Portland, Unoccupied


Previous home to the 2011 Portland Occupy protest campers, the Terry Schrunk Plaza is still a place of action in the city. Photo by Victoria Davila.


The placement of a sticker shows that the movement’s sentiment still lasts in the previously occupied Portland park squares. Photo by Victoria Davila.


A Fountain of Peace in Portland, Forever a Piece of Portland

Portland is a city of many great things: roses, bridges, and fountains. My favorite among them is the Fourcourt Fountain, (or at least that’s what I’ve always called it because of my mom, a Portland native). Today it is known as the Keller Fountain Park and one of the memorable landmarks of the city for the waterfall inspired design. From the Keller Fountain, a rich history of Portland flows with its thousands of gallons of water pumping the waterfalls falls each minute.


The Keller Fountain still brings many friends, families, and individuals out to enjoy the scenery and atmosphere of the peaceful park each day. May 2012. Photo by Victoria Davila.

At the fountain opening in 1970 it was originally named the Fourcourt Fountain. It was hoped that the park would give people a place to come together peacefully. It wasn’t until 1978 that it was renamed in honor of Ira Keller, head of the Portland Development Commission. For over 40 years now, the fountain remains at the heart of Portland and even earned an award for it.


This plaque explains some of the history of the fountain in recognition of the Heart of Portland Award received in 1995. It was the first recipient of the award. Photo by Victoria Davila.

When budget cuts have threatened the water from rushing fourth, countless officials have stood up for it. It is more than a fountain. It’s a piece of childhood for many Portlanders like myself, a piece of sanctuary in the middle of a busy downtown, and a piece of Portland park history.


For the rest of you twenty somethings out there, yes it’s also the fountain they shot an episode of Jackass in. Photo by Victoria Davila.

I’ve already made one good trip to the fountain this season and I plan on making many more as the summer threatens to make an appearance in Portland this year. My favorites spots at the fountain are the waterfall stairs and lower level area where you can stand behind the falls. Countless childhood and adolescent memories take place there. Sometimes it’s great to remember that some of the best things in life are free, and as long as the city remembers the true importance of playing in the park I will have many more Keller Fountain memories to make.


My first official trip to the fountain this season! May 2012.

For a bit more on the history and thoughts on the Keller Fountain, visit this great page I stumbled upon.

Meet Ben

This is Ben. Seemingly, Ben is your traditional American man. He goes to school, works, and loves a good beer. He’s working toward his dream job. His loves baseball – the traditional pastime of this nation. But Ben is anything but the traditional fan.

Ben Christensen is sporting his latest tattoo work here at Max's Tavern on Feb. 15.

Ben Christensen is sporting his latest tattoo work here at Max's Tavern on Feb. 15. Photo by Victoria Davila

Some people are calling him overly dedicated, eccentric, crazy even.  Ben and his numerous baseball tattoos have gotten local, national, and now international media attention. Ben Christensen, 29, has “blown up,” as his friends are commenting online since he became one of 50 finalists in the MLB Fan Cave competition.

Ben tweets, “I’m 20% #BrianWilson 20% #MachoMan 60% #Awesome and 110% #MLBFanCave. I’m also 74% sure #ISuckatMath Vote for me anyway http://t.co/AbS3xu4a,” aiming to gain publicity and votes.


I met Ben in my favorite journalism class in ever: Reporting 1 Spring 2009. The class bonded through group assignments in the community and social media. At the time Ben more resembled Jason Lee circa the Clerks II premier. I call Ben compassionate, strong, and driven. Although the class has gone our separate ways, we share more than memories by staying connected via Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, and other blog sites.

“I love combining comedy with history and truth and spreading the word to everyone I know. With social media I’ve been able to expand my following and range,” says the Fan Cave finalist. This is how I know Ben.

Ben studies journalism at the University of Oregon, a path he started on in high school with the advice from a counselor. “I realized quickly that I was probably never going to amount to anything as a player in professional sports, but I loved to talk and write about it,” he says.

Sports isn’t my favorite thing to read about. I’m not the girl that won’t watch a game, I’d usually love to catch a good game and beer. Maybe I don’t read or watch enough, but the sports commentary is usually lacking. But Ben’s knowledge of history combined with his comedic remarks actually get me laughing and wanting to know more about a sport that is, I’ll admit, one of my own least favorites.

