Benton- Linn Co. Fieldwork Essay

Thomas Grant Richardson

In the Spring of 2018 I conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Benton and Linn Counties in the Willamette Valley. Folklorists focus on the everyday traditions of people in communities and at how people define creativity, tradition, and community in their own lives. It is therefore a great joy to work as a folklorist, to be invited into the creative spaces of people often quite different from myself, and to have conversations that usually include phrases like “this is the most important thing in the world to me.”

While in Benton and Linn Counties I encountered numerous wonderful and generous people connected to many vibrant traditions, including fly-fishing, boat building, instrument building, quilting, fiddle music, and various foodways. I was particularly struck by the area’s social dance traditions. During the three weeks I spent traversing the two counties, I attended three different social dances, although I could have attended one nearly every single night.

The Jefferson Jammers is mostly two-step, waltz, and line dancing, and happens every single Wednesday

The Jefferson Jammers perform on Wednesday nights at the Morning Star Grange Hall in Millersburg. This dance started as a country music jam among retired musicians who still wanted to play. Bruce and Joann Hamilton held the first few jams in their home, but it quickly outgrew their capacity, and they moved to the Grange Hall. Today it serves as a place for musicians to gather to play country music together; anyone interested can also sing along in a kind of live-backed karaoke. The audience is busy dancing with the floor usually occupied by at least 30-40 dancers. Mostly attended by local residents above the age of 50, the dance also brings in younger participants. Most attendees told me it’s the highlight of their week.

The Albany Timber Twirlers Modern Western Square Dance club’s membership is diminishing in number but not in dedication.

In nearby Albany, the Albany Timber Twirlers are a Modern Western Swing Dance Club (one of four clubs in the area) that focus on the highly precise and intricate moves of choreographed square dances. These patterns are so complicated that dancers need to take four months of lessons before they’re up to speed to participate. Club President, Bev Swearengen, told me they’re more about fun than formality.

The Corvallis Contradance was by far the biggest dance I attended, with a regular attendance of around 100 people, twice a month.

In Corvallis, a twice-monthly Contra dance has a regular attendance of over 100 people. Contra dance is somewhere in between the loose nature of traditional square dancing and the highly stylized patterns of Modern Western Square Dancing; like traditional square dancing, it’s led by a caller who gives instructions in a rhythmic and stylized fashion. But contra dancers form lines with each member of a couple opposite each other instead of side by side like square dancers. The Corvallis Contra dance also includes a live band and brings in a huge number of dancers under 40. Dance Chair, Jennifer Carlin, notes that it’s the music that makes this dance so special.

The Corvallis Contradance goes out of its way to make sure the dance is inclusive for all.

But greater numbers do not always equal a more successful event or a more important folk tradition. Social dance is alive and well in this area. And next time someone in the central Willamette Valley suggests the Internet, television, or whatever latest scapegoat is killing social life, drive them to Benton and Linn County and find a dance!

Folk Artists in Marion, Polk, and Lane Counties and the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde

Amy Howard

During  the spring and summer of 2018, OFN hired me to conduct folklife fieldwork in Marion and Polk counties and at the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde. The geographical area I covered was large and diverse. The sheer length of each county encompasses a landscape in transition—mountain to valley to coast. Each day brought new surprises: green fields and grasses in wine and sheep country; bustling city streets; pine-encompassed mountain lakes, and winding, sparkling rivers. The landscape reflects the local agricultural and industrial economies.

The people are equally diverse, each a wonder in their own way. Their identities and folk arts and practices also reflect the topography and economy. Whether loggers creating art from the medium they know inside and out (wood), transplants from foreign countries carrying on traditional skills, Native artists connecting to roots that were once taken away, or farmers keeping their multi-generational farms relevant and operational, the people of the Willamette Valley adapt to their surroundings. They preserve the identity that is most important to them while being rooted in traditions they cherish. I felt honored to document a snapshot of Oregon’s ever-changing, rich cultural landscape.

Chainsaw carver James Lukinich (Willamina) lived in Oregon until age 14, when he traveled to Alaska to join his brother and learn the logging business. For James, wood carving was a natural art form to pursue during long stretches of isolation in the Alaskan wilderness. While he worked as an arborist in San Diego, chainsaw carving went from hobby to career as he completed an increasing amount of custom jobs to repurpose tree stumps. He began participating in chainsaw carving competitions in 2009 and finished in the top 10 at the national competition in Reedsport last year. He and his wife, Marilyn, returned to his Oregon home, where he has continued to practice his craft professionally.

