A rookie no more

OLive

A few of the notebooks and other items, including a pica pole, that I used to keep at my desk in The Oregonian newsroom.

As the month of June comes to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on the good fortune that has come my way since I began teaching as an adjunct college instructor last fall.

In the nine-plus months that have passed since I walked into a classroom on the Portland State University campus and faced my first group of students, one opportunity after another has presented itself. I’ve said yes to one thing, only to have another thing come my way, and then another and another.

Never could I have imagined I’d be in this place so soon after making the transition from veteran journalist to rookie college instructor. But I’m grateful, even if I have to pinch myself from time to time.

***

I taught a single class at PSU during the fall, winter and spring quarters, each one lasting 12 weeks. This summer I’m teaching two four-week sessions back-to-back. The first class began this week. The second one starts in late July.

Meanwhile, I taught two communications courses across the river at Washington State University Vancouver during the spring semester from January to mid-May. Combined with the single PSU class, that meant I was managing three courses at once for most of the 16-week term. It was a stretch, requiring two days a week on each campus, but I managed.

This summer I’m teaching a single class in Vancouver.  Yesterday marked the halfway point of the eight-week course. I gave the midterm exam, welcomed a guest speaker, and met with each student individually after class in the fresh air outside the classroom.

PSU shirt

You can’t teach at Portland State without a branded T-shirt, right?

Looking ahead to the 2017-18 academic year, both campuses want me back. WSUV has me lined up to teach one class in the fall and one in the spring.

PSU wants me to teach a single class during the fall and winter quarters (nothing in the spring) and become the internship coordinator for the Department of Communication.

On top of that, a key contact in PSU’s Education Abroad program is encouraging me to pitch a course that would enable me to teach overseas sometime next year.

Can you believe it?

Those of you familiar with my journalism career know that I spent a decade at The Oregonian as the newsroom recruitment director and internship coordinator. So here I am, 18 months removed from leaving the newsroom, and I’m being given the opportunity to essentially build another internship program for a different employer and a different set of students.

What a perfect fit of my skills and background with the department’s need and desire to do a better job of helping students secure internships in public relations, advertising and communications. A primary goal is to ensure that they and their employers both benefit from the experience.

Starting in the fall, I will likely have no more than a handful of students to supervise, as the onus is on them to find and arrange an internship. Once I’m in the new role, the expectation is that I’ll be able to help place students with a variety of employers and provide ongoing support to ensure they are successful and doing meaningful work that relates to their academic major and career aspirations.

This vision no doubt will require lots of networking with internship coordinators already doing similar work for other campus departments, as well as with area employers who’ve had interns or are interested in having them. By adapting best practices to the Communication Department program and tapping the experiences of recent interns, I hope we’ll be able to develop a robust program that serves everyone’s needs — student, employer, university — and lays a foundation for a sustainable program.

I look forward to the challenge, confident that much of the work I did 20 years ago — advocating for students, building partnerships and strategic networking — will still be relevant and useful in a 21st century media environment.

***

None of what has transpired — and, certainly, none of what lies ahead — would have been possible without the help of key individuals on both campuses. So here let me express my gratitude to a handful of folks:

cindy coleman

PSU Professor Cynthia-Lou (Cindy) Coleman.

Cynthia-Lou Coleman. Cindy is a tenured professor and former chair of the Communication Department and she was the one who encouraged me to apply as an adjunct. She’s provided valuable counsel at every step of the way as I’ve gotten my foot in the door and become more established at PSU.

Jeffrey Robinson.  Jeff succeeded Cindy as the department chair. He’s the one who brought me aboard last fall and asked me to teach again during the winter, spring and summer. He approved a teaching assistant for me for an unexpectedly large class during one term. Most recently, he surprised with me with the proposal for 2017-18 that includes the internship piece.

Ky Tran. Ky is the all-purpose finance and administrative specialist who welcomed me to the department. She has been indispensable as an all-purpose resource, helping me figure out which campus buildings were located where; providing support for guest speakers; answering questions about payroll, student evaluations and other mundane matters. She’s moving on to a new job next month in the private sector and I know everyone in the department will miss her.

Ky Tran

Ky Tran greeted me warmly and was an invaluable resource during the past year at PSU.

Becky Kearny. Becky was a lifesaver during the winter term. As my teaching assistant, she helped grade certain assignments, kept track of student scores, did a lot of photocopying and provided useful feedback on my teaching methods and lesson plans. Becky was a straight-A student herself who excelled while managing a blended household of five girls, including three who were in college at the same time as her.

Narayanan Iyer. Nanu is program director of the Integrated Strategic Communication program at WSUV. He’s the one who brought me aboard in January and since Day One has provided encouragement, positive feedback and continuous opportunities to teach. He also has filled in for me as a guest lecturer when I’ve had to miss a couple of classes.

wsu. nanu iyer

Narayanan (Nanu) Iyer heads the Strategic Communication program at WSU Vancouver. 

