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Archive for the ‘story’ Category

Winterkill: Wolves and Buffalo Share Common Ground in Yellowstone National Park

Winter 2015 - Spring 2016

an interview with Mike Meese

Mike Meese, co-founder and current campaign coordinator for the Buffalo Field Campaign, has a singular focus: protection of the world’s largest wild buffalo herd, roaming throughout Yellowstone National Park. The Yellowstone Buffalo enjoy protection while in the park itself, but as they migrate outside the park during the winter months, the buffalo are either slaughtered or hazed back into the park, for fear that the wild buffalo will transfer the brucellosis virus to Montana livestock, though, according to the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC), no single such transfer has ever been documented.

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Truth Like the Sun

By Jim Lynch; Knopf (2012) $25.95

Review by Dan Raphael

Jim Lynch book coverWhat makes a city a thriving environment is one of the central questions in Jim Lynch’s new novel, Truth Like the Sun.  Another is “What makes a person whole?”  In Lynch’s  previous novels the characters are reacting to the natural forces around them; in Truth, the characters act upon the environment for their own success in the name of urban pride.

Roger Morgan is the 30 year old PR wunderkind who runs the daily operations and serves as the public face of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. 1962 Seattle is a small city–with Boeing but without Microsoft—with traces of its frontier past and few tall buildings. The fair is Seattle’s coming out party, with great opportunities for developers, politicians & purveyors of illegal pleasures like poker and prostitutes.

Alternate chapters take place 40 years later, in a Seattle coming off the dot.com crash. Roger decides to rescue his city by running for mayor, wanting to, again, propel the city into a shining future. Read more »

The Quiet Held the Crocuses (Winner: 2012-13 Doug Fir Fiction Award)

Portland, Oregon; Winter 2013-14

by David M. Armstrong  |  illustrations by Jeff Versoi

Illustration by Jeff Versoi

She emerged from the car and rounded the old house to look across the yard, the ground rampant with weeds. Beyond it a swath of brilliant green cut a kind of fairy path through the woods, and near the trailhead lay an ancient plow and a skeletal tractor, their paint faded to a sun-sapped rose that still clung to the iron of the wheel wells. Patrick made a sound from inside the house as if trying to draw her attention. He’d been moody most of the afternoon, flipping unwanted french fries out of the car as they drove, until he’d eaten so little he begged her to stop again, then got picky with a chicken sandwich and fell asleep. In Patrick’s defense, the trip had been unexpected. She hadn’t intended to take him from Dale’s driveway. That much had just happened. But in her own defense, her actions were planless as osmosis, a current of biological imperatives sliding beneath her and buoying her weight: a mother needs her son.

She turned back to the house. Most of the windows had been broken.

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NYC to PDX: An Interview with David Bragdon

New York City and Portland, Oregon; Winter 2013-14

by Tom Webb

NYC to PDX

Most Portlanders remember David Bragdon as the president of Metro, Portland’s regional government, from 2003 to 2010. New Yorkers, on the other hand, recall their native son as Mayor Bloomberg’s choice in 2010 to serve as director of long-term planning and sustainability for New York City. Indeed, Bragdon has had his feet planted firmly in both the Big Apple and the Rose City. He once drove a cab in Portland, before working in shipping for Nike and as marketing manager for the Port of Portland. Today, he bike shares his way across Manhattan and is the new executive director for Transit Center Inc., a nonprofit promoting the use of public transit. Prior to Transit Center Inc., Bragdon was involved in the revitalization of Jamaica Bay, a 10,000-acre parkland running from Queens to Brooklyn.

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Beyond the Matrix: 2×2 Planning Falls Short

Portland, Oregon; Winter 2013-14

by Howard Silverman

2x2 matrixA frequently cited principle of forecasting is to look back twice as far as one looks forward. Today follows yesterday, and tomorrow today. As anyone working on innovation and change knows all too well, engagements with the future cannot avoid encounters with the past.

