Saturday, January 30, 2021

Georgene Hopf and her Dolls Achieved National Fame

AC Gilbert gets all the attention here because of the Erector Set's success and the physical locus of the house and museum at Riverfront Park. But an important ingredient in that is the fact that he's a man and made a toy for boys.

Another Salemite, Georgene Hopf, later Georgene Averill (and Hendren sometimes also), achieved national prominence for dolls, but she is not known at all outside of very niche conversation. 

It might be true that the scale of the Erector Set's sales dwarf those of Hopf's dolls, and that the Erector Set originated a new category of toy, and so the cultural significance of Gilbert might yet be greater, but it's also certain in our histories that playing with dolls is slighted in favor of that proto-engineering play. Gilbert is scientist and inventor. The attention, like the toy, has been gendered. Hopf certainly deserves more notice.

January 30th, 1921

A century ago, in January of 1921 Hopf appeared a couple of times in the Society column of the morning paper here. The angle was the status conferred by the Fifth Avenue location of her shop in New York City and by recent magazine articles. It was the story of a local girl made good, "the most inventive and original designer in her line."

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Circuit Rider and Lumber King: Two Generations of Robert Booth at the Capitol

Early in January of 1921, R. A. Booth of Eugene proposed a statue to honor his father, Robert Booth, a minister who started preaching here as a Circuit Rider in 1855. Later in January on the 26th, the Legislature and Governor accepted the gift and started looking for a site.

Circuit Rider and old Capitol
April 1924 dedication program

You might recall Burt Brown Barker and his gift of the Pioneer Mother statue to the University of Oregon. The Circuit Rider is another instance of a benefactor using the personal story of a parent to figure myth as part of a more general origin story for the state. Even if it is not exactly a deliberate conflation of genealogy and history, it still valorizes one part of the story at the expense of others. It's not necessarily wrong, but it is one-sided.

R. A. Booth in Looters of the Public Domain, 1908
(composite image: page 237 and title page)

Robert A. Booth was a lumberman and civic leader with a large complex right on the edge of downtown Springfield.

Friday, January 22, 2021

City Council, January 25th - Pringle Creek Path to Riverfront Park

Council convenes on Monday and the application for the path along Pringle Creek between Mirror Pond and Riverfront Park is the main item of interest. (See "Pringle Creek Path Grant Application Shows Boise Project Heading Toward Completion" from earlier this month for more on it.)

The retaining wall, cap, and fish ladder are all gone

It will complete a vision started two generations ago with the 1970s urban renewal area along the mill race. 

One important link is a little newer, only about a generation-and-a-half ago. The path system near the Hospital dates from 1984. And they were clear it was primarily a walk, and not a bike path.

Silent on bicycles - it's clearly a "walk"

Because we have lumped walking and biking together as the greater "alternative modes," we do not always attend to their different needs, and the path segment between Mirror Pond and Riverfront Park will, like the other segments, be much better for walking than for biking. 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Traffic Modeling and Studies Ignoring Climate: At the MPO

The Policy Committee for our Metropolitan Planning Organization meets on Tuesday the 26th and they'll hear an information report on the Keizer Growth Transportation Impacts Study.

Nothing about climate and emissions here

We haven't followed the City of Keizer much here. A couple of items here and there, but it has also been clear that even with an immediate next door neighbor, there was a body of hyperlocal knowledge, history, and politics that made it difficult to follow things meaningfully without a full commitment to follow things closely. Dipping in and out necessarily meant shallow. Hence, little discussion of Keizer here, and the development of this plan has not been remarked on.

But as the City of Salem finally begins to grapple with a Climate Action Plan, and the State also begins to work out climate policy, there are these local initiatives proceeding blithely and seemingly unawares of the need to reduce emissions and reduce driving.

On the agenda at SKATS is an informational presentation on the Keizer study. The summary describes it as evaluating "the expected magnitude of added vehicular traffic" associated with the "planned expansion of the City's Urban Growth Boundary." (See the Oct 2020 Keizer Planning Commission packet.)

