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January 7th, 2021

Erika Allen Wolters is director of the OSU Policy Analysis Laboratory (OPAL) and environmental social scientist at Oregon State University. She is the co-author of the recently released The Environmental Politics and Policy of Western Public Lands alongside Brent S. Steele. They explore long-standing discussions of land use, water management, Indigenous sovereignty, and more that arises in the diverse landscapes of the West. Below, Wolters shares more about the policy and future of climate change policy and what that looks like for the western United States.

OSU Press: What was the driving force to write The Environmental Politics and Policy of Western Public Lands

Wolters: The western United States is rapidly changing both demographically and ecologically. As population growth continues to push urban boundaries and more people want to live in smaller towns with recreational amenities, land managers must adapt to increased demand on already stressed resources, which are simultaneously becoming less predictable to manage due to climate change. The West is also a region of abundant federal land; managers are challenged to balance multiple uses while maintaining ecological integrity. The West has been the scene of several large battles involving the Endangered Species Act, water allocation, and even contested ownership of federal land. We wanted to write this book to capture the current issues surrounding western public lands all through a lens of climate change that has undeniably further stressed attempts at policy solutions.

And, on a personal level, we are both from the West. It is part of our identity and defines much of how we relate to western environmental policy.

OSU Press: There hasn't been an authoritative book on this topic since the publication of Charles Davis’s Western Public Lands and Environmental Politics (Westview, 2001). Why is it important to have updated information on the environmental politics of western lands? 

Wolters: In 2001, Charles “Chuck” Davis wrote Western Public Lands and Environmental Politics. This book is a seminal reading in environmental policy classes, especially those that focus on the western United States. Brent and I reached out to Chuck to ask him if he was interested in putting together a new edition. With other projects keeping him busy, he declined but encouraged us to put together a new book that could essentially be an updated edition. Since the publication of Chuck’s book, the West has experienced more acutely the effects of climate change. This has altered discussion on everything from management of the wildlife urban interface to shifting energy production on public lands, and there have been rapid changes to both the population and political landscapes. We are hopeful that this book builds on Chuck’s work while providing an update on the last two decades of environmental politics and policy of western public lands.

OSU Press: What can non-environmental background folks take away from your research? 

Wolters: There are high levels of support for public lands among the residents in the West. A 2020 Colorado College State of the Rockies Conservation in the West poll found consistently high levels of support (67 percent in favor) for their Congressional member to protect the environment and ensure opportunities to recreate on public lands.[1] Generally, I think this reflects the high level of interest people in the West have for protecting public land. I don’t think you have to have an environmental background to appreciate the issues discussed in the book because each chapter is meant to stand alone and therefore provides the full context of the issue (background, challenges, policies, etc.) making the topics accessible to people with or without an environmental background.


OSU Press: Do you have a favorite chapter or scholar that you were able to work with? 

Wolters: The exciting thing was getting incredible scholars to contribute their vast knowledge and expertise to this book. I can’t say I have a favorite scholar or chapter, but I will say that I was incredibly grateful for everyone’s contributions.


OSU Press: How can we create flexible, adaptable, and encompassing environmental policies that respond to local environmental struggles in an impactful amount of time?

Wolters: I think we build on common ground. What’s been interesting is noticing the coalitions of seemingly disparate groups on issues like public land access and protection. Hunters and anglers and environmental groups are unified in their opposition to privatizing federal land and land transfers that ostensibly block the public from accessing public lands. The coalitions have proven to be a powerful political voice in protecting public lands. While policy needs to be iterative, the ability to address pressing issues requires us to find common ground. Right now, we are in an incredibly divisive political environment. However, we know that collaboration among those representing different interests can achieve environmental protection outcomes.

OSU Press: How can we center Native American voices when discussing environmental policy? 

Wolters: That’s a really difficult question, and it’s one reason Brent and I asked Shane Day to contribute a chapter on Native Americans and tribal sovereignty. Centering Native American and Indigenous voices require that there is not just an opportunity for all voices to be heard, but for everyone to participate. Part of that requires a recognition of both Native American rights and sovereignty, which continue to be neglected. Look at what is happening in both Oklahoma and Alaska. In Oklahoma, the EPA recently gave the state authority on environmental issues, even within tribal reservation boundaries. In Alaska, the Gwich’in are suing the federal government for opening parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling. This land is sacred to the Gwich’in and provides critical breeding grounds for caribou, an important food source for the Gwich’in. Native American voices have often been marginalized in environmental policy; this is somewhat endemic of the larger issue of representation. Voter laws have minimized votes, and for a multitude of other reasons, Native Americans are often not represented in elected offices. I think in order for Native Americans' voices to be part, if not a central focus, of environmental policy, we need to acknowledge their connection to the land and that historically their voices have been ignored and disregarded. It also means that the way we engage in environmental policy decision-making may need to be more reflective of different ways of engaging in the policy process and may need to value outcomes that are more holistic and culturally desirable.


OSU Press: What policy tools do you think would be efficient for addressing climate change and why?  

Wolters: There have been several efforts at economic tools, like cap and trade as well as subsidies for renewable energy. The reality is that we are past due for a comprehensive plan that addresses climate change at multiple scales and utilizes diverse policy tools. We need to rejoin the Paris Agreement because climate change is a global problem and requires engagement from other nations, particularly those who are contributing the most greenhouse gas emissions. Domestically, we need to invest in green infrastructure, renewable energy and commit to achieving net-zero emissions in energy production. I think we also need to work to make this a bipartisan issue and invest in both people and ideas. There is no silver bullet to address climate change, and all policies will most likely be incremental, but we can’t delay significant action any longer.

OSU Press: What is your hope for the future of environmental policy? 

We have to stop polarizing environmental issues, especially climate change. Climate change will impact everyone and everything on this planet. Our inability to address climate change has everything to do with a lack of political will. A Pew Research Survey in 2020 found that 65 percent of Americans felt the federal government was not doing enough to address the effects of climate change.[2] The desire to address climate change is present in the electorate; it needs to be seriously addressed by policymakers.

In terms of environmental policy in the western United States, under the Trump administration, we have seen more aggressive efforts to dismantle critical environmental laws and chip away at the protection of public lands that are important for a multitude of reasons, not in the least of which are human and ecological health. This is where we can hopefully find common ground to address environmental policy. Westerners want public land protected; they want to protect wildlife and wild spaces. Regardless of where we identify on the political spectrum, the majority of westerners still agree that conservation of the West is a top priority.


[1] Weigel, L. and Metz, D. 2020. “Colorado College State of the Rockies Project Key Findings: The 2020 survey of the attitudes of voters in eight Western states”. Available at https://www.coloradocollege.edu/other/stateoftherockies/conservationinthewest/2020/2020-conservation-in-the-west-poll-data/2020%20State%20of%20the%20Rockies%20Poll%20HIghlights.pdf

[2] Tyson, A. and Kennedy, B. 2020. “Two-Thirds of Americans Think Government Should Do More on Climate”. Pew Research Center. Available at ttps://www.pewresearch.org/science/2020/06/23/two-thirds-of-americans-think-government-should-do-more-on-climate/ 

January 7th, 2021

All year long, in celebration of our 60th anniversary, we're offering a 60% discount on a rotating selection of books. You'll never find a better price on these gems from our publishing past, but you'll need to act fast, as the selection changes monthly. This month's featured books are all about politics. You have through Friday, February 12, to get 60% off these titles when ordering through our website. To get the discount, enter the promo code OSU60 at checkout.

