Spring 2013 : Spectacle
Sign up to be the first to hear about what we’re doing around the state.
Spring 2013 : Spectacle
Oregon Humanities: Spring 2013
On October 9, 2012, the New York Times ran a front-page story about a rural doctor who was prescribing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs to children who were doing poorly in school but did not have the illness. He assigned them the diagnosis of ADHD so that he could prescribe medicine that would presumably help them concentrate better. He said that if we were not going to make the school system better serve the needs of these children, the medical profession would have to enhance children so they could make better use of the resources at their disposal. Notably, he was not prescribing the drugs to students already getting As and Bs, only to those having academic difficulties.
A young mother spoke of her dilemma in giving these drugs to her elementary school children, especially since the children did not want them. But, she said, when she showed her children the difference in their grades without the drugs and with the drugs (the difference between failing and passing), they reluctantly agreed to take them.
This story introduces a fascinating and scary prospect. What if school districts find that all students will do better if given enhancement drugs? May we someday see school districts drug-testing their students to make sure they’re taking their drugs—even given potential side effects that include growth suppression in some children—the way they test them now to make sure that they are not?
The truth is, we’ve been enhancing human beings for a long time, so long that we sometimes forget that what we are doing is enhancing. Every tool we use bestows an ability to do something that a human cannot do with flesh, blood, and bone alone. Everything from a hammer driving a nail to a jetliner moving across the ocean are enhancements. Eyeglasses and hearing aids augment our senses. Immunizations and vaccinations boost our ability to withstand disease. Vitamin supplements, hormone replacement therapy, and artificial hips and knees are all enhancements. Recently, a widely publicized surgery was performed in which a cancerous esophagus was removed from a patient and replaced by a plastic esophagus. It was then primed with stem cells taken from the patient’s body, creating a coating of live tissue over the plastic frame. (In the Terminator movies, this is the technology that created terminators: adhering live tissue to metal and composite skeletons.)
But to return to the issue of competitively medicated non-ADHD children, this situation appears perilously close to involuntary enhancement. From the standpoint of the mother mentioned in the article, the choice to use these drugs stemmed from her concern for her children’s success and welfare. This concern was real and founded in love. It was a form of “defensive consumption,” which is acquiring things you might not necessarily want in order to keep up with others. An example would be purchasing a heavy sports utility vehicle to protect your children in case of a collision with another large car. Enduring the side effects of anticholesterol drugs in the hope of warding off a possible heart attack is another example. Or sending your offspring to a private liberal arts college instead of a state university and paying a premium of $10,000 to $30,000 a year to better ensure they graduate from college on time and with individual attention. It does not guarantee your children will rise in the economic scheme of things; it’s more of an insurance policy against possible failure. It is identical in form and intent to the mother’s decision to convince her children to take drugs that seem to enhance their school performance. Whatever the promise of human enhancement, it also will produce burdens.
Most of the enhancements discussed involve making us smarter, faster, and better, to give us a competitive edge over other human beings. If you take a drug believing it will make you smarter, what’s the point? Does it mean you’ll get a job or get into a school that you would not have otherwise, at the expense of another candidate? If we look at examples of such drug use, whether it is scientists taking Ritalin to enhance concentration (something 20 percent of all working scientists do, with or without prescription) or baseball players taking steroids, the aim is to obtain a competitive edge. In recent scandals, students at elite high schools took performance-enhancing drugs to help them compete on examinations to gain admission to elite colleges. We’ve seen an arms race in every competitive sport between athletes who take illegal performance-enhancing drugs and those who try to detect them. Under these circumstances, future human enhancements seem to be directed principally toward raising the stakes in a winner-take-all game.
These visions of enhancements are worth thinking about. Increasingly, the distribution of rewards in all areas of social life is shifting toward a model in which small differences in performance give rise to huge differences in reward. We have long known this to be the case in professional sports, best-selling authorship, movie stardom, and Nobel prizes. But it is now permeating education, law, finance, news reporting, music, art, agriculture, and politics. In a world with many contestants but only a few large winners, the pressure to obtain any competitive edge is enormous.
