Archive for the ‘Flux Magazine’ Category

Joey Larko’s fingers shuffle through the blue and black crates that lie at his feet under his desk. Just above them sit two turntables and a couple of two-foot-tall speakers where a college student would typically keep books. He lands on a bright yellow twelve-inch square cardboard case with italicized helvetica print on the cover and pulls out the album contained inside: Dutch Flowers by Skream. He turns the turntable on to forty-five rotations per minute and drops the needle. A base-filled beat follows the scratchy sound of the needle running across the album’s surface.

“I pretty much always choose vinyl if given a choice,” Larko says. “The bass is so much warmer, so much heavier. There’s nothing like it.”

Larko, a twenty-one year old University of Oregon student from San Francisco, has been collecting vinyl records for the past two years. In a time where compressed music formats such as Mp3s are the public’s main form of music consumption, Larko continues to add record after record to his 300-piece collection.

“I call it black crack,” Larko says. He spends roughly fifteen dollars a week on new vinyl. “I just party less so I can afford it, which is better I suppose.”

Record enthusiasts like Larko are finding their way into music stores more often. According to a study conducted by the Nielson Company, 3.6 million vinyl albums sold in the United States in 2011, a thirty-seven percent increase from the previous year, and an increase that has been steadily moving upward since 2006. This is in stark contrast to 1993, when only 300,000 vinyl albums were sold nationwide.


In a music industry dominated by digital files, vinyl growth is unexpected. Eight-tracks, an early form of cassette tape, gained popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s but was completely phased out of the market by 1982. Cassettes peaked in popularity during the late 1980s, but have now become so obsolete that last year the term was removed from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary. Compact discs dominated the market until recently, when Mp3s, which could be acquired almost effortlessly (and often for free from file-sharing programs like Limewire), took over.

Greg Sutherland, a record buyer at House of Records in Eugene, Oregon, says the growth and resilience of vinyl can be attributed to several factors. “I think collecting is a huge part of it because it’s a substantial thing,” Sutherland says. “A record is a packaged piece of art that includes visuals and sound.”

He says CD cases are made of cheap plastic and are a hassle to open. He believes adhesive ribbon on the top spine of CD cases has been a source of annoyance to many since the security measure was introduced. Mp3s are simply invisible megabytes in cyberspace and in many cases do not include album artwork.

Sutherland says he feels a sense of nostalgia for vinyl records.

“It’s kind of romantic to me,” Sutherland says. “Something so ‘sci-fi’ that is the future—music on a file and as many files as you want. Instead of that being the future right now, it looks more like this older form that has been around since the late ’40s or early ’50s is going to be the future.”

Robert Bielski has collected records since 1959. During his time as a traveling salesman, he would stop at music stores and purchase records when he heard a song that he liked on the radio. “It was a hobby that got out of control,” Bielski says, acknowledging his addiction to collecting vinyl. “I’ve already sold off a lot of my collection, but I still have about ten thousand at home. I filled up my basement and half of my house.” Bielski sold a small percentage of his collection at the Eugene Record Convention this past February.

Larko is a new-age collector, as opposed to Bielski, who collects vintage records. Whereas many people believe that record collecting is restricted to older music, most of Larko’s personal collection is comprised of bands and groups that have released music in the past decade. He has to ship many of his records in from the United Kingdom because his favorite artists in his preferred genre, a type of underground dance music called dubstep, are mostly based in the UK.

“With dubstep, vinyl is so much better because you can feel the bass,” Larko says.

The compression process used with CDs and Mp3s standardizes the levels on the music tracks: the softer sections are made louder, whereas the louder sections are made quieter. Depending on the amount of compression used, a recording could lose most of its dynamic range.

“I think that a lot of kids who were born in the late ’80s or early ’90s grew up without records in a digital world,” Sutherland says. “Because kids never experienced what it’s like to listen to a record, the very first time they hear it is pretty shocking to them. Mp3s and CDs don’t sound as good as records do.”

With records, there is no compression process. What a listener hears is pure, unadulterated music. “It sounds really organic when you’re listening to a record,” Larko says. “Sometimes it sounds like you’re in the studio with them.”

With records’ surge in popularity more and more modern bands are releasing their albums on vinyl. The Black Keys’ most recent album release, El Camino, was widely sought after. House of Records received twelve copies of the album a week after its release date—they sold out in a week and had special orders for more.

Printing fewer records allows for more exclusivity among vinyl albums. To enthusiasts like Larko, the drive to accumulate records is partially inspired by the rarity of an album. From collecting white labels—promotional vinyl discs that were handed out in limited quantity—to digging through crates to find a hidden gem, collectors will look for records few others might own.

“Exclusivity is a huge part of it for me,” Larko says. “It’s really cool to know that you’re one of a couple hundred people who have that sound in the world.”

To many vinyl enthusiasts, it’s not about collecting to resell or make a profit. Bielski believes that fewer than 25 percent of vendors who attend the Eugene Record Convention are there to make money. Most vinyl collectors are unique in that way. Albums are typically purchased with the intention of being opened, listened to and enjoyed, in contrast to something like action figures, which many collectors leave in their original packaging in order to preserve the toy’s condition.

