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Rain.  The word itself sounds pretty after a long stretch of hot weather and fires and smoke. 

And it began falling in the region over the weekend (September 17th), giving hope that the worst of the fires and smoky conditions might be behind us. 

That's not necessarily true, as fire managers remind us.  October can be a big fire month, too, and has been in several fire seasons. 

"Earth Seasoned" Facebook page

We can all stand to learn a few things from nature.  For a young woman named Tori, nature was her primary teacher for most of a year. 

Tori has been diagnosed with dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and short-term memory problems. 

She and four other young women spent a year in the Oregon Cascades, living very close to the land. 

The story is told in the documentary film "Earth Seasoned," one of the films in this year's Jefferson State FlixxFest in the Scott Valley. 

Mary Anne Andrei

Running a farm is like running a factory, except you're not quite sure how much you'll produce until the season is over. 

That's just one of many challenges in agriculture, and there are many more, especially for smaller family farmers.  Agri-giant businesses have economies of scale that the small farms lack. 

But plenty of people are still dedicated to growing crops and a livelihood with them, just on a smaller scale. 

Ted Genoways follows a farm family in Nebraska in his took This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm

Public Domain

More than half the population, yet still not equal in pay and other measures.  Women still have some gender biases to overcome. 

Those and many other issues are addressed at the Women With Wings conferences held across the country, including in Ashland next month (October 19-22). 

Di Strachan and Nancy Swift of Jefferson Economic Development Institute (JEDI) are among the speakers. 

Oregon Blue Book

Do you even know what your grandparents did for a living?  Bill Nicholson does, because he does it too. 

He is the third generation of his family to farm Nicholson Ranch in Fort Klamath.  And the ranch has just been recognized by the Oregon Farm Bureau's Century Farm & Ranch program, honoring places where people have worked the land for 100 years. 

There's even a Sesquicentennial Award for operations continuing for 150 years. 

Al Jazeera English-http://www.flickr.com/photos/aljazeeraenglish/8049728422/in/set-72157631653957819, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29515145

All eyes are on North Korea at the moment, thanks to its ongoing weapons tests. 

But Richard McGregor urges us to look elsewhere for the real story in Asia: the lingering and growing distrust and dislike between Japan and China. 

McGregor is a journalist who has covered Asia extensively, and he writes about the rising tensions in the region in Asia's Reckoning: China, Japan, and the Fate of U.S. Power in the Pacific Century

Ancient enmities and modern missteps, including in Washington, are examined in the book. 

Wikimedia

The Mount Shasta organization known as W.A.T.E.R. chose a name that stands for "We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review." 

And its members got their wish: an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the plan for Crystal Geyser's water bottling plant in Mount Shasta. 

The EIR is now out, sure to gladden some hearts and impact others adversely. 

Rick Bowmer/AP

40 filmed features and shorts are crammed into just three days at the Klamath Independent Film Festival, coming to Klamath Falls next weekend (Sept. 15-17). 

And they are all by or about people in Oregon and Northern California. 

The KIFF offerings include the Oregon premiere of "No Man's Land," a documentary about the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in early 2016. 

Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Ask people to list scary diseases, and there's a good chance Lyme disease will show up on the list. 

Not just because of its many and varied symptoms, but because it can be so hard to diagnose correctly. 

In Andrea Caesar's case, it took 25 years.  She wrote of her experience in A Twist of Lyme: Battling a Disease That "Doesn't Exist."

Andrea joined us in 2014 to talk about her long journey with the affliction. 

Nicholas Blah/Flickr

What are you doing next week?  More important, how will you get to where you're doing it?  This is an important question for the last two weeks of September, the period of the Oregon Drive Less Challenge.

People all over the state are urged to walk, or bike, or take public transportation instead of driving. 

And there are incentives... prizes that can be earned through effective reductions in driving. 

Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD) and the City of Eugene are on board. 

News from around the world in an instant.  New movies for fall.  Social media. 

The Internet alone gives us an almost unlimited supply of media options. 