If, no when, Ben finally lands his dream job as a sports writer he plans to keep doing just what he’s doing now: communicating his love and knowledge of sports with the world. He explains, “I’m not saying my word is the ‘way’ but I do love to share what’s on my brain. In most cases it gives people something to think about outside of their normal routines.” He continues, “And if I can give the reader a smile just once, I’ve done my job.”


Other University of Oregon students may know him from Max’s Tavern, where he has worked since January 6, 2010, at 4:00 PM to be specific. “I’m very precise with dates and times,” says Ben who is a bit of a sports history buff to say the least. He is not your average bartender. For awhile Ben wrote the trivia for trivia night, a now-posthumous weekly game of popcorn and cheap but fun prizes.

Among the tattoos and framed pictures Ben also collects hats, major and minor league. Each major league hat has numbers signifying batting averages and other statistics specific to the hat in some way. To someone who doesn’t know baseball, hearing him talk about baseball sounds like rocket science speak with the specific details that he spouts without a second thought, especially if you’re a couple beer into the night at Max’s.

Sports Enthusiast

Many people have probably seen Ben’s signs at Ducks football games without even realizing it was him. They usually steal some attention in the stands and on the big screens. His family has always been “big on sports” Ben says. It started out as a means to an end to wear out him and his hyper brothers but developed into a genuine love of most all sports.

You can find Ben’s video on the MLB Fan Cave website listed with the Bakersfield, California hometown and the Oakland Athletics listed as his favorite team. Although Ben spent most of his life in Bakersfield he now calls Eugene, Oregon his home. During his last five years here, Ben has grown into the person that he is today. And he’s ready to win. He wanted to apply for the MLB Fan Cave last year but ran out of time. In hindsight, he knows that he is in a much better position to make the cut with his stand out tattoos, something he didn’t have a year ago.

Sure, his tattoos and overwhelming knowledge of baseball trivia might catch some people off guard. They want to call it fanatic. But fanatic is marked by extreme unreasoning enthusiasm whereas a fan is simply an enthusiast. Therefore Ben, although not your traditional fan, is just a fan.

So vote for Ben for the MLB Fan Cave and help make a dream come true.

Facebook Announces More Changes

Facebook has more changes coming. In fact, they’re already here.

Are you already assuming you know what changes I’m talking about? Or are you now curious to know if I know something you don’t? The answer isn’t actually just one thing. And the real thing is, the answer doesn’t really matter. What matters is that fact that you have to think about it at all.

Facebook announces more changes all the time, just never directly to its users. In order to be a successful media savvy specimen these days one must stay on top of social media changes via news and blog sites like this one. Maybe Facebook should work on its own social media communication skills with its users rather than hoping everyone will just figure it out. (I’m guessing I’m not alone in having to explain every Facebook change to my parents.)

For those of you that are still wondering what all the fuss is about – it’s the Facebook timeline. All the news, status updates, “likes,” and comments of the past are just a few clicks away. Facebook has essentially made a digital scrapbook of the lives of its users, with room for editing. You can open up to certain years with the click of a button and see highlights of status updates, photos uploaded, and friends added during that time span.

And if you open up to something you don’t want others to, you can remove things or edit visibility.  If this sounds complicated, just take a tour of the new timeline feature and everything will explain itself.

My thoughts on the new timeline feature? Facebook had all of the information stored anyway, so I’m in favor of being able to access it easier.  It’s like a mandatory scrapbook. And I love scrapbooking.

Oregon Local Online Shopping

Oregon has a lot to offer. But for out-of-state Oregon enthusiasts or Oregonians who don’t want to get out of bed to get the holiday shopping done, there is a solution. Oregon is online, on the net, on the internet, internets, interwebs – whatever you want to call it, Oregon is there. And with time running out, now is the time to complete your holiday shopping.

Here is the one stop guide to getting local products at your doorstep with just a few clicks of the mechanical mouse:

1. Neon Native: This Portland Saturday Market artist combines natural materials with modern style. The online collection awakens in the outdoor adventurist inside with an urge to jump in the leaves and swing higher, head tilted back and all. Not only is the artwork intricate yet soft and feminine, but the photography is something to be admired itself. Gentle lines of clothing and feathers lead the eyes to the jewelry. The colors compliment the pieces. Plunging necklines give room for the dangling feathers and layered chains of necklaces.

