Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Voice Box: A Mutually Beneficial Relationship

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

By Anita Decker

Anita Decker is executive director of the Northwest Public Power Association, which represents about 150 public power utilities in several Western states and Canada.

Anita Decker is executive director of the Northwest Public Power Association, which represents about 150 public power utilities in several Western states and Canada.

October is Public Power month, so I will start with a question: Do you remember when the lights came on in your community?

As we look across the West, many public power utilities are celebrating the anniversary of the day the lights first came on some 75 to 100 years ago. That is more than three generations. Can you imagine being without the conveniences electricity has brought to our lives that today we take for granted? Try charging your smart phone or computer without electricity, making your morning coffee or watching your favorite television show. That’s just the beginning.

It is easy to take electricity for granted, but it also is easy to take for granted the vision of those who dedicated themselves to bring power to small cities and rural areas. By and large, it was community leaders who understood that local decision making by community members was important to building and maintaining a reliable, low-cost source of electricity to each and every household and business.

You might ask: What is so important about public power and local decision making? Each community has its unique concerns, businesses and landscape. Local decision making is community based. Community-based decisions are founded in the fabric of a community where local members take responsibility for making decisions in the best interest of their consumers. Today, these community members show up on city councils, public utility district boards and rural electric cooperative boards. As in the past, they have a personal and deep-seated interest in providing reliable electricity and keeping your electricity rates low. On a national average, public power rates are lower than those of other utility companies because public power utilities are not-for-profit entities that put their consumers first. They set electricity rates locally and have local public meetings where no one has to shout to be heard.

One hallmark of public power is the way it strengthens the community it serves. Think about how your local public power utility serves in your community: at schools and service clubs, as parents, co-workers, customers, friends or family.

Not to be forgotten is that they are always there to quickly restore service during a power outage. Again, it is their deep-seated interest in being involved in the community they serve. With local public power, your community’s unique needs and values matter.

Today, just as it was 100 years ago, public power utilities dedicate themselves to making wise energy choices for their consumers, whether investing in renewable generation, supporting energy-efficiency programs, helping low-income people with paying their bills, offering scholarships to students, creating partnerships with schools on energy education programs or sponsoring the local soccer team every summer. Public power is vested in your community. How vested are you?

Public utilities can help with your energy decisions, from making energy-efficient choices and investments to solar installations. Your public power utility can help you make wise decisions on cost-effectiveness and safety, and provide information on local programs they may offer. They are a resource and a partner who can easily be overlooked. Public power utilities are uniquely positioned to help communities to create wise energy policies. Public utilities also create jobs in their communities, help lower everyone’s tax burden, and reinvest in local programs and services that best suit local values and needs.

October is a great time to pause when you flip on the light switch to think about the men and women who dedicated themselves generations ago to the idea of public power and brought electricity to your community, and to those today who keep the lights on and the cost low. We benefit from their dedication.

As executive director for the Northwest Public Power Association, I should note that this year marks our 75th Anniversary. Our forefathers had the vision to bring power to communities and rural areas, and had the foresight to create NWPPA, which has partnered with some 150 public power utilities to provide training, communication and government affairs support in the Northwest, Northern California, Alaska, and Canada to accomplish their mission of service to their communities.

Washington Youth Tour: A Historic Opportunity

Friday, August 29th, 2014
Washington Youth Tour delegates with the Northwest group visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Washington Youth Tour delegates with the Northwest group visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.


“If one thing comes out of this meeting, it will be sending youngsters to the national capital where they can actually see what the flag stands for and represents.”

—Lyndon Baines Johnson
1957 NRECA Annual Meeting

 

By Pam Blair

The early morning excitement and noisy buzz of anticipation melts into silence as Washington Youth Tour students and chaperones join a packed crowd watching the slow, rhythmic movements of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

“People line the steps near the tomb, but the sheer silence stuns you,” says Savannah Chadwick of Uniontown, Washington, sponsored by Clearwater Power in Idaho. “Hundreds of thousands of people visit the tomb each year and still silence remains.”

In the bustling area around Washington, D.C., the quiet is eerie and deafening.

“Watching those people guard the tomb in silence, then exchanging their watch in a scripted ritual was inspiring,” says Andrew Damitio of Blodgett, Oregon, Consumers Power representative.

No one encourages the silence. It is instinctive. It is an understanding of history and place, and a show of respect for those who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms Americans enjoy today.

Rachel Kloor, Oregon’s statewide director, watched students shake the hands of World War II veterans at the cemetery.

