Winter 2014 Volume 6 Issue 2
THE FIGHT TO DREAM
Insomnia spurs a nightmare of delirious anxiety and sleepless nights
PLUS: WAY OF GRACE // DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH // ABOVE IT ALL
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FEATURES 14 WAY OF GRACE - A community holds on to ancient language and tradition in the face of modern Oregonian culture. 20 DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH - A hip hop artist uses his complicated past to give his work and philosophy meaning. 24 THE FIGHT TO DREAM - For Anna Alvarez, ADHD and insomnia make falling asleep the most difficult part of her day. 30 ABOVE IT ALL - Skydiving is more than just an adrenaline rush for jumpers at Eugene Skydivers.
DIALOGUE - An inclusive record label aims to help artists distribute their music to the masses.
10 PASSPORT - Globetrotting students gain valuable experience while working in foreign countries. 12 FORUM - Russiaâ€™s gay propaganda law comes under international scrutiny in anticipation of the Sochi Olympic Games. 34 JOURNEYS ABROAD - Tiffany Han identifies benefits of leaving the United States in search of a career. 36 COLORS & SHAPES - Mira Fannin designs environmentally-friendly clothing for her self-started business. 38 SPICES & SPIRITS - Yerba mate provides a natural alternative to jitter-inducing caffeinated beverages. 40 PEOPLE IN MOTION - Language and education takes center stage on a soccer field that brings friends together every night. 42 SOUNDWAVES - Music therapy shows its healing power when used with children suffering from various disorders. 44 MOVING PICTURES - Given the subject hope, two illustrators show their own unique perspectives through their drawings. 46 THE LAST - Heritage and language collide as an Indian girl is forced to confront the language of her ancestry.
Ethos Magazine is a multicultural student publication based at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon. Ethos Magazine receives support from the ASUO. All content is legal property of Ethos, except when noted. Permission is required to copy, reprint, or use any content in Ethos Magazine. All views and opinions expressed are strictly those of the respective author or interviewee.
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ne more term of college passes and only two more remain at the University of Oregon—we graduating seniors find ourselves knee deep in “real life,” even before our time as undergraduates ticks to a triumphant and bittersweet end. My peers are scouring the market for jobs, securing interviews, and attempting to seize each and every opportunity that comes their way. Opportunity is an interesting entity. Students and professionals may credit opportunity as a harbinger of success, but where does it come from? It seems that opportunity is regularly mistaken as a synonym for chance, luck, or happenstance. But this is a limiting mindset. Evidence suggests that in order for opportunity to materialize, it must be conceptualized and planned in a highly proactive way. In 2005, a few Oregon students came together with the idea of producing a multicultural magazine. They rolled up their sleeves and produced Korean Ducks, the first incarnation of Ethos Magazine. Rather than waiting for luck or chance to miraculously land an opportunity in their laps, these students independently created one of the best journalism opportunities in higher education. Since then, Ethos Magazine has developed into a glimmering gem in the Pacific Northwest. Journalists passing through the university as undergraduates, or even graduate students, have committed thousands of hours of uncompensated time to produce award-winning work inside this magazine’s pages. Along the way, Ethos and Ethosians have picked up the most prestigious awards in collegiate journalism, recently securing the 2013 Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker award for a feature magazine. This award, widely considered the “Pulitzer Prize” of collegiate journalism, is especially impressive given that Ethos is wholly student produced with no faculty involvement. You could say that we are “making the most of our opportunities,” but this neglects that pesky concept of initiative. At Ethos, we strive to create opportunities and then we make the most of them. When Ethos writer Ben Stone learned that it had been years since a major media outlet had written a story about the Old Believers in Woodburn, Oregon, an opportunity was born to explore this highly traditional community (Way of Grace, page 14). You’ll find a similar ethic in the graduate featured in A Foreign Frontier (page 34), which details how Alex Freeman succeeds in a new life overseas. These journalistic opportunities, born of relentless initiative, determination and sleepless nights, are what drive all of us at Ethos Magazine. We hope you enjoy the results of our work as much as we have enjoyed creating it for you.
Conner Gordon Editor in Chief Photographer Kyle McKee captures a projected representation of the chaotic mind of Anna Alvarez, an insomnia sufferer. Ethos is printed on 70 percent post-consumer recycled paper Ethos thanks Campus Progress for helping support this student-run publication. Campus Progress, the youth division of the Center for American Progress, is a national progressive organization working to empower young people to make their voices heard.
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EDITOR IN CHIEF Conner Gordon PHOTO EDITORS Andy Abeyta, Andrew Seng HEAD COPY EDITOR Veronika Hanson COPY EDITORS Gianna Burns, Eugenia Lim, Negina Pirzad, Haley Rivet, Haley Stupasky ASSOCIATE EDITORS Marina Baldry, Alison Martin, Brittany Nguyen, Mickey Scott, Ben Stone, Jac Thomas WRITERS Asia Balluffier, Nicole Cordier, Hannah Harris, Jamie Hershman, Spencer Knowles, Jayati Ramakrishnan, Ben Stone, Reuben Unrau PHOTOGRAPHERS Alex Cornell, Tiffany Han, Sumi Kim, Kyle McKee, Mary Jane Schulte, Taylor Wilder DESIGNERS Lauren Beauchemin, Brittany Hallin, Chris Jones, Spencer Kelly, Brittany Nguyen, Dana Rengel, Nai Saephanh, Mickey Scott, Michelle Wright ILLUSTRATORS Sarah Goldner, Whitney Davis VIDEOGRAPHERS Christina Belasco, Ivan LaFollette, Mark McField, Kelly Wolfram, Jiaqi Ye CONTACT email@example.com
PUBLISHER Connor Corr CREATIVE DIRECTOR Carly Elliott WEB EDITOR Alex Hicks VIDEO EDITOR Sean Hinson PUBLIC RELATIONS DIRECTOR Carol (Szu-Chia) Wu ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Beau Beyrle PUBLIC RELATIONS REPRESENTATIVES Rachael Arnold, Matthew Chiodo, Megan Connor, Taylor Davis, Michelle Gilman, Kate Gutierrez, Adam Jacobs, Kayla LaDuke, Stephanie Lane, Chelsea Lazzari, Amanda Roncarati, Elizabeth Stefan ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Brian Botsch, Patrick DeWitt, Antonia Fortes, Alex Graybar, Felicia Kloewer, Albert Lee, Leslie Sharp WEB TEAM Kelsy Alston, Evan Arnold-Gordon, Brent Babcock, Heather Baldock, Nicole Bales, Ella Burnham, Mona Corboy, Tashia Davis, Yzmari Duran, Noah Gurevich, Morgan Hegarty, Chris Herndon, Terek Hopkins, Mel Kromer, Stephanie Lambirth, Paulina Liang, Ben McBee, Maddie Mesplay, Ashley Norquist, Liam Oâ€™Callaghan, Brett Perez, Natalie Pomper, Devin Ream, Maritza Rendon, Kaila Sankaran, Catherina Savattere, Allyson Schwab, Caroline Sherratt, Sydne Sloy, Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Shawn Taylor, Alexandra Wallachy, Forrest Welk
SPECIAL THANKS ASUO Senate, Generation Progress, The City of Eugene, Copic Marker, Dr. Fran Walfish (author of The Self-Aware Parent), WOW Hall, and all of our readers
Congratulations to the Ethos staff, both past and present, for its award-winning work. For its previous issues, Ethos received multiple awards from the Associated Collegiate Press and Columbia Scholastic Press Association, including its first Digital Magazine Silver Crown and two Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Awards. Generation Progress named Ethos Best Overall Publication in 2012-2013. Winner of the 2013 ACP Pacemaker Award for a Feature Magazine
ABOVE: Seemingly endless rows line CD Baby’s warehouse in Portland, Oregon. These rows archive music that has been, or will be, distributed by the label.
EVENING THE PLAYING FIELD
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was founded in 1998, long before Maddux joined the ranks. The label continues to be one of the nations largest distributors of independent music, dispersing music from popular artists such as Ingrid Michaelson, Sara Bareilles, and Macklemore. Maddux is passionate about creating an even playing field for all musicians. He believes that independent music artists deserve the same chance as artists from big record labels to have their music heard. CD Baby gives artists the opportunity to see their names on the charts without a huge price burden. Even though he isn’t a practicing musician himself, working in the music industry fosters his passion for discovering new music and finding new employees for the CD Baby family, filled with spirited professionals looking for the next name in the music industry. JH: Where did your passion for music originate? TM: My passion for music probably originated somewhere around the seventh grade where we were listening for the first time to different instruments to choose to play, and I heard the trumpet, which is the instrument that I eventually started playing in junior high and high school. I got really emotional; I got choked up just listening to the tone of the music. My mother was a music teacher growing up, so it probably goes back to great parenting and my parents’ love and engagement in music.
PHOTO ALEX CORNELL
ozens of wooden cases brimming with colorful stacks of CDs pack the white cemented oversized warehouse. Clad with a myriad of piercings, tattoos, and alternative-style haircuts, four men chat with well-groomed, denim-wearing Tracy Maddux, while simultaneously sorting the bundles of CDs into cardboard packages. Folk music flows through the stockroom creating a calm amongst the collection of records that lies in the scene behind them. The warehouse is reminiscent of a musty hardware store with wood workshop tables where men maintain a steady flow of loading boxes. The song comes to a slow stop. A moment of silence passes, and a sharp beat emerges as the playlist transitions into an upbeat electronic song. An employee with a long ponytail and graphic tee bobs his head to the beat. Tracy Maddux smiles and nods along, tapping his loafer to the quick track before continuing his conversation about the latest shipment of CD Baby music As CEO of CD Baby, a record label based in Northeast Portland that caters to independent artists, Tracy Maddux oversees 122 employees in their office and distribution center. CD Baby encourages independent musicians to sell their albums to the company for about 50 dollars. The company then distributes the artists’ music to big sellers in the music industry such as iTunes and Spotify. Maddux joined the company in 2010 as Chief Operating Officer, and became CEO in 2011. CD Baby
DESIGN CHRIS JONES
CD Baby’s Tracy Maddux makes a career out of discovering new musicians and distributing their fresh music to the public.
“CD BABY IS KIND OF EVERY MAN’S RECORD LABEL. WE DON’T MAKE JUDGEMENTS ABOUT MUSIC. THERE ISN’T A GOOD OR A BAD. WE NEVER SAY NO.” JH: Were you involved in the music industry before CD Baby? TM: I was involved in the high-tech industry. I used to work for Intel, and I used to have my own CD/DVD manufacturing company and we did pressed records or pressed CDs. Years ago, back in 2006, we pressed all the CDs for a band called the Presidents of the United States of America, which is a band out of Seattle. That’s probably as close as I ever came to working in the music industry, but we were really in the manufacturing segment, so not really. This is my first time really dealing and engaging with artists and it’s been a great three years. JH: Is your company a collaborative company? Does CD Baby discover the new music as a company or do individual employees seek out new artists? TM: Artists call us! We sign up 200-300 artists a day who, for instance, want to get their music out on iTunes. They generally find CD Baby on the web. We spend a bunch of energy and money on search engine optimization and web marketing. We’re an Internet business. We want to make it easy for clients to find us and transact with us on the web. But we also have a call center that an artist can call if they get stuck in the sign-up process or want to know, for instance, why CD Baby is the best and fastest path to iTunes. JH: What do you look for in an independent music artist? TM: CD Baby is kind of every man’s record label. We don’t make judgments about music. There isn’t a good or a bad. We never say no. If you’ve got music and it’s original–something that you’ve written and that you own the rights to—you can come to our platform and distribute it whether I like it or not. When I think about anybody, I think about a concept of a long tale of artwork. The long tale being if you think about the distribution of all content over time you have those things like Mumford & Sons that you listen to a lot all over the world and things like Slovenian folk music that might not get listened to very often. CD Baby represents that whole spectrum of the tale. Our job is to really create a platform that enables anybody to distribute music—kind of the anti-record label.
ABOVE: Tracy Maddux oversees the day-to-day operations of CD Baby. He signs hundreds of artists using their internet-oriented business methods.
u.s. digital music revenues 2007-2012
JH: What has been the most exciting encounter or experience you have had with one of the CD Baby artists and who was that artist? TM: It’s every day in every way. I mean, I get starstruck, so when I meet someone famous who is a CD Baby artist, like Ingrid Michaelson or Ryan Kelly, for instance, I probably forget to communicate like a normal human being. But I have been in many situations, twice recently I can think of, once at an eye doctor I was visiting and once with a guy who was doing work for me at my house where they say, hey, my band is on CD Baby. Check us out. And I do and they are pretty damn good. It’s just so great to have this huge, diverse community of artists who all use one word when they describe what we do for them: “Love!” And we love doing it for them! JH: What is your favorite aspect about working in the music industry? TM: I think my favorite aspect of the music industry is always learning something new. There’s something about music or new music that I’ve never heard before that’s really intellectually stimulating. The other thing is that there are a lot of young people in the music industry, and it keeps you young to work in music. - JAMIE HERSHMAN
$4.5 B $3.7 B $2.8 B
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EDUCATION Students share their unique experiences while living abroad and getting hands-on experience in the field they study.
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Living in an unfamiliar place surrounded by different beliefs, language, and culture is the ultimate way to gain an immersive view of the world. The Service Learning Program (SLP) at the University of Oregon allows students to gain valuable experience working in his or her field of interest. Students are given the opportunity to leave the comfort of their home country and venture into the unknown. Melanie Edwards, Joe Nathanson, and Hayley Shapiro are students from the University of Oregon who returned from their trips with new perspectives about foreign communities, their own individual career paths, and personal well-being.
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
DESIGN NAI SAEPHANH
The Zulu people are the largest ethnic group in South Africa, calling the region home since the 16th century. A long-preserved Zulu coming of age experience teaches the boys how to carry out their life and become a Zulu man. Traditionally, Zulu men take young boys to be circumcised on an isolated hill. The boys are required to spend three months on the mountain with men who have also gone through the circumcision process during boyhood. Although the circumcision ritual is hard to understand from a medical perspective because of the lack of sanitation and other health risks, Melanie Edwards realizes it’s a part of the Zulu culture that must be accepted. Without the range of ethnic groups, language, and landscape, South Africa would not be considered the diverse nation it is today. Edwards, a 22-year-old human physiology major, studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa for seven weeks through Child Family Health International, a network of health students and professionals that strive to help underdeveloped areas. Edwards stayed with the Snyder family who lived near G.F. Jooste, the hospital at which she worked. With a goal of gaining a wide range of medical experience while abroad, Edwards rotated between four areas of the hospital. Rotations included orthopedics—figuring out what was wrong with muscles and joints of the skeletal system and providing treatment—surgery, the emergency room, and internal medicine—medicine dealing with diseases. For five days a week, she participated in clinical rounds (demonstration patient cases) with the doctors. “Orthopedics was my favorite because there was no real search for a diagnosis,” says Edwards. “The broken bone was right in front of me, and all I had to do was wrap it in a cast.” During her surgery rotation, Edwards witnessed her first leg amputation. She was surprised to find herself undisturbed while watching the gory scene unfold, but the doctors’ meticulous explanation of the process eased her feelings of apprehension. Later on in her South African journey, Edwards spent time in an emergency room and practiced internal medicine that focused on tuberculosis, HIV/AIDs, and diabetes. Iron bars barricaded the windows of houses in the G.F. Jooste area. People were advised not to walk at dusk or even alone in daylight due to high levels of gang violence. Vibrantly colored shacks were dispersed throughout the hospital’s surrounding neighborhood, but just five minutes away there was a waterfront area where yachts, beautiful houses, and food markets closely resembled San Diego, CA. Edwards was living in this relatively poor area. Running water was the only modern convenience available and selling drugs was one of the most profitable ways of life for locals. Tik, a local term for crystal meth, is the most common and sought after substance. As hostile gang members are its highest demographic of users, innocent bystanders often become victims of gang-related violence. “It was obvious it wasn’t a safe area since those that came into the emergency room had stabbings and gunshot wounds,” says Edwards. Aside from the drug trade, the high amount of violence could be linked to the racial segregation of communities. The four main communities are white, black, mixed-race, and Indian. Edwards explains that though she had not experienced racism personally, race remains a big issue for the people of South Africa.
TARIJA AND LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
The mother didn’t realize that malnutrition had been causing the baby’s abdomen to swell and bloat. This is common. In Bolivia, men and women aren’t provided with adequate public education to inform them about prevention of diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and chagas—a disease carried by the triatomine bug. With Bolivia being the poorest country in South America, a large population of indigenous people suffers from severe poverty. “The doctors asked her why she wasn’t feeding her baby,” Joseph Nathanson says. “She said she thought the baby’s stomach was big enough and he was eating plenty.” Nathanson, a 20-year-old human physiology major and chemistry minor, was working for 10 weeks at a pediatric hospital and obstetrics and gynecology clinic in Bolivia. He explains that two to three patients would be in the examination room at a time where full checkups took place. Nathanson was surprised at first, but became accustomed to providing the most basic nutrition facts to patients as medical education is scarce in the area. Throughout his time in Bolivia, Nathanson encountered multiple cases of malnourished children and pregnant women. In the rainforests of the South Amazon, the Amerindian population relies on relationships with spirits to provide good health. Despite wellness being a spiritual belief, educating the population about sanitation and transmission of diseases is critical to obtaining a healthy lifestyle. The lack of education in the area frustrates Nathanson, but at the same time motivates him to go back to Bolivia to make public education a higher priority. “Going to Bolivia made me change career paths,” says Nathanson. “I’ve gone from wanting to be a prestigious doctor in the U.S. to wanting to work at underserved clinics.”
Medina: A walled city section found in many North African cities. Hijab: A veil covering the head and chest. Kaftan: A long-sleeved overcoat that usually reaches the ankles. “Rabat was like two bubbles,” says 21-year-old Hayley Shapiro, a fourth year international studies major. “There was the colorful Medina which was filled with vendors, bartering, and women dressed in hijabs and kaftans, then there was the modern city where there were cars everywhere.” Shapiro was staying with a host family in Morocco as she searched for an internship through IE3, a global internship program. After four months of searching, Shapiro was offered an internship with AMSAT (a French acronym for Moroccan Association for Support and Assistance for Persons with Down Syndrome) and moved to Kasbah, an area that was protected due to possible Spanish invasion. AMSAT is a resource and education center that provides support to individuals with Down syndrome, mostly under the age of 16. Shapiro helped teach an improvisation dance class, focusing on making eye contact with an audience and filling negative space with other dancers. Only one of the students spoke French and the other eight spoke Dirija—which Shapiro admits she was not as familiar with. She would try to explain in half-Dirija and half-French, and if that did not work, she would show the children what to do. Shapiro explains that going abroad for the sake of service rather than study or research changed the way the community saw her. People didn’t just see her as an American coming to the country to learn about a particular subject and enjoy the scenery, but as an American who wanted to learn about the country and help it. Shapiro is the SIT (School for International Training) student ambassador and encourages anyone interested in doing service abroad to contact her. “Doing service abroad is mind-opening. You grow. You learn about yourself and how to get along with others,” says Shapiro. “You become humble and caring.” - HANNAH HARRIS
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LIGHTING THE TORCH SOCHI 2014
DESIGN DANA RENGEL
ILLUSTRATION CARLY ELLIOTT
The 2014 Olympic games spark the conversation about social equality in Russia, the United States, and the international community of nations.
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or 46 years the Soviet Union surrounded itself with the Iron Curtain. This term has been used to describe the ideological differences and physical political boundaries in Europe during the Cold War, cutting off influence from the outside world and hammering home the importance of nationalism. Today, 22 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Iron Curtain being lifted, Russia finds itself under the world’s watchful eye as the international community follows the Olympic torch to Sochi for the XXII Winter Olympiad. February’s Olympics has brought increased attention and scrutiny to a country that has been historically unwelcoming to outside influence. Foreign relations have been particularly strained with the United States. The two countries have butted heads over several current issues including Syria’s use of chemical weapons, granting asylum to Edward Snowden after he leaked classified intelligence data, and social tension over what some consider a homophobic Russian political agenda. The latter has had the largest effect on the upcoming international games, drawing protest from civil rights organizations, and calls from Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) activists to boycott the Olympics. In June 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill banning the distribution of gay propaganda among children, with propaganda being defined as publicly promoting anything that equates same sex relationships to heterosexual relationships. The Russian Federal Assembly also passed a bill limiting adoption by homosexuals, within and outside of Russia, and discussed legislation that would criminalize homosexuality. Despite criticism from LGBTQ supporters worldwide, the propaganda law is supported by 88 percent of Russians, according to a poll from the Levada Center, a Russian non-governmental research organization. For Yevgeny Senturev, a 33-year-old from Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, the law is important for protecting young minds from what he considers a harmful lifestyle. “I will stand against people if they try to propagandize homosexuality as a norm to my children,” says Senturev. “The world community doesn’t have the right to impose its views on our country. Russia is an independent state with its own history, traditions, and religious and moral principles, which most citizens preserve.” Because the language of the law cites vague “homosexual propaganda” specifically, police have arrested people for various infractions. The first instance occurred on July 22, 2013, when four Dutch tourists were arrested while making a documentary about gay communities in Russia. The law has also served as a pretext to prevent LGBTQ protests and to break up gay pride parades in Moscow. For gay rights activists in Russia, fines and jail time are not always the biggest concern. On October 12, a gay pride demonstration was violently confronted by anti-gay protesters, resulting in injuries and a total of 67 arrests from both sides. Physical assaults on homosexuals and transgender people are common, and open homosexuality is generally not tolerated in Russian society. “The society has no acceptance at all of gays,” says Artur Sibgatullin, a University of Oregon student who has lived in Russia and the United States. “As our generation gets older, new ideals, new morals are going to come out of that. But until that happens, it’s going to be looked down upon. It’s going to be something that’s just avoided.” 21-year-old Sigbatullin lived in Russia for 11 years
i mean, there are still 38 states where you can get fired for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, and only 16 now that you can get married in. before moving to Eugene when his mother got married. He is among a generation of Russians who never knew life in the Soviet Union and grew up during the rebuilding of the Russian state. Raised under the guise of democratic principles, this new generation now expects a government, which in the past has been accused of deep corruption and election fraud, to deliver a more transparent government, the right to a meaningful vote, and freedom to demand these changes without fear of persecution. “But,” Sibgatullin asks, “how can you be a democracy if you haven’t experienced it, if you don’t really know what it is, if you’ve always been under a regime?” He explains of the Russian youth, “They look up to the freedoms that [Americans] have. And when they see that it’s becoming socially acceptable to like your own kind, you know, what’s wrong with that?” However, the United States may not provide the best examples of transparency and social reform. Only with great persistence and determination have minority groups been able to find an ally in the U.S. government. LGBTQ groups have been able to form such an allegiance only recently—less than a year ago homosexuals faced federal restrictions on same-sex marriage and openly gay individuals serving in the military. After repealing both measures, the Senate is now on the verge of passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that will protect LGBTQ individuals in the workplace. Maure Smith-Benanti, assistant director of LGBTQ education and support services at the University of Oregon, came out as a lesbian in 1997, when attitudes towards homosexuality were much more conservative. “It feels like the first decade of my being out was a lot of work, a very steep uphill climb,” she says. “I never would have imagined in a million years that we would have come as far as we have.” Growing up in a Mormon household in Utah, Smith-Benanti was well aware of conservative social values in the United States. “In rural areas in our country, currently it’s the same [as in Russia],” she says. “I mean, there are still 38 states where you can get fired for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, and only 16 now that you can get married in.” When asked if the United States should be so concerned with gay rights in Russia when our own domestic policy still needs help, Smith-Benanti responded, “I don’t know if it’s fair, but it is probably right. It’s probably hypocritical, and it’s probably the right thing to do.” As the world approaches the 2014 Winter Olympics, it remains to be seen what statements, if any, will be made by athletes and activists both on and off the field. President Putin has guaranteed the safety of gay athletes and tourists by temporarily suspending the propaganda law in an effort to ease concerns from LGBTQ activists. The Russian president has also taken measures to limit the politicization of the games by banning all protests during the months leading up to and surrounding the event. The Olympics has a long history of political involvement and controversy. The U.S. and the Soviet Union each led boycotts during the later parts of the Cold War, and the 1968 black power medal stand protest by Tommy Smith and John Carols in Mexico City is a lasting image of the African American civil rights movement. The gay rights movement in Russia is in its infancy, but the minority group of pro-LGBTQ Russian citizens is committed to change, however long it may take. - SPENCER KNOWLES
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Way of Grace
способ благодати An Oregon Old Believer Community’s Journey to Save Itself STORY BEN STONE PHOTO ANDREW SENG DESIGN LAUREN BEAUCHEMIN
“Gospodi! (Oh my God!)” An old woman whispers sharply in Russian from the back. The door of the Old Believer Orthodox Church has cracked open, sending a rectangle of light down the center of the floor. “Zakrii dvyer! (Shut the door!)” The two young boys poking their heads through the gap look over at the woman and grimace, closing the door softly behind them. She exhales loudly and refolds her hands, turning back to the front of the room. The main hall of the church is dark and warm, smelling of smoke from the hundreds of candles lit around the room. At the front stands a tall nastavnik (pastor) dressed in all black, reciting his sermon so soft and fast that the hundred people standing still in rows and lining the walls lean forward to listen. Behind him is a solid gold wall—a glowing patchwork of painted religious icons. At points in the sermon, every Old Believer in the room jerks upright to cross themselves while bending up and down rapidly, sometimes dropping to their knees and touching their heads softly to the floor. A girl and a boy walk up to the woman in the back and smile at her. “N-uuu… (Well…)” She says, raising her eyebrows. She reaches deep into the pocket of her jacket and pulls out a bag of M&Ms, pouring a few into each kid’s hand. A man walks around with a long candle extinguisher and slowly snuffs out the flames. The nastavnik says his closing words, bows slightly, and walks away from his podium. The boy turns around to watch and drops an M&M on the floor. The old woman looks down in horror. “Gospodi!”
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PREVIOUS PAGE: The Old Believer Orthodox Church stands among fields of berries and hops on Bethlehem Road. Woodburn is home to a considerable population of Old Believers. ABOVE: After Sunday worships, members of the Old Believer community can be seen surrounding East Woodburn streets and shopping centers in their traditional dress.
The Old Believer Diaspora The Old Believers are a group of Orthodox Christians from Russia who have come to live in countless remote communities around the world. Since settling around Woodburn, Oregon nearly 50 years ago, this group of Old Believers has largely managed to maintain 17th century Russian traditions. As the generation gap has grown larger between the founders of the community and younger Old Believers, however, it has become considerably more difficult and confusing for young Old Believers to reconcile their heritage with their modern American lives. Walking around the grocery stores and tacquerias on the east side of Woodburn, Oregon on Sunday afternoons, you will see them. They are impossible to miss—bearded men in loosesleeved, high-collared tunics and women in dresses and shashmuras the color of flowers and sunsets. On Sundays, when Old Believers are out in their best clothes after church, they are the most visible, radiant people for miles, and the plain-clothed residents of Woodburn regard them with looks of wonder. They call themselves Starovyeri (“Old Believers” in Russian), but they are also called raskolniki, or “the schismatics”: the people who broke away. Some Old Believers consider this to be a fundamentally inaccurate term—in their eyes, Old Believers were the only ones who didn’t break away from the “way of grace”—but it does a little to describe how they came to live alongside us. 16
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The name raskolniki originated in Russia during the 1650s church reforms, when Patriarch Nikon mandated serious changes to Russian Orthodox Church ritual. One particularly offensive change to traditionalists was the order that one cross oneself with three fingers rather than the traditional two. Refusal to adopt the practices of the reform was criminal under both church and state law, and Tsar Alexei’s government began to arrest Russians and execute priests who refused to change. In protest, some killed themselves by setting themselves on fire. To save their way of life and themselves, many Old Believers fled Russia to the west and to the east. “They would always say, ‘nam nado spasatsya’—we need to go save ourselves,’” says Alex Snegirev, who grew up in an Old Believer family in Canada. “So they would move to these remote areas to be away from people, to retain their customs, retain their faith, and not be bothered.” Old Believers being forced to flee and resettle without priests is key to understanding the theologically literal nature of their lives— they never had biblical authorities to ask for interpretations of the Bible, and so their practices remained strictly aligned with the text. Partially because of this, cultural anthropologist Richard Morris said in a 1997 conference in Perm, Russia, Western Old Believers “represent a relatively untainted type of archival reference to an earlier Russian ethic. In many respects, their way of life remains intact, displaying references to 17th century Russia.”
The Old Believers in Woodburn hail primarily from Old Believer communities that formed in Harbin, in northeastern China, the Sinkiang region in northwestern China, and Turkey. When the Chinese Revolution ended in 1949, Old Believer communities in China found ways to immigrate to Brazil and Argentina. A few years later, due to difficulties farming in the South American environment, many continued on to the small farming community around Woodburn around 1965, joined soon after by a group from Turkey. Arriving in the States with the help of local farm-based sponsors, Old Believer families often slept in barracks owned by sponsors, working in the fields during the day and saving their wages to buy farms and homes of their own. Throughout their travels, the Old Believers had mostly remained in clans, resulting in three distinct communities when they finally settled around the eastern edge of Woodburn city limits: the Sinziyantsi, from Sinkiang, the Harbiintsi, from Harbin, and the Turchane, from Turkey.
Coming into the Country An assistant Old Believer pastor named Makar, a slim man with a long white beard and wide glasses, has been around for it all. He was born in Sinkiang, China in 1938, moved to Argentina when he was ten, and to Woodburn in 1971. Arriving with no knowledge of English, interactions between the Old Believers and Americans were initially channeled though a small group of Russians fluent in English.
Old Believers—traditional dress, religious rituals, social customs—generally no longer exist in Russia. And although some Old Believers like Makar have traveled to Russia since settling in Woodburn, many Old Believers have no desire to travel to a country that they believe was rendered ungodly during the Russian Revolution. Snegirev, whose family ended up in Canada after living in China and New Zealand, grew up in an Old Believer family that considered the only true Russia to exist within the homes of Old Believers. “They see Russia at large as a communistic country that became atheist,” Snegirev says. “My mom would always tell us growing up, ‘now remember, you’re a white Russian, you’re not a red Russian. Mi byelie russkie (We are white Russians).’” Identity was more complicated than being Russian or not, however, for Old Believers in Woodburn. The ABOVE: The cupola and three-barred cross of the Old Believer Orthodox Sinziyantsi, the Harbiintsi, and Church, silhouetted against the morning sky. the Turchane, having lived and developed their own rituals in the hundreds of years before they gravitated to Woodburn, remained very aware of group distinctions. Among Old Believers, families from Sinkiang became known as the “fish”, families from Harbin were known as the “monkeys”, and families from Turkey were known as the “turkeys”. “My mom is a sinziyantsa, she’d be a fish,” Marthushev Although Makar now understands English well says. “My dad is a harbinyets, which is a monkey, enough to carry out basic transactions around so two different cultures came together. I’m a Woodburn, Russian is his language. mutant.” “Xarosho, vsyo vremya (It’s been good, the Particularly in the early years of the Old whole time),” Makar says of his community’s Believer community in Woodburn, these group relationship with other Americans over the years. identities became critical to how they regarded “Nothing bad has happened. We haven’t fought each other. Groups became known for certain with anyone.” personality traits and cultural peculiarities. What this means exactly is unclear, however, Turchane families, for example, had lived in the given the limited contact older Old Believers coastal region around Izmir, Turkey, had long have with other Americans. “Nu, gavorim (Well, been keen on crab. The Old Believer families we talk),” Makar says. “But for many, they can’t from China thought crab was forbidden. speak, they don’t know much English.” The Turchane were the force behind the What it means to communicate with most conspicuous evidence of Woodburn’s Old Americans is a bit more complex for Old Believer community—the Turkish Village. It’s Believers who were born in the United States. a neighborhood visible from the South Pacific Alex Martushev, an animated, bear-like 30-yearHighway skirting Woodburn’s east side, made old whose parents emigrated both from Brazil up of several parallel streets shooting south into and Argentina, was born in Oregon, and long fields of boysenberries and hops. Bisecting remembers it being hard to reconcile being an the Village is a street called Bethlehem Road, Old Believer with his personal history. modeled after a road from a traditional Russian “I’ve had these talks with my parents,” village. Two molenas (prayer halls) mark the Martushev says. “I’m like, look, I’m an American ends of the street—a sage-colored building with with Russian heritage. We’re actually not Russian. a shiny bronze cupola on the north end, and a And they have a hard time with that, because white hall with a muted golden cupola to the their whole identity’s wrapped up in being south. In between, the road is lined with small Russian.” houses and fruit trees and patrolled by chickens, Pieces of Russian culture have been frozen goats, cats, and Old Believers. At the heart of in time within the homes and churches of Bethlehem Road is the only Old Believer church
When Old Believers are out in their best clothes after church, they are the most visible, radiant people for miles, and the plain-clothed residents of Woodburn regard them with looks of wonder.
in the area with an ordained priest, the Old Believer Orthodox Church, a long, cream-colored building topped with seven brightly reflective gold cupolas. From birth, the lives of Old Believers revolve around their church and molenas, those on Bethlehem Road and those scattered around the east end of Woodburn. When an Old Believer child is born, he or she must be baptized within eight days, during a water service in which the child is fully submerged three times. Often, an Old Believer child’s real birthday will be forgotten and the day of baptism will take its place. From then on, the child is spiritually clean, at least until he or she does something that makes them otherwise. This concept of spiritual cleanliness, or duxovnii chistoti, divides the Old Believer community from other Americans even more than the language barrier. Standards of cleanliness mean there is a logical limit to how close Old Believers can be with other Americans who are unclean. They cannot eat from the same silverware and dishes and they cannot eat food prepared by non-Old Believers. Working primarily in construction and berry farming, some Old Believer families manage to sustain themselves mostly off of food they prepare themselves from their farms and gardens. “We get along with the American population, we do business, but that’s where it ends,” Snegirev says. “Some will invite you to their home and stuff like that, but most won’t. They will keep that relationship a work relationship and they won’t cross those barriers.” Of course, interactions with Old Believers can be as casual as any other. When I was allowed to visit an Old Believer named Stepan, he spoke in English with no hesitation as he served goat meat and poured us Dixie cups of his homemade braga, a sweet, dry berry wine made from blackberries and boysenberries. With a grin and a dramatic voice, Stepan recounted tank battle scenes from World War II, referring to the Americans as “we”, and laughed at the thought of his country wire-tapping Angela Merkel’s cell phone. “Hey, na nogi (On your feet),” says Stepan, motioning a friend to help him retrieve more braga from the garage.
Translation As second and third generation Old Believers are born and raised in America, it is harder than ever to instill lasting Orthodox values in their children. Though Old Believers drive, many try to keep other absorbing technologies at an arms length. “My parents were so strict that I didn’t even have a TV ‘til I was 13 years old in the house,” says Marthushev. Strictness is relative, though, to those related to a group of Old Believers who left Woodburn. In 1968, they agreed that modern Oregonian culture was too corrosive, and moved to a remote area in southern Alaska to settle a new town called Nikolaevsk. Alaskan Old Believers, according to Martushev, make Woodburn Old Believers seem liberal by comparison, something he discovered years ago on a trip to Alaska to visit some Old Believer relatives. “I was doing a lot of running, so I’m like, when I go visit, I don’t want to stop my training,” Martushev says. “I put my shorts on, my running shoes, and I go running and my aunt is all, ‘Are you crazy? Put your pants back on!’” ETHOS MAGAZINE WINTER 2014
Old Believers in Woodburn attend public school with other Americans and other immigrant children, but there remains a wall between institutions like school and the home. Because of cleanliness issues, American children and Old Believer children cannot enter each other’s homes, so Old Believer children are simply taught to play with other Old Believer kids. “Its this idea of isolationism,” Snegirev says. “This is our little community. Why are you gonna go dabble in the world?” Russian is not taught in school, so Old Believer children become conversationally fluent in Russian by talking with their parents and grandparents. Many take private lessons to learn to speak and write and Russian and to read in Church Slavonic, the holy language of Slavic Orthodox churches. Slavonic is also the language of the only translation of the Bible that Old Believers accept and trust, as it was the text
that Russia was given in the 10th century when it accepted Christianity. But while vernacular Russian is something that Old Believers maintain every day with their family and friends, Slavonic is a dead language, and no longer spoken. Communal knowledge of Slavonic has faded so much that Old Believer boys who are taught how to pronounce Slavonic text are often not taught the meaning of the words. “I’m reading, chanting and memorizing—I don’t know what the heck I’m saying,” says Martushev of his experience in church. “So I would ask my dad, I’d go, ‘I don’t know what this is.’ And he would say, ‘You’ll understand it eventually, one day.’” When Old Believers have significant gaps in their comprehension of Slavonic, the meaning of church services that they ritually attend, often deep into the night, can be lost in translation. “Here we are, a Christian church, where there’s crucifixes everywhere in the church, but we didn’t know what he did for us,” Snegirev says. “We knew he was crucified, but we didn’t know he was crucified for us.” When he was 19, Martushev and his girlfriend began to read the English bible to make sense of things they hadn’t understood from their Slavonic bibles. They became moved by what they felt was a powerful new connection to their religion, and the two of them began to attend a local Protestant church. The day that Martushev told his father about his decision was the last time he talked to him for several years. After years of attending Protestant church, Snegirev was finally encouraged by some fellow former Old Believers to start a service for other Russians in Woodburn. The result is the
Russian Outreach Ministry, a weekly sermon that Snegirev delivers out of an English Bible to an audience of Russians. To gain the trust of attendees who consider the English translation corrupt, Snegirev prepares handouts of his selected texts, printed in English, Russian, and Slavonic. “My heart is to share the good news, the gospel, to the Old Believers,” Snegirev says. “And that sounds so strange, because they’re Christians.” For the ten years after Alex Martushev began to attend the Protestant church, he talked with his father on the phone four times. They would hear things about each other that trickled down through the community, through family and friends, but they didn’t see each other. This year, though, a string of unfortunate events finally brought them together. Martushev and his wife found themselves scrambling for new income, and Martushev called his father, who travels up to Alaska every year to fish commercially. “I called him up, and I explained it to him— do you think I could get a seat on your boat?” Martushev says. “He goes, ‘Well, give me two weeks. I’ll call you back.’ Okay. Click.” In two weeks, Martushev’s father called and offered him a spot on the boat. Before the two of them left for Alaska, Martushev and his wife and children went over to his father’s house, and Martushev’s father spoke during dinner. He said that, although they had had their differences, from then on they would simply be a family. Martushev and his father spent the next six and a half weeks on a fishing boat together in cold water, making up for lost time and filling in the blanks for a decade of their lives.
BELOW: In the mid-17th century, the Old Believers separated from the Orthodox Church in Russia. Old Believers who remained faithful to the old rite were persecuted and forced to flee their homes. Group of Old Believers moved to Oregon around 1965 and formed small farming communities east of Woodburn.
DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH Nigel Burch has embraced his ADHD and his colorful self-expression to move past a turbulent patch of his life.
STORY REUBEN UNRAU
PHOTO ANDY ABEYTA
n August 2011, hip-hop hopeful Nigel Burch, commonly known by his stage name 80HD, arrived at his friend Juice’s house to rehearse the set for his performance at the Granary Pizza Co. “Show me what you got,” Juice demanded. “Right now, on the spot.” Burch sat nervously, his hands shaking, his heart pounding frenetically. As a seasoned singer and producer in the Eugene, Oregon hip-hop community, Juice assured his protégé that even though this was his first show, he had everything necessary to succeed on stage. Inside the dimly lit confines of Granary Pizza, with Burch on the mic and Juice on guitar, the duo performed two songs to only a handful of onlookers. It was Burch’s first performance and Juice’s last. Juice died of a heroin overdose just a month later, having struggled with addiction for years of his life. Reflecting on the night of his first performance, Burch’s voice wavers as he refers to that experience as his emphatic entrance into the world of music. “He passed me the torch,” he says. “He was the only one who gave me that chance.” Burch, now a 31-year-old man with deepset eyes and thinning brown hair, still considers himself a fresh face in the hip-hop world. In conversation, he is a motor-mouthed wordsmith, casually dropping clever metaphors. “I know I painted a picture and talked your ear off like Van Gogh,” he says after talking for length with little intermission. His fast-paced delivery is a symptom of his Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder (ADHD) and the inspiration of his rap moniker, 80HD. Burch embraces his ADHD and is very open about it in his music. An adlib he proclaims in many of his songs, “I’m everyone’s favorite
DESIGN BRITTANY NGUYEN
spazz,” is his attempt to reconcile with his condition and make others accept it as well. For Burch, poetry and hip-hop act as a form of therapy, allowing him to better understand himself and giving others the chance to understand him too. “I use my childhood a lot, as much as possible, because it’s real. It’s what people are going through right now and may have never learned to deal with. I want to make people feel comfortable about who they are, even if they do feel uncomfortable all the time,” says Burch. “That’s why I started doing this. It made me feel good to say it. Hopefully it made you feel good to hear it.” Because Burch’s family could not afford to go to the doctor when he was a child, he wasn’t officially diagnosed with the condition until he was in his mid 20s. For Burch, the severity of his attention deficit symbolizes a life that has always been in flux. “It’s hot, cold, up, down. It’s just really intense. I’m a very intense person.” Burch makes a living working at an afterschool program with students at a local Catholic elementary school. After earning his associate’s degree in early childhood education at Lane Community College, Burch has worked at a number of elementary schools in the Eugene area over the last ten years. He works just 20 hours a week, earning a modest living – he bikes everywhere and lives in a small house in Springfield – but his relationship with the students is just another form of therapy. “These kids teach me to tell it like it is,” he says. “It keeps me young. I feel like I’m giving them what I needed as a child.” Burch was born in Ventura, California, and was launched straightaway into an unsteady family situation. Burch’s mother was only 18 years old when she discovered that she was pregnant with him. When Burch was two years
ETHOS MAGAZINE WINTER 2014
I want to make people feel comfortable about who they are, even if they do feel uncomfortable all the time.
PREVIOUS PAGE: After finishing painting a piece in a friend’s yard, Burch spends some time reflecting on his piece, pondering what he will do next. He takes time to relax and hang out - tossing out the occasional freestyle verse that comes to his mind. ABOVE: While recording tracks, Burch usually has everything memorized. On occasion, however, he likes to pull out his notebook and visualize changes he makes in the moment. During a recording session, Burch is open to input and ideas from anyone in the room, even taking some time with one of Beau’s Golden Labradors. RIGHT: During his free time, Burch has developed a love for urban art. Here he is working on a piece in a friend’s yard that originated from a drawing. Burch expresses himself with bursts of passionate painting before stepping back to plan his next move. The piece is finished when he writes “All over the place” in the corner to reflect on his state of mind during the piece.
ETHOS MAGAZINE WINTER 2014
old, his father moved away from the family up north to Alaska. For 16 years Burch lived two lives, separated by thousands of miles. He spent half of each year living with his mother in Orange County, California, and the other half with his father in Wasila, Alaska. Although he has lost count, he estimates that he attended close to two dozen schools between kindergarten and 12th grade. Burch’s mother and father had contrasting parenting styles throughout his childhood. He describes his mother as laissez-faire, allowing him to do whatever he wanted and, despite living in poverty, giving him anything he desired. On top of that, she spent the first ten years of Nigel’s life recovering from an addiction to methamphetamine. He remembers when he was seven years old, living in a hotel with only Skor Toffee-Chocolate Bars to eat and having to ride his bike several miles to and from school. Burch feels that they shared a friendship rather than a mother-son relationship. “When I was five, she treated me like I was 30. Now that I’m 30, she treats me like I’m five,” Burch says. Much like the bitter cold Burch endured during his winters in Alaska, his father was contrarily more harsh and authoritative than his mother. He enforced strict rules and emphasized proper manners and behavior, scolding Burch for not saying “please” and “thank you.” Burch dreaded trips to Alaska because he felt he didn’t share the same bond with his father that he had with his mother. They had little in common—his father didn’t enjoy sports, while Burch was crazy about them. Besides, Burch felt like an outsider in a family that included three other stepsiblings. He always thought his father cared more for his other children. “There was this real block, a divide, a gap,” he says, searching for the correct word. Growing up in an environment that was in perpetual motion, Burch claims he desperately tried to make friends and maintain relationships. “I was definitely a chameleon,” he says. “It’s not like I always wanted to fit in, but I naturally did. I had so much chaos going on at home, and my life was so unstable that I wanted to have friends. As you get older, that’ll get you in trouble.” In urban Orange County, Burch began to befriend the rougher crowd and became more involved in nefarious activities. Socially succeeding in high school in California often meant associating with a crew or gang, and for 16-year-old Burch, this is where the trouble began. After school one day, while staying with his mom in Orange Country, he and a friend got in
ABOVE: Burch records a new track he has been developing at Golden Lab Studios in Springfield, Ore. Burch says he is happy recording here because his time spent here is productive. Burch explains that he and Philip Eastlund, owner of Golden Lab Studios, are colleagues first and friends second, allowing them to balance their work, creativity, and relationship.
a fight with a group of high school rivals, landing him two “assault and battery with intent to harm” charges. Just when he had his bags packed for Alaska, Burch’s life-in-flux came to an abrupt halt—he was sentenced to 60 days in Joplin Juvenile Detention Center. The environment at Joplin was entrenched in fear. Everyone had a kill-or-be-killed mentality, he says. He was strip-searched regularly and confined 23 hours a day to his quarters with the light on at all times, forcing him to sleep with sheets over his face. New gangs emerged, and Burch was constantly surrounded by violent confrontations between inmates. “The mentality is so low,” Burch says of his time in Joplin. “There’s no thinking. You’re an animal. It’s so primitive; it’s so basic. You have to be afraid.” Mementos from his incarceration have stuck with him to this day, including a piece of lead that he kicked up while weed-wacking that remains in his arm. Moreover, he still sleeps with a pillow draped over his face at night. Following his release in 1997, Burch stopped moving back and forth between Alaska and California. His mother sent him to live in Eugene, Oregon, where he resumed his education and graduated from South Eugene High School two years later. Ready to begin a fresh chapter, 19-year-old Burch met Blaze—the woman who he came to adore and would come to drive his passion for music.
The Power of Love Burch talks about his relationship with his girlfriend, Blaze, like a prison sentence. “I did six
years,” he says, launching into a fit of cackling laughter as he usually does after a clever quip. Their relationship was passionate and moved rapidly. Burch moved in with her and her mother almost right away. He fell deeply in love with Blaze; he felt free to tell her his whole life story and all of his fears and worries. He finally felt comfortable and accepted for all of his flaws. But at the same time, he started dating her when hiphop was becoming more prevalent in his life. Burch split his time between fostering a meaningful relationship with his girlfriend and hanging out with his friends who were busy making beats and freestyle rapping. He found himself in the horns of a dilemma: he had a girl he loved dearly, who supported him with a home and affection, but he also had a vision of writing rap and pursuing a music career. The couple broke up in 2007 after six years together, and the heartbreak that followed was profound. He has come to learn that he may never want to have a girlfriend in his life again and instead, he simply wants someone kind and nurturing. “Every woman in my life, my mom included, practiced with me and learned what not to do,” he says. “I gave it everything I had with her, and so I feel that I have nothing left, but what I have left is the music. I used to love this woman, now I love this music. Period.” Remnants of his “sentence” with Blaze have stuck with him as well. The word “fire” is tattooed across his chest—an ode to his past love and a symbol of his passion for music. Love has proven to be a striking theme in his music. Between all of the crisply articulated, multi-syllabic rhyming that makes up the
complexity of his music, love and the pain of heartbreak are constant. In his song “Diamond in the Rough,” he uses the image of a diamond as a metaphor to express the true love he was able to find in Blaze, and how it came to hurt him in the end: “You think a shiny prism is happiness, but it isn’t, in a diamond shaped prison I misunderstood it—I’m unforgiven.” Burch has aspirations to be a “household name” in hip-hop. He dreams of touring the country, playing concerts and recording albums, but admits that in a city like Eugene, with scarce venues to play hip-hop shows, the chances of making it big may be slim. He understands that his splash into music is still a relatively new chapter in his journey and, for the moment, his music has yet to become a rags-to-riches story. Right now, his music is an outlet for him to express his fascination with wordplay and poetic devices. It is a tool for him to tell his life story that has gone through constant ups and downs. It is a way for people to get to know him as a person—as 80HD, “everyone’s favorite spazz.” “When you listen to my music, I want you to know who I am: as someone who is genuine,” he says.
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ETHOS MAGAZINE WINTER 2014
The Fight to Dream Anna Alvarez struggles to fall asleep every night, impacting all aspects of her life and causing her to worry that relief may be a pipe dream. STORY NICOLE CORDIER
Blinding red numbers on her digital clock tick to 4:00 a.m., and Anna Alvarez hasn’t slept for nearly 72 hours. Her silent room is pressing down around her as blinding blue light from the street outside streams into her window. Anna turns her thin, willowy, frame away from the light and counts the hours since she last had a chance to quell her exhaustion. The past few days blur together, and sleepless time stretches on for what seems like eternity. She’s been lying in this darkened room, in an anxietyridden limbo, for five hours and sleep still won’t come. Finally, around 5:00 a.m., she reaches her breaking point—Anna reaches for her phone to call her parents in Portland, Oregon. She tells them she needs help, needs to participate in a sleep study, needs to go to therapy—she needs to do something other than lie in bed fighting this torturous battle for sleep. Anna suffers from insomnia and Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder (ADHD).
PHOTO KYLE MCKEE
DESIGN DANA RENGEL
Looking back on this memory of the worst night of her life, Anna says, “You get to a point where you are just overwhelmed by the fact that you still haven’t slept at all.” For Anna, calling her parents for help felt like a personal failure. “I always have to rely on other things and other people to help me get to sleep, which is really something that should be so easy.” Up to 55 percent of ADHD patients experience sleep problems. Although the exact cause of this relationship is still unknown, patients with ADHD have a more difficult time falling asleep, staying asleep, and sleeping soundly. They are also more likely to suffer from daytime sleepiness or grogginess than those without ADHD. Anna’s ADHD is apparent upon meeting her. She is excitable. Her conversations explode in spurts of excited storytelling and comfortable silence. She’s constantly rushing from one task to the next, leaving projects
unfinished. It’s impossible to forget meeting Anna; if you don’t remember the way she adds h’s into words like “shtuff,” you’ll remember her wide, genuine smile. She prides herself on her warm, outgoing, and independent personality. However, Anna’s sense of independence was shaken on this night. Her will was broken and she called her parents for solace. For many, such a breakdown would signify a turning point in their life; the old idea of rock bottom being a necessary step to facilitate major change. But as breakdowns come and go, Anna’s life remains the same. Despite her deep longing for relief, options for treating her insomnia are severely limited due to medication she takes. Typically, insomnia like Anna’s is diagnosed and treated by a psychiatrist or sleep specialist. The first step toward recovery is usually a sleep study, which consists of an overnight stay under the supervision of doctors. During the
ETHOS MAGAZINE WINTER 2014
Who suffers from insomnia?
