Jen has even gotten into exotic plant growing, selling one of her “children” on etsy.com for a pretty penny.
They are self-sufficient, well-traveled, share visions and know how to grow food. Traits we all might need when the you know what tied to global warming hits the fan.
Q&A: Evan Hayduk Style
Hayduk is a busy fellow, having put in 63-hour work weeks and rushing to harvest tons of garden produce and preserving them, an undertaking he and his wife Jen have been doing for several weeks. Still, though, Hayduk put down some compelling responses to my intrusive queries.
Paul: What are the three things you suggest citizens can do to help folks like you and nonprofits like MCWC do what you have to do to protect salmon habitat/refugia?
Evan: A. Help and protect beaver on the landscape. This is #1. Beavers do a better job to create and maintain salmon habitat than we could ever hope to. Tolerate beavers if you live on a property that has a stream. There are beaver solutions that make it easier to “live with beaver.” Inform your neighbors about the importance of beaver and join efforts to stop trapping and killing of this ecosystem engineer.
B. Get involved! Volunteer your time helping at a MCWC event (when we bring them back after COVID-19). If you live on a river or stream clear invasive species and plant natives. Or give us a call and we can help.
C. Donate! Donations to the MCWC are tax deductible! They go directly to helping us get projects on the ground that protect and improve salmon habitat. For a non-profit like ours, just a little goes a long way.
Paul: Who are two of your biggest influences in this work, in your life?
Evan: I think I’ll separate that out into two categories life/work.
Life: My parents. I grew up observing an absolute model of love, hard work and kindness. My dad worked his way from a carpenter to owning his own construction company. This instilled a work ethic that I couldn’t shake even if I tried. I spent weekends growing up working in our 1.5-acre garden, working with my dad to turn bare land into formal English gardens. If I don’t put in a good amount of time in any given weekend now, I feel like my weekend was wasted.
Work: I’ve been lucky along the way to have some great mentors. I mentioned to you Nalini Nadkarni, who I worked with at Evergreen with the Sustainability in Prisons Project. Nalini is the most amazing person I have ever been around. Her energy is contagious, and when she is in a room there is an electricity that is undeniable.
During my time at MCWC, I also have had amazing support from some Oregon Coast legends. Before retiring in November 2018, Wayne Hoffman was an absolute encyclopedia of information. I could walk into his office, ask about any given creek on the midcoast, and Wayne could ramble on forever about the stream, current conditions, past projects, habitat potential, etc. Fran Recht and Paul Engelmeyer, who started the MCWC back in the late 1990s, are both dedicated stewards of the environment and have devoted their lives to the midcoast. My success at MCWC is due in large part to Wayne, Fran and Paul, and the rest of the active MCWC board and community.
Paul: If you were to present to a high school class, what would your elevator speech introduction be to them.
Evan: Salmon and people aren’t that different. We all need cool, clean water to survive. The actions we take to restore salmon habitat — replacing bad culverts, placing large wood in streams, planting native trees and shrubs — all do more than just restore salmon habitat. These actions restore the natural systems and processes that give us idyllic images of cold-water streams rushing through lush, green mountain terrain. We are focused on salmon, but the work we do touches everything that lives on the landscape — from birds, to bees, to you and to me!
Paul: Ocean forest range here and Olympics are some of the best places on earth to capture carbon. What makes your work out here so vital to that part of the picture?
Evan: Carbon storage is story of our lifetime. We have pumped so much carbon into the atmosphere that we have offset the balance of the system. Protecting and restoring old growth forests, sinks for carbon, is vital. Restoring salt and freshwater marshes and wetlands is also crucial. We can keep carbon locked up in estuary mud or in a 10-foot diameter cedar tree, but if these systems that support these processes are not protected and restored, we are headed down a bad path.
Paul: What are two of your most observable successes thus far in your work here?
Evan: In the last couple years we have tackled some very big projects, though any large wood placed in a stream, any tree planted, or invasive species removed is a success. By far the most observable success was the North Creek culvert project. This project was completed in 2019, restoring full aquatic organism passage to 13 stream miles of pristine habitat on US Forest Service managed lands in the Drift Creek (Siletz) basin. The undersized culvert, installed in 1958, not only blocked adult and juvenile salmon from accessing habitat upstream, but also ceased river processes and degraded habitat above and below the culvert site. The complex project in a remote location was difficult, and 60 years of “Band-Aid” solutions failed because they didn’t address the real problem: the culvert itself.
Paul: A “land ethic” by Aldo Leopold says a lot — riff with it, as in these two quotes:
“When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
Evan: We as people often see ourselves as other, as separate from nature, but this couldn’t be more incorrect. We not only breathe the same air as all other beings on this earth, we have by every measure had a greater impact than any.
Paul: Again, if you as director got a $5 million check from nonprofit for your work, no strings attached, what would you use that for?
Evan: Well, a boy can dream, can’t he? I think acquisition of important habitat areas would be high on the list (other than just hiring other staff to help!). Though, giving a better wage and benefits package to our staff and work crew would be a no-brainer.
Paul: Give the young reader some spiel on why they might want to pursue a degree or degrees in the general field of environmental sciences tied to ecology during a time of COVID-19, dwindling budgets for these sorts of jobs and more and more tuition expenses.
Evan: I had a professor at Evergreen (Gerardo Chin-Leo) who liked to say one of my favorite expressions: “Science is the painful expression of the obvious”. He also liked to say “Ecology isn’t rocket science; it is way more complicated than that.” Everything in this world in inextricably connected, the clues are in the interactions of flora and fauna on the landscape. Uncovering these connections and understanding how the work we see today has evolved through millennia of interactions is incredibly enthralling (to me!). These times are hard (COVID), budgets are being slashed in this field, salaries in this line of work have never been great. However, the folks that choose this line of work have a greater calling. Understanding this complex world which we are a part of and working to restore ecosystems is more rewarding that any paycheck could ever be.
Paul: Wood wide web — In your own words, explain this concept, if you have any input around how this concept ties to what you are doing in the “preservation” field.
Evan: This gets at the complexity (it isn’t rocket science!) of the natural world. Above ground we see large trees, growing individually across the landscape. What we don’t see, is the complex system of roots, fungi and microbes below the soil that supports this vast forest. Tree talk to each other, conspire when drought is near, and share resources/nutrients through the fungal networks that have co-evolved with them over millennia. This is the original “community”, and our communities could get a lot of good out of better understanding how to work together towards a shared goal.
Paul: You are working in restorative ecology. Explain that.
Evan: We are working with a degraded landscape. We are also dealing with shifting baselines. Bad enough is the direct impact on habitat over the last 200 or so years, this has gone further to disrupt ecosystem processes that maintain what we think of as a functioning system. Restoring these processes is difficult, but if successful, process-based restoration can reset these systems to be self-sustaining. Though the impact can be quick, the restoration can take centuries. When we plant a tree for long-term recruitment of wood to a stream, it’s full impact won’t be felt for 100 or 200 years.
Paul: Then, you were working in a sort of restorative justice program at Evergreen tied to sustainability in prisons. Expand.
Evan: This is where I lean on the words of Nalini: the power of nature. Everyone who works with SPP sees the power of fresh air and getting your hands dirty. Working in a prison can be a dismal setting — windowless cells, limited outside time, fluorescent lights. This is not a restorative situation. There are major problems with the criminal justice system in this country, I don’t claim to be an expert on this. But I have seen the impact that building a greenhouse in a prison yard can bring. What the nurturing of a tiny plant from seed to flower can do for a person. We worked with prisoners to captive rear Taylor’s Checkerspot butterflies and Oregon spotted frogs in Washington. Watching these “hardened” criminals hand feed and raise these tiny creatures in a prison setting was restorative, for me, and for those individuals. The guys that raised the frogs made hats with “Cedar Creek (Prison) Frog Crew” printed on them, they wore them around the prison like badges of honor.
Paul: Where do you see yourself in 15 years? Location-wise, intellectually speaking, emotionally, and politically?
Evan: Oof. I’ve been so busy lately I’ve just been able to take it day by day. In 15 years, I’ll be 50. I have no idea where this world will be at that point, so I really can’t say where I’ll be either. Long term dreams are important, but right now I’m just thinking about how to get my projects on the ground for this summer…
Note: Originally published in award-winning Street Roots 27 June 2020.
One person’s refugee status is another’s loyalty to employers, state and country
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
— Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus”
“Citizenship to me is more than a piece of paper. Citizenship is also about character. I am an American. We’re just waiting for our country to recognize it.”
— Jose Antonio Vargas
Forget the rhetoric from the Obama Camp (“Deporter in Chief”) or the Trump Klan (“All Mexicans are Rapists and Murderers”). Go all the way back through this country’s history — and we find every treaty with Indigenous peoples broken and every piece of ancestral holy land defiled by the nation’s first “illegal aliens.”
Better yet, to counter those misanthropic and racist lines, how about, “We are all illegal aliens.” It was a bumper sticker created by a group I was working with, Annunciation House, and an offshoot, Solidarity with the Americas.
That was El Paso, 1980, under another racist president, Ronald Reagan, and his team of war mongers — supporting, training and outfitting death squads throughout Central and South America.
There are so many pivotal moments in this country’s racist history, and now amidst lockdown, massive forced unemployment and frayed safety nets, people of color remain the people on the lower rungs of society.
Even so, those from Mexico and Central America are farther down the North American proverbial pecking order. However, without Latinx workers — as well as those from Asian countries and coming from the African continent — the U.S. in many ways would come to a halt.
“We are all illegal aliens!” bumper stickers were an act of collective solidary against deportations and denied political asylum. As well as recognition of the original peoples of Turtle Island (a name Algonquian- and Iroquoian-speaking peoples use for North America) who never gave anyone papers to come to this continent.
This is a story about me, which is a story about America, which morphs into a preamble for a universal tale many Oregonians face. It’s also a record of one man’s odyssey — who is under the radar, working in the informal economy, performing under-the-table jobs and yet other times working under legal pretenses, albeit with counterfeit documents.
I’ll call him Enrique because using his real name will get him into trouble. I met him through a very good friend, who once worked at a staffing agency where she hired this fellow and so many other reliable, hard-working men and women who also were undocumented.
She asked to be called Monica. What she’s seen in the staffing arena for 20 years is many variations on a theme with people trying to make ends meet.
“I’ve seen some incredible fake documents. There are a few artists in Portland who can replicate Social Security cards and immigration IDs. In many jobs, I have helped hard workers get jobs without having to be not only humiliated, but denied work and reported to immigration.”
[This photo of Enrique was taken when he was a child still living in Colima, Mexico.]
Enrique is a 50-year-old born in the Mexican state of Colima but was raised in nearby Michoacán. He crossed the borderline more than 32 years ago.
In the 1980s, I was a reporter for the El Paso Herald-Post, and part of one six-month period I crisscrossed Mexico, hitting all 32 of Mexico’s official states and the Districto Federal while reporting on tourism, trade, culture and other aspects as a foil against the blanket warnings by then U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, John Gavin, that most of Mexico was a dangerous place.
I love Colima and Michoacán. I have known many “Enrique’s” in my life in Mexico and as a journalist and teacher in El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, N.M.
After Enrique wound through Mexico and crossed the Rio Grande, he ended up briefly in Seattle, where his uncle, a police officer, wasn’t much help. He soon after set roots in Gresham.
He loves Gresham and considers himself an Oregonian. He’s been a forklift operator for more than 15 years, working for several logistics and warehousing companies in Portland.
In two months as the pandemic took hold, things changed dramatically and dangerously. Especially for our undocumented brothers and sisters.
Desperate times call for desperate measures?
Enrique has been couch-surfing and garage-squatting for five years in friends’ and families’ abodes. He woke up one day a few months ago, ready to take off for an early shift. But, his Mazda B2600 truck had been stolen.
“I put in a new engine in that truck. I have owned it for 28 years. I did all the work on it,” he said, with tears welling up. He is proud of this vehicle.
For Enrique, the Mazda was a lifeline, shuttling him to and from warehouse forklifting jobs. He used it on weekends for landscaping gigs, for fruit picking in Yakima and Hood River and for hauling produce back to Gresham to sell.
He called up my friend Monica, and he was frantic. Nothing like this has ever happened to him. He has auto insurance, but has been driving with an expired license for three years. He told us that every day, every time he parks the truck, he checks tire pressure, all the lights, anything that might give a police officer an excuse to stop him.
Having that truck ripped off meant he had to report the incident to Gresham police.
He ended up getting the truck back. A few things were ripped off, but he got it back in running shape.
Things spiraled down from there, once he got back to the Gresham warehouse where he had worked three years as a forklift driver. The manager told Enrique his job had been eliminated because of COVID-19 work reduction. It turns out, however, the job was actually made available for the manager’s brother-in-law.
A quick note on my omissions: Monica said disclosing her real name, the staffing company’s name and the name of the warehouse where Enrique worked in this article would not be a problem for her. “But,” she said, “I am concerned that if ICE read the story, saw my name, saw the staffing company’s name, saw the name of the warehouse where we had a staffing contract with, then all bets would be off for undocumented workers and their families. I believe ICE would do a forced audit of both the staffing company and the warehouse.”
Enrique’s case is not a rare undocumented story for Oregon.
I talked with Ana Maria Mejia, from Madras, whose husband, Moisés, was deported this January after being in the country since 2005. Ana and Moisés are raising four children. Ana is Mexican-American, U.S. born. She’s got a college class load in early childhood development, and her Head Start gig has moved remotely to her small trailer in Madras.
She chats daily with her husband who is staying with his mother in El Salvador. He is keeping his head down because gangs there are going after everyone, even strait-laced guys like Moisés. I reached out to Ana to ask about resources I could relay to Enrique — an immigration lawyer, other employment opportunities. Ana knows the routine with ICE. She and Moisés have spent thousands of dollars trying to get legal status for Moisés.
Even though Ana doesn’t know Enrique, she said that in Madras, several farms are hiring and have some accommodations for housing. Cabbage, lettuce and other crops still need tending and harvested.
She said she’d give Enrique names of people to call.
‘We all are illegal aliens!’
Enrique has a Social Security card from an uncle who has since returned to Mexico. Enrique has never spent a day in his life without work. He has gotten jobs with false documents. He’s even had a legal Oregon driver’s license.
That uncle has since passed away in Mexico.
Enrique applied for other jobs. One was as a forklift driver at UPS. He said he was never asked whether he was OK with a pre-employment background check. But the company ran one before ever interviewing him anyway.
What UPS found was the date of birth he gave them did not match the date of birth for the Social Security card he had.
It was an old card for a deceased uncle.
Enrique didn’t know about the background check until he attempted to get another gig through the same staffing company, which had connected him with jobs for 17 years. The agency told him it was shutting him out based on information about his documents UPS had shared with it when it ran an unauthorized background check.
I’ve sought legal opinions on Enrique’s circumstance, and from people I have talked with, it would appear this is both an unethical and illegal decision.
One of those people, lawyer Micah Fargey out of Beaverton, said Enrique had little chance of getting any recourse from this labor issue. He said, “Enrique should just move on.” He said opening an Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries complaint might be one avenue, but Fargey has worked on clients’ BOLI complaints in the past with no positive result.
Monica told me that if she had still been working at the staffing agency, she would have gone directly to corporate offices and petitioned directly with the human resources department. She told me she had done that many times, putting undocumented people back on the payroll.
Enrique never gave UPS permission to release results of a background check to any person or any company.
Now he needs a labor attorney to get him reinstated into the staffing agency. Maybe it’s a $200 six-line letter from a lawyer explaining the illegality of using another company’s background check as grounds for not hiring.
Enrique has now contacted two attorneys with the help of his former boss, Monica. An attorney with Bailey Immigration law office in Portland indicated Enrique’s is likely a case of both “targeting” a Mexican worker and of an unauthorized background check.
This is an economic thing, stupid!
Let’s look at Enrique’s case through the lens of how much he is being ripped off as a taxpayer:
At $15 an hour, working 40-plus hours a week at this one logistics warehouse, he made more than $90,000 over a three-year period. That was taxed. unemployment insurance was taken out, as well as Social Security taxes.
Enrique never files for refunds because he doesn’t have a Social Security card matching his name. He wants to stay under the radar.
He’s been in this country a long time, so for example, just looking at 15 years working as a forklift driver, we can think about the raw numbers: He’s made upwards of $450,000. No tax refunds from the IRS, no “kicker refunds” from Oregon.
He’s never received food stamps, and he has no children in his household, so no free schooling, no temporary assistance for families in need.
What he did receive from capitalism were 12- and 14-hour days moving boxes, crates and materials for multibillion-dollar companies, at unsustainable wages.
A preamble to others
When I worked in El Paso, Texas, and Las Cruses, N.M., with several programs assisting children of migrant agricultural workers, I worked with students in K-12 and those in my community college classes. They, too, have to follow the crops along with their parents and guardians.
Our job was to make sure their coursework articulated from one community college to the next.
That was in the 1980s and 1990s. Many recriminations came crashing in on me as a writer, journalist and teacher: “How can we have all these programs for these illegals?” “How can you justify all this support for these kids whose parents broke the law and crossed in the U.S.?” And, “Why are you helping them and not us?”
I find these questions easy to answer. Just go down the aisles of a grocery store — look at the produce picked and packaged by undocumented immigrants. Know that the meat and poultry these naysayers’ families gobble up, and all those packaged goods, are butchered and packaged in many cases by so-called “illegals.”