The Only Woman in the Room: The Norma Paulus Story
Norma Paulus with Gail E. Wells and Pat McCord Amacher
Norma Paulus was elected Oregon’s Secretary of State in 1976—the first woman to be elected to a statewide office in Oregon. She was the Republican candidate for governor in 1986, served a stint on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, went on to become Oregon’s superintendent of public instruction, and headed the Oregon Historical Society. The Only Woman in the Room documents her life and work in a lively, anecdotal history.
List Price: $24.95 | Sale Price $9.98 with promo code OSU60 (expires 2/12/2021)

Keeping Oregon Green: Livability, Stewardship, and the Challenges of Growth, 1960–1980
Derek R. Larson

Keeping Oregon Green is an authoritative history of the legislative accomplishments of Oregon’s environmental era: the revitalization of the polluted Willamette River, the Beach Bill that preserved public access to the entire coastline, the Bottle Bill that set the national standard for reducing roadside litter, and the nation’s first comprehensive land use zoning law.
List Price: $24.95 | Sale Price $9.98 with promo code OSU60 (expires 2/12/2021)

Reporting the Oregon Story: How Activists and Visionaries Transformed a State
Floyd J. McKay
Oregon entered a new era in 1964 with the election of Tom McCall as Secretary of State and Bob Straub as State Treasurer. Their political rivalry formed the backdrop for two of Oregon’s most transformative decades, as they successively fought for, lost, and won the governorship. Veteran Oregon journalist Floyd McKay had a front-row seat. Amid today’s cynicism and disillusionment with media, politics, and politicians, Reporting the Oregon Story serves as a timely reminder that charged politics and bitter rivalries can also come hand-in-hand with lasting social progress.
List Price: $21.95 | Sale Price $8.78 with promo code OSU60 (expires 2/12/2021)

Standing at the Water's Edge: Bob Straub's Battle for the Soul of Oregon
Charles K. Johnson
Standing at the Water’s Edge chronicles the life of a unique political figure in Oregon history: former Governor Robert W. Straub. A man of intelligence, drive, creativity, and fascinating contradictions, Straub overcame personal challenges and inevitable comparisons to his charismatic predecessor and friendly Republican rival, Tom McCall, to have a lasting impact on Oregon and the nation. Author Charles Johnson shares insights into Straub's significant legacy, focusing on his leading role in the state’s financial and environmental issues.
List Price: $24.95 | Sale Price $9.98 with promo code OSU60 (expires 2/12/2021)
November 17th, 2020

Did you know that in the early twentieth century, Oregon was the leading grower and producer of hops? Kenneth I. Helphand, author of Hops: Historic Photographs of the Oregon Hopscape, uses photos and words to share stories of a rich part of Oregon’s agricultural history. This is not a book about beer, but about the hops plant and the community that picked it. Helphand describes in this interview his process for creating the book.

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OSU Press: What was the genesis for writing Hops? 

Helphand: I teach landscape architecture and the history of landscape architecture. Hopyard, 1880I am recently retired from the University of Oregon where I taught for 45 years. So, I have an interest in landscapes of all types. I’ve lived in Oregon since 1974. The genesis has multiple strands. One is I never saw hops growing until I moved to Oregon. I used to do a lot of bike riding in the valley and that was the first time I ever saw hops growing and I was just struck by these landscapes. I used to describe hops yard as a vineyard on steroids. I had a long-term interest in “agritecture,” which is the architecture of agriculture and all of the elements used in agriculture to support and protect growing plants. All the things that support tomatoes, squash, bean poles, and coverings to protect plants from birds, animals—that always fascinated me. Then I had the opportunity to research hops landscapes through the Foundation for Landscape Studies magazine, Fault Lines, for a special issue on agricultural landscapes, and through my research I realized that the national hops archives were less than an hour away from me at OSU. I made an appointment with Tiah, who is the archivist there, and she introduced me to the archives, print materials, and let me know about the photo archives. I was struck by the quality of these photographs and that interested me. I have a long-term interest in landscape photography. (above right: Hopyard, 1880; "Hoppicking Time is Holiday in Oregon"; Angelus Studio)

OSU Press: Why photographs? What do we learn from them?

Helphand: Photography can do a lot of things, but photography can be used narratively to tell a story. Individually and collectively all the pictures in the book tell a story. They tell a story about the plant, but then the seasonal cycle of hop growing as the yard is wired and strung and the Pickers, Oregon City, circa 1890plants grow. Ultimately, how they’re harvested, baled, dried, then go to market. They tell that story.

What I discovered dramatically in the pictures is another story that interested me equally—the social story of the culture of hop growing in the landscape. In the pictures there were vast numbers of people who were picking before it was mechanized. It took three to four weeks at a time to pick hops. This was a practice engaged by tens and thousands of people who would descend on hop yards—mostly in the Willamette Valley—to pick. This group represented every strata in society in terms of class, ethnic group, and generation. People gathered together and they worked during the day, and at night there was entertainment. There would be dances, movies, socializing, and the photographs tell that collective story. Oregon used to be the hops capital of the world. We tend to think of Oregon as having a logging, timber, and outdoor environmental culture, and I think Hops tells a different story of Oregon culture that not many know about. (above left: Pickers, Oregon City, circa 1890; Oregon Historical Society, Folder Ag-Hops Wkrs)

OSU Press: What was it like to spend so much time in the archives?

Helphand: To put it simply, I love archivists. I’ve spent a lot of times in the archives not Securing wire to poles with tractor pulling high tower, 1952only for this research but in other research I’ve done. An archivist’s job is to gather material for a collection and then organize that material to make it available to anyone who wants to see it. That means they know their collections. They are catalogued in different degrees and now things are scanned and digitized and you can look it up on your computer, but archivists have been working for many years to digitize their collections. You have to be clever about what you are seeking. I spent a lot of time gathering articles, text material, newspapers, loose files, and through the Oregon Digital Newspaper Program (ODNP), which turned out to be most important. Around hop picking time, the Oregonian would do a big hop picking feature. So, there are newspaper clippings and hop picking ads that are featured in the book. (above right: Securing wire to poles with tractor pulling high tower, 1952; OHBA Gifford Photographic Collection, circa 1885-1958)

OSU Press: How is the book both a landscape and a cultural history?

Pickers with men on poles, 1930Helphand: They aren’t contradictory terms. Landscape is culture and landscapes are a cultural phenomenon. I use the terms landscape in a broad sense, not just talking about the cultural landscapes, but essentially that landscapes are the world that human beings have created. We see this most dramatically with our rural and urban landscapes. How people interact with them and how the landscapes impact people is a symbiotic relationship of looking at the landscape as a manifestation of culture. We do this with other art forms and we expand that idea with landscapes. All the manifestations of the surrounding culture and the individuals who live in that landscape impact culture.

OSU Press: Did your relationship to landscapes change after you did your research on hops?

Helphand: I brought my career into this project so I wouldn’t say that it changed. Through that length of time I spent half a century thinking about landscapes. I would say that this project has enriched my understanding of a part of the world that I didn’t know that much about. I learned about the culture and the people who play a part in it. I had great support from the Oregon Hop Growers Association, who graciously supported this project.