Last but not least, my wife, Lori. She encouraged me initially as I set out on this new path but undoubtedly had second thoughts as our evenings and weekends were gobbled up by the workload associated with my classes. For each one, I had to create a syllabus and a weekly schedule, then develop lesson plans and lectures. I also had to assign, read and grade assorted papers;  put together midterm and final exams; and keep in touch with students, faculty and guest speakers.

No one sacrificed more than Lori during these first few months of 2017 and I am deeply appreciative. The workload has slackened a bit during summer and I’m confident I can manage it effectively when the new school year begins this fall.

Next: The joy of teaching

 

 

Two tributes to a great dad

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I inherited two prize possessions after my dad’s death. The watch is linked to his long service as a union member. The ring, with a ruby stone, honors his service during World War II.

 

George and C.A

Son and father during a 2014 visit to Silver City, New Mexico.

On this Father’s Day 2017, I’m sharing two tributes to my late father, each of which was read aloud at his funeral two months ago.

My wife, Lori, couldn’t be there with me in Silver City, New Mexico, when we buried my 91-year-old dad. But she did share memories of her father-in-law, which I was proud to share with family and friends who attended the April 6th funeral Mass at the Catholic parish that Dad and my stepmother Ora attended.

Separately, I offered my take as the son of an extraordinary ordinary man.

Here they are:

***

Words For Dad | Lori Rede

I have had the privilege of being the only daughter-in-law to a gentle man named Catarino.

I proudly called you “Dad” for some 42 years because you were like a father to me in every sense of the word. You always warmed my heart when you called me “mija.”

I lost my own father twenty-five years ago. Having you in my life was a joy for me.

You were a hard-working soul, a man of integrity who took great pride in all of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, sincerely interested in all of our endeavors.

I know you were especially proud of your grandsons who served in the Armed Forces. That pride gave me comfort when our youngest son, Jordan, was deployed to Afghanistan.

Always supportive, always understanding, you watched as your family moved around the country and pursued our interests. You instilled the values of independence, responsibility and self-reliance in all of us.

Wherever we lived, you and Ora always made it a priority to visit us and we appreciated that.

dad and lori gift

Lori, a native San Franciscan, watches as the birthday boy shows off his 49ers license plate in March 2016..

One of my fondest memories was watching you garden and enjoy the fruits of your labors. Not only would you grow a variety of peppers, but you would can them and cook with them, remembering to save a jar or two for me.

Up in Oregon it’s almost time to plant some peppers, and I will think of you when I garden.

There will be much to miss about you, Dad. We are the individuals we are because you had a hand in shaping us. This is a part of the legacy you leave behind.

A couple of others are:
Your silly jokes that George continues to repeat.
Your funny pronunciations of Spanish words. I think I will forever call “tortillas” “torpeders.”

Farewell, Catarino.

I know my parents are happy to see you again up beyond those pearly gates.

 ***

A son’s remembrance | George Rede

A father holds a special place in a son’s life. He can be a positive influence or a negative influence. A role model of what it means to be a man. Or an example of how not to be.

I am fortunate, so fortunate, that my father was someone I could look up to and learn from and love.

I could talk for 30 minutes about Catarino Rede but I’ll try to take just three minutes.

First, the short version: My dad was perhaps my biggest supporter. As someone with a grade school education who made his living with his hands in a variety of blue-collar jobs, he provided an example of taking pride in his work, in showing up on time, in performing at a level that he could be proud of. Likewise, he encouraged me to push myself and aim for opportunities he never had himself. He supported me in every job I took, in every move I made (in a geographic sense and in a career sense), and as fellow parent and husband.

Second, we shared a love of baseball, too. I will always appreciate that my dad volunteered to be a coach, and then a manager, of my Little League and Pony League teams. While other dads sat in the stands or maybe didn’t attend the games at all, my dad was one of those who stepped up to be there not just for the games but for the twice-a-week practices. We played catch in the backyard — a timeless pastime enjoyed by fathers and sons throughout the ages — and it paid off when I became a pretty successful pitcher as a 15-year-old.

Third, let me tell you a simple story that illustrates how a gesture can mean so much more than money. I must have been 8 or 9 at most when my dad took me to a weekend flea market. We strolled between the aisles of used merchandise, much of it worthless, much of second-hand, much of it forgettable. But it was there I got my first baseball bat. It bore the signature of Willie Keeler, a turn-of-the-century player who played for the New York Highlanders and was known as one of the best hitters of his time.

The bat was long and heavy, so much so that a skinny kid like me had trouble swinging it. It had black tape around the handle and, if I remember correctly, a small nail embedded in the lower end of the bat. My dad paid 50 cents for it. And though it was used and endorsed by a player who had died in 1923, some 40 years earlier, that bat occupied a special place in the corner of our garage. Much like my father occupied a special place in my heart.

***

If your dad is still alive, give him a hearty hug or at least a phone call to offer your thanks. (Texts don’t count.) If you are a dad, embrace the responsibility. Anyone can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad.

Missouri or bust!

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Father and son just before starting the four-day road trip.

