Page 1

2015

2


THE CREW Editors

Greg Leonov Adam Elwell

Writers

Adam Elwell Jon Fuccillo Greg Leonov Emily Wintringham

Designers

Adam Elwell Shawnie Fortune Jon Fuccillo Heather Golan Greg Leonov Emily Wintringham

Photographers

Greg Leonov Thomas Stewart Emily Wintringham

Contributors

Micah Fletcher Beka Haugen DJ Johnson

Advisers

Howard Buck Dan Ernst

3 8 13 17

A long, winding road Former Saint labors through the minor leagues

Poetry slam Reclaiming art and culture

Booming of the cannabis industry Growing a business with new regulation and public acceptance

Associated Student Government Why student governments matter

Venture Magazine is a Mt. Hood Community College student publication produced by

Mt. Hood Community College

necessarily represent the views of Mt. Hood Community College. None of these materials

Gresham, Oregon 97030

students in the journalism department. The articles and materials present in Venture do not may be reproduced without written permission from Venture.

26000 SE Stark Street 503-491-7250


Editor’s note The magazine you’re holding in your hands is

types of careers, not just athletics. The Associated

the product of intense labor and much frustra-

Student Government has contributed to building

tion. This year, we decided to go with a simple,

leaders that have gone on to serve their commu-

consistent design that is similar for every story

nities. With influence on their public, they un-

so that there is a familiar feeling from one story

derstand that they’re elected to their position to

to another. I will not beat a dead horse by talking

serve. Bringing their stories back to college has

about “Venturing” here and there for adventure,

been a service to the students, and I thank the

but I will say that this project was a real quest

ASG for work they have done and continue to do

to discover what we could produce with the

to build and improve the quality of student life

amount of time we ended up with. As the aca-

that continues to exist beyond the campus. The

demic year draws to a close, we hope that this

principles we learn at Mt. Hood are tools that in-

project is seen as a job well done, and is appreci-

spire innovation, and encourage enterprising in-

ated by the readers that take the time to join us

dividuals to grasp opportunities as doors open up

in our stories.

to new ideas and industry.

Along our quest we discovered the power of

With the legalization of marijuana in the state

the spoken word. The Slam Poetry scene in Port-

of Oregon, a new industry is emerging before our

land is an open community where anyone can

eyes. I had the opportunity to get familiar with

share their words in front of unique individuals

a company that has been around for almost two

sharing an appreciation for diversity. This year, I

decades, and are moving forward to help others

personally discovered the catharsis of getting my

build this industry from the ground up. As drug

soul in print, but I have yet to bring those words

war stigma gradually wears off of marijuana;

to the microphone on a regular basis. I will get my

techniques to cultivate the plant itself, and nego-

chance, and so will you when Slam Poetry comes

tiations for fair regulation will have the potential

to Mt. Hood.

to bring revenue and bliss to many people in this

That connection to Mt. Hood is also illustrat-

great state. The possibility of integrating cannabis

ed in the story of a baseball legend in the making

cultivation courses with the innovative mission of

that is on track to the major league. Jon Fuccillo

MHCC is not a far-fetched fantasy.

has been following the career of DJ Johnson for

I’ve written over 450 words for you in this in-

seven years. Johnson’s bond with Mt. Hood is un-

tro alone, and I apologize for that. Please don’t let

mistakable. The twists and turns in his career are

that discourage you from exploring our discover-

everything that makes his story worthwhile.

ies during this spring term. I present to you the

Mt. Hood is a fertile training ground for many

2015 issue of Venture Magazine.

-Greg Leonov Editor-in-Chief

2


A

LONG,

WINDING ROAD by Jon Fuccillo

Photos contributed by DJ Johnson

Former Saint takes difficult path to the big leagues

I

A taste of the big leagues t was a humid April evening in Fort Myers, Florida, home of the Boston Red Sox spring training

facility,

when

Twins

pitching

prospect DJ Johnson started to get loose in the

bullpen in the bottom half of the eighth inning. Little did the 25-year-old know, Hall of Fame explayer and first-year Twins manager Paul Molitor was about to call on No. 99 to close out the bottom of the ninth with a comfortable 5-2 lead. Nerves, butterflies and adrenaline started to kick in for the former Mt. Hood Saint. But Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound Beaverton native,

I’ve had a tough road to travel to get to where I am today.

settled down quite nicely once his size-13 New Balance cleats made contact with the rubber. He couldn’t have asked for better results, either: three up, three down. “That save will stick with me for a long time,” says Johnson, who is now with his third MLB organization in the last six years. The

chance

to

play

in

a

major-league

-DJ Johnson Minnesota Twins prospect

environment, while a common test for young prospects during spring training, made for a special personal highlight. “When I went in for the save, I didn’t even realize it was the ninth inning... So when the last out was recorded I started walking towards the dugout.

