Think Oregon

Art of wellness

The Art of Wellness

Forging new pathways to brain health by engaging in the creative art community Written by Cathy Carrol A musician lies inside a magnetic resonance imaging device with a keyboard and noise-cancelling headphones and plays a piece of music, then improvises, then composes. The imaging shows unexpected parts of the artist’s brain engaging. A cancer patient takes a doctor’s prescription to draw something—anything—every day. An ensemble performs authentic Japanese taiko drums and traditional dance as a way of combating violence against Asian Americans. Families at a birthing center see art depicting people who look like them, helping put them at ease and recover faster. Research and new technology continues to show the link between the arts and wellness, and Oregon health and civic organizations are embracing ways for it to make a difference in people’s lives. At Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, neuroscientist Lawrence Sherman began a series of popular…

Faultland by Suzy Vitello cover

Siblings, Shaken

Portland novelist Suzy Vitello imagines the “big one” and a family united by survival Interview by Cathy Caroll The “big one,” the earthquake which scientists predict could strike the Northwest at any moment, is what Suzy Vitello leverages in her new novel, Faultland, which follows three siblings working together to survive disaster in Portland. If resources don’t run out, if sickness doesn’t overtake them, if alt-right militias don’t converge and if the wet mass of land speeding toward their childhood home and makeshift shelter doesn’t bury them, they’ll have to navigate past traumas and the mistakes of their parents to survive as a family. Literary figures praising the book include Portlander Lidia Yuknavitch, author of the nationally acclaimed and bestselling novel The Book of Joan. She said Faultland “is about our collective resilience and the loyalty that holds us all together in the end.” Oregonians will no doubt savor this…

Sarah Skamser stands among nets used by fishing vessels, including those made by Foulweather Trawl, at the Newport International Terminal on Nov. 25 in Newport, Oregon.

Trawl Goddess of the West Coast

How Sara Skamser is helping preserve Oregon’s commercial fishing industry written by Shirley A. Hancock photography by Amanda Loman In one of the world’s most dangerous professions, Sara Skamser is known as “Trawl Goddess of the West Coast.”  Skamser’s company, Foulweather Trawl in Newport, custom makes commercial fishing nets. It’s the only net loft in the state and the top choice for many of the more than 1,000 Oregon commercial fishermen roaming the West Coast and Alaska. “We roll like a carnival ride out there. One hundred mile an hour winds and waves several stories high can bust out a window, sweep guys off the deck, and stall the engine,” said Kurt Cockran, a fourth-generation commercial fisherman and early adopter of Foulweather Trawl nets. “The one thing I don’t worry about is my nets.” “If they aren’t catching fish, they know it’s not the net, because it came from Foulweather…

Desert Rain home

Breaking New Ground

A Bend couple builds an extreme green dream home written byMelissa Dalton | photography by Ross Chandler Eight years ago, Tom Elliott and Barbara Scott took a fortuitous road trip. The couple was driving from Bend to Southern Utah to go backpacking when they heard an interesting broadcast on public radio. The program featured Seattle architect Jason McLennan discussing the creation of his new green building standards, called the Living Building Challenge (LBC). His challenge was for people to craft buildings as self-sustaining as plants. At the time, Elliott and Scott were planning their own “uber-green home” in Bend, but McLennan’s message inspired them to go further. “We just looked at each other and said, ‘That’s exactly what we want to do,’” Elliott said. The couple met in Montana, where Elliott was a sustainable cattle rancher and Scott was a school administrator. They bonded over a shared love of the outdoors…

