Ropable, Public Domain,

Reduce, reuse, recycle.  We're pretty well along in the third of those, but not so organized on the first two. 

Rogue Valley Habitat for Humanity wants to focus on the second one: reuse.  Its "ReStore" in Medford and a sister store in White City already sell items for home and construction that have been used already. 

Now there's a plan to go further into repairing items for re-sale, to cut down on the financial and environmental costs of obtaining new raw materials for manufacturing. 

Oregon Department of Transportation, CC BY 2.0,

John and Gordan Javna are no strangers to the sound of laughing. 

They produce a lot of it themselves: John started, and Gordon continued, the series Uncle John's Bathroom Reader. 

The brothers Javna leave the restroom and join forces on Life Is a Joke: 100 Life Lessons (with Punch Lines).  Good jokes abound, but good lessons come from them, too.

How did so many things get "-ista" on the end?  Sandinistas we understand, but fashionistas?  Fermentistas? 

You've probably heard that one less, but it's a thing.  Self-applied, too, by the likes of Applegate Valley farmers Kirsten and Christopher Shockey. 

Earlier this year they released a new book on preparing fermented foods.  We go back to an interview about their earlier book, called simply Fermented Vegetables, in this re-run. 

Oregon Department of Transportation

It's been more than a year since the Ashland City Council passed the "10 by 20" ordinance.  It was a citizen idea to require the city to generate 10 percent of its power by the year 2020. 

The council adopted the ordinance rather than hold a public vote on it.  But passing ordinances and building electric facilities are two different things, with a number of obstacles on the building part. 

We get an update on putting a major solar installation on city property. 


The prevailing theory until lately was that humans arrived in North America on foot... across the Bering Land Bridge, before polar ice melted and covered it with the Bering Strait. 

But that's a VERY long walk, and boats might have worked just as well.  And probably did, as new evidence shows. 

Our monthly underground history segment pairs us up with the researchers at the Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology (SOULA)

And this month we hear about Matthew Des Lauriers' work at Cedros Island in Baja California, finding artifacts from 13,000 years ago. 

Why Life-Saving PTC Technology Didn't Stop Amtrak Crash

Dec 20, 2017
Pierce County Sheriff's Department

The derailment of an Amtrak train Monday morning — which plummeted off an overpass while traveling more than twice the speed limit — has thrust a technology meant to prevent excessive speeds back into the national spotlight.

It’s called positive train control, or PTC.

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Recent decades have not been kind to rural Oregon. As natural resources come under increased pressure -- and the economy becomes more globalized -- small, resource-based communities have been hit hard. Port Orford, on Oregon’s south coast, is no exception.

But now, some people in Port Orford are trying innovative approaches to adapting traditional livelihoods to the new reality so their town can survive – and even thrive – in the 21st Century. 

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Many rural Oregon towns share the same problems; the natural resources they traditionally based their economies on no longer support them, and isolation and limited funds often make solutions hard to come by. But how these communities grapple with these changes can vary.

JPR’s Liam Moriarty takes us to Port Orford, on the state’s south coast, to see how people in one fishing town are working to carve out a potential future.

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Port Orford is perched on the Pacific coast, less than ten miles from the westernmost point in Oregon. And while it’s only about 60 miles as the crow flies from the heavily-traveled I-5 corridor, getting there means a two-hour-plus drive over the Coast Range.

Its relative isolation is one reason tourism isn’t a well-developed industry in Port Orford. Another is the strong local desire to retain the town’s identity as a fishing village.

Now, economic pressures are fueling a new effort to foster tourism that’s consistent with Port Orford’s values.

Oregon Fish & Wildlife

Many people and organizations are working hard to bring back Pacific salmon.  Fishing and habitat loss depressed salmon populations; some are on the endangered species list. 

But some of the impacts do not come from people.  Marine mammals are voracious eaters of salmon, and the mammals have been protected by law for nearly 50 years. 