3


(Two of my teammates) had to get my attention and

above the Advanced level of Single A ball, in a

call me back to go through the line to shake hands

regular-season contest. If he continues to impress

with teammates.”

he will earn himself the opportunity to move

Johnson was smiling from ear to ear, with his dimples sunk into his freshly shaved face.

farther up the rungs of organized baseball, at any given time throughout the year. He’s prepared to

“Going through that line, I had the biggest smile on my face and made sure I kept the ball,” he adds. It’s been an unusual journey for Johnson, chasing his professional ball dream, but it’s one that he has embraced and now feels better prepared for.

Back to the real world Snapping from that sweet moment to the present day, it’s back to the real world for Johnson, who

This off-season my goal was to train myself with the mindset that I was going to the big leagues by the end of the year.

-DJ Johnson

reported to Chattanooga, Tennessee, for his Double A minor league debut with the Chattanooga Lookouts to start off the regular season. He’s playing for manager Doug Mientkiewicz, a former MLB ballplayer himself.

make the leap once the time comes. “Weird to think that I am so close to the big leagues,” Johnson says. “This off-season, my goal

Never in Johnson’s six-year career has he played

4

was to train myself with the mindset that I was


Photos: Former Mt. Hood Saint DJ Johnson (left) signing his first professional contract in 2010 with Tampa Bay Rays scout Paul Kirsch (opposite page). Johnson celebrates his first majorleague level save during spring training (below).

a phase for two years where I couldn’t throw a

going to the big leagues by the end of the year.” Johnson knows it won’t be an easy road ahead for

strike to save my life and I got really frustrated,” he

him. Nothing is guaranteed, especially in his line

recalls. “I told my pitching coach, James Allen (at

of work. He now has a special appreciation for the

the time), I was done pitching.” In his last season with the Saints, Johnson only

“grind” that is minor league baseball, something

pitched two innings and had a 13.50 ERA.

he had taken for granted in the early stages of his

When his Mt. Hood days were over, Johnson

young professional career. “The grind is crazy. I can’t put it any other way,”

would transfer to Western Oregon University,

he says of a player’s life in the minors. “Not many

in Monmouth. He briefly played for head coach

people can truly appreciate what we go through

Jeremiah Robbins, who is now with Lewis-Clark

on a daily basis. Long bus rides, going from hotel

State College.

to hotel, and being with the same group of guys

Robbins saw something special in Johnson, in

for 140 games isn’t easy. Even in the off-season (I)

particular, his big arm and frame, but wasn’t able

always have baseball on my mind.”

to utilize him much on the field due to injuries and academic issues. Nevertheless, Robbins wasn’t

College path sets tone for challenges

about to give up on the transfer, and offered him a

The fate of the Twins’ fortunes one day may

special opportunity.

rest in the right hand of a pitcher once known for

“His arm came back at the end of our season and

his big-time bat in college. The 2007 Sunset High

he looked great,” Johnson’s former coach says. “We

School grad had troubles with his control while

were planning on using him on the mound, but he

playing at Mt. Hood and decided to “call it quits” on

battled injuries and his grades were in bad shape.”

the mound and focus on his offensive game.

Thankfully, Robbins had good professional

“When I was at Mt. Hood (2007-09) I went through

connections and sought to give his young prospect

The grind is crazy. I can’t put it any other way... Even in the off-season I always have baseball on my mind.

- DJ Johnson

5


Web photo another opportunity to showcase his arm in front of

of rest and rehabilitation, couldn’t get right. The

Tampa Bay Rays area scout Paul Kirsch in a special

injury kept him off the diamond for the entire 2013

workout at Volcanoes Stadium, home of the Salem-

season, by which time the Diamondbacks had cut

Keizer Volcanoes. Johnson impressed enough in his

him loose.

brief outing that he received a whopping $1,000 signing bonus and a paid flight to rookie camp in Florida.

“When I was released from the Diamondbacks, I was determined to get my shoulder healthy on my

“I was going, no matter what,” Johnson says of

own terms and (to) go out and try to play again,”

taking his first professional contract. “I didn’t care

Johnson says now. “It was a long year, and I learned

what they were going to pay me. I would have played for free.”

Third time in the minors is a charm Johnson finished his first minor league season that year, with the Rookie League Gulf Coast Rays, with impressive numbers on the bump: 2.05 ERA,

...I knew I was going to have to take it upon myself to show people how much I love this game...

-DJ Johnson

2 saves and 16 strikeouts in 22.0 innings. However, those stats weren’t enough to land him a contract extension, due to the simple fact that the Tampa

a lot about myself in that time.

Bay organization didn’t have much stock invested

“No team is going to take a chance on someone

in him. They also weren’t impressed with his weight

that wasn’t healthy for an entire year… So I knew

at the time.