OSU Press: Anything else to add about your experience writing Hops?

Helphand: Just that it was pleasurable to write and that people found this research fascinating. People over seventy can talk about how common hop picking and growing was in Oregon. Kenneth HelphandI even got an ad from a cousin in Los Angeles, who said that my auntie Anne used to have a phrase, “he’s hopping mad,” which meant he was full of hops. This was an expression I never heard, and it was a colloquial expression from the midwest that was a synonym for “he was full of beer.” That was a humorous part of the research.

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Kenneth I. Helphand is Philip H. Knight professor of landscape architecture emeritus at the University of Oregon. He is the author of several award-winning books, most recently Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime.

November 6th, 2020

In celebration of University Press Week, our guest blogger for today is Bruce A. Byers, author of The View from Cascade Head: Lessons for the Biosphere from the Oregon Coast. In today's post, he talks about the genesis of his book, the beauty and ecological significance of the Oregon Coast, and the importance of nature-writing to science and the conservation movement. He also reflects on Oregon's recent wildfires and what the future may hold.

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Though born in Oregon, I grew up and have mostly lived elsewhere. But some of my earliest and fondest memories are of poking in tide pools with my grandfather on summer visits to the Oregon Coast. Those tide pools gave a glimpse into another world. It seemed to me a huge,The View from Cascade Head beautiful, nonhuman world of scuttling hermit crabs, snails, camouflaged fish, and flower-like anemones. Multi-colored seastars crammed in every crevice and crawled on every rock. I remember a special delight in their diverse colors—brown, orange, and some a deep, royal purple, like the color of the robes of the ancient King of the Sea. I think that was the seed of my sense that the world is a wide and wondrous place, way beyond our grasp of it or influence on it, and that everything is connected to everything else. After I got a PhD in ecology, I remember blurting out, when someone asked me, “Well, how did you come to be an ecologist?” that it was all because of my granddad, and the tide pools at Haystack Rock. Later I wondered, Did I really mean that—that I became an ecologist because of those experiences starting at five years old? And when I thought harder and deeper about it, all I could come to was—Yes!

For my PhD research, I returned to the Oregon Coast to study an intertidal snail because it was a good species in which to understand the ecological and evolutionary dimensions of the question “Is behavior ecologically adaptive?” In retrospect, I’ve come to see, over the rest of my career, that I really wanted to answer that question about my own species, whose behavior seems in so many ways anything but ecologically adaptive and wise. But sometimes I get hints of hope that it can be—as I did when I spent some months living and working at Cascade Head recently as ecologist-in-residence at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology.

Cascade Head is Oregon’s only biosphere reserve, part of an international network of biosphere reserves coordinated by the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme. That program, and the concept of the “biosphere” from which it arose, are important achievements in the history of ecology, conservation, and sustainable development. Biosphere reserves are supposed to be laboratories for understanding the human-nature relationship, and models for other places to learn from as we all struggle toward a sustainable relationship between humans and our home planet. In my work as an international ecological consult, I’ve had the good fortune to spend time in thirty-four biosphere reserves in seventeen countries. Although each is unique, they all face similar challenges and provide lessons for all the others.

The interconnected essays in this book tell the as-yet-untold story of the Cascade Head Biosphere Reserve. I’ve tried to weave together personal observations and experiences, ecological science, the history and philosophy of nature conservation, and wider cross-cultural worldviews.

Place-based nature writing is, perhaps not surprisingly, almost synonymous with nature writing. From Walden to Wintergreen, and from The Island Within to A Wilder Time, classic nature writing has been grounded in a particular place. But a valid question is “How big is your place”? It’s very, very hard to draw boundaries around ecosystems. Place-based writing is appealing and can be lyrical because it shows readers the complex, wondrous particulars of a place. But where are the boundaries? When we probe for the ecological boundaries of any place, we find that they expand to the entire biosphere. I tried to write a place-based book full of all the enlivening details about the Cascade Head landscape and ecosystem, but then expand the story—to expand spatially, out beyond the horizon to the scale of the biosphere, and temporally too, to the scale of historical and evolutionary time. Beavers, butterflies, whales, and salmon all have ecological and evolutionary stories that illustrate what I call in the book “a prescription for correcting the ecological myopia of our own species.” I tried to follow the advice given by John Steinbeck and his marine ecologist friend Ed Ricketts in their little gem of a book, Log from the Sea of Cortez, which described a six-week marine intertidal collecting expedition they made together in 1940: “It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again.”

In looking from the near to far, and back again, I concluded that The Cascade Head Biosphere Reserve is a microcosm. It is only a tiny part of our planet’s thin and fragile living skin, but the efforts of many dedicated people to defend a balance between humans and nature there are illustrative and instructive. The lessons from Cascade Head apply anywhere.

Three lessons stand out. The first is the importance of individuals whose commitment, hard work, and love of place over many decades have made Cascade Head such a rich laboratory and model. Their stories are unequivocal in showing the importance of inspired, value-based, individual action. The second lesson is that although ecologists now understand much about how nature works, ecological mysteries still abound. We don’t fully understand the migratory traditions of gray whales, the causes of sea star wasting syndrome, the genetic diversity of the Oregon silverspot butterfly, the life histories of salmon, or the ecohydrology of forests. More research is needed to strengthen the scientific knowledge that underpins decisions about restoring ecosystems and maintaining their resilience in the face of the changes our species is creating in the biosphere. A third lesson is the importance of worldviews is how we think about the human-nature relationship—in shaping our individual and collective actions. At Cascade Head we can read the history of changing worldviews in the landscape, and begin to imagine how a new, ecocentric worldview could help heal the human-nature relationship here, and everywhere.

It used to be fashionable to talk about “the balance of nature.” But as ecologists have learned more, we realize that “balance” is not quite the right word; it can be misunderstood to suggest some sort of stability or stasis. Our home planet is dynamic and changeable, and old ideas of ecological “stability” have given way to a more sophisticated view of the dynamic balance—the resilience—of ecosystems. You can think of resilience as the kind of balance it

takes to ride a wave on a surfboard, not to stand still on a rock. On a planet prone to chaos, life has so far found adaptive pathways to survival, but humans have caused and accelerated global changes that now stress ecosystems in ways that threaten our own existence. If we are to survive much longer, we must rebuild the resilience of the ecosystems we have degraded.

Thinking about resilience, my mind immediately jumps to images of the wildfires Oregon experienced in the past few months. One, the Echo Mountain Fire, started about half-a-dozen miles east of Cascade Head in the valley of the Salmon River. The fire was relatively small, burning only around twenty-five hundred acres; it destroyed approximately three hundred structures—houses, shed, and barns—but no one lost their life.

For many people, the fires sparked fear, a sense that nature is changing, getting out of control. But fire has always been a natural part of the Cascade Head ecosystem, and has always been influenced both by climate and human activities. Forest ecologists estimate that natural fire return intervals in western Oregon forests like those at Cascade Head were two hundred years or more before Euro-American settlement, and that almost half the landscape would have been old-growth forest. Now, because logging mined out the old growth, little is left, and research has shown that much of the western United States is now in a state of “fire deficit” because of our ecologically unnatural forest management policies and practices, especially fire suppression.