Jeremy Mitchell (Salem) is an advocate for bees. As one of the few young beekeepers with a mid-sized operation in the area, he and his bees fill an important role in the Willamette Valley, pollinating berries and other produce at small farms. Schooled in beekeeping by his great-uncle, Wayne Porter, and through the OSU Extension Master Beekeeper course, Jeremy took over Flying Bee Ranch from his relatives in 2017 after Wayne’s passing. At that time, Jeremy transformed from hobbyist to full-time, professional beekeeper, helping his great-aunt, Kathy Porter, keep the business a family operation. They are known for their mono-source honeys, captured after the bees pollinate specific crops. Jeremy also works to educate the public about bees’ role in agriculture and strategies for keeping them safe.

Connie Graves (Sheridan) is a traditional basket weaver of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde. She’s been instrumental in revitalizing and teaching the art of basket weaving for her Tribe. Born in McMinnville, she has lived her entire life in the Grand Ronde area. Connie has always possessed a love of craft and creativity and an ability to create by simply looking at an example. With her masterful basketry skills, she makes hats, baskets of all dimensions, doll clothes, baby rattles, or whatever she is inspired to do. She collects and works with many varieties of reeds, grasses, barks, and roots. Connie is currently battling cancer but still exudes positive energy and strength in all she does. Her help in the project was enormous.

As an addendum to my fieldwork in Polk and Marion Counties and with the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, I was privileged to conduct some further documentation in Lane County. Juana Cortez (Eugene) owns and operates Juanita’s Pupusería, a food truck specializing in food from El Salvador. A pupusa, the national dish of El Salvador, is a thick flatbread made of masa—corn flour and water—stuffed with one or more ingredients such as cheese, squash, refried beans, or meat, then cooked on a griddle. The versatile flatbread comes from the Maya/Pipil culture of El Salvador. Cortez, a restauranteur in her native country, came to the US in 1987 as a refugee of war and natural disaster. A single mother, she worked and saved for years before returning to her dream of owning and running a restaurant. What began as a pupusería has expanded into a celebration of Salvadoran and Mexican foods.   If someone asks for it, she can make it, she says. Cortez’s food traditions connect her to homeland and, more importantly, allow her to enjoy peace and stability after a life of hardship and perseverance.

These individuals represent a few of the many hard-working, diligent bearers of folk traditions I documented for this project. Like Oregon’s beautiful landscapes, these people deserve to be celebrated and supported as part of the cultural landscape.

Celebrating Lane County’s Artists and Traditions

Alina Mansfield

In the Winter and Spring of 2018, I attended many of Lane County’s regional cultural events, festivals, and fairs to scout out tradition keepers for the Willamette Valley Folklife Survey.

The Willamette Valley is homeland to the Kalapuya Tribes, with the Molalla calling the foothills of the Cascades home. More recently, a significant Scandinavian population settled Junction City, where the annual Scandinavian Festival attracts attendees from far and wide to try a taste of Danish aebelskiver (apple pastry), participate in Swedish folk dancing, or watch a Norwegian artist demonstrate Hardanger embroidery (usually white on white embroidery with cutwork to create a lacy effect). Eugene’s Sons of Norway Sonja Lodge (Lane County) participate in the festival, and I had the pleasure of getting to know many of their members at their annual Lutefisk dinner in January. Before the dinner, I watched lodge members peel potatoes for the lefse (potato flatbread) and bake traditional Norwegian desserts and cookies. And I got to have my first taste ever of lutefisk (cod preserved in lye, rinsed and boiled, then served hot with butter). As someone of Norwegian descent myself, this notorious cultural delicacy was on my bucket list, and I was not disappointed. Lodge members did assure me, however, that their lutefisk used to be much stronger!

I also attended a lodge-sponsored Norwegian Sweater Night for which members donned their Norwegian-style knitted sweaters and shared stories about the talented needlewomen who made them. I discovered that Norwegian knitters make their purl stitches without moving the yarn to the front of the needle. There was a palpable celebration of their heritage in such stories, and a sense of humor and pride in the discussion that detailed how this unique style differs from standard knitting.