2. Spencer Butte Ink This Etsy shop displays the slogan “art you can wear.”  For those whose hearts are in Oregon, you can now wear your Oregon heart on your sleeve. Featured on the front of one shirt is a unicycle, “Simplify” it reads below the image. A clever “Portland Strip City” shirt is a play of f Portland’s Rip City Blazers slogan and it’s reputation for high number of strip clubs (although no longer holds the number one ranking of most strip clubs per capita).

3. Made in Oregon: Some things most Oregonians overlook as part of life are actually cherished treasures. Gourmet gift baskets highlight quality local Oregon products like Tillamook Cheese, Rogue Creamery Cheese, Tony’s Smokehouse Smoked  Sockeye Salmon, and more. The chocolates look mouthwatering although the prices will make you want to savor each one to get it’s full worth. Also worth a gander is the array of Oregon brews.

The Ninety-Nine Percent

More pictures from one event at Occupy Portland and Pioneer Square on Nov. 6. (The same day written about in my earlier post Portland, Occupied.)

Occupy Portland sign on the square blocks of downtown Portland across from the Justice Center. Photo by Victoria Davila

Art has had a large influence in the Occupy Movement. Photo by Victoria Davila

The entrance to the Occupy community on one of the squares. Photo by Victoria Davila

Corporations are not folks. Part 1. Photo by Victoria Davila

Corporations are not folks. Part 2. Photo by Victoria Davila

Short statements wrap up people's feelings on cardboard materials everywhere. Photo by Victoria Davila

Short statements wrap up people's feelings on cardboard materials everywhere. Photo by Victoria Davila

Protestors held hands around Pioneer Courthouse Square against the Keystone Pipeline. Photo by Victoria Davila

A group of protestors stands together to send their message of unified protest. Photo by Victoria Davila

We Stand With The Hat

Dear Oregon University System,


I stand with the hat. A slogal supporting UO's President Lariviere from the School of Journalism and Communication. Nov. 2011.

I’m not sure what we, the community of University of Oregon, ever did to you but I think we would appreciate an explanation for your actions. Your recent ousting of President Richard Lariviere from the UO is not only a blow to the future educational system of Oregon, but a blow to our overall relationship.You are like the parent of my chosen university, an in-law of sorts. While our relationship has been rocky, I felt it was really going somewhere. That is until recently.

I gave UO four years of my life, thousands of dollars and my love. UO gave me an education, memories and lasting connections. But our relationship hasn’t been easy. Going to school at a university that is known for its athletics has been hard. UO is the football star. Cheering in the stands at games is priceless. I loved it. But people talk. They said UO was slacking on the schooling. But Lariviere was changing that. He was pointing the UO in the right direction.

The fedora-wearing president was and still is an asset to UO. In the midst of a rough economic time, Lariviere managed to give pay raises to professors and faculty to “achieve pay equity with comparable schools.”  Education should be evolving. But what we have is a struggle threatening stagnancy.

Did you think Lariviere was a bad influence on the university? Didn’t you like him at first? What happened? Was it  just his different ideas, his innovation, his “lack of team work,” or a personnel issue? So far I haven’t been able to get a straight answer out of you. I don’t know why you tried to keep it a secret either, that hurts. I’m hoping this meeting you have planned with clear things up for all of us.

In the meantime I hope you have been hearing what everybody has been saying, there’s even a handy dandy petition to lay it out for you. The deans of the UO schools and colleges even prepared an official statement against the ousting. An official government ethics commission complaint has been released, signed by numerous professors. Please think about how much of an influence someone must have for them to gain this much of an outpouring of support.

We just want what is best for UO and we hope you do too. We let a lot of things slide these days. But we aren’t standing down on this. We are standing with the hat, our fedora-wearing president.


Victoria Davila

University of Oregon alumna

Finding Adventure In Your Own Home

The seasons may be acting a little strange this year, but it is finally behaving like November in Oregon. Last night withstanding, nightly noises of wind chimes ringing and tarps flapping outside have been common the past week. The rain has been heavy. And in Oregon, that means heavy. So unless you’re prepared in multiple layers of warm and rain resistant materials, you might want to think about how to have some fun indoor. Here are five ways to find adventure in your own home that don’t involve sitting on the couch.