Monday, January 18, 2021

1921 Legislative Session Starts with Idolatry for Pioneers, Animus for Japanese

The 1921 Legislative Session started 100 years ago and the afternoon paper led with some humor.

Senator LaFollette Wakes Ups

State Senator Alec LaFollette, in his 70s and a member of the extended family of "Fighting" Bob LaFolette of Wisconsin, though considerably more conservative, was apparently a little notorious for nodding off in his later years. (He died in 1927.)

Full strip opens Legislative coverage
January 17th, 1921

But the underlying mood was considerably less humorous, nothing like any exuberant "roaring 20s," but defensive and nativist.

In his opening address to the Legislature, Governor Olcott called for legislation against Japanese residents and immigrants. "Keep Oregon's Pioneer Blood Pure," ran the subhead, and Olcott is directly quoted saying, "Here in Oregon the pioneer blood flows purely and in more undiluted stream than in any other state of the union."

Nativism, January 11th, 1921

The papers are full of nativist sentiment.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

City Council, January 19th - Strategic Plan

Council convenes on Tuesday with the holiday for a formal Work Session on the Strategic Plan and its activities for 2021.

Six main areas for action

It remains hard to comment on the plan process in any detail at this moment. The Pandemic's exigencies just swamp everything still. And if there had been any uncertainty, now the threat from fascism and white supremacy must be clear. In fundamental ways Council has to be reactive and less strategic, and what is there really to comment on in that?

Transportation and climate

In areas of particular interest here, transportation and climate, the concepts for "year one" are not very detailed. The Climate Action Plan and by Our Salem will drive them, and as a separate process the Strategic Plan can just follow and execute on those other two big processes and plans.

Maybe you will have other thoughts and want to advocate for some particular thing, but it has seemed here that emphasizing Our Salem and the Climate Action Plan was much more important than drilling into this Strategic Plan and advocating for some new initiatives.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

City Publishes Slightly Different Take on Emissions

Last week the City and consultant team published a new pass at a greenhouse gas inventory.

Summary on a consumption-based GHG
It's still the cars

Nearly two years ago, the City published a "sector-based" analysis, and this is a "consumption-based" analysis.

The City's release is hard to parse. 

While it is a fine thing to keep iterating and improving our understanding of emissions as technical matters, the big picture with this new analysis is essentially unchanged. On this new analysis transportation is still the biggest source of emissions. If we thought that a different analysis was going to give us a pass on driving, we were wrong. 

It's not clear why this new analysis was necessary at this point in the process. Differing analyses might help us make decisions on the margins, or prioritize details. But different analyses aren't going to change anything in the big picture and larger strategy.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Pringle Creek Path Grant Application Shows Boise Project Heading Toward Completion

If you've been wondering about that $15 Bicycle Excise Tax, the City of Salem is going to apply for a grant to bring some of it back.

Plan view of the path

On Thursday the 14th the Parks and Recreation Board convenes and they'll be hearing about the City's application for a Community Paths Program grant to fund the path connection between Mirror Pond and Riverfront Park along the creek inside the former Boise property.

Staff Report to SPRAB (in the meeting packet)

Sunday, January 10, 2021

City Launches New Round of Climate Brainstorming

In the face of our great national crisis, it has been anodyne this weekend to register a couple of details on our Climate Action Plan.

Bob Cortright in today's paper

Community Advocate Bob Cortright has a short piece on Our Salem in the paper.

And the City and consultant team appears to have executed a little bit of a course-correction, jumping a climate plan activity farther up in the queue.

New digital sticky note project

Over the weekend the City and consultant team launched a digital sticky note project to collect ideas on greenhouse gas reduction. By name, it appears to be something that had been planned for the Spring and may have been moved up and bumped the "vulnerability assessment," which is our current phase.

By itself this doesn't cure the deficiencies we've seen with the planning process so far, but it's a move in the right direction. 

It is, in fact, what should have kicked off the first round of brainstorming instead of the "Envisioning a Resilient Salem" sticky note project.

