Jefferson Monthly

Features and columns published in the Jefferson Monthly.

The NPR Ante

Dec 1, 2012

As sure as the leaves turn and the snap of winter returns to the State of Jefferson, comes JPR’s annual dance with the national public radio networks for rights to carry the national programs you hear each day on JPR. Each year I hope the conversation with NPR and the other national networks goes a little easier and makes more sense for JPR and its listeners. And, each year I leave these conversations sorely disappointed.

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I’m writing this in Oregon’s high desert, on the shore of Summer Lake—or, to be more accurate, on the rim of its dry lakebed. It’s August, and I’m here with a group of artists, scientists, and writers, all of us gathered to think about the future of the northern Great Basin in the face of change—most fundamentally, climate change.

In the first Presidential debate of 2012, Governor Mitt Romney said that he would end federal funding for public broad­­casting.

Such a step would be a game changer for stations like JPR, which relies on federal support as a critical component of the diverse funding sources that enable us to serve our listeners. To be clear, federal funding amounts to about 13% of JPR’s annual budget. But, that amount is an absolutely essential element of our ability to operate, equaling roughly the amount we raise each year from both our fall and spring on-air membership drives.

In September of 1998 I waltzed into the basement offices of Jefferson Public Radio on the SOU campus in a silk dress and green platform clogs. I was a recent graduate of said university, with a degree in English and a desperate desire to write professionally. In the year since my graduation I’d participated in some pretty spectacular failures: rejection from six MFA programs, well over twenty letters of refusal from small presses, pinned to a bulletin board at home, and my life savings blown on a solo trip to Europe.

A New Chapter

Oct 1, 2012

In late August, the JPR Foundation (JPRF) and Southern Oregon University (SOU) reached an agreement on a new organizational structure to operate Jefferson Public Radio (JPR).

Why JPR Matters

Sep 1, 2012

As members of the JPR Foundation board and Southern Oregon University leaders have been engaged in discussions during the past several weeks about how best to govern JPR, I’ve had an opportunity to reflect on the value of what we do each day and why it’s important. As I’ve listened to numerous stakeholders who care deeply about JPR’s service to the region convey their goals for our organization, it seems to me the essence of our mission and our work boils down to a few core concepts:

On October 31st 1947, two police cars collided at the intersection of 7th and H streets in Eureka, California. Both cars had their sirens going and were responding to a call. They didn’t hear each other and in a terrible second, several policemen were severely injured and one, an 18-year veteran of the Eureka Police Force, was killed.  It was Halloween and my mother, Mary Lee Carroll, was at a dance at Humboldt State College when, sometime during the evening, her life was shattered when she received the news that her dad, Officer Pete Carroll was dead.

Moving Forward

Aug 1, 2012

The dispute between the JPR Foundation (JPRF) and Southern Oregon University (SOU) over how JPR should be organized and governed has been front and center in recent weeks. The current status of the conflict is that a 90-day “cooling off period” has been brokered by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s office during which a second round of mediation between the two parties will be conducted with the goal of finding common ground and developing solutions to the disagreement.

Except for casserole recipes, I don’t often look to the editors of Parade Magazine for inspiration. I thumb through it most Sundays as quickly as I can. I would ignore it altogether, but I can’t bear to waste any part of my newspaper. Come to think of it, that’s probably also why I find casseroles so satisfying. I admire new ways of using little bits of leftovers that otherwise would have gone to waste.

Where Has Beauty Gone?

Jul 1, 2012

Several years ago, on one of my first trips by train to Portland, I noticed how shabby and garbage-ridden the backs of buildings along the train tracks were. Part of the trip from Klamath Falls north is through beautiful landscapes — huge fir forests, deep canyons and rocky cliffs — and then the closer we got to civilization and cities the more decayed and neglected the land appeared from the train. At the same time I was considering the ugliness of our disposable lives, I was also thinking how sad it is that the once revered train has been relegated to the wrong side of the tracks.