In El Paso, I was a journalist, faculty member and activist. By night, I helped several groups with my specially outfitted Datsun pickup bring people from Juarez to El Paso to several way stations, or so-called safe houses.
If my editors had found out about this, or even my so-called liberal English department chairs, the proverbial pink slip would have been dropped onto me instantly.
Enrique’s story is an American story. In these fascist times, in these times of complete government failure, and under the dark cloud of Gestapo-like policing, every single move an undocumented human being makes has to be strategic, stealth and under the radar.
One man’s tribulations are another woman’s PTSD
Monica met Enrique in 2006, when she took over the on-site manager position at a large printing company in Portland. Enrique and 20 others were core employees there who not only were amazing workers, but who helped Monica get the business operations under her belt.
Just a few months before this new gig at the printer, Monica recalls, tears flowing, her first staffing gig at the Fresh Del Monte Produce food processing plant in Portland. It was the day after ICE went in through the ceilings and took away more than 160 workers. They were driven off in blue ICE vans.
Many were from Mexico. “The agents crashed into the offices, and basically it looked like a war zone when I showed up the next day. That was my first day on the job,” she said.
Toil, wet limbs, cold working conditions — that’s our fruit and vegetable cutting trade. Monica said that all the personal protective equipment like aprons, rubberized long sleeves and gloves ended up destroyed or went missing.
“The manager, who drove a Porsche Cayenne to work, basically vanished a few days after the ICE raid. I was left to my own devices. I had to cut out the head and arms of large Glad bags for them. It was humiliating.”
While she attempted to find 80 temporary workers for the three shifts at the Fresh Del Monte plant, every day mothers, children, husbands and wives of the workers who were carted off showed up wanting to know of their loved ones’ whereabouts and well-being.
“Not one of the people that were taken by ICE — and some had papers but not on them at work — came back to work at Del Monte,” she said.
While talking about Enrique, Monica recalls her own Mexican roots, though she jokingly states she’s pale-skinned and speaks no Spanish.
“I feel as if I have a duty to my people. The saddest part of that Del Monte episode was a couple, Paula and Cero; older, but good workers. The trash bag I had to use for protective apron went to Paula’s feet. Both of them just smiled and thanked me.”
We all are illegal aliens
Accordingly, Monica got her company to end the contract with Del Monte. She recalls how she placed Paula and Cero into another food-production outfit, United Salad Co.
Monica’s eyes tear up again. “Here I thought I put them somewhere safe. Both were doing well. Both were full-time employees. One day we got a call from the HR over there. Something had happened. “
Paula spoke no English, and Cero very little. But they loved working at United Salad, even the demanding, cold food production area.
It turned out that where the time card machine had been placed, there was blind spot, and one day while clocking out, Paula was hit head-on by a forklift. She ended flat on her back, head to concrete. She never spoke after that, and she passed away three months later in a care facility.
She had no broken bones, but the brain injury was enough to end her life. “Cero went to Mexico with Paula to bury her. Cero never came back to the United States.”
Printing companies, restaurants, construction sites, packaging, manufacturing, food handling operations, meat factories and any other places where one might read in the news about large groups of workers not only exposed to coronavirus, but infected with COVID-19, are worksites where guys like Enrique and couples like Cero and Paula make a living.
Enrique is 50, and he is a hard worker. For years he had rented an apartment in his own name. He never had to live in a tent or his truck for long periods of time. For five years he’s been renting rooms from family, and other times he is couch surfing.
He has several brothers and sisters in Washington and Idaho. Many in his family also are undocumented, but most have better forms of ID to make it through the system. Having a spouse and children helps stave off depression and loneliness. Enrique is depressed about his situation.
He described to us better days: He used to DJ at parties and weddings. He loves landscaping. He learned how to fish in Oregon.
Enrique began working a new job recently, for a parts distribution warehouse. He had to miss a day of his new job in order to testify against the person who stole his truck. He needed that income, plus it’s a new position, and many times these companies frown on taking days off, even for court. Luckily he could appear via webinar, which meant he no longer had to worry about exposing himself to ICE by going to court.
The wall is the closing of the American mind, heart
In any case, the reality is we have Guatemalans in Lincoln County, where I reside, who are so disenfranchised that they need help getting basics like rice, beans and masa. Many speak Indigenous languages, and many are so afraid of any bureaucracy they never seek help. Some have children in the Lincoln County school system.
The reality is Enrique has no rights in the country — in the state — where he has set down roots, has been law-abiding and has contributed to both his community and the companies that have exploited his labor.
If we believe “we all are illegal aliens,” then we might understand how now our government and both major political parties treat us as “less than” human and in fact disenfranchise us no matter our legal status. We are seeing huge bailouts for large corporations. We see huge profits gobbled up by Jeff Bezos and other billionaires.
Yet, the people I work with in the nonprofit program I am running in Lincoln and Jefferson counties are poor, are in a paranoid state, have lost jobs on the coast — many are cooks, in hospitality and work in retail.
Most are American born, but in many ways, they, too, are treated as suspect, just as those who are Mexican and without papers. Many have no ability to get driver’s licenses, and many have no way to get housing because of past evictions. Many have unresolved fines and debts.
“We are all illegal aliens” in the eyes of the rich and the patriarchs.
The famous quote from the Dustin Hoffman movie, ‘The Graduate,’ is not wasted on Duane Snider:
“One word: plastics.”
That was Benjamin Braddock, just graduated from college, sitting in a swimming pool. Giving him advice on attaining the American dream, the neighbor’s statement says it all. Today? Hedge funds? Flipping houses? Coronavirus repossessions?
For Duane, that one word: artwork.
We’re sitting on the back porch of his brand-new Adair home on a third of an acre on the high land of Waldport. He and his wife, Linda, are proverbially happy, fat and sassy in this new iteration of their lives.
He went to Benson high school, when it was an all-male segregated school. It was during the Vietnam War, at the height of the draft.
Just a few weeks earlier, Duane and I ran into each other on the beach near the Alsea River emptying out into the Pacific. Loons and eaglets started the conversation, and quickly Duane recognized me by my byline for this newspaper. He had purchased a piece of art from one of the people I have featured in Deep Dive — Anja Albosta, artist and environmental refugee from Yosemite see Dec. 16, 2019, “Art in a changing climate”).
Duane is 68, and his wife — originally from Sonora, CA — is 67. Duane’s work life is quintessential drudgery millions of Americans called working stiffs have faced. In his case, 39 years working at one place, grinding optics for an optical service in Portland. It was for Duane 20 years in a hostile work environment where his boss bullied him. There was no real upside to the job — a repetitive job tracing lenses and frames and low pay.
He conveys to me that for more than a decade he was highly depressed, even suicidal.
“I could see the Ross Island bridge. Daily, I would look out the window and fantasize jumping off it. Even planning out in my mind how I’d have to aim my fall just right as to hit the bike path just to be sure.”
Alcohol and drug abuse were a big part of his life, but to his credit Duane has been clean in sober going on three decades. His addiction to substances was eclipsed by another addiction — art collecting. He has been a fixture in Portland’s art scene for decades — a gallery gadfly, and someone who ended up with smart and strategic ways of appreciating art and purchasing it.
He’s a veritable encyclopedia of Who’s Who in the Oregon art world.
It’s not so unusual Duane would have gained this proclivity for art appreciation and deep regard for art’s role in society as something bigger than commerce, industry and day-to-day drudgery of commercialism.
When he was a youngster, he studied guitar. He was good enough to end up switching over to classical guitar in the style of Andres Segovia. He has taken a master class from the best — for guitar taught by Michael Lorimere, who was a classmate of Chistopher Parkening in master classes with Segovia. That was 1975.
“I knew I was going to have to take a vow of poverty if I was going to try and pursue being a musician.”
Duane’s father was a union baker and not very involved in the boy’s life. For the just-turned-18-year-old Duane, his cohorts were going to be drafted but he was talked into enlisting. “A friend said the navy, since it wasn’t the army. Anything but the army. But that was nuclear submarine duty and I was claustrophobic. There was no way I was going on a submarine.” Instead, he ended up in the air force. He even tried the conscientious objector route.
Military life was short-lived when he was drummed out as a 4-F. They found traces of codeine in his drug test. “Ironically, I had done all sorts of party drugs.” It wasn’t the LSD he dropped they discovered, but the codeine, the psychedelic from which it was titrated.
Music out, optics in
“If you want the present to be different from the past, study the past.
Everything excellent is as difficult as it is rare.”
— Baruch Spinoza
He was homeless for a few months. Coming back from Lackland AFB, Duane ended up working with the crippled children’s division of OSHU. He took a second master guitar class at Berkley. “I knew poverty was going to be a regular part of my life. I wasn’t that good. I took classes with trust fund babies. Money wasn’t an issue for them.”
Here’s where things really get prescient — “I had a poster of Picasso’s “Old Guitarist” on my apartment wall in Portland. I was studying with extraordinary musicians. I wasn’t about to spend 10 or 15 years in poverty.”
The “Old Guitarist” was painted in 1903, just after the suicide death of Picasso’s close friend, Casagemas. Picasso was deeply sympathetic to the plight of the disenfranchised and downtrodden. He painted many canvases depicting the poor, sick, and outcasts of society. In fact, Picasso was penniless during 1902.
It’s an amazing painting in the style of El Greco. That moment for Duane Snider turned into a life passion — sacrificing part of his soul in that daily grind in order to enter another world: one that was rarified, filled with the passions and creativity of artists just like Pablo Picasso.
When he returned from Berkley, he ended up in a friend’s parents’ house. He applied to Portland Community College, talked to a counselor, told her he wanted to find a steady job, one that was reliable. “I wanted something recession- and depression-proof. Optician fit the bill.” He ended up taking psychology and philosophy classes awaiting the term to start for his major.
He grabbed a job at a lab his second term. He parlayed that into a fulltime gig at Columbian Bifocal. The first 20 years it was a family-run place, and the last 19 years it ended up as one of 17 labs for Hoya, a Japanese investment group.
Good benefits, steady work, and a bully boss. “We hated each other. It’s amazing I survived.”
He hands me a DVD of an OPB special featuring Portland art collectors. Duane is profiled. He laughs, recalling how he had read about the great philosopher Spinoza’s life as a lens grinder. What was good for the father of rationalist and deductive reasoning had to be fine for Duane Snider’s life.
Not so ironically, the dust from lens grinding led to Spinoza’s early death from tuberculosis.
The amazing number of artists Duane has met propelled him to write essays on art for a local art rag — NW Drizzle. Here’s what he penned in 2005, as he emphasizes, he was “just coming out of a four-year bout of suicidal depression.”
“When I gave up the guitar, I couldn’t give up my need for a place to put my passion. It seems natural that my passion migrated toward the visual arts. Giving up playing music meant letting go of a sizable part of what I thought was my identity. My search for a new sense of self played a major role in pushing me toward the idea of collecting.
That’s when I started learning that the real value of art is not determined by the price on the sticker, but by the strength of the connection between the viewer and the object of interest.”
Early-20th-Century philosopher Irwin Edman gives a remarkably simple bit of insight into what art offers us in everyday life:
“Painters speak of dead spots in a painting: areas where the color is wan or uninteresting, or the forms irrelevant and cold. Life is full of dead spots. Art gives it life. A comprehensive art would render the whole of life alive.”
Duane Snider is the embodiment of turning life into his own art project:
“Instead of using pigments and a canvas to make an artwork, I told myself that I would turn my life into a conceptual art piece to create a lifestyle that’s sustainable and comfortable,” he tells me twice: once on the beach on our first meeting in Waldport and then up at his new 1,900-square-foot, single-level home.
In the middle of a beach with harbor seals sunning along their haul out on Bay Shore, two very different guys run into each other and start a deep conversation. I am a radical social worker and revolutionary writer (couldn’t tell that from these OCT columns) and educator. Marxism is more than just a conceptual point in economic history for me.
Here is Duane Snider, saying he too is a Marxist, but emphasizing he was dealt a hand of capitalism’s cards, so he successfully learned to play the game within those constraints. He tells me he feels guilty for getting he and his wife, Linda, down here on the coast with zero debts and a custom home that is paid off.
I reassure him that he is kosher with me, and no one should begrudge he or his wife this little slice of paradise.
The dream in Waldport was germinated 36 years ago. They purchased a home in Portland (Richmond District) for $48,000. That was 1984. Thirty-two years later they pulled up stakes in Portland with a $517,000 sale price. No permanent lines of credit needed. He even got their nest egg out of the market and put into cash two years ago. “I saw this coming.”
He didn’t predict the COVID-19 virus outbreak, but he did see a faltering stock market.
“He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.”
His tutelage in art began at a most unlikely place — Menucha, which was an estate created by the Meiers of the Portland department store fame. Near Corbet in the Columbia Gorge, Menucha (Hebrew for rebuilding, restoring and renewing) hosted camps for youth.
According to the website: “In 1950, First Presbyterian Church of Portland purchased the property from the Meier family, who were pleased to see it dedicated as an ecumenical center, a gift in perpetuity to communities of people from around the world.”
Duane began collecting art before he ended up buying the Portland house. The art bug drilled into his consciousness when in 1967 he went to a high school arts camp at Menucha. His parents always took off for Reno and Vegas during summer vacations, and they opted to put the young Duane in a summer camp.
That was serendipitous. He told me that he had never been to an art gallery until after high school. He met Jackie West who ran Graystone Gallery in the Hawthorne District. “I went inside and I was looking around the half gallery/half store. It was an old house. Actually, it became part of the Oregon Potters Association. My eyes landed on this water color. It was as if time stopped.”
He ended up purchasing his first piece, a hyper-realistic watercolor of an iris by Kirk Lybecker.
Duane emails me a couple of his essays in NW Drizzle — “Embarking on a journey of discovery: The life-affirming qualities of art” & “Art’s true value: Aesthetics vs. commerce.” In his essays he reiterates how art came to save him and how collecting became a true emotional and spiritual line to the artist, to the art. Here is one emblematic passage:
“The gallery from which I bought my first artwork made the sale because the gallery owner made an effort to make the pricing and sales process as transparent as possible. She gave me a short but thorough explanation on how galleries set prices. She explained that great art comes in all price ranges, as does mediocre art.”
He launches into several iterations of how art — the actual object — is more than what it is in your hand or on the wall; that it is something that “holds great value for us as individuals and for all cultures of the world.”
Red is the color of egalitarianism
Duane and I talk about the friction and dichotomy between the highfalutin rich “patron of the arts” and the middle-class view of art — we need the rich folks to support the arts, but we also need to invest in regular people getting original artwork in their homes. “Conceptually, I am a Marxist working in a capitalist system.”
That means he wishes our society from top to bottom was more egalitarian.
Duane Snider has no angst when it comes to what a thinker like Michael Parenti might say about capitalism: “It’s the powerful who write the laws of the world— and the powerful who ignore these laws when expediency dictates.”
We met the first time during a voluntary social distancing because of the cornonavirus, and then shortly afterward when the state of Oregon implemented further measures to shut down business, interactions, meetings and public gatherings.
Then we shift to all the artists he knows, has known and will know. He has more than 200 works of art in his home, most of them on display. I had to look through some of the windows from the outside to view many fine works on the couple’s walls.
His goal is to have the collection donated to a non-profit like Art in Oregon, whose motto is “building bridges between artists and communities.” The engine there is to get businesses to purchase and show art, and for there to be that bridge between the artist and the community.
Duane is less an enigma than he is kind of Everyman. He puts on several hats — he knows most of the gallery owners in Portland, is friends with the director of the Portland Art Museum, spent time with Danny Glover, and finds solace watching a warbler feed from his new backyard.
One great influence and friend for Duane is Jeffery Thomas, partner to William Jamison who, as Duane relates, “was a driving force in the evolution of the Portland Gallery community in the ‘80s and ‘90s . . . [to include] Charles Froelick, Jane Bebe and Brad Rog.”
He repeats several times how he has found a good friend in me on our occasional talks in his home and on the beach: “I connect with anyone who knows what arts is. We need to get young people into discovering our unique art. Unfortunately, unique objects are under threat in the digital age.”
He repeats how he played the hand that was dealt him. He came from a working-class family. He himself was poor and homeless for a time. He learned the value of art through “figuring out the game you have to play to survive, to be comfortable.”
No contradictions there, and Duane Snider would smile at one of Karl Marx’s doozies: “The rich will do anything for the poor but get off their backs.”
Q & A in a nutshell
The beauty of my own insertion into people’s lives is that nine out of 10 times I don’t get the bum’s rush out the front door. Artists for me — I am a gallery-shown poet and photographer, among others things — have a certain place in my heart, deeply ingrained in both the aesthetics that make humanity redeemable. But I have been heavily influenced in El Paso and Mexico, falling in with artists like Louis Jimenez, Linda Lynch and others, well-known and not.
I just came back from Mexico December 2019. I hunted down the works of Francisco Toledo, who was a Mexican Zapotec painter, sculptor and graphic artist. His seven decades produced thousands of works of art, becoming widely regarded as one of Mexico’s most important contemporary artists.
At the Museo Robert Brady in Cuernavaca, my spouse and I toured this gem of an art collector’s paradise. It’s the former home of Robert Brady. It’s the kind of place Duane Snider would end up days looking over the vast, eclectic and diverse collection. I was on the hunt for specific favorite artists like Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Tamayo and Siqueiros and others.
The politics we share help bridge our understanding of the world, and the world of art. While I come at almost everything from a true Marxist perspective and attempt living my life that way, the nuances in one’s outlook and way of tackling the world are what also interest me.