As I was writing this essay in early October, the portfolio of accusations against cyclist Lance Armstrong was made public: he had engaged in blood doping and systematically used performance-enhancing drugs, his massage therapist had been enlisted to smuggle them, and Armstrong had insisted that all his team members use performance-enhancing drugs, too. These accusations reflect the tremendous pressure to enhance in competitive situations even where the risk of discovery is very great and, perhaps, inevitable. Some strong supporters of enhancing drugs have suggested that all barriers to enhancement be dropped in professional sports, and there is some force to this argument. One can also imagine two different Tour de France competitions: one organic and one enhanced. Such a distinction might proceed along the lines of amateur and professional sports, although these distinctions tend to vanish at the highest level, where many members of national Olympic teams are highly paid professional athletes, in spite of the façade of amateurism maintained by the International Olympic Committee.
When we talk about drugs that enhance, we almost always mean drugs that enhance performance in competitive situations. No pharmaceutical company seems interested in developing drugs that induce compassion, radically reduce the desire for material things, or make one not want to be famous or rich. These, perhaps, would be worthwhile enhancements.
Keep in mind that our current human enhancements are not handed out for free. They are sold to high bidders, like almost everything else. Even with relatively ordinary human enhancements such as cosmetics, the better they are, the more they cost, and none are free. The same goes for sporting goods. One whole-body swimsuit has tiny fish-scale patterning on its surface. It’s so tight that it can take half an hour to get into it. It costs hundreds of dollars, and may last only one or two competitions. But in a contest between two very powerful, very fast swimmers of similar ability, the athlete who can afford the swimsuit is more likely to win. Human enhancements are not humanistic: they are not the joint property of all humankind, they are not a birthright, and they are not evenly distributed. They have the potential to radically alter the world by helping to characterize every human interaction as a contest with a winner and a loser.
We’ve long known that the distribution of good things in the world is not equitable. Investigators over the last century have discovered something known variously as Zipf’s Law, Pareto’s Law, and Lotka’s Law. It’s also called the 80/20 Rule, which comes from sociologist Vilfredo Pareto’s discovery that in almost every known society, 20 percent of the people get 80 percent of the good things: money, power, and attention. There are only a few bestsellers, there are only a few great sports champions, a few websites that get most of the attention, a few people who have most of the money, a few cities have most of the people, and so on. Human enhancements, as currently described and conceived, have nothing to do with the equitable redistribution of scarce goods. Rather, they have everything to do with the sharpening of the competitive edge of those people who want to be among the few winners instead of one of the many losers.
Enhancing human life expectancy—adding more decades of life—would also change many things. Financial advisors, using actuarial tables to plan retirement scenarios for people in their twenties, are now urging savings plans that will last until the individual reaches at least the age of one hundred. But consider that the retirement age of sixty-six for full Social Security benefits is only a year more than the retirement age when the program was established eighty years ago, even though most American men then lived into their early seventies, not their later eighties. Projections of Social Security running into financial difficulty and even going broke by the middle of the twenty-first century are largely a function not just of the increasing number of people, but also the extra years they are expected to live. There is already pressure (under the Simpson-Bowles plan and from the House of Representatives) to increase the retirement age sharply, precisely because of the enhanced longevity available to those who can afford the medical care that can extend their lives. If this aggressive trend of extending human life persists, it will be necessary for people to work much longer. If you’re going to live to be one hundred and twenty, you might have to work until you’re ninety-five or even one hundred to get full Social Security benefits. This might not be problematic for people with enjoyable desk jobs, but for a carpenter, roofer, auto mechanic, or plumber, further enhancements of physical strength will be required to make it to the retirement finish line. Indeed, enhancement breeds enhancement.
In every equation where things are divided and portioned out—education, money, environmental quality, vacation homes with clear views of the beach, sports cars, seven-course meals, or Blazers tickets—there are two numbers to consider. The numerator is the quantity of good things to be divided, and the denominator is the number of portions needed for everyone’s needs and desires to be satisfied. At a global level, the denominator is the total population. While there are some faintly encouraging signs of birth rates leveling off, it is not possible for everyone on earth today to enjoy the same standard of living as experienced by many Americans: there are too many people and not enough good things. If we cannot produce enough good things for all people no matter how hard we try, one strategy to meeting human needs would be a deliberate decision to keep the denominator as small as possible as the numerator gets bigger.