Let’s take a look at past and future through the lens of that iconic and ubiquitous foresight tool: the 2×2 scenario-planning matrix. The 2×2 was famously used at Royal Dutch Shell in the 1970s as one approach for speculating on a changing oil industry environment, and again in South Africa at the 1991-92 Mont Fleur gatherings as part of a process to enable trust-building among diverse community and national leaders. After these experiments, its use was propagated by the consulting firm Global Business Network. These days, the 2×2 is featured in popular innovation toolkits such as Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers and 101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization.

The standard 2×2 scenario process goes like this. Read more »

Drone World

Winter 2013-14

by Paul Sheprow

Drone World imaginary illustration

In April 2013, a proposal for a project called “Drone Shield” was posted on Indiegogo, a crowd-funding website similar to Kickstarter. The project hoped to raise $3,500 to create “a low-cost, easy-to-use device that alerts you to nearby drones.”

The principles behind the project are simple: A continuously operating microphone passes everything it hears through the unit’s processor, which checks elements of the audio against a database of drone sound signatures. If a match is detected, the user is notified by text, email or flashing light.

Drone Shield’s creator, John Franklin, already had a prototype of the software functioning on his laptop. Franklin, an affable aerospace engineer who works in the Washington, D.C., area, says that the campaign’s object was to determine whether there would even be interest in such a device.

Just days after posting, Franklin issued a follow-up message on the Indiegogo page: “We’ve met over twice our initial funding goal with 32 days left in the campaign! This means we’re getting started a month ahead of schedule. Read more »

Proximal Qualities: An Interview with Author Jonathan Raymond

Interview by Casey Bush and Tom Webb

Note: This interview is reprinted from issue #29 of The Bear Deluxe Magazine (spring 2009).

Jonathan Raymond doesn’t live alone. He has a new daughter, a “girlfriend/baby mama” and numerous creative colleagues around the country. But more so, Raymond lives in a world of common experience and imagination, where your stories are his stories, your friends are his friends, and people struggle collectively to find meaning and subsistence. Through his writings and other pursuits, Raymond Parallels historical trends with modern experiences, often wrapping them within natural, yet constructed, landscapes–be they an ad hoc dumpsite in a national forest or a parking lot in a rural community. Place is as much mental as physical for this mid-career artist out of Portland, Oregon. His recent credits include the short story collection Livability (Bloomsbury, 2008), co-writing the films Wendy and Lucy and Old Joy (both based on his stories), and the novel The Half-Life (Bloomsbury, 2004). He is an editor at Plazm and Tin House, and his art writing has appeared in Art Forum and American Painters. He received his B.A. in art history from Swarthmore College and an M.F.A. from The New School. The Bear Deluxe caught up with Raymond at a park on Northeast Portland this past spring.

TW So here we are at Irving Park; can you talk a little bit about your relationship to this park and the neighborhood?

JR I have a few nodes. I feel like I’m right in the middle of a web of different things. Down the street over there there was a house I used to spend a lot of time at. It was the Bugskull back in the early to mid-’90s. It was a very important site of just hanging out and being with other interesting people. Then I have an ex-girlfriend who lived over there, so I spent a lot of time over on Failing Street. And actually I love that that street right there is Klickatat Street, which to me has that Beverly Cleary kind of valence to it. So there is stuff in every direction.

TW So what’s on the front burner these days?

JR Well, there are a few front burners. A couple of screenplay projects are moving along. I wrote a screenplay for Kelly Reichardt, who is the director who adapted stories out of Livability. In this case I just wrote a straight screenplay for her that is also Oregon based, but it is more of period thing. It is about a lost wagon train in the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, based loosely on an actual story of a wagon train that tried to take a shortcut across the Eastern Oregon desert and ended up getting lost out near Bend and Burns. Hopefully that will shoot this fall. And then I am also helping Todd Haines, the filmmaker, adapt the novel Mildred Pierce into a miniseries. And then I have a novel I’ve been nursing along for awhile.

CB Can you describe what that’s about? You don’t have to give out trade secrets.

