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werner22brigitte/Pixabay

It can be a little jarring to visit the Oregon Dunes a while after your last trip... things move around. And they're supposed to, in a healthy dune ecosystem.

The winds blow the sand around into new shapes and positions.

Unless someone planted vegetation to “stabilize” the dunes, and that has happened.

The invasive plant species gorse is now a major concern, and the focus of the Oregon Dunes Restoration Collaborative.

Molly J. Smith/Statesman Journal

People are dying in Northern California at alarming rates. 

Drug and alcohol abuse are among the causes of death that are killing white people at rates above the national average. 

The Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University and the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Pittsburgh assembled a report that shows high rates of increased mortality across most of the counties of the Northstate. 

Pixabay

More than a few baby boomers can probably remember statements in their youth like "you can't tell the boys from the girls anymore." 

And a young person today might well answer: so what?  Gender HAS been a factor in determining many rights and responsibilities through human history, and seldom for good. 

Gender roles and even identities are more fluid now; sociologist Barbara Risman examines the situation in Where the Millennials Will Take Us: A New Generation Wrestles with the Gender Structure

thefutureofgood.com

Not all the great ideas in the world come from adults.  Just ask any child. 

In essence, that's what The Future of Good project does... asking children to talk about their ideas for helping their communities. 

This year's national finalists include Nicole Cleland from Klamath Falls, who helps students combine the STEM skills with agriculture. 

And Jessica Salgado from Sutherlin helps students with disabilities take part in sports. 

SOU Farm Facebook page

It's not a big farm, but it's a significant farm.  Southern Oregon University cultivates a little more than five acres of land in the city of Ashland, in a plot called--not surprisingly--The Farm at SOU

It is a laboratory not just for agricultural techniques, but also for sustainability practices, so the land can be used over and over without harm. 

Ray Leal/Evil Hours Kickstarter page

The United States has been at war non-stop since the fall of 2001, almost a lifetime.  And by some counts, up to 30 percent of the people fighting for the United States come home with post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. 

David J. Morris is one of them.  He explores his own experiences and the effects of PTSD on many people in his book PTSD: The Evil Hours

Nigel Chadwick, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13865581

It takes a lot of ingredients for a forest to grow on a mountain.  Snow in the winter is one of them. 

So what happens when snowstorms get few and far between, as in this winter?  That's a question we will likely see the answer to in the years ahead. 

And it's a subject Dr. Anne Nolin has already been considering in her work at Oregon State University's College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences.  She talks about "Snow-forest Interactions in a Changing World" in the next geology lecture at Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay (on March 3rd). 

Oregon State Archives

Oregon remains one of the whitest states in the union, a legacy of the state's exclusion of all people of color upon entering the Union. 

But African-Americans have made significant contributions to the state throughout its history.  And those contributions are recognized in the first-ever Black History Month observance at the Oregon State Archives. 

"Black in Oregon, 1840-1870" is now on display, and it is the subject of this month's edition of Underground History. 

Pixabay

Just the title of Patrick J. Deneen's book might raise a few hackles on America's left wing: Why Liberalism Failed

Deneen, a political science teacher at Notre Dame, examines the tenets of liberalism and points out how they work against their professed goals. 

Example: encouraging members of society to work for a common good WHILE also elevating the rights of the individual.  CAN liberalism be made to add up?  And does it have a future? 

Dannymoore1973/Pixabay

The federal Environmental Protection Agency was preparing to order the pesticide chlorpyrifos (Lorsban) off the market a couple of years ago.  Then Donald Trump became president, and the EPA changed its approach. 

Now a recent report indicates chlorpyrifos and two other commonly-used pesticides present a clear threat to sensitive fish species in the Northwest and California--salmon and steelhead and the like. 

It took court action by the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides and allied groups just to get the report released. 

Jared Wong, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50947663

Few people ever talk about WANTING to move into a senior care facility. 