One country has tried to impose a reduction in its population denominator. China’s controversial one-child policy, enforced in urban areas since 1979, is an important part of the country’s strategy for economic improvement and modernization. People don’t just want to live longer; they want to live well. If they are enhanced and more capable than they are now, many fewer of them are needed to do the things done now. It seems inevitable that the dreams of human enhancement and longevity cannot be realized without strict attention to the size of the world’s population. We know how many people the earth can support. Perhaps we should think more about how many people it should support? What may be good for the individual may not be so good for society. Each individual person might wish to live longer and enjoy more of the good things of life, but in a world already facing shortages of food, fuel, arable land, and freshwater, having everyone live decades longer will be extremely expensive to the groups that pay the bill.
These chemical, genetic, and mechanical enhancements I’ve discussed still reside in a world in which a person has a firewall of privacy and selfhood: we are inside our skins and the world is outside. We hold a hammer in our hand, but our hand is not a hammer. This firewall would disappear if we consider another aspect of enhancement: the insertion of computers into the neural structure of the brain. Such enhancements have already been accomplished with quadriplegic patients. Some have electrodes implanted in their brains that allow them to move the cursor on a computer screen by thinking about it. There is great interest in extending this technology as well as the hope of huge payoffs. Instead of Terminator, think of The Matrix, in which the hero quickly acquires vast bodies of knowledge, including fantastic skills in martial arts, by being directly connected to a computer and downloading this knowledge into his nervous system and memory. That’s the dream.
For me, the prospect of linking humans to computers directly and breaching the firewall of selfhood and privacy is equally certain to lead (on a very short road) not only to human enhancement but also to mind control and human enslavement. The philosopher Immanuel Kant once wrote that the essence of freedom is not living without external restraint, but freedom from “internal coercion.” The prospect of adding to brain capacity and uploading material to the brain also contains the possibility of subtracting brain capacity and downloading material (surveillance inside your head). Every human invention has a double-edged blade of pros and cons, and for me, this particular enhancement seems an object of great potential peril in the next century or so.
When do humans become so enhanced that they’re no longer human? Certain commercial potatoes are so genetically modified for disease resistance that they have to be classified by the Department of Agriculture as pesticides. They are still potatoes, but they are also something else. It’s conceivable that the struggle over organic and genetically modified foods may be repeated in a debate over organic and genetically modified humans. Presumably, this would happen differently in the European Union than in the United States. In Europe, vendors of GMO foods must demonstrate there is nothing harmful about their products before they can be marketed. In the United States, GMO foods can be marketed if there is no evidence of them having caused harm. In China, neither of these concerns is in play, and one might expect, given China’s national pride, its forceful devotion to population control, and its dreams of power and wealth, that enhancements toward genetically modified humans would move very far, very fast there.
It’s far too easy to imagine a dystopian extreme, a world in which we are divided not merely into organic and enhanced human groups, but also into those who have access to enhancements and those who do not. What we would have among the upper end of the income and power spectrums are smart, strong, beautiful, healthy, and long-lived humans, thanks to the very expensive and intensive enhancements they can afford. They will become perilously close to being gods when compared to the rest of us.
The management and control of human enhancement is a problem that greets each age with the utmost subjective urgency. Around 360 B.C.E., Plato argued in his dialogue Phaedrus that allowing orators to purchase prepared speeches from paid speechwriters would put these extremely dangerous “weapons” into the hands of those who could not have invented them and who were unprepared to use them wisely and well. Then in 1139, Pope Innocent II called a Council to ban the use of armor-piercing crossbows. They were too dangerous to the social order because they would allow a commoner to slay an armored knight.
And in his 1750 essay A Discourse on the Sciences and Arts, Jean-Jacques Rousseau asks whether the “restoration of the arts and sciences” would serve to “refine moral practices.” We might translate this for our present purposes by asking whether the advancement of technologies, especially those of human enhancement, will make people better. This was the dream of eugenics: a way to make people better by making better people, to breed a moral race. Rousseau feared that far from enhancing moral life, technological enhancements would lead to corruption, inequality, and evil. Buried deep in this passionate treatise is the simple statement that any tool—even a sword or a pen—may be used for good or for ill, and does not have a moral compass within it.
No matter the age, we always face the same question: Are we to be the wise masters of our tools or their abashed and foolish servants? It is time again for all of us together to face that question.
Links for this page
Archived issues of the magazine
If you reside in Oregon and would like a free subscription to Oregon Humanities magazine, please sign up here. You will also be signed up to receive our monthly e-newsletter.
Staff, advisors, etc.
Eric Gold is a freelance writer in Portland.