1. Make a fort. No, seriously. All ages fun.  All you need are some sheets and imagination. But if you really want to go all out, I have some extra suggestions: a) tapestries , b) lights and c) a projector.  Tapestries can hang down from the ceiling over the furniture or tie down without furniture. Rope or twinkle lights add the extra touch of magic that is missing from everyday life.  Outside they are decorations, inside a fort they can be star maps of the future. A projector can be placed on the outside of one end of the fort facing a large sheet on the opposite side. To keep in the spirit, watch something otherworldly such as MirrorMask, Labyrinth, Stardust or Alice in Wonderland.

2. Make holiday cards. Relax a little while crossing off a seasonal to do off the list. Making holiday cards is an easy at-home activity for anyone.  For one easy method all you need is two different colors of construction paper, design patterned scissors, a photo, a quote, a stamp and a pen. Fold one color to the shape desired. Cut the other colored paper with the patterned scissors to fit on the inside of the folded card. Glue the picture to the front of the card. Stamp your greeting above or below the picture. Write the quote and a personal message on the inside and it’s done! Add anything you like for a more personal touch.

3. Have a eggnog contest soiree.  Invite your friends over with the condition that they have to bring their own eggnog to share. All attendees get three votes. When the voting is over, the winning contestant gets bragging rights and a prize if the host or hostess has one. A personalized trophy can make the event more festive and invites the idea of an annual event.

4. Play dress up. Play pretend. Pick a different decade to mimic. Try to dress as celebrities and see if you’re friends can guess who you are. Don’t forget a camera for this one, it’s bound to be memorable. Music also adds another layer of humor.

5. Bake something new.  This one is best with a friend. Find a recipe neither of you have made before and attempt it. Feel free to YouTube and Google all you want, seeing someone else can helpful or just plain hilarious. Sometimes the best part of cooking is making “mistakes.” Forget an ingredient, look up substitutions. Don’t be too serious. And have some bread and dip on the side in case the dish is a total flop.

There you have it. Five ways to find adventure without going outside. Go ahead, turn off your phone and escape reality in your own home.

Portland, Occupied

There is nothing like a stroll in the park on a Sunday afternoon. Last Sunday was perfect for a stroll. The air was crisp and fresh. The sun beamed down through the tree leaves. It was cold, but nothing to complain about for November. But people were airing their complaints. Left and right – conversations about pipelines and tar sands, Wall Street and banks, government and politicians filled the air. Their bodies, their concerns inhabited the area. The park was occupied.

Just outside Occupy Portland prior to the Keystone XL Pipeline protest. Nov. 6. Photo by James Strother.

Just outside Occupy Portland prior to the Keystone XL Pipeline protest. Nov. 6. Photo by James Strother.

Occupy Portland has taken over two, almost three, plaza blocks in downtown Portland. Lownsdale and Chapman Squares have together become a full on community for its inhabitants. Both squares have a crisscross design that facilitated easy organization and navigation through the community. Individual stations and booths set clear stations for action. The amphitheater at Terry Schrunk Plaza, a neighboring federally owned park, is used during the day for Occupy events and meetings. It is also occupied at night by a smaller number of protestors who camp there despite initial warnings from police. The occupation does not end outside the plaza blocks; the parks are merely a home base for the movement.

Each day new protests, meetings and pieces of the movement are thought of, organized and carried out. From television it would appear that the occupiers are fighting back, or just plain fighting. From inside the encampment, the view is different. They are defending their ground.


“Hey hey, ho ho! Dirty pipeline’s got to go! Hey hey, ho ho! Dirty carbon’s got to go!” was the battle cry of the day on Sunday Nov. 6. Crowds gathered around the amphitheater at Terry Schrunk Plaza at 2:00 p.m. for a round of speakers before taking march to the Pioneer Courthouse. By 3:15 p.m. the marchers had joined hands and surrounded the courthouse for a demonstration.

Occupy Portland protests the Keystone XL Pipeline by joining hands around the Pioneer Courthouse Square. Nov. 6. Photo by James Strother.