Duane and his wife are simple, and both are appreciative of the deer and chipmunks who vie for attention with the more than two dozen species of birds that visit their backyard.
Paul: Why have the world’s super powers and despotic regimes always deployed the bombing of museums, cultural landmarks and looting the arts and important symbols of a country’s artistic and historical (archaeological) output?
Duane: The easiest way to destroy a society or a culture is to destroy its art treasures. When you take that away, you take away their history and sense of identity. Also, historically, art has huge inherent value because of its ability to offer meaning to people beyond those of the culture that produced it. Also, unique and rare art objects that are considered beautiful and meaningful are valuable because they are rare or unique.
Paul: Riff with this — “So here we are in the 21st Century. The forward march of labor ended some time ago. How do today’s artists portray poverty? Interesting question — for perhaps wealth has never been more raw and obvious in the art world. This is the age of the diamond skull. Compared with the compassion of a Caravaggio or Van Gogh, contemporary art really does seem to take the rich collector’s view on life. Where’s our Luke Fildes? For images of economic injustice in today’s art you probably have to look outside the gallery world.”
Duane: In general, most artist don’t even address the issue in today’s market. Social commentary is more aligned with journalism and documentary efforts. Much of the art market doesn’t want art that shines a light on social inequities of the darker side of our culture. There are huge exceptions of course in museum installations and high-end art by big-name artists, and there is a lot of art that is beautiful, but not pretty that skirts around the big issues but doesn’t show up in fine art galleries. Photography is the most common place to find imagery of social injustice because of the connection to journalism. The sad fact is that most art is a commodity and with that comes the necessity for broad acceptance of work for it to be marketable. How many Diego Riveras do you see out there these days?
Paul: If you could do your youth and high school years over again, would you? Yes, why and how? No, why?
Duane: When I was in my forties and fifties, I wished I could have changed a few things, but now, not so much. I suffered some in getting here, but it turned out well enough that there is little I am not grateful for, on a personal level. I am comfortable and largely free of any feelings of guilt. What should I change? I don’t know.
Paul: Tell the average consumer and retail-loving American why art is valuable to them and to our society especially now in 2020?
Duane: Art is one of the last places we have where we can freely explore our identities and the meaning of the lives we inhabit, where we can express ourselves in simply possessing and object or identifying with a performance experience. Art offers insight into who we are, how we are unique, and what we believe in. Art gives us context for understanding the content of our lives. How do you put a dollar value on that? For way too many Americans, money is what they look to for those answers. What a shallow existence that is.
Paul Haeder is a writer living and working in Lincoln County. He has two books coming out, one a short story collection, “Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam,” and a non-fiction book, “No More Messing Around: The Good, Bad and Ugly of America’s Education System.” First appeared in Oregon Coast Today.
*ACAB meaning, all cops are bastards . . . FTC too! (fuck the cops)
It never changes, the censoring, the recriminating, the middling mindless prater that my fellow citizens have shown almost the entirety of my life.
It isn’t surprising, and, to be honest, it’s more pathetic than angering, but for sure, at age 63, my reality is both accepting the fact we are in a United States of Amnesia and also birthed from an infantilized one. Where “black and/versus white” are how the white world views their own world, and where someone like me – way outside the sheeple normality – presents himself as a clear and present danger to them all.
It wasn’t much – 50 people in Newport, at the city hall, rallying for Juneteenth 2020 (6/19) and a mixture of Black Lives Matter and these homilies for diversity and “can’t we all live together” admonitions.
Two things stuck out – first, the event was outside, on a grassy knoll abutting a public sidewalk. I was at the curb, and had my little sign prominently up in the air: “No Police” with BLM fist in one corner.
I also appreciate the value of fresh air outside, here on the coast, where some of the healthiest air on earth constantly recirculates and regenerates due to amazing atmospheric conditions. I did not have on my mask (I use it for inside, public places, an the like), for sure, because I do not believe a virus is coming to get me in the middle of an open space where Pacific air ionizes most any bad ass bug.
Everyone else did have on some variation on a pathetic theme of a mask; you know, after 40 minutes into the rally, the masks were partially over the nose, slipping down, cloth, and a ragtag array of other things people had made. Not exactly the masks used in Biosafety Labs of a 3 and 4 category. You know, virologists donning moon suits, where every square centimeter of the human body is covered in an airtight covering, and where the breathing is done with an air source, through a tube or hose, with an air source originating not within the lab itself.
The audacity of people to come up to me and say they are offended by my sign, “No Police.” The lunacy of these people, with BLM signs, who are actually thinking that the anti-police demonstrations across the country attacking the murdering cops who see blacks, Latinos, Asian and poor white people as equal to rabid dogs, that these demonstrations are actually about praying for good cops, or hoping a retraining program might turn little Nazi’s into Little Opies?
The white race is insane when it thinks this shit.
It’s cognitive dissonance, and I have to give it to the few that challenged me listening to me explain what defunding the police is, what community control of police is and why we need no police as we currently know them to be and experience them daily.
These are the colonized minds of Biden supporters, of people who would string me up – emotionally that is – for working on a third party candidacy for someone like Howie Hawkins or the socialist alternative candidate or even Jesse Ventura if he were to decide to run.
Communists like me are responsible for Bush and Trump and then Trump 2.0 in their censoring minds. They will not listen to reason, will not look at the facts about Jill Stein and the Russians having zero to do with Trump 1.0. Or how Ralph Nader had Zilch to do with Bush 1.0 against that toad Gore.
They will not listen to reason, read stuff by Rev. Barber or Greg Palast or anyone on how the GOP has done amazing things to disenfranchise eligible voters, how votes get thrown away by the millions, how people of color have to wait in lines to vote twice as long as whites. How Trump “won” the election through vote tampering and vote theft.
They will not understand that censoring Tweets by the Pedophile Trump or de-platforming groups outside the pathetic cartoon black lines of their infantile fantasy are actually the actions of Big Brother of my own nightmare. We know Facebook is disgusting and a guy like F/Zuckerberg made $30 billion over the novel coronavirus lockdown. Why Google should have been broken up years ago. That all major industries need to be held by the public, us, and that most other large corporations must be people controlled.
They will go out and pretend Juneteenth is a celebration of the whites giving the blacks freedom, instead of what it really symbolizes: a deeply complex historical moment, one where Lincoln was not the great anti-slavery bastion of goodness. How Mexico had outlawed slavery in 1820, and how African Americans went to Mexico and even fought in black regiments to kick the shit out of the Maximillian and French who had invade the country and perverted the land with their rotting European shit-hole thinking. Cinco de Mayo, fuck yeah.
Oh, then, someone came up to me and tried to verbally lash out asking why I was putting everyone at risk by not wearing a mask outside, on the sidewalk, away from 95 percent of the “protestors,” who were wearing some version of a very-very bad face covering.
Imagine, these are old and grumpy and self-important people. Defund the police? What does that mean? No Police? How can the world function without SWAT teams, detectives, street cops, traffic stops, etc.? The same colonized minds that could imagine a world without people — you know, these sad sack weak climate change activists – before they could imagine a world without capitalism.
This will get worse, as they get more and more calcified in their Trump Derangement Syndrome and go all out after people who would dare vote their conscious and conscience and not vote for the war candidate, the racist, the misogynist, the better republican in the democrats’ eyes. Biden!
“Anyone But Trump,” bumper sticker . . . and that is it for the state of intellect in this group’s minds, their collective mindset. They will never study deeply or understand the real history of this country, of what these cops represent, or what our so-called military has done to the mind-scape of Americans on both sides of the political manure pile.
It is amazing how the “woke people” are again, half-woke, or worse, one-quarter woke. What is the old adage – ‘a little bit of knowledge is dangerous!’ Or, ‘only knowing what they tell you is dangerous to us all.’ ‘What you don’t know can’t hurt you?’ Worse, ‘what you don’t know doesn’t exist.’ Agnotology.
Every rotten president has been every person of color’s nightmare. Yes, maybe JFK’s murdered by CIA was the last hope for something more than this lockstep cascade of war/ war/ war, and the terror that the country’s leaders and business leaders and capitalists have engendered and fed the masses, until here we are – broken, bankrupted, on the verge of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s: complete control of citizens far and wide.
Each day is another chink in the armor, and one year you vow to never shop Amazon, and then the next and the next Amazon controls the world, the libraries, the food, the entire retail gig, and it gets to sell all the algorithm tools to the controllers, the governments, in cahoots with CEOs and the Elite.
‘Nah, this little old town will not roll up its streets and go online, No, not my town.’ As the quick drip drip drip of co-opted and colonized Americans hit the Starbucks drive-thru and wait for all that juicy consumer stuff to be delivered FedEx from Bezos’ huge Santa’s workshops and fulfillment centers, globally.
That slippery slope leads democrats and fake leftists and wannabe brotherly and sisterly love folk down the road to hell, to the end of face- to-face teaching, face-to-face living.
Already I am hearing – ‘Well, tele education might not be so bad. Look at how bad our schools have been. Anything’s an improvement.’ Then, on and on, the entire Zoom Doom mentality of Americans – Zoom the Doctors into Your Home, Zoom the Bosses and Managers into Your Home.
Talk about being on the spectrum. That spectrum is self-delusional, acceptance of overlords, anything new is good philosophy, and ‘throw out the baby with the bathwater’ thinking because they – the masters of tech and business and the New Order – know what they are doing.
‘I don’t care what the government gets on me, since I have nothing to worry about. So what if they know my every move. So what if there is a vaccine chip or passport. SO what if the law says mask-mask-mask.’
A chubby woman, 18 years old, maybe, was asked or told by someone at this Juneteenth Rally to come over to me. “Sorry, sir,” she said, fingering both sides of one of those disposable hospital visiting room masks. “Some people here are uncomfortable with you not wearing a mask.”
She nervously touched both sides of this flimsy mask. “Here, sir, I brought you one.”
I politely told her that I was not going to put on some mask that had just been fingered and palmed by her and who knows who else. I also told her that I was away from the crowd, in the open air, as 100 percent of the people driving by had open windows and they yelled their support for the BLM signs and such, screaming out their windows, again unmasked, and the prevailing winds were coming at us.
The unwoke generations, the mean-hearted generations, the American exceptionalists, the ameliorating and colonized minds.
You fucking bet I am afraid of them as much as I am afraid of the KKK-loving, Nazi-adoring, Gun-Humping MAGA or Reaganites or Bush Boys . . . Or whichever shithole Republican has the power of the governorship and the power of the state senate.
The stupidly of American men and women is an equal opportunity disease, infecting democrat and republican alike. And for fuck’s sake, censorship of any of these sites and digital rags, whether it’s Alex Jones or Fox Un-News or Ben Shapiro or the King Dunce himself, Trump, well, it’s still a chink in the armor that is the 1st amendment, for sure.
My sign was bad for this event (haha) and the fact I decided to not mingle but stand my ground in an open air event and not ‘mask up’ caused some to tish-tish-tish me, well, it says it all. Says it all.
“Trauma creates change you don’t choose. Healing is about creating change you do choose.”— Michelle Rosenthall
A features column in an arts and lifestyle rag usually doesn’t go down the rabbit hole of a person’s trauma and her battles scraping to get out of darkness.
A few artists I’ve interviewed for Deep Dive unleashed catharsis into their personal journeys, including personal hells; however, after reading my drafts, two declined to “expose” so much of their lives for public consumption.
“Out of sight, out of mind” is not a great place in order to heal, though, and a person like Kiera Morgan faces those demons head on. She embraces the good, bad and ugly of her totality.
The Oregon Coast has remarkable narratives of people who face down homelessness, incarceration, depression, poverty, illness — what some call the school of hard knocks to the tenth power. Trudging out of the dark into the bright burning light serves up powerful survivors’ tale.
Kiera Morgan fits this to a tee. I met her last year at Depoe Bay’s Neighbors for Kids while I was giving a presentation on an anti-poverty program I am heading up in Lincoln County.
Her nose for news quickly motivated Kiera to get me on camera for her weekly show, “Coffee with Kiera.” This is a newish Lincoln County digital platform of her own creation: Pacific Northwest News and Entertainment.
A few months later, here I am talking to her on phone, my first interview conducted with the impersonal tools of social distancing.
I ask Kiera several times — “Are you okay with the dirty laundry aired and published in a newspaper?”
“I am not ashamed of where I came from. I think my story could be a learning lesson for others.”
ACES — the deck is stacked
Her story is one of reclamation — radio DJ-ing, theater and a newshound background. She has been out here since 1994. Setting down coastal roots entailed pain, struggle and personal discord. Kiera is now at her sweet spot — a good marriage to Tony Thomas (with Rogue Brewery for 12 years) and her own involvement in civic and community programs.
She has been on (or is currently a member of) such diverse advisory boards as the Salvation Army, Retired Seniors Volunteer Program, Partnership Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Central Coast Child Development.
Sort of the “why” of Kiera’s involvement in these social services non-profits weaves back to her early years as well as her adulthood: she was born in Idaho 55 years ago; moved to Bend; ended up in Gresham by the age of five. She’s spent time in Portland, Pendleton, Sweet Home and, finally, the Central Oregon Coast.
Though she’s not “just” defined as a child of early divorce, Kiera recalls a stepdad who was an abusive alcoholic. She ended up emotionally and physically battered.
We bring up ACES — Adverse Childhood Experiences. I’ve worked in education, with gang prevention programs, newly released prisoners and foster teens. Training around ACES, I was galvanized to in understanding my students’ and clients’ childhood traumas. Those negative events early on have concrete outcomes — future violence victimization and perpetration, lifelong physical and mental health issues, substance abuse, homelessness and plethora of lost opportunities as adults.
The adage, “it takes a village to raise a child,” is pivotal in how society should create neighborhoods, communities and situations where children can thrive. Letting children fall through the cracks and live in abusive, impoverished homes nullifies many possibilities of a thriving adulthood.
Kiera emphasizes how our communities pay for this as fellow citizens get involved in substance abuse, are challenged with illiteracy and fall into myriad unhealthy lifestyle “choices.” As a community. we pay in many ways for these people failing through the cracks:
Poverty, violent parents, substance abuse in the household and being a foster youth are all high-influencing ACES.
Kiera ticks off all of the above. Her biological father was out of the picture, she says, not because that was his choice. Her mother was not emotionally sound to break away from an abusive husband, her step-father.
She moved in briefly with her biological father who was a chef and baker in Rhododendron at an operation centered around rental cabins.
“I would go to the restaurant for meals,” she says, emphasizing how she rode her bike to friends’ homes, and was able to hang with farm animals at her friends’ parents’ farms.
“My dad was good-natured, a very positive person. He would literally give the shirt off his back to anyone in need. He was a happy man, and everyone called him, Hap.”
Getting back up
Kiera’s time with her biological father ended when a private detective, hired by Kiera’s mother, stated he saw Hap letting his young daughter hang out by herself in their cabin while her father was just around the corner working in the restaurant.
More ACES: whipped by her step-father, and bruises on her body. “I literally had the design of his belt on me because he hit me so hard.”
Her biological father would show up to his sister’s house. They called the police once, and the step-father told the officer the marks were evidence of normal disciplining. Nothing happened to the abuser.
The young Kiera witnessed her stepfather’s heavy drinking. She had the marks of being swatted and belted, and she held in the emotional pain. The vicious cycle of a mother allowing the abuse of the child by a male step-parent put Kiera front and center into his rage. She was grabbed by the throat, her hair pulled and head slammed against the wall.
The next day the sixth grader showed a teacher the fingerprint bruises on her neck and welt on the back of the head.
“Is this proof enough, or do I have to die before you believe me?” Kiera pushed through.
This journey has more twists and turns, but as one bookend to her life, Kiera reiterates that “I want to be like my dad — loving and a smile on my face. It’s important for me to expand my web site. It puts me at peace knowing I can help others through the news site.”
PTSD may stand for post traumatic stress disorder, but the label could mean Personally Tough Strong Dame after spending time with Kiera Morgan.
“So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive”
— Audre Lorde
Kiera is open about her life, about survival. She recounts how she was living paycheck to paycheck in Sweet Home. She was with an alcoholic, a husband who “did get physical with me, punched me.”
She emphasizes leaving an abusive spouse is not always an option. Kiera knows the psychological underpinnings of “battered spouse syndrome” by heart. She went back to this fellow many times.
One instance, Kiera’s sister came to get her, and Kiera spent her time couch surfing, virtually homeless. She lived in her car. “Nine months pregnant. Jeff found out where I was. He told me he missed me. I knew better, though, but I went back to him.”
The vicious cycle of believing a man can and will change when the bottle or the needle are more important in their lives is not atypical.
At the end of her pregnancy, she was quickly feeling massive heartburn. Eventually she went to OHSU where she was diagnosed with toxemia, which meant bed rest. On Sept. 10, 1992, a six-pound, nine-ounce Nick was born.
Foster parents bow out
Being put into a foster home and being told that you are just like their own daughter is powerful. More impacting is having these foster parents tell you they are done fostering and want out of the deal.
Kiera had that experience in 8th grade. Afterward, she got packed up and sent to a different foster home, this time in Gresham. “They had lots of kids. It was that they needed a babysitter for the other foster kids, and I was it.”
Kiera laughs, telling me she constantly listened to the Billy Joel song, “My Life.”
She had an older foster sister, aged 16, who stole and used drugs. “I could have easily gone down that path.”
Her Aunt Jean told her that she was going to be her daughter. Another change in schools. “It was tough, even though I knew Aunt Jean loved me. I really loved music and that what really helped me get through some rough parts.”