I have a secret.  I want to share it.  In fact, I kind of want to brag about it.  Actually, it’s not bragging, like look at me, I’m so cool.  My secret is that many decades ago, after a fairly tedious, isolated childhood, I grew up, got the hell out of Lansing, Michigan and rather rapidly discovered I like myself and life.  A lot.  It took a few years to let go of the reel-to-reel head tapes, that inner voice that’s always asking you “what’s broke?” and how can you fix it and “do better!” fer the love of Pete. 

Wilderness Godmother

May 1, 2012

While backpacking in the Trinity Alps Wilderness, my hiking partner and I came to a broad river crossing with thigh-deep water. With hardly a second thought, always confident in water, I took off my boots, resecured the belt of my pack, and started across.

Time Depth Perception

Apr 1, 2012

Remember that kid from elementary school, the one with the terrible depth perception?  That kid was me.  I fell down stairs, missed the next rung on the monkey bars, and could be counted on to drop the easiest pop fly.  I eventually grew out of that, and these days my depth perception is probably as good as the next guy.  My spatial depth perception, that is.  On the other hand, my ability to judge and react to the depths of time remains terrible – just like everyone else’s. 

Years ago on our son’s twelfth birthday, he wanted to invite some friends to the Skateboard Park in Ashland. He had never been there before, and technically, he didn’t know how to “board” yet. His father, recalling his own experience of being an over-enthusiastic boy, suggested that maybe the whole family should check it out first to see if it was something he really wanted to do. ..in front of strangers. As often happens with exuberant youth, Henry seemed relieved to have his dream party reined in a bit. We drove to Ashland and found the park.

Piecing It Together

Jan 1, 2012

As 2011 accelerated toward closing I looked back over the year and felt ragged. Like a picket fence in need of repair and new paint — rustic and unpolished. True, there were accomplishments. I had completed the coursework for my doctorate and via an intense diet was on my way back to fighting weight. But the constancy of doubt, instability and the world’s woes loomed large. It seemed that for every good and decent thing, there was more difficulty.

Meeting Scrooge

Dec 1, 2011

I was walking through town the other day, humming the tune from the Little Drummer Boy and ticking off in my head the exciting list of things I had to do for Christmas, when I ran into Tom, Dick, and Mary Scrooge. “This could be a sour note in a merry day,” I thought, but stopped to say hello anyway because, after all, it is Christmas.

“Hello,” I said, “and merry Christmas!”

“I hate Christmas,” they said, as I had expected.

“How too bad,” I sympathized. “I love Christmas.”

I recently flew from southern Oregon to Denver, giving me the opportunity to reflect on the fate of western landscapes.  As we took off from the Medford airport, it was easy to see how the neat pear orchards and vineyards of my compact valley are increasingly hemmed in by subdivisions.  But we quickly left that view behind, as we passed over the large-scale patchwork of industrial forestry in the Cascades.  A few minutes more, and we were above the Klamath Basin, one of the most thoroughly engineered drainages in the west, the vast rectangular impoundments filled here with water, there with

This column is called “Jefferson Almanac” and in reality there is no state of Jefferson. After a bit of research, I’ve discovered that no one really knows where the word almanac came from. It was first used in England 800 years ago for a document foretelling weather, seasons, tides, moons, sunrises and sunsets, so as to help farmers, hunters and fishermen do their work.

The Genesis Of The Idea:

A while back I read about an informal poll conducted by Britain’s Classic FM that piqued my interest. They asked kids to let them know who their favorite classical composers were. I’ll share the top ten with you in a moment. I thought it might be fun to conduct our own completely unscientific research to see what kids in the JPR listening area prefer, compared to those across the Atlantic.

How We Conducted Our Unscientific Poll:

Sandy was in her mid-eighties when she died last May. She was a soft radiance of light in the time I knew her. She was elegance, even in infirmity; not a trait many can pull off authentically. She favored bright colors over the fashion-safe palette of mauves and dusty rose pinks. And she was unfailingly kind and patient, even with those she disagreed with. She could—as so many say and so many cannot do—”disagree without being disagreeable.”  She was a world traveler who made a pleasant, cozy home in Etna, and filled it with art, music, books and many friends.

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