Occupy Portland protests the Keystone XL Pipeline by joining hands around the Pioneer Courthouse Square. Nov. 6. Photo by James Strother.

The hand-holding demonstration strategy aimed to raise awareness and support against the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline expansion. The proposed oil pipeline would extend from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada to carry oil through sensitive environmental regions and water supply areas to Texas refineries on the gulf coast.

Couples, friends, family and strangers held hands to make a point. That point is one of many aided by the Occupy Portland Action Committee.  Before, during and after Sunday’s event occupiers were trying to stay one step ahead of themselves.


Back at home base people bustle about, busy as ever. Everyone on a mission. Sometimes that mission is just to stay warm. And that’s okay. A protesters presence is an action on it’s own. (Otherwise homeless occupiers stress they are not there simply for food and some resemblance of shelter.) Even so, most people are doing more than showing up.

Political Warfare”

Thomas Nelson, 23, describes himself as a teacher, student and an occupier. At Occupy Portland he works on the Peace and Safety crew regularly but also fills in at the Medical tent and the Kitchen since his arrival over two weeks ago. The Peace and Safety booth is in the center of Chapman Square, dubbed Alpha Camp by occupiers. Medical is also located in the center but of Lownsdale Square, posthumously entitled Beta Camp.

Thomas Nelson (right) is an occupier who came to Occupy Portland to learn. Nov. 6. Photo by James Strother.

Medical tent occupiers, Reagan (left) and Danni (middle) stand with Thomas Nelson (right). Thomas is an occupier who came to Occupy Portland to learn. Nov. 6. Photo by James Strother.

The 23-year-old Occupy peacekeeper treads between a personal distrust of police and officials he believes “lie in the pockets of [the] one percent” and working with them to maintain order in the camp. Thomas says that police officials monitor camp radios, walk though daily and are always called when necessary.

Behind the table at the medical tent Thomas sits with an assortment of medical supplies covering the table in front of him. He explains his belief in the movement: “At some point [the one percent] need to realize that yes they have weapons and guns and bombs, but eventually our numbers will overwhelm even their greatest of warfare technology. They can mace us, gas us out, shoot rubber bullets all they want, but eventually the group is going to get to large to be chased out by political warfare. That’s what I call this, it’s political warfare.”

Last Deployment”

The occupiers at the Veteran’s tent of Alpha Camp are no strangers to warfare. Dathan, Bill, Ede and Ian are all veterans who have been at Occupy Portland for two and a half to three and a half weeks. They fought for their country in uniform and they are now fighting in poverty. The squares have gotten rougher, rowdier and a bit more unpredictable according to recent media reports.

Sitting together in solidarity are veterans (from left to right) Dathan,  Bill,  Ede and Ian.  Nov. 6. Photo by James Strother.

Sitting together in solidarity are veterans (from left to right) Dathan, Bill, Ede and Ian. Nov. 6. Photo by James Strother.

“It grows on you,” says Ede. He laughs while describing how we accidentally arrived at Occupy after missing his train and then getting lost in Portland.

When asked why they are protesting, they answer “to stay warm” before chuckling to each other. “I mean seriously, that’s what it’s all about,” says Bill. He continues, “It’s sad, I was making $18 an hour in the 80’s and 90’s and then all the sudden all [those] jobs are gone.”

Now he huddles together with other occupiers to keep warm. Life wasn’t always like this. Bill is a father to six children and a grandfather to three. The youngest is eight years old. Walking out of school into a well paying job without outside training or additional schooling was easy when he did it. “[The younger] generation doesn’t have $18 an hour jobs like that,” says Bill. That’s why he’s occupying.

“This is our last deployment on the streets of America,” says one of the veterans as a final parting.

World Change”

If the occupiers are troops defending their ground, Raya Cooper would be an officer or perhaps lieutenant. Raya, a Portland occupier since day one, is found behind the Information booth with a bright smile and an attitude ready to take on anything that comes her way. Raya answers questions, takes and distributes donations, handles altercations and communicates with authorities. Raya, who graduated with a degree in Outdoor Leadership from Warren Wilson College, is in her element taking every situation as it comes.

Occupier Raya Cooper says she came to Occupy Portland because of the children present who, like the children throughout the world, in need of resources that are available and just need to be accessed. Nov. 6. Photo by James Strother.