Portland State University

The Greening of Universities

Oregon universities combine high design and sustainability in three new builds written by Melissa Dalton OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY-CASCADES Tykeson Hall When Bora Architects designed the first academic building on Oregon State University’s new Cascades campus in Bend in 2014, the firm drew inspiration from an efficient, and uber-handy, object: the Swiss Army knife. Why? The footprint of the new building, Tykeson Hall, is relatively small–just 45,000 square feet–yet it would accommodate many academic and programming needs on the growing campus. (A dorm and dining hall were built simultaneously.) Requirements included classrooms of all sizes, from science labs to an eighty-person auditorium, a library and computer lab, student council space and administrative offices.  Equally important and ambitious is OSU’s goal to ensure future Cascades campus operations will be net-zero, meaning it produces as much energy as it consumes, balances water supply and demand, and eliminates landfill waste. Toward that end, Bora specified…

Partners in Diversity

All in for Diversity

Partners in Diversity seeks to draw professionals of color to the Portland area—and keep them there You don’t have to live in Los Angeles or New York to know that American demographics are changing. According to Mari Watanabe, the executive director of Portland-based Partners in Diversity, it’s in everybody’s—and every company’s—best interest to keep up.  “As the demographics of the country shift, businesses have an opportunity to meet the demands of a more diverse customer base,” Watanabe said. “Likewise, as a company’s customer base becomes more diverse, so should its workforce.” Partners in Diversity is a nonprofit organization that helps companies recruit, support and retain professionals of color in both Oregon and Southwest Washington. For individuals of color, it’s also a lucrative lifeline to connect with others on both a personal and professional level. On the business side, Partners in Diversity offers a robust agenda of educational forums and events…

PNW Businesses Rush to Aid in the Battle Against COVID-19

Across the region, theater companies are making masks, distillers are bottling hand sanitizer, restaurants are making exquisite meals and, of course, a San Juan Island tour company is streaming whales to soothe everyone in quarantine by Cathy Carroll ALTHOUGH COMPANIES THROUGHOUT the Pacific Northwest are feeling the economic pain of the pandemic, they haven’t let that get in their way of duty. Just as businesses had heeded President Franklin Roosevelt’s World War II mandate that “powerful enemies must be out-fought and out-produced,” companies are all in for the fight against the coronavirus. The “Rosie the Riveters” of our day, this group is retooling to manufacture weaponry to crush COVID-19. Theater costume makers are sewing masks. Distillers are mixing hand sanitizer. Global sportswear and aeronautics brands are making face shields, chefs are delivering food to healthcare workers and leading research institutions are searching for the medicine that will stop this scourge….

How the Oregon Trail could change and no one will have known what happened

Stop B2H Coalition, a small nonprofit centered in La Grande is working day and night to preserve the Oregon Trail from Idaho Power n estimated 80,000 early pioneers arrived in Oregon on the Oregon Trail, passing over the American West and etching their journey in miles of wagon wheel ruts. These ruts stand witness to an historic and epic journey, the evidence still visible almost two centuries later. But as Smithsonian magazine put it back in 2016, some of these ruts are in “danger of destruction as municipalities push to stretch bigger and better power supplies across the region.” That’s the case in Oregon, where a long-proposed project could change the view forever. It’s a battle over the desert, farmland, forests and big skies of Eastern Oregon—with scant attention from the rest of the state. It’s a tale of underdogs fighting enormous odds to protect what’s theirs, and what their…

Puppies in Prison

Woman’s best friend is freeing lives outside—and inside—prison written by Shirley Hancock | photography by Shauna Intelisano   AMY DUARTE’S FREEDOM is rooted in Oregon’s postcard landscapes. As a child, collecting bugs in the high desert. As a snowboard instructor, guiding young shredders down a volcano. As a wildland firefighter, lugging 40 pounds of gear up a mountain. But one violent, summer night in 2011, Duarte’s freedom shrank to a 6-by-12-foot cell. Arrested for domestic violence, she claimed it was in self-defense that she grabbed a lamp and swung. Her sentence—almost six years in Oregon’s “big house” for women, Coffee Creek Correctional Facility. “I was like a zombie. An empty shell, with no hope,” Duarte said. “Hearing that cell door shut—that was the most traumatizing moment of my life.” Two years later hope arrived, in a wiggly pup named Sonic. Duarte is among sixty-four Oregon women who, since 1995, have…