Through these activities, I was able to meet and interview some very special traditional artists, including PattiJo Meshnick, a Norwegian Rosemåler. Rosemåling is a traditional Norwegian decorative art that involves painting objects with stylized flower motifs. With a focus on symmetry, brightness, and depth of color, Meshnik decorates pots, clocks, hangers, cards, and more. Meshnik’s eye for design is key for her rosemåling; she uses a combination of traditional design elements, techniques and materials to achieve the right effect. She always starts with a root at the center; loading brushes with various thicknesses, she paints S strokes and C strokes, adding color, shading, and then fine lines for depth. According to Meshnik, regional styles developed as a result of the distance between the deep Norwegian valleys; traveling artists would stay with a family all winter, cheering up their houses and soot-covered furniture with brightly colored designs. Like others who learned the techniques of rosemåling from master artists, Meshnik also continues to study with master teachers to learn various regional styles. She notes that traditional rosemåling became an endangered art form in Norway; teaching is essential for its survival. “Folk art is a hard thing to keep alive in modern days; you need to find someone who wants to teach, and someone who wants to learn.”

In February, I celebrated the Asian Lunar New Year of the Dog in Eugene at the “Bark to the New Year” festival. There I met Kathy Hoy, a traditional Chinese ink brush painter. Before moving to Eugene to attend college, Kathy learned to paint by apprenticing with Huang Jun Pin, a famous traditional Chinese brush painter in Taipei, Taiwan. She creates traditional Chinese ink wash and watercolor on rice paper. Many of her paintings have traditional symbols of nature such as water, fish, birds, and mountain landscapes as well as Chinese characters.

In April, I headed out to Vida, Oregon, for the McKenzie Drift Boat Festival, where I met river guides and a conch mushroom artist, learned about wooden drift boats, and watched fly fishers demonstrate how to make fly ties. Along the way, I marveled at the chainsaw art along the McKenzie Highway, which celebrates these roadside sculptures each year in July at the McKenzie River Chainsaw & Arts Festival in Blue River.

Lane County also hosted the Evergreen Tattoo Invitational in March, which prompted me to speak with local tattoo artist, Suzen Tattoozen, co-owner of Whiteaker Tattoo Collective in Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood. She is known for her unique custom designs, and ornate, embellished, illustrative watercolor styles. Tattoozen has high standards and is very passionate about representing the industry with the highest of integrity. She says no to tattoos she believes will not be good art, and she asks a lot of questions before agreeing to do a tattoo. But she also believes in never judging a client’s ideas. She thinks of tattoos and body art as the “freedom of owning yourself.” She is slow to start when she begins her work because she wants to get to know her client’s skin. Tattoozen also runs Transformation Ink, a tattoo-based charity; she believes that tattoos are empowering and transformative and that receiving a good tattoo is treating one’s self to self-care and self-love.

Tattoos, rosemåling, and fly fishing may seem very different from each other, but these culture keepers all share a love for detail in artistry, symmetry, design; an attention to story and heritage; and a commitment to passing on their skills and knowledge to others. Folk and traditional artists like these continue to enrich Lane County’s diverse cultural and regional heritage.

 

 

Oregon Folklife Network awarded $55,000 by the National Endowment for the Arts

EUGENE, Ore. – (Dec. 28, 2018) – The University of Oregon’s Oregon Folklife Network is set to receive a $55,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Announced as part of the endowment’s $27 million funding package for fiscal year 2019, the Oregon grant will support a folklife survey on Oregon’s north and central coast.

“OFN is so pleased to have another year of NEA support for our documentation of Oregon’s living cultural heritage,” said Riki Saltzman, Oregon Folklife Networks’s executive director.

Art Works is the Arts Endowment’s principal grantmaking program. The agency received 1,605 Art Works applications for this round of grantmaking and will award 972 grants in this category.

“The arts enhance our communities and our lives, and we look forward to seeing these projects take place throughout the country, giving Americans opportunities to learn, to create, to heal, and to celebrate,” said Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

With support from the grant, the Oregon Folklife Network will work with veteran folklorist Douglas Manger to identify folk and traditional artists in the Northwest and Central Oregon Coast counties of Clatsop, Tillamook, and Lincoln, as well as the coastal sections of Lane and Douglas counties. Manger will also mentor emerging folklorists as they document regional and ethnic folklore from a range of heritage groups including but not limited to Asian and Pacific Islanders, African Americans, Latinos, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, and Europeans as well as occupational folklife such as chainsaw carving, hunting, dairy farming, commercial fishing, clamming, oystering, shrimping, and other waterways traditions. Folklorists will also document foodways, music, storytelling, and other relevant folk expressions.