Even under normal circumstances, a road trip covering 2,000 miles of asphalt across seven states and two time zones would be challenging.

But these weren’t normal circumstances. This was a no-nonsense, no-time-for-sightseeing trip with my youngest son, Jordan. Not a leisurely car trip at all.

We were hauling the contents of a three-bedroom house in a 20-foot trailer to Columbia, Missouri. We were leaving the Seattle-Tacoma area on May 30, the morning after Memorial Day, and we had exactly four days to get there, and one day to unload everything so that I could fly back home today (Sunday) and be back at work early Monday, June 5.

We were planning to put Jordan and Jamie’s compact car on a trailer and tow it. But when we made a last-minute decision to put their three family pets in the car so the animals could travel in relative air-conditioned comfort, that changed everything.

No. 1, it meant we would each drive 2,000 miles, taking turns with each vehicle.

No. 2, it meant we’d have no opportunity for casual conversation – or even sit-down meals – because we had to ensure the two dogs (a pit bull terrier mix and a Chocolate Lab) and an adult cat wouldn’t overheat.

ID blowout

A rear tire on the driver’s side came apart as I was going about 65 mph on I-90 east of Kellogg, Idaho.

We figured we could handle that.

What we didn’t count on was having a rear tire blow out on the rental truck in the northern Idaho mountains the very first afternoon. That resulted in a 3-hour delay for a service call and ended with us driving through the night, with no dinner, to reach our motel in Missoula, Montana, just before midnight.

And what we certainly didn’t count on was another tire blow out the very next afternoon on a remote stretch of highway in eastern Montana that resulted in another 3-hour delay. This time it was a front tire on the U-Haul rig. We limped into Billings at around 9 pm, well short of our 500-miles-a-day target. Now we’d have to drive about 600 miles each of the next two days to get to Missouri on time.

MT blowout

Jordan was driving on I-90 just east of Livingston, Montana, when the second tire blew out. This time it was the front tire on the passenger’s side.

Day Three meant driving from Montana, across a slice of Wyoming, to a small town in central South Dakota, again arriving around 9 pm. It would have been 8 pm but for the change to Central Time. In the hour it took to check in and then walk, water and feed the dogs, all the town’s restaurants had closed but one — McDonald’s.

SD sunset

Spectacular sunset near East Lyman, South Dakota.

Day Four was pedal to the metal. We drove to Sioux Falls at the eastern end of the state and, after 1,500 miles of traveling east, finally turned south and powered down through western Iowa and Missouri. Naturally, we got caught in Friday’s outbound rush hour as we came upon Kansas City and the turn onto Interstate 70 eastbound. The extra traffic and a couple of construction work zones guaranteed the last leg of our trip would go slower than planned.

But, hey, we did it.

We found our motel, put the pets in the room, and headed out to T.G.I. Friday’s for the only sit-down dinner of the trip – and our only beers.

We raised a toast to ourselves, devoured our meal and agreed to “sleep in” until 6:30. After all, a truckload of furniture and other possessions awaited our attention and, first, we had to pick up keys to the apartment where all this was going.

In the end, the degree of difficulty made the feeling of accomplishment twice as satisfying for Jordan and me. Though we didn’t have the luxury of hours of conversation, we did have the shared experiences of white-knuckle driving, countless rest area stops, greasy food and energy drinks to fuel us mile after mile after mile.

There may not have been time to discuss politics, American culture and world events, but there was at least time to get a better sense of what awaits our youngest child, now 29, in Middle America.

He and Jamie will be in one of the country’s great college towns, far from family and all that is familiar. Just having received his B.S. in Biology from Saint Martin’s University, a small private college in Olympia, Jordan will be one of more than 30,000 students on the University of Missouri campus. He will be there for a year, possibly two, doing a Professional Research Experience Program fellowship (PREP for short) that’s designed to prepare students for graduate study in biomedical research.

He’ll be working in a lab with a faculty mentor, taking advantage of the ample resources offered by a leading research university that weren’t available at his comparatively tiny college.

MO jordan-george done

Whew! Done!

We will miss Jordan and Jamie and our 10-month-old granddaughter, Emalyn. But we will be rooting for his academic success, as well as a smooth transition to Columbia for him and his wife. When I return to Mizzou next year, I’ll have the satisfaction of seeing how they’ve decorated the place with the furnishings I helped haul across the country. That’s worth something, right? Another brewski, at the very least.

Be sure to check back in the coming days to read more about our Missouri-or-bust experiences.

Jordan’s journey

SMU jordan

A journey that began 11 years ago produced a college degree and a big smile from Jordan.

This time of year is commencement season at campuses all across the United States. Like proud parents everywhere, we celebrated when our youngest son stepped onto a stage inside a small gymnasium and accepted his hard-won college diploma.

Hard-won? To say the least.

It’s one thing to graduate from high school, enroll in college in the fall, and emerge in four years with a degree.

It’s another thing entirely when you embark on a path that takes to you to multiple states and one foreign country, includes marriage, parenthood, home ownership and military service; and culminates 11 years later with high academic honors as you receive your degree.