At the Eugene Record Convention, Bielski sits back at his table and watched as people eagerly flipped through the collection that he has culminated over the course of his life.

“If I wanted to make money [from collecting], I would go back to work,” Bielski says. “It’s just a hobby. For me, it’s very hard lugging these records around. But it’s fun, so I do it.”

Written by Brandon Andersen, 3/8/12

Edited by Erin Peterson


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When Idy Maigari arrived in Portland three years ago with his wife and nine children, it was the first time he had seen tall city buildings, paved roads, or traffic jams. The city was a complex maze of moving cars, people talking on their cell phones, and sleek towers embedded with rows of windows. Because no one in Maigari’s family could read or speak English, communication was nearly impossible. The Maigaris had suddenly entered what seemed like another planet with no one to turn to but each other.

“We were shocked to see how advanced the country is … everything is so sophisticated and new,” Maigari says of the experience.

Maigari is half a world away from the cardboard walls of his shelter at the refugee camp in Chad where families still live under plastic-bag roofs. Like many families living in Central Africa, Maigari’s was transported to the camp in 2006 for protection from the violence of the civil war occurring in the Central African Republic.

The Maigaris spent three years living in squalid conditions while they waited for the Office of Refugee Resettlement to relocate them to the United States. They arrived in Portland in September of 2009, where an African community had been growing since the 1970s when the first wave of refugees arrived. The community encourages resettlement agencies to place people in Portland because a supportive network and cultural base has already been established, says Joseph Smith-Buani, a University of Portland professor of African Studies.

Refugees are eligible to receive financial support from the state’s Refugee Cash Assistance and Refugee Medical Assistance programs for up to eight months after arriving in Oregon. During this time, refugees are expected to learn English and find a job so they can become self-sufficient.

“There are so many choices and it is very complex,” Maigari says, communicating through a translator. Although he is trying to learn, Maigari has yet to master English. “We were frightened because there are so many things you have to learn in order to survive.”

To cope with the language barrier and other cultural differences, refugees often rely on outside support to help them assimilate into America’s fast-paced culture while still maintaining their own cultural values and traditions.

Africa House, a branch of the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization in Portland, is one place for Africans to find the assistance they need to adjust to this new life. Located in Northeast Portland, the facility was originally a large home before it was converted into several offices and meeting spaces.

Africa House was established five years ago and now offers services to more than 200 African refugees and immigrants annually. In the offices, large African maps hang on the walls and a spicy smell wafts from the small kitchen where employees prepare lunch. Every chair in the small waiting area is usually occupied. The majority of the organization’s clients are refugees rather than immigrants or American-born Africans. Whereas immigrants choose to leave their country in order to have access to better jobs or education, refugees are forced to leave their home country for a safer environment because the threat to their lives is too great.

Establishing a community setting is an important part of Africa House because it reflects the value of relationships between friends and family, a prominent aspect in most African cultures. “There is tremendous solidarity between the community,” says Gloria Ngezaho, a youth program coordinator at Africa House.

The facility offers refugees a place to meet with other people from their continent to socialize and practice English in a comfortable environment. The organization also offers assistance with green card and housing applications, help with paying bills, and literacy classes. At Africa House, people learn to become part of a new culture without losing pieces of their own.

For Maigari, Africa House has become a second home. “When I wake up in the morning, there is no other place to go than Africa House,” he says.

Every day Maigari rides the bus to meet Djimet Dogo, the organization’s manager. Maigari brings a plastic bag filled with his mail because he is unable to read it himself. He cannot run simple errands, make appointments, or talk with his landlord or his children’s teachers without assistance from one of the employees, most of whom are immigrants or refugees from Africa themselves.

Until he met Dogo, another former Chadian, Maigari could not communicate with anyone outside of his own family. Dogo taught him how to use public transportation and purchase groceries from the store using his food stamps.

At Africa House, Maigari and his children learned how to write their names in English for the first time.

“Thank God we came to the United States,” Maigari says. “I never expected that in my life I would be able to write my name. I never believed that one day my children could write and read.”

Three years after their arrival in Portland, all nine of the Maigari children are attending school and speaking English. Maigari says he is too old to grasp the language as quickly as his children, but he continues to take lessons.

Kamar Haji-Mohamed, the community services coordinator for Africa House, wears a bright yellow head wrap with a floor length black dress. When she was eleven, she moved with her family to Oregon from Kenya, where her family found refuge after fleeing their home in Somalia to escape a violent civil war. Working at Africa House has allowed her to better understand some of the challenges her parents and family faced when they arrived.

She says the language barrier is one of the toughest challenges to overcome. Without the ability to read or speak English in the U.S., understanding something as simple as an electricity bill becomes an arduous process.

“If you speak the language, it’s much easier to access basic resources,” Haji-Mohamed says. “The main thing we do and we want is for [refugees] to be self-sufficient and not to depend on programs or resources always.”

For Maigari, the language barrier has hindered his attempts to find a job. Currently, his family is living entirely on welfare support—something Maigari is anxious to change.

The processes of submitting applications and attending interviews are just some examples of cultural adjustments refugees must adapt to. Maigari, who is a member of the Fulani people, a nomadic and herding culture in Africa, says before he came to America it was possible to wake up and find a different job to do for the day without filing any paperwork.