She was obsessed with record clubs, and she got into Queen, the Bee Gees, Journey, Cheap Trix and others.
“My aunt always encouraged me to work. I babysat and worked at an after-school program for a Montessori School.”
Theater, she says, was a lifesaver for her. She was involved in the Overlook Acting Company that gathered in North Portland. She calls those people “my theater family.”
She also got involved in the Big Sister program. That sister, Lois, paid for a plane ticket to go to Alaska so Kiera could visit Lois’s family. But tragedy struck — her biological father was killed in a sandstorm in Idaho, hit from behind by a semi. Kiera had only been in Alaska two days when she got the news of his death.
She graduated from high school in 1983 at age 17 and went to work for a window treatment company.
More tragedy. Her foster mom was aged 60 when she was diagnosed with an inoperative brain tumor. Kiera took care of Jean for three weeks, before she passed away.
“I’ve been on my own since age 17.”
After she died, an ex-husband of Lois showed and took away the house.
Kiera was working in Beaverton for a dry cleaners, and then the day care center, and landed another job, at an Albertson’s bakery. There, she met a woman whose husband was director of the National Broadcasting School in Portland.
Work, buses from one side of Portland to the other, and this amazing school. She graduated as valedictorian. Her first gig was with KFIR AM/FM in Sweet Home.
It was a country station. “I had grown up on KGON since I was a baby. I was a rock ’n’ roller.”
Country Western music grew on her.
She ended up in an abusive relationship, but he was the father of her son. She ended in a domestic violence shelter in Pendleton. One thing led to another and she drove to Newport, found jobs and a house and ended up at the Shilo Inn as a DJ.
She was in a small trailer up the Alsea River.
Nick is 28 years old and had his first baby July 2019 with Amelia. Three years ago, Keira and Tony (they were married in 2001) bought a house in Newport Heights.
Kiera’s life is one of struggle, but with plenty of highlights too: working for KZVS-Toledo, KFND, delivering newspapers, retail work for the Chocolate Basket. She also works for KSHL — the Wave, 93.7 FM — doing sales and PSAs.
She and Tony have his son, Nathan, and girlfriend sharing the house with Rocky the cat and two shih tzus.
Her takeaway at the end of the interview: “I want people to feel hope.”
Q & A Rapid-fire
PH: What makes you tick inside?
KM: What makes me tick, is work. I am a hopeless workaholic. I like to stay busy and be in touch with what is going on around me.
PH: What do you like about this county, this community?
KM: What I like about Lincoln County and this community is the willingness to help others when they are in need. When the chips are down for someone or an event creates a situation where people need help, like right now [coronavirus lock-down and unemployment] we step up and help.
PH: What advice would you give a young woman who is in a viscous and abusive relationship? The elevator speech.
KM: I would say to a woman in an abusive situation that they should use their best judgement to protect themselves and loved ones. Don’t always believe everything your abuser says. If you can get out and do so safely, there are those who can help you recover and get back on your feet. Most of all get counseling!!
PH: What are two big changes you have seen since first moving to Lincoln County almost 30 years ago?
KM: One of the biggest changes I have seen is the effort to help those and a better understanding of homelessness. I think people now realize that those who are homeless are not that way because they are lazy; they are families who work but simply can’t afford high rents and costs of getting into homes or apartments with fees and credit checks. I am also proud of the changes being made to have a better understanding between law enforcement, the community and those who have a mental illness and the work to get them the help they need.
PH: What are the top two issues that need addressing in Lincoln County?
KM: One of the top issues that concerns in Lincoln County, in my opinion, remains the lack of quality child care! Families often can’t afford the high cost of child care so they turn to the next best thing. This is not always a safe choice but when we live in a county that is not a M-F, 9-5 community it leaves parents with little choice. There is an extreme lack of infant care. This makes two parent families choose between only one parent working or having to work opposite shifts, which puts a strain on families. If I have said it once I will say it a thousand times “you can’t have economic development without childcare.” Families need a safe place for their kids to go for them to be able to work, it also defeats the purpose when the parent is working is paying nearly all of their paycheck to childcare. Help from the state or from companies is essential. Homelessness would be the second. There are many options that could be explored that have been done in other areas including creating small house communities, instead of trailer parks that would be managed by programs such as Grace Wins or the programs in Lincoln City.
PH: If you could do some things over in your life, what would they be?
KM: I am old enough now to realize that the mistakes that we make in our lifetime are what helps us to learn and grow as a person and become better. Love and appreciate those you have in your life, as we truly never know when things can change.
PH: What’s your basic life philosophy?
KM: My basic life philosophy is happiness. Do what makes you happy, treat others with the respect and kindness that you would like to be shown.
As always, a big shout-out to people who persevere and are willing to explore their own life journeys, including trauma and pain, with me and with Oregon Coast Today’s readers. I know it might not be entirely appropriate to discuss the one year anniversary of Deep Dive with Paul Haeder, but I will here.
The number of people profiles Patrick Alexander has published within my column speaks loudly to the commitment to the people who make up the coast. Those roots they set down are the tendrils of hope for youth and newcomers to stick it out in an amazingly beautiful area with some amazing economic and cultural challenges.
It’s not my first rodeo, for sure. I am writing a lot these days, though I always did even before CV-19. I am looking at another novel, and, lots of specialty pieces for other venues out there, in Portland, etc.
I remember running a class at the university in El Paso, UTEP. Center for Lifelong Learning. It was a magazine writing class and then one around memoir writing.
Amazing students sort of like an elder program:
* former judge from Austin who had all sorts of stories about drug-gun-people running folks he had in front of him
*a former criminal defense attorney who had clients the judge had been sitting in on trials
*two survivors of Auschwitz who lived throughout Mexico, Central America and who ended up in El Paso
*a former rodeo start who became a minister and then private investigator
*Tex-Mex restaurateur who had two cookbooks out
*a big time graphic artist who wanted her life put down in words
And so many more people. I was bright-eyed and bushy tailed at age 24.
Narratives, man, narratives. It’s what makes the world go round.
I’ve been with volcanoligists, Africanized bee experts, coral reef scientists, archaeologists, butterfly experts, birders, and plethora of amazing scientists and ecologists throughout Mexico and Central America, following them and writing their stories.
Some had triple PhD’s, but all had stories, and their work revolved around narrative — the village of people who make up their lives. The people they interfaced with in foreign (to them) lands where they did their research and work are what they talked about, as well as their research work. It’s all about people, and then the animals and ecology.
People, man, people.
Thanks to Kiera Morgan for her stick-to-it-ness and her perseverance. Thanks to her for sharing. Thanks for her for possibly giving a reader some hope in their own emotionally strewn lives.
Here, an amazing couple, in recovery, in Seattle, where I met them and paled around with them. Just more people profiling I have done ALL my adult life:
Just yesterday, in Waldport, I saw a guy sunning on the big rocks stopping the tides from eating away the town. I said hi, and how you doing.
He told me there were no words to explain or characterize what he was feeling.
Then, he let loose a catharsis of sorts. He was in Waldport to help his recovering 86-year-old mother. She went into surgery at Good Samaritan in Corvallis, for emergency heart-valve and by-pass surgery.
This fellow said she was recovering on Mother’s Day. He teared up. He said he wanted to be by his mother’s bed, but due to quarantine restrictions, that wasn’t allowed. One of his buddies in construction said they’d bring a huge ladder for him to climb up outside to the third floor so he could at least be close to her in recovery.
This fellow was visibly moved and teared up.
He ended up making a huge “Happy Mother’s Day and Please Recovery Well” sign that was more than 20 feet long. He put it up on a structure outside. His mother got to see it from her hospital room window.
He told me that when he came back the next day, the banner had been stapled up high on this gazebo.
“You know. there were other mothers in that hospital recovering. Man, that just choked me up someone would do that with my sign for all the other mothers in there.”
Stories, man, and people stories! There are no other kind of narratives that count. People have to be in stories covering science, medicine, business, arts and entertainment.
Here, an essay of mine in the new edition of a Pacific Northwest literary arts journal. An essay about my early months here, near Cascade Head, when I first moved her with my wife to Otis.
One such venue for me to continue my poetry and fiction writing is the journal Cirque: A Literary Journal for Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Here is a note from my editor:
‘CIRQUE; 10.2 This is our largest issue to date. One hundred eighty-two pages of literary writing and amazing images. Find poems by 70 poets of the region including, Christianne Balk, Jessica Mehta, Jim Hanlen, David McElroy, Leah Stenson and Sandra Wassilie.
Find works of fiction including, “No More, Ever” from Larry Slonaker’s novel in progress, and “Asures” by Kimm Brockett Stammen. Read a Kerry Feldman story from his new book Drunk on Love.
Nonfiction includes an important piece by Paul K Haeder, “At the Brink of Extinction on the Coast Near the Salmon River.” Hamish Todd”s “The God Thing” tells of the poetry scene in Seattle a few years back.
Featured is an interview with Rachel Epstein “Free and Open to the Public” where she tells the sad tale of the loss of University book store events due to budget cutters with a bludgeon – after a span of about 20 years. She also tells of her long correspondence with, poet, John Haines.
Also, featured is Paulann Peterson, former Oregon State Poet Laureate who gives us a delightful essay.
I could go on and on. It is an amazing issue with art on every page.
This is so powerful to me, and so moving, all the more so because I have known and worked with Kiera for 15 years and I had no idea of her backstory. It’s an incredibly brave thing to share this so openly, and I know it will inspire, educate and empower others.
Yeah, I hate Facebook, and I got suckered into it as a request for my work with a non-profit. To be honest, I did not get much from Fuck-You-Book in that regard. My non-profit even purchased Google and Facebook ads, and that brought my work zilch.
So, engaging in robust, funny, sarcastic, profane, anti-authority, pushing the edge of the envelope sort of stuff, well, this is Nanny Book, with a HUGE hypocritical bending over and holding one’s ankles.
When you read this shit about “Community Stanhdars, think Brave New World, 1984 and Digital Gulag all wrapped into one ugly aggregator of vileness.
Again, revolution will not happen on Facebook, and real change will never be facilitated by using this shit hole space.
That’s about all the energy I have now to discuss this. Look at the shit below. Hypocrisy, gatekeeping, anti-democratic, certainly not tied to any real First Amendment rights.
Fuck You Book has been a very ugly experience for me, and you betcha, getting banned for 24 hours or whatever is pathetic. Alas, they have some shit-hole tool to protest the ban, but that isn’t working now, so the shit-hole that is the F/Zuckerberg stays the shit-hole he and all his Little Eichmann’s in his stable wallow in.
This shit below is written by his stable of lawyers, some I am sure being his closest buddies from bar mitzvah land. Oh yeah, somehow that is hate speech, bringing up bat mitzvah’s and bar mitzvah’s.
This is why I am banned:
From fucking Democracy Now! Banning Amy Goodman now?
Every day, people use Facebook to share their experiences, connect with friends and family, and build communities. We are a service for more than two billion people to freely express themselves across countries and cultures and in dozens of languages.
We recognize how important it is for Facebook to be a place where people feel empowered to communicate, and we take seriously our role in keeping abuse off our service. That’s why we’ve developed a set of Community Standards that outline what is and is not allowed on Facebook. Our policies are based on feedback from our community and the advice of experts in fields such as technology, public safety and human rights. To ensure that everyone’s voice is valued, we take great care to craft policies that are inclusive of different views and beliefs, in particular those of people and communities that might otherwise be overlooked or marginalized.
REITERATING OUR COMMITMENT TO VOICE
The goal of our Community Standards has always been to create a place for expression and give people a voice. This has not and will not change. Building community and bringing the world closer together depends on people’s ability to share diverse views, experiences, ideas and information. We want people to be able to talk openly about the issues that matter to them, even if some may disagree or find them objectionable. In some cases, we allow content which would otherwise go against our Community Standards – if it is newsworthy and in the public interest. We do this only after weighing the public interest value against the risk of harm and we look to international human rights standards to make these judgments.
Our commitment to expression is paramount, but we recognize the internet creates new and increased opportunities for abuse. For these reasons, when we limit expression, we do it in service of one or more the following values:
Authenticity: We want to make sure the content people are seeing on Facebook is authentic. We believe that authenticity creates a better environment for sharing, and that’s why we don’t want people using Facebook to misrepresent who they are or what they’re doing.
Safety: We are committed to making Facebook a safe place. Expression that threatens people has the potential to intimidate, exclude or silence others and isn’t allowed on Facebook.
Privacy: We are committed to protecting personal privacy and information. Privacy gives people the freedom to be themselves, and to choose how and when to share on Facebook and to connect more easily.
Dignity: We believe that all people are equal in dignity and rights. We expect that people will respect the dignity of others and not harass or degrade others.
Our Community Standards apply to everyone, all around the world, and to all types of content. They’re designed to be comprehensive – for example, content that might not be considered hateful may still be removed for violating a different policy. We recognize that words mean different things or affect people differently depending on their local community, language, or background. We work hard to account for these nuances while also applying our policies consistently and fairly to people and their expression. In the case of certain policies, we require more information and/or context to enforce in line with our Community Standards.
People can report potentially violating content, including Pages, Groups, Profiles, individual content, and comments. We also give people control over their own experience by allowing them to block, unfollow or hide people and posts.
The consequences for violating our Community Standards vary depending on the severity of the violation and the person’s history on the platform. For instance, we may warn someone for a first violation, but if they continue to violate our policies, we may restrict their ability to post on Facebook or disable their profile. We also may notify law enforcement when we believe there is a genuine risk of physical harm or a direct threat to public safety.
Our Community Standards are a guide for what is and isn’t allowed on Facebook. It is in this spirit that we ask members of the Facebook community to follow these guidelines.
Please note that the English version of the Community Standards reflects the most up to date set of the policies and should be used as the master document.
Violence and Criminal Behavior1. Violence and Incitement
We aim to prevent potential offline harm that may be related to content on Facebook. While we understand that people commonly express disdain or disagreement by threatening or calling for violence in non-serious ways, we remove language that incites or facilitates serious violence. We remove content, disable accounts, and work with law enforcement when we believe there is a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety. We also try to consider the language and context in order to distinguish casual statements from content that constitutes a credible threat to public or personal safety. In determining whether a threat is credible, we may also consider additional information like a person’s public visibility and the risks to their physical safety.
In some cases, we see aspirational or conditional threats directed at terrorists and other violent actors (e.g. Terrorists deserve to be killed), and we deem those non credible absent specific evidence to the contrary.READ MORE2. Dangerous Individuals and OrganizationsIn an effort to prevent and disrupt real-world harm, we do not allow any organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence to have a presence on Facebook. This includes organizations or individuals involved in the following:
We also remove content that expresses support or praise for groups, leaders, or individuals involved in these activities. Learn more about our work to fight terrorism online here.READ MORE3. Coordinating Harm and Publicizing CrimeIn an effort to prevent and disrupt offline harm and copycat behavior, we prohibit people from facilitating, organizing, promoting, or admitting to certain criminal or harmful activities targeted at people, businesses, property or animals. We allow people to debate and advocate for the legality of criminal and harmful activities, as well as draw attention to harmful or criminal activity that they may witness or experience as long as they do not advocate for or coordinate harm.READ MORE4. Regulated GoodsTo encourage safety and compliance with common legal restrictions, we prohibit attempts by individuals, manufacturers, and retailers to purchase, sell, or trade non-medical drugs, pharmaceutical drugs, and marijuana. We also prohibit the purchase, sale, gifting, exchange, and transfer of firearms, including firearm parts or ammunition, between private individuals on Facebook. Some of these items are not regulated everywhere; however, because of the borderless nature of our community, we try to enforce our policies as consistently as possible. Firearm stores and online retailers may promote items available for sale off of our services as long as those retailers comply with all applicable laws and regulations. We allow discussions about sales of firearms and firearm parts in stores or by online retailers and advocating for changes to firearm regulation. Regulated goods that are not prohibited by our Community Standards may be subject to our more stringent Commerce Policies.READ MORE5. Fraud and DeceptionIn an effort to prevent and disrupt harmful or fraudulent activity, we remove content aimed at deliberately deceiving people to gain an unfair advantage or deprive another of money, property, or legal right. However, we allow people to raise awareness and educate others as well as condemn these activities using our platform.READ MORE
Safety6. Suicide and Self-InjuryIn an effort to promote a safe environment on Facebook, we remove content that encourages suicide or self-injury, including certain graphic imagery and real-time depictions that experts tell us might lead others to engage in similar behavior. Self-injury is defined as the intentional and direct injuring of the body, including self-mutilation and eating disorders. We want Facebook to be a space where people can share their experiences, raise awareness about these issues, and seek support from one another, which is why we allow people to discuss suicide and self-injury.
We work with organizations around the world to provide assistance to people in distress. We also talk to experts in suicide and self-injury to help inform our policies and enforcement. For example, we have been advised by experts that we should not remove live videos of self-injury while there is an opportunity for loved ones and authorities to provide help or resources.
In contrast, we remove any content that identifies and negatively targets victims or survivors of self-injury or suicide seriously, humorously, or rhetorically.
Learn more about our suicide and self-injury policies and the resources that we provide.READ MORE7. Child Nudity and Sexual Exploitation of ChildrenWe do not allow content that sexually exploits or endangers children. When we become aware of apparent child exploitation, we report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), in compliance with applicable law. We know that sometimes people share nude images of their own children with good intentions; however, we generally remove these images because of the potential for abuse by others and to help avoid the possibility of other people reusing or misappropriating the images.
