Saturday, November 29, 2008

Try this metaphor on for size

It's curious. When I write about significant problems here, they rarely draw a response.

But when I oppose "The (so called) Civil War," the name of the game, devoted Ducks and Beavers go ballistic. And I'M the one who is supposed to "get a life."

See comments on my post.

OK, let's choose another (mere?) historical event in which multitudes (millions, in fact) were killed. I guess you would call it a real rout, in football terms. Let's suppose that one of Oregon's teams runs away with today's game. Why not call the rout "A Holocaust"?

Offended yet?

First, count to ten.


Now ask yourself where you draw the line and why.

Extra credit: Who was that sports editor who voted "The Civil War" off the sports page? What could he have been thinking?

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Friday, November 28, 2008

A Tradition within a Tradition

It’s been at least 12 years that several of us have made a tradition of a Thanksgiving morning hike in, around and above Hillsdale.

If you know Hillsdale, you’ll understand “above.” Think “hills.”

It’s a typical Portland “rain or shine” event. Sometimes it has been more like “deluge or shine.” Or "freeze or shine." Yesterday was pretty much shine. The walk was simple: Up then down.

The cast of hikers ranges between 15 and 25. The characters have changed over the years with a few notable exceptions.

Glenn and Karen Bridger and Don Baack are constants. Glenn, left foreground, organized us yesterday and invited us to introduce ourselves before we set out. He also got us to sign some official-looking form that said we, the undersigned, wouldn’t sue anybody, including, presumably Glenn and each other.

Ah, this Age of Litigation.

Karen, bless her, provided, as always, scones and coffee or tea just when we need them most.

Ah, we also live in an Age of Generosity. Thanks, Karen, for your Thanksgiving giving.

Even a nasty flu couldn’t keep Don away this year. The sides of his safari cap’s brim snapped smartly in place, he always carries a leach with a dog or two attached.

Dogs on the hike are as inevitable as Turkey on the table. I counted four (dogs, not turkeys) on this particular hike.

Dog story: Yesterday we came across a fenced, madly barking dog who thought we all wanted to invade and pillage his yard. He yapped right up against his chain-linked fence as we grew every closer along our path. When we reached him, a fearless member of our canine contingent calmly walked up to the fence to where the yapper’s nose was sticking through, lifted a leg, anointed the hound’s snout and walked on as calmly as if nothing had happened. The fenced dog instantly fell silent and just stared at us in stunned respect.)

When stories aren’t materializing along the way, we tell them. Don often relates his latest effort to keep a trail open here or to remove a visual obstruction there. We “old-timers” point out slide sites from the storm of 1996.

Talk inevitably turns to Thanksgiving and family and friends who will join us at the feast later in the day. Somebody usually remarks, half in truth, that we hike to “make room” for the food.
I never, not once, have I hiked far enough. It must have to do with Karen's scones.

Our Thanksgiving morning hike has become a tradition within the Thanksgiving tradition. God willing, we will meet again at 9 a.m. at the Hillsdale Oak, at the entrance to Wilson High School, on Nov. 26, 2009.

Rain or shine.

Plan to join us.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"The Civil War" — unworthy of Oregon

Each year in the week before the UO/OSU "Civil War,” I rail against this over-the-top name for a simple football rivalry.

I argue that the universities' stature is lessened because of their rivalry’s appellation.

Today’s Oregonian sports page gave me a “peg” for this year’s lament.

The headline reads, “It’s not civil nor is it war.”

Well, duh, if it’s not civil and not a war, in the name of mere accuracy, LET'S CALL IT SOMETHING ELSE!

The Oregonian's writer, Ryan White, tells those of us who are agitated (outraged?) by this abominable name, to lighten up. It’s only a metaphor. He might have added that “Beavers” aren’t really beavers, and “Ducks” aren’t really ducks.

Problem is, thanks to “The Civil War” and the name's inhumanity, I’m not so sure.

To Ryan, I recommend George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s little book, “Metaphors We Live By.” Metaphors (and words, for that matter) shape how we think about our world. When we say “I fell in love,” we do in a way surrender ourselves to the helplessness of falling.

Metaphors reinforce and even guide how we behave, write Lakoff and Johnson.