I was going to have to take it upon myself to show

“They told me that I showed up overweight and didn’t see me making the team that season,” Johnson

people how much I love this game and how hard I was willing to work to further my baseball career.”

recalls. “I was definitely overweight when I showed

Come 2014, Johnson would play a second

up for camp,” the stocky hurler concedes. “It’s been a

season in Traverse City, Michigan. He appeared

struggle my whole career, until this season.”

in 24 games for the hometown Beach Bums of the

Fast forward five years, and Johnson is now with his third MLB organization. Before signing a twoyear contract with the Twins last season, Johnson

Frontier Independent League, recording 14 saves. He would tack on 12 more games with Fort Myers, in the Advanced A-level Florida League.

spent two years in the Arizona Diamondbacks

“It’s been an interesting journey, that’s for sure,”

organization, in 2011 and 2012. That’s where the

Johnson adds, of his various assignments. “Not one

injury bug caught up with his right shoulder: He

that many players at this level take to get to where

tore a shoulder muscle, and despite long periods

they are.”

6


Simply put: It’s been one helluva roller coaster for

let it go. His journey has battle-tested him for the

him. But he continues to keep things in perspective

future, and that’s a plus for him. He has seen the

with the idea of taking it day-by-day.

highs and lows of baseball like most of us haven’t

He explains, in cliché form, “You have to take it

on this team.”

one pitch at a time. You can’t control the outcomes.”

Johnson wouldn’t have it any other way. He said

Johnson hopes he gets a crack at dressing down

he’s just enjoying the journey, and believes the

for the major league Twins, eventually. He said he

Twins are a perfect fit for his near-future.

believes that things will be different, and that he

“I definitely think this time with the Twins will

learned more about himself as a person in the last

be different,” he says. “I know what it’s like to

six years than he ever had known before. He insists

have the game taken away from me, once because

that a third time is a charm and that something

of injury, and once because I just took things for

special will come out of this opportunity.

granted and didn’t work hard enough. I learned the

Johnson’s Chattanooga battery mate, catcher

hard way that this game doesn’t owe me, or anyone else, anything,” he adds. “I could be back at school

He has the confidence to come into a game and let it go. His journey has battletested him for the future...

-Stuart Turner

or working (a random job) right now. But I’m not. I’m going to enjoy every second.” Johnson won’t let anyone or anything get in the way of his journey to the big leagues, especially those “naysayers” who wrote him off in years past, he adds. He harvests strong motivation from their doubts. “I say ‘Thank you’ to the naysayers. They’ve helped me learn a lot about myself and how strong I really am,” he said. “They helped me push myself

Stuart Turner, agrees that his teammate has what it

this last year to get into the best shape of my life,

takes to play for the Twins, sooner than later.

and made me realize that if I wanted to make it in

“I think he has the stuff to make it,” says Turner. “He has the confidence to come into a game and

this game I was going to have to work harder than I ever have and want it more than anyone.”

The long road

DJ’s teams over the years 2010 2011-14 2011 2012

Johnson’s No. 44 Twins jersey hangs in his locker room. Johnson looks to jump to the MLB this year after starting the year in Double A for the Chattanooga Lookouts.

2012 2014 2015


Poetry Slam

MANIFESTING THE ART THAT CHANGES LIVES by Emily Wintringham

Photos by Emily Wintringham

What is slam poetry? In all its rituals, varieties and the different communities who partake in it, slam is simple at its core. It is the people taking back what’s theirs: both the art, and social justice. If you attend a slam, you will hear emotional, expressive passion coming from the mouth of someone condemning crimes done against them and others. Sometimes, it’s meek and somber, as

You never need to apologize to me for talking too much. On your voice you carry cities like rolling luggage, Your hands, careful but casual, can cast shadows on a skyline holding histories in solid black ink...

if the poet were a vulnerable child telling it like

Once upon a time, artists served up poetry

it is. Other times, you might feel a drop of spit

as a means to become more affluent in society,

slap your cheek, expelled from the poet’s roaring

but through slam poetry, it becomes the

mouth. You will see veins popping from a person’s

servant to the “common” people and to diverse

neck, their hair doused in sweat. You will see

communities’ advocacy.

them tremor as they shake their fist and use the

In fact, slam poetry (a particular event might

most of “cacophony” – a string of harsh words to

be a “poetry slam”) was brought to us by “everyday

convey disorder or turmoil.

people.” Marc Smith, a blue-collar construction

Whatever way the poet chooses to express his

worker, started poetry-reading sessions in 1985 at

or her view, that individual is capturing the art of

a jazz club lounge in Chicago. He merged the art

poetry – a once-aristocratic, academic,

of performance poetry with several elements of

literary

novelty – and taking command of it.

baseball and terminology from the game of bridge,

8


Micah Fletcher (19) Photo by Micah Fletcher

in order to fashion a competitive, entertaining yet thought-provoking event.

Where once poetry was mostly the muse of very intelligent, prosperous men from prestigious

Slam poetry has drawn the interest of people

universities, ordinary men and women such as

in cities the world over, and perhaps it’s because

the young poet whom Rainer nurtured were left

poets have finally found a wide audience and the

wondering if they’d ever reach the surface.

voice to reach it.

Micah Fletcher, 19 and a student at Mt. Hood,

The two are forever intertwined.

has been a longtime participant in the Portland

Here’s an excerpt of the forward written by

Poetry Slam community, and a writer well back

American author, Kent Nerburn, in “Letters to a

into his youth. But those who see him onstage,

Young Poet,” a work by Rainer Maria Rilke:

taking the crowd by storm, might never guess the type of tempests he has faced himself.