And it gives us plenty to talk about with Andrew Gay and Precious Yamaguchi of the Communication faculty at Southern Oregon University. 

They join us once a month to talk about media topics--news and not--in a segment we call "Signals & Noise." 

Thomas Quine, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51708455

Star Trek did it.  Superman did it.  Even Woody Allen traveled through time in one of his movies (bonus points for knowing which one).  In short, we've been talking about traveling through time for a very long time. 

James Gleick, who writes about science and its practitioners, travels back in time to the origins of people thinking and writing about time travel. 

It's all on the table, from Jules Verne to the present day, from art to science to philosophy, in Gleick's book Time Travel: A History

It includes an examination of what the author calls the porous boundary between science fiction and modern physics. 

Annette Teng, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52465073

Vaux's swifts migrate through the west coast while on their way to Central and South America every summer.

In Western Oregon, they stop to roost in old hollow snags and chimneys every evening in September. People bring lawn chairs and picnic blankets to watch the spectacle of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of tiny black birds swirling around a chimney until diving in, all the while dodging preying hawks. 

But the trees and chimneys favored by the birds are getting harder to find these days, and the birds' numbers are dropping. 

Wikimedia

Even if you never drive past a vineyard, it's easy to spot evidence of a growing wine industry in Oregon. 

Just check out the "Oregon" racks in the wine section of the grocery store. 

The Southern Oregon University Research Center--SOURCE--recently completed a Wine & Vineyard Census, commissioned by the Oregon Wine Board.

Eva Skuratowicz and Rikki Pritzlaff are the researchers.

Tristan Loper, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48424363

Dar Williams is one of a kind, so a little hard to categorize.  Sure, she is a singer and a songwriter, and highly regarded for her pop/folk work. 

But she's a writer, too, with a new book out called What I Found in A Thousand Towns.  It details the changes she sees in communities she has visited in years of touring. 

Evelyn Simak, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13063303

Trying to understand the world of legal marijuana in Oregon is enough to drive people to wine. 

Marijuana IS legal for personal as well as medical use (though still illegal under federal law), it can be grown, and it is regulated--sometimes heavily--by state and local authorities. 

We work through some of the issues with marijuana cultivation and production in a discussion with several people. 

Kit from Pittsburgh, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2031786

What do you remember most about college (the educational part)?  Large-room lectures where a professor talked and talked and you took notes?  Or smaller settings where teacher and students could really engage on subjects and issues? 

Either way, higher education is slow to change, despite its ever-spiraling costs. 

Cathy Davidson works in higher ed at the City University of New York, and she has plenty of ideas for changing the system in The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World In Flux.  The book is something of a tour of classrooms where teachers have thrown out old ideas about higher learning and are trying new approaches. 

Wikimedia

Washington was one of the first states to legalize marijuana for personal use.  And you can bet people in Oregon counties bordering Washington crossed that border to buy pot. 

And then Oregon passed its own personal use law, and the cross-border traffic cooled. 

A study led by University of Oregon health economist Ben Hansen finds that much of the marijuana grown in Washington stays in Washington, counter to concerns that much of it is exported to the black market. 

Santeri Viinamäki, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52985577

The smoke from wildfires has made it difficult to catch a clean breath in much of the region for weeks. 

Air quality spiked into the hazardous range, spurring warnings to stay indoors by the air conditioners and filters. 

The quality of air is not just an issue for living things; our vehicles need fresh air to work properly (the internal combustion ones, anyway). 

In this month's edition of "The Squeaky Wheel," Ashland Automotive boss Zach Edwards addresses the issue of engines sucking in dirty air. 

Wikimedia

Most teens have grown up with the internet and social media. Their parents and teachers have not.

Noted educator and "millenial and teen expert" Ana Homayoun has written a guide to help parents and teachers understand teens and tweens' social media lives, and to create structures and strategies to make sure that teens' virtual lives don't swallow their real lives. 

The book is called Social Media Wellness: Helping Teens and Tweens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World

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