“Here it is not this way,” Maigari says. “I have to take classes and I take employment training and all of kinds of things to prepare me to get a job.”

Africa House works to help families understand cultural differences that can make everyday routines seem complex. Ngezaho says new laws, social customs, and even relationships take time to adapt to. In Africa, for instance, it is common for a twenty-one-year-old man to be with a sixteen- or seventeen-year-old woman, but here that is illegal.    “There are a lot of rules and laws in America that have an impact on how people view life here,” Ngezaho says.

Despite the challenges, both Ngezaho and Haji-Mohamed agree that most refugees are happy to be in Portland and anxious to establish a new life here. “There is a lot of issues [refugees] face, but there is a lot advantages they see,” Ngezaho says. “They always have hope because they have been at their bottom, so this is doable.”

Families are also excited at the opportunity to provide a better life for their children with new opportunities.

“America is a safe haven,” Smith-Buani says. “[Refugees] find this to be a good place—a safe place—to raise a child and live their life to its fullest.”

In Portland, Maigari’s children are experiencing a life of freedom and comfort for the first time. In the Chadian refugee camp, the family of eleven lived inside a cardboard structure. The Maigaris received rations every twenty days from the United Nations. Desperate for food, Maigari says people often fought to make it to the front of the line on distribution days and some stole from other families. Anyone who was seen causing disorder was beaten with iron bars the soldiers carried. It was unsafe for children to leave their cardboard shelter. Maigari and his wife chose not to send their kids to the camp’s school because the teachers were known for beating students.

The children feared the teachers would beat them because they could not speak English on their first day of school in Portland. Now the children wish classes were held on weekends. “When the children get home from school they are happy,” Maigari says. “They are not hungry. They make friends and the children are friendly with the teacher. It’s not like at the refugee camp.”

The family’s townhome is in a safe neighborhood with a park. Maigari’s children spend their free time using the computer, playing basketball, and riding their bikes with friends.

Maigari is amazed he can go to the grocery store and buy food whenever he wants. “Here, I don’t have to worry about somebody coming home and attacking my family to take that food away,” he says. “For the first time I have peace of mind.”

Maigari is overjoyed that his children can experience the once-foreign luxury of making their own choices. He wants to incorporate pieces of American culture into his family’s lifestyle to help his kids feel at home here.

Africa House encourages all of its clients to maintain a balance between acculturating to American life and maintaining African values and traditions. Haji-Mohamed says that most adults make it a priority to keep African tradition and values in their homes and to raise their children in that environment. For youth, however, attending school and making friends with Americans proposes an interesting dichotomy that can be challenging for those trying to maintain two identities.

The African Immigrant Mentoring project, one of the multiple youth programs offered at Africa House, connects children with mentors who teach them about their heritage and offer support with balancing their American school life with traditional expectations their families uphold at home.

For Ngezaho, who moved to Portland from Burundi as a refugee when he was eighteen, the combination of cultures is a valuable asset. “I’m an American, but I feel like I have a culture that I came here with,” he says. “You have to take from both sides, and they do shape you.”

Maigari says he will maintain his native language and religion in his home, but is happy to see his children speaking English and “behaving like American kids” outside of the house. The children are also introducing their parents to some new cuisine—burgers are a common request in the Maigari household.

The preservation of African culture in America is evident in Northeast Portland, where many African-owned restaurants and stores are eager to share traditional food or clothing with others in the community.

“It is our way of contributing to American culture,” Ngezaho says. “It brings pride.”

Smith-Buani, the University of Portland professor, says these reminders of home don’t only help immigrants and refugees with the acculturation process, but also allow them to contribute to America’s melting-pot society.

“When people go places, they change the places they go, but they are also changed by those places,” Smith-Buani says.

For refugees, assimilating means creating a new home with the knowledge that returning to a life in their war-torn nation will be difficult or impossible.

But Maigari doesn’t hesitate to call Portland home. He still hopes he and his wife can find a job and become self-sufficient. To Maigari, Portland has provided a secure life for his family with a bright future.

“I have hope and optimism that one day I will make it,” Maigari says. “At one point, I will get a job. This is my home. I am not going back.”

Maigari thinks that in one or two years, his children will know English well enough to help him with basic tasks like reading bills so he doesn’t have to ride the bus to Africa House before starting his day.

But for now, he will stick to his morning routine.

Tomorrow, Maigari will ride the bus to Africa House with his stack of mail. Before he meets Dojo, he will stop at the registration desk where there will be a clipboard holding a sign-in sheet. On the next open line, he will write his own name.

Written by Kerri Anderson, 2/28/12

Edited by Erin Peterson

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Towering over the old growth forests of the Pacific Northwest, Dominic Luebbers peers out his window, noting the weather. There’s not a cloud in sight. Every ten minutes he uses his binoculars to look for smoke in the area, searching for anything abnormal.

Although he now considers it a hobby, in the past Luebbers spent every summer from 2001 to 2006 working as a fire lookout for the US Forest Service. On most days the occasional voice on the dispatch radio was his only company.