“All of us who labor in the arts know that it can

“What really got me started in writing is music,

be a lonely existence. We often find ourselves living

specifically the hip-hop music that came out of the

a life of solitary dreams, disconnected from others,

1990s. I listen to a lot of that and still do to this

and driven by a vision that no one else seems to

day,” Fletcher said. “It was the usage of music and

value or share…

wordplay to describe ideas in such a powerful,

“We then thirst for a single voice of understanding that will reach into our solitary lives and

phenomenal way that really got me started in not just writing, but music.

reassure us that the path we have chosen is wor-

“What I realized is that I had no musical talent

thy and that the rewards it offers are worth the

back when I was little, so all I could do was the

loneliness it entails.”

writing. So I would write all sorts of things,

9


Alex Dang performs at Portland Poetry Slam on May 24, 2015

Brenna Twohy performs at Portland Poetry Slam on May 24, 2015

everything from really structured poems, like in iambic pentameter and haiku form or what-haveyou, all the way to way to writing little stories and raps for myself,” he said. A woman named Teriya Autry then introduced Fletcher to slam poetry. He regarded her as “quite possibly the most kind and compassionate woman” he’s ever met, he said. Autry mentored Fletcher and introduced him to creative writing. They met through Caldera, an arts program sponsored

by

Weiden+Kennedy,

the

noted

Portland advertising agency. The Caldera program happened to visit and recruit members from Madison High School, where Fletcher attended. They picked a handful of students to participate in the program.

You said I could show you fear in a handful of dust and that’s fine and I’m flattered but I’d rather show you care in a handful of mine Out thereis already a sand storm. These silent mornings are magnificent shadows, they look like solid black ink, but they’re just so many words written on top of each other... Bradley, who left quite an impression.

“You gotta understand that middle school was not

“I remember the first time he ever walked up

a good point in my life at all,” Fletcher said. In fact,

onstage and I didn’t see it coming because, you

he was institutionalized for erratic anger. “It was a

know, it’s a poetry thing still,” Fletcher recalled. “I

very dark center, so to actually have someone pick me

expected, being the ignorant person I was at the

and help me to write, it was one of the bright spots

time, that it was just going to be a low-key event

in my life at that point. I would be writing and that’s

and he goes ‘WHAT the f*ck is up, Portland?!’ at

how I learned to process all these emotions that as

just, like, at the top of his lungs.

an autistic child I didn’t understand what to do with.

“He screams into the microphone and that was how

“Poetry made me examine the human condition:

he opened the show. It was a phenomenal set and the

What it’s like to be other people and through that

people that went up on the Slam that night did an

I found out what it’s like to be other people… and

amazing job and I was inspired so much that I just

thus I found out who I was as a person,” he said. “In

kept on writing all night that night,” Fletcher said.

a way, I would say writing was a mirror that allowed to see my own self.”

There would be more. “I’ll never forget, my favorite memory was the

Fletcher would compete, then shine, at the high

third time, I believe, I went to a slam,” Fletcher

school level. In 2013, his junior year, he won first

said. “This woman name Robyn Bateman comes

place at the second annual Verselandia Poetry

up on stage and she’s an extremely talented poet

Slam, which was produced by Portland Literary

and she starts doing this poem about this young

Arts, and sponsored by Portland Monthly magazine

man who’s autistic who she works with in this care

and Weiden+Kennedy.

center and she happens to be like this huge fan

Micah has been involved in the Portland Poetry Slam for three years, since 2012.

of hip-hop music as well and she goes on in this poem to describe him.

The slam master for his first event was Eirean

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“I can’t remember what she learned from him


They were talking about issues in ways that were relevant to the audience, not trying to prescribe away issues but really resonating with people. -Andy Gurevich but her words were just so eloquent and so perfect for me at the time, because at that time I was very lonely. I kind of thought that I would never find someone like myself again because I also happen to be autistic and to hear this woman get up onstage and start talking about a person who’s basically another version of me… It was an incredibly powerful moment for me and an incredibly relieving moment for me,” he said. As the slam scene spreads across the Portland arts community, if all goes to plan, MHCC will have its own smashing event, coming in autumn 2015 or the following spring.

(web photo) Audre Lorde (1934 -1992) Sister Outsider (1984)

Andy Gurevich, world religions and writing instructor at Mt. Hood, bristles with excitement for a slam poetry event he’s working to bring to the Gresham campus.

“They were talking about issues in ways that

His quest started when he and his wife attended

were relevant to the audience, not trying to

the most recent “Take Back the Night” rally at Portland

prescribe away issues but really resonating with

State University. He found the words of two women

people,” said Gurevich.

from Sister Outsider Poetry, a female performance poet duo sweeping the nation, to be spellbinding. Dominique

Photo credit: Emily Wintringham

Christina

and

Denise

“The closest thing I’ve seen to it in my life was like religious revivals where people are so taken

Froman,

in emotion to what’s being said that they holler in

who have each won world championships, have

approval like, you know, screaming ‘Amens!’ and

launched together a visionary Sister Outsider

you can just feel the energy in the room.

poetry series, based on contemporary writings on

“And so afterwards, kind of in a fan-frenzy

social issues penned by Audre Lorde, published in

phase, I ran up there like a crazy person – thank

her anthology, “Sister Outsider.”

God my wife was with me so I didn’t look too

Christina is an activist and educator inspired

weird,” Gurevich said, chuckling – “and I was like,

by her family’s legacy in the American civil rights

‘You guys gotta come to Mt. Hood! You guys gotta

movement. Froman has centered her work on

come to Mt. Hood!’ ”

celebrating diversity and the uniqueness of every

So far, he said, there’s been a verbal commitment

individual. In the pair’s poetry and outreach, they

from Sister Outsider to visit campus, but no

focus on the social issues relevant to many people

written confirmation.

in the 21st century – multiculturalism, homopho-

Gurevich showed a video clip of “No Child Left

bia, sexual assault, immigration, educational in-

Behind,” a Sister Outsider performance of that name

equalities, coming of age and several others that

by Christina and Froman, to Sara Rivara, MHCC

challenge the traditional way of thinking. Theirs is

Humanities Department dean and a published poet

truly a voice for “outsiders.”

herself, and fellow instructors Scarlett Saavedra,

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Jill Greenseth emcees Portland Poetry Slam in place of Slam Mastress Leyna Rynearson on May 24, 2015

Lydia Yuknovich, Michelle Hampton, and others during a department sponsored “Mouths of Others” literary event on campus. “They were all for it,” he said. He then reached out to Melinda Bullen, Diversity Resource Center coordinator, and through her to Mt. Hood student organizations such as the Black Student Union, Gay Straight Alliance, and American Association of University Women, to collaborate and make the

I respect you as an artist as I respect you as a lover as I respect you as a person For your careful hands I have never been so seen. Thank-you. Poem by Sarah Gehring,

event happen.

-Portland Poetry Slam

“I started getting really excited because this is the kind of thing I want to do here,” Gurevich said, of an event that not only bridges MHCC departments but pulls in several student organizations to produce it.

There might be even more slam poetry coming at Mt. Hood. Gurevich has discussed MHCC hosting an upcoming high school slam poetry competition, organized by the Portland Literary Arts foundation, sometime during the 2015-16 academic year. The details for either opportunity still must be worked out, he said. It’s still up to Sister Outsider to decide whether to come to campus. That’s to be expected with the world of poetry slam. One enters a world of endless possibilities; poetry slam is a beacon, for a brighter future and belonging. As for Fletcher, he’s on to big things, as well. His first book of poetry, titled “Cigarette’s PillowTalk Lonely,” will be released sometime in the near future. “Poetry will be a part of my life always, because it is the only language I will ever truly understand,” he says.

Tasha Receno wins the Portland Poetry Slam on May 24, 2015

12


Booming of the cannabis industry

by Greg Leonov

Photos by Thomas Stewart

One Oregon marijuana seed company has had a 15-year head start in the cannabis industry. With the state’s legalization of recreational use, officials at Stoney Girl Gardens in Clackamas are working to keep medicinal cannabis easily accessible, while also pursuing licensing of their strains. “I could be the next Intel...” says founder Jennifer Valley about the rich potential of her company, as well as the opportunity for others interested in building the budding new industry. When a visitor arrives at the office of Stoney Girl

“As we move forward…” is almost a catchphrase

Gardens, located in a semi-industrial Clackamas

for Mullins, excited for the future of the cannabis

neighborhood tucked away a few blocks from

industry in Oregon. He believes it will grow to be

Interstate 205, the company’s founder quickly

larger than the dotcom boom of the nineties, and

strikes up a conversation about its core mission:

the cellular boom of today – if the authorities and

breeding marijuana starters that buyers then

an invested public lay the proper groundwork.

cultivate for medical or recreational use.

Stoney Girl Gardens is America’s oldest cannabis

Jennifer Valley explains how she comes up with

seed company, as Mullins describes it. Founded in

names for different strains, based on the genetics of

1999 by Valley, who is known as “Stoney Girl,” the firm

the new plants. She named a certain strain “Crippled

is the first U.S. seed company to be internationally

Rhino,” for example, after breeding a strain called

recognized by author Ed Rosenthal in The Big Book

“White Rhino” with one called “Crippler.”

of Buds, which featured a bud from Stoney Girl on

Stoney Girl Gardens focuses on creating distinct

its cover.

strains. When customers purchase a clone of a

As for naming rules, the reality is, a breeder

plant, they are basically purchasing the genetics of

can name whatever strain he crosses anything

the plant, according to Valley.

he wants, Valley said. Mullins said that he and

The office is spacious, minimalistic, and almost

Valley bombarded representatives from the U.S.

has a clinical vibe to it. Visitors might feel as if they

Department of Agriculture with questions. “One

have entered an HR office, or are in a waiting room

of them was: Are we really way off-base, naming

anxiously looking forward to their next checkup. The

these things ‘Rhino,’ ‘Pit bull,’ etc.?” he said. “They

walls are decorated with posters of colorful buds and

laughed about that and said, ‘Absolutely not’ –

various “Cannabis Cups,” and on the wall to the left of

you’re the creator, you get to name that strain what

the entrance is a framed Willamette Week newspaper

you wish.”

cover and pages featuring Valley and Mike Mullins, Stoney Girl’s director of operations.