We also work with external experts, including the Facebook Safety Advisory Board, to discuss and improve our policies and enforcement around online safety issues, especially with regard to children. Learn more about the new technology we’re using to fight against child exploitation.READ MORE8. Sexual Exploitation of AdultsWe recognize the importance of Facebook as a place to discuss and draw attention to sexual violence and exploitation. We believe this is an important part of building common understanding and community. In an effort to create space for this conversation while promoting a safe environment, we remove content that depicts, threatens or promotes sexual violence, sexual assault, or sexual exploitation, while also allowing space for victims to share their experiences. We remove content that displays, advocates for, or coordinates sexual acts with non-consenting parties or commercial sexual services, such as prostitution and escort services. We do this to avoid facilitating transactions that may involve trafficking, coercion, and non-consensual sexual acts.
Bullying and harassment happen in many places and come in many different forms, from making threats to releasing personally identifiable information, to sending threatening messages, and making unwanted malicious contact. We do not tolerate this kind of behavior because it prevents people from feeling safe and respected on Facebook.
We distinguish between public figures and private individuals because we want to allow discussion, which often includes critical commentary of people who are featured in the news or who have a large public audience. For public figures, we remove attacks that are severe as well as certain attacks where the public figure is directly tagged in the post or comment. For private individuals, our protection goes further: we remove content that’s meant to degrade or shame, including, for example, claims about someone’s sexual activity. We recognize that bullying and harassment can have more of an emotional impact on minors, which is why our policies provide heightened protection for users between the ages of 13 and 18.
Context and intent matter, and we allow people to share and re-share posts if it is clear that something was shared in order to condemn or draw attention to bullying and harassment. In certain instances, we require self-reporting because it helps us understand that the person targeted feels bullied or harassed. In addition to reporting such behavior and content, we encourage people to use tools available on Facebook to help protect against it.
We also have a Bullying Prevention Hub, which is a resource for teens, parents, and educators seeking support for issues related to bullying and other conflicts. It offers step-by-step guidance, including information on how to start important conversations about bullying. Learn more about what we’re doing to protect people from bullying and harassment here.READ MORE10. Human Exploitation
After consulting with outside experts from around the world, we are consolidating several existing exploitation policies that were previously housed in different sections of the Community Standards into one dedicated section that focuses on human exploitation and captures a broad range of harmful activities that may manifest on our platform. Experts think and talk about these issues under one umbrella — human exploitation.
In an effort to disrupt and prevent harm, we remove content that facilitates or coordinates the exploitation of humans, including human trafficking. We define human trafficking as the business of depriving someone of liberty for profit. It is the exploitation of humans in order to force them to engagein commercial sex, labor, or other activities against their will. It relies on deception, force and coercion, and degrades humans by depriving them of their freedom while economically or materially benefiting others.
Human trafficking is multi-faceted and global; it can affect anyone regardless of age, socioeconomic background, ethnicity, gender, or location. It takes many forms, and any given trafficking situation can involve various stages of development. By the coercive nature of this abuse, victims cannot consent.
While we need to be careful not to conflate human trafficking and smuggling, the two can be related and exhibit overlap. The United Nations defines human smuggling as the procurement or facilitation of illegal entry into a state across international borders. Without necessity for coercion or force, it may still result in the exploitation of vulnerable individuals who are trying to leave their country of origin, often in pursuit of a better life. Human smuggling is a crime against a state, relying on movement, and human trafficking is a crime against a person, relying on exploitation.READ MORE11. Privacy Violations and Image Privacy RightsPrivacy and the protection of personal information are fundamentally important values for Facebook. We work hard to keep your account secure and safeguard your personal information in order to protect you from potential physical or financial harm. You should not post personal or confidential information about others without first getting their consent. We also provide people ways to report imagery that they believe to be in violation of their privacy rights.READ MORE
12. Hate SpeechWe do not allow hate speech on Facebook because it creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion and in some cases may promote real-world violence.
We define hate speech as a direct attack on people based on what we call protected characteristics — race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious disease or disability. We protect against attacks on the basis of age when age is paired with another protected characteristic, and also provide certain protections for immigration status. We define attack as violent or dehumanizing speech, statements of inferiority, or calls for exclusion or segregation. We separate attacks into three tiers of severity, as described below.
Sometimes people share content containing someone else’s hate speech for the purpose of raising awareness or educating others. In some cases, words or terms that might otherwise violate our standards are used self-referentially or in an empowering way. People sometimes express contempt in the context of a romantic break-up. Other times, they use gender-exclusive language to control membership in a health or positive support group, such as a breastfeeding group for women only. In all of these cases, we allow the content but expect people to clearly indicate their intent, which helps us better understand why they shared it. Where the intention is unclear, we may remove the content.
We allow humor and social commentary related to these topics. In addition, we believe that people are more responsible when they share this kind of commentary using their authentic identity.
Click here to read our Hard Questions Blog and learn more about our approach to hate speech.READ MORE13. Violent and Graphic ContentWe remove content that glorifies violence or celebrates the suffering or humiliation of others because it may create an environment that discourages participation. We allow graphic content (with some limitations) to help people raise awareness about issues. We know that people value the ability to discuss important issues like human rights abuses or acts of terrorism. We also know that people have different sensitivities with regard to graphic and violent content. For that reason, we add a warning label to especially graphic or violent content so that it is not available to people under the age of eighteen and so that people are aware of the graphic or violent nature before they click to see it.READ MORE14. Adult Nudity and Sexual ActivityWe restrict the display of nudity or sexual activity because some people in our community may be sensitive to this type of content. Additionally, we default to removing sexual imagery to prevent the sharing of non-consensual or underage content. Restrictions on the display of sexual activity also apply to digitally created content unless it is posted for educational, humorous, or satirical purposes.
Our nudity policies have become more nuanced over time. We understand that nudity can be shared for a variety of reasons, including as a form of protest, to raise awareness about a cause, or for educational or medical reasons. Where such intent is clear, we make allowances for the content. For example, while we restrict some images of female breasts that include the nipple, we allow other images, including those depicting acts of protest, women actively engaged in breast-feeding, and photos of post-mastectomy scarring. We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other art that depicts nude figures.READ MORE15. Sexual SolicitationAs noted in Section 8 of our Community Standards (Sexual Exploitation of Adults), people use Facebook to discuss and draw attention to sexual violence and exploitation. We recognize the importance of and want to allow for this discussion. We draw the line, however, when content facilitates, encourages or coordinates sexual encounters between adults. We also restrict sexually explicit language that may lead to solicitation because some audiences within our global community may be sensitive to this type of content and it may impede the ability for people to connect with their friends and the broader community.READ MORE16. Cruel and InsensitiveWe believe that people share and connect more freely when they do not feel targeted based on their vulnerabilities. As such, we have higher expectations for content that we call cruel and insensitive, which we define as content that targets victims of serious physical or emotional harm.
We remove explicit attempts to mock victims and mark as cruel implicit attempts, many of which take the form of memes and GIFs.READ MORE
17. MisrepresentationAuthenticity is the cornerstone of our community. We believe that people are more accountable for their statements and actions when they use their authentic identities. That’s why we require people to connect on Facebook using the name they go by in everyday life. Our authenticity policies are intended to create a safe environment where people can trust and hold one another accountable.READ MORE18. SpamWe work hard to limit the spread of spam because we do not want to allow content that is designed to deceive, or that attempts to mislead users to increase viewership. This content creates a negative user experience and detracts from people’s ability to engage authentically in online communities. We also aim to prevent people from abusing our platform, products, or features to artificially increase viewership or distribute content en masse for commercial gain.READ MORE19. CybersecurityWe recognize that the safety of our users extends to the security of their personal information. Attempts to gather sensitive personal information by deceptive or invasive methods are harmful to the authentic, open, and safe atmosphere that we want to foster. Therefore, we do not allow attempts to gather sensitive user information through the abuse of our platform and products.READ MORE20. Inauthentic BehaviorIn line with our commitment to authenticity, we don’t allow people to misrepresent themselves on Facebook, use fake accounts, artificially boost the popularity of content, or engage in behaviors designed to enable other violations under our Community Standards. This policy is intended to create a space where people can trust the people and communities they interact with.READ MORE21. False NewsReducing the spread of false news on Facebook is a responsibility that we take seriously. We also recognize that this is a challenging and sensitive issue. We want to help people stay informed without stifling productive public discourse. There is also a fine line between false news and satire or opinion. For these reasons, we don’t remove false news from Facebook but instead, significantly reduce its distribution by showing it lower in the News Feed. Learn more about our work to reduce the spread of false news here.READ MORE22. Manipulated MediaMedia, including image, audio, or video, can be edited in a variety of ways. In many cases, these changes are benign, like a filter effect on a photo. In other cases, the manipulation isn’t apparent and could mislead, particularly in the case of video content. We aim to remove this category of manipulated media when the criteria laid out below have been met.
In addition, we will continue to invest in partnerships (including with journalists, academics and independent fact-checkers) to help us reduce the distribution of false news and misinformation, as well as to better inform people about the content they encounter online.READ MORE23. MemorializationWhen someone passes away, friends and family can request that we memorialize the Facebook account. Once memorialized, the word “Remembering” appears above the name on the person’s profile to help make it that the account is now a memorial site and protects against attempted logins and fraudulent activity. To respect the choices someone made while alive, we aim to preserve their account after they pass away. We have also made it possible for people to identify a legacy contact to look after their account after they pass away. To support the bereaved, in some instances we may remove or change certain content when the legacy contact or family members request it.
Visit Hard Questions for more information about our memorialization policy and process. And see our Newsroom for the latest tools we’re building to support people during these difficult times.READ MORE
24. Intellectual PropertyFacebook takes intellectual property rights seriously and believes they are important to promoting expression, creativity, and innovation in our community. You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. However, before sharing content on Facebook, please be sure you have the right to do so. We ask that you respect other people’s copyrights, trademarks, and other legal rights. We are committed to helping people and organizations promote and protect their intellectual property rights. Facebook’s Terms of Service do not allow people to post content that violates someone else’s intellectual property rights, including copyright and trademark. We publish information about the intellectual property reports we receive in our bi-annual Transparency Report, which can be accessed at https://transparency.facebook.com/READ MORE
25. User RequestsWe comply with:
We comply with:
We comply with: User requests for removal of their own account Requests for removal of a deceased user’s account from a verified immediate family member or executor Requests for removal of an incapacitated user’s account from an authorized representative
READ MORE26. Additional Protection of MinorsWe comply with:
Requests for removal of an underage account Government requests for removal of child abuse imagery depicting, for example, beating by an adult or strangling or suffocating by an adult Legal guardian requests for removal of attacks on unintentionally famous minors
Stakeholder Engagement Gathering input from our stakeholders is an important part of how we develop Facebook’s Community Standards. We want our policies to be based on feedback from community representatives and a broad spectrum of the people who use our service, and we want to learn from and incorporate the advice of experts.
Engagement makes our Community Standards stronger and more inclusive. It brings our stakeholders more fully into the policy development process, introduces us to new perspectives, allows us to share our thinking on policy options, and roots our policies in sources of knowledge and experience that go beyond Facebook.
Product Policy is the team that writes the rules for what people are allowed to share on Facebook, including the Community Standards. To open up the policy development process and gather outside views on our policies, we created the Stakeholder Engagement team, a sub-team that’s part of Product Policy. Stakeholder Engagement’s main goal is to ensure that our policy development process is informed by the views of outside experts and the people who use Facebook. We have developed specific practices and a structure for engagement in the context of the Community Standards, and we’re expanding our work to cover additional policies, particularly ads policies and major News Feed ranking changes.
In this post, we provide an overview of how stakeholder engagement contributes to the Community Standards. While Facebook is of course responsible for the substance of its policies, engagement helps us improve those policies and deepen important stakeholder relationships in ways we’ll explain. To benchmark our work and help us incorporate best practices in this area, we retained non-profit organization BSR (Business for Social Responsibility). BSR conducted an analysis that has informed our perspective on engagement, and that we’ve used in preparing this post.
WHO ARE OUR STAKEHOLDERS? By “stakeholders” we mean all organizations and individuals who are impacted by, and therefore have a stake in, Facebook’s Community Standards. Because the Community Standards apply to every post, photo, and video shared on Facebook, this means that our more than 2.7 billion users are, in a broad sense, stakeholders.
But we can’t meaningfully engage with that many people. So it’s also useful to think of stakeholders as those who are informed about and able to speak on behalf of others. This is why the primary focus of our engagement is civil society organizations, activist groups, and thought leaders, in such areas as digital and civil rights, anti-discrimination, free speech, and human rights. We also engage with academics who have relevant expertise. Academics may not directly represent the interests of others, but they are important stakeholders by virtue of their extensive knowledge, which helps us create better policies for everyone.
HOW DO WE INCORPORATE STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT INTO OUR POLICY DEVELOPMENT PROCESS? Integrating stakeholder feedback into the policy-making process is a core part of how we work. Though it’s important that we not over-promise, we know that what stakeholders seek above all is for their insights to inform our policy decisions.
There are many reasons why we may draft a new policy or revise an existing one. We continuously build our policies to meet the needs of our community. Sometimes external stakeholders tell us that a particular policy fails to address an issue that’s important to them. In other cases, the press draws attention to a policy gap. Often, members of Facebook’s Community Operations team (whose employees, contractors, and out-sourcing partners are responsible for enforcing the Community Standards) tell us about trends or the need for policy clarification. And Facebook’s Research teams (both within Product Policy and in other parts of the company) may point us to data or user sentiment that seems best addressed through policy-making.
In considering a new policy, Product Policy runs a series of internal working groups, leading up to a cross-team meeting we call the Product Policy Forum (previously referred to as the Content Standards Forum). We’ve explained the Content Standards Forum in detail here.
At the outset, the Stakeholder Engagement team frames up policy questions requiring feedback and determines what types of stakeholders to prioritize for engagement. We then reach out to external stakeholders, gathering feedback that we document and synthesize for our colleagues.
Our engagement on the Community Standards takes many forms. The heart of our approach to engagement is private conversations, most often in person or by video-conference. We’ve found that this approach lends itself to candid dialogue and relationship-building. We typically don’t release the names of those we engage with because conversations can be sensitive and we want to ensure open lines of communication. Some stakeholders may also request or require confidentiality, particularly if media attention is unwanted or if they are members of a vulnerable community.
In addition, we sometimes convene group discussions, bringing together stakeholders in particular regions or specific policy areas. We’ve found the group setting to be useful for generating ideas and providing updates to multiple stakeholders. And on occasion it also makes sense to reach out to relevant Facebook users to get their views. Recently, for example, we reviewed the “exclusion” element of our hate speech policy. As part of this process, we talked to the admins from a number of major Facebook Groups (admins are responsible for managing Group settings), who shared their insights with us relating to this policy. We’ll do more of this user outreach in the future.
In our conversations with external stakeholders, we share Facebook’s thinking on the proposed policy change, including what led us to reconsider this policy, and the pros and cons of policy options we’ve identified. The feedback we receive is fed into the process and shapes our ongoing deliberations by highlighting new perspectives and helping us evaluate our options. When stakeholder views conflict, we analyze the spectrum of opinion and points of disagreement. We want to identify which views are most persuasive and instructive for us, but we’re not necessarily trying to reconcile them; rather, our goal is to understand the full range of opinion concerning the proposal. In some cases we return to stakeholders for additional input as our thinking develops.
At the Product Policy Forum, the Stakeholder Engagement team presents a detailed summary of the feedback we’ve received on each policy proposal, and we lay out the views of our stakeholders on a spectrum of policy options. This summary is made public (minus the names of individual stakeholders and organizations) in our published minutes of the meeting. In this way, anyone can see the range and nature of engagement we’ve conducted for policy proposals, and the rationale for our final decision. After policy development is complete, we inform our stakeholders what we’ve decided.
WHAT PRINCIPLES GUIDE OUR ENGAGEMENT? A commitment to stakeholder engagement means addressing a number of essential questions — such as, how do we decide which groups and individuals to talk to, how do we make sure that vulnerable groups are heard, and how do we find relevant experts?
Our policies involve a complex balancing of values such as safety, voice, and equity. There’s no simple formula for how engagement contributes to this work. But over the past year we’ve developed a structure and methodology for engagement on our Community Standards, built around three core principles:
Inclusiveness Engagement broadens our perspective and creates a more inclusive approach to policy-making. Engagement helps us better understand how our policies impact those who use our service. When we make decisions about what content to remove and what to leave up, we affect people’s speech and the way they connect on Facebook. Not everyone will agree on where we draw the lines, but at a minimum, we need to understand the concerns of those who are affected by our policies. This is particularly important for stakeholders whose voices have been marginalized.
Understanding how our policies affect the people who use Facebook presents a major challenge. Our scale makes it impossible to speak directly to the more than 2.7 billion people who use our platform. This dilemma also underscores the importance of reaching out to a broad spectrum of stakeholders in all regions so that our policy-making process is globally diverse.
The question of our impact plays out in many ways. Our policies are global (the Internet is borderless, and our mission is to build community), but we touch people’s lives on a very local level. We are often asked, “Why should you be creating policies to govern online speech for me?” Typically embedded in this question is a demand that we show more cultural sensitivity and understanding of regional context.