That’s the path our son followed — and we couldn’t be prouder. Call it Jordan’s Journey.

SMU lori-jordan-george

Proud parents flanking our youngest son, Jordan.

***

When Jordan graduated from Grant High School in 2006, with a full-ride ROTC scholarship to Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, we figured we knew the script. Jordan would put in four years, get a degree and graduate as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

A few weeks into his first semester, he wanted out. The physical challenges weren’t a problem, but he’d burned out on the classroom and couldn’t stomach the thought of even more.  He withdrew, gave up his scholarship and came back home, trying to figure out what to do next.

He worked for a while and, after a time, he enrolled at the local community college. He did well in the auto repair program and won a scholarship. But, again, his heart wasn’t in it.

When he turned 21, he shocked us both by announcing he wanted to join the Army, specifically to serve in the infantry. He’d always wanted to be where the action was, he told us, and he had a sense of public service dating back to the September 11th attacks in 2001, when he was still in middle school.

When Jordan enlisted, the United States was deep into the Afghanistan War under President George W. Bush. We were hardly stoked by our son’s decision, fearing that he might be called to serve abroad in a dangerous part of the world.

Sure enough, he was, in the last year of his enlistment. You can bet we held our breath and said our prayers while he was deployed for a year. Thankfully, he made it home physically and mentally sound in December 2012 and received his honorable discharge the following spring.

Jordan.boots

To Afghanistan and back.

Before all that, however, came a series of transitions. Boot camp in the Deep South. He did basic training at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. Initially, he was stationed at the ironically named Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. He put in for a transfer and got moved to Joint Base Lewis McChord near Tacoma, Washington, about 150 miles north of Portland.

While still a soldier, he came home to Oregon and married his sweetheart, Jamie Lynn. They moved to Texas and then to Washington. Using his G.I. Bill benefits, they bought a house on a culdesac in suburban Spanaway and he enrolled in school, a freshman again at age 25.

***

For the next four years, he would commute about 25 miles each way to Saint Martin’s University, a small Benedictine school with a reputation for being veteran-friendly.

After meeting all the physical challenges the military could throw at him, Jordan did the same in the classroom. He majored in biology but also took chemistry, physics, calculus and other rigorous courses, earning high marks in every one.

When baby Emalyn was born last July, Jordan had just completed his junior year. His final year of school would mean adding a layer of responsibility as a young father.

Well, he did it.

He graduated magna cum laude, meaning with a grade-point average between 3.7 and 3.89. As a rising junior, he was selected for a federally funded summer research fellowship in cellular and molecular biology at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Now, with diploma in hand and Emalyn already 10 months old and crawling, Jordan’s life path is taking him and his young family to the American Heartland. They are moving to Columbia, Missouri, where Jordan will do science research in a fellowship program designed to help students prepare for the rigors of graduate school.

It’s the next phase of Jordan’s journey, one that could take several years and culminate in a Ph.D., there in Missouri or elsewhere. Obviously, we will miss having Jordan, Jamie and Emalyn three hours away — now they’ll be 2,000 miles and two time zones away. But we are excited for all three of them as they embark on this new adventure and we are already making plans to visit.

This weekend, we are paying them one last visit in Spanaway, helping them to pack up their belongings and their animals for an anticipated four-day drive in a U-Haul truck and trailer. Jordan and I will split the driving. Jamie and Emalyn will come down to Portland to stay with Lori for a few days, then fly out to Missouri to join Jordan.

***

On Graduation Day a week ago, we were thrilled that our other children could share in Jordan’s accomplishments. And we were struck by the oddity of one number all three have in common.

SMU nathan-simone-jordan

How uncanny that Nathan, Simone and Jordan all would receive a college degree at 29.

Nathan, the oldest, started at the University of Oregon, dropped out, found himself, and returned to school at Portland State University. At age 29, he graduated with degrees in business and marketing.

Simone, the middle child, graduated from Vassar, studied in Mexico and worked in Portland before returning to graduate school. At age 29, she graduated with a masters from Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh.

Now comes along Jordan. He, too, just graduated at age 29.

If this pattern holds, Lori and I will be somewhere in the year 2046 watching Emalyn receive a degree of some kind at age 29.

 

Cougartown

wsu-textbook

The instructor’s view in the classroom where I taught two courses at WSU Vancouver.

Last Thursday, I gave final exams in my two classes at Washington State University Vancouver.  On Monday, I entered final grades for a combined 45 students in those classes.

And then I exhaled.

Since January, I’ve been teaching three Communications classes — two at WSUV and one at Portland State.

Splitting my time between two campuses — two mornings a week at each one — has been the easy part. Preparing weekly lesson plans that include a mix of lectures, readings, videos, writing assignments, and guest speakers has been more challenging.  Even more so, the time and mental energy involved in grading dozens upon dozens of essays, media diaries, and other assignments.

But all that’s done. (Well, most of it anyway. I’ve still got the one class at Portland State, where my 50 students and I just passed the halfway point of the spring quarter.)