Eric Gold is a freelance writer in Portland.
Alex Behr is a writer in Portland. Her last piece for Oregon Humanities appeared in the spring 2009 “Nostalgia” issue.
Eric Gold is a freelance writer in Portland and regular contributor to Oregon Humanities.
Kristy Athens’ nonfiction and short fiction have been published in a number of magazines, newspapers, and literary journals, most recently High Desert Journal, Eclectic Flash, Diverse Voices Quarterly, and Five Fishes Journal.
Rich Wandschneider was the founding director of Fishtrap, a literary nonprofit in eastern Oregon, and is now building the Alvin Josephy Library of Western History and Culture at Fishtrap. He writes a regular newspaper column and has written for the Oregonian, High Desert Journal, High Country News, and others. He is on the editorial advisory board of this magazine and on the board of directors for Oregon Humanities.
Ellen Santasiero is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Northwest Review, The Sun, Marlboro Review, Oregon Humanities, and in a recent anthology from the University of Oklahoma Press. She is at work on a memoir.
Caroline Cummins is the managing editor of Culinate.com.
Jedidiah Chavez is a visual artist and writer based in Portland. His work has been showcased in a variety of venues nationally and in the Pacific Northwest. Chavez was awarded a 2010 project grant by the Regional Arts and Culture Council.
Kristin Kaye is a Portland-based writer. Her book, Iron Maidens, was an Oregon Book Awards finalist. She has recently completed her novel To Catch What Falls.
Lucy Burningham is an independent writer and journalist who lives in Portland. She holds a master’s degree in nonfiction writing from Portland State University.
Eric Gold is a freelance writer in Portland and former communications assistant at Oregon Humanities.
John Frohnmayer is chair of the Oregon Humanities board of directors.
Sarah Gilbert is writing a book about mothers looking for emotional healing in food. In February, she decided to begin homeschooling her eldest son.
Courtney S. Campbell is the Hundere Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University. You can try friending him through his Facebook page.
Barry Johnson has written about the arts since 1978 when he started writing about dance for the now-defunct Seattle Sun. He has edited arts sections at Willamette Week and The Oregonian, where he recently finished a twenty-six-year stint. You can find his up-to-the-minute thoughts on the arts at http://artsdispatch.blogspot.com.
Nancy Rommelmann’s recent books include Transportation, The Bad Mother, and The Queens of Montague Street, a memoir of growing up in 1970s Brooklyn Heights that was excerpted by the New York Times Magazine. She is a long-form journalist whose work appears in the LA Weekly, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, Byliner, and other publications.
Phil Busse recently took the position of editor of The Source, a weekly paper in Bend. He also continues to serve as the executive director for the educational nonprofit Media Institute for Social Change and is an adjunct instructor at Portland State.
Sarah Mirk is a Portland journalist who often writes about gender, sexuality, and politics as the online editor of Bitch magazine and as the author of the forthcoming book Sex from Scratch (Microcosm, 2014). Her other interests include writing comics and talking to strangers.
Courtney Campbell is Hundere Chair in Religion and Culture and professor of philosophy at Oregon State University. He is also an Oregon Humanities Conversation Project leader for the program “Friendship: Reviving, Surviving, or Dying?”
M. Allen Cunningham is the author of the novels The Green Age of Asher Witherow and Lost Son, and the recipient of a 2013 Individual Artist Fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission. His story collection, Date of Disappearance, was recently published in an illustrated limited-edition by Atelier26 Books and his first nonfiction volume, The Honorable Obscurity Handbook, is forthcoming. He leads an Oregon Humanities Conversation Project program on the subject of e-reading.
Margaret Malone’s work has appeared in The Missouri Review, Swink, Coal City Review, latimes.com, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a 2009 Oregon Literary Fellowship and a 2011 Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship. She lives in Portland with her husband and son.
Dave Allen is director of interactive strategy at NORTH, a branding agency in Portland. He is also an adjunct lecturer in digital strategy at the University of Oregon, as well as the founding member and bass player of the UK band Gang of Four.
Dmae Roberts is a Peabody-winning radio producer and Oregon Book Award–winning writer. Her work has been on NPR and published widely. She is a USA Rockefeller Fellow and received the Dr. Suzanne Award for Civil Rights and Social Justice from the Asian American Journalists Association. She lives in Portland with her hubby and twin kitties.