Bruce ByersThe coastal grasslands that cover the scenic southern flanks of Cascade Head and are protected in The Nature Conservancy’s Cascade Head Preserve—a core part of the biosphere reserve—are in part the result of fires set by the Indigenous people who lived in the area. Those meadows are the prime habitat for the threatened Oregon silverspot butterfly, and are now maintained and managed with prescribed, controlled burns. The last major fire to touch Cascade Head was the Nestucca Fire in 1845, which burned and reset ecological succession on about two-thirds of its forests. Forests are resilient, and biodiversity thrives in a landscape that is a mosaic of all stages of ecological succession. We have work to do to reconcile our relationship to wildfire. It’s we who need to adapt, and, through research and restoration, bring back more of the natural diversity and resilience of our forests. Fire will have to have a role in that process, and in understanding that role, Cascade Head and its biosphere reserve can continue to be a laboratory and model.



Bruce A. Byers is an ecologist and consultant who advises NGOs and government agencies around the world on forest management, biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services, and environmental communication.

November 5th, 2020

In her gripping and courageous debut memoir, Tina Ontiveros leaves it all on the page, inviting readers to lean into her experiences as a young girl growing up in and out of logging camps amidst intergenerational poverty and trauma in the Pacific Northwest. rough house has been on the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Bestseller list for six weeks running and was an October IndieNext pick from the American Booksellers Association. Tracing her story through the forests and working-class towns of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, Ontiveros brings readers along on her journey of love, loss, and finding home.

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OSU Press: What was the driving force for you to tell your story?

author photo by Sol Ontiveros Tough question! I think an honest answer would be very long and complicated. For one thing, I think this story was held in my body before I wrote it down. In that sense, I’ve been telling it my whole life—or it has been telling me. I think, as I became more educated and gained more financial stability, I was able to let go of the shame you carry when you are poor. That was a gradual process, sort of becoming free to speak. I worked on it, in bits and different forms, for over ten years before I wrote the manuscript that became rough house.

Another big motivation for me was my niece. She is sixteen and her single mom struggles with many of the consequences that come with generational poverty. A few years back, I noticed that my niece was carrying shame, just as I had, just as her mother does, for being poor. And I felt like it was my responsibility to tell part of our family story for her. I want her to see the joy and beauty in the struggle. I want her to know that her story will be something she feels proud of someday. I think knowing that can help her set her shame down much earlier than I did. 

OSU Press: Class inequities are a constant theme in your book. Can you talk more about how class struggle shaped your life?  

Ontiveros: I don’t think there is anything about me that was not shaped by class. When I was a young adult, I did everything to escape poverty. And I thought that meant I had to leave everything about it behind—including most of my family. Now, I think that’s sad. There is so much wrong with the American ideal of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. The idea that anyone can make their way in the American economy is false. And, because the lie is so pervasive, we automatically shame anyone who fails at this ideal. We shame the poor and that shame was such a presence in my upbringing. So, I thought the cost of becoming educated and middle class was that I had to set down whatever culture was instilled by my family—iron out my language and be watchful of my habits—because those things brought shame. I didn’t realize the shame came from the outside world—not from something that was wrong with my family.

Now, I tend to push back against the idea that I should have to assimilate if I want to participate in academia or live in the middle class. I think there is something we can all learn from families like mine. And I try to share that with my students early, so maybe they might waste less time in pointless assimilation.

OSUrough house Press: There’s much to be angry at or feel resentful towards in your book, but you come across as very calm in an almost understanding way. What do you do with your anger? How have you processed the difficult emotions described in rough house? 

Ontiveros: In the book I write a little about that. In my teens and early twenties, I did have more anger. It has slipped away with distance but also, the process of writing helped me transform that anger, I think. Also, it’s important here to point out the vast difference between writing and publishing. Each writer has to decide for herself what she is ready to share with the world. For me, I don’t think I have any business publishing a memoir if I have not yet processed the anger out of the events I am writing about. I love literary memoir and I notice that, in the memoirs I consider worth reading and rereading, the writer has enough distance to allow her to at least try to see the motivations of others, even those who hurt her. So, it was important to me that I write this book without anger. In the end, the memoir is a thing I created—it is not my life. They are related but not the same thing. And I created this thing to hopefully be able to connect to other people, outside the boundaries of space and time. In order to do that well, it couldn’t be written from a place of anger. It had to be written from a place of curiosity. That is what leaves the story open for others to experience. Curiosity is an invitation.

OSU Press: You spent a lot of time outdoors. How did nature play a role in your life? Was it a source of escape or happiness for you?   

Ontiveros: Yes—my dad was a migrant logger so we moved constantly, but we always lived in or very near the woods. I had this beautiful and wild backdrop for all my childhood stories and that made life with him take on a fairytale quality. After my mom left him, every time I came back to my dad, I returned to the woods. Hardly ever the same woods—he was always on the move even after he stopped logging. But still, it was always a journey of returning to the forest. That really helped me sort of think of my dad as a mythological figure and I think it also helped me, as a child, process some of our trauma. Because there is always danger in fairy tales—they wouldn’t be complete without that darkness. Adventure comes with risk. 

Also, my dad had a way of celebrating beauty through nature, of teaching me to be curious in wandering and exploring. Those gentle moments really balanced out his more troubling behavior. So, I wouldn't say nature was a source of escape. But it was a source of comfort in that it allowed me to find beauty in some very hard times. I also think there is a way that being in open spaces, being in the natural world, reminds you how small and insignificant you are. And that’s true of your troubles as well. So, I do think there is a way that the spaces I was lucky to sort of wander through with my dad might have given me some perspective. Nature is always demonstrating that nothing is permanent. Coastlines and the forests are always changing. That’s true of our sorrows, too. Tomorrow, or the next day, they will be transformed.

OSU Press: You migrated all throughout the PNW. Are there any particular spots that were your favorite to live in or any specific areas in the PNW that were special to you?  

Ontiveros: Packwood is my favorite of all the places I lived with my dad. That seems strange because my worst trauma happened there. But it was also a place where I experienced great joy and learned so much about resilience and my own strength. 

Place Names in rough houseThe Dalles is also very close to my heart. I will always consider it my home, though I no longer choose to live there. The Dalles is hard for me in so many ways. It is brown and dry; I prefer green and rain. There’s so much history there for me, much of it painful. It's a working-class town and I had this idea I wanted to be “more.” I wanted to be educated and financially secure. I often felt misunderstood and like I just wanted to get out. But it is also where my mom is, where my bookstore is. It is the place where so many things that really are the heart of me live. And I can always feel there are people there, cheering for me no matter what. So, I will always come back. And, like all things, distance has given me appreciation for it.

OSU Press: If you could tell young Tina anything, what would it be? 

Ontiveros: Honestly, I don’t think I would tell her anything. Like I say in the book, I have to leave her alone in moments of trauma—she has to figure it out on her own, so that I can be made. And I can see now how everything she needed to know was given to her—she just didn’t always listen. My dad used to say to me, if I was in pain and wanted him to somehow make it better, that I just had to wait. His phrase was, Ain’t nothin’ for it but time. The pain was going to pass with time. Another thing he sometimes said was, If I ain’t hurtin’, I ain’t livin’. He had troubling behavior, that’s for sure. He was the product of generations of poverty and that has a way of making some people hard. But he was always showing me how you get back up and try again. If young Tina could have understood the wisdom in that, she might have been spared a lot of anxiety and heartache. But the message was always there for her—she just had to be open to receive it.