While human society is built around interaction and communication between groups of people, there are individuals who willingly live in isolation for long periods of time. Some do it to fulfill an innate desire to be alone, while others find themselves living in isolation because their jobs require it—not necessarily because they want to.

Whatever their occupation—be it maintaining trails, conducting research studies, or keeping lookout for forest fires—these people make the choice to trade in their mainstream lifestyles and live a large portion of their lives in solitude.

Luebbers finds the isolation exuberating.

“A few days of hiking and camping can bring you closer to nature; however, there isn’t anything quite like living in the middle of it for three months,” Luebbers says.

According to Sarah Levy, volunteer and service programs coordinator for the US Forest Service, volunteering in isolated environments is rare; most volunteers who go to remote areas usually work in groups, and those that do have gone through extensive safety training. These volunteers sometimes maintain trails where camping overnight is a necessity due to the distant location of a site.

“We do our best to make sure that every group of volunteers that go out is able to stay in communication with their forest or ranger district,” Levy says.

Exceptions to the norm include fire lookouts, like Luebbers, who would sometimes go as long as five days without any face-to-face interaction with another human being.

“I found it was rather easy to go days without seeing anyone, but going days without having a conversation with another person was more difficult,” Luebbers says.

Luebbers has worked at multiple lookout locations, each one different from the last. The average lookout tower in the Willamette Valley is about five thousand feet in elevation.  The average n  Although it was difficult for Luebbers to adjust to the isolation at first, he soon began to enjoy it.

“I found that I would talk to myself a lot and did a lot more in-depth thinking about things than I would normally do,” Luebbers says.

Licensed counselor Anne Allanketner says there are many possible reasons why certain people prefer to work or live in isolated environments. For instance, some may find it an important source of personal nourishment. Often the person may consider him or herself an introvert and enjoy time spent alone to “regenerate” after losing energy from day-to-day interactions.

According to Allanketner, being motivated by a mission is another reason why some people are drawn to solitary environments. She says people, such as astronauts, explorers, missionaries, and military personnel, are so intensely absorbed in completing the job at hand that they don’t consider the human deprivation their work requires from them.

When University of Oregon graduate Kevin Silagi applied to be an interpretive intern with the US Forest Service, he knew the position would require him to be stationed in a remote area. After a few weeks on the job, he was hooked.

“It was one of those things where I figured I’d be gone for three months and then I would have to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life when I got back,” Silagi says. “Now there is no question in my mind: this is what I want to do.”

Silagi has worked as an interpretive intern at the Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area in Eastern Oregon for the past five months before becoming a volunteer. Although he sometimes interacts with children and park visitors, he will often go entire days without encountering another person.

This solitude doesn’t always entail the loneliness one might imagine. In fact, it’s one of the aspects Silagi enjoys most about his job.

“It’s funny but I’m never afraid of being alone in the woods, like running into cougars or bears,” Silagi says. “When I’m alone in the wilderness, I worry about running into people because it breaks the spell that the woods have over me.”

For Luebbers, the perks of his jobs greatly outweigh any loneliness he might experience.

“I enjoy spending time in a place with spectacular views, like people who want to have a corner office in a tall building,” Luebbers says. “I have seen amazing sunsets, heard thunder echoing in canyons, seen tremendous storms, and intense fire activity.”

Both Silagi and Luebbers have always had strong ties to nature. Silagi says that living in a cabin in the woods has been a dream come true.

“I was an only child so I was used to being alone,” Silagi says. “Pair that with a love of nature and you have a great recipe for a park ranger. I enjoy my time in the woods alone, exploring the forest and wandering in my mind.”

These kinds of solitary jobs are not only important to the people who do them, but also to the community at large. According to the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, the number of major wildfires between 1950 and 2000 has increased dramatically not only in North America, but all over the world. In July The Oregonian published an article about the decline of fire lookouts—fewer than 20 percent of Oregon’s one thousand lookout sites still have structures, and only 106 of them are staffed.

Luebbers is nothing but passionate about the work he has done with the US Forest Service.

“I believe it is of the utmost importance for those working at lookouts to do their best and prove that lookouts are still a viable form of fire detection in order to preserve this unique piece of history for future generations,” Luebbers says.

Although Luebbers no longer works as a lookout, he continues to travel to these isolated areas. He estimates he’s been to around 220 individual lookout sites.
During his travels Luebbers encountered a variety of individuals also drawn to the beauty and peaceful solitude these places provide.

“I have met people writing books, doing art work, wood carving, sewing—and then some people who don’t like people at all,” Luebbers says.

Author Henry David Thoreau famously secluded himself on the shores of Walden Pond for two years, and like Luebbers and Silagi, Thoreau found that this period of isolation granted him time for introspection and reflection. Perhaps these men have tapped into a form of self-discovery that can only be found in moments of solitude.

“The silence and lack of distractions allow you to reflect and really get to the root of our actions,” Silagi says. “It gives you time to question the things you have done, your aspirations, and your purpose.”

Written by Allie Gavette 12/2/11

Edited by Erin Peterson

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The birth of Elaena Shepard’s first son happened so quickly that she barely made it to the futon, where her husband caught their son. Odin was born three years ago in the Shepards’ old home before their midwife even arrived.