Stakeholder engagement gives us a tool to deepen our local knowledge and perspective – so we can hear voices we might otherwise miss. For each policy proposal, we identify a global and diverse set of stakeholders on the issue. We seek voices across the policy spectrum, but it’s not always self-evident what the spectrum is. In many cases, our policies don’t line up neatly with traditional dichotomies, such as liberal versus conservative, or civil libertarian versus law enforcement. We talk to others in Facebook’s Policy and Research organizations and conduct our own research to identify a range of diverse stakeholders.
For example, in considering how our hate speech policy should apply to certain forms of gendered language, we spoke with academic experts, women’s and digital rights groups, and free speech advocates. Likewise, when considering our policy on nudity and sexual activity in art, we listened to family safety organizations, artists, and museum curators. In reviewing how our policies should apply to memorialized profiles of deceased users, we connected both with professors who study digital legacy as an academic subject and Facebook users who’ve been designated as “Legacy Contacts” and who have real world experience with this product feature.
It’s not enough to ask how our policies affect users in general. We need to understand how our policies will impact people who are particularly vulnerable by virtue of laws, cultural practices, poverty, or other reasons that prevent them from speaking up for their rights. In our stakeholder mapping, we seek to put an emphasis on minority groups that have traditionally lacked power, such as political dissidents and religious minorities throughout the world. In reevaluating how our hate speech policy applies to certain behavioral generalizations, for example, we consulted with immigrants rights groups. Our efforts are a work in progress, but we are committed to bringing these voices into our policy discussions.
Expertise Engagement brings expertise to our policy development process. The Stakeholder Engagement team conducts detailed, iterative research to identify top subject matter experts in civil society and academia. It then gathers their views to inform our policy decisions.
This engagement ensures that our policy-making process is informed by current theories and analysis, empirical research, and an understanding of the latest online trends. The expertise we gather includes issues of language, social identity, and geography, all of which bear on our policies in important ways.
Facebook’s policies are entwined with many complex social and technological issues, such as hate speech, terrorism, bullying and harassment, and threats of violence. Sometimes we’re looking for guidance on how safety and voice should be balanced — for example, in considering what types of speech to allow about “public figures” under our policies. In other cases, we’re reaching out to gain specialized knowledge, such as how our policies can draw on international human rights principles, or how minority communities may experience certain types of speech.
We don’t have all the answers to address these problems on our platform. Sometimes the challenges we face are novel even to the experts we consult with. But by talking to outside experts and incorporating their feedback, we make our policies more thoughtful.
For example, over the past year and a half we’ve modified our hate speech policy to recognize three tiers of attacks. Tier 1, the most severe, involves calls to violence or dehumanizing speech against other people based on their race, ethnicity, nationality, gender or other protected characteristic (“Kill the Christians”). Tier 2 attacks consist of statements of inferiority or expressions of contempt or disgust (“Mexicans are lazy”). And Tier 3 covers calls to exclude or segregate (“No women allowed”).
Developing these tiers has made our policies more nuanced and precise. On the basis of the tiers, we’re able to provide additional protections against the most harmful forms of speech. For instance, we now remove Tier 1 hate speech directed against immigrants (“immigrants are rats”) but permit less intense forms of speech (“immigrants should stay out of our country”) to leave room for broad political discourse.
As part of our work we spoke to outside experts — academics, NGOs that study hate speech, and groups all across the political landscape. This engagement helped confirm that the tiers were comprehensive and aligned with patterns of online and offline behavior. We’ll continue to consider adjustments to our policies in light of opinions from experts and civil society.
Transparency Engagement makes our policies and our policy development process more transparent. Given the impact of our Community Standards on society, it’s critical for us to create a policy development process that’s not only inclusive and based on expert knowledge, but also transparent. We know from talking to hundreds of stakeholders that opening up our policy-making process helps build trust. The more visibility we provide, the more our stakeholders are likely to view the Community Standards as relevant, legitimate, and based on consent.
When we engage, we share details about the challenges of moderating content for 2.7 billion people and we explain the rationale behind our policies and why there may be a need for improvement. We gather stakeholder feedback so we can develop creative policy solutions to these problems. The policies we launch based on this process are still owned by Facebook, but they are stronger by virtue of having been tested through consultation and an exchange of views.
It’s important to acknowledge that our policies will never make everyone happy. Nudity, say, is viewed quite differently in Scandinavia and Southeast Asia, and no Facebook policy on nudity would be equally satisfactory to both. Our job as a team is to craft thoughtful global policies, knowing that our work will be criticized by some.
Transparency on our process of engagement also helps us build a system of rules and enforcement that people regard as fair. We know that some people would like us to go further and disclose the names of our stakeholders and even the substance of our discussions with them. For reasons discussed above, we’ve chosen not to go this route, at least for now. We’ll continue to experiment with ways of being more public about engagement where we have the prior agreement of our stakeholders.
THE WAY FORWARD As the breadth and specialization of our policies increase, so too will the scope of our engagement. We’ll continue to refine our policy development process and work to realize our stakeholder engagement principles of inclusiveness, expertise, and transparency. We expect our team to grow, and our reach to expand.
With BSR’s help, we’re also working on specific ways to improve.
For example, we’ll continue to develop means to engage with new stakeholders around the world and will seek guidance from regional experts about how to do so most effectively. We’ve also had requests to explore channels like informal roundtables and recurring video-conference meetings as a way of staying in touch with stakeholders on specific policy issues. These settings provide continuity and enable us to involve stakeholders even more closely in the design of specific policies and products.
As we expand the scope of our outreach, we also want to investigate whether we might be able to create other mechanisms for users to give us feedback on our policies. For example, as part of the effort to gather global feedback on the Oversight Board, Facebook created a public consultation process containing both a questionnaire and free-form questions. Through this tool, users were able to submit their views on the Board directly to Facebook. One could imagine a similar process whereby NGOs and civil society organizations could join our network of contacts in order to receive regular policy updates and provide feedback to members of our team.
These are all exciting challenges, and we look forward to working with our stakeholders to improve the level of our engagement and its contribution to the development of our policies.
Q: How many Chicago School economists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None. If the lightbulb needed changing, the market would have already done it.
Anyone concerned with democracy should be worried that the seam between Wall Street and the government is almost invisible.
Interesting. So, when I repost things from MSM or Counter-punch, and then put in my own blur — “Oh these white devils, these MAGA Gestapo-wannabe’s, these Hitler-adoring fellows and gals,” that’s it for Fuck-You-And-the Horse-You-Rode-into-Town-On Facebook.
There is so-so much crap on Fuck-You-Book, and the lies, and the hundreds of millions of pure unadulturated manure and bile, on people’s pages, on their comments.
Now, those algorithms pull up words like “Hitler” or “Nazi” or Goebbels” or “SS” or what have you, and then, banned from posting.
DURING AN internal presentation at Facebook on Wednesday, the company debuted features for Facebook Workplace, an intranet-style chat and office collaboration product similar to Slack.
On Facebook Workplace, employees see a stream of content similar to a news feed, with automatically generated trending topics based on what people are posting about. One of the new tools debuted by Facebook allows administrators to remove and block certain trending topics among employees.
The presentation discussed the “benefits” of “content control.” And it offered one example of a topic employers might find it useful to blacklist: the word “unionize.”
I have been in this war for decades. Fucking age 63, and I can tell you at age 13 I was fighting against abuse of power, racists, pigs in school, coaches, sports teammates, my Army Regular Old Man, the entire project that is white supremacy. I am not kidding, one half a century.
I fought the players on my own football teams, my wrestling teams. I fought the assholes who were on dive boats I was helping get certified. I have fought every big-shot asshole boss, and here I am, one foot in the grave, really — that economic grave.
Does it wear me down? To be honest, no. I am never surprised, but I am always saddened and pissed off at the level of colonized minds within the framework of who I have had to deal with daily:
fellow social workers
military (I was a college instructor at military bases, in programs)
You get the picture. Daily. The amount of stupidity, fear, genuflection to almighty dollar, almighty god, almighty boss, almighty corporation, almighty political party, almighty country, almighty men/women in uniform, almighty military industrial complex, almighty superficial consumerism, almighty Holly-Dirt, almighty nothingness, almighty value of zero.
Many others I know and communicate with daily also know this. They might call it living in the Matrix, or worse, in some parallel Dante Hell Universe.
Banned from Facebook, Deplatformed from Linked In, blocked from commenting over at Off-Guardian, and on and on and on, that’s my pedigree. The unholy bastards and bitches of penury, two-bit dominions, two-bit power games.
Then to see this human stain and his human stain of a spouse —
You know the world is not right when these fuckers are the masters of the universe —
You get the picture. Human stains. All of them, yet, they dominate the news, dominate politics, dominate the economy, dominate the celebrity culture, dominate the trajectory of society, dominate us.
And they all are sociopaths, and now, the flip of an algorithm switch, and you get banned from Linked In and shut down from Facebook.
And for what? DO we incite violence by stating, No Blue Lives Matter? DO we incite war when we say, All Billionaires should be frog marched to the gallows? DO we get our hands slapped when we point out the Nazi and Hitleresque tenancies of so-called leaders, like those here, United Snakes of America, Hungary, Philippines, Brazil, and, well need I say more?
This is another human stain, former Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan. In October 2008, as the Bush-Obama financial crisis was in full gear, Greenspan testified before the House Oversight Committee. He was questioned by the committee’s chair, Democratic Congress member Henry Waxman.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN: Dr. Greenspan, you had an ideology, you had a belief, that free, competitive — and this is your statement: “I do have an ideology. My judgment is that free, competitive markets are by far the unrivaled way to organize economies. We’ve tried regulation. None meaningfully worked.” That was your quote.
You had the authority to prevent irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis. You were advised to do so by many others. And now our whole economy is paying its price. Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?
ALAN GREENSPAN: Well, remember that what an ideology is is a conceptual framework with the way people deal with reality. Everyone has one. You have to. To exist, you need an ideology. The question is whether it is accurate or not. And what I’m saying to you is, yes, I’ve found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is, but I’ve been very distressed by that fact.
But if I may, may I just finish an answer to the question previously posed?
REP. HENRY WAXMAN: You found a flaw in the reality —-
ALAN GREENSPAN: Flaw in the model that I perceived as the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN: In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right. It was not working.
ALAN GREENSPAN: That it had a -— precisely. No, that’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I’ve been going for forty years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN: Dr. Greenspan, you had an ideology, you had a belief, that free, competitive — and this is your statement: “I do have an ideology. My judgment is that free, competitive markets are by far the unrivaled way to organize economies. We’ve tried regulation. None meaningfully worked.” That was your quote.
You had the authority to prevent irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis. You were advised to do so by many others. And now our whole economy is paying its price. Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?
ALAN GREENSPAN: Well, remember that what an ideology is is a conceptual framework with the way people deal with reality. Everyone has one. You have to. To exist, you need an ideology. The question is whether it is accurate or not. And what I’m saying to you is, yes, I’ve found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is, but I’ve been very distressed by that fact.
But if I may, may I just finish an answer to the question previously posed?
REP. HENRY WAXMAN: You found a flaw in the reality —-
ALAN GREENSPAN: Flaw in the model that I perceived as the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN: In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right. It was not working.
ALAN GREENSPAN: That it had a -— precisely. No, that’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I’ve been going for forty years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.
And, I mean, I think that we’ve been beguiled by markets. We understand prices, or we think that we understand what’s going on when we’re faced with a price. But, in fact, we miss a great deal about how the economy operates, if we believe in prices. And we’ve come to believe that the only way we can value things is by sticking them in a market. The trouble is, of course, as we’ve seen through this recession, that markets are a tremendously bad way of valuing things, tremendously fickle, and systematically unable to put — to actually incorporate a great deal of what we find valuable.
You know, just to put some flesh on those bones, think about the price of a hamburger. I mean, you know, if you go to your local burger joint, you will find, what, a $4 hamburger. But researchers in India did some calculations a few years ago looking at what would happen if we started to include the environmental costs that are part and parcel of the production of that hamburger. If, for example, that burger is produced on land that once used to be rainforest, well, then you’ve lost the rainforest, you’ve lost the ecosystemic services that that rainforest provides, you lose the carbon, you lose the biodiversity. And all of a sudden, when you start imputing those environmental costs, it turns out that the price of a hamburger should be nearer $200 rather than four. And that, of course, is just one element of the costs that are squeezed out of our food and pretty much everything else.
But sticking with that hamburger for a moment, I mean, if that hamburger is consumed in the United States, then the chances are that the tomatoes on that hamburger will come from southern Florida, where, since 1997, over a thousand people have been freed from conditions of modern-day slavery and where the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, of tomato pickers in southern Florida, have been campaigning for a living wage for quite some time. And, of course, the cost of slavery doesn’t feature in that hamburger, either. And that’s, of course, just on the production side.
Of course, there are consequences to the cost of consuming junk food. And in the United States, one in five healthcare dollars is now spent on taking care of someone who has diabetes. And the rise of diabetes, in no small part, is related to the fact that we don’t pay the full costs of the way we consume when we buy our food. Of course, we pay those costs in the end. But the corporations that sell us that food are able to exclude those costs out of the price. And it’s important for us to have new ways of valuing things other than the market.
So this all begs the question of what is the value of Google and Facebook? Think hard, now. When the spooks and FBI and the other spies are packed in a sweaty van with their greasy fingers on the revolver, the tape-recorder, the cameras, while spying, the new spy, the new peeping Tom, the new weaponized anti-democracy tool is that algorithm, that Peter Thiel, that F/Zuckerberg, those Google Boys aned Apple Pukes.
That Facebook is marketing Workplace as having built-in labor union suppression tools comes at a time when more and more Americans are likely using Facebook to organize.
A recent memo to employers, first reported by The Intercept, warned that the coronavirus pandemic has sparked widespread support for labor unions, and that online networking tools have become a powerful vector for organizing campaigns.
Employers have long attempted to stifle lawful workplace organizing by monitoring social media. One study of the phenomenon found that between June 2009 and April 2011, the National Labor Relations Board received about 100 charges that employees had been fired or disciplined due to online posts, largely on Facebook, around labor organizing.
Charles Eisenstein, summarizes the crossroads that we face:
“For a long time, we, as a collective, have stood helpless in the face of an ever-sickening society. Whether it is declining health, decaying infrastructure, depression, suicide, addiction, ecological degradation, or concentration of wealth, the symptoms of civilizational malaise in the developed world are plain to see, but we have been stuck in the systems and patterns that cause them. Now, COVID has gifted us a reset.
“A million forking paths lie before us. Universal basic income could mean an end to economic insecurity and the flowering of creativity as millions are freed from the work that COVID has shown us is less necessary than we thought. Or it could mean, with the decimation of small businesses, dependency on the state for a stipend that comes with strict conditions. The crisis could usher in totalitarianism or solidarity; medical martial law or a holistic renaissance; greater fear of the microbial world or greater resiliency in participation in it; permanent norms of social distancing or a renewed desire to come together . . .
“The virus we face here is fear, whether it is fear of COVID-19, or fear of the totalitarian response to it, and this virus too has its terrain. Fear, along with addiction, depression, and a host of physical ills, flourishes in a terrain of separation and trauma: inherited trauma, childhood trauma, violence, war, abuse, neglect, shame, punishment, poverty, and the muted, normalized trauma that affects nearly everyone who lives in a monetized economy, undergoes modern schooling, or lives without community or connection to place . . . Already we can feel the power of who we might become.”
Cognitive dissonance, echo chambers, mutually exclusive polar opposites . . . . There are myriad of web sites and news feeds and even so-called “juried” journals where in the end, the answers to what is happening now globally are not being debated in a public forum or with people with no ax to grind, not skin the game (capitalism’s) and with only investigative interests at heart. That is an entire book’s worth of discussion not for this forum/blog now!
I used to spend time over at Off-Guardian, and there, sure, you get lots of skepticism about just how bad the novel coronavirus is, just how Draconian and lockstep the lock-downs have been, just how planned the global meltdown and the global unrest (George FLoyd, etc.) they are.
The problem over at Off-Guardian is that there are KeyBoard/Bored warriors, making case after case of their devil advocate stance as I am sure white middle class men of UK, USA, Canada. The entire site was set up as a response to some (or is it all now) of the Guardian’s coverage of all things cultural, political, geopolitical economic and environmental.
It is easy to be “banned” from commenting on their comments board, as I have been. I have been attacked, spit upon (with names, labels, etc.) and thrown to the commentators’ little clique of like minded, like thinking assholes.
It’s fun to just go after some of the contradictory crap at the Off-Guardian, and when they run a story, from some outlier nurse turned journalist (sic) or some virologist who doubts everything out of the mouths of CDC, WHO, mainstream medicine, well you see the holes in their writing and then the barrage of commentators (some are I am sure regular posters to pump up the veracity of the articles the Off-Guardian chooses to run or chooses to write).
You’ll get an article that points or hints at a novel coronavirus that was part of a bioweapons experiment, either accidentally or intentionally let go, then in the same article, how the virus is not a virus in fact, and that the deaths in Black American communities like warehouses and in prisons, well, that it is all caused by something else.
Maybe too much Red Bull. Or they are in bad shape, already primed for death without a novel coronavirus to blame. The writers at Off-Guardian are entitled, arrogant, and under all of that layer upon layer of supremacy is the little racist.
Like I have stated before — of course this epidemic-pandemic has already been in the works as a study guide, as a scenario, and we know who the actors are tied to Big Pharma, Google, Bloomberg, Gates, WHO, and the like, including USA military labs, and those in other countries in concert with USA, and then those in CHina attempting to find an antidote for anything the USA will unleash to kill Chinese, and not just the Chinese Economy.
