Blogs: Current events

See something say somethingPortland’s mass transit agency, TriMet, reminds us if we see something, say something; the message is plastered all over its MAX cars and buses, but I saw something on the MAX the other day and said nothing.

Along with about a dozen other people seated in the front area of a MAX car (the part that you climb the stairs to get to) at about 8:15 on a weeknight, I witnessed an incident of racial profiling and didn’t call out the perpetrator. As is often the case in situations where you want to say the right thing perfectly, it was only after the fact that I could figure out what to say and how to say it.

Here’s what happened: A few stops after I got on the MAX headed east, three young African Americans boarded the train. Everyone else in our section of the car was white (and possibly older, but I can’t precisely recall). They were conversing in what I’d call a “teenaged” way – laughing, a little loud, seemingly unaware of others in the car. Someone in the area had music going loud enough so that it leaked out of the earbuds. (Let me parenthetically state that hearing this “half-music” possibly annoys me more than loud phone conversations on public transit, and I don’t recall being bothered by the sound.) While stopped at the Rose Quarter station, a uniformed woman (TriMet, but not law enforcement) boarded our car, walked up the stairs and spoke directly to the Black youths that there had been a complaint about their music.

When they stated that they hadn’t been playing any music, this person glanced around to the rest of us and sort of generally asked whoever was playing their music too loudly to turn it down. She stepped out of the car, walked around its front to (I assume) speak with the driver because she returned to the car and said – again to the Black youths – yes, it was a complaint about your music and it’s time to turn it down.

Here is, of course, the point that I should have spoken up about what I just saw. I know I don’t want to escalate the situation, so I need to craft my words carefully. And that is so hard to do in the moment.

I have the (awkwardly formal) conversation clear in my head now:

Me: Excuse me, but I would like to point out that I have just witnessed an incident of racial profiling in this MAX car. If you’ve received a complaint about loud music, you must ask each of us if we have been playing music and that we must turn it down.

She: Oh, yes, you’re absolutely right, I shouldn’t have assumed it was the African Americans on this train who were listening to loud music. First, let me apologize to these young people right now and explain to the rest of you here in this section that you cannot play your music so loudly that the driver is able to hear it.

Me: Thank you.

I did send an equally careful comment via the TriMet website but it’s really too late. Cynically, I assume they will send that employee to some diversity training, she’ll be resentful and won’t hear what the trainers have to share, and it will happen all over again.

I hope it doesn’t happen all over again for me. Next time, I hope I’ll have the courage to speak up.

Can you share a situation where you witnessed something wrong and did or didn’t speak up?

(And because I’m a librarian, I found some books on the subject.)

N 45° 31.138 W 122° 40.971

These are the coordinates for the geocache that can be found at Central Library, known as Urban cache, plagiarized. The cache, which was created in 2002, has had enough visitors that its “author” had to create a second volume.  Central’s geocache is unique, in that it has a call number and an entry in the library catalog, but there are reportedly other geocaches to be found at Capitol Hill, Fairview-Columbia, Gresham, Hollywood, North Portland and Woodstock libraries.

The third Saturday in August is Geocaching Day, created by geocaching.com (The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site), so it’s time to talk a little bit about geocaching. An anonymous geocacher from Iowa visited Central’s cache the other day and he described it as using extremely high-tech equipment to find Tupperware in the woods. According to the history page on geocaching.com, the game began in May 2000, when the data from GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites was unscrambled by the U.S. government and made available to anyone with a GPS receiver.  The first cache was planted a few miles from Portland in Beavercreek by Dave Ulmer who wanted to check the accuracy of GPS by posting information about its coordinates to an online user group. He called it a “stash,” which was quickly changed to cache (for just the reason you are thinking) and the games began. Ulmer’s cache is no longer there, but a plaque now sits at the coordinates and there is still a place to record your visit.

The only rules of this game are: Enter your name (and any deep thoughts if you have them) in the cache’s logbook and, if you remove something from the cache, please leave something of equal value.  I like that the large majority of goodies left in Central’s cache are those library-sized (2 ¾ x 5 in.) pieces of paper with the call number written on them (O-910.92 B668g). One of our veteran librarians tells me the reason why our geocache is in the 910s instead of the 620s (where our books on geocaching are), is because the owner of the cache selected the number based on his observation that the books on geography and exploration had that 910 number. After the fact (when we realized that we’d need a call number for geocaching), librarians decided the how-to books belonged in the military and nautical navigation section.