Recent research shows that while human harvest of chinook salmon dropped, killer whales and harbor seals ate more of the fish. 

Google Street View

The epidemic of opioid drugs has kept people who help people recover from addictions busy. 

So it was a blow to the greater Medford area when OnTrack, a longtime provider of addiction treatment, went through some major wobbles this year. 

OnTrack fired its executive director of several decades, and was forced to close and modify some of its programs.  Dr. Alan Ledford is now the executive director at the agency. 

Trump Administration Suspends Efforts to Bring Back Northwest Grizzlies

Dec 19, 2017

The Trump administration is suspending efforts to bring back Washington’s grizzly bear population. That would leave the Northwest with fewer than ten of the imperiled bears.

Oregon State University

We admit to being just a little uneasy in a recent discussion of artificial intelligence, especially when the talk turned to autonomous weapons. 

Think of drone swarms gathering overhead... we'll leave it there. 

But we explore it further with the Collaborative Robotics and Intelligent Systems (CoRIS) Institute at Oregon State University, which is working on drone swarm technology, along with other projects. 

Google Street View

We get skads of information from the federal census every ten years: how many people live in the United States, where they live, how much money they make, and much more. 

But that's every ten years, and it is a gigantic undertaking.  It is augmented in non-census years by the less comprehensive, but still expensive, American Community Survey (ACS).

Couldn't we use other, available information to come up with more frequent and cheaper data on people?  The answer appears to be yes, especially if we use Google Street View to view cars and trucks and make some assumptions about their owners. 

Timnit Gebru at Stanford University led a team that examined the viability of such a process. 

Angela George, CC BY-SA 3.0,

A professor of Yiddish literature and a journalist walk into a studio. 

You were expecting a joke?  Actually, there will likely be several as we visit with Jeremy Dauber, the author of the book Jewish Comedy: A Serious History

The book takes in the development of Jewish comedy in America, but also extends much further back into the history of the Jewish people.  When you're often persecuted, a sense of humor can help. 

Northwest Mill Town Holds On To Blue Collar Past

Dec 18, 2017
Molly Solomon/OPB

An industry that once defined the Columbia River town of Camas, Washington, is coming to an end. Last month, Georgia-Pacific announced it will close most of its production at the town's 134-year old paper mill. For many, the mill was more than just a job.

Salem Halts Water Supply From North Santiam River After Fuel Spill

Dec 18, 2017

UPDATE (Dec. 17, 3:26 p.m. PST) — The city of Salem has shut off water from the North Santiam River, activating its groundwater and reservoir supply after a tanker truck carrying 11,500 gallons of gas crashed near Idanha, Oregon, Friday evening, spilling an unknown amount of gasoline into the river.

Tuality Healthcare/Jeff Schilling

Oregon's budget is tight enough that keeping all the programs required a new revenue source.  So the legislature narrowly passed a tax on health insurance premiums last summer. 

And it surprised no one when a small group of legislators organized a petition drive to force the measure to a public vote. 

Ballots for Measure 101 will go out the first week of the new year for the January 23rd election, and campaigns are already organized, pro and con.  Yes for Healthcare chose a name that makes its position clear.

Things are humming these days at Gary West Meats in Jacksonville. 

It is a true "fourth-quarter" business, making most of its sales and money around Christmas. 

Gary West himself is out of the picture now, but his daughter Whitney Murdoch and her husband Paul keep the business going, providing all manner of meats to happy carnivores. 

We learn more about the business in our monthly chat with entrepreneurs and their followers, The Ground Floor. 

Georgios Giannopoulos/Wikimedia

The stories of the refugees are truly sad: they fled in a hurry from their homes with few possessions and a risky journey ahead. 

The stories of the people who live near refugee camps are anguished, too.  Why do the refugees need to be near them?  This is one of the central questions in today's immigration debate. 

Like the immigrants themselves, the debate crosses national boundaries.  Sasha Polakow-Suransky explores the situation in the book Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy