Blogs: Current events

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!


 

Later this week, the thoroughbred California Chrome will race in the Belmont Stakes, in the hopes of becoming just the 12th winner of the Triple Crown in the United States.  After three great horses won the prize in the 1970s (Secretariat [1973], Seattle Slew [1977], Affirmed [1978], 12 horses have come to Belmont with a chance; 11 failed. The 12th will run on June 7.

Why is this prize so hard to achieve? According to a 2012 article on the races from the Daily Racing Form, the Belmont is a drastically different horse race from its two predecessors – the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. It’s longer by a quarter mile (which doesn’t seem like a lot, but to a racing horse it is) than most races and so thoroughbreds aren’t bred or trained to run it. The racing style (a burst of speed from the final turn through to the finish) that will win the Derby or the Preakness can’t help a horse trying to maintain that speed for another quarter mile.

But sometimes a horse can surprise us. Will it be California Chrome, with his bad-luck four white socks (feet)? Or will we have to wait another year (or more) to watch a magnificent animal that makes us hold our breath for that mile-and-a-half (approximately 150 seconds) to victory?

Interested in learning more about thoroughbreds and the Triple Crown? Check out the books on this list.

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!

Pride Northwest LogoThe Pride Festival & Parade this year has extra reason to be proud, what with Judge McShane’s ruling on Monday, May 19, declaring Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

And Multnomah County Library is also extra proud, because we will be at the Pride Festival this year on Saturday, June 14 and Sunday, June 15, down at the Tom Mccall Waterfront Park from noon to 6:00 PM. Stop by and see us!

Leading up to the event we will be sharing a variety of blog posts and reading lists showcasing the resources the library offers Multnomah County’s LGBTQ community, as well as their family and friends. Books on LGBTQ history (see below), queer films, books & zines you can check out, resources for gay parents, great LGBTQ teen novels, and more.

We would love to hear your recommendations and requests for ways we can serve the LGBTQ community here in Multnomah County. Everything from a particular title we should own, to programs and workshops we should offer, to other events we should attend. Feel free to comment below.

And once again, stop by and visit the Multnomah County Library table at the Pride Festival. We’ll see you there!

Don't know much about geography ... (Thanks to the singer Sam Cooke for a line from his 1960 hit  "Wonderful World.")

Let’s begin with a quiz (answers at the end … don’t peek!)

  1. Name the capital of the only country in the Middle East that borders the Caspian Sea.
  2. The fertile floodplain of the Chao Phraya River is the chief rice-growing region in what country?
  3.  The Merrimack River, formed by the junction of the Pemigewasset and Winnipesaukee Rivers, empties into what major body of water?
  4. The Tarim Basin, which is one of the world’s largest lowland areas that does not drain into an ocean, is found in which country?

One of the answers to the Buzzfeed 2013 geography quiz

I found these questions at the “Take the Quiz” page of the National Geographic Bee website. The annual event, for students in grades 4 to 8, will be held in late May. The Quiz gives multiple choice options, but I figured that adults wouldn’t sweat on these questions.

Or would you? OK, so these are pretty hard, but we Americans are pretty sucky at geography. In a 2006 survey of the geographic literacy of 18- to 24-year-olds, over half of them couldn’t find New York State on a map and nearly two-thirds couldn’t find Iraq (where U.S. troops had been stationed for three years).  More recently (and hilariously), the website Buzzfeed asked its readers to write in the names of the countries on a blank map of Europe). The results are pretty pathetic once participants get past England, France and Italy.

Can you find Ukraine on that map of Europe? What about Oso, Washington? What about what happened on that slope before it took out the town?

We can just check Google Maps, right?  It doesn’t really matter that we don’t know our geography?  Yes, actually it does. Because it’s not just about the maps anymore. Our world is deeply interconnected, nearly everything that we do has global implications. We cannot afford (economically, technologically, environmentally) to not know what is going on on the other side of the planet. We need context, and geography can provide it. How can our companies do business in Asia if they aren’t aware of its cultural differences (and similarities) or what’s going on ecologically or politically? How can immigrants from Asia become part of our community if we don’t know enough about their culture to connect with them?

Rice paddy in ThailandYou might think it’s not important to know that Thailand’s chief rice-growing region is the floodplain of the Chao Phraya River, but what if you need to know if the rice you eat was grown in pesticide-free waters? Or if a Chinese or Mexican restaurant’s supply of rice will remain consistent throughout next year? What if you needed this information in 2005, six months after the Indian Ocean tsunami?  Would it have been important then to know where the Chao Phraya was?

Could you use a refresher on geography? Check out the books on this list.

Answers to the quiz:

  1. Tehran, Iran
  2. Thailand
  3. Atlantic Ocean
  4. China

It’s raining (again) in PBioswaleortland today. When I’m not staffing an information desk at Central Library, I have a cubicle on Central’s fourth floor, directly under a skylight, and right now I can hear the rain pitter-pattering (actually it’s a little more than a pitter-patter at the moment) on the skylight. When I hear the rain, I think of Central’s eco-roof (also directly overhead) and the hard work that it is doing on a day like this.

Our eco-roof has a very important job: Instead of the rainwater running off the building and joining all the other runoff in a mad, gravity-inspired dash to the Willamette River – a dash that on very rainy days can overwhelm the wastewater-treatment system and cause nasty things to enter the Willamette without being treated – the Central eco-roof absorbs the rain in its planting pallets, reducing runoff by up to 70%. On top of that, it just looks nice!

Consider taking a tour of the eco-roof, viewing it from the windows of Central’s fifth floor.  Just click here, or type eco-roof tour into the search box on the home page. Come more than once … it changes with the seasons. 

The City of Portland’s Green Streets projects (pictured) operate in a similar way to our eco-roof. The rainwater runoff enters the plant-filled bioswales and collects there. Instead of racing into the sewer system, the water slowly filters into the soil, replenishing the groundwater. The plants themselves – like the plants on the eco-roof – filter many pollutants from the air and water.  Plus – it bears repeating -- they look nice!

Read more about green streets, eco-roofs, and the way cities are altering their built environments.  Green cities celebrate Earth Day every day.

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. 


 

Pages

Subscribe to