(How librarians decide what goes where in the Dewey Decimal System is a topic for another day!)

For more on geocaching, check out one of these books.

Portland Zine Symposium 2014Ahh, summertime in Portland. Sunshine and strawberries and going to the river. Cookouts and bike rides and reading in the hammock. Summertime in Portland also means that it’s time for the Portland Zine Symposium! If you’ve never been, the Portland Zine Symposium is an annual zine fair and tabling extravaganza that brings folks in from all over the world. This conference highlights do it yourself culture, small presses, and self-published comics and publications of all kinds, with ongoing workshops and events over the course of two days.  It’s been happening every summer since 2001. And did I mention that it’s all free?!

Here’s where the library comes in. Not only will we have a table at the Zine Symposium, but did you know the library also has over 1,000 circulating zines in our collection, many of them from local authors and artists? And that we have tons of great resources to assist in whatever phase of the creative process you may be in, whether you are a veteran, do-it-with-your-eyes-closed zinester or you have never made a zine in your life (but have always wanted to)? One of my favorite books on all things zine-making is Whatcha Mean, What’s a Zine? I personally loved it so much, I had it checked out for almost a year--the beauty of renewing!

If this sounds like it’s right up your alley, be sure to check out our table the weekend of July 12th and 13th. We’ll be there making library cards and highlighting self-publishing resources from our collection, as well as zines that you can check out. Don’t have a card? No problem! We can make you one of those too. We’ll also be roaming around and scoping out other tables, looking for zines to purchase to add to our ever-growing zine collection. This is the most exciting part! So if you find yourself at the Zine Symposium, don’t be shy--be sure to come by and say hello!

Multnomah County Library has an amazing array of titles that might be of interest to our LGBTQ community:

Speaking of Librarian Matthew, he is one of our very special My Librarians. He loves making up reading lists and providing readers advisory for LGBTQ literature and non fiction in general. Some examples of his excellent lists are Getting Started with LGBT Fiction and Character Driven Gay Fiction. Not sure what to read next, ask Matthew!

Or you can contact any of us with questions about our collection - or any other question you may have - just visit the Contact page and let us know!

In the face of tragedy and violence, it can be hard to know what to say to kids. How do you answer your child’s questions while reassuring them that you will keep them safe? The authors of Taking the Terror out of School Shootings remind us that “[w]hile there are no easy answers about these kinds of events, children will want an explanation from parents and teachers. A complete explanation will not be easy, it may not even be possible, but we must try. We must strive for a balance between helping a child feel safe and acknowledging the existence of violence, evil and danger in the world.”

Here are three other resources that can help parents and caregivers:

Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting. From the American Psychological Association.

How to talk to your kids about Reynolds High School shooting, recent teen deaths (links). Oregonian reporter Amy Wang includes links to helping a grieving teen.

A Survival Guide for Parents of Teenagers: What if the next shooting is at my school? (pdf). A tip sheet for talking to your teen about school violence. From the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development.
 

a blank Oregon marraige certificateSo by now it’s getting to be old news: same-sex couples in Oregon have the right to marry on equal footing with opposite-sex couples.  Many Oregonians are breathing a sigh of relief, and some are ready to plan their weddings right now!   Deciding whether or not to marry can be a very personal and emotional matter.  And planning a wedding, goodness knows, has myriad practical, interpersonal and emotional aspects.

But deciding whether to marry and/or planning a wedding may also have legal implications.  For same-sex couples, the legal implications can be complex, unfamiliar or just plain unclear.  Never fear, though -- librarians are here to help!  Let’s pick apart some of the questions same-sex couples might face as they consider marriage:

Deciding if you want to marry

The opening up of Oregon marriage laws is an unequivocal joy for some couples who want to marry.  For other individuals and couples, this new ability to marry legally here in our home state raises both questions and concerns.

One great way to navigate this challenge is to learn more about your options.  The local PQ Monthly’s April/May 2014 issue is all about weddings, and includes both practical and philosophical articles with a variety of perspectives.

There is lots of information in this post about getting married and about the legal implications of marriage -- what about not getting married?  Unmarried Equality is a California-based civil rights organization which advocates for “equality and fairness for unmarried people, including people who are single, choose not to marry, cannot marry, or live together before marriage.”  Their website provides information about and support for a variety of ways to be unmarried, as well as some resources for and about people who consciously choose not to marry.