OFN’s statewide survey has so far identified over 355 folk and traditional artists in 28 counties as well as at the Klamath Tribes, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla, the Burns Paiute, and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. OFN partners with local and state organizations and Tribes to refer tradition bearers and folk artists for programs in parks, arts organizations, libraries, or festivals. We also preserve this documentation in our archives.

OFN invites recommendations for individuals who should be documented as part of the project. Recommendations can be submitted to by email to Riki Saltzman, riki@uoregon.edu, or Emily West, eafanado@uoregon.edu, or by phone to 541-346-3820.

For more information on the National Endowment for the Arts grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.

Community Scholars in the Portland Metro at IRCO

Thanks to the diligent fieldwork of folklorists Nancy Nusz, Douglas Manger, and Makaela Kroin, OFN was able to invite several recommended community scholars from the Portland Metro for our first training workshop of its kind. Twelve of us gathered on Sunday, June 3, 2018 to talk about our traditions, our cultures, and how to document them. We learned about Asian Indian fashion and henna, Mexican ballet folklórico, and more.  After introductions and some pointers about ethnography, we paired off to interview each other about the meaningful objects everyone was asked to bring. After much intense conversation, curious questions, and laughter, the group created a wonderful collective pop-up exhibit, complete with labels. Sushmita Podar took charge of creating an aesthetically pleasing arrangement that showcased the diversity of backgrounds and the many things we all value.

Thanks to all who took part, including folklorist Tiffany Purn; OFN intern Brandie Roberts; historian Nikki Mandell;  business owner, Bollywood dancer,  and henna expert Sushmita Podar; librarian and community worker Rita Martinez-Salas; folklórico dancers Kenya Marquez, Gloria Vilchis, and Kelly Cowan; and Washington Co. Cultural Coalition members Sharon Morgan and Nancy Schick. This workshop was funded in part by a Folk & Traditional Arts grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Attendees group photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Willamette Valley Folklife Survey Project Folklorists, Spring 2018

Amy Howard

Amy Howard received a BA in Anthropology from Brigham Young University and an MA in American Studies and Folklore from Utah State University. Her love of folklore fieldwork began in 2007 on an undergraduate field study in Guatemala. Since then, she has interned at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, coordinated public programs, and worked on multiple documentation projects in Utah and Idaho. In 2013, she collaborated with other fieldworkers documenting and producing a book on quilting traditions in the Bear River Heritage Area. In 2015, she and two of her students documented artistic, occupational, and recreational traditions in the Southeast Idaho Snake River Plain for the Idaho Commission on the Arts. Together they created an exhibit and organized public performances at the Idaho Museum of Natural History. She is currently documenting traditional Mexican music in Southern Idaho, also for the ICA. She has worked at Idaho State University as an instructor since 2014, teaching courses in folklore, English composition, and Spanish. Contact: maxwamy@isu.edu 


 

Alina Mansfield

Alina Mansfield, OFN’s Program Coordinator, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Folklore and Mythology from UC Berkeley, and a Master’s Degree in Folklore from the University of Oregon. As a master’s student, Mansfield produced a documentary about material culture and costume making in Biloxi, Mississippi’s Mardi Gras festival. Mansfield served as OFN’s Summer Folklore Fellow, where she co-produced OFN’s 2017 publication, Oregon Traditional Arts Apprenticeship MasterArtists: 2012-2016, and managed OFN’s Oregon Culture Keeper’s roster. Mansfield holds a concurrent position as Archivist in the Randall Mills Archive of orthwest Folklore. Previously she was a Circulation Supervisor at UC Berkeley’s Doe/Moffitt Libraries. Contact:alinam@uoregon.edu


 

Thomas Grant Richardson

Thomas Grant Richardson (MA, Indiana University, ABD Indiana University) is an independent folklorist based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has done ethnographic fieldwork across the western United States, the American midwest, Appalachia, Canada, and Scandinavia.He has worked for New Mexico Arts, Museum of International Folk Art (Santa Fe), Utah Folk Arts Program, Missouri Folk Arts Program, and the Minnesota Arts Board. He previously served as the Curator of Education and Outreach at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol TN/VA. He is also currently working with the Vermont Folklife Center and a team of fieldworkers to re-launch a fieldwork gear review site aimed at the needs of ethnographers. Contact: tgrantrichardson@gmail.com