Occupier Raya Cooper says she came to Occupy Portland because of the children present who, like the children throughout the world, are in need of resources that are available and just need to be accessed. Nov. 6. Photo by James Strother.

Just as Raya says that her main goal of the occupation is “conversation” – a conversation erupts around her. A woman and daughter and a man begin to debate whether the U.S. has too much, too little, or too inefficient of a government. Each party exchange ideas and go their separate ways.

“We’re in this together, and until we realize that we’re in it together than we’ll be up against some struggles, but we have a lot of issues that need to be dealt with that are all intertwined,” says Raya. She continues, “Where do we start first – everyone has a different answer to that. We’re taking it day by day. It’s a very young movement. We’ve only been here four weeks and world change doesn’t happen in four weeks very often. We’re working toward this.”


Portland city officials, police and those within the movement have tried to maintain a good relationship of compromise and communication. But recent renegade actions have raised concerns in the community. Crime has risen and police efforts are costing the city. While some incidents have gained negative media attention and calls from the mayor to maintain order, Portland’s protest still luckily lacks the violence and controversy of other Occupy cities. But how long will the peace be maintained? The Bureau of Developmental Services has cited Portland Parks & Recreation, which attends to the squares, directing the Parks Bureau to correct the violations. Correction would include a stop to all camping at the squares. Mayor Sam Adams will address the situation later today.

The city can try to evacuate the camp. They can try to stop protests. But those are just battles. This is not a battle. This is a movement, a war against the status quo.

Allergies: the unwanted tag along of Spring

The Portland Japanese Gardens April 8 2011. Photo by Victoria Davila.

The Portland Japanese Gardens April 8 2011. Photo by Victoria Davila.

It’s official. Spring has sprung. At least, it has according to my allergies. March 21 was the official start of spring. But with the recent rain in Oregon I didn’t really take notice of the change until April 3 when my nose tipped me off. I remembered the familiar unwelcome signs of the season.

First I felt a little more secluded from the rest of the world. My sinuses were cut off from the world. I started breathing entirely through my mouth. I was so thirsty. My head felt stuffed in every sense of the word that I could think of. (Although, I couldn’t actually think very well.) Granted, it hasn’t been as bad this year in the Portland metro area as it was last year in Eugene. The Willamette Valley is still know for record high pollen counts.

For the first time in months, I now remember the one reason I don’t like spring: allergies.  As fall drifts into winter the idea of sun, flowers and weekends of water related adventures trump the pesky unavoidable allergies that go with the blooming blossoms and beauty. But the moment the buds start blooming I remember the pitfalls of the pollen.

As par usual, I try to to completely inundate myself with over an the counter cure all. The pollen count was 6.8 (medium) of 12 on Pollen.com two days ago. So I tried to fight my allergies naturally.

As hard as it is to want to stop doing anything when breathing gets difficult because of congestion, exercise is actually a good thing. Yes. I started working out around the same time that my allergies started kicking. Staying active is like eating hot food but replacing calories with a healthy habit. Both produce the same warm temperatures that get rid of nasal congestion.

Local honey was also immediately added to the grocery list. For years I have used this remedy for my allergies. Ever since I first got allergies my first year in Eugene, Oregon. Prior to college I never experienced the itching, coughing, sneezing trio of allergies symptoms unless it was a common cold.

Something I also never experienced, purchasing over the counter antihistamine products. The last four years I survived with local honey and homeopathic allergy pills from Market of Choice. But now, living in a new area, all that was available in addition to the natural honey was brand name and generic equivalent pills. Yes, that’s right. Miss all-natural, hates modern medicine, bought some box of Claratin and a box Kroger generic brand form of the same thing.

But was it worth it? My glorious day at the Portland Japanese Gardens (where I only sniffled all day instead of felt the pains of congestion, itchy eyes and sneezing) stands as proof that it was. Although the medicine did deplete my body of some much needed moisture I did have to drink a lot of water to keep up, it was worth it.

But it there something out there that can help worse? My allergies aren’t going away. And neither is this sun (hopefully). So do you have any suggestions for me?  Today the pollen count is at 9.3. I think I can make it …

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Natural Fixes for Your Allergy Season