Can’t get enough of rough house? Hear from Ontiveros herself, as she delves into the process of making rough house and the trials and tribulations of her childhood in the book trailer. Watch here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kal0WogZ-c

Tina Ontiveros is a writing instructor at Columbia Gorge Community College, book buyer at Klindt’s Booksellers in The Dalles, and current president of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association.









October 21st, 2020

In early September, historic wildfires spread across the West, devastating land and communities in Oregon. The unprecedented and powerful east winds that blew down from the western Cascades on Labor Day 2020 unleashed the most destructive wildfires in Oregon's recorded history. Compared with the Holiday Farm Fire's colossal destruction in the McKenzie Valley, the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest was affected lightly only on its southwest edge. Today on the blog, author William Robbins connects his new book, A Place for Inquiry, A Place for Wonder: The Andrews Forest, to the 2020 Oregon wildfires and discusses his admiration and love for the McKenzie Valley.


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The scenic McKenzie River country has been a special place since my first visit to the valley in 1963.  Forever fixed in memory, the valley’s scenic qualities seemed to reflect the beauties of Oregon. The spectacular McKenzie River originates in Clear Lake high in tA Place for Inquiryhe Cascade Range, tumbles over Sahalie and Koosah Falls, and then flows downstream, assuming a more leisurely journey when it reaches the small town of McKenzie Bridge.  Rafters and kayakers navigate white water rapids in the upper river, while fly-fishers stand hip-deep, casting flies in the slower moving waters in hopes of landing a big rainbow trout.  Highway 126, the primary route, passes downriver through small communities from McKenzie Bridge, Rainbow, Blue River, and Nimrod and further on to Vida, Leaburg, and Walterville.  When I first witnessed the valley’s splendors, the most fascinating features were the small historic cabins above the town of Vida sandwiched between the highway and the river, offering a quaint and rustic presence to passers-by.  Because of their proximity to the highway, the cabins likely existed before the roadway was paved and widened.

My affinity for the McKenzie Valley began with a fishing outing in the spring of 1964.  Turning left before the town of Blue River, I drove along the stream of that name until I crossed a bridge and saw a sign announcing the entrance to the “H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest.”  That morning I fished Lookout Creek, a beautiful mountain stream shrouded in old-growth Douglas-fir and thick with an understory of vine maple and sword fern.  Employed with the Eastern Lane Forest Protective Association that summer, I worked as a choker-setter, clearing a right-of-way road for the Forest Service near Mt. Hagan, high above the McKenzie River, and not far as the crow flies from the Andrews Forest.  Before leaving for fire camp southeast of Cottage Grove where I would be crew fireman at the Mosby Creek Guard Station, I learned the trade of “powder monkey,” setting dynamite charges under stumps to blow them apart.  Returning again as crew foreman in 1967, our Mosby Creek crew fought a small fire near Mt. Hagan that sent boulders tumbling onto Highway 126 below (the same sorts of debris, on a much grander scale) littering the highway in the wake of the Holiday Farm Fire of Labor Day 2020.  Those early work experiences in the McKenzie Valley preceded by decades the research and writing of A Place for Inquiry, A Place for Wonder: The Andrews Forest—and undoubtedly contributed to the book.

When Oregon State University Press published A Place for Inquiry in early October 2020, the book’s release followed the ravages of the Holiday Farm Fire, a conflagration that desiccated some twenty miles of landscape along Highway 126, destroying 431 homes and numerous commercial and outbuildings.  At this writing, the fire has burned 173,000 acres and is still smoldering.  The McKenzie inferno was only one of several catastrophic fires in Oregon’s western Cascades, triggered when powerful fifty to seventy mile-per-hour east winds blowing westward down the slopes of the Cascades turned small blazes into huge fires and ignited new ones on the night of September 7, 2020.  By the time the east winds lessened, and rain fell on the Cascades, the fires had torched more than a million acres in Oregon.  The Holiday Farm Fire threatened the lower, western portion of the 15,800-acre Andrews Forest research features and several historical experimental watersheds and its headquarters facility along Lookout Creek.  The fire scorched spottily through Watershed 9 and Watershed 1, damaging gaging stations at the mouth of both drainages.  The fire also burned lightly into Watershed 2, an experimental drainage of old-growth that was left pristine as a comparator to watersheds that had been harvested in the early 1960s.

At this writing, the headquarters location is safe, the remaining embers dying as the fall rains descend. Because A Place for Inquiry was released while the mega-fire was still burning has a tinge of irony, because scientists associated with the Andrews Forest's 70-year history have focused numerous investigations on disturbances, both natural and human. As such, the Holiday Fire will provide fertile ground for research. This book demonstrates that Andrews scientists have always pursued disturbance-related inquiries far afield, including studies of the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in 1980, the Three Sisters Wilderness, national parks, and other experimental forests in Oregon. Andrews scientists have also witnessed disturbance regimes in far-away places—Japan, Chile, Germany, and elsewhere, encounters that have provided them with a global perspective.

Because most scientists agree that trends associated with climate change triggered the gale force winds on Labor Day 2020, A Place for Inquiry places special focus on research associated with global warming.  Andrews scientists began tackling climate change in the 1980s, addressing the “greenhouse effect,” the consequences of atmospheric gases trapping heat radiating from the Earth’s surface.  Writing for Northwest Environmental Journal in 1990, David Perry of OSU’s Department of Forest Science, observed that greenhouse gases and warming temperatures would affect plants because of the longer growing seasons.  Natural disturbances, insect and disease infestations, wildfires, and dramatic swings in precipitation would increase. Fred Swanson and many others suggested that warming climates would affect watershed health, and indirectly, forest management. The Corvallis office of the Environmental Protection Agency reported in 1992 that rising temperatures threatened Northwest forests, its woodlands changing from one vegetation type to another, and that fire, wind, pest, and pathogen outbreaks would increase.

When the National Science Foundation funded its initial Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites in 1980 (the Andrews was among the first six), the agency did not envision that its researchers would contribute to understanding threats posed by rising global temperatures.  The Andrews Forest and other LTER sites, however, became increasingly involved in wide-ranging studies related to climate change.  By the second decade of this century, Andrews scientists were publishing articles underscoring the consequences of the warming climate.

Earlier spring seasons, warmer and drier summers, and autumn-like weather extending into October have already had dire implications—increases in the frequency of wildfires, their size, and the severity of the damage they cause.  The Andrews Forest’s multiple long-term data sets provide valuable historic information on air temperature, precipitation (rain and snow), soil temperatures (in old and young forests)—some of the measurements dating to the 1950s.  Those historic measurements will enable scientists to better evaluate far-reaching changes in climate.  Andrews personnel and agency personnel were interested in the effects of warming temperatures on forests and streams and the socioeconomic consequences for citizens living downstream.  In the last decade, declining snowpacks, earlier spring seasons, and autumns extending through October were affecting residents in the Willamette Valley through reduced water storage in reservoirs for irrigation and recreation. 

The Andrews Forest website describes the Lookout drainage as “a center for forest and stream ecosystem research in the Pacific Northwest.”  It is that and much more.  It is a place of more than one hundred bird species, numerous reptiles, and amphibians, and mammals large and small, all inhabiting a landscape shrouded in seasonal fog, rain, or snow (depending on elevation), old-growth trees still covering 40 percent of its 15,800 acres.  Beginning early in this century, the forest has benefitted from the participation of humanities scholars in its efforts to cope with a troubled future. 