“They did this without being reminded to do so,” Rachel says. “They just knew it was the right thing to do. The students took the time to ask them questions and thank them for their service instead of rushing to the next site.”

Arlington National Cemetery is one stop in a week filled with somber, reflective moments as history comes to life for participants in the Washington Youth Tour.

“I was in awe of the thousands upon thousands of white crosses, each symbolizing a person who gave their life for their country,” says Talitha Anderson of Anderson Island, Washington, sponsored by Tanner Electric. “Each of the crosses represented a family who would remember in each generation a man or woman whose life was cut short for the sake of their country’s freedom. I have a better understanding of just what it costs to keep our country free.”

 

A Fifty-Year Tradition

Weston Wiltbank of Safford, Arizona, snaps a photo at Arlington National Cemetery. “Looking upon the rows of white headstones that seemed to stretch on for miles, I now have a greater respect for those who have fought and died to keep our great country free, and remain the greatest nation under God the world has ever known,” says Weston, who was sponsored by Graham County Electric Co-op.

Weston Wiltbank of Safford, Arizona, snaps a photo at Arlington National Cemetery. “Looking upon the rows of white headstones that seemed to stretch on for miles, I now have a greater respect for those who have fought and died to keep our great country free, and remain the greatest nation under God the world has ever known,” says Weston, who was sponsored by Graham County Electric Co-op.

More than 1,600 students from 43 states converge on the nation’s capital each June for an awe-inspiring, life-changing, physically and emotionally exhausting one-week trip known as the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Washington Youth Tour.

Participating electric cooperatives select students who have just completed their junior year of high school for the all-expense-paid trip of a lifetime.

Each state has a coordinator. States with few representatives team up—and not necessarily with a geographical neighbor. Wisconsin was part of the Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming contingent. Hawaii partners with Kansas.

Washington Youth Tour was inspired by then-Sen. Lyndon Baines Johnson.

“If one thing comes out of this meeting, it will be sending youngsters to the national capital where they can actually see what the flag stands for and represents,” the future president said in a speech at the 1957 NRECA Annual Meeting.

The idea grew. By 1964, NRECA was coordinating activities for state delegations. While much has changed during the program’s 50 years, students remain amazed, inspired, humbled and grateful.

They see the roots of American history in visits to monuments and never-ending Smithsonian museums.

They meet with their elected representatives in a real-life civics lesson.

They learn about electric cooperatives, grassroots advocacy and the importance of assuming leadership roles.

They make lifelong friends with people who were strangers the day before.

They walk miles and sleep little, packing activity into every waking hour.

“Going into the trip, I expected a whirlwind of new sights punctuated by very short periods of sleep, which is what I got,” says Marta Faulkner of Canyon City, Oregon, sponsored by Oregon Trail Electric. “Of course, I couldn’t have expected what it felt to actually see Washington, D.C., in person, but I remember thinking, ‘Geez, I’ll be tired’ when I got that itinerary. I wasn’t really until the end, though. I slept until 2:30 in the afternoon the day after I got back home.”

Fellow OTEC representative Kate Averett of Baker City, Oregon, says she was “amazed by the amount we were able to learn and fit all into one week.”

“There is not one moment that you aren’t having a blast or learning something, or seeing something exciting,” adds Michael Stephens of The Dalles, Oregon, sponsored by Wasco Electric.

An Action-Packed Schedule

Every state contingent develops its own itinerary. In addition to the national memorials, stops often include George Washington’s ancestral home of Mount Vernon, the U.S. Capitol, the Washington National Cathedral and the White House.

Devin Calley of Benson, Arizona, sponsored by Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, marvels at the architecture at the Washington National Cathedral.

Devin Calley of Benson, Arizona, sponsored by Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, marvels at the architecture at the Washington National Cathedral.

Some groups also participate in a cruise down the Potomac. All attend the U.S. Marine Corps Sunset Parade and come together for Youth Day—a time to learn about electric cooperatives and grassroots politics and hear motivational speakers.

“I was moved the most when I realized how many people actually cared about our co-ops and the future generations of America,” says Austen Schiavone of Portola, California, sponsored by Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric. “I could become an international lineman and help bring electricity to developing countries.”

The Holocaust Memorial Museum deeply affected both students and adults.

“It was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen and been through,” says Riley Fite of Safford, Arizona, sponsored by Graham County Electric. “When we walked through the room full of shoes my stomach turned. It really put things into perspective that we have life pretty nice here in our little town where we don’t have to worry if we are going to be killed each day. Even though we went throughout the sad memorials and museums, the tour gave us a sense of national pride and made us glad to be Americans.”

Lindsay Noggles of Janesville, California, sponsored by PSREC, thought of her grandfather, who served in World War II.

“It was very emotional for me to think about how he risked his life to help save those in need,” Lindsay says.

Amanda Tran of Sierra Vista, Arizona, Sulphur Springs Valley Electric representative, was moved by the story another visitor told her of leaving the Netherlands right before the deportations began.

“What an emotional experience,” says Monica Castillo, a chaperone for Trico Electric in Arizona. “The trip made me truly understand and completely admire and respect all the brave individuals. You have to be there and witness it to genuinely take it all in.”

Overton Power District No. 5 representative Victoria Magoon of Bunkerville, Nevada, says she will never forget a quote she heard at the Air Force Memorial: “All gave some, but some gave all.”

“My thoughts kept coming back to this quote every time we visited a monument,” says Victoria. “How truly blessed we are to live in a free country.”

The Pentagon/Flight 93 Memorial stood out for Thad Ballard, a chaperone for Wells Rural Electric Co. in Nevada.

“All of the other memorials commemorate people or events that happened before I was born,” Thad says. “This memorial recognizes an event that happened in my lifetime. The structure of the memorial is also very personal because you aren’t just looking at it, you are in it.”

At the Vietnam Memorial, he found the name of a man from his hometown. He died the day Thad was born.

“I was reminded that this country is founded on rock-solid principles and that there have been enormous sacrifices made that bless our lives still,” Thad says.

Oregon delegates, from left, Jeremiah Petzoldt, Tom Gould, Kate Averett and Michael Stephens at the Lincoln Memorial.

Oregon delegates, from left, Jeremiah Petzoldt, Tom Gould, Kate Averett and Michael Stephens at the Lincoln Memorial.


Lifelong Relationships

The trip was about much more than sightseeing and patriotism. It also was about building relationships and developing the next generation of leaders.

“The entire trip moved me, but the other students moved me the most,” says Caylin Tibbetts of San Simon, Arizona, sponsored by SSVEC. “They helped me understand that it’s OK to be yourself.

“I was also moved by the fact that one person can make a big difference. It showed me to never give up, that I may one day be able to change hundreds of lives. It was a trip of a lifetime. I made friends and memories I will never forget.”

Ashley Standridge of Roseburg, Oregon, sponsored by Douglas Electric, was touched by everyone’s genuineness.

“It’s a rare quality to find in people,” she says. “I made friends from 43 states.”

While everyone came from different backgrounds and different cultures, “our personalities and drive for success made us fit together like a big family,” says Savannah Chadwick.

NaRayah Runyon of Elfrida, Arizona, sponsored by SSVEC, says she was told the trip would change her.

“I was told that I would bond with the people on the trip to such an extent that I would cry when it was time to go home, but I didn’t believe it,” she says. “I expected to learn more on the trip than I would in a whole semester of school and experience the history and politics of our country firsthand, and I expected to make friends. I did learn more about our nation in one week than I thought was possible and made amazing friends. But I was wrong. I did cry, and I was changed.”

 

A Lasting Impression

For many students, the trip provided a fresh perspective of themselves, their country and, in some cases, their futures.

“The Youth Tour program is such a spectacular opportunity to acquaint rural kids with the sights and sounds of one of our most important cities,” says Marta Faulkner. “I’ve grown up seeing pictures and stories about the many landmarks in D.C. that really stand for our nation, but seeing them was a whole other story.

“You can’t understand how the Washington Monument seems to loom over the whole city, wherever you are, or how big and grand the Potomac is, or how hauntingly the rows upon rows of marble tombstones in Arlington protrude from the earth like teeth until you’ve seen it all. It’s just so different in real life.”

Tom Gould of Heppner, Oregon, sponsored by Columbia Basin Electric, says he will never forget the “once-in-a-lifetime experience. All of the artifacts were amazing to finally see in real person and not just on TV.”
Weston Wiltbank changed the way he views the goings-on in the nation’s capital.

“When we think of Washington we often think of a bunch of politicians running around in suits and ties telling the rest of the nation what to do, but it is a lot more than that,” he says. “One truth I’ve come to respect a lot is that this nation was built by the hands of hardworking people who had a dream to create the greatest nation in the world.”