Symptoms & Risks
50% ELDERLY (<65) 80%
55% DIAGNOSED ADHD 63% WOMEN
night, the patient has metal nodes attached to various points on their body, including their head. These nodes measure breath rate, determining whether the patient is suffering from a breathing condition like sleep apnea, as well as eye movement and heart rate, in order to monitor sleep patterns. Insomnia is often a secondary condition caused by a variety of psychological and medical disorders including anxiety, depression, sleep apnea, and Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). “Sleep is like the little light on your dashboard that goes off and says ‘check engine’,” says Dr. Michael Dulchin, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at New York University. A sleep study can help determine the potential causes of a patient’s insomnia. However, Anna isn’t eligible for a sleep study because of the stimulants she takes to treat her ADHD. She is prescribed Adderall to manage her symptoms, but using this medication restricts her from participating in a sleep study because doctors she has seen often blame her insomnia solely on her use of this medication. Even after many visits, Anna’s doctors have failed to seriously address her insomnia. “All they say is that I need to start taking my Adderall earlier in the day or I need to change my dose,” she says. Anna feels that this singularly focused medical approach to her insomnia is a mistake. Her memories of insomnia predate her prescription use. She says, “Without the Adderall, I would still sleep like this. I’d just feel the effects
People with ADHD tend to be wired, to be night owls. 26
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associated with pregnancy and menopause
more during the day and be more depressed or irritable with those around me.” Carolyn Rodgers, a physician’s assistant at Parkway Sleep Health Centers in North Carolina, also believes it is flawed to view stimulant use as the sole cause of a patient’s insomnia. Stimulants have the opposite effect on those with ADHD. Instead of adding to symptoms of hyperactivity, the medications help to calm patients down. “For some people with ADHD, we are finding that a low dose of stimulants prior to bedtime may actually settle the hyperactivity, thus promoting sleep,” says Rodgers. In the past ten years, studies have shown that a correlation exists between insomnia and ADHD even if the patients do not take stimulants. Despite these findings, many patients, like Anna, go untreated. Rodgers says that unmedicated patients with ADHD tend to toss and turn more in the night. “We know people with ADHD tend to get less of the rapid eye movement stage of sleep, which is the most restful stage,” she says. In addition to lower quality of sleep, many patients suffering from ADHD feel an excess of energy at night. “People who have ADHD tend to be wired, to be night owls,” says Dulchin. In his former job as Inpatient Director of Psychiatry at New York University, Dulchin dealt with many patients suffering from ADHD. In his experience, ADHD patients often describe feelings of mental restlessness or agitation as a symptom of their hyperactivity. “Many people with ADHD are unable to shut off their minds at night,” says Rodgers. “The worst thing for someone with ADHD is lying down in a dark room with nothing going on.” She believes this excess mental energy can lead to feelings of anxiety and fear.
Mental fatigue Slow reaction time Depression Anxiety Poor immune system Muscular fatigue Heart disease Neurological disease Diabetes Obesity
For Anna, falling asleep is associated with feelings of anxiety and stress. “It feels uneasy, just uncomfortable,” she says, “I feel like I’m not right,
My mind never gets a chance to reset and recharge and let go of past worries. like that slight sickness that’s somehow worse than actually being sick.” When she was younger, Anna would stay up late into the night and rearrange her bedroom or solve puzzles while the rest of her family was asleep. These activities helped her avoid worrying, but would heavily contribute to her sleeplessness. Now, Anna’s unease at night causes her to have intrusive thoughts. “I run through scenarios in my head over and over and over. So many scenarios,” she says, “Things I could have said in a situation or ways I could improve a relationship with a friend or a boyfriend.” This constant nighttime stress has led Anna to feel like her worries haunt her. “My mind never gets a chance to reset and recharge and let go of past worries,” she says. “They are just more constant worries because I always have them in my head.” Her concerns about daily life and her relationships keep Anna up deep into the night and sometimes long enough to watch the world return to color. “I can see how it’s going to happen in my mind, but I don’t know how it is going to happen in real life, and that’s probably what worries me.” These uncertainties have caused Anna to dread bedtime. During the day, she is able to avoid her negative thoughts due to the mental
stimulation she receives from the people and tasks around her. However, when she’s alone at night and everything has slowed down, anxiety becomes unbearable. “Sleep is more of a chore for me,” she says. To avoid nervousness, she tries to stay busy at night. She prefers jobs where she can work late. Her last job was working as a late night delivery driver for Jimmy Johns, a sandwich shop. She liked to cruise the darkened, empty streets and interact with her customers and coworkers. Those interactions kept her from being alone. Often, she only has only her own racing thoughts for company. Dulchin believes the need for mental stimulation that comes with ADHD causes patients to seek out nighttime activities in order to avoid anxiety. “If someone is staying at work late into the night after everyone else has gone home, it’s often a sign that they may have adult ADHD,” he says. Much like when she was working all night, Anna also uses school tasks to distract herself from the anxiety of sleep. “I’ve gotten to the point where it is really hard for me to do homework when anyone else is awake,” she says. “I put my work off until the last minute of the night before, when there are no other distractions.” In Anna’s case, homework, puzzles, work, and other activities requiring mental effort distract her from feelings of unease and apprehension. Like Anna, many patients with ADHD also suffer from anxiety, which can contribute to negative sleep habits. “It’s not uncommon for people to come in complaining of anxiety, and I’ll ask them a lot of questions and end up coming back with a diagnosis of adult ADHD,” says Dulchin. When she was young, Anna’s anxiety made socializing with friends hard. “I didn’t like sleepovers because I was always the last person to fall asleep, and it would be scary,” she says. “I’d always get bored and try to make noises that would help wake them up.” Similar to Anna’s recent memory of calling her parents, she says the worst part of sleepovers was when she would have to wake up friends to call her mom to come pick her up because she was too afraid. Anna’s anxiety and sleeplessness have caused problems in her adult friendships, much like they did during her childhood. In the past, late night activities like making food or watching TV have caused tension with her roommates and other friends. She says, “Even though I was trying my hardest to stay quiet, they still got really mad at me for waking them up.” Her roommates would come into Anna’s room and dramatize the fact that she had woke them up and irritated them. These types of issues have led Anna to feel alone with her insomnia. Despite the fact that she speaks openly about her disorder, Anna says she feels that her friends don’t truly comprehend what life is like for her. “I really don’t think people fully understand what I go through trying to get to sleep when it should be easy.” To cope with feelings of loneliness, Anna has found it helpful to talk with other people who suffer from insomnia and ADHD. In particular, she reaches out to her friend Gina during the night. Gina also suffers from insomnia and ADHD, although she does not take medication to manage her symptoms. “I kind of use her as, like, a comfort zone,” Anna says. “It’s nice to know that there is someone else like me who has
ABOVE: The mind of Anna Alvarez is constantly ticking —several thoughts grinding together, racing endlessly and preventing her from falling into a regular sleep cycle.
ETHOS MAGAZINE WINTER 2014
ABOVE: Time is a distorted reality for Alvarez, who constantly is fighting a battle against the only foe who will never die.
this similar problem.” They usually talk about the thoughts that are keeping them awake, sharing suggestions and advice with each other. “There are definitely a lot of nights that I wouldn’t have gotten through without her being awake and being there for me.” Lack of sleep has affected more than just Anna’s relationships; it has impacted her employment and caused her to struggle with responsibilities. While working her last job at Jimmy John’s, she often found it difficult to balance work with school. Despite Anna being currently out of a job, she still finds that her insomnia and ADHD hold her back. Her irregular sleep schedule causes extreme daytime drowsiness. Anna can’t schedule early morning classes because she knows that she won’t ever go to them. “If I have an early class, it makes it really hard for me to do well, because it’s so hard for me to wake up in the morning,” she says. When she finally falls asleep at 5:00 a.m. or later, it is extremely difficult to wake up at 8:00 a.m. with only three hours of fuel in the tank. Rodgers believes patients with ADHD and insomnia view sleeplessness as normal. Because
I know I’ll sleep like this forever. 28
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they have often lived with insomnia for their entire life, they aren’t as aware of the effect it has on their mood and thought process. “It can interfere with their relationships, success in school and the work place,” she says. Issues like this have caused Anna to worry about her future. Since she’s been struggling with insomnia for years, Anna says, “I’ve kind of accepted it. I’ve just lived with it for so long, and I’ve dealt with it for so long.” Despite her acceptance of this disorder, Anna fears she won’t be able to manage the responsibilities that come with post-college life. Mostly, she dreads how her life will be when she can’t create her own schedule. Many patients with ADHD report that they have extreme difficulty waking up. Anna’s sleepiness holds her back from participating in morning activities. “I have to get up two hours before I have to be anywhere because I need that time to fully get ready and prepared for the day,” she says. She worries this will hinder her chances of pursuing a professional career. Beyond daytime sleepiness, Anna has more serious concerns over her physical health. She says, “I worry about the future a lot. I worry about the effects it will have on my body when I’m older.” Chronic insomnia, like Anna’s, can cause memory problems, depression, irritability, daytime sleepiness, and an increased risk of heart
disease. “There has to be a negative health effect at some point when I’m constantly not giving my body the correct amount of hours to recharge,” she says. At night, Anna will continue to text friends, Snapchat pictures of her cat, play Sudoku, and write essays. She will do anything she can to avoid the nighttime anxiety that has plagued her entire life. Sometimes, this reality weighs heavy on her mind. “I know I’ll sleep like this forever.” Despite this depressing realization, Anna has found ways to retain her optimistic and lighthearted personality. “Usually, I wait for everyone to be asleep, and then I eat all of the things.”
ETHOS MAGAZINE WINTER 2014
AbovE IT ALL PHOTO & STORY ANDY ABEYTA DESIGN SPENCER KELLY Buzzing around the hangar at Eugene Skydivers, parachute-packer April Dummert repeatedly says that the most intense moment is the moment the plane’s door first opens at altitude. The volume skyrockets in the cabin, and the skydivers finally face the environment around them for the first time since the plane was on the ground. Experiencing 120 mile per hour winds and a view of the passing landscape 6,000 empty feet below the plane, I discovered Dummert could not have more effectively described the feeling that was rushing through my body. The rush, adrenaline, and perceived danger is often understood to be the most attractive draw to the sport, but
for Alex Chapman, it is really about the challenge. Chapman is a senior at the University of Oregon who began packing parachutes at Eugene Skydivers to get involved in the sport. He is now learning the sport and pursuing a license to jump for fun. Dummert explains that skydiving curbs her primal urge. Even if only for a few seconds when she is in free fall, she feels completely in control of her life. Dummert cites a phrase used around the hanger to explain, “As soon as you leave the airplane—technically you are dead, unless you do something to change your fate.”
ETHOS MAGAZINE WINTER 2014
PREVIOUS PAGE: Pilot, Mike Pohl checks out cloud conditions as he pushes the 1957 Cessna 182 up to an altitude of around 6,000 feet in preparation for a jump. The pilot monitors cloud patterns and changes to help determine a safe jump location for the skydivers on board. When airborne, the pilot has complete authority over everything involving the plane including the skydivers on board. ABOVE: April Dummert and Alex Chapman pack parachutes in the back of the hangar. The packing process is important because of obvious safety reasons, but also a well-packed parachute creates a more comfortable opening for the jumper. Both Chapman and Dummert are students at the University of Oregon, and spend their free time on the weekends working for jump time to progress as students of skydiving at Eugene Skydivers. RIGHT: University of Oregon student, Alex Chapman looks out the door as the plane nears the determined jump altitude. During the ride up, communication is limited between those on board because of the noise of the engine, however Chapman, the pilot, and McMahon maintain communication largely through hand signals. FAR RIGHT TOP: Student and employee of Eugene Skydivers, Alex Chapman prepares to exit around 6,000 feet. Instructor, Darren McMahon watches as Chapman practices a poised exit before his free fall demonstrating control and the ability to maintain heading. FAR RIGHT BOTTOM: A tandem master and student approach for a landing in Eugene Skydiversâ€™ temporary drop zone in Creswell, Ore. Eugene Skydivers hopes to soon be landing canopies once again in a field next to the airport, making turn around time for jumpers much quicker.
ETHOS MAGAZINE WINTER 2014
A FOREIGN FRONTIER
Through her own experience living in Argentina, Tiffany Han weighs some of the benefits of living and finding a career in a different country.
ETHOS MAGAZINE WINTER 2014
lower taxes are common throughout the city to address prevalent issues in Argentinian society. They encourage change and challenge governmental corruption. While Argentina is suffering from a financial crisis similar to the United States, the current economic situation in Buenos Aires shows gradual improvement, with the unemployment rate declining from 7.9 percent to 7.2 percent. For many Americans, working in Buenos Aires as an expatriate is a career option more viable than seeking employment in the United States. Nearly 8.8 percent of recent college graduates in the United States are currently unemployed and of those who are employed, 36.7 percent have jobs that don’t require a degree. With the unfavorable actuality of “real life” staring college students directly in the face, there is an alternative to unemployment, leading graduates to seek work in foreign countries, often outside their area of study.
Alex Freeman, 25, graduated from Santa Clara University with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy. Nearing the end of his time in school, he decided to take a chance and study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country due to his interest in learning the language and becoming bilingual. He spent a semester in Buenos Aires studying, traveling, and taking a beginners tango class where he fortuitously met the woman he now calls his vida, or the love of his life, wife, and mother to his one-year-old son León. Eventually, Freeman’s program ended and he had to return to the United States, but not for long and not alone. He and his wife Paola
stayed together in Portland, Oregon for the three months their marriage visa allowed. Due to the complicated naturalization process in the United States, the considerable amount of paperwork, and endless waiting that it entails, he was forced to reconsider their next steps together as a family. After assessing the benefits and drawbacks of living in his hometown, Portland, or Paola’s Buenos Aires, they concluded the best option for their family was to move back to Argentina. Freeman says that particularly, he was drawn to Argentina because it offers its citizens a system of universal health care and free access to public education, something that was important to him and his family. “It was a great opportunity for me to continue learning about Spanish, to get a new perspective on philosophy from a different culture, and hopefully to work in what I studied,” says Freeman. “My degree is in philosophy. There aren’t exactly a lot of people knocking at your door to offer you a bunch of positions in the States. But, there is a lot of opportunity for work for me in Buenos Aires as an English teacher.” Currently, Freeman is in his second year of living and working in Buenos Aires, where he is able to put his education into practice and teach English through three different avenues. The first is through a consulting agency, where he takes offers teaching to small groups of employees at a multinational who communicates with others in English-speaking countries. Freeman says it has provided him with steady work, as well as good experience teaching classes.
DESIGN MICKEY SCOTT
ABOVE: While Buenos Aires, the largest city and capital of Argentina, is experiencing a similarly turbulent economic climate to the United States, its current unemployment rate shows gradual improvement. It is becoming more common for college graduates to explore other, more viable options that lead them to seek work in foreign countries.
PHOTO TIFFANY HAN
s I exited through the doors of Ezeiza International Airport, after traveling for over 24 hours with layovers at four different airports, I was relieved to finally arrive in Buenos Aires, Argentina with all of my belongings and most of my sanity. It was the middle of winter in the southern hemisphere and the rigid August wind enveloped my body, permeating my skin through the thin sweater I had put on the day before when boarding my flight in Portland, Oregon. As my eyes widened, taking in the setting of my home for the coming month, a man ushered me towards a taxi and placed my bags in the trunk without saying a word. He reached his hand out, signaling for a tip. In the best Spanish accent I could emulate, I told him I only had American money. “Lo siento, pero no tengo pesos,” I said. “It’s okay, I take dollars too,” he replied in near-perfect English. I found myself in South America on a whim after taking a bunch of sleepy summer classes at the University of Oregon and spending long hours at my retail job. Itching for a change of pace from my usual routine, I utilized the frequent flyer miles I had been saving to book a two-way ticket to Argentina. My intent was to see and understand Buenos Aires, and I planned on doing so without participating in a study abroad program, internship, or any other traditional platform. I was simply drawn to the idea of spending a month immersed in another country’s lifestyle and culture on my own terms. I had traveled alone before. When I was seventeen, flying to Paris in the middle of a snowstorm in Western Europe seemed like a good idea. This time around, the clear skies of Buenos Aires cheerfully greeted me. As Ruben, my amicable taxi driver from the Argentine province of Entre Ríos, weaved furiously in and out of congested traffic filled with reckless drivers, I tried to distract my thoughts of an early death by testing my ability to speak Spanish. I asked Ruben about his life and the city. In return, Ruben asked about my life, and we ended up talking for the full 45-minute ride into San Telmo, the oldest neighborhood in Buenos Aires. There, I would be staying in an apartment with a few friends I had met at the University of Oregon. Though I acquired a basic fluency of Spanish after taking seven years of classes and completing my minor just days before arriving in Buenos Aires, I had never shared a conversation in Spanish with anyone that lasted as long as it did with Ruben. As we drove towards the city, I began noticing graffiti sprawled across walls, freeway overpasses, and sides of buildings. This was a particularly unique type of graffiti, according to Ruben. The porteños, or natives of the capital, know it as a form of political propaganda. Phrases painted in blue and white block lettering demanding liberty, fair wages, and
The second avenue is through an institute located in a suburb to the south of Buenos Aires, where he is preparing a group of young adults for an upcoming international English exam organized by Cambridge University. Additionally, Freeman organizes his own classes once a week, having his students practice conversational skills by employing a variety of techniques such as acting, playing Pictionary, listening to songs, and public speaking. He bases his classes on subjects that his students will be interested in and will not only help them gain fluidity and comprehension of the English language, but also help them educate themselves in general. Freeman says this is the influence of his undergraduate degree in philosophy. The third avenue is one that allows Freeman to teach using a more experimental approach. Through independent tutoring, he is trying to introduce a teaching method that imitates the process of learning one’s mother tongue. It’s important to Freeman that in all three of these areas, he is able to organize his schedule in a way that is flexible for him and his family.
A DIFFERENT PATH
Looking out the window, my last day in Buenos Aires is rainy and grey. The sky is covered with a blanket of cumulonimbus clouds and the rain shows no sign of letting up. The weather is reminiscent of winters in Oregon, but the taxi I’m riding in is taking me back to Ezeiza. My college graduation date is steadily approaching in the spring of 2014, I am no different than the thousands of students hoping they will not become a part of the unemployment statistic. Rather than competing for a job within my field of study among other college graduates in the United States, I am looking to other, more unconventional options of working in a different country.
TOP: Alex Freeman, 25, is currently in his fourth year of living in Buenos Aires as an expatriate. He works as an English professor, teaching a wide range of students using different methods that are influenced by his degree in Philosophy. BOTTOM: Calle Florida is a pedestrian shopping street situated in the center of Buenos Aires. The street is home to countless shops, vendors, restaurants, and your atypical group of men enjoying a beer amongst friends.
I am hopeful that I will return to Buenos Aires, or another Spanish-speaking country, seeking bilingual opportunities in journalism, or go down a path similar to Freeman’s. I am not holding my breath in hopes of meeting the love of my life in a dance class, but instead the potential for work in a foreign country motivates me to challenge myself in ways I would not have otherwise considered. We drive farther away from the city. It is not as intimidating as it seemed only a month ago, but I start to get nervous about the weather affecting my first of five connecting flights home—the price I pay for free tickets. I ask my taxi driver if he thinks flights will be cancelled
and he reassures me that this rain is nothing compared to past storms. As I settle back into my seat, he asks if I enjoyed my brief stay in Buenos Aires. I tell him with confidence that I will be back soon. - TIFFANY HAN
CHECK OUT LIFE BEYOND THE
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COLORS & SHAPES
: s n i k sweet s ss e
c c n i n g i u g s s e d
Mira Fannin stitches together an entrepreneurial spirit and sustainable materials into a healthy and organic brand.
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PHOTO SUMI KIM
TOP: Mira Fannin shows some clothing samples she cut and designed for Sweet Skins. Fannin says that she prefers organic and clean cut design clothes that can be both casual and dressy. BOTTOM: Mira Fannin is busy with her one-year-old son Ramsess. Fannin says, “My day revolves around him.” Fannin brings Ramsess to Sweet Skins and her warehouse while she works on new clothing design or production.
DESIGN NAI SAEPHANH
3,500 square-foot warehouse in the Whitaker neighborhood, one of the most buzzing areas of Eugene, Oregon, still looks quite empty. While a lonely toy truck seems to have been left behind on the floor, suggesting the presence of a baby, a corkboard covered with pictures of women in colorful outfits grabs the attention of all who enter the warehouse. In the middle of the space, a woman is hunched over a table drowning in sketches of fashion patterns. After turning on soothing music, Mira Fannin buries herself back in her latest Sweet Skins clothing designs. It is new for Fannin to have such a big place to live out her passion. When she started her clothing line in Eugene less than 10 years ago, she was designing and creating clothes in her garage and selling them at the Saturday Market in downtown Eugene. Back then, customers had to use the sidewalk outside her closet-sized booth as a fitting room. “She was a single mom, starting out of this small room. It’s amazing to see how far she came,” says Rasia Santiago, a friend Fannin. Being a mother has influenced the designer’s life in many ways. When she was 11 years old, she made her own dolls and their clothing. It was then when she decided to become a fashion designer, but after getting married and becoming a mother, the young woman had to put her plans aside for a while. “Suddenly I was like, wait, what am I doing with my life?” says Fannin. From that point on, she decided to start living by her own means. “I didn’t go to design school. Just skipped it,” she says, laughing. This self-educated background, as well as a childhood spent in Thailand, influenced Fannin’s style and her focus on simplicity in design. “Sometimes a lot of designers are making all those great ideas that some people can wear, but not everybody,” says Fannin. Despite her simple style, Fannin is a perfectionist. Finding inspiration in her everyday life or in thrift store items, she begins her creative process by creating sketches and patterns that soon become working samples of future clothing pieces. She often goes back over her work about a hundred times. “I always try to
ABOVE: Mira Fannin sketches an outline for men’s pants that she plans to put in production. Sweet Skins is a local organic apparel store located on 782 Blair Blvd, Eugene, OR. All clothes at Sweet Skins are designed by Fannin and handmade locally by women.
look for the perfect piece: the perfect leggings, the perfect yoga pants, or the perfect T-shirt,” explains Fannin, “Women can get their favorite items and then can wear them every day.” Now a mother of four, her youngest being an adorable one-year-old, Fannin has found a way to successfully balance many aspects of her life. The positive reputation she gained at the quirky Saturday Market helped her open her current store, Sweet Skins, located on Blair Boulevard in the Whitaker neighborhood in West Eugene. Now, Sweet Skins’ success goes beyond the boundaries of the town, as Fannin sells her items online and wholesale throughout the Pacific Northwest. Beyond trendy clothing, Fannin has created a business that is both environmentally and socially conscious. Instead of using polyester, Fannin uses fabrics like eco-fleece, hemp, organic cotton, and wool for their low-impact processing, superior texture, and quality. She also uses low-impact dyes and recycled materials. Initially, Fannin’s interest in organic materials came from her mother’s education, but coming to a green town like Eugene made producing environmentally sustainable apparel the obvious choice. Fannin’s motto is to keep her waste to a minimum by recycling or donating her left-over fabric to schools or use them for patchwork projects. Being green is only one part of her business practice, According to Fannin, maintaining a responsible company also means keeping ethics in relationships. “[It’s about] trying to have a positive impact on everybody and everything touched by the business,” she says. “From those
making, sewing, and buying the fabrics, rather than leaving wreckage behind.” By this philosophy, keeping Sweet Skins local is as important as keeping the business green. Thus, to produce the high quantity of pieces she needs nowadays, Fannin works with women from a local sewing shop who she can rely on during weekends in case of emergencies. Despite dedicating the majority of her time to her business, Fannin’s communicable and social demeanor is striking. “She is like a peoplemagnet,” says her friend and a Sweet Skins shopkeeper, Paula Georgetown. Most of Fannin’s
Customers have been following her blog, “Into Sweet Skins,” for many years. Regularly updated with Sweet Skins content, the blog provides transparency to her designs, products, and methods. “I think more and more people want to know that their money goes to a place they feel good about,” says Fannin. Her followers will soon be hearing about many new plans for Sweet Skins. The designer has always had a desire to launch a denim and a shoe line, as well as a line for men, but she put them off after the birth of her baby. “It’s just a matter of how much time I have in the day,” says the designer. Fannin would like to get the warehouse functioning first, in order to get the sewing shop’s employees working directly for her. She is waiting for the right time. “I am very cautious, and I just want to keep it growing one step at a time.” Embracing her passion and lifestyle with her business, Fannin feels proud and confident about the work she does. She sees Sweet Skins as a model for younger generations to chase their own dream. “I think the idea of a ‘big business’ as it’s usually understood, is from the old world and is crumbling,” says Fannin. “People now leave school and are ready to start their own venture and find creative ways of living life. I want to show them that it’s possible.” - ASIA BALLUFFIER
“I think more and more people want to know that their money goes to a place they feel good about.” friends have become involved with Sweet Skins. Paula, who manages the merchandise and website orders, first met Fannin 20 years ago, and the two remain close friends. It was in Georgetown’s shop, known at the time as “Better Yet”, where Fannin began selling her creations before starting her own business. “She is a very genuine person, and it comes across in the way the business is run, like a Sweet Skins family,” says Santiago, who also used to work for Fannin as an assistant, model, cashier, and salesperson. After working with her friend for many years, Georgetown is happy for Fannin and her success. “A lot of artists are not so good with business, but she is,” she says. “I think she has a unique combo.” Keeping close relationships with her customers has been key to Fannin’s success.
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SPICES & SPIRITS
ABOVE: Top Leaf Mate was founded by Santiago Casanueva, left, with inspiration from his Chilean father, right, Emilio Casanueva. The two enjoy drinking mate together on Santiago’s deck that sits on a 280 ft. cliff.
ETHOS MAGAZINE WINTER 2014
PHOTO MARY JANE SCHULTE
oday’s world moves fast. For many, crashing later. There are no jitters or sense of and supple branches by hand, creating piles to it seems impossible to keep up with anxiety. Instead, drinkers benefit from mate’s be dried and processed. Beginning the next day, everyday life without the aid of alkalinity, which helps balance and maintain the the sapecado process starts by dehydrating the energy drinks, sugary pastries, or coffee in the body’s natural PH level, a measure of acidity. freshly cut yerba through the aid of fire. This is morning. Though these provide a burst of vigor The body doesn’t recognize drinks like soda and done to prevent the plant’s natural rusting and and seem harmless, side effects such as an upset coffee, says Casanueva, because they are too fermentation process. stomach, shakiness, and a post-caffeine crash acidic. But mate’s 24 vitamins and 15 amino The second step, secado, is a smoking make people reconsider their choice of process—the dehydrated leaves are guzzling down caffeinated beverages. toasted through a source of indirect “We pass the mate in a circle to the Yerba mate, an energy providing heat, such coals buried underground. beverage similar to tea, has grown in right with our right hand because it’s a Afterward, the leaves are crushed, put popularity in the United States because into bags, and labeled with the date of its health benefits. Individuals are sign of respect and you hope good things and original location, a process called trading carbonated beverages full of canchada. Thirdly, is the process referred will happen to that person.” empty calories and artificial ingredients, to as beneficio, meaning benefit, where for more nutritional beverages with a the mate is left to age for at least six variety of natural flavors. Celebrities such as acids contribute to the body’s well-being as well months. Through specialized machinery, Madonna, Alicia Silverstone, Matt Dillon, and as providing energy necessary to get through a the mature mate is then filtered to remove Moby—who sells it at his New York City café, long day. remaining twigs, leaves, and other debris. Teany—have promoted the health benefits of “When you drink mate, 100 percent of its Depending on personal preference, mate can mate, contributing to the current trend. benefits your body recognizes,” says Casanueva. contain more or less debris—similar to those “We’re making a difference, one mate at a “The only other beverage like that is water.” who like their orange juice with more or less time,” says Santiago Casanueva, founder and coYerba mate is native to eastern Paraguay and pulp. owner of Top Leaf Yerba Mate in Bend, Oregon. is a member of the holly plant species. For the Originally from Brazil, Raquel Deboni is Casanueva explains that mate’s nature, best possible harvest, the plant needs at least an American English Institute student at the unlike coffee, is to keep the body going without four years to grow. Harvesters first snip leaves University of Oregon who is familiar with
DESIGN LAUREN BEAUCHEMIN
Yerba mate offers drinkers a natural alternative to traditional caffeine and sugar-loaded beverages.
drinking mate. She explains that it’s common for an individual to drink mate multiple times a day with friends and family. Depending on the region, the temperature of water used to make the tea varies. Deboni says that those who live in southern Brazil brew mate with hot water as opposed to drinkers in central Brazil who use cold water. When drinking mate with others, as a matter of courtesy, the one who makes the mate is the first to drink since the first sip is the most bitter. As Deboni sits on the first floor of Pacific Hall at the University of Oregon drinking mate with a couple of her friends, what’s being enjoyed is not so much the mate, but instead sharing the experience with others. The mate is passed around the circle until the water is gone, and the last drinker makes a slurping sound. Though some people may find the sound annoying, in this environment, it’s seen as a sign of respect—like saying the mate was delicious. “We pass the mate in a circle to the right with our right hand because it’s a sign of respect and you hope good things will happen to that person,” says Deboni. Deboni refills the gourd, a custom cup made from the squash-like vegetable after it’s been dried and carved, carefully pouring loose-leaf mate into one side. When placing the bombilla—a mate drinking straw made from cane or metal—into the gourd, Deboni is careful to place the bombilla on the opposite side of the mate, against the wall of the gourd. The strainer-like end of the bombilla is placed at the bottom to prevent chunks of mate from slipping through and ending up between the drinker’s teeth, while the opposite end has a similar shape to a straw that’s been chewed. Hot water can be added to the empty side of the gourd, which is most easily done with a teakettle. Deboni says that although it may be tempting, it’s important to resist the urge of stirring the bombilla around the gourd, because no one wants a mouthful of mate leaves. The porous nature of the gourd allows it to retain flavors. For example, if honey or agave nectar were added in the first batch of mate, the gourd would preserve some of that flavor in the next batch. Deboni encourages mate drinkers to use water, not soap, when cleaning the gourd, or your friends won’t want to drink with you next time.
TOP LEFT: Santiago Casanueva works out of his home overlooking the Crooked River in Central Oregon. TOP RIGHT: Yerba Mate is a beverage that originated from South America and is traditionally shared amongst a group of people. BOTTOM: Santiago Casanueva, founder of Top Leaf Mate, has created a variety of different mate blends.
Mate drinking in Brazil is a tradition similar to tea and coffee drinking rituals in the US, where hot beverages are offered as a sign of hospitality. In the United States, however, it’s not as common to carry around loose-leaf mate, a bombilla, and a gourd. When people see looseleaf mate before water is added to it, Deboni says it’s often mistaken for drugs—loose-leaf mate looks similar to ground cannabis. In Eugene, Oregon, yerba mate is sold in local shops like The Kiva, Townshend’s Tea, and Sundance Natural Foods. Brett Schurbon is an employee at The Kiva, one of several grocery stores in Eugene that sells loose-leaf mate. He explains that the quality of the drink has become cleaner and crisper compared to when first being sold. The Kiva sells a variety of mate in loose-leaf and tea bag form: Unsmoked Green Energy, Nativa Yerba, Mate Chocolatte and Pure Empower Mint. In the chilled section, flavors
include: Citrus Terere, Unsweetened Terere, Traditional, Pure Body, Raspberry Pomegranate Terere, and Mint Terere. Despite yerba mate’s many health benefits, the biggest draw is the social aspect. Whether drinking with complete strangers, friends, or family, sitting in a circle together, passing around a warm, health-infused beverage provides one with a sense of intimacy. Casanueva explains that bonding through mate reveals the true sense of intimacy, “Into me, you see.” - HANNAH HARRIS
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PEOPLE IN MOTION
ABOVE: On Monday through Thursday nights the same group of guys come together to play pick-up games of soccer.
ETHOS MAGAZINE WINTER 2014
on-field action with a steady look of anticipation. The field expands as more players join in. The goals shift back to open up more field space and by the time the stars are out and the lights are turned on, the game is in full force. From the perspective of an outside onlooker, the game looks like a mosh-pit of kicking legs and shoving elbows. To the players, nightly soccer has evolved into a tight-knit community. The pick-up regulars know one another by name and tease and laugh together after on-field blunders. Nicknames are common as well. A barrel-chested man with big feet and a wide smile, who is never afraid to display his creative dribbling skills, is known by most as “Hot Hands.” A small Iraqi student, who arrives every night wearing a complete Argentina National Team outfit and a Lionel Messi jersey, is jokingly referred to as “Messi.” Newcomers are always warmly welcomed too—often times they enter games shaking hands and introducing themselves. But whether new or old to the recreation fields, soccer has been a lifelong passion for most, if not all, of these players. Blessing Chaendera began kicking the ball around his Zimbabwean neighborhood when he was just five years old. “Soccer has been my life,” he says while adjusting his cleats before a game. He recalls leaving his house as a boy and being greeted by flocks of footballers flooding local streets and parks where pick-up games were
always in action. When he began studying at the UO two years ago, he discovered the nightly games and was immediately drawn in by the grand spectrum of international players. “We got guys from Saudi Arabia, me from Africa, other guys from the U.S., and others from Mexico,” he says. “This is awesome. It’s always good times.” Nightly pick-up games represent the diversity among UO students as well as the sport’s power to act as the common language between players of different nationalities. The University of Oregon’s mission statement includes “a commitment to international awareness and understanding.” While there are few established outlets that embrace this multicultural objective, soccer acts as an organic, unifying force that breaks down all cultural barriers. On any given night, players from Japan, China, Mexico, Uruguay, Guatemala, Argentina, Italy, or Iraqi can play together and assist one another for goals. Walking along the sidewalk near the field, an assorted mix of shouts and commands echo throughout. Ismael, a 37-year-old gardener from Mexico yells out “Pasala atrás” to command his Mexican counterparts to push the ball back. “I was wide open!” exclaims one player in frustration after not receiving a pass. Farhan Jabri, a Lane Community College student from Saudi Arabia, notices that in both his home country and in the U.S. there is a lot of shouting involved in pick-up games, but to him, this communication is just an inherent part of the
PHOTO TAYLOR WILDER
s the sun sets on a crisp autumn evening at the University of Oregon, a nightly ritual unfolds. Sitting on the sidewalk, Blessing Chaendera, a 27-year-old Zimbabwean with flowing dreadlocks and a big smile, straps on his studded boots and darts toward the action. Now in the center of the battle, he shouts commands to his comrades. “Move it over here!” he yells with a slight accent. “Cross it!” All eyes are on Abdullah Alharbi, the slender UO sophomore from Saudi Arabia, as he dances elegantly past the defense, leaving them dead in his tracks. With one swift kick, Abdullah rifles a shot through the net, and his troops let out a unified cry of joy, “Goooooaaaal!” This is nightly pick-up soccer in Eugene, Oregon, and for the dozens of players representing countries from nearly every continent, this is their sanctuary. Pick-up soccer games have been a tradition at the University of Oregon recreation fields for countless years, offering an alternative to an organized competition. They are open to everyone and consist of a hodgepodge of players who range in age, size, gender, skill-level, and nationality. Games typically begin around 5:30 p.m. on the Student Recreation Center’s soccer field nearest to the student dormitories, occupying about a third of the field’s space and using small-sized goals. By 6:00 p.m., a number of anxious players gather around the sidelines, hurriedly stretching out their legs as they eye the
DESIGN BRITTANY NGUYEN
A turf field serves as a platform for soccer players to practice their passion, form new relationships, and hone in on their communication and language skills.
sport. “Yelling is just for in the field,” he says, speaking slowly and carefully. “We are not taking anything from here to outside. We are friends. We are more than friends.” Heading home, he stares longingly at the ongoing game. “See you next time guys,” he says while waving goodbye.
South American suaveness, shifting the ball from foot to foot with effortless confidence. He is quick to show off his fancy footwork, but when his flamboyance fails, he just laughs and shrugs it off. Abdullah Alharbi has noticed that there is a distinct contrast between the way his fellow LANGUAGE LESSONS countrymen play the game and how Americans Each player has his or her own motivations play it. He believes Saudi Arabians play more for coming out every night to play. Abdullah attack-minded soccer and possess quicker Alharbi says that in his native Saudi Arabia, “the dribbling skills, whereas Americans pass more standard for being cool is being a good soccer and are more physical. For Alharbi, much player.” But on the field in Eugene, pick-up play like his ability to speak Arabic and English is not a popularity contest. For Alharbi, the interchangeably, he is attracted to both styles of games serve as an interactive classroom for him play. “When I see other people from my country to develop his English skills. play, it looks familiar to me,” he says. “But I Alharbi came to Eugene in December 2012 would like to combine the two ways: dribbling, with the goal of becoming fluent in English. He but also passing and athletic. That would be took English classes throughout high school in perfect for me.” his hometown of Unaizah, but became frustrated A year has passed since Alharbi came to with his teachers’ refusal to speak and integrate Eugene, but soccer still remains his primary English in the classroom. He recalls a time in class outlet for recreation and self-expression. He plays when he mustered up enough on two indoor soccer teams, courage to ask his professor, one through UO intramurals in English, if he would be “SOCCER’S GREAT VIRTUE IS THAT IT ALLOWS FOR and the other through a Eugene willing to teach more lessons in city league team, and he has English. With a blank face, the INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS TO EXPRESS WHO THEY even tried-out for the city’s teacher responded in Arabic, ARE AS PEOPLE BY HOW THEY PLAY THE GAME” upcoming third-division soccer “I’ll try.” club, Lane United FC. Classes When Alharbi arrived in have gotten more challenging energetic personality through his play. When he Eugene in the winter, he was discouraged by how for him as he works his way through higher-level is open, even for just a moment, he waves his little English he knew. Words flew by in a blur, courses, but in his free time, the UO field is still hands wildly in the air and screams for the pass and he found himself sticking to a circle of Saudi his second home. and attention. With the ball at his feet, he puts international students. Things changed, however, Alharbi’s English has improved by leaps and on a dramatic display—his arms are outstretched, when he discovered the evening pick-up games bounds since his first few months in America, his fingers spread out like jazz-hands, and he on campus. when he felt utterly lost in translation. He speaks sprints through the field with full force and When he began playing, he silently shuffled almost fluently and has developed a commanding physicality. After scoring a goal, his exuberance around the field and listened intently to the presence on the field, signaling for passes and comes to a climax: He jumps high in the air and on-field communication. On his first day out, grumbling about missed opportunities for goals. emphatically pumps his clenched fists upward. he remembers people yelling at him to pass, but He has even begun to incorporate slang into his “Let’s go guys, let’s go!” he yells as the ball is put Alharbi, still confused by the language, played on regular conversations with friends: “Hit me up back into play. without understanding the meaning of the simple if you want to play soccer this week, dude. You Kai Rojas, a sophomore who grew up playing soccer commands. He treated soccer as a nightly know I’m always down to play.” soccer for clubs in Argentina, is mild-mannered English lesson, always quietly absorbing words - REUBEN UNRAU in person. He speaks in a relaxed tone and while enjoying the sport he had loved his whole typically responds with a short, witty comment life. Week by week, English vocabulary began to and a quick chuckle. This nonchalance and sink in. He began to speak up more and in the playfulness are similarly expressed through his process, he started making friends from the U.S. play. He stands casually in the defense, hands “I met a lot of people through soccer, so I am resting in his pockets, and dribbles with supple very thankful for that.”