It’s not a trivial issue, even as Mullins predicts an industry turn toward more mundane numbers and

13


letters. The overriding question becomes, “What is

chemical power’s oft-criticized monopoly tactics)

a strain?”

but what it was about was being able to make sure

The “genetics pool” of what Mullins called

that the end user had what they thought they had.”

“commercial strains” has been polluted, he said.

Getting their genetics officially registered is

“We have OG Kush at both of the ends of the scale

crucial for businesses such as Stoney Girl, he said.

The biggest problem that we have is piracy.

“Knowing who’s using our strain and renaming it … the biggest problem that we have is piracy.” Valley said the user/grower deserves to know

-Mike Mullins

exactly what strain they’ve purchased. She wouldn’t

from sativa (strains that produce an uplifting,

they wanted a “Berkeley,” she said. A Berkeley grows

energetic, and sometimes hallucinogenic effect –

hair-like fibers on it after 28 days and is ready for

sativa leaves are thin) to indica (strains that produce

harvest; the latter also grows fibers after 28 days,

a relaxing, drowsy, calming feeling – indicas have

but then needs eight weeks more to be ready for

thicker leaves). “Which one is it? And which one

harvest.

want one to end up with a “Jack Herer” strain when

“That’s bad for my reputation, because then

was the original?” he said. As legalization of recreational cannabis spreads

people can say, ‘Oh, (their) genetics don’t do what

in the U.S. and its stigma from a federal government

she said they did.’ Because they’re not really getting

level wears off, Mullins said he hopes that research

my genetics, they’re getting (those of ) someone

universities will integrate with the industry to help

who used my name,” she said. In 1993, Valley was diagnosed with “the most

build its foundation. “When we built the wine industry, like the pinot

advanced case of thyroid cancer ever seen in a

noir industry (in Oregon), that was with the help

living patient,” she said. By 1998, she began to

of our universities. It certainly wasn’t from an

explore growing her own cannabis, to find relief.

individual farmer himself. So, we really need that

After researching, but constantly failing – she

kind of integration so that we can get answers for

would kill 21 clones before she teamed up with

this,” he said.

Mullins – she sought out help. “We bred genetics

Studying the genetics and having a system of genome mapping will allow those in the industry

designed to cope with the symptoms that I was dealing with,” she said.

to better understand each plant. And mapping will

Valley was not expecting to live as long as she

allow companies such as Stoney Girl Gardens to

did, but as her health improved, she diligently

protect their intellectual property so they can track

pursued her new passion.

and protect their work – and know if others have

Working together to establish skills in growing cannabis specifically for Valley, the two decided

stolen and renamed it. “We’re the first seed company in the United States,

that others struggling with serious illness also

or even the world, to actually introduce licensing

needed a way to learn quickly. “We needed a two-

on genetics,” said Mullins. “People go ‘Gosh, that’s

day training session that a Stage IV cancer patient

kind of Monsanto of you’ (a reference to that seed-

could do and be able to successfully grow their own

14

Photos: Stoney Girl Gardens grower and Portlandsterdam University instructor Jason Jones’ cannabis from North Portland (below). Founder Jennifer Valley and Director of Operations Mike Mullins in their office in Clackamas (opposite page).


medicine,” said Valley. That’s how Portlandsterdam

with starting dispensaries in Oregon, she said.

University, a series of training courses offered by

“We really felt that patients need to be able to

Stoney Girl Gardens, was established, she said.

have access to their medicine the first day that

“We started Portlandsterdam to help the cannabis

they’re diagnosed and that medical marijuana is an

patient. We’d rather teach you how to fish, than fish

important part of the healthcare transformation.”

for you.”

Stoney Girl Gardens was the natural outcome of

Northwest Oregon offers fertile ground for local growers.

trying to solve health issues. “I think it starts out with patients helping

All the plants used by Stoney Girl come from the 45th Parallel (the longitude that cuts east-west across Oregon, right near Salem), or farther north, and from the mountains, and so they thrive in Oregon’s climate. “They have a very fast finish time, and they’re made to cope with the kind of weather issues that

...patients need to be able to have access to their medicine the first day that they’re diagnosed...