Michael Nelson, who became the lead principal investigator for the Andrews Forest’s Long-Term Ecological Research program in 2012, was the first non-scientist to hold the position. With a master’s degree from Michigan State and a Ph.D. from Lancaster University in England (both in philosophy), Nelson has posed important questions about the social significance of scientific research, viewing the Andrews as “a place of inquiry and research” where scientists investigate the consequences of climate change in a setting that enables them to move beyond old models in anticipating the future.

A Place for Inquiry, A Place for Wonder, a dramatic new research venture for the author, provides the story of the Andrews and what it can offer for the future.

William G. Robbins, a native of Connecticut, served four years in the US Navy before attending college. He holds graduate degrees in history from the University of Oregon and taught at Oregon State University from 1971 to 2002. He retired as Emeritus Distinguished Professor of History. He has authored and edited many books, including A Man for all Seasons: Monroe Sweetland and the Liberal Paradox (OSU Press, 2015).

October 15th, 2020

Clifford Gleason: The Promise of Paint was published in 2020 in conjunction with an exhibition of the same title at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. The book is a comprehensive overview of the life and times of the mid-century Oregon modern painter Clifford Gleason (1913-1978), arguably one of the most skilled, if also underrated, Pacific Northwest modernists of his era.

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Clifford Gleason was about 25 years old when he posed with his mural Alice in Wonderland, designed for the library of Bush Elementary School in Salem. A project in Louis Bunce’s advanced painting class at the Salem Federal Art Center, Alice in Wonderland is one of the most avant-garde murals created under the auspices of the WPA, which established federal art centers nationwide. Salem’s center was considered one of the most successful, with its rich program of classes, exhibitions, and outreach projects to public schools.


Alice in Wonderland 

Clifford Gleason with his mural Alice in Wonderland. ca. 1938

Alice in Wonderland

 Alice in Wonderland. 1938. Tempera on canvas, affixed to panel. North Salem High School since 2005.

Still Life with SDpools

Still Life with Spools. ca. 1939. Oil on board. 45 1/4 x 32 in. Hallie Ford Museum of Art. Maribeth Collins Art Acquisition Fund, COL.98.07.

This painting, created when Gleason was in his mid-20s, reflects his full awareness of European modern painting, especially the work of the French Cubist Georges Braque. At the same time, the spools may refer to the local world of Salem manufacturing: Gleason’s parents owned and operated the Gleason Glove Factory, located near the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill, and both companies made use of large wood spools of thread.



Belcrest Still LifeBelcrest Still Life. 1947. Oil on Masonite. 11 1/4 x 9 1/2 in. Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Gift from the Maurice Hudkins Collection in memory of C. Ronald Hudkins and Betty-mae Hartung Hudkins, 2005.019.026.

In the 1940s, living in Salem following two years’ study at the Museum Art School (now the Pacific Northwest College of Art) in Portland, Gleason continued to paint costumed figures, still life, and townscapes. Gleason’s parents lost the glove factory in the Depression, and beginning in the mid-1930s his father was the superintendent of Belcrest Memorial Gardens, a cemetery in Salem, where Gleason lived with his parents. His paintings from the 1940s combine Fauvism, Cubism, and an eye for the local scene.


FireflyFirefly. 1960. Crinkled paper and collage on board. 8 1/2 x 11 1/4 in. Murdoch Collections courtesy of Marilyn Murdoch.

Firefly is from a series of small experimental works that Gleason created in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The series marks an important transition in Gleason’s development as an artist. His process was to dampen and crinkle rice paper to create an irregular surface on which he painted with gouache and sometimes, as here, incorporated collage. The results were entirely different from his earlier work depicting figures and still life objects. The new crinkled paper pieces can be understood as studies for his thickly painted, highly abstract oil paintings of the early 1960s.


Moving TotemMoving Totem. June 1964. Oil on canvas. 36 x 36 in. Collection of Dorothy and Brooks Cofield.

By the mid-1960s, Gleason’s paintings are more open and “airy,” suffused with what he referred to as a “fresh breeze of discovery”. Here, the dynamics of the painting involve the anchoring of the black pods on so slender a stem, the delicately rendered contours of the pods, and the rich build-up of paint (red, orange, turquoise) that bridges the two upper forms.



Clifford GleasonClifford Gleason in his studio, Salem, ca. 1960. Photograph by Bob Crist.

The artist George Johanson described Gleason as “the thinnest person, a bundle of nerve endings with a person wrapped around them.” In drawing and painting, and especially in painting, Clifford Gleason found the arena—the only one, he believed, in which he could excel. With paint, he found the promise of accomplishment, success, and recognition. This book serves as confirmation that for Gleason paint’s promise was genuine.







Roger Hull, an independent arts writer and curator, is Professor of Art History Emeritus at Willamette University. He has written monographs and organized retrospective exhibitions on a dozen Oregon artists, most recently Lucinda Parker and John Stahl.


October 1st, 2020

Anyone who has spent time at the Oregon Coast knows there’s nothing like it. The Pacific Ocean can fill you with a sense of wonder and awe on the sunniest or the stormiest days, but life on the coast can be rough, tough, and risky. Author and journalist Lori Tobias knows that all too well. She spent the past decade covering the stories of those who call the coast home.

Tobias’s latest book, Storm Beat (OSU Press, 2020), explores the tragedies, accidents, and heartbreak that occurred during Tobias’ time covering the coast for the Oregonian. This interview sheds light on Tobias’ life as a journalist, the relationships she built, and the uniqueness of life on the coast.

Lori Tobias

OSU Press: What drew you to write Storm Beat?

Lori Tobias: I am a career journalist and I had been in Denver at the Rocky Mountain News, but I always wanted to live on the Oregon Coast. My husband got a job offer and we moved here. I was a little bummed because I didn’t have a news room. Eventually, I got on as a stringer with the Oregonian and then I became a staff writer. In the very beginning, there was a weird situation in a town on the north coast—there was a lot of political infighting and it ended up in a suicide. The fire crew had walked off their jobs in support of their chief who was the public works director. So, I said to my editor, “Hey, the whole fire crew walked off the job—is that a story?” and he said, “Lori, if someone dies, that’s a story.” A few months later, I saw this mournful op-ed piece in the local paper up north—the town manager had killed himself over this whole thing.

I just knew that there was going to be a story in this beat because there were so many things I covered and the Oregon Coast is so loved. It is Storm Beatalso quite dangerous. If you’re not watching yourself and do stupid things, you can pay very dearly. So, when I got laid off, Storm Beat was my therapy. I went through all of my journals and my notebooks and decided that I would only include the stories that had not been in the paper. It had to be something more than that and go deeper than what people already knew.

OSU Press: Throughout your book, Storm Beat, you meet many different people up and down the coast and you become a part of the coastal community. How did you build relationships and trust with the communities you were reporting on throughout your journalism career?