It’s time for a few fist-bumps and reflections on my first semester at WSUV.  And if you’re wondering about the headline, it’s a reference to the school mascot, the Cougars.

***

The list of thank-yous starts with Narayanan Iyer, the man who hired me to teach the just-completed classes.

wsu. nanu iyer

Narayanan (Nanu) Iyer, my No. 1 cheerleader and all-around support at WSU Vancouver.

Nanu is director of the Integrated Strategic Communications program within the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, named for the legendary CBS News broadcaster. The college is headquartered in Pullman, home of the flagship campus, but WSU also has branch campuses in Vancouver, Everett, Spokane and the Tri-Cities.

Nanu invited me to give a guest lecture to a Sports and the Media class last fall. He liked what he saw and hired me to teach the course this semester, a 16-week haul from January to early May. He offered a second course, Reporting Across Platforms, a hybrid course in communications and journalism. The emphasis was on writing for digital, broadcast and print — mostly news but with a nod to public relations.

The sports course went beautifully, as more than a few eyes were opened to how sports mirrors every aspect of society on issues of race and gender, technology, economics, branding and marketing, political activism and sexual assault, just to name a few.

The second course went pretty well, too, although it required more adjustments on the fly. WSUV doesn’t yet have a journalism minor, let alone a major. Students have to go to Pullman for that. So, without an actual newsroom set-up and only a handful of class members seriously interested in journalism, it required some finesse.

wsu.banner

WSU Vancouver, located just across the Columbia River from Portland, has an enrollment of about 4,300 students.

In both classes, I called on an array of guest speakers, talented people that I’ve been privileged to work with or get to know over the years. (More on them below.)

Nanu was indispensible. He provided encouragement and support, guiding me through WSUV’s online learning management system (how to post and receive class assignments, send email, etc.) and even filling in for me as a guest lecturer when I had to miss two classes. Most of all, he made me comfortable and valued as an adjunct instructor — something you can’t put a price on.

The other big thank-you goes to Lori, whose patience (understandably) resembled a roller-coaster depending on whether I was partially or totally consumed with prepping for classes or plowing through a stack of papers that needed grading.

During 40-plus years of marriage to a journalist, Lori has put up with too many late dinners to count; evening, weekend and holiday work; out-of-town travel; interrupted vacations; and, in recent years, the nearly 24/7 demands of news and reader engagement in the digital age.

Lori in Tucson

Lori and I met in journalism school in the days when print was king. She’s put up with my shenanigans for more than 40 years.

I’m very aware and very appreciative that I’ve been able to put so much of my time into these three classes only because Lori has enabled me to. Our free time together has taken a big hit and I’ve had to give up regular exercise except for the weekends. But the worst of it is behind us now. From here on out, I’ll be teaching either one or two classes — not three — and I’ll be able to refresh material I’ve used before rather than build a course from scratch.

***

As for other thank-yous, let me start with five guest speakers in the Sports and the Media class.

Lindsay Schnell, a Sports Illustrated staff writer who covers college sports, and Gina Mizell, an Oregonian/OregonLive beat reporter who covers Oregon State football and women’s basketball, talked about having to work twice as hard to be taken seriously as women journalists in a male-dominated industry. It wasn’t that long ago that female journalists and their employers had to go to court to force teams and leagues to provide equal access to locker rooms, where so many coach and player interviews happen, so they could do their jobs on equal footing with men.

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With undergraduate training in broadcast and print journalism, Gina Mizell is a double threat covering Oregon State athletics.

Tom Goldman told students of his career path in radio, starting at Alaska Public Radio in Anchorage and leading to his one-of-a-kind job as a Portland-based national correspondent for National Public Radio. His show-and-tell of assorted microphones and digital recorders captured students’ attention and focused their attention on an underappreciated way of delivering the news.

Chris Metz, vice president for communications with the Portland Timbers and Thorns, pulled back the curtain on the hectic life of a front-office executive. The job entails traveling with the teams; establishing and protecting their brands; helping manage coaches and players, who present a range of egos and personalities; dealing with local and national media; and responding to fans in the nation’s most popular soccer market.

And then there was Brenda Tracy. The victim of a gang rape by Oregon State football players in the late ’90s, Brenda has become a leading spokeswoman on sexual assault and rape culture, meeting with coaches and athletes across the country. Her story of redemption, beginning as a young single mom with no self-esteem, going public with her story, and subsequently becoming a registered nurse, victim advocate and national speaker, visibly moved the young men and women in my class. “Inspiring” doesn’t begin to capture the power of Brenda’s presence.

brenda tracy poster

Brenda Tracy cites her own experience as a victim in calling out rape culture.

***

I had five other guest speakers in the reporting class.

Kyle Iboshi, an investigative reporter at KGW and a Murrow alum himself, walked students through one of his stories, emphasizing that good reporting combines a nose for news, digging through public records, and holding public officials and institutions accountable. Like reporters everywhere, he’s producing video, writing for digital as well as broadcast, and engaging with readers on Twitter and Facebook.