Brian David Johnson is a futurist at Intel. His book Vintage Tomorrows: A Historian and a Futurist Journey Through Steampunk into the Future of Technology, coauthored with James H. Carrott, wil be published next year by O’Reilly Media. He is featured in Oregon Humanities’ Bring Your Own video series. This essay was written on a 747 somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.
Mott Greene is a historian of science and technology. He was an Oregon Humanities Think & Drink presenter earlier this year for a program about the future of human and artificial intelligence. A former MacArthur Fellow, he is affiliate professor of earth and space sciences at the University of Washington. He admires Portland’s civic life and wishes Seattle could figure that out.
Jill Owens works in marketing for Powell’s Books. She enjoys interviewing authors as part of her job and for publications like Oregon Humanities.
J. David Santen Jr. has written about books, business, the environment, and communities for the Oregonian, the Portland Business Journal, and other publications. He lives in Portland.
For more than a decade Camas Davis has been a magazine editor and writer for national magazines such as National Geographic Adventure and Saveur, and local publications such as Portland Monthly, Edible Portland, and Mix. In 2009, she traveled to France to study butchery. Upon her return, she founded the Portland Meat Collective, a traveling butchery school.
Sarah Gilbert is a writer, photographer, struggling urban farmer, mama to three boys, and military wife in southeast Portland. She is editor-in-chief of the new literary magazine for parents, Stealing Time, and is working on two memoirs and at least one novel.
Photographer Jim Lommasson received the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor prize from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University for Shadow Boxers: Sweat, Sacrifice & the Will to Survive in American Boxing Gyms. Previous publications include Oaks Park Pentimento. His photographs have been widely exhibited in museums and galleries.
Margot Minardi is an assistant professor of history and humanities at Reed College, and the author of Making Slavery History: Abolitionism and the Politics of Memory in Massachusetts (2010). She is currently working on a history of the nineteenth-century American peace movement.
Jill Owens works in marketing for Powell’s Books, where interviewing authors is the most interesting part of her job. She’s originally from the South but has lived in Oregon for eleven years and is here to stay.
Dionisia Morales is a freelance writer and teaches writing at Linn-Benton Community College. Her essays have recently appeared or are forthcoming in CAYLX, Brevity, Cream City Review, and Silk Road.
Wendy Willis is a poet, Conversation Project leader, and the executive director of the Policy Consensus Initiative and the deputy director for Research and Development at the National Policy Consensus Center at Portland State University. Her book of poems, Blood Sisters of the Republic, is forthcoming from Press 53 in fall 2012.
Carl Abbott is professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University. A specialist on the history of cities, his recent books include Frontiers Past and Future: Science Fiction and the American West and Portland in Three Centuries: The Place and the People.
Monica Drake is the author of Clown Girl (Hawthorne Books),which was optioned for film by Kristen Wiig. Her next novel, The Stud Book, is forthcoming from Hogarth Press in February 2013.
Tara Rae Miner is a freelance writer and editor, former managing editor of Orion magazine, and author of Your Green Abode: A Practical Guide to a Sustainable Home. She lives with her family in Portland.
John Holloran lives in Portland and teaches at Oregon Episcopal School. His last essay for Oregon Humanities was “After the Fall” (Spring 2011).
Rebecca Hartman is an associate professor of history at Eastern Oregon University. She received her PhD in history from Rutgers University in 2004. Her current research is focused on twentieth-century U.S. rural history.
Dmae Roberts is an award-winning independent radio producer and writer based in Portland.
Jennifer Ruth is a professor of English literature at Portland State University and the author of Novel Professions, a book of literary criticism.
Richard J. Ellis is the Mark O. Hatfield Professor of Politics at Willamette University. In 2008 he was named Oregon Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and in 2007 he was chosen as Oregon Scientist of the Year by
the Oregon Academy of Science. His book The Development of the American Presidency is forthcoming from Routledge in January 2012.
After ten years in Oregon, Leigh van der Werff now lives in central California, where she runs a record store with her husband and their dog, Edgar. When she’s not at the shop, she’s writing essays and music criticism.
Joanne Mulcahy teaches creative nonfiction and humanities classes at the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, where she is codirector of the Documentary Studies Certificate Program. Her writing combines memoir and personal essay with ethnographic exploration. Her book Remedios: The Healing Life of Eva Castellanoz was published by Trinity University Press in 2010.