-Jennifer Valley

we have here in our temperate rainforest. That’s really helped with cycling the product through (fast) enough to have enough medicine for a patient

patients,” said Mullins about the burgeoning

like me,” she said, a Stage IV cancer patient herself.

industry. “We realized early on that patients in

She said she’s still “addressing a lot of issues, but

every state, in dealing with cannabis, are under the

I’m also accomplishing a lot.”

restriction of certain amount of numbers for their

It was after her mother died, two weeks before her plants were ready for harvest, that she began

plants, and keeping a consistency of medicine is (also) a difficult job.”

working with Mullins to help patients get safe

Now comes a major revolution: With Measure

access to medicinal cannabis. They got involved

91 approved by Oregon voters last year, making the

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state one of four in the U.S. to legalize recreational pot

the line,’ and then you won’t have any problems with

use, local and state officials are scrambling to figure

the federal issues,” he said.

out how to regulate the substance.

It’s now up to Oregon citizens and marijuana users

There are no tried and proven methods. “If you’re

to demand the fair, nuanced regulation they deserve

in Colorado, and you’re a dispensary there, you’re

by engaging in the political process during this crucial

required to produce 70 percent of the stock you put

period, Mullins said.

into your store,” noted Mullins. “Whereas, if you’re in

Valley encourages individuals to think of recreational

Oregon, you cannot produce on-site at your dispensary,

use as “adult use,” instead. “We need to stand up and

so it’s quite the opposite.”

say, ‘No, we are adults, we are citizens, we do vote,

Already, Stoney Girl Gardens and other local producers and users have serious concerns.

and we’re not going to be kept out of politics… Did we really pass Measure 91 so that we can smoke pot in our

“Obviously this is a new industry, and there’s a lot of experimentation with it,” said Mullins. “I’m hoping first of all that we don’t over-regulate it, and we don’t

parents’ basement? Because that’s what (overzealous regulators are) trying to do,” she said. Stoney Girl instead promotes a brighter, forwardthinking approach. Mullins said the company is looking beyond

People would wonder back then, ‘What are you doing with a business card in this kind of occupation?’

Clackamas County to establish an

“Edgefield of

cannabis,” as he calls it (along the lines of the McMenamin’s Edgefield food-lodging-farm complex in Troutdale).

-Mike Mullins

“We already have the lodge there (in Troutdale) and acreage to be able to put in the farm facilities and start out with what we will call a ‘bud and breakfast,’ but

overtax it, so that it can’t exist,” he said.

will start out as a treatment facility for our own needs,”

He worries that many municipalities are working

he said.

on legislation to essentially ban any kind of cannabis

That’s just one example of the potential boom

facilities, with strict land use zoning. He cites

foreseen by the partners, who have been branding and

ordinances imposed by Clackamas County requiring

promoting their company since 1999. “People would

a 1,500-foot buffer between liquor stores and any

wonder back then, ‘What are you doing with a business

sort of cannabis facility: “They’re completely zoning

card in this kind of occupation?’ ” said Mullins.

us out.”

Those efforts could soon pay off – big. And yet, the

He questions why officials are throwing up barriers at the same time they speak of needing economic

duo say they would prefer that individuals, rather than corporations, rule the new industry.

growth and tax revenue. There’s even been talk of a

“I can be the next Intel if you just let me. I can tell

class-action lawsuit against the county, if facilities are

you that we’re between two and 15 years ahead of the

effectively forced out, he said.

rest of the industry,” said Valley. While other scientists

Mullins blames the harsh regulatory environment

test their cannabis products with mouse and rat

mostly on the nation’s drug war and historical stigma

studies, Stoney Girl has already been treating people,

against marijuana. But he also is confident that

and seeing results, she said.

legalization will happen soon at a federal level, as voters in one state after another push for change.

The pair strongly encourages other entrepreneurs to pursue their own vision.

“I’m predicting the federal government will come

“There’s a lot of opportunity out there. Be alert

to the table within the next two to three years,” he

enough to look at the industry and see all of the

said. Meantime, Stoney Girl and other growers have

solutions to the problems that we have because that’s

walked a narrow path, as to not invite law enforcement

what we do – we provide solutions for problems,” said

crackdowns. “In this industry, we have the common

Mullins. “That’s what businesses are. Don’t look at

thought that, ‘Always stay within the boundaries or the

things as problems, look at them as challenges and go

law of the state, never transgress those, never ride on

out there and make those solutions.”

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ASG

by Adam Elwell A case could be made that Associated Student Government (ASG) at a community college level is a smaller, but functionally the same, version of America’s state or federal government. Sure, no one is probably losing sleep over the last undeveloped country they screwed over, or

WHY COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENT GOVERNMENTS MATTER

that pork-barrel project they’ve scored for the home folks, but a lot of the founding principles that brought the U.S. into its existence are at the heart of ASG today. It would make sense: colleges in America are more and more focused on preparing students for jobs, so whether or not the problems within a community college are grandiose enough to merit such comprehensive system, there should be some form of student government, simply for individuals who are interested in a future in local, state, or federal government. For those of you who skipped out on history in high school, the foundation of the U.S. representative democracy system are the three branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial.