The consultant team could break it down more specifically: We need to reduce driving by 25%  (or 50%), what specific things would help you drive less? Questions that are too general may not capture the magnitude of change that is necessary. If we need to reduce VMT very significantly, is allowing people to get sidetracked on reducing idling at intersections and drive-thrus at all constructive?

It's never been clear that the messaging and rhetoric is focused on the right substance and scale, and focused to appeal to the right people.

The reception of rhetoric and hopes for resulting persuasion are important to think about.

If there is one thing our crisis has made clear, it's that criticism on climate is not always offered in good faith. Advocates have known this, but the media sometimes over-commits to a both-sides frame, and maybe we can correct some of this now.

Thursday's New York Times

Wednesday was a big day, an historic day of infamy. 

Now that the revolutionary aims of the reactionary right are more clear, it might be time to go back and revise our understanding of the Cap and Trade protests here.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

City Council, January 11th - Cemetery Path Again

The new Council, including three new Councilors, will be sworn in at the first meeting of the year on Monday the 11th. The long-simmering debate over a path connecting the Candalaria and Fairmount neighborhoods through the cemetery block will take another round.

I'm not sure there's anything very new to say on the prospect of a path connection through the cemeteries. It is difficult. There are matters to resolve, and it will take a negotiated agreement that addresses a path, cemetery security, enhanced historical interpretation, as well as funding, and it seems highly unlikely that Council will be able to resolve anything on Monday. The best that can be hoped for is to continue conversation and exploration of common ground. No unilateral decision is likely to work. 

At the same time, some criticism of the prospect of a connection is unfounded or unwarranted.

Fear & Risk in Proper Perspective

At least in 2020, there was more harm to cemetery monuments from trees than from human vandalism.

Damage from tree removal in August

More damage from a different tree in December

The Friends of Pioneer Cemetery doubtless feel beleaguered and there is a good reason for this. The City has underinvested in the IOOF Pioneer cemetery, off-loading basic maintenance and caretaking to volunteers. Volunteers have to do too much.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Early Winter Round-up at the MPO

After taking off most of the Fall, the Technical Advisory Committee for our Metropolitan Planning Organization, SKATS, meets again on Tuesday the 12th. There are no big action items of interest here, but some other things, including some preliminary kinds of things, might be worth a short note.

The most interesting item is comment on a "regional safety plan," a proposal and then development I missed late last year.

Writing a new safety plan (October minutes)

They met separately on the 6th and are still in the early phases of figuring out what exactly they are going to do.

But considering the initiative is organized and hosted at the MPO, it is surprising that Safe Routes to Schools, which is embedded at the MPO now, is not represented formally on the committee. The committee membership, in fact, seems weighted with an autoist bias, and they may understand safety as primarily safety for people in cars, and not give enough attention to safety for those not inside of cars. They will say, of course, that they value people walking and rolling, but they may understand safety as more a matter of enforcement for jaywalking and less a matter of slower speeds on every urban street. Congestion Relief may still be too much of a dominant frame in this group.

Membership and agenda for January 6th

The committee's work will be something to watch in 2021.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Person on Foot Struck and Killed in Crash on Market St Off-Ramp

Something's going on near the Market Street interchange with I-5. Drivers have struck and killed three people there in the last few months, most recently on Wednesday morning.

Market Street and I-5 is incredibly hostile
for people on foot

In the paper on Thursday

From Oregon State Police:

On Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at approximately 4:13 A.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to the report of a motor vehicle crash on Interstate 5 at the northbound Market St. Interchange.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a female pedestrian was in the off-ramp lane of traffic when she was struck by a Honda Civic, operated by Nicholas Kreitzer (46) of Salem, that was exiting the freeway.

Kreitzer stopped and cooperated with the investigation.

The female pedestrian was pronounced deceased.

Name will be released when available.

There's a real lack of information on the cluster. One person's name was never published. They may not have been identified, but the initial crash reports also blamed the person on foot, as if a suicide or personally very careless.

It may be that there is an encampment nearby and the lack of information is an expression of bias against people in crisis.

It's also hard to analyze walking safety on a controlled access, high-speed roadway. If Market Street itself is clearly an urban street and should be more comfortable and more safe for people on foot, the Interstate is one place where cars are rightly prioritized.