Now seven months pregnant with her second child, Shepard has yet to experience the smell of latex-gloves and sterilizing cleaners indicative of a hospital. She doesn’t plan to give birth there either.

Shepard helps make up the 1 percent of women in the United States who have chosen to give birth in their own home with a midwife.

“I felt like if I went to a doctor, I would be someone who had an appointment that day—a piece of paper,” Shepard says, preferring instead a natural and personalized birthing experience.

Midwife Carla Viles has been providing homebirths for the past twenty years. She assisted Shepard with her first pregnancy and is guiding her through her second. The two women share a close bond and chat freely with one another during appointments.

But unlike an obstetrician at the hospital, Viles has never been to medical school and doesn’t carry a license to practice. Viles learned her trade through field experience and by completing apprenticeships with other midwives. Some medical professionals argue this training isn’t sufficient for midwives to handle complications during birth.

The conflict between doctors and midwives concerning the safest way to give birth has been going on for years, and the issue recently faced legislative action. Homebirth midwives are illegal in ten states and eighteen states require midwives to practice under a government-regulated license.

The question of whether or not a compromise exists still lingers in Oregon—one of only two states that still allows voluntary licensure for midwives.

Only seventy-seven licensed midwives practice in the state of Oregon, and they are required to follow regulations set by the Oregon Health and Licensing Agency (OHLA). A license guarantees that a midwife has accomplished a certain level of training and permits her to carry medications. It also allows the OHLA to investigate a midwife’s records if a patient or doctor files a malpractice complaint.

Midwives who choose to practice without a license are not allowed to carry medications and are not held accountable by the government.  This is the issue that Margarita Sheikh of Eugene, Oregon, now faces after losing her son during her homebirth in July. When Sheikh hired an unlicensed midwife to help her deliver her first baby, she never imagined her midwife wouldn’t know how to perform CPR on her son when he was born without a heartbeat. “I didn’t know my midwife was lying to me,” Sheikh says.

Sheikh says the midwife made false claims about her experience and training, but she can’t receive any aid from the government because the midwife is unlicensed.

This tragedy put midwives in the media spotlight, placing the push for mandatory licensing—once again—at the forefront of the homebirth debate in Oregon.

Melissa Cheyney, a licensed midwife and chair of the Oregon Board of Direct Entry Midwifery, argues that mandatory licensure is not a matter of making the practice safer but a matter of holding midwives accountable and making sure every midwife has a minimal entry level of training.

“The real danger in our state now is that you could have somebody who knows absolutely nothing, but calls herself a midwife,” Cheyney says.

Oregon Representative Mitch Greenlick has been pushing for mandatory licensure for several legislative sessions after he realized there were midwives practicing without the credential. “That to me is completely crazy,” Greenlick says. “Midwifery is a real health profession. Why is it not licensed?”

But Cheyney is wary about establishing a law so soon without data proving licensed midwives produce better birth outcomes than those without a license. Though a project to obtain this data is under way, it will take at least three years to compile the information and determine the results.

Greenlick isn’t waiting for this information. He plans to once again present a bill in 2013 that would mandate licensure and allow the OHLA to set regulations. The regulations would establish specific training requirements and possibly restrict certain home birthing situations including twin births, breeches, or VBACs, which occur when a woman attempts a vaginal birth after previously having a cesarean section.

Oregon license holders currently receive entry-level training in those procedures and only face minor limitations assisting high-risk births. But midwives who oppose licensure and government involvement in the practice fear that restrictions will only tighten.

According to Viles, if Greenlick’s law passes, the number of hospital transfers could increase. “It could prevent women from getting the experience they really want,” Viles says.

Many women who are uncomfortable with having cesarean sections in hospitals often look to homebirth as a natural alternative. Viles fears the government might prohibit certain options, infringing on a women’s right to choose her own birthing method.

“It’s an issue of women’s reproductive rights, not midwifery rights,” Viles says. “My main concern is that birthing women will lose their rights.”

Colleen Forbes has held a license for all ten years that she has served as a midwife. She says a lot of energy is spent preserving the rights of a small number of women instead of thinking about the 99 percent of women who choose to give birth in hospitals.

“Shouldn’t we be promoting the safety and credentialing of midwifery so that more of the mainstream population sees it as a viable alternative over medicalized hospital birth?” Forbes asks.

She believes more women than the 1 percent currently choosing homebirth fit into the low-risk category, and therefore more women should be choosing to give birth at home with a midwife. “I don’t think [mandatory licensing] is going to make a damn bit of difference in terms of safety,” Forbes says. She thinks mandatory licensing should be viewed in terms of setting training standards and increasing accountability for all midwives so women, such as Sheikh, are more protected.

Forbes says midwifery should be held to the same standards as other health practices.

“The government has a responsibility to oversee the practice of midwifery, just like they oversee the practice of medicine or getting a tattoo or getting your hair done,” Forbes says.

Sheikh agrees that the government needs to take action. “If the state is not going to protect you from untrained practitioners, how can you protect yourself?”

The death of Sheikh’s son could be the last push legislators need to finalize a new law. But barriers still prevent some midwives from obtaining a license, like the hefty licensing fee that recently increased from $630 per year to $1,800 per year.