Then, while the Off-Guardian Ayn Randians, or those who purport to be gigantic minds and bastions of individualism and in-the-know leaders of thought, blather about Gates and Democrats and neoliberalism, they nary go on attack against the GOP and Trump.
It is a waste of my time to even go there, and the fact they do not post my comments, well, that says it all about them.
My research into “pay for success” over the past three years made it clear that health and behavioral health data would be used to fuel the growth of “social impact” finance around the world. Over the past three weeks, however, it has dawned on me that it will also likely be used as a tool of social control. As populations become more volatile with the roll out of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, digital quarantine will be a powerful method of regulating economic systems and human bodies.
Covid 19: Why Hindi belt is not asking any questions?
By PRAMOD RANJAN
In February 2020 media began reporting the spread of a new virus in the world and it soon became the prime topic of discussion among us colleagues. I visited the website of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for authentic information on the issue.
That was the time when we used to say jokingly that handshakes would soon become history and that we would have to greet each other with a Namaste. At that time, who knew that the day was not far off when we would be penalised for not wearing face masks?
That was the time when we used to discuss the justification for and the pros and cons of installing biometric machines for recording attendance. At that time, who knew that the day was not far off when installing a spy app would be made compulsory for all? Who knew that let alone biometric machines, we would soon allow ourselves to be subjected to surveillance of many kinds?
I have legions of friends and they include journalists, social activists and academicians working in the Hindi belt. But barring a few, none of them is even remotely concerned about the long term implications of the current goings-on.
In one city, cameras equipped with face-recognition technology have been installed on the roads. In another, drone cameras are being used to keep an eye on the citizens.
Why are skeptics and questioners in such a short supply in the Hindi belt? In fact, even our language reflects our tendency of keeping mum, of not asking questions. There are very few words in Hindi that can express the dangers inherent in such totalitarian surveillance? Has this anything to do with our culture?
A new disease made its appearance; it was declared an epidemic and soon we were bombarded with so-called ‘scientific facts’ and ‘expert opinions’. We immediately confined ourselves to our homes without caring to explore the sources of this bombardment and their objectives.
We were told that this is happening all over the world. But in the age of the Internet, we did have the means to discover that nowhere on the earth were the citizens subjected to such draconian restrictions.
The claim that India is a ‘Vishwaguru’ (teacher of the world) finds the greatest resonance in the Hindi belt with some worthies basing their claim on Vedic philosophy and others on Buddhist teachings. But why none of us got up and said that we shouldn’t follow other nations blindly?
We were told that this disease is fatal and we accepted it without demur. We did not care to find out the number of deaths due to TB, pneumonia, malaria, chamki bukhar (acute encephalitis syndrome) etc in the Hindi belt. According to one estimate, 5-7 lakh persons die due to these diseases every year in the Hindi-speaking states.
We were told that this disease is highly contagious. But why are we ignoring the fact that its R factor (rate of infection) is one-fifth of that of TB. We were told that a large number of persons are dying of Covid. Why we didn’t try to explore out how many people around us have died of the disease and how many were killed by the lockdown?
We were told that this disease is dangerous because it is caused by a virus and has no cure. Why it didn’t occur to us that chamki bukhar and Japanese Encephalitis, which kill hundreds of children from poor families in the Hindi belt, are also viral diseases and have no cure. Chamki bukhar is such a dangerous and mysterious affliction that we still do not know for sure what causes it. It afflicts thousands of children of 1-15 years age group in the Hindi belt and hundreds of them die within a few days of contracting the disease.
The Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of Covid 19 is less than three per cent while the death rate of these fevers is 30 per cent. What prevented us from asking that why these diseases are not taken seriously. Is it because most of their victims are the Dalits, the Backwards and the poor or because pharmaceutical companies cannot hope to make a fast buck from them? Why are we not asking whether it is true that the Government of India hides the actual number of deaths from diseases like malaria and cholera, which kill the poor?
Why are we not asking why deaths due to pneumonia, influenza and cardiac arrest are being added to the Covid 19 death toll? What is the objective of this fudging of figures?
We are being told that everything is being done as per the guidelines of the WHO. Why are we not asking how credible the WHO is? Isn’t it true that WHO has been charged with protecting the interests of Big Pharma?
In this context, it would be relevant to quote from en email of my friend Riyaz-ul-Haq, who is a research scholar in Germany. He drew my attention to the fact that “The apathy of WHO etc. towards the diseases stalking the poor countries is that the Western nations have, more or less, managed to control those diseases and eliminate their causes. Due to availability of potable water, adequate food and nutrition to their citizens, diseases like cholera and TB are no longer problems for these nations. Healthy lifestyles and robust healthcare systems are an added advantage. Even malaria and AIDS are no longer major problems for these nations. But they are sacred of the diseases that they cannot control. SARS and Covid 19 strike fear in their hearts because they have no way of combating them. As Western countries dominate the world, their priorities become global priorities. No wonder Covid has been proclaimed as a danger for everyone. Once the West manages to come out with a vaccine or a cure for Covid, they would be least concerned about who contracts this disease and who dies of it….Covid is now an affliction of America and Europe. Till it was causing deaths in China, it was of little consequence to them.”
Why are we not asking the question as to why this problem of the European and American nations has been thrust upon us? Isn’t it odd that while action is being taken against those spreading so-called ‘infodemic’ on social media, the media organizations that selectively publish what the WHO says are being spared.
For the past four months, WHO is holding daily press briefings on Covid 19. The event is held online. Sitting at their Geneva (Switzerland) headquarters, WHO officials answer the questions from journalists all over the world. The briefings are beamed on various social media platforms of the organisation. On the occasions when WHO director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at these briefings, our media organisations reported it in detail with unconcealed glee.
On March 30, an Indian journalist (his name could not be heard clearly due to network issues) told WHO officials, “You must be aware that India, as part of its lockdown, is witnessing (an) unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the form of the movement of migrants from one part of the country to another. I do understand that you do not like commenting on individual countries, but this is an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. What would be your advice to our government?”
That was the period when reports and visuals of what the hapless poor migrant labourers were going through was sending waves of shock and dismay through the country. Lakhs of labourers, including children, old men and women (many of whom were pregnant), had begun trekking to their homes thousands of miles away. Borders of states were being sealed to stop them. Thousands of people wanted to travel to their native villages from different cities but the police used force on them. It seemed as if the country was on the verge of a civil war.
WHO officials could not resist answering the question about this migration. Its Executive Director Michael J. Ryan supported the imposition of lockdown but also said that it could be strict or lenient depending on the specific needs of a country and that the human rights of the people should be respected under all circumstances. After Ryan’s reply, Dr Tedros said in an emotional tone, “I am from Africa and I know many people actually have to work every single day to win their daily bread. Governments should take this population into account… I come from a poor family and I know what it means to always worry about your daily bread and that has to be taken into account. We’re not seeing it as an economic impact on a country (or) as GDP loss. We have to also see what it means to the individual in the street… it’s not about India; it’s about any country on earth.” Indian media did not give any space to this opinion of the WHO.
Dr Margaret Chan, the current WHO DG, has spoken aggressively against tobacco deals between governments and tobacco companies.5 This is to be expected of the WHO DG, given that tobacco continues to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality, and that the WHO Africa and Eastern Mediterranean regions, particularly, are at risk for increasing smoking prevalence in the coming decade.6Smoking increases the risk of a person developing latent tuberculosis, active tuberculosis, and recurrent tuberculosis, and also increases the death rate from tuberculosis. It has been estimated that if smoking prevalence was reduced by 1% per year down to zero by 2050, then 27 million cases of smoking-related tuberculosis deaths would be avoided.7 By making deals with the tobacco industry that may well increase smoking prevalence in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Government is, therefore, jeopardising its tuberculosis-control programmes.The vote for the next WHO DG should not be a vote for Ethiopia, or for Africa, but it should be a vote for the most appropriate candidate for WHO DG. Given the aforesaid issues, I believe that Tedros is not the right candidate that WHO needs to take it forward.I am the Director of the non-governmental organisation Africa Tobacco-Free Initiative. I declare no other competing interests.
But after this statement, the Government of India got cracking and the WHO was pressurized to refer to the steps taken by the government to mitigate the economic problems facing the people due to the lockdown. Resultantly, at its press briefing on April 1 2020, WHO chief Dr Tedros referred to the relief package announced by the government – full five days after its announcement on March 26. Tedros said, “Prime Minister Modi has announced a $24 billion US dollars package, including free food rations for 800 million disadvantaged people, cash transfers to 204 million poor women, and free cooking gas for 80 million households for the next 3 months.” In answer to a question by India Today’s Ankit Kumar, Michael Ryan said that it would be a little early to assess the results of the lockdown in India but “it has made a really huge attempt to limit the impact of the shutdowns on the people who are most at risk”.
The next day, all the Hindi-English news platforms prominently carried the story that the WHO has showered praises on Prime Minister Modi and appreciated the steps taken by him to contain the spread of coronavirus. Many news channels, while reporting the WHO statement, also said that “PM Modi and a team of specialists are working without a break for containing corona virus. The PM has announced the 21-day lockdown at the advice of the team. The PM is working for 17-18 hours every day. Even the WHO has praised India and PM Modi for their campaign against corona.”
The same media outlets had refrained from publishing the advice of WHO asking the countries to protect the human rights of the people.
After lockdown ruining the economies of many countries, the WHO is now saying that it had never advised lockdowns!
Our government miserably failed to assess the impact of lockdown on a country like India with its vast population of poor people, most of whom are daily wage earners. Then, what is the guarantee that its other directives are well thought out and efficacious?
Countries like Sweden, Japan, Tanzania, Belarus, Nicaragua and Yemen either did not go for lockdown at all or imposed restrictions that had the least impact on the liberty of the people. Why India did not tread this path?
Why are we not asking that when many countries haven’t made wearing of face masks compulsory and when there is no evidence to indicate that not using masks would lead to a faster spread of the disease, then on what ‘scientific grounds’ has our government made wearing masks mandatory for the people. Is the coronavirus a nocturnal organism? If not, why has our government imposed night curfew? Shouldn’t we ask the government to come out with the scientific basis of its decision? Why does the government want that the people should continue to cringe in fear? Are we living in a nanny state?
You say that you cannot bank on the people of India, who are illiterate, illogical and anarchic. They are not civilized like the Europeans are. But what evidence do you have to support this view? Isn’t it true that the people had significantly curtailed their visits to public places even before the countrywide lockdown was put in place? Is it not true that hundreds of trains had to be cancelled for want of passengers? Wasn’t this ample proof that people of India are disciplined and reasonable? Then, where was the need to crush them under a draconian lockdown?
We should definitely ask under which law has our basic right to know the truth been abrogated.
Why are we not asking what relationship does Indian Council of Medical Research have with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation?
On 10 April 2020, Ben Parker, editor and co-founder of The New Humanitarian, a Switzerland-based website asked a question during the WHO briefing on Covid 19. The question was about Bill Gates. The alacrity with which WHO officials answered the question was, of course, worth taking note of. But more importantly, the questioner’s credentials indicate how stories favouring Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are being planted in the media.
Bill Parker asked, “We’re seeing a lot of rumours and conspiracy theories around the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, vaccines and a digital identity project called ID 2020. My question is, are you tracking the new ingredients in the misinformation out there?”
Answering the question, Michael Ryan said that they were very pleased with the support Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had given to them and would look into the platforms that Parker mentioned. He added that the WHO was working with a number of digital companies to counter misinformation.
Dr Tedros, in a detailed answer to the question, showered fulsome praises on Gates. He said, “I have known Bill and Melinda for many, many years now….these two human beings are amazing….Having people like Bill and Melinda with big hearts to support humanity is something we should cherish. I would like to assure you during this COVID situation (that) their support is really big and we’re getting all the support we need. Together we believe we can turn the tide….The world recognises their contribution and they deserve our respect and appreciation.”
A Google search on the questioner Ben Parker reveals that his The New Humanitarian which “puts quality, independent journalism at the service of the millions of people affected by humanitarian crises around the world” is, mainly financed by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is its biggest donor. In return for it, Ben Parker is busy ‘fact-checking’ on various platforms right from Twitter to his website. Not surprisingly, his so-called fact-checking always shows the Gates’ in favourable light.
This is the same person who, just six months before the outbreak of the pandemic, organised a series of four role-playing simulations of a corona pandemic with very high-ranking participants. Event 201 was a simulation of a corona pandemic conducted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Economic Forum and Johns Hopkins University in October 2019.
In India too, amid this so-called epidemic, many ‘fact-checking’ institutions financed by foreign sources have sprung up. We should ask ourselves why untruths and half-truths, masquerading as ‘facts’, are floating on social media. Is only the government responsible for it or are we ourselves signing away our freedom –and voluntarily accepting slavery?
Translated by : E. News[Pramod Ranjan’s interests lie in subaltern studies and development of modernity. Sahityetihas Ka Bahujan Paksha, Bahujan Sahitya Ki Prastavna, Mahishasur: Mithak Evam Paramparayein and Shimla Diary are among the books penned by him. Contact: ±919811884495, email@example.com]
Ahh, this is so much more conplicated and evil than just lSARS-CoV2 lock-down. Centuries, man, and just the past 50 years. Monsanto, PFA’s, plastics, aerosols, black soot, aromatic particulates, mercury in the food, air, water . . . lead too, and, oh that glowing Chernobyl and Fukushima . . . depleted uranium . . . mass incarceration, open air prisons like Palestine, and the malpractice of medicine, pharma, ag, education, law . . . . Oh that structural violence, those dirty waterways, the shit and scum in babies’ formula.
To survive and thrive we will have to shut down the fossil fuel industry and the military-industrial complex. We will need to close down the world’s bio-warfare labs (like the ones at Wuhan, China and Fort Detrick, Maryland), wet markets, intensive confinement farms, and wildlife trafficking that lie at the root of COVID-19.
To avoid future pandemics, to stop the spread of antibiotic resistance and the food- and environment-related chronic diseases that are now reaching epidemic levels (cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, pulmonary deterioration), and that constitute a major co-factor in COVID-19 deaths, we will have to eliminate factory farms (the perfect breeding grounds for disease and pandemics) and industrial food production, transform the diets and eating habits of the population and drastically reduce air pollution. This means moving from chemical- and energy-intensive industrial agriculture, transportation, utilities and manufacturing to re-localized green and regenerative practices. It means putting an end to the deforestation, habitat destruction, economic exploitation, globalized trade wars and geopolitical belligerence that threaten us all.
There are some things that can’t be the truth even if they did happen. — Chapter Two, Sometimes a Great Notion, Ken Kesey
Sometimes you gotta pull rank.
First, though, the evidence of the shit-hole country that it always has been:
A lady in Newport, OR (pop. 8,000) had the fellow who used to cut her lawn stay in lock-down. She wasn’t getting anyone to come out during the lock-down.
One, then two warnings from the infamous “ code” inspector for the City of Newport.
Dang, these overpaid Little Eichmann’s. She got a $1,000 fine in the mail for “dangerously tall, fire-hazard prone, vermin-producing unwieldy wolf grass.” Yep, during Oregon’s lock-down. Yep, lady on fixed social security income. Hosed down by another $60-K a year Brownshirt, err, bureaucrat. A thousand dollars she doesn’t have.
Start a GoFundMe to pay off the city folk? Nah.
Next, the homeless and just recently-house citizens in Portland are experiencing high levels of PTSD-times-10 with Oregon militarized cops blasting the air with loud sound bursts out of speakers, with helicopters overhead, with the tear gas bangs and pops. The George Floyd greeting party of the Gestapo.
And for people with post-traumatic stress disorder, the police’s crowd control tactics may be especially traumatic.
‘Loud, unexpected, and disorienting experiences can trigger these reactions and increase one’s experience of PTSD symptoms,’ said Dr. Trisha Vinatieri, supervisor for the PTSD Clinical Team at the Veteran Affairs Portland Health Care System.
Close to 40% of unsheltered people in Multnomah County (who were not in transitional housing or emergency shelters) reported dealing with PTSD, according to the 2019 Point-In-Time Count, and more than 11% were veterans.
The PTSD Clinical Team works with individuals who have experienced situations involving non-lethal crowd control. Vinatieri noted an overall uptick in referrals recently, although the cause for this is undetermined.
‘I will say that the providers on our team have shared that many of the veterans with whom they work are finding the current events, namely George Floyd’s murder, to be very triggering and upsetting,’ she said.
At a Portland City Council meeting Wednesday morning, Commissioners Chloe Eudaly and Jo Ann Hardesty both expressed concerns about the Portland Police Bureau’s use of the compound 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile, also known as tear gas, on protesters during the middle of a pandemic.
‘We know that it causes respiratory distress,” Hardesty said. “And we know that as we see more and more people showing up to protests, those people are putting their health at risk, and that risk is going to be exacerbated by tear gas and other chemical elements. We have an obligation to find out what the impact of those chemical weapons are on protesters, especially at the height of a pandemic.’
My friend who owns a small healthy and variously bio dynamic restaurant in the county where I live in is taking it one day at a time. He’s got $14,000 on his credit card.
“The landlord can’t be paid the $2000 a month. Now, the insurance company is banging on the door. But we do not have the money.”
He has stayed open since the Oregon shut down of restaurants, with revenues down by 80 percent. IN Oregon, in the county I live and work in, Lincoln, we have not gotten into Phase Two lockdown. We have the highest unemployment rate of all Oregon, at way over 26 percent.