Update from Eastern Oregon

Josh Chrysler

As the contract staff folklorist for the Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, Oregon, I’ve been busy this summer developing public programs celebrating the traditional culture and folklife of eastern Oregon.  Although very rural, expansive country, there is an incredible diversity of folklife in the region. Native American, Basque, European, Hispanic, and Japanese represent a few of the constant flow of people of varied ancestries who have relied on the four rivers that converge in the western Treasure Valley—the Snake, Malheur, Owyhee and Payette – for which the Four Rivers Cultural Center is named. Each of these cultural groups have contributed their own folklife to the culture of the region.

Kawa Taiko, traditional Japanese drumming group based in Ontario, performing in Baker City on August 6th, 2017

National Endowment for the Arts is funding the partnership between Four Rivers Cultural Center and the Oregon Folklife Network to hire a staff folklorist dedicated to supporting the folklife and traditional culture of eastern Oregon.  Back in March, I traveled across the 8 easternmost Oregon Counties, holding listening sessions with County Cultural Coalitions, museums, arts centers, and Tribes, to learn what kind of programs people would like to see.

Based on those meetings, I developed four programs collaborating with different host organizations and traditional artists spread across eastern Oregon in Ontario (Malheur County), Pendleton (Umatilla County), Frenchglen (Harney County), and Baker City (Baker County). Highlights from these programs include a community conversation with James Dionne (Chippewa and Cree), a Native powwow dancer and sweat lodge leader in Ontario; demonstrations with various traditional artists like rawhide braider Dan Fowler, cradleboard and basket maker Sara Barton (Mono Lake Paiute and Yosemite Miwuk) during the Frenchglen Jamboree; a performance and conversation in Baker City with Ontario’s traditional Japanese drumming group, Kawa Taiko, and a community conversation with Native bead worker Margaret Johnson (Crow/Chippewa/Cheyenne, whose children are enrolled Umatilla) in Pendleton. Read a first-hand account of these programs in Riki Saltman’s article below.

Sara Barton demonstrating willow preparation technique for use in a  cradleboard in Frenchglen (Harney County), on August 5th, 2017.

Next year, we plan to focus on buckaroo and ranching folklife, including functional traditional arts such as silversmithing, saddle making, twisting mecates, and more. Keep your eyes open for next year’s exhibit exploring these traditions, and an all-day celebration with demonstrations of traditional arts, alongside performances of cowboy poetry and music. Stay tuned for more information as this project develops!

Detail of a spur made by silversmith Forrest Fretwell of Jordan Valley, Oregon.

OFN Roadtrip, Eastern Oregon

Riki Saltzman

From August 4-7, 2017, I had the privilege of traveling about a thousand miles through eastern Oregon—to Burns, Frenchglen, Baker City, Pendleton, and back through the Gorge. I’m always struck by the vastness of our state, its overwhelming beauty, and the diversity of its terrain and eco-systems. In a few hundred miles, I passed through many national forests, mountains (Cascades, Blue, and Steen), high desert, sage prairie, great basin, hot springs, some surprising wetlands, and lava beds. A smoky haze hung over all, due to the fires raging throughout the state.

What brought me out of Eugene was the opportunity to attend two of a series of folklife programs that Four Rivers Cultural Center (Ontario) put together with cultural partners in Harney and Baker Counties.

My family and I had a long drive Friday night, broken up by a wonderful dinner at Diego’s Spirited Kitchen in Redmond. Douglas Manger, one of OFN’s contract folklorists, introduced me to Diego’s during his folklife survey fieldwork in 2016. It’s been a staff favorite ever since, especially the tacos de pescado with sautéed halibut.

We arrived in Burns that evening, and the next morning my family and I set off for Frenchglen and the traditional craft demonstrations that Josh Chrysler, Four Rivers staff folklorist, had planned alongside the Frenchglen Jamboree taking place at the Frenchglen Hotel State Heritage Site. Read about the full scope of Eastern Oregon Folklife programs that Chrysler designed elsewhere in this newsletter.

An hour’s journey through the mostly arid basins, along twists and turns, and over dramatic basalt ridges led us to Frenchglen, located on the edge of the Steens Mountain. Frenchglen Jamboree, complete with a youth rodeo, included barrel racing, roping, and a spoon race as well as a Dutch oven dessert cook off, and live music. The folklife demonstrations took place on the side lawn at the Frenchglen Hotel, which was also hosting a cribbage match and a barbeque dinner.