“It’s a really significant problem,” Forbes says. “At $1,800 it’s really cost prohibitive for some midwives.”

Forbes is able to charge $3,300 per birth and performs about thirty births per year. Lane County has one of the highest planned homebirth rates in the state, with thirty-eight this year according to the Midwives Alliance of North America.

Cheyney is concerned for many midwives, including those with fewer client bases such as student midwives who are just starting out, midwives who work in rural towns, and midwives who work with under-served populations. If those midwives can’t afford a license under a new law, they would be forced to give up their practice.

“Would that mean that those communities then have no one to serve them? That seems like a problem,” Cheyney says. “I have always been a fan of bringing the cost down and giving an incentive to midwives to license.”

Greenlick is also aware of the issue and says he hopes to reduce the cost of a license and possibly wave the fee for the first year if his bill passes.

Obtaining a license gives midwives the ability to legally carry medications such as anesthetics and antihemorrhagics, a drug that controls bleeding. Cheyney says she is more comfortable attending a birth with those medications.

While many unlicensed midwives choose to use herbal remedies in place of medicine, Viles says medication makes the birthing process much safer.

However, Cheyney argues that the intent of voluntary law is to protect those midwives who want to practice traditional midwifery for cultural or philosophical reasons. “I have less sympathy for a midwife who wants to practice like a licensed midwife but doesn’t want to pay to get the license,” Cheyney says.

Cheyney wants to maintain protection for traditional midwives regardless of licensing laws. She suggests allowing midwives to apply for exemption from mandatory licensure to preserve those traditions. “I think it’s a travesty around the world that Western-style obstetrics have come in and annihilated long traditions of traditional midwives,” Cheyney says.

Tradition holds a different meaning for Eugene midwife Amanda Moore, who says the license training requirements disregard the traditional learning aspects of midwifery.

“Midwifery is something that is passed down. You gain experience by seeing things happen over and over again,” Moore says. “It is not textbook. It is not something you learn at school; it’s [a] midwife teaching a midwife.”

The majority of midwives who choose to serve the mainstream population may be forced to adapt to modern changes in their practice. “Midwifery has always changed and morphed and evolved to fit the community and the culture that it’s working in,” Cheyney says.

Despite the high costs of acquiring a license, midwives covet the long-term economic and security benefits that come with credentials, such as the ability to serve women who rely on the Oregon Health Plan. “It opens the door to more women who would never be able to pay out of pocket,” Forbes says.

Even midwives who don’t agree with licensing are making the shift to secure their business. Moore just received her license in August, after practicing the trade for five years. “I could serve more people,” Moore says.

And an increasing number of mainstream women are choosing to eschew hospital sheets and epidurals for the comfort of birthing in their own home. Many mainstream women feel more confident hiring a midwife that carries state-recognized credentials and can access medical care if it becomes necessary. “It’s not just radical women choosing to have radical births anymore,” Moore says.

When the time comes, Shepard plans to have her baby on a couch in her Oakridge, Oregon, home. She wants her husband to be there for support and hopes her three-year-old son will get to be a part of the process. There are only two months left until the baby comes, but Shepard feels confident and ready with Viles by her side.

At a prenatal appointment on a Tuesday afternoon Shepard lies down atop a pink duvet cover in a small bedroom in Viles’s home. The two women sit quietly as Viles runs a handheld Doppler over Shepard’s bulging tummy. A rhythmic pulse fills the room. Both women smile as they listen to the strong heartbeat.  “It sounds like a girl,” Viles says.

Written by Kerri Anderson 11/30/11

Edited by Erin Peterson

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Standing on the congested city street, the Torre del Oro looming up behind him, Nick Paola reconsiders his decision to arrive so early. People bustle around him, going to work, going to school, or going home to family. A flurry of Spanish words hangs in the air like a snowstorm of foreign vocabulary—only some of which Paola actually understands. He fiddles with the hem of his red T-shirt, as bright as a matador’s flag. The city seems to move at a constant and unforgiving pace, while he simply stands and waits.

A man approaches him, accompanied by three children. “Nico?” the Spaniard asks, warily eyeing the American college student. Their resemblance is uncanny and their innate connection is undeniable.The four people come together without another word and hug, kissing each other’s cheeks—one side and then the other—in pure European fashion. The surrounding masses go about their day, taking no notice of the incredible event that has just occurred.

Thousands of miles from home, Paola had finally found his family.

But less than three years ago, this happy ending was nothing more than a hope. Less than three years ago, a mother and son were forming an optimistic plan that they thought would never come to fruition.

“This is as much her story as it is mine,” says Nicholas Paola, a University of Oregon senior who prefers to go by Nick. “She’s the one who started it all.”

Paola’s mother was born in Seville, Spain, in 1965 under the name Maria de Rosario Ordoñez Diaz-Pescuezo. Not long after her birth, Paola’s mother was adopted by a member of the U.S. Air Force and his wife, while they were stationed in Seville. The couple gave her a new name—Pamela Sue Kesselring—a new home in Columbus, Ohio, and a new life in America that would forever leave her wondering about her Spanish roots.

“She didn’t have an easy childhood,” Paola says. Kesselring’s adoptive parents divorced when she was a child, and she was subsequently relocated to Oregon, where she lived with her adoptive father. It was during this period of transition that Kesselring began to question her origins.