Savannah Chadwick gained a better understanding of American politics, and “I learned about religion, culture, our nation and, above all, the importance of American pride. This opportunity has given me hope that one day I will be able to make a positive difference in our nation.”

Lindy Lunt says she now realizes the difference one person can make.

“Even though we live in a small town out in the middle of nowhere, it’s nice to know that we still have the power to make a difference and create change,” she says.

Ashley Standridge says the trip “changed my heart and mind how so many people have sacrificed so much for our country, and it changed my future, to motivate me to look more into my future then to wait for it to come.”

Marta Faulkner advises future students to “take their time. If you spend your time being in a hurry you won’t see anything. Don’t be afraid to just take a moment and look and listen and let Washington, D.C., swallow you up for a moment and think, ‘Wow, I’m actually here.’ Because if you take a moment to just breathe it all in, there are a lot more people standing next to you than just the tourists.”

 

Profound Impact of Youth Tour

Lindy Lunt

Lindy Lunt

By Lindy Lunt

When I found out that I had been selected as a recipient for the Youth Tour trip to Washington, D.C., I was elated at the chance to see all that D.C. had to offer. However, I never anticipated the profound impact it would have on my life.

I remember the very first day when we stopped at Fort McHenry. I was expecting to look around, take a few pictures and then skedaddle off to the next site. Instead, I had the opportunity to watch a video that briefly went over the battle that led to Francis Scott Key writing the “Star Spangled Banner,” and at the end of the video they raised the wall up to give us a spectacular view of the flag flying gently in the breeze.

It was then that it hit me. I always knew that people gave their lives for our freedom, but it had never been as real as it was at that moment. As I struggled to keep my emotions in check, I realized how incredibly lucky I was to be born in this great nation.

This was the moment that changed me and how I viewed this trip. It was more than just a chance to look at some cool buildings and get out of the Arizona heat; it was a chance to recognize the blood, sweat and tears that went into making this country what it is today. I had been gifted the chance of a lifetime, and I was determined to make the most of it.

Everywhere we traveled seemed to reinforce these feelings of patriotism. We were able to visit sites such as Mount Vernon, Arlington Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian museums and so many more. With each visit I could feel my pride for our country continue to grow, and by the end of the trip not only did I have many new friends and memories, but a newfound appreciation for my country.

I truly understood what it meant to be proud to be an American, and that is something I will never forget.

Lindy Lunt of Pima, Arizona, was sponsored by Graham County Electric Cooperative.

 

Seeing Beauty in the Commonplace

Friday, August 29th, 2014
There is a certain beauty in the commonplace, even in death. The lifeless body of a pigeon struck by a vehicle lies peacefully on the roadside. Its body position and color create a quiet and beautiful, natural arrangement. Photo by David LaBelle

There is a certain beauty in the commonplace, even in death. The lifeless body of a pigeon struck by a vehicle lies peacefully on the roadside. Its body position and color create a quiet and beautiful, natural arrangement.
Photo by David LaBelle

As a child, I loved going with my father to junkyards and the county dump. I would climb over the twisted metal bodies of crashed cars, foraging for treasures. I always found some little piece of something shiny that had no value to anyone except me.

For a while, I was fascinated with the tiny squares of broken glass from shattered windshields. I pretended they were diamonds and filled my pockets with them.

That curiosity, that fascination with treasures others discard, has never left me. Now, instead of filling my pockets with pieces of glass or metal, I fill my viewfinder with pictures of relationships and things others pass by blindly or discard as worthless.

We can learn much by sitting quietly and watching the natural world. Nothing is wasted in God’s great creation. Swallows and purple Martins scoop little mud balls with their beaks and engineer nests capable of clinging to cement or metal bridges and keep their families safe from weather and predators. Other birds gather discarded pieces of string—even the hair from horses and cows—to weave warm cradles that incubate their offspring. Yet it seems we humans need “new” things to make us happy.

Like the birds, artists often collect discarded bits of life to craft pictures and weave stories. They find beauty in the commonplace. As is often said, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

For the most part, I think photographers and artists have an inherent need to create, arrange and give order to visual clutter. Like dogs bred to herd animals, it is their nature.

Beauty is present everywhere, even in tragedy. There are diamonds to be found in the most unlikely places if we look for them.

But learning to see beauty in the trash heaps of life is an acquired skill. It requires slowing down and listening to life with our eyes and our heart.

Take a slow walk with your camera. Look up. Look down. Look all around. Train your eyes to see the beauty others—racing through life—pass by. You may discover that a fallen leaf, snow-covered seed pods, peeling paint or a subtle, comforting touch is a treasure to your soul.