“The Civil War,” as a name for a mere intercollegiate rivalry, also cheapens the word “War.” It also dishonors the 500,000 American lives lost in the real American Civil War.

Worse it suggests an ignorance and lack of respect for that event by the faculty, administration, students and alumni of Oregon’s two major universities.

After 9/11, I actually wrote the presidents of the University of Oregon and Oregon State University to urge them to drop the name once and for all because of anguish about real war, violence and terror. To my surprise, the president of OSU wrote to say that the administration had taken the name change under consideration. Nothing became of it.

White’s story in today’s Oregonian refers to an enlightened past sports editor who banished the term from the sports page. Writes White, “The Civil War, he told reporters, was between the North and the South and took place between 1861 and 1865.”


White doesn’t tell us the name of the editor, but it should be inscribed on the tombstone of Oregon's "Civil War.” Metaphorically speaking, of course.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Four Phases for Hillsdale

Issue #35 of the Hillsdale News, which I sent to 430 on-line subscribers this morning, reports on the results of three Town Center planning sessions held this fall.

I didn't have room to show all the critical phases of the strategic plan that SERA Architects, the planning consultants, developed for the crucial Sunset Triangle. I thought I'd share most of them with you here.

Phase 1 is above left. The black square in the middle is the Hillsdale Branch Library. The initial phase calls for the extension of Dewitt Park (shown in green) down to Sunset Boulevard and the extension of Dewitt Street to the west/southwest. Mixed-use buildings (brown) would be on either side of the street extension.

Phase 2 (below right) defines a hybrid street/walk going from the mid-block crossing on SW Capitol Highway to meet the new street at the point indicated by the yellow circle. Note that the small yellow areas at the intersections indicate plazas.

Also, note phase 2's reorientation of the buildings to accommodate the intersection in the circle. The building now occupied by Edward Jones and Kuman Learning Center would be removed to open the passage for the new street.

Some folks who attended this fall's meetings questioned the need for this street and worried that it might remove needed parking. The consultants believe that new parking can be provided under some of the new commercial buildings.

The phase also calls for a new northern extension of Dewitt Street to cut through what is now a low-density residential part of the Triangle. As proposed, the new street would be narrow and "green." It would encourage pedestrians and discourage through-traffic. The rendering to the left shows a cross section with swales, and traffic-calming trees that intrude on the right-of-way.

The fully completed extension of Dewitt would link with a street that is already platted for a recently subdivided property on SW 18th Drive. The extension would open the backs of the deep lots facing on 18th Drive and Sunset Boulevard to further subdivision.

I've omitted the rendering for phase 3. It looks at the intersection of Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, Capitol Highway, Bertha Court and 18th Drive. Its features have largely been addressed by the recently completed crosswalk at the intersection. The new crosswalk stops all vehicular traffic so that pedestrians can cross safely.

Phase 4 shows a radical reconfiguration of commercial real estate that would affect the Hillsdale Brew Pub, Casa Colima, the Union 76 station and the shops between the liquor store and the Bank of America. Such a change would require more cooperation between commercial property owners than we have seen in the past.

Notably, the gas station vanishes because it is assumed that by the time we reach this phase, we will no longer rely on gas-driven vehicles. We will be walking, taking buses or driving electric cars.

Also, the Hillsdale Shopping Center to the south is depicted in two "staple" shapes, orienting more to Capitol Highway.

How much of this will be accomplished, or even desired, in the next decade or two is impossible to predict. The idea is to proceed phase by phase and to keep talking about where we are headed and where we want to go.

Experience teaches that surprising and innovative new phases change old ones. Indeed, we are entering a phase that was unanticipated when the Town Center strategic planning began earlier this fall. Call it the "Deep Recession" phase; it has put all the phases discussed here on hold.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Media Think's media-use survey

As some of you know, I'm active in Media Think, a Northwest media literacy organization.

We are conducting a on-line survey of parents to learn more about media use in families. If you are a parent, please take the survey. If you aren't a parent, please pass the survey link onto those you know who are. We are trying to get as many responses as possible, particularly in the Portland area.

Go HERE to see or take the survey. It shouldn't take longer than five minutes to complete.


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