Steve Woodward, a former colleague at The Oregonian, introduced students to “The new ‘New Journalism'”.  With an entertaining slide show full of hyperlinks, Steve moves across the spectrum of new and mostly innovative web sites that have sprung up as alternatives to the traditional mainstream media. While most students were familiar with HuffPost and BuzzfeedNews, fewer knew about Vice, Vox, Mic, Fusion, and Rare. Same goes for ProPublica, Five Thirty Eight and The Young Turks. An innovator himself, Steve has taught journalism at three colleges and universities and is newsroom director of a Portland-based startup that’s producing one-minute videos for an increasingly international viewership.

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Steve Woodward, speaking during the winter term to students at Portland State University.

Another former colleague at The O and OregonLive, Anna Griffin, introduced the class to multi-platform journalism as practiced by her employer, Oregon Public Broadcasting. Known for its sober, solid reporting on public affairs and other topics such as education, environment and diversity, OPB delivers content online, on the radio and TV. That means reporters today, regardless of age, must know how to write for different mediums, as well as shoot video, capture audio, and live tweet.

opb.anna griffin

Anna Griffin has made a smooth transition from print to multimedia journalism at Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Beth Nakamura, a staffer at The Oregonian/OregonLive, shared her perspective as a photojournalist who broke into the business in an era of still photography, darkroom chemicals and once-a-day print deadlines and has had to adapt to a completely flipped reality. Weighed down with cameras and lenses of all sizes, Beth now shoots live video, writes her own stories, downloads photo galleries in minutes, and transmits from anywhere she can get an internet connection. Beth’s images depict ordinary people experiencing both tough and tender moments, reflecting not just their hopes, interests and challenges but her own dedication: “to enable people to be heard.”

wsu.beth nakamura

Beth Nakamura: photographer, videographer, storyteller.

Dianne Danowski-Smith, a vice president with Publix NW,  wrapped things up with an energetic presentation that covered “the other side” of the media. As a longtime public relations pro, she explained the differences in producing in-house and external communications, in working for corporate and government employers, and in preparing for crisis situations, where some kind of response is always needed to limit damage to the client.

Each and every one of the professional journalists brought something intangible but yet very important to the class — a passion for their work that has guided their career development while also delivering compelling stories that inform, entertain and occasionally enrage readers.

I am grateful to all of them for sharing their time and expertise, indebted to Nanu for hiring me, and ever so appreciative of my wife for going through this extra-busy stretch with me.

Up next: Summer session starts June 6 with a class on Media Ethics.

 

Chiho!

george-chiho

George and Chiho at dinner.

The “friend request” came in on Saturday. I was stunned.

Chiho Hayamizu?

Our Japanese exchange student from so long ago?

Yes, indeed.

I accepted the request, racking my brain to estimate how long ago it had been since Chiho had lived with us for a few months when our three kids were still in middle school and grade school.

The next day I spotted some photos on Chiho’s Facebook wall. There was picture of an airport sign with the words “boarding” and “Portland.” And another one showing a group of five women gathered in front of a sign that read “Portland State University.”

“Are you in Portland, Chiho?” I wrote.

Indeed, she was.

chiho-psu

Chiho, at far left, with friends and their group host, Judy Van Dyke, in the rear.

Through an intermediary, we quickly learned she was in town for just a few days for an unofficial reunion with friends who’d also been exchange students in Portland. She was eager to see us. Could we meet?

And, so, roughly 24 hours ago, Lori and I had a hastily arranged but much appreciated reunion with our long-ago guest.

We met at an Italian restaurant in the neighborhood, exchanged hugs and tried to catch up over a gap that spanned 24 years. Amazing.

Chiho was just 20 when she came to live with us. She and other peers from Osaka attended classes at Portland State during the week and engaged in group activities. But we made the most of our time with her evenings and weekends.

Turns out our kids were just babies back then. Nathan was just 13. (Coincidentally, he turned 37 today. 37??  Yeah, I can’t believe it, either.) Simone was 10 and Jordan just 5.

At 44, Chiho could pass for the young adult she was when she arrived in Portland, full of smiles and halting English. She’s single and still lives in Osaka. Works the front counter at a pharmacy, owns a Pug named Kiki, travels widely (China, Myanmar, Thailand, Italy, just to name a few) and speaks pretty darn good English.

She told us she almost never speaks English anymore, but she did just fine at dinner. Gotta admit there were times I didn’t catch the details because of the background noise at the restaurant, but we powered through with the help of a few iPhone photos.

***

Going back in the time capsule…

In 1993, Bill Clinton succeeded George W. Bush as president. The Chicago Bulls, with Michael Jordan leading the way, won their third consecutive NBA title while the Buffalo Bills lost their third consecutive Super Bowl — this time to the Dallas Cowboys.  The Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series and Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” won Song of the Year at the Grammys. Best Picture at the Oscars? “Unforgiven,” directed by Clint Eastwood.

***

Before Chiho arrived in the spring of ’93, we’d had just one experience with an exchange student. A Japanese girl of about 10 or 12 years old, stayed with us for not enough a full week. Chiho spent six months with us.