A SPORT OF EXPRESSION
“Soccer’s great virtue is that it allows for individuals and groups to express who they are as people by how they play the game,” says Ken Pendelton, a PhD in philosophy and sports scholar who taught a Soccer and Global Conflicts class last year at UO. “At a certain point after watching a player, you feel like you know who they are. You really come to see their personality by what they do to control the ball.” This sentiment rings true for many of the pick-up regulars, as players are characterized by their typical movements and interaction with the ball. While in sports such as American football, players repeat a certain movement play after play, soccer requires more improvisation and reactive creativity. How players dribble, push the ball into open space, guide the ball on the edge of the sideline, or even celebrate a goal point to one’s unique identity. Blessing Chaendera, undoubtedly the most outgoing player on the field, demonstrates his
LACE UP YOUR BOOTS
ABOVE: Eliezer Gonzalez, left, scrambles toward the ball while Kyle Mickelson, right, attempts to defend the ball and keep it in bounds. RIGHT: Abdullah Alharbi laughs at a joke a fellow teammate makes while walking backwards toward the Rec Fields in Eugene, Ore. on Nov. 21, 2013.
ETHOS MAGAZINE WINTER 2014
A fun, collaborative enviornment captures the healing power of music and helps children overcome mental or psychological disorders.
ix-year-old Jordan Locke eagerly looks up, touching his face as he hears the strumming of a guitar. He picks up some colorful bells from the floor and rings a red one. Two other boys run into the room. “Hey! I want to play too!” says Ray, flinging himself onto the floor next to Jordan. As the session begins, Angie Kopshy hands the guitar around to each of the four boys and lets them strum a chord. The boys sing along to the “Hello Song,” the typical intro to Kopshy’s music therapy. Based in Portland, Oregon, Angie Kopshy is a neurologic music therapist and Vice President
of the Oregon Association of Music Therapy. Music therapy is the use of music to treat physical, emotional, cognitive, and social problems associated with the brain. Therapy can be conducted through singing, playing, dancing to, or creating original music. The goal is to use music to make improvements and changes in other areas of the patient’s life. “I would call myself a music facilitator – using music to fulfill a non-musical goal,” says Kopshy. These goals can include improvements in cognition and development, as well as social and emotional skills. Music therapists must be
FAR LEFT: Kopshy uses various musical techniques to work with patients with autism and dementia to help overcome obstacles in areas of the patients’ lives. LEFT: Three-year-old Jay drums along to the beat during the “Hello Song,” which helps the children get warmed up and ready for their session with music therapist Angie Kopshy. BELOW: Six-year-old Jordan is one of Kopshy’s patients. He has made tremendous progress since their first session together. Here, Jordan focuses on an iPad that displays basic piano keys while Kopshy plays and sings along.
Sing along with the group
PHOTO TIFANNY HAN DESIGN BRITTANY HALLIN
trained to address a variety of disorders, but most have distinct skill sets used to address specific problems. Kopshy focuses on patients with autism and dementia. Each patient has unique needs, so sessions vary. The boys, all six years old, meet with Kopshy for 45 minutes every Saturday to sing songs that help them make connections between music, actions, and words in the songs. Kopshy lets each child choose an action and then incorporates it into a song. “You’ve gotta jump when the spirit says jump,” she sings, and all the children sing and jump together. Kopshy works with some patients individually. Tymme Chamorro meets with Kopshy every Saturday for half an hour. The petite four-yearold doesn’t say much at first, quietly playing with stuffed animals on the floor, but as Kopshy starts singing the words from “Old MacDonald,” Tymme softly joins in. Her words aren’t the same as Kopshy’s, but she keeps the rhythm and tune perfectly. Tymme’s grandmother, Liz Hamilton, has seen incredible changes in her granddaughter since she started music therapy. “She’s started talking unbelievably,” says Hamilton. “I really attribute the music to unlocking her language.” According to Kopshy, Tymme’s words are jumbled, but her vocabulary has grown and speech ability has improved. Hamilton can
attest to how much music therapy has helped Tymme. “My goal is to help her become the best little person she can be, and I think music really speaks to her.” Kopshy became a music therapist after completing a master’s degree in piano studies and has been practicing music therapy for about five years. She hopes that music therapy will
My goal is to help her become the best little person she can be, and I think music really speaks to her.
soon become more prominent in the next few years, especially with regards to children with autism and special needs. The therapy is effective because it accesses different parts of the brain. “When we’re talking, we’re using maybe two different parts of our brain,” says Kopshy. “In music, we’re using at least five.” While all treatments are different, there are some parallels between certain disorders. Kopshy has noted similarities between patients with autism and those with traumatic brain injuries. She attempts to tailor the type of music used in treatment based on each patient’s personal music preference. For example, patients with dementia are often exposed to songs from their youth, which can trigger cognitive connections to their past.
Jordan’s mother, Melissa, feels that her son’s response to music therapy has been decidedly positive. He is very sensitive to noise, but he made tremendous progress in coming to the group sessions. “At first, he wouldn’t even want to come into this room. Now he can sit through a whole class.” Melissa adds that Kopshy’s incorporation of language into Jordan’s private lessons has really helped his speech. The boys in the group session have varying severity of autism. The session is designed to engage all of them, and it does. In one song, Kopshy asks each boy what makes them happy. When she gets to Ray, he pauses, “Hmm. I haven’t really thought about it.” “Well, let’s think about it,” his father prompts him. Ray decides that he loves dancing, and so the group sings, “Dancing makes me happy, so let’s all sing along.” When it comes time for Ray’s three-year-old brother Jay to tell the group his favorite thing, he doesn’t miss a beat, “Ice cream donuts!” Kopshy says that at its core, music therapy capitalizes on the innate healing properties of sound. “Our brains are designed to respond to music, and we just take advantage of that,” she says. It’s not for everyone, but it can be particularly helpful if a patient has an affinity for music. “It’s motivating, and music is cool and fun for kids.” Music has universal appeal, and therapists like Kopshy are working to apply that versatility to help people overcome their struggles through engaging in music.
- JAYATI RAMAKRISHNAN
ETHOS MAGAZINE WINTER 2014
DUAL PERSPECTIVES Whitney Davis and Sarah Goldner illustrate hope, reflecting their unique philosophies and passions.
Hope is something we all feel. Itâ€™s a feeling that something is going to happen and we want that something to be good. True hope is when we ignore any creeping thought of skepticism and expect only the good to shine through. In my illustration, a lighthouse is representative of hope because it symbolizes light in complete darkness, a guiding glow; hope that there is refuge and a light guiding an unsettled soul to shore. - WHITNEY DAVIS
ETHOS MAGAZINE WINTER 2014
ILLUSTRATIONS WHITNEY DAVIS & SARAH GOLDNER This illustration is inspired by the word hope. As a product design major at the University of Oregon, I am constantly being told to utilize materials that can be reused or recycled. My illustration reinforces my belief of making a cleaner environment by upcycling old materials, rather than the significantly easier option of discarding them as trash. My hope is for people to become aware of what kind of waste they produce, and how much of it they are producing, in order to try to find simple ways to reduce their waste. Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials and products of better quality, creating items of improved environmental value. - SARAH GOLDNER ETHOS MAGAZINE WINTER 2014
En route to my first day of work in Mumbai, India, I stared out the window of my cab, feeling dwarfed by the city that would be my home for the next month. Trying to ignore the sporadic swerving of my taxi between the thousands of cars, rickshaws, motorcycles, and buses, I memorized the looming billboards at the end of every highway overpass to get my bearings for the trip home that night. When I told my driver the name of my workplace, he didn’t know where it was. Shrugging, he dropped me off in front of Phoenix Mills, a giant mall. After fumbling with my wallet to pay him the unreasonable 200-rupee fare, about five US dollars, I walked down the street, searching for my office. I asked some men on the street for help, faltering between broken Hindi and English, and somehow pieced together their directions. I finally found the spot, nestled in a dingy alley between towering buildings. At the Asian Age newspaper office, I told my new coworker, Bijith, about the frustrating cab ride. Amused, he told me that the train was much quicker, and the station was close to our office. Eager to fit in, I promptly followed Bijith’s advice. That evening, completely overwhelmed by my first day at the newspaper, I left the office mentally unprepared for the train ride home. I stepped out of my office and into the dizzyingly crowded alley, the stale air reeking from the nearby fish markets. It was monsoon season, and murky rainwater that filled the street came up to my ankles. Every road looked the same to me, and I realized that I had no idea where the train station was. The most troubling thing was that I couldn’t talk to anyone on the street in the language they were speaking to each other. I suddenly felt embarrassed that in the country of my family’s origin, I couldn’t even communicate with the people that made my daily commute possible. My parents are from India, and every few summers we visit our relatives who live there. I was born in Oregon, and my knowledge of Hindi, one of India’s national languages, is elementary at best. Every time I visited as a child, I relied on my parents to communicate for me. My parents speak to me primarily in English with a few 46
ETHOS MAGAZINE WINTER 2014
Hindi phrases mixed in. Apart from using it with Train rides became both my ticket to work my family, I had nowhere to apply the language, and my daily language practice. Wedged between so I’d never had any interest or need to learn it. two other passengers, I grasped the metal bar On this trip to India, I was traveling alone above my head and peered out of the open to Mumbai to intern at the Asian Age daily door, looking past the trash-littered train tracks newspaper. Mumbai, also known as Bombay, is to the similarly adorned platform ahead. The India’s largest city. India’s major cities absorb conductor’s electronic voice called out the next many foreign trends, but I wasn’t prepared for stop in three languages: English, Hindi, and the level of westernization that Mumbai had to Marathi. Every day as I rode the Western Railway, offer. I went to restaurants that served delicious I sat and tried to pick out the Hindi words I pasta and pizza and listened to Lady Gaga knew, both from the announcements and from blasting on speakers when I went to bars with conversations around me. my cousin. During the week, my job required As I clung to my summer in India, I began me to write in English, and everyone I worked to realize that feeling at home came down to with could speak it. Honestly, I could have my ability to accept India rather than India’s managed in Mumbai without a word in Hindi. As acceptance of me. Practically speaking, I wouldn’t I heard my coworkers bantering during that first even have to pick up a new language. But as week, I answered a question I had been asking I spent more time in India, I realized that the myself since I was a left out child who couldn’t biggest mistake I could make in speaking a new understand my dad’s Hindi jokes that would language would be to not learn it at all. leave roomfuls of people helpless with laughter: - JAYATI RAMAKRISHNAN I’m missing out here. Despite India’s status as the world’s second most populous nation, visiting it can be truly isolating. I always felt like an outcast there—when people in India see something strange, they stare. Any time I opened my mouth and revealed my strong American accent, I found myself on the receiving end of many stares. Even if I did speak the language of whatever state I was in—there’s a different official language for almost every state—I would never be able to comprehend, let alone keep up, with everything that was happening on the teeming streets of India. I had come to India believing that as a young adult, I should finally feel at home in my native country. Instead, my feelings of detachment were disheartening. The train ride home on my first day of work was a turning point. Instead of hoping that I would find someone who spoke English to direct me, I felt compelled to use my Hindi, despite my limited vocabulary. Mustering up my courage, I turned to some men standing on the street by my office. I knew my Hindi was laughable, but everyone I asked was eager to help me. A few hours later, I bounded into my aunt’s house beaming with pride and announced ABOVE: Jayati Ramakrishnan travelled to Mumbai, India to work that I had taken the train all by for Asian Age, a local newspaper. myself.
PHOTO ANDREW SENG
An American-born Indian finds herself walking on a blurred line between culture and language in her family’s homeland.
DESIGN MICHELLE WRIGHT