This post may be updated.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

1876 Election Back in the News

A couple of years ago the Mill published in the paper a piece about a suspicious check for $8000 that was sent to Ladd & Bush bank over a century ago.

From Chicago to Memphis readers [in 1877] bent on reforming the corruption in Washington, watched the story of this check unfold in dramatic fashion, and Asahel Bush’s name and Salem, Oregon became national news. To summarize several hundred pages of testimony, just before the electors were to meet in Salem a check was drawn at the Wall Street Firm of Martin & Runyon and directed to the Ladd & Bush Bank in Salem via a New York agent in a cipher-encoded telegram.

For the main frame they focused on corruption in President Grant's administration.

Let’s set the stage for this bizarre tale. It’s 1876 and the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes is running against the Democrat Samuel J. Tilden of New York. Both candidates are running on a platform of reform, seeking to counteract the corruption of then-President Ulysess S. Grant. Grant’s scandals were so bad that he had split the Republican party. Fellow Republican, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts even coined the derisive term “Grantism” and gave a speech on the Senate floor differentiating Grant’s activities from the core values of the Republican party. Tilden won the popular vote and looked like he would win the electoral college except for contested returns in several states, including Oregon.

While most of the elections controversy circled around voter intimidation in the South, the issue Oregon focused on the eligibility one of their three presidential electors.

Especially in our current moment, this take on the election, separating national and local matters, and focusing on scandal in the Grant administration, may not have the right emphasis and context.

Conservative writer David Frum, no great progressive, Sunday published a thread about the Election of 1876, interpreting it on different grounds.

You're hearing a lot of talk about "irregularities" in the election of 1876 that led to a "disputed" outcome. What is being referred to in this hazy terms?

He underscored that "white conservatives had used terror and massacre to deter former slaves from voting" and placed the dispute in the context of the Reconstruction period and its sequel of racist "Redemption." A conservative, he is alarmed by the reactionary right, whom he finds radical rather than conservative.

Over the next half century, the states "redeemed" by white conservatives shriveled into tight oligarchies.

Democracy in the United States has a contested history. It's being contested again right now. The foundational idea of democracy is that each person counts. Let's commit to proving that theory true in the dangerous week ahead.

Corruption and problems with Grant's administration may not, then, be the best lens for interpreting this weird episode with Ladd & Bush Bank. 

Friday, January 1, 2021

Legislature in 1919, Pre-DMV Lines in 1920, Striping Crosswalks in 1921: History Bits for the New Year

Hey, there's a nice story on the front page today about the 1919 Legislature and the way they worked around, and sometimes in spite of, their own Pandemic.

Front page today

When I read though the papers two years ago on the 100th anniversary, and then again reviewed them last year once we had found ourselves in the middle of a real Pandemic, it seemed less clear that there were useful parallels or negative examples to mine from the Legislature's operations and comportment in 1919. Maybe with the session about to commence, a third reading now will turn up more interesting comparisons. 

One way I may read them differently now is that on the earlier reading, it had seemed like the main stories were the development of very early public health measures, institutionalizing public health by government action, and the superiority today of our modern medical science. Progress, we had made progress.

Now after the awful fullness of 2020, a reading of the 1918-1919 Pandemic really should attend more to conflict, to the development and limits of of state powers, to the red scare and reactionary right, to our libertarian individualism that checks collective action, and to propaganda and the dissemination of information (both sound and unsound).

I think today's article may still stress too much of a harmonizing reading of the politics and culture then and now and not give sufficient attention to the nature and locations of conflict. We may also still impose too much of a sense of having made progress and of teleology.

Maybe there will be more to say later.

Here's a piece about primitive attempts at vaccines that lacked any understanding of a virus, as well as anti-vaccine sentiment by Senator Pierce, later infamous as our KKK-adjacent Governor. They struck a note of defiance, something that certainly rhymes today.

January 14th, 1919

There was also anti-mask and anti-closure sentiment. It is easy to read that as not understanding science, but we have better science today and there is still anti-mask and anti-closure sentiment.