It was such a good experience for all of us, especially as a way to open our kids up to other cultures, that we did it again. And again. And again. And again.

In succeeding years, we had boys from France, Costa Rica, Taiwan and Spain. Each one brought a personality all his own — and maybe a quirk or two. I have no doubt that if things had gone badly somehow with Chiho, we never would have been repeat hosts.

Instead, she was a low-maintenance member of the household, happy to try different things, and we all her missed her very much when she left.

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Lori and Chiho: Radiant smiles, no matter the location or the year.

We wondered why she hadn’t given us advance notice of her visit. She had. Chiho told us she wrote a letter and mailed it in early March and was surprised we hadn’t received it.

It dawned on us that she wrote to us at our previous address. Of course, the letter hadn’t been delivered, considering we’ve been in our new place for more than seven years. D’oh.

This week’s weather turned from rainy to sunny-and-warm today, just in time for Chiho and friends to explore the Columbia River Gorge.

I’m glad they had great weather and I’m grateful we had the chance to see our dear Chiho again. Fond memories.

 

 

Snapshots from Silver City

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Looking west from Mountain View Road in Silver City. Buildings with reddish roofs in the distance are on the campus of Western New Mexico University.

“Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation.  For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life. ” — Albert Einstein

Like births and weddings, funerals are one of life’s milestones that bring people together.

That was the case last week when we laid my dad to rest after 91 years of a well-lived life, the last big chunk of it spent as a retiree in his native New Mexico.

During less than 48 hours in this town of 10,000 about 70 miles east of the Arizona border, I was reunited with both of my sisters, a niece, a nephew, a great-nephew, an aunt, assorted cousins and in-laws. Some I hadn’t seen since I was a teenager and, trust me, that was a long time ago.

Here’s a look back:

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With my sisters Cathy (from Dillingham, Alaska) and Rosemary (from Oceanside, California).

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A trio of Rede cousins. My daughter Simone with cousins Austin Flavin (son of my sister Cathy) and Bernadette Hermocillo Rackley (daughter of my sister Rosemary).

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From right: My Aunt Linda, cousins Stephanie and Bob, and Bob’s wife, Ana.

“Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.” — Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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Four of the eight Hernandez siblings, children of my dad’s sister, Valentina. From left: Luis, Pablo, Tomas and his wife Lila, and Linda.

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At the Knights of Columbus Fellowship Hall with my cousin Shelley Owens, a daughter of my dad’s brother, Albert.

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My stepmother Ora, right, drew strength from the presence of longtime friend, Lydia Montez, in my father’s final hours.

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Luz Perez, with his wife Josefina, was a cousin of my dad. The couple live in Tucson, Arizona, and hosted a memorable family reunion there a few years ago.

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A colorful New Mexican motif adorns a wall of the Knights of Columbus Fellowship Hall in Silver City.

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John Sterle, an American Legion Post 18 board member and Navy veteran, spoke at the military funeral for my dad while daughter Simone served as one of the six pallbearers. Turns out Mr. Sterle’s ethnic roots trace back to Slovenia, just like my wife, Lori.

“Death is beautiful when seen to be a law, and not an accident. It is as common as life.” — Henry David Thoreau

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My niece Bernie and sister Cathy.

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My nephew Austin with Terrell, the husband of my niece Bernie.

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My lovely stepmother, Oralia Caballero Rede, with Simone.

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Ora and George.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

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Rule No. 34: Before one hops in the rental car for a long ride on the interstate, one must take a selfie.

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Dad and Ora came to visit Lori and me in Bend, Oregon, in the years before we had kids. Photo is circa 1977 or 1978.

Quotes about death: BrockBlack.com

A son’s remembrance

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Hanging out with Dad on his 90th birthday in 2016.

Catarino A. Rede: March 22, 1926 to March 28, 2017

We laid my dad to rest this week. On March 28, six days after he reached his 91st birthday, he suffered an early-morning attack at home in Silver City, New Mexico, and died hours later at the hospital with his beloved wife, Oralia, at his bedside.

Lori and I were on a spring break vacation, four states and one time zone away, when we got the word. Just a year ago, we had celebrated Dad’s 90th birthday, with my two sisters and their families. He was so happy then, surrounded by three generations of people who mean the most to him. He looked healthy, even if his vision and hearing had begun to deteriorate. And his first and only experience with Skype had him marveling at the wonders of technology.

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Since the beginning of this year, however, things had changed. He lost his appetite and pretty much quit eating, which caused his weight to plunge and his body to lose muscle. He drank so little water, he became dehydrated and sedentary. Finally, his heart gave in.

His death felt surreal.

More than three years earlier, my sisters and I were in a quiet, darkened hospice room when our mother died. We could talk to her, hold her hand, wipe her brow and feed her ice chips as we watched her life come to a merciful end.