Marion Goldman has passed through the social worlds of Rajneeshees, Jesus People, and Nevada prostitutes. In her latest book, The American Soul Rush (forthcoming in December 2011), she describes how a small group of 1960s seekers at California’s Esalen Institute cultivated and spread spiritual alternatives ranging from transpersonal psychology to yoga to Zen golf. She is professor of sociology and religious studies at the University of Oregon.
Oregon Humanities editorial advisory board member Guy Maynard is the editor of Oregon Quarterly, the magazine of the University of Oregon, and the author of The Risk of Being Ridiculous, a historical novel of love and revolution set in Boston in the the late 1960s, into which he managed to slip several Red Sox references. He lives in Eugene.
Kambiz GhaneaBassiri is an associate professor of religion and humanities at Reed College in Portland. He is the author of A History of Islam in America (from which this selection is excerpted) and Competing Visions of Islam in the United States. He was also a faculty member at the Oregon Humanities Teacher Institute in July 2011.
Tim DuRoche is a writer, jazz musician, artist, and cultural advocate. He works as the director of programs for the World Affairs Council of Oregon. Tim hosts the The New Thing, a weekly jazz program on KMHD-89.1 FM in Portland, is currently developing a program on jazz and community values for Oregon Humanities’ Conversation Project, and is the author of the recently published collection of essays, Occasional Jazz Conjectures.
Walidah Imarisha is a founding editor of AWOL, a national political hip hop magazine and has toured nationally and internationally as part of the poetry duo Good Sista/Bad Sista. She has taught in Portland State University’s Black studies department and leads three Conversation Project programs for Oregon Humanities on hip hop, the history of race in Oregon, and reenvisioning the prison system.
Kim Stafford is the founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College and author of a dozen books of poetry and prose, including The Muses Among Us: Elegant Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer’s Craft. This essay is a section from his book-in-progress, 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do.
Debra Gwartney is the author of the 2009 memoir Live Through This, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Oregon Book Award, and the PNBA award. She is currently working on a memoir about growing up in the West and the heritage of Narcissa Whitman, a project for which she received a research grant from the American Antiquarian Society. Debra lives on the McKenzie River with her husband, Barry Lopez, and is on the nonfiction faculty at Pacific University.
After growing up selling corndogs and cotton candy at carnivals up and down the West Coast, Susan Meyers extended her gypsy lifestyle by spending several years in Latin American before coming home to the Pacific Northwest. Her work has recently appeared in CALYX, Dogwood, Terra Incognita, and The Minnesota Review, and it has been the recipient of several awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship. She teaches writing at Oregon State University.
Matthew Stadler is a writer and editor in Portland. He writes about cities and urbanism for journals including Volume, Netherlands Architecture Bulletin, Domus, and Camerawork. His book about urbanism, Deventer, is forthcoming from 010 Uitgevrij, in Rotterdam. In 2009 he cofounded Publication Studio (http://www.publicationstudio.biz) in Portland.
Amanda Waldroupe is a freelance journalist living in Portland. Whenever she fails, she buckles down and tries, tries again.
John Holloran lives in Portland and teaches at Oregon Episcopal School, where he is the chair of the history department. His last essay for Oregon Humanities was “Under a Spell” (Summer 2009).
Scott Nadelson’s most recent book is The Cantor’s Daughter. A new collection of his short fiction, Aftermath, is forthcoming from Hawthorne Books in Fall 2011. He teachers creative writing at Willamette University. His latest essay for Oregon Humanities was “Go Ahead and Look” (Spring 2010)
Todd Schwartz is in reality a very serious and reserved person who divides his time between being a Calvinist minister and a funeral home director. Wait…wait! A funeral home director and a Calvinist minister walk into a bar…
Courtenay Hameister is the host and head writer of LiveWire Radio, the co-creator of “Road House: The Play!,” a screenwriter and filmmaker. In her spare time, she likes to imagine what it would be like to have more spare time.
Ariel Gore is the author of seven books including Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010), from which this selection is excerpted. She is also the founding editor of Hip Mama, and editor of the Lambda-award-winning anthology Portland Queer. She teaches creating writing online at the University of New Mexico and The Attic in Portland.
Jamie Passaro lives in Eugene, where she is a freelance writer and an editor for Northwest Book Lovers, a blog produced by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. Her last essay for Oregon Humanities was “Driving Mrs. Spacely” (Summer 2008).