Some of the vision and ideas, and cameraderie, and eagerness - and I will even say naiveté - that comes out of student government is sorely lacking in the bodies of power in Salem or D.C. -Larry Morgan Troutdale city council member, former MHCC ASG president

David Sussman, ASG faculty adviser at MHCC and manager of Mt. Hood specialized student services, agrees with that assessment. “We have a representative legislative branch in our government, that’s the ASG senate,” he said. “Then we have an executive branch, much like the federal and state governments do, and that is our executive cabinet. “We don’t have a judicial branch, because the college isn’t in the business of interpreting laws, the way our federal judicial system is set up to do,” he added. Lor Brule, ASG director of the Student Organizations Council for 2014-15, had a similar take on the idea of ASG functioning similarly to larger U.S. governments. “I would agree, with one caveat,” Brule said. “We have faculty advisors (who) influence our decisions to a certain extent. You know, they’re sworn not to; however, just the fact that they talk to us is going to influence us.”

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This is Brule’s first year on ASG and he said the experience has “definitely been a case study in the failings of bureaucracy. “Because when you have so many departments and so many people talking to each other, trying to talk to each other, you have so many failure points for communication to break down, and when that happens it can be disastrous for whatever endeavor – whether that’s an event that you’re trying to plan

Weed

or a resolution made, or some other task you’re trying to accomplish,” he said. Not that the year in ASG ruined his experience, or the issues were even preventable, Brule said. “It’s not an easy solution. There is no Band-Aid fix that is gonna make everybody get along and make everybody communicate better.” Specifically, MHCC’s student body government is maybe more directly modeled after larger government institutions than at other colleges in Oregon. It also differs from many other schools simply because it’s larger, Sussman noted. “We have over 20 positions on student government here. That’s a lot of positions for a medium-sized community college, (basically) a commuter college, where we don’t have dormitories or a residence program here,” he said. There’s more, Sussman said. “Something that is very special for Mt. Hood Community College is that our students here have what is called student fee autonomy, which means the money that students contribute to the student fee budget through the form of paying the activity fee, that money stays with students here,” he explained. “It is used to support student programs only, so the college can’t touch that money. That money is from students and it is managed by students, and it goes to students.” This extra autonomy adds another element to ASG, and makes it so that it is much closer to an independent government, rather than an empty, small-scale model. Brule mostly concurs, but again, points out the MHCC advisers’ impact. “We tend to have a bit of autonomy but we’re not an autocracy because we have advisers, we have outside influences, that continue to guide us and sway our (actions),” Brule said. “Maybe not by intention, but the end result is still that they do provide some kind of influence to the decision making process.”

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Photos: Student politicians Ashley Gass, Keiko Downing. and Lor Brule at MHCC’s Executive Council meeting (left). Students mid-vote (right).


Weed

Skye Troy, ASG director of state and federal affairs for 2014-15, said she also sees “similarities” between

might sound inconsistent, but it’s the truth.” And as for ASG mirroring larger government?

ASG and larger U.S government bodies in that ASG

“In some components, ASG is a microcosm,”

members may pass legislation, and the MHCC

Morgan said. “But, you know, I have to be honest with

administration supersedes their rulings in the same

you, some of the vision and ideas and camaraderie and

way federal systems overrule state lawmaking.

eagerness – and I will even say, naiveté – that comes

But she also said the students’ roles in the ASG are fundamentally different.

out of student government is sorely lacking in the bodies of power in Salem and in D.C.

“We don’t walk in with our own platforms, we don’t

“I remember some of the people I disagreed with the

operate from our own personal agendas,” said Troy.

most in student government, we disagreed because I

She said that ASG functions as a more “pure” version

didn’t agree with the premise, but at least we held those

of the American government.

ideas,” he said. “Now, a lot of times in government

Sussman said he wouldn’t go quite that far.

people argue just to be opposed to something, because

“More pure? Perhaps, I would say more contained,”

they don’t offer any change or they don’t have any ideas

he said. He and Troy did agree that ASG clearly doesn’t

or they don’t have a solution.”

have any of the added pressures of lobbying, or special

“I don’t think it’s perfect by any means, but there’s a

interests groups – typical pitfalls of larger government.

lot of good intentions” in the ASG system, Morgan said.

ASG members, past and present, said they found

The tuition waiver offered by MHCC is also helpful,

many advantages to taking on their roles.

said Brule and Troy when asked why they, and most of

Larry Morgan, a current Troutdale city council

their colleagues in general, joined ASG.

member and Mt. Hood’s ASG president in 2010-11, said

Not that the perk demeans the experience, said

his service at MHCC was “quite a tumultuous time” but

Troy, since most of our politicians today view their

also was helpful and affects him today.

elected office as a full-time career. “I think we’ve only

“When you’re in a community college you don’t necessarily think it’s going to be the pipeline to politics...

had three presidents who haven’t had a law degree,” she noted.

but it is kind of a pipeline,” he said. He says one value in

Whether ASG simply mirrors larger government, or

particular stuck with him: “I think it’s the most important

prepares students for it, can be debated. At any rate,

skill I might ever learn, (that) is the importance of

there is clearly a job to be done, and student voices

relationships, and people. That might sound trite, it

need to be heard. ASG fills both these gaps.

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Parting shot

Creek in the back 40 behind MHCC

Photo by Adam Elwell

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