That evil exists is evident. But good and beauty also abound.

David LaBelledave is an internationally known photographer, teacher, author and lecturer. He has worked for newspapers and magazines across the United States and taught at three universities. He grew up on a frog farm in rural California, roaming the creeks and hills with his coon dogs. Many of the lessons he learned during those magical boyhood years have been applied to photography and teaching the essence of this art form. For more information, visit www.greatpicturehunt.com.

Strategies for Finding Big Bucks

Friday, August 29th, 2014
Deer eat a variety of plants, but they prefer the tender growing tips of trees and shrubs. Their digestive system includes four stomach compartments like that of other ruminating mammals, such as cows, goats, llamas and sheep. Photo by Frank Hildebrand

Deer eat a variety of plants, but they prefer the tender growing tips of trees and shrubs. Their digestive system includes four stomach compartments like that of other ruminating mammals, such as cows, goats, llamas and sheep.
Photo by Frank Hildebrand

Every hunter in search of a big buck understands the importance of knowing where they live, avoiding crowds and quelling the urge to shoot the first buck they see. However, it takes more than that to find the big ones. Here are three strategies to consider:

Look for prime habitat. Deer seek food, water and good cover. The smart ones find them in out-of-the-way places, with sanctuary—such as marshy areas and thickets—nearby. Big bucks are especially adept at finding and using those elements, which may explain their longevity. Hunt rub lines, and staging and bedding areas where deer gather. Also, locate and stake out hidden food sources where big bucks may go when under pressure.

Be persistent. Hunting one or two days during the season probably won’t cut it. Hunters who consistently come home with big bucks hunt long and often. They also do their homework beforehand, and adjust their tactics as needed after getting out into the field.

Hunt the rut well. This is when the big bucks come out. Timing is critical when hunting the rut or pre-rut. Maximize your efforts at its peak. Use scents, as allowed, and zero in on fencelines and rub lines to improve your odds.

Outdoors 101: Understanding the Differences in Waterproof,
Breathable Fabrics

Generally, there are four types of waterproof, breathable fabrics. They are not created equally.

The most basic is tightly woven fabrics, such as Ventile, a high-tech cotton material. This type of extremely breathable fabric has been used by mountaineers and explorers since at least the 1940s. It has small pores that contract when wet, due to swelling.

Fabrics with microporous coatings or membranes made of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or polyurethane (PU) are another type of waterproof, breathable material. The pores are smaller than those of woven fabric. This material acts as a filter to keep rain out, while allowing moisture vapor to escape through the pores. The original Gore-Tex fabric had the first PTFE membrane. eVent is a newer, improved PTFE product, featuring a chemical that lines the pores to protect them from contamination.

A third type of fabric has a continuous hydrophilic coating or membrane, with no pores at all. Water stays out and moisture vapor is removed by a process known as molecular wicking. Marmot’s Precip and The North Face’s Hyvent are two fabrics of this type.

Another type uses both microporous and hydrophilic laminates for maximum weather resistance. It creates a more durable fabric, such as three-layer Gore-Tex XCR.

Dispose of Old Fishing Line Responsibly

Discarded fishing line can be hazardous to wildlife, swimmers and boating equipment when disposed of improperly. Consider recycling your line.

Monofilament recycling programs have popped up across the country. Look for collection containers at your local tackle shop or favorite fishing destination.

Got a Tip or a Whopper?

Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected for publication in Ruralite and Currents magazines, we will send you $25 for one-time use. When sending a photo, identify people and pets, and tell us the story behind the picture. Email your submission to moc.etilarurnull@ofni.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons or bird watching along the Gulf Coast with his wife. He feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.

Fiber Friends

Friday, August 29th, 2014

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A sculpture of felted wool begins to take shape in the hands of fiber artist Miranda Rommel of Pedee, Oregon.

An Oregon artist breathes life into her felted wool creations

By Victoria Hampton

Miranda Rommel pulls a ball of wool from a bag and begins working it with a felting needle. Her hands exhibit years of practice as they work the wool and needle. What was once a fibrous ball begins to take shape, ultimately becoming an exact replica of a customer’s Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

“I like assembling a bunch of wool and turning it into a little animal that looks just like someone’s little pal,” Miranda says. “People really like them and that makes me really happy.”

This 4-inch-tall felted wool figurine is part of Miranda’s newest art product: Fiber Friends.