JR If only I knew any. It’s about a couple who moves to the general Portland area in the early ’80s to work on an organic yogurt farm and end up getting involved in corporate management training processes. They become instructors. It is about trying to find satisfying work for the main character and at the same time a romance story.

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Bowing Down to Mystery: An Interview with Spalding Gray (1994)

Portland, Oregon; Issue #3

Interview conducted by Philip Krohn and Tom Webb
Note: This interview is reprinted from The Bear Deluxe Magazine #3 (1994). Magazine co-founders Krohn and Webb met with Gray before his evening performance at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Oregon. Gray arrived over two hours late for the interview but eventually shared lunch on Tom McCall Waterfront Park, talking on tape for another two hours. For background on Spalding Gray, visit

Spalding Gray is the internationally acclaimed performing artist and writer responsible for such gems as “Swimming to Cambodia” and “Monster in a Box.” A story collector and wayfarer, he is propelled by an insatiable curiosity and pursued by the bizarre. In addition to being brutally honest and side-splittingly funny, he may also be one of America’s most complicated thinkers. Orlo is grateful to have had the opportunity to spend some time with Spalding Gray during his recent stay in Portland, OR.

Orlo  A couple of years ago you interviewed the Dalai Lama. What is the extent of your interest in Buddhism?
Spalding Gray  I’m not so interested in being a Buddhist, I’m interested in being an individual. I’m a New Englandian, I’m a Thoreauzian. You know, I’m for bowing down to the mystery.
Orlo  You started your interview with the Dalai Lama talking about being on the road all the time, both of you. And trying to get comfortable. It made me think of someone else who is interested in Buddhism, Gary Snyder. And he’s very interested in the discussion of homelessness in a broad sense and trying to find a sense of place, because to him that hasn’t happened in America.
Spalding Gray  Gary’s different than I in the sense that Gary has found a place. I like Gary Snyder, but I think that he’s coming from a preachy place. I can’t quote him, but his attitude is this: “Look at me, I was able to integrate myself with the environment. I now go and argue with Congress about the spotted owl. I’m an environmentalist, I’m Gary Snyder, I found a place. The rest of you are wandering idiots.” We did a Buddhist Conference some years back, and Gary said, “I can’t tolerate it any more, that these people on the road don’t know how to roll their rucksacks.” And I go, “Oh my God.” That’s why he couldn’t hang out with Jack Kerouac after a while. He was a little anal retentive for me.  Read more »

Toward Xenon

Madison, South Dakota; Issue #34

by Justin Blessinger

for my father

Clayton strikes the rod to steel;
a blinding arc of buzzing, wicked blue
lights the workshop,
fusing bolt to chalybeous plate to looping rod puddle.
His black glass face reflects the plasma bolt,
his hammer near to hand
shattering flux.

A Ford bidirectional tractor hunkers behind him,
its bucket bowed in submission
waiting for Clayton’s next endowment
never adornment;
its cerulean paint has washed.

Insulation, silver-backed, keeps Montana’s winter out,
the blue is much softer out there, on the drifts,
absorbing the cold moon
and colder stars
Someone’s old engine oil burns above him
in a red furnace he pulled from the county junkyard
and made it breathe again.

That cobalt night,
bounding in ruts of the dirt road,
a cottontail ignites
in the twinkle of his eye
and his Chevy pickup’s noble headlamps
when he turns toward the house
and thick sleep.

Declining Cities: Urban planning looks to flexibility, not growth

Fresno, California & Portland, Oregon; Winter-Spring 2012-13

by Molly Cooney-Mesker

In Fresno, California, a neighborhood of new stucco-walled houses is fenced off from an abandoned, run-down “parts” shop sitting in the middle of a dry grassy field. With worn board planks and unhinged doors, it looks like a prop on a Western ghost-town set. On the other side of the fence are shiny power-line towers leading to ghostly footprints of would-have-been stucco homes.

This scene in Fresno could just as easily describe any number of suburbs across the Sun Belt.

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