Actually getting married

Have you decided to marry?  In Oregon, the first technical step in getting married is to get a license, from the county in which you will wed.  The Multnomah County Division of Assessment, Recording & Taxation issues marriage licenses in Multnomah County, and their website lists all the requirements and fees for getting a marriage license -- and explains the steps you’ll follow once you have your license. The ACLU of Oregon also has a helpful FAQ about getting married in Oregon, which includes a directory of the marriage license offices for all 36 Oregon counties.

Once you have your license, you’ll need to find an officiant -- usually this is a religious leader or judge.  Your county clerk or registrar’s office may have a list of judges and other officials who can perform a marriage.  Here’s a list of Multnomah County judges who are available to marry people (pdf), from the county recorder’s office.

Next, have your ceremony!  

Miscellaneous practical matters

Making it Legal bookjacketMarriage can change your tax status or have an effect on your estate planning, property ownership, child custody arrangements, and a whole host of other business-like issues.  Making It Legal: A Guide to Same-sex Marriage, Domestic Partnerships & Civil Unions, by Frederick C. Hertzwit & Emily Doskow (both attorneys!) is chock full of practical information and advice about the many legal and practical issues that arise for same-sex couples who marry or register their relationships.  The book is extra new -- just updated in January 2014 -- and should have mostly up-to-date information (though Oregon marriage law changed in May, so remember to look to more current resources for specifics on Oregon same-sex marriage specifically).

If Making it Legal isn’t for you, check out one of these other books about LGBTQ couples and the law.

D-i-v-o-r-c-e

Dare I say it, you may also want to think about what will happen if your relationship doesn’t last until death do you part.  If this is an issue you want to consider, it might be helpful just to hear about other LGBTQ people’s experiences with divorce.  Kathryn Martini’s thoughtful column about her own divorce in the July 2013 issue of the local PQ Monthly is one place to start.

Making it Legal also talks about special issues in same-sex divorces -- as do several of the library’s other books on LGBTQ couples and the law.  Or, you might want to consult with an attorney to get advice about your own unique situation:

Getting expert legal help

Do you have other specific questions about marriage and its implications for your taxes, child custody, inheritance and the like?  If so, you may want to get personal legal advice.  Or perhaps you and your spouse have already married or entered into a formal domestic or civil partnership, and you have questions about your status.  I’m a librarian and not an attorney, so I can’t give legal advice.  But librarians are always happy to help you locate resources!  

Here are a couple of great places to start with your specific same-sex marriage legal questions:

The civil rights organization Lambda Legal has a legal help desk (email or call 1-866-542-8336) which “provides information and assistance regarding discrimination related to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and HIV status.”  Lambda Legal also maintains a number of resources you can use to see the status of same-sex relationships nationwide, or track the constantly changing legal issues around marriage and family law for LGBTQ individuals, couples and families, including legal issues for same-sex couples who are not able to or who do not marry.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights provides legal assistance to people with LGBTQ-related legal questions, as well as a small library of resources on specific legal issues

And, the Oregon State Bar has a lawyer referral service that you can use to help get in touch with a local attorney who works in the right area of law for your specific needs.

 

Do you have other questions?

Please, ask a librarian anytime for more resources to help with your queer legal research (or really, with your anything research!).  Or visit your local county law library for a wider range of legal materials. 


Although we are always happy to help you locate resources and give you search tips, it is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law; we may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights.


 

Deanna Geiger and Jean Nelson celebrate winning their case for marriage equality in Oregon [Photo by S. Mirk, via Flickr]So, now that it’s legal, you are planning to marry.  Congratulations!!

If you are organizing a wedding celebration or party in addition to your legal ceremony, you have some work ahead of you.  No matter the size or formality of your event, you’ll probably have to at least invite people and find a place to celebrate in.  If you want a huge party with tons of people in lovely outfits, flowers, a big cake, party favors and a unicorn; well, that’s going to require a lot of organization.  But never fear, librarians are always here to help!