The inspiration for the product is her 4-year-old Corgi, Pocket. Miranda made a felted wool figurine of Pocket as a Valentine’s gift for her husband. Her first attempt lacked the refined detail seen in her recent creations, but she improved by watching online tutorials and practicing.

Each Fiber Friend takes Miranda six to eight hours to create. For personalized figurines, customers send in several photos of their pets so Miranda can capture the animal’s markings and shape. Her production process is always the same: core of body, back legs, front legs, head and then adding color.

“I make them with three toes instead of four like the tiger from ‘Calvin and Hobbes.’ They’re cuter that way,” Miranda says.

Miranda has created many dog breeds along with cats, penguins, foxes, sheep and pigs, and recently the Queen of England and her Corgis.

Miranda’s Corgi, Pocket, is the inspiration for her Fiber Friends artwork.

Miranda’s Corgi, Pocket, is the inspiration for her Fiber Friends artwork.

Whether Miranda is creating a felted pet portrait, “nubbin”—a bust-style figurine with a tail—baby mobile, holiday themed ornament, collectible or any of the numerous add-ons, such as toys, scarves or name inscription, all are creations credited to her resilience during the 2009 economic collapse.

“In 2005, you could get $6,000 for illustrating a book. By 2009, you couldn’t make an illustration bid for anything even close to what you’re worth,” says Miranda, who has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in art. “Some people were bidding to fully illustrate a book for $200.”

Miranda knew then it was time to regroup and rethink what she wanted to do. That realization prompted her to familiarize herself with wool and techniques for working it. In the process, Fiber Friends was created.

In 2012, she decided her Fiber Friends creations were good enough to release to the public. She posted them on Etsy—a world marketplace where people sell unique goods. As their popularity grew, she launched a website: www.fiberfriendsonline.com.

Her fiber art now enjoys a global audience, with sales to customers in Australia, France, Singapore, Canada and throughout the United States.

Miranda believes her entrepreneurial nature helps her to maintain a career in the art business.

“Being an entrepreneur is something that is part of someone,” Miranda says. “You need to be self-motivated and be able to market your product.”

Although felting wool has allowed Miranda to do what she loves and also make a living, she was uncomfortable with her product being a commodity.

“They’re luxury items and I’m not a person to spend money on such things,” Miranda says.
Yet she realized Fiber Friends were something greater than just keepsake figurines. Her product allows her to connect with customers on a personal level. Customers who recently had lost a pet or bought a memento of their cherished animal send Miranda testimonials of how special her product is to them.

“Collectible figurines are cool, but having something that looks exactly like your pet is special,” Miranda says. “I like receiving testimonials. The detail (of the figurines) blows people away. It’s pretty neat to know I can do that.”

 

The Young Face of City Council

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17-year-old Conrad Parker attends a La Pine City Council meeting wearing his signature tie.

By Robert Springer

Other things can wait. Conrad Parker of La Pine, Oregon, has bigger plans: He wants to change the world.

Isn’t that a lofty goal for a 17-year-old? Perhaps, but not many high school seniors are on their hometown’s city council.

Conrad is the first high school student to sit on the La Pine City Council. The multifaceted, self-possessed young man can offer cogent comments and opinions about local, as well as national, issues.

Conrad remembers he had butterflies when he arrived for his first council meeting in 2013.
“But then I got up there and all those city councilmen and the mayor were all really fun, then it wasn’t a big deal anymore,” he remembers.

Most high school students would be bored to tears at a city council meeting. Not Conrad—at least not a good part of the time.

“Most of the meetings are pretty interesting,” Conrad says. “Occasionally, we’ll talk about one subject for a very long time. That’s when they tend to get boring. Lots of things that we talk about are important for La Pine.”

Conrad is not alone on his nascent political journey. He has a mentor, city councilor Stu Martinez. Stu’s advice has been valuable because “otherwise at some of the meetings I would get so lost,” Conrad says.

Since Conrad is an appointed, nonelected member of the council, he cannot vote on issues, but he can ask questions just like the other councilors. He picks his spots, chiming in when he feels he has something to offer.

“The mayor and Stu will ask for input on things,” Conrad says. “Most of the time I only comment on things I feel that I can really grasp. The waste and water management meeting was way over my head.”