“I guess from my point of view – and from other people’s points of view from other places I’ve lived and worked in, including in Europe, wine and cheese are essential services. Before coronavirus and now.”
The entire supply chain, the vendors and growers and producers and truckers, all of it, including the harvesters (he has guys and gals on boats who bring him the crab and oysters and fish) is in the bind. The corona capitalism bind.
My buddy is wearing a mask, and his small bistro-like place has been set up for the six foot viral distancing rules. He constantly cleans surfaces, his own hands, menus with disinfectant made by 2 Towns Cider House (Corvallis).
He sends me to a New York Times piece on Plum, a restaurant that closed – after 20 years in the biz.
I am not going to suddenly start arguing the merits of my restaurant as a vital part of an “industry” or that I help to make up 2 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product or that I should be helped out by our government because I am one of those who employ nearly 12 million Americans in the work force. But those seem to be the only persuasive terms — with my banks, my insurers, my industry lobbyists and legislators. I have to hope, though, that we matter in some other alternative economy; that we are still a thread in the fabric that might unravel if you yanked us from the weave. […]
The concerns before coronavirus are still universal: The restaurant as we know it is no longer viable on its own. You can’t have tipped employees making $45 an hour while line cooks make $15. You can’t buy a $3 can of cheap beer at a dive bar in the East Village if the “dive bar” is actually paying $18,000 a month in rent, $30,000 a month in payroll; it would have to cost $10. I can’t keep hosing down the sauté corner myself just to have enough money to repair the ripped awning. Prune is in the East Village because I’ve lived in the East Village for more than 30 years. I moved here because it was where you could get an apartment for $450 a month. In 1999, when I opened Prune, I still woke each morning to roosters crowing from the rooftop of the tenement building down the block, which is now a steel-and-glass tower. A less-than-500-square-foot studio apartment rents for $3,810 a month. […]
I cannot see myself excitedly daydreaming about the third-party delivery-ticket screen I will read orders from all evening. I cannot see myself sketching doodles of the to-go boxes I will pack my food into so that I can send it out into the night, anonymously, hoping the poor delivery guy does a good job and stays safe. I don’t think I can sit around dreaming up menus and cocktails and fantasizing about what would be on my playlist just to create something that people will order and receive and consume via an app. I started my restaurant as a place for people to talk to one another, with a very decent but affordable glass of wine and an expertly prepared plate of simply braised lamb shoulder on the table to keep the conversation flowing, and ran it as such as long as I could. If this kind of place is not relevant to society, then it — we — should become extinct.
So, my buddy in Newport has no idea what will happen. His catering gigs at wineries have dried up. His work on an amazing eating experience near one of the most beautiful spots on the planet has been thwarted. He had been open one year then the bat virus hits. Does he believe in the lockdown or what to do about this “social distancing”?
“Look to be honest, with the George Floyd rebellion, I at times wish the entire country would burn down. I mean the entire capitalist state where a few control the rest of us. But I still put my faith in the governor’s orders, her team of people looking at the facts, the numbers, the figures.”
Of course, that Oregon governor is only as good as the state of support in the state, or the support in the region and support from the federal system. All have faltered, and that Trump Monster, well, I know some lefties defending the detritus, no matter what he does. They attribute his pussy grabbing and racism and misogyny and hatred of all people below (sic) him as deep state conspiracy.
We have a system of unemployment insurance where people get a constant busy signal, constant dead end on the computer, when filing for unemployment. Eight weeks with crickets. No checks, no insurance money, no money to pay the rent, and food donations if lucky.
Well, it’s a metaphor, but a metaphor that originated in a concrete experience. I worked for about ten years of my life in areas of extreme poverty in the Sierras, in the jungle, in urban areas in different parts of Latin America. And at the beginning of that period, I was one day in an Indian village in the Sierra in Peru. It was an ugly day. It had been raining all the time. And I was standing in the slum. And across me, another guy also standing in the mud — not in the slum, in the mud. And, well, we looked at each other, and this was a short guy, thin, hungry, jobless, five kids, a wife and a grandmother. And I was the fine economist from Berkeley, teaching in Berkeley, having taught in Berkeley and so on. And we were looking at each other, and then suddenly I realized that I had nothing coherent to say to that man in those circumstances, that my whole language as an economist, you know, was absolutely useless. Should I tell him that he should be happy because the GDP had grown five percent or something? Everything was absurd.
So I discovered that I had no language in that environment and that we had to invent a new language. And that’s the origin of the metaphor of barefoot economics, which concretely means that is the economics that an economist who dares to step into the mud must practice. The point is, you know, that economists study and analyze poverty in their nice offices, have all the statistics, make all the models, and are convinced that they know everything that you can know about poverty. But they don’t understand poverty. And that’s the big problem. And that’s why poverty is still there. And that changed my life as an economist completely. I invented a language that is coherent with those situations and conditions. Source.
I am part of this ground-truthing exercise (remember, I am pulling rank on the people writing over at places at Off Guardian or over someone like Paul Craig Roberts and the like).
You see it’s easy to do since I am reading a lot of KeyBoard/Bored warriors showing their true racist colors, again, this idea of white supremacy. It isn’t always a robe and white pointed hat or tattooed dude on a Harley with Trump’s (or Reagan’s or Bush’s) face scrawled all over the candy-painted gas tank.
To be truthful, I am seeing a lot of great pithy stuff from white people from Klanada, United Snakes of America, and Eunuch Kingdom
Whiteness is a default standard; the background of the figure-ground analogy from which all other groups of color are compared, contrasted, and made visible. From this color standard, racial/ethnic minorities are evaluated, judged, and often found to be lacking, inferior, deviant, or abnormal. Because Whiteness is considered to be normative and ideal, it automatically confers dominance on fair skinned people in our society. Whiteness would not be problematic if it weren’t (a) predicated on White supremacy, (b) imposed overtly and covertly on People of Color, and (c) made invisible to those who benefit from its existence. Seen from this vantage point, Whiteness is an invisible veil that cloaks its racist deleterious effects through individuals, organizations, and society. The result is that White people are allowed to enjoy the benefits that accrue to them by virtue of their skin color. Thus, Whiteness, White supremacy, and White privilege are three interlocking forces that disguise racism so it may allow White people to oppress and harm persons of color while maintaining their individual and collective advantage and innocence. Source.
You know as I stated in a previous DV, we can’t have our cake and eat it too. I am observing more and more cognitive dissonance and hyper- contradictory discourse and mass white man/woman guilt confusion. Albeit there are smart folk on these sites, and yes, again, let’s drum roll this –
Yes, Trump is part of the continual criminal enterprise before, during and after his POTUS run
Yes, the policies of Obama et al, from Gorge Washington to this pussy grabber, are about domination, getting one or million things up on your competitor. It is about destroying your competitor as if he or she is your enemy.
Yes, the Anglo-Saxon and the whites of Hispania and the others in the history of emporium have all been in the game to steal, to murder, to dominate, to extract, to control, to burglarize land, resources, people and cultures.
Trump is that in the form of an Adderral fiend, in the form of a pussy grabber, in the form of an outright racist.
Obama knew what he was doing, and he is part of the same ugly state, deep or shallow, that Trump loves and believe in.
The FBI has always been a force of bad.
Not sure what the guys like Paul Craig Roberts do in their daily lives, but my daily life is working with hundreds of people in a non-profit program I am helping run that gives my participants each a measly $840 unconditional cash transfer for a social capital project.
Of course, all billionaires should be outlawed, and we should be collectivist and communist in our dealings with man, woman and child.
The communities across the land must have full control of the things and corporations and programs coming into their neighborhoods.
Yes, a little bit of lead is bad for the baby, so regulating lead to a certain “acceptable level” is the very definition of capitalism.
Externalities are part and parcel the cost of doing business.
Collateral damage is both economic speak, military speak, education speak, all sorts of groups’ speak.
My participants in the program are sucking wind, big time. Recall the unemployment rate in Lincoln County. Recall we are in lock-down Oregon. Recall that there are no safety nets, no free clinics, no free day care centers, no free good banks, no MASH tents for dentistry, no roaming vans with smart and caring social workers and therapists to help people get through.
Pulling rank means just calling a spade a spade. Is this a plan-demic? Of course it is. Is it an accidental release of a messed-with bat virus? Most probably. Is the lock-down draconian? Yes. Do we self quarantine for a virus that now is no longer going away, one we have to “deal with” unlike the SARAS-CoV?
Here’s the problem – I understand the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the power of Gates and GAVI and Davos and the Rockefellers and Bloomberg and Thiel and Google and the rest of them, including the mom and pop killers, Jeff Bezos.
I understand what the controlled opposition is. I understand the New Black is Green, that most everything in Western Civilization has been co-opted by, colonized by, hacked by the masters of the universe who do business in that big ass business round-table – the complex, not just the matrix.
Think Military, Pharma, Real Estate, Law, Education, Ag, Oil, Mining, Media, Prison, Banking, Insurance, AI, retail, Digital, Entertainment, Propaganda Complex. There may be commas in the foregoing, but think hyphens, or slash marks. Think how intertwined capital is with the powers that make a killing in all these arenas just listed.
Yet, especially over at the Off Guardian, but elsewhere, I have KeyBoard/Bored and mouse heroes just attack and hitting the jugular on the Deep State, on Neoliberals, on Democrats, and the Billionaire class, yet in the same long piece, there is zero discussion about Trump also being another version and iteration of the perversions of Power-Money-PR spin-Propaganda-Neofascist Patriarchy.
I ground truth, and that pulling rank means those people I know who are still in Peru, Mexico or other countries who are journalists and real activists I listen to. When they say large warehouses or small mountain towns and/or large cities in Peru and Mexico are seeing more and more deaths by this virus, I have to go with them and not some KeyBoard/Bored hero who will tell me that the numbers are just not there to prove coronavirus is not just the same as seasonal flu.
Right. So, all those seasonal flu’s killed as many Peruvians as are being killed now? It’s cognitive foolishness.
It’s almost cognitive dissonance and intellectual dissociative behavior.
I know vaccines are some bad hombres, real culprits in so many issues tied to learning disabilities, chronic illnesses and allergies and almost everything from IBS to ADHD. Not just the mountains of stories and evidence on such a single killer and maiming shot like Gardasil, AKA HPV vaccine. I am talking about my buddies from the Vietnam war, and those from the Gulf Wars. I have seen those ailments not just attributed to Agent Orange, but to the forced vaccinations that were administered to them as part of their duty to wear the uniform.
And the entire society is now reverse engineered. Area 51 and F/Zuckerberg, a cyborg of the 11th generation.
I’ve noticed that over at Off Guardian, you can also get on their shit list – I think some of my “comments” have been blocked, and, not because I am fomenting revolution. The riot act is dropped on a whole crap load of people these days.
Ground truthing is big time, and how can a Paul Craig Roberts (seen on the pages of Dissident Voice a few times) or KeyBoard/Bored Warriors at Counterpunch or Off Guardian really get down and dirty when they’ve really not been in the trenches. I mean, no offense, but we have this Paul Craig Roberts, and we are supposed to bow to him (like some many did for Ron Paul) because he seems to be an outlier for the very administration that brought us their versions of deep state and supply side economics. Here, PCR – Wikipedia thumbnail:
Paul Craig Roberts is an American economist and author. He formerly held a sub-cabinet office in the United States federal government as well as teaching positions at several U.S. universities. He is a promoter of supply-side economics and an opponent of recent U.S. foreign policy. Wikipedia
He was born April 3, 1939 in Atlanta,. His political affiliations is Republican Party. His education include University of Virginia and Georgia Institute of Technology. Should I be impressed, and for DV or any other so-called dissident outlet, he seems very off the wall in terms of what could be a loose vision for progressive magazines/blogs.
And he has tons of accolades by Forbes, by Stanford, by supply-side economists. He is a living legend in many circles tied to the Hoover Institution. Good old conservative American Pie —
During 1981-82, he served as assistant secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy. President Reagan and Treasury Secretary Regan credited him with a major role in the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, and he was awarded the Treasury Department’s Meritorious Service Award for “his outstanding contributions to the formulation of United States economic policy.” From 1975 to 1978, Dr. Roberts served on the congressional staff, where he drafted the Kemp-Roth bill and played a leading role in developing bipartisan support for a supply-side economic policy.
My point is they never really talk about or articulate the positions of the homeless, the near-houseless, the 80 percent of Americans who have a whopping 8 percent of the so-called wealth, compared to the One Percent and 19 Percent, who have that whooping 40% and 52 percent of wealth.
These KeyBoard/Bored heroes or PCR are not just one trick ponies, no, because they seem to be at the vanguard of fighting for the small guy, for believing in human agency, in our individual liberties. But we know that capitalism is not about individual freedoms or collective freedoms, but rather about the dog-eat-dog realities of predatory-casino-parasitic-disaster Capitalism, based on the collective actions of a small group of mostly white men deciding the fates of the rest of the world.
Rape, rapacious destruction of people, culture, ecologies, nature, societies.
I understand the entire gambit that is now — and was in the works for decades — this the new abnormal of telemedicine, teleeducation, telefinance, telegovernment, teleschool, telesocial work, telework. Was this SARS-CoV2 the perfect storm? Was the George Floyd the perfect matching to ignite a many head rebellion in the streets?
Is George Soros behind everything, behind all the actions in the streets? The Russians? Ahh, when you read the KeyBoard/Bored Heroes they are some of the brightest and smartest people on earth, don’t you know, and their word is God’s, or The Word. Entire essays on how COVID-19 is “just another flu,” and how all the numbers have been cooked.
Christ, I am a communist and atheist and deep systems thinker, and I am a journalist and social worker and educator and creative writer, and the reality is, we can have SARS-CoV2 which is something more virulent than the SARS-CoV. We can understand the deeply broken global population of chronic illness plagued citizens, all the hypertension, the pre- and post- diabetics. How much do we need to know about the polluted grains (Round-up), polluted rivers, polluted soils, the polluted air? How much do we need to know about the virulent bacteria and viruses locked in the hell-holes that are CAFO’s? How much do we need to know about the wet-bulb temperature going up in major population centers, or about the ground ozone, or the heat island effect, or the plastic in all species, or the nano-particles, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or the total surveillance society of now and the future?
Because we have that, all these KeyBoard/Bored heroes prognosticating, dropping these incredible essays on sites like Off-Guardian, et al, well, the world is so much safer, more defined, and makes more sense, no?
Ground-truthing means I work with homeless and PTSD veterans and adults with developmental disabilities and foster youth and Pk12 students; with inmates, with released inmates, with gang-influenced youth, with elderly in lifelong learning programs.
I remember this one 24-hour period in Portland. I was working at $12 an hour as an activities director for a program for adults with developmental disabilities. It was also housed in a memory care facility. I had just taken 12 clients in a bus (I was the licensed bus operator) to a sturgeon center on the Columbia. People who had various levels of cognition. Various ages. Some were in wheelchairs. Several needed help with toileting. One had a colostomy bag that spilled, and here I was, cleaning her up and putting in a new bag.
Right after that gig, I rushed to teach a literature class at a college. I then rushed to a meeting of social workers who were organizing a union. After that, a later meeting of people working on cleaning up the Columbia River. Made it home to quickly gobble food and then cranked out a magazine piece for another gig – a piece on the Hanford facility. Before shutting down the laptop, I was packing to head out to the Tri-Cities to get more information on the death mile near Hanford. I also interviewed the offspring of people who were lured to the Hanford site to do the building and janitorial work. Mexican-Americans and African-Americans.
An entire part of the Tri-Cities where the people of color lived. Segregation 101, and they are still there, on the other side of the proverbial railroad tracks.
Then back on the road, rushing to my gig with adults with learning disabilities, with developmental disabilities. I was going to help one get a job interview at a Burger King wiping tables and sweeping up. A job three times a week, for 12 hours a week, pulling down $120.
Irony, huh? Me, with my three fancy college degrees, getting $12 an hour, helping a forty-year-old woman living with Downs Syndrome get a $10 an hour job at a fast-food chain from hell.
Can this be, this cognitive dissonance that those KeyBoard/Bored Gurus writing all these fine essays and commentary blurbs about knowing for sure how the Matrix is built, how it all ends up in the post-Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Look, I am all about thought experiments, all about people spreading their proverbial intellectual wings by prognosticating, by going against the grain, by following the many conspiracies of our Star Chamber masters, for sure.
I really do. I might be part of that a bit. But the reality is I have to make money, I have to do real patsy journalism, I have to do reading gigs for a new book, and I have a propensity for embedding myself into community, for sure.
I relate better to poor people with no college degrees, with lives mired in the dysfunction that is America – bad parents, mean hombre parents, rapists daddies, drug-using parents, drug-offering parents, vacant parents, mean as cuss parents-siblings-boyfriends — than with professionals or managerial classes. I have more to relate to with drop-outs, military mess ups, substance abusers and those in recovery, than a hundred PhD’s. Really.
I sort of get acid refluxy reading this stuff from armchair warriors, those KeyBoard/Bored heroes who have every last bit of evidence that the SARS-CoV2 is one big choreographed, contrived, concealed scam.
Have at it, KeyBoard/Bored Warriors, labeling me as dead, stupid, naïve and so off base I must be colonized by The Man; and editors, you too, have at it de-platforming blokes like me who get on your faux radical sites and then find ourselves arrowed-down/thumbs-downed by dozens of readers of the comments.
For now, Dissident Voice has been kind, and the writing here is more akin to my way of at least entertaining conflicting and oppositional ideas without me feeling I am going to be bombed with hate and ire and denigration.