What does organizing your wedding look like?  I’d say the answer depends entirely on you and your intended spouse.  One thing working in your favor is that, um, you’re not straight.  Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer people have long had the joy -- and the burden -- of defining their own relationships and building their own rules for living.  So make your wedding yours.  Here are a few resources to help you get started:

Books and articles

There are precious few books written specifically to aid same-sex couples in wedding planning, but the library has a few you may want to consult:

Despite their queer focus, these books are all pretty traditional.  Folks who are looking for stories and images of trans people and couples, or weddings that center on specific aspects of gay culture and style may not find them in these -- or in any books.  That’s not a surprise, but it is a disappointment.  If your wedding planning is taking you in a direction that isn’t well-served by the mainstream media, you might want to do some more, shall we say, basic research.

Depending on your needs, you might start with wedding how-to books that were written for a general (yeah, mostly straight!) audience.  The library has tons, including books on wedding decorations, wedding photography, making or designing your wedding cake, wedding traditions, making or styling your wedding dress/es.  Or, you might want to take a look at general books about costume history, flower arranging or planning a non-wedding type of party.  Will your wedding have a theme?  Chances are, the library has books, magazine articles, or other materials that will help you incorporate that theme into your celebration -- contact a librarian to get started.  

Another useful source for words on weddings is the local magazine PQ Monthly -- they regularly feature stories, opinion pieces, and miscellanea on marriage equality.  A recent standout (in my humble opinion) is local fashion writer Sally Mulligan’s column predicting wedding outfit trends -- and offering easygoing advice for brides, grooms and spouses: “Life’s a Catwalk, and the Aisle is an Exception.”

Queer-friendly wedding businesses

Even in the first blush of marriage equality here in the Beaver State, it can be a bit tricky to find trusted, queer-friendly wedding business and other resources.  Portland’s Gay Yellow Pages has a short section of wedding listings that includes venues and services.  Or, try Purple Unions, a national directory of gay-friendly wedding vendors -- they list a variety of Oregon wedding venues, photographers, wedding planners, and other wedding services and professionals.  

 

Do you have more questions?

Librarians are ready to help you find answers!  Whether you’re looking for help finding the perfect queer-positive tailor or you want some inspiration for writing your vows, we are happy to help.  Ask a librarian anytime.

And, be sure to check out the library’s booth at the Pride Festival, June 14 and 15 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park!


 

On May 30th, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced a new National Park Service initiative to explore the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history.  Jewell made this announcement at the Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village, New York City -- currently the only National Historic Landmark celebrating LGBTQ history.  

What’s this new initiative going to do?  A panel of 18 scholars will spend the next two years looking at the history of our nation's LGBTQ civil rights and liberation movements, and researching stories about how queer people and communities have impacted American law, religion, media, civil rights and the arts.  The panel will be evaluating historically-significant places for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, designation as National Historic Landmarks, or consideration as national monuments. 

The Queerest Places bookjacketOne resource the National Park Service panel on LGBTQ history is likely to turn for source material is the book The Queerest Places: A National Guide to Gay and Lesbian Historic Sites, by Paula Martinac.  If you’re an amateur historian, or if you’re planning a trip to -- well, to anywhere in the U.S. -- you might want to consult this book too.  It provides detailed descriptions of places which are important to both local and national queer history.  

For me, the highlights of the book are the listings of local pre-Stonewall hangouts, and information about sites important to the history of the struggle for queer liberation.  For example, reading the Portland section, I learned that Oregon’s first gay pride celebration was held June 28, 1971 -- a public dance in the second-floor banquet hall of the Pythian Building, at 902-918 SW Yamhill St. 


Want to learn more about LGBTQ history?  Browse through my reading list for some great book suggestions.  Or, take a look at Peter Boag’s Oregon Encyclopedia article on the history of the Oregon gay and lesbian rights movement.   And remember, librarians love helping you answer questions and satisfy your intellectual curiosity, so don’t hesitate to contact your librarian any time you have more LGBTQ history questions -- or questions on any other subject!

Also, be sure to check out the library’s booth at the Pride Festival, June 14 and 15 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park!


 

And Baby Makes More bookjacketSo after years of planning and dreaming, you finally have a child. Now what?! If you’re anything like me, the point of all that planning--the actual child-raising--at times can feel overwhelming. When my wife and I decided to get pregnant two years ago, I found I was so focused on the steps it took to make it happen, that once the little peanut arrived I felt at a loss over what to do next. I remember just staring at our daughter hours after she was born, thinking, I’m responsible for you! No one else is going to take care of you! Fast forward ten months and that yowling tiny newborn has turned into a sweet, curious kidlet before my eyes. I am sleeping more and--gasp!--actually have time to myself in the evenings. But even though our family has settled into a nice routine, I still feel like I am adjusting to what life with a child means for myself and for my marriage. Who am I now that I am someone’s mother? What does it mean to say goodbye to the autonomous self I used to be while becoming this new self, this mama-self?

Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight bookjacketFor queer families like mine, the post-baby adjustment can feel even more difficult due to the sometimes complicated situations that can arise from how our families are created. Right off the bat there are decisions to make. Known or anonymous sperm/egg donor? Open adoption or foster parent? And what about surrogacy? The list goes on and on. And with these decisions come even more questions. For example, if you use a known egg or sperm donor, will they be in the child’s life? What will they be called? In an open adoption, how much contact will you have with the birth mother? With her family? When using a surrogate, what happens if she disagrees with the medical care you want for your child in utero?

Luckily, there are many resources out there to help with these kinds of important questions, including parenting choices and support once the little bundle arrives. Some of my personal favorite titles are And Baby Makes More: Known Donors, Queer Parents, and Our Unexpected Families and Does this Baby Make Me Look Straight? Confessions of a Gay Dad.  I’d also recommend taking a look at our magazines Gay Parent and Hip Mama, Ariel Gore’s long-standing zine. And for book reviews and articles, the database LGBT Life can’t be beat.

What Makes a Baby bookjacketThere are also some amazing books out there for kids. One of my absolute favorites is called What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg. One of our friends gifted it to us before our daughter was born and I am completely in love with it. Realizing most kid’s books that explained where babies came from left many types of families out, Silverberg wrote a story that is completely all-inclusive, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or ability. Best of all, it has a section for parents to tell the child the specifics of their arrival into their family. I look forward to the day I read it to our daughter and all the learning and growing that comes with it in this messy adventure called parenthood. 

For more MCL queer parenting resources, you can always contact us! And be sure to check out the library’s booth at the Pride Festival, June 14 and 15 at Tom Mccall Waterfront Park!

Portland’s newest bridge was officially named Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People today by TriMet, and I thought you might be interested in a little background on the familiar word "tilikum,”* and Chinuk Wawa, the language of which it is part.

definition of "tilixam" from the book Chinuk Wawa [click for a larger version]First, tilikum!

Here's a definition of the word from Chinuk Wawa: kakwa nsayka ulman-tilixam laska munk-kemteks nsakya - As our elders teach us to speak it, a Chinuk Wawa dictionary, grammar, and text for learners produced by the Chinuk Wawa Dictionary Project of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon.  This definition is supported by an etymological note, which gives the historical roots of the word.

Chinuk Wawa

Chinuk Wawa is a trade language, used historically by people from many different language traditions.  In the nineteenth and very early twentieth centuries, it was the lingua franca of Native people and foreigners all around the lower Columbia river area.  But although this language is no longer heard throughout our region as a part of the sound of everyday business, it is by no means lost. 

In addition to spearheading the Chinuk Wawa dictionary project, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde hosts a regular series of Chinuk Wawa language classes, which are free to all -- though my sense is that it is expected that learners will become teachers also, nurturing the language and sharing their experiences with it.  Classes take place in Portland as well as at Grand Ronde and in Eugene.  The teacher for the Portland classes, Eric Michael Bernando, also teaches a Chinuk Wawa class at Portland Community College.

definition of "tilacum," from The Chinook Book [click for a larger version]Older definitions of tilikum. . .

As I said, the library has many English / Chinuk Wawa dictionaries and glossaries.  Most are quite old, and these older dictionaries are all (so far as I can tell) written by non-Native scholars who learned the language as adults.  Therefore, their definitions may have the benefit of research done among fluent speakers from 100 years ago or more, but they don't have the authority of modern scholarship rooted in Native communities.  However, I do want to share one of these definitions with you, from The Chinook Book, by El Comancho (W.S. Phillips), published waaay back in 1913.  It's a fairly rich definition, with lots of examples of idiomatic usage.

 


* I've used the spelling "tilikum" throughout this post, because it's the spelling TriMet chose for the name of the new bridge.  As you can see, many different transliterations and spellings of this, and other Chinuk Wawa words have been used over time -- tilacum, tillikum, tilixam, and no doubt many others. 


 

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