 

Happenings Out West
Pendleton Round-Up, September 6-13

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2012 Pendleton Round-Up bull riding champion Parker Breding of Edgar, Montana, attempts to go the distance on a bull at the 2013 event. Photo by Bob Click

The 2014 Pendleton Round-Up marks the event’s 104th year of rodeo action, and Western pomp and ceremony. It is ranked among the top-10 rodeos in the world. Crowds of more than 50,000 people flock to Pendleton, Oregon, each September for the weeklong festivities, which include traditional rodeo events, parades, relay races and an Indian pageant. For more information about this year’s Pendleton Round-up, call (800) 457-6336, send an email to
moc.pudnuornoteldnepnull@ofni or visit www.pendletonroundup.com.

2015 Ruralite Calendar Photos

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Ruralite Calendar Photo Contest. Hover over the images for photo credit and captions.

July and August Story & Photo of the Month

Monday, August 4th, 2014

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Ruralite congratulates Jeanie Senior, winner of the July 2014 Story of the Month for her story titled “Working for the Farm.”
*No photo was selected for photo of the month for July.

 

Ruralite loves to celebrate storytelling excellence. Stories and pictures are nominated by Ruralite’s team of editors based on overall quality, audience connection, lede strength, creativity, organization, flow, timeliness and quotes. Have a favorite story to tell? Send it to gro.etilarurnull@laicos

Take Aim at the Season Ahead

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
Archery is a skill where small adjustments make big differences. For example, many archers pull the trigger on their mechanical release with the tip of their index finger. By adjusting the release so you can wrap your finger around the trigger, you get more control and a smoother release, which translates into more accuracy. Photo by iStock/twildlife

Archery is a skill where small adjustments make big differences. For example, many archers pull the trigger on their mechanical release with the tip of their index finger. By adjusting the release so you can wrap your finger around the trigger, you get more control and a smoother release, which translates into more accuracy.
Photo by iStock/twildlife

 

Bow hunting season is just an arrow’s fly away in most parts of Ruralite country. That means it is not too soon to start scouting areas to hunt. It is also time to start preparing yourself and your equipment for opening day.

Inspect your bow. Look for cracks or dings that may develop into cracks later. Examine the string. Replace it if there is fraying. Some avid bow hunters replace them every three or four years, whether they need it or not.

Preflight your arrows. Make sure the fletching is uniform and firmly attached. If you use aluminum arrows, check them for bends or dings that can affect accuracy. Examine carbon shafts for splintering.

You know what they say about practice. Take it seriously. Take every shot as if the target is the real thing. Develop a shooting routine that becomes second nature and keeps you in the zone, even when the adrenalin is pumping.

“Down” is the operative word. Slow down and practice your nock, draw and release in a controlled, consistent manner. Keep your head down; just as in baseball or golf, where the head goes, so goes the arrow. Also, dial down the draw weight—there is no need to pull 70 pounds when 50 pounds will do the job.

Shoot all of the angles. Practice shooting targets from different angles. That goes for various distances, too. These exercises are particularly useful if you plan to shoot from a tree stand.

Dress the part. Practice with the gear you will use in the field. That includes the bow, arrows and accessories you will use, and the clothes you will wear. If something doesn’t work right or it’s too heavy or noisy, change it out or make a note to leave it behind on hunting day.

 

Summer May Demand a Change of Fishing Venue

Fishing at shallow lakes may be superb in spring, but not so much in summer. Water temperatures increase and oxygen levels decrease. Those are not fish-friendly conditions. On the other hand, rivers and streams are prime fishing waters this time of year. They retain their oxygen levels and generally run cooler, which makes fish more active feeders.

 

Outdoors 101:
Light Sources in a Pinch

Who hasn’t dropped something and fumbled in the dark trying to find it without a flashlight?

Never fear. Many portable, everyday devices make excellent light sources. Here are a few creative light alternatives for use in a pinch:

  • Watch backlight
  • Cell phone
  • Camera
  • GPS unit

How many others can you think of?

 

Three Outdoor Favorites

One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey” by Richard Proenekke.
The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing” by Thomas McGuane.
A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson.

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected for publication in Ruralite magazine, we will send you $25 for one-time use. When sending a photo, identify people and pets, and tell us the story behind the picture. Email your submission to moc.etilarurnull@ofni.

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Many of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons or bird watching along the Gulf Coast with his wife. He feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.

Faces of Summer

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

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After helping on the hay wagon all day, 3-year-old Henry wants to beat his “Uppa” in with the last bale. Photo submitted by grandfather Joe Wing of Union, Oregon.   14_2  

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Buckin’ Bales
After helping on the hay wagon all day, 3-year-old Henry wants to beat
his “Uppa” in with the last bale. Photo submitted by grandfather Joe Wing
of Union, Oregon.