Most of us would prefer to stay in our own homes, albeit with some amenities that help us deal with the issues of old age. 

Age Friendly Innovators of Jacksonville works with seniors to help them "age in place."  Among the issues: what are the additional needs of seniors who live in rural areas, beyond the walking distance of needed services? 

Australian Paralympic Committee, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24421530

The winter Olympics in South Korea proved once and for all that American sports fans are not the only ones who take off their shirts in cold weather. 

Why DO people tempt frostbite and other maladies to cheer on their teams?  Because they may be Superfans, a type of person examined in a book by that name by George Dohrmann. 

His sources range from sports psychologists to the man who gathered a huge cheering section for the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer. 

Liana Salanta/Wikimedia

Oregon continues to produce more wine over time, but its production of beer ingredients may be even more impressive. 

Hops are a major agricultural product in Oregon, the number three state behind Washington and Idaho.  And the hop harvest over the past five years has zoomed, up 77 percent. 

People who know hops say this is probably the peak; there are enough hops to meet the demand, and then some. 

Jaki Brophy speaks for hop growers at USA Hops in Yakima, Washington. 

Erich Ferdinand, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63988292

You know how people always say you should not run from a dog that appears threatening?  That's because the dog is more likely to run after you if you create a chase situation. 

And it's apparently just as true of wolves as it is of dogs. 

Mark Coats is a rancher in the Tulelake area, just as concerned as any rancher about the rise of wolves in the region.  He offers advice through the web at Rancher Predator Awareness, including ways to train cattle not to run when confronted by predators. 

The world may appear to be a scary place at the moment, but Ian Goldin and Chris Kutarna see opportunity. 

They point to another period of history that featured both great discoveries and advancements AND wrenching social and political change: the Renaissance, which pulled the Western world out of the medieval period. 

Could this time of great knowledge and risk parallel that one? 

Goldin and Kutarna make the case in their book Age of Discovery: Navigating the Storms of Our Second Renaissance

U.S. Army Corp of Engineers

Humboldt County can be a wet place, but there's plenty more to come as sea levels continue to rise. 

The Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment, in the works for several years, was completed last month. 

It details the ways and areas in which the North Coast is especially prone to problems from higher sea levels.  Now the next question: how best to act on the information. 

Micro-Trains

They are not the primary way we get around the country anymore, but Americans still have a love for trains.  The proof is in a modest factory in the small city of Talent.  The factory houses Micro-Trains, the highly regarded maker of model railroad trains, tracks, and accessories. 

"Micro" is not a play on words; the company makes trains in N and Z gauges, smaller than the better-known HO. 

How it got started and why it's still in the Rogue Valley is the story of this month's edition of The Ground Floor.  Eric Smith is the boss now, having succeeded his father-in-law at the helm (throttle?) of the company. 

Columbia University Press

If you're thinking that the key to humans living sustainably lies in the countryside, you're looking in the wrong direction. 

Cities are where most of the people live, and they will have to pave the way (no pun intended) in demonstrating that people can live in harmony with the planet, putting back what we take from it. 

That's the view of Steven Cohen, who runs the Earth Institute at Columbia University.  He fleshes his argument out in The Sustainable City, a glimpse of the urban systems of the future. 

Oregon State University

Barley is an important grain for many different human and animal uses. 

But the grain is just darned hard to remove from its hull.  Unless it's "naked barley." 

This is a variety mutated to allow easier separation of grain and hull. 

Oregon State University is at the center of an effort to study the potential uses of naked barley. 

SOU Percussion Facebook page

Be prepared to stretch your definition of music.  Because a recently released CD features Southern Oregon University's Percussion Ensemble performing a piece by the boundary-stretching composer Mark Applebaum

And the piece includes such exotic instrumentation as bubble wrap.  That's right, the stuff that you use to pack fragile items into boxes.  Popping the bubbles makes a sound, a percussive one at that. 

Terry Longshore directs the Percussion Ensemble. 

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