Andrew Guest is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Portland. When not watching, playing, coaching or writing about soccer, he does research on youth developmental and educational experiences through sports, arts, and service activities.
David Bragdon served on the Portland regional Metro Council for nearly twelve years and was elected president in 2002. The major accomplishment of his service was an expansion of the regional parks and natural areas network known as the Intertwine. He resigned from the Metro Council in September 2010 in order to accept New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s appointment as director of the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability.
M. Allen Cunningham is the author of Lost Son, a novel about the life of Rainer Maria Rilke. His first novel, The Green Age of Asher Witherow was a #1 Booksense Pick and was shortlisted for the Booksense Book of the Year. He’s the recipient of an artist fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission and a Yaddo residency. His third novel, set partly in the Pacific Northwest, is forthcoming.
Bette Lynch Husted lives and writes in Pendleton. She is the author of Above the Clearwater: Living on Stolen Land (OSU Press, 2004) and At This Distance: Poems (Wordcraft of Oregon, 2010). Lessons from the Borderlands, her collection of memoir essays about teaching, class, gender, and race, is forthcoming from Plain View Press. She is a 2004 Oregon Book Award and WILLA finalist and was awarded a 2007 Oregon Arts Commission fellowship.
Bob Bussel is associate professor of history and director of the Labor Education and Research Center at the University of Oregon. He has published numerous articles on labor history and contemporary labor issues, including a history of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. He is currently working on a book about working-class citizens.
Dave Weich is the president of Sheepscot Creative. The Portland-based company fosters engaging and profitable communication among businesses, consumers, colleagues, and fans. Weich is on the editorial advisory board of Oregon Humanities magazine.
Camela Raymond is a Portland-based writer whose work has appeared in Modern Painters, Plazm, the Oregonian, and elsewhere. She was previously an editor at Portland Monthly magazine and the founding editor/publisher of the Organ. She serves on the editorial advisory board of Oregon Humanities magazine.
Scott Nadelson’s most recent book is The Cantor’s Daughter. He teaches creative writing at Willamette University.
Karen Karbo‘s three novels, as well as her Oregon Book Award–winning memoir, The Stuff of Life, have all been named New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Her most recent book is The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons from the World’s Most Elegant Woman.
Lisa Radon has written about art and design for Portland Spaces (as associate editor), Portland Monthly, Surface Design Journal, SHIFT (Japan), FLAUNT, Hyperallergic, and ultra (ultrapdx.com). She’s written a handful of catalog essays and is working on her first book.
R. Gregory Nokes has worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press and the Oregonian. His reporting about this incident has resulted in a formal designation of the massacre site as Chinese Massacre Cove. He lives in West Linn.
Christine Dupres is the former director of the Office of Sustainability and Community Engagement at the Native American Youth and Family Center in Portland. She is a freelance writer and an Oregon Humanities board member.
Apricot Irving is a writer and radio producer whose most recent project, Boise Voices Neighborhood Oral History Project , brought together elders and youth in Northeast Portland. She has lived in Haiti, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom, but currently calls Portland home.
Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, and the author most recently of Thirsty for the Joy: Australian & American Voices, from One Day Hill Press in Melbourne, Australia.
Lucy Burningham is an independent writer and journalist who lives in Portland. During the past decade, she has traveled on assignment for a variety of newspapers, magazines, and Lonely Planet guidebooks. She holds a master’s in nonfiction writing from Portland State University.
Vicente Martinez lives in Portland and works at a fast food restaurant.
Susan W. Hardwick is a professor of geography at the University of Oregon. Her research and teaching focus on the geography of immigration, identity, and place in the Pacific Northwest. She is the author or co-author of nine books, including Russian Refuge: Religion, Migration, and Settlement on the North American Pacific Rim (University of Chicago Press, 1993). This article is adapted from Hardwick’s Commonplace Lecture that she delivered for Oregon Humanities in 2007.
Sarah Gilbert is a writer and photographer who lives in Portland with her husband and three little boys. She writes about food and finance for several web sites, including DailyFinance, WalletPop and Culinate, is cofounder of the Portland parenting resource urbanMamas.com, and keeps a blog, cafemama.com.
Kevin Nute is a professor of architecture at the University of Oregon. He is the author of the American Institute of Architects award-winning monograph, Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan (1993) and Place, Time and Being in Japanese Architecture (2004).