Pretty in Pink
6-year-old Hailey, left, and 4-year-old Lily love all things pink. So it was
no surprise when they were drawn to this classic car at the Neon Nights
car show in The Dalles, Oregon. Photo submitted by Jackie Whitesell of
Pendleton, Oregon.

Sunset Surprise
Elk appear on a hill to capture the day’s last warm rays of sunlight.
Photo submitted by Paul Hughes of Manzanita, Oregon.

Timeless Tradition
While out for a horseback ride with her mother, Ashley stops to pick a
dandelion with a giant ball of seeds. They say the bigger the seed head,
the bigger the wish potential. Photo submitted by mother Beth Anderson
of Creswell, Oregon.

Sun Style
Madelyn, left, and Grace show off their new sunglasses and sun dresses for
Grandma and Grandpa. Photo submitted by grandfather Peter Rouzaud
of Dallas, Oregon.

A Dog’s Life
The look on Tank’s face says it all. There is nothing he would rather be
doing on a hot summer day than boating at the lake. Photo submitted by
Kim and Shannon Fox of Prineville, Oregon.

Picturing Potential

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
After watching  the sky for most of a rainy, cloudy day, the light broke through with golden rays in the late afternoon, painting the structures with vibrant color. I made this picture with my cell phone. Photo by David LaBelle

After watching the sky for most of a rainy, cloudy day, the light broke through with golden rays in the late afternoon, painting the structures with vibrant color. I made this picture with my cell phone.
Photo by David LaBelle

Life is different the farther one gets from a busy interstate.

Last year, while driving across the flat plains and rolling hills of Kansas—one of my favorite states—I pulled off the highway hoping to find traces of a slower past and calmer world.

I visited a small community with only one small store, the post office and the library open. Boarded-up storefronts, overgrown lots and dated signs spoke silently of a more prosperous time. Even at midday, the little town was a quiet shell of what it once was.

Yet, there was something charming about the slow-moving emptiness that quieted my soul, and beckoned me to stay and absorb its past and present.

Dogs trailed behind children who rode bicycles wherever they wished. As is often the case in small towns on the plains, a grain elevator was the iconic centerpiece for the community. I kept looking at the open sky and thinking how stunning the large white structure would be in the warm evening light.

Though I needed to reach another destination that night, I decided to hang around in hopes of making the pictures I anticipated. Several hours later, as evening approached, the library and store closed, and the little community grew silent except for the calls of a few mourning doves and a gentle breeze.

As the blue sky deepened, I noticed a police officer watching me from his parked cruiser. A dome light in his car revealed his shape and his uniform. He was watching me and appeared to be writing something. I’m sure he thought I was casing the place or up to no good. Finally, his curiosity got the better of him and he pulled up beside me.

“What are you doing?” he asked, trying his best not to accuse, but not quite accomplishing it.

“Watching the light,” I said, excitedly, turning my eyes to the soft, golden light bathing the silo with a warm glow.

“What?” he asked, puzzled.

He stuck his head out of his cruiser window and looked around. His bewildered expression conveyed that he didn’t see anything, at least nothing worthy in his opinion of taking a picture.

He didn’t see what I saw. It felt like asking someone to see the face of a dog or an elephant in a passing cloud, when all they see is a cloud.

Seizing the opportunity to teach, I said, “Look at the golden light. I have waited here for hours for it to be like this.”

I told him my name, where I came from and even where I was going. I also told him I was a teacher and photographer.

He looked around again and then back at me. The suspicious frown relaxed a little. I could tell he still didn’t understand and thought I was some kind of “nut” from the city. But at least he accepted I was not up to no good.

Once again my camera was an excuse to do what I love, to observe and appreciate and attempt to put my small signature on God’s big artwork.

Just as weather or financial forecasters try to anticipate the future, I have always loved studying humans and nature, and trying to predict how each might act in given circumstances and climates. Anticipation of this collaboration is an essential ingredient in the recipe for making beautiful and storytelling photographs.

 

daveDavid LaBelle is an internationally known photographer, teacher, author and lecturer. He has worked for newspapers and magazines across the United States and taught at three universities. He grew up on a frog farm in rural California, roaming the creeks and hills with his coon dogs. Many of the lessons he learned during those magical boyhood years have been applied to photography and teaching the essence of this art form. For more information, visit www.greatpicturehunt.com.