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Rick Harris, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Detroit might be the unofficial capital city of the "rust belt," battered by decades of deindustrialization and decay. 

That's why people can find real deals on real estate there.  Like Drew Philp, who got one really cheap and wrote about it in A $500 House in Detroit: Rebuilding an Abandoned Home and an American City

Renovating the house will eventually cost him a bit more than the original investment, but he's learned a lot about his adopted city and American society--and himself as well.

Even if there's an institution of higher learning in your town, you may not visit it much.

Southern Oregon University aims to remedy that situation, at least once a year, with its SOAR program. 

SOAR stands for Southern Oregon Arts & Research, a showcase for the projects students are churning out as they are learning. 

Georgios Giannopoulos/Wikimedia

The refugees arriving in rickety boats in the Mediterranean are half a world away. 

But not for Stratis Valamios and Father Christoforos Schuff, who goes by Padre X.  They jumped into the middle of the flood of refugees. 

Valamios, who fishes for a living on the Greek island of Lesvos, didn't see a choice.  He could either help or watch people drown.  For his efforts, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Padre X runs an organization that helps refugees.  They bring their experiences to Arcata for talks and activism training this week. 

böhringer friedrich, CC BY-SA 2.5,

Plenty of people give up eating meat and never look back. 

For Marissa Landrigan, that journey involved a u-turn.  She went fully vegan for a while, then began to explore the ethics of eating more deeply. 

What she found raised as many questions as it answered.  And it resulted in a book that is part memoir and part how-to book: The Vegetarian's Guide to Eating Meat

Jan Wright

John Beeson benefitted from the removal of Native Americans from the Rogue Valley, like many white settlers in the mid-19th century. 

What he did next makes him a bit different: Beeson took up a second career as an advocate for Native Americans, leaving his Talent farm and family behind to push for better treatment for indigenous people. 

Historian Jan Wright is working on a book about Beeson and trying to crowdfund it

Fibonacci Blue -

The last election marked a beginning; not just for the candidates elected, but for the people who worked against their election. 

"Resistance" groups sprang up quickly in the days and weeks after Election Day. 

Southern Oregon counts at least two groups working on behalf of working people, counter to the proposals of the Trump administration: Indivisible and Our Revolution

They have both made themselves known for the last several months. 

D@LY3D, CC BY 2.0,

Blood, sweat, and tears are often present at the birth of any child.  It takes a lot of work to give birth.  And then things get harder. 

The basic arc of parenting is the same as it's been for eons, but in recent years American voices have felt freer to talk about the drudgery of child-rearing. 

Or as Jennifer Senior puts it in the title of her book, it's All Joy And No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting

Southern Oregon University

The idea of an American West that is timeless and unchanging stands in sharp contrast to the social reality. 

Over the past two centuries, drastic changes have taken place in the societies that occupy the west, and changes--especially economic ones--continue to this day. 

This is the subject matter for the book Historical Archaeology Through a Western Lens, by Margie Purser of Sonoma State University and Mark Warner of the University of Idaho. 

They are the guests in this month's edition of "Underground History," co-hosted by Mark Tveskov and Chelsea Rose of the Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology

University of Oregon

Eugene native Michael Copperman left college with his degree and a burning desire to teach children who need a little extra help. 

He joined Teach For America and took charge of a classroom in the Mississippi Delta.  And the learning did indeed begin... but more for Copperman than for his students. 

He learned hard lessons about race, class, culture, and inequality, lessons he shares in his book Teacher: Two Years in the Mississippi Delta

Oregon Employment Department

Oregon started counting the unemployment rate in the current method back in 1976. 

And in that entire time, the rate has never dropped to 3.8%.  Until now. 

Unemployment dipped to a record level in March, lower than the national average (which is 4.5 %; California stands at 4.9%).

There are plenty of stories behind the numbers.  Timothy Duy at the Oregon Economic Forum at the University of Oregon tracks the numbers and the stories, as does David Cooke at the Employment Department.


A lot of rain and snow fell over the winter.  But that does not mean a year without water controversy in the Klamath Basin. 

The Klamath Tribes recently exercised their senior water right in the basin to call for more water to stay in certain streams, potentially withdrawing irrigation water from thousands of acres of agricultural land. 

Klamath Tribal Chair Don Gentry tells us the water is needed to duplicate flood conditions that are a natural part of the ecosystem.

At the same time, ag groups filed suit against the federal government for its plans for water allocations to wildlife refuges. 

The Klamath Water Users Association is in the middle of much of this.


The world is full of populations of people who wish or demand that they had their own countries. 

Think Taiwan, Tibet, and Crimea, for starters.  But there are many more... enough to fill a book, it turns out.  And that is Nick Middleton's An Atlas of Countries That Don't Exist

There are examples you've heard of, like the three above.  Many more will surprise you, like the Native American lands declared independent in the middle of the United States. 

Eric Sanford/UC-Davis

The increasing acidity of the oceans creates problems for sea creatures. 

Some of the animals that live in shells have a harder time building their shells in the current conditions. 

And scientists at the University of California-Davis discovered one creature, similar to coral, that just dissolves in certain conditions

Riding Beyond

Even if a woman's treatment for breast cancer is over, with cancer gone, life is not the same. 

Physical and emotional effects from the treatment linger. 

Riding Beyond aims to pair women with horses, to improve the health of both. 

Think of it as a large-scale version of a therapy pet. 

The Keenest Observers: The Urban/Rural Divide

Apr 24, 2017
Gary Halvorson/Oregon State Archives

Our region is full of out-of-the way places. 

But being off the beaten path is not a good thing for everyone.  Small towns can feel boring and even repressive to young people looking to make their way in the world. 

The urban/rural divide is the focus of this month's edition of "The Keenest Observers," hosted by Robert Goodwin.

President Trump and people concerned about climate change will observe the president's 100th day in office.  But not in the same way. 

Just as day one of the Trump era featured demonstrators in the streets of Washington and other cities, day 100 will also feature marches and gatherings. 

The People's Climate March is set for Saturday April 29th, organized by Green for All and other groups. 

Albert Herring,CCby-SA2.0,wikimedia curid=29806162

The days of massive clearcuts of massive trees are largely over, at least on public land. 

And in this age of smaller-diameter trees, there's plenty of talk of biomass.  Think of biomass as the leftovers... woody material too small to turn into lumber, but still big enough to burn. 

The big question is whether it burns in the forest, or burns in a boiler, creating energy. 

Both the federal Forest Service and Oregon Department of Forestry have programs that guide and encourage the use of biomass, as an economic development tool for rural communities. 

Beatrice Murch/Wikimedia

Eden Collinsworth wrote a book for Chinese people on what to expect when interacting with Western business people. 

Now she feels compelled to understand the way Westerners act to each other (if that can, in fact, be understood). 

Collinsworth's new book is Behaving Badly: The New Morality in Politics, Sex and Business.  It examines what she charitably calls the "flexibility" in morals demonstrated in today's America. 

U.S. Fish & Wildlife/Public Domain

With carbon in the atmosphere now above 400 parts per million, reducing carbon emissions on the surface is no longer enough. 

What's needed is a Drawdown, also the title of a book laying out and ranking 100 ways to achieve a reduction in atmospheric carbon. 

Some you'd expect, like protecting tropical forests at number 5.  But reducing food waste at number 3, and educating girls at number 5? 

We have many questions for Katharine Wilkinson, the senior writer on the project. 


Almost 50 years later, we're still celebrating Earth Day on April 22nd. 

Good thing, too... it means the Earth is still here to celebrate. 

How will you observe the day, if at all?  We invited event organizers from several regional celebrations to visit with details.