Lori Tobias: It happens gradually. You do a story, you get to know someone, and they feel that they can trust you. Those relationships often start with bad news. They start with the police and the sheriff’s department because you count on them to let you know. I had a close relationship with the Tillamook sheriff, Todd Anderson, so close I’d say, “Hey Todd, it’s me,” and he would know who me is. I met people by covering something that happened to them and as I’m chasing down another story, I might run into them. There was a woman who owned a seashell shop and a truck took her whole shop out and when I met her, she was just yelling and I thought I had done something. I had to know what happened so I said, “I’m sorry, but did I do something?” and she said, “No, no, it’s not you at all” and then she started crying. Her one cat had been injured and her whole shop was devastated. It got to where I would be driving and I needed a break and I would stop and visit her.

One of the first stories I did, a man was going to Afghanistan. He came home and brought me a shawl and now we’re family friends. It builds gradually, you try to be a good person, you try to do a good job, you try to abide by your work. If you tell them you’re not going to write something, you don’t. If you say it’s off the record, it’s off the record. If you push them a little too far, then you back off. It isn’t easy because these are small towns and it’s not that people are distrustful but I represented the big city, Portland. Most people didn’t realize that I’d been living in Newport for the past twenty years. They assumed I was coming in from the big city.

OSU Press: Your editor would often tell you, “Sorry…you gotta make the call” (24) when you would have to interview someone who just lost their loved one or someone who was in a tragic accident. How would you interview folks while they were grieving? How do you report with compassion?

Lori Tobias: You go to the family to give them the opportunity to tell the world who that person was and why they loved them. I absolutely hate making those calls, but you have to. I remember one of the first times I understood this. There was a horrific crash on I5 and three symphony members died. So, I made the call and one of the husbands called me back immediately because he wanted to talk about who his wife was and why he loved her so much and what a loss it was to the community. He really wanted that out there and it was an eye-opener for me. I just assumed I was intruding but that wasn’t always the case, I found out. One of the horrific cases that I didn’t cover was when London McCabe’s mother threw him off the bridge. At that time I wasn’t with the Oregonian, but they had texted me in the middle of the night asking me to report on this and I said, “No I won’t do it.” I just could not go out and knock on the doors and ask the questions that needed to be asked. I did later reach out to London’s father who did want to tell the world why his boy mattered and why people with developmental disabilities still get to live satisfying lives. He really wanted to get that word out there and I was really happy to do that for him.

OSU Press: Did your viewpoint about the Oregon Coast change with each story you wrote?

Lori Tobias: I don’t know if it changed so much as evolved. There is a lot of commonality and authenticity on the coast. These are real people who are doing real jobs. Generally, not keeping up with the Joneses. What I did learn, and I find this sad, is that there is a huge population of well-off people and an even bigger population of those who struggle to make ends meet. People work hard here and they struggle. People look at the Oregon Coast and they think this is a vacationland with the mansions and the resorts, but what they may not see is the family living in a tent on the hill whose only meal is what the school feeds them.

OSU Press: In Chapter Six: Cold Cases, there is a lot of tragedy and hurt that has left communities depleted and desperate for answers. What did it mean to you to be keeping people’s stories alive?

Lori Tobias: I couldn’t always do that and sometimes I didn’t do it as quickly as I would have liked to. With the Kara and Jenny case, it was an anniversary date and Jenny’s half-brother worked for my husband, so I was keenly aware of everything. As I say in my book, if I move to the other end of this room right now, I could point to where they were last seen. There are a few stories that I couldn’t shake and that was one of them. There were days if not weeks where I couldn’t stand to be in the house and I had to make sure the doors were locked. I didn’t want to go into the garage and I didn’t like the lights being off. I went through a strange feeling of vulnerability and there were times I would find myself staring out the window, tearful. You know details that you don’t ever forget. So, I was happy when I could keep it alive and hopeful that it would do some good. I can’t let go of the idea that we will never know what happened. Someone somewhere knows something. You just hope and wait that their conscience or DNA technology come through.

OSU Press: Some of the tragedies that you covered involved violence against women. Many of these incidents in your book turn fatal with little to no justice ever brought forward. With the Leah Freeman, Jennifer Esson and Kara Leas, and Melissa Sanders and Sheila Swanson murders, how did you manage to continue searching for justice even when there were no leads?

Lori Tobias: It isn’t my job to search for justice. It’s my job to shine a light on it and say let’s not forget about these cases and let’s find these people. With the Leah Freeman case, I felt strongly that Nick McGuffin was innocent. They didn’t have anything to support what they were saying and I just couldn’t get my hands around it. He also suffered an injustice. The Oregonian team of reporters and Lincoln country detectives think that they figured out who killed Melissa and Sheila, but that leaves Jenny and Kara and that one is still a cold case.

OSU Press: What did the Oregon Coast teach you throughout your reporting days?

Lori Tobias: To trust your instincts. That’s a big one. It taught me that we’re really all the same. Everybody hurts and everybody has had pain. You look at someone and you think that they’ve lived this wonderful and magical life then you find out they’re battling a chronic illness, or they just lost someone, or maybe they’re battling depression. I think I’ve learned to be kinder, which comes with living in a small community, because if you’re not kind you’re going to be knowing about it for the next six years. If you snap at the grocery store clerk, she’s going to remember it so you have to be nice. I wish I could say it taught me to slow down, because I need to, but it hasn’t. Trust your gut, be kind, and don’t assume anything about anyone. We all struggle.

OSU Press: Anything else you want to share about your book?

Lori Tobias: Storm Beat was hard to write. It was cathartic and I consider myself to be incredibly blessed to have had this beat, to have made the friends I’ve made, and I am so thankful the book landed with the OSU Press because I think that’s exactly where it belongs.

September 15th, 2020

Hawai’i is often thought of as a place for rest and relaxation, but this tourism mecca was built on land that was stolen from Native Hawaiians. Following the US invasion and overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, Native Hawaiians were removed from their ancestral lands and forbidden to practice their cultural traditions.

The University of Hawai’i at Mānoa Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge in collaboration with the Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī Coalition has launched the first Hawaiian History Month  to increase awareness around the Native Hawaiian community. Throughout the month of September, there will be virtual events where you can engage with Hawaiian history through storytelling, art, and action. The first event kicked off on September 2nd with a celebration of the 182nd birthday of Queen Liliʻuokalani’s 182nd birthday—the last reigning monarch of Hawai’i.

To support and celebrate the inaugural Hawaiian History Month, take a deep dive into our books by Native Hawaiian scholars and about Native Hawaiian culture.


Kaiāulu   Ancestral Places   Kanaka Hawai'i Cartography


Kaiāulu: Gathering Tides
Mehana Blaich Vaughan

An important contribution to scholarship in the fields of natural resource management, geography, Indigenous Studies, and Hawaiian Studies, Kaiāulu is a skillfully written and deeply personal tribute to a community based not on ownership, but reciprocity, responsibility, and caring for the places that shape and sustain us all.
Ancestral Places
Katrina-Ann R. Kapāʻanaokalāokeola Nākoa Oliveira
Ancestral Places explores the deep connections that ancestral Kānaka (Native Hawaiians) enjoyed with their environment. It honors the moʻolelo (historical accounts) of the ancestral places of their kūpuna (ancestors), and reveals how these moʻolelo and their relationships with the ʻāina (land) inform a Kanaka sense of place.
Kanaka Hawai'i Cartography
Renee Pualani Louis
Kanaka Hawai‘i cartographic practices are a compilation of intimate, interactive, and integrative processes that present place as “experienced space,” situate mapping in the environment, and encode spatial knowledge into bodily memory via repetitive recitations and other habitual practices, such as hula.
September 3rd, 2020

John Haines—writer, community investor, and adventurer— kayaks, bikes, and survives various terrains in his first book, Never Leaving Laramie: Travels in a Restless World. Haines traverses multiple continents, and the message of taking risks and experiencing life stays at the core. From Laramie, Wyoming, to Mali, Africa, the need for independence and adventure run wild through Haines’s writing and voice. In this interview, Haines takes a moment to dive deeper into the intrepid waters of his life on and off the river.