“It’s not like my grandparents came together, sat her down, and told her,” Paola says. “She had to ask questions to find out.”

Through the truth, an obsession was born. Paola remembers how his mother’s zest for Spanish culture often took shape in the kitchen, where she cooked and danced to Spanish music. “It was her dream to find her family,” he says. “She had a passion for Spanish culture that she could never put her finger on, but was always there.”

Kesselring’s interest in finding her family was ever present throughout her teens and early twenties, but it wasn’t until her early thirties—when she was able to finance the search—that she began to actively seek out her relatives.

In 1993, with the help of a private investigator, Kesselring discovered she had a sister living in Dallas, Texas. Loni Dollison, had also been adopted out of Spain by another military couple who knew Kesselring’s adoptive parents. The two women connected instantly and talked constantly.

“They would call each other every day. Every day,” Paola says. “They were like giggling little girls.”

Inspired by this discovery, Kesselring became even more determined to find her family in Spain. During Paola’s first year in college, Kesselring asked him to join the search, and together they made plans to travel to Seville.

But their plans were permanently put on hold when Kesselring was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. “I didn’t really worry at first,” Paola remembers. “No matter what transformations her body was going through because of the treatment, it never affected her personality.”

But it did affect her hair, which started to fall out during chemotherapy sessions.

“She had the most beautiful, long, dark hair,” Paola says. “But she decided to do the proud cancer thing and shave it all off anyway.”

In the weeks and months that followed, Kesselring’s condition drastically worsened, and Paola knew he needed to be with her. So in the winter of 2009, Paola dropped out of school and moved home to Milwaukie, Oregon.

“I would go to the hospital every day until the nurses sent me home,” Paola says.

When the cancer spread to Kesselring’s brain and she was no longer able to talk, Paola turned to religion for guidance. “Sometimes I would just cry in the shower and tell God ‘If you really need my mom, then you can have her. But, please, I don’t want to let her go.’ ”

Sixteen months after being diagnosed, Kesselring passed away.

“It was like a Band-Aid had been ripped off my whole family. She was the core that held us all together, and then she was gone,” Paola says. “I knew the only thing left to do was live her passion and fulfill her dream.”

When Paola returned to the University of Oregon the next fall, he felt a renewed sense of vigor for school and an indefatigable motivation to get to Spain. “I had done my grieving before she died, so I could move on and do what I knew she would want,” he says.

The easiest way to get there, he reasoned, was through the university’s study abroad program, which sends more than 900 students overseas each year. When Paola told his father, brother, and sister, about his decision, they were nothing but supportive.

“From when I told them about what I was doing to when I had a passport in my hand, they knew I was dead serious,” Paola says.

With his mother’s birth certificate as his only clue, Paola joined the Center for International Educational Exchange (CIEE) and signed up for a five-month-long business program in Seville, Spain.

“I understood that I was going to a huge city and that I might not find them,” Paola says. “But I had to hope.”

A big believer in fate, Paola delved right into the search, trusting that if he told his story to anyone and everyone, someone would lead him to his family. And fate came in the form of an employer. Through CIEE, Paola interned at a Sevillan T-shirt printing business, translating the company’s website from Spanish to English.

“I was just typing at my computer when my boss, Ricardo, came over and said, ‘We’re going to take time off work now and do your family thing,’” Paola remembers, chuckling at the simplicity of the statement. Finding long-lost family members on a lunch break? No es un problemo.

With a quick Internet search and a few phone calls to local friends, Ricardo Meidiro had done more investigatory work in twenty minutes than Paola had done in months. When Meidiro finally hung up the phone, he said those magic words that Paola—and Kesselring—had wanted to hear for so long: “We found them.”

Meidiro had talked to Paola’s uncle, Juan Ordoñez, and they organized a meeting for the very next day at the thirteenth century military lookout, Torre del Oro. Paola would wear a red shirt so Ordoñez could find him.

“The walk home after work was so emotional,” Paola recalls. “I felt like I had accomplished something for my mom.”

The next day, a sunny Saturday afternoon, Paola arrived far earlier than the designated meeting time. His nerves had kept him up all night. Too anxious to wait in his apartment any longer, he went to the Torre del Oro hours ahead of schedule. Tension filled his body as he waited on the sunny sidewalk and people bustled around him.

“And then I did a double-take,” Paola says. “I saw a family walking toward me, smiling, and I just knew.” All sense of nervousness evaporated, leaving only pure excitement.

That day, with a hug and a mutual sense of amazement, the pieces of a broken family puzzle were brought together, and a clearer picture of this family’s history began to take shape.

Paola’s biological grandmother had seven kids, but only the two girls—Kesselring and Dollison—were put up for adoption. The girls shared a different father than the other five, but both men were absent in the lives of their children, which wasn’t uncommon in post-World War II Spain.

Paola’s mother was one of seven children. She and Dollison shared a different father than the other five children. Both men were persistently absent, which wasn’t unusual for families growing up in post-World War II Spain.

Whether it was due to the confusion of wartime or a simple lack of communication, the events that followed have always been clouded by uncertainty and speculation.