 

 

 

Under shady tents, we visited with Native beadworker, cradleboard, and basket weaver Sara Barton; rawhide braider Dan Fowler; and leather worker John O’Connor of the Steens Back Country Horsemen. Both Barton and Fowler are part of OFN’s Culture Keepers Roster.

 

Barton, who is of Mono Lake Paiute and Yosemite Miwuk heritage, lives at the Burns Paiute reservation, where she makes and teaches folks how to make cradleboards for babies of different ages and sizes as well as a variety of baskets.

          

Dan Fowler, a long-time rancher and cowboy, is known throughout the region for his fine rawhide braiding. Each of the buttons—the intricately woven bumps on mecates, lariats, and comals—take hours to complete.

I was particularly charmed by the miniature reins that he had displayed, which are about 1/6 scale.

O’Connor (on Fowler’s right), also a rancher and horseman, makes a variety of leather vests. Both he and Fowler regaled everyone with stories about horses (Fowler’s favorite “Old Strawberry”), rattlesnake dens, and more.

We also took a few breaks to sample the tasty food at the Hotel; the homemade raspberry crisp was a perfect ending to a meal of salads, burgers, and fries.

After a full day in Frenchglen, we traveled through the stunning lava beds of Diamond Craters and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge wetlands to Crystal Crane Hot Springs. Soaking in the seven-foot deep hot springs pond, which hovers around 100 degrees, amidst the quiet, star-filled evening, was a true Oregon experience.

But before winding down, we drove back into Burns for the annual Burns Paiute powwow at the Harney County Fairgrounds. There we enjoyed a variety of traditional powwow dancers and their stunning, hand-crafted regalia. I found out later that some of the dancers had been part of OFN’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, which funded Burns Paiute elders, Betty Hawley, Myra Peck, Phillis Miller, and Ruth Lewis, to teach moccasin making to children ranging in age from 3 to 6.

One of the benefits of attending a powwow is the yummy food. While we missed out on the meat and potato stuffed frybread, we did inhale some “rez dogs” (a hotdog wrapped in frybread dough and deep fried) as well as chili rez dogs (a rez dog topped with chili, cheese, and condiments).

As we strolled around the powwow grounds, we even found some Oregon Ducks.

The next day, we enjoyed a morning soak in the hot springs before a filling breakfast at Ed’s Fast Break & Grille at the edge of Burns.

After breakfast, we journeyed north and east through the dramatic terrain of the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness as we made our way to Baker City and a performance and community conversation with Janet Komoto and the Kawa Taiko Drummers of Ontario, Oregon.

Komoto and her Taiko drummers have long been a mainstay of eastern Oregon’s performing arts circuit. With the able assistance of Josh Chrysler, this traditional Japanese drum group performed and engaged with a crowd of about 100 on Sunday afternoon, August 6, at Geiser Pollman Park. In 2000, several members of Ontario’s Japanese American community came together to practice the traditional Japanese art of taiko. Komoto became part student, teacher, and group leader. Thanks to Base Camp Baker for posting this video of the Kawa Taiko Drummers.

These programs were made possible by the Four Rivers Cultural Center, the Harney County Cultural Coalition, Crossroads Carnegie Arts Center, the Oregon Folklife Network, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Josh Chrysler, Staff Folklorist at Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, developed this series of programs and exhibits that celebrate the traditional culture and folklife of eastern Oregon.

 

2017 Community Conversation, Vernonia, Oregon

Makaela Kroin

On Tuesday, May 2nd, a crowd of people packed the Vernonia Public Library to join in a community conversation with retired timbermen Don Webb and Fred Heller. The event was one of a series of public presentations that wrapped up OFN’s folklife survey of the Portland Metro Area. Folklorist, Makaela Kroin, launched the conversation asking Webb and Heller to talk about their families’ long histories in the timber industry. But soon, the multi-generational audience of community members were engaging the men with their own questions. The attendance and enthusiasm at this event demonstrates the deep significance of Vernonia’s logging heritage. Many thanks go to Shannon Romtvedt of the Vernonia Public Library, Scott Laird of the Vernonia Voice, and Tobie Finzel of the Vernonia Pioneer Museum for their support of the program, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts for funding our regional folklife surveys.