OSU Press: Who is John Haines beyond the author bio?

John Haines: The central theme for my life is starting things. I have started a couple of nonprofits and loan funds in hard cities on the east coast. I’ve also worked in Central Europe in finance with the Czech Environmental Fund and with the Romanian government. I’ve worked around the world from Portland to Trenton, New Jersey, to Bucharest. I’ve always had an eye on financial systems and economics.

OSU Press: Never Leaving Laramie: Travels in a Restless World is a beautiful tale of experiences across the world. With the world quarantined due to COVID-19 and experiencing restlessness, what tips do you have for folks who are itching to escape?

John Haines: What I do is read a lot. I’m reading more than I ever have. I go to this beautiful wetland and sit, read, and watch the cycle of what’s happening with the birds and noises and then I do that around the region. I’m in a wheelchair, so what I would do otherwise is be out in wilderness as remote as I can get. Find something beautiful and learn about it, whether it’s words or trees as they change. Spending more direct attention on our own surroundings seems like the best thing to do. And then dream and read about where to go.

OSU Press: What does traveling teach you about yourself and the world?

John Haines: For me, everything. I think I most often traveled either alone or without an itinerary, except later in life. Usually, I went without a return ticket or with one that was expandable so I wouldn’t come back on the same route, and I always took books about where I was, most often fiction or history, not guide books. Traveling alone or with one person and being in a position where you’re not distracted by TVs or big hotels so you have time to read, think, and observe and just sit on a corner day after day and look at things. I think it teaches you patience. After our Group Leadership Meetings for Mercy Corps, I would take time to go out in Nepal; Abu Dhabi; Egypt; and Uganda and go bird watching. Birds open up the landscape for me, always have, and I reflect on that a bit on the Niger River.

OSU Press: During your Niger River expedition, you mention that, “The Niger had put me on a river for life. Move, experience everything, but do not be captured by any one place or thing” (174). Can you speak more to how rivers and water have helped guide you through your travels? Through writing your book?

John Haines: There’s a saying by Leonardo da Vinci I use in the beginning of Chapter 12 (What the River Says): “In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes.” The river is never the same. It’s there, then it’s gone. There’s a reference to Zen poetry and philosophy in the book from when I was in Japan. One of the things they talked about was feeling everything fully but not letting any one feeling overwhelm you. That was a really good thing to read when I was traveling alone when it was winter and kind of miserable. It puts me in that beginner’s mind. It doesn’t feel good; it’s cold, it’s lonely, I hadn’t talked to anyone for two weeks. Putting yourself in a beginner’s mind to appreciate that is, I think, a metaphor for the movement of rivers.

OSU Press: How did the water impact your relationships with the people that live on the Niger river or near it?

John Haines: We were so tethered to that river. We’d be on the river for 12 hours a day; it was part of us. We were only on land to sleep and eat so we never strayed too far from the river. We were very immersed with the river and the people who were on it or next to it. You’re going to their home, not yours—even though you feel tethered to it for months. You come into interactions there with humility and respect for the people who have lived there for centuries. That river is everything to them. You need to share yourself when you arrive in a place like that and it takes some energy. They’ll dig through your kayak, kids will want to play with the paddle, the chief will want to go on your boat—you take a deep breath, stop a couple hours early, and put yourself in the parade.

OSU Press: How was traveling as a quadriplegic in a world that wasn’t designed to accommodate folks of various abilities?

John Haines: I’m the first one off and on. If I have a connecting flight, I might miss it. It takes extraordinary patience. It can be dangerous. I just take a deep breath and say let’s go with it. Most of my trips have been alone all over US and around the world, since I do domestic work for Mercy Corps and we do Global Leadership Meetings. The China meeting was first, then Scotland, Nepal, Abu Dhabi, Egypt, Uganda, and Europe a few times so I got fairly used to doing it in a chair. If you arrive in Cairo after midnight by yourself and you don’t have any money and you’re dead tired after going to Portland from Amsterdam to there, you better wake up.

OSU Press: What do you wish people knew more about wheelchair users and folks with various abilities?

John Haines: I don’t have that much judgement of people unless they already have a preconceived idea of who I am. So, if you get a group of people in a wheelchair together and, man, you want to see diversity? Age, gender, background, the stories . . . everyone has a story. Not everyone is attitude driven. They’re pretty much impaired and learned flexibility for a world that isn’t quite right for you. By and large, you can’t get upset by the door that doesn’t work, people that cut you off, or whatever it is. There is always something that doesn’t work.

OSU Press: Never Leaving Laramie is a book filled with adventure. For those wanting to get outside and see new places, what advice would you give them?

John Haines: This may sound crazy, but don’t make too much of a preconceived plan, or you’ll just follow the plan and you won’t be surprised by the things that are out there. Go with an open mind and if you can, go alone and just sit and watch things. Take time. Take your watch off, take off the plug-ins. When I was traveling, I couldn’t have any of that. Even finding a phone in some of the cities was a bear, to call home and say I’m still alive. I’d send letters, but they [family] wouldn’t get them until two to three weeks later. Now, we’re so in tune to the luxury of connecting with anybody at any time. On the Niger River, we didn’t have maps for the upper region. We had some weird defense-mapping agency maps from the US government but they didn’t have any detail. They weren’t helpful at all. So, we had no maps whatsoever. Literally just going at the direction of asking people and finding Sori who led us. He was our map. 

OSU Press: Can you tell me more about Laramie, Wyoming, and how your hometown relates to the places you’ve traveled?

John Haines: Laramie really breathes independence. The austerity, the cold, the cowboys, the hunters, and people that do stuff in the outdoors that is seemingly dangerous. Everyone has a level of risk-taking and adventure built into them because we’re isolated. What we do is what’s outside and we can’t get enough of it. Everyone there comes with an independent streak and my contention is that we never lose that through the course of our lives. When you’re in New York City you have a different type of adventure. I know people that grew up in the city and they cruised neighborhoods more widely where you can see so much of the world in five blocks, which you just don’t see in Wyoming.

OSU Press: Where’s your favorite adventure?

John Haines: The next one . . . the next place. I like so many places for specific reasons but you know what you find? It’s like as much as you love a place like Kathmandu, Nepal . . . I hadn’t been back in 21 years and, my gosh, I couldn’t recognize the city at all because it was so polluted and built over. So sometimes you can never go back. But then I went down into Southern Nepal and saw birds and rhino. A part of Nepal I would have never seen because I was so glued to the mountains. Anything in the Himalayas is attractive and the republic of Georgia and the Slavic countries are really interesting. It’s impossible to go to Africa and not have it stuck in your heart forever, and the Niger River in particular—the people that were related to that river, who don’t bounce too far from it, appealed to a calming continuity. 

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