“We came to the conclusion that my grandmother must have either separated from her first husband or had an affair,” Paola says. “And she must have been ashamed to tell the rest of the family, so she put them up for adoption.”

Paola and his relatives believe money may have motivated the adoption, as his grandmother had only an olive-picker’s salary to support herself and her children. But they will never know for sure: Kesselring’s birth mother died of cancer in 1999, and both fathers have long been out of the picture.

“It was ground breaking to hear all of this,” Paola says. “It started to make sense why they didn’t know I existed and that my mother existed.”

Despite her absence, Kesselring’s connection to the family was undeniable. Her passion for familial relations must have been genetic because Paola felt it in every encounter with his family.

When Paola fell ill during his last month overseas, an uncle convinced him to go to the hospital and get checked out. Paola’s cousin was called to pick him up and take him to a doctor.

“I was outside, shivering in the rain, waiting, when a car pulls up and my cousin jumps out,” Paola recalls. “She was so beautiful, I thought my mother had stepped out of the car. She had my mom’s beautiful dark hair.”

For two hours, his cousin and her boyfriend stayed with Paola at the hospital, translating and helping Paola get medicine. “But that’s what you do for family,” he says.

Over the course of his trip, Paola continued to meet more and more relatives, with whom he stayed in touch via Facebook. He sometimes wonders how different his life would be if his mother had never been adopted. Would he have been born and raised in Seville? Would he have walked the streets of this Spanish city all his life? Would he have known these people since he was born, instead of tracking them down as an adult?

Still, Paola is ecstatic about how things turned out.

“I love life,” he says. “I feel blessed. I know that everything happened as it was supposed to happen.”

Back in Oregon and working toward graduating in the spring with a bachelors in both Spanish and business administration, Paola has a new outlook and a stronger focus on the relationships in his life.

“You can lose yourself if you lose your family,” Paola says. “They’re the heart of everything.”

Just last year, Paola participated in the Race for the Cure, shaving his head like his mother did during her cancer treatments. She had been the heart of his overseas adventure.

“I know she’s looking down at me, proud,” Paola says. “What she wanted; what I wanted; what I had been searching for all along was another piece of my heart. And I found it in Seville.”

Written by Elliot Kennedy for Flux Magazine, 10-24-11

Edited by Erin Peterson

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Friday night kicked off the first annual Eugene Fashion Week with a show featuring eco-friendly clothing lines, and designer Mira Fannin of Sweet Skins absolutely rocked it. A clothing line that she started in her garage in Eugene in 2004, Sweet Skins is an eco-friendly company. The clothes are made with ecologically sound fibers and conscious clothing manufacturing, comprised of fabrics like eco-fleece, hemp, organic cottons, and wool.

Fannin’s passion for design began as a child. She was born in the San Francisco Bay area, but spent most of her childhood in Thailand, where she discovered her love for Asian art and tribal design, both of which have a strong influence on her clothes. She returned to the US as a teenager and after honing her skills as a designer, she began selling her clothes anywhere she could.

She eventually made the move to Eugene, where she discovered her second passion: the green movement. Fannin is dedicated to creating a healthier planet. The dyes she uses in her clothes are low impact, and everything from fabric scraps to paper products are recycled or reused. In doing this, she hopes to pave the road for a new, more conscious business model. Her designs are available in boutiques across the country and overseas.

Sweet Skins was easily my favorite clothing line of the night. Accessible by women of all shapes and ages, her designs proved to be innovative and while still maintaining quality. Stay tuned for my favorite designer from the ready-to-wear show on Saturday night downtown at Opus VII!

-Erin Peterson 4/26/11

Printed online at http://www.fluxstories.com

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The air was quiet and crisp, the only sound being that of snow falling upon snow. The trees looked as if they had been made of ice, and every inch of the mountain was covered in mounds of powder. The chairlift attendants kept reminding me that Mt. Bachelor’s spring skiing was its best skiing and, over this past weekend, I found that to be true.

Riding down the mountain was like gliding through silk, not a patch of ice in sight. The easier runs on the front side of the mountain were well groomed, the more difficult Northwest runs were covered in tracked powder. The sun made an appearance several times throughout the day, but it wasn’t too long before it hid behind the fog and clouds again. I would have gone up to the summit, but with the wind biting my face already at the middle of the mountain, I decided against it. After riding my snowboard, Blue, named for its Blue Jay print, through the powder for at least five hours, my legs started to give in and I decided to call it a day.

Luckily, there was still plenty to do in Bend for the night. The Deschutes Brewery & Public House is one of my favorite spots in the city. Order the Inverted Pale and the hop-infused hummus platter and I can gaurantee you will be happy with your night.  Or if you’re feeling more like a seafood that night, order a comforting bowl of New England clam chowder and a glass of Merlot at High Tides across the street.

Although is was hard to leave the fresh powder, the views on the drive back home made it almost worth it. The snowy tops of Three Sisters, the carved summit of Mt. Washington, and the three peaks of Three-Fingered Jack made it difficult to keep my eyes on the road.

It was hard to leave my winter wonderland, but I was happy to find spring in the air when I made it back to Eugene.

-Erin Peterson 4/24/11

Printed online at http://www.fluxstories.com

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