In contrast, all of us were hundreds of miles away when the end came for Dad. It wasn’t until this Thursday when I saw him in repose in a mortuary in his adopted hometown, rosary beads draped across his hands and his handsome face stilled forever, that it sank in. Death had taken my father.

***

I loved my dad. I admired him and appreciated him more and more with each passing year.

Catarino Allala Rede was born in Artesia, New Mexico, the fifth of nine children, the third-oldest of seven boys who all served in the U.S. Navy. He was the last surviving sibling.

Like my mom, Dad came of age during the Great Depression and had limited opportunities growing up in a family of migrant farmworkers. He experienced discrimination early in his life and his formal education ended at the eighth grade, though he later obtained his G.E.D. in his 40s.

Read his obituary here as published in the Grant County Beat.

My parents met as teenagers in Salinas, California. My dad enlisted in the service when he was 18, saw action in World War II, and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area with my mom after they married. They had six children — three of whom died as infants. Among the three of us who survived, I was the middle child and only boy.

My parents divorced when I was 15. He soon met and married a wonderful woman with a gentle disposition, Oralia Caballero, a registered nurse at the same Oakland, California, hospital where my dad worked as a stationary engineer. Dad was a jack-of-all-trades responsible for the operation and maintenance of boiler and other mechanical systems, and he took great pride in his work.

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Dad and Ora came to visit Lori and me in Bend, Oregon, in the years before we had kids. Photo is circa 1977 or 1978.

Dad was one of those men who earned his living with his hands and a broad set of skills. He wore overalls with a name patch over his heart;  ate taquitos and black coffee from a metal lunch pail and thermos; and variously worked the graveyard, morning and evening shifts.

He became an officer in the International Union of Operating Engineers and I still remember vividly one of the tangible benefits of the health insurance policy that extended to us kids: my first pair of eyeglasses as a 13-year-old.

Marrying Oralia was the best thing that ever happened to him. I told her this week that it was if my dad was born again, given an opportunity to live life to its fullest alongside an affectionate and dedicated wife who fully embraced his adult children and cared for him to the very end.

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Ora and C.A. Rede outside their New Mexico home in April 2014.

During their 46 years of marriage, Dad and Ora traveled widely — to Europe and Mexico, to Israel and South Africa — and became deeply involved in civic life in Silver City. Dad was active in veterans, fraternal and religious organizations, and accompanied Ora to music programs and other events at the local university, something he never would have done in his previous life.

***

On April 6, the day of his funeral, it was readily apparent that my father had made a mark in the little town of 10,000 people in southwestern New Mexico where he chose to retire. Not on the scale of a First Citizen or anything like that. Rather, as an ordinary Joe who had a big heart and could be counted on to participate in a community service project.

“He was a man of few words but a man of strong words,” a fellow veteran said. “He was always concerned about others. He was a man of his word. If he said he’d be there, he was there.”

Whereas my mom’s funeral drew mostly relatives, my dad’s was attended by family, of course, but also a wide spectrum of friends, neighbors, camping buddies, fellow veterans and Catholics.

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Dad’s photo hangs on the wall at the Knights of Columbus Fellowship Hall in Silver City.

I especially appreciated the presence of the Knights of Columbus, whose white-haired, white-gloved members, with their decorative hats, capes, cummerbunds and swords, took shifts standing at either end of the coffin during the church service. Afterward, I broke into tears thanking each one of these gentlemen for honoring my father.

Dad was buried at the nearby Fort Bayard National Cemetery under a sunny sky as a gentle wind riffled the U.S. and New Mexico flags, plus those of the American Legion and U.S. Navy.

Seven riflemen fired three volleys each — a 21-gun salute. A priest offered a blessing and a leader of the local American Legion post recounted Dad’s military service.

He enlisted June 15, 1941 in Salinas, California, a week after the Allies landed at Normandy. Following basic training, he was assigned to a unit that was posted to Hawaii on Dec. 29, 1941, shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He was deployed to Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands for training in anticipation of the invasion of Japan. The Japanese surrendered on Aug. 15, 1945, before the invasion could take place, and the unit was decommissioned. Back in the States, Dad was discharged on May 13, 1946, as a second-class machinist’s mate. He received $119.58 with which to resume his civilian life.

Born into a large family and equipped with little formal education, Catarino Rede nevertheless overcame a lot of life’s challenges. He became a husband and a father, a military veteran, a skilled laborer and a homeowner. He became a second husband, a grandfather and a great-grandfather, and a community volunteer in service to those less fortunate.

I will forever be proud to be his only son.

Bittersweet

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Sunrise on Orcas Island

Ordinarily, a trip to the San Juans is nothing but pleasurable. In the decade-plus that we’ve owned our cabin on Orcas Island, I’ve always known that whatever stresses might be weighing on me, I’d leave them at the ferry dock as we sailed away from the mainland.

This time, the coming back home was different. A week ago, Lori and I got up early and headed back to the ferry landing with the sobering knowledge that my father had died the day before on March 28.

Just six days earlier, he’d turned 91. The March 22nd phone call to wish him a happy birthday turned out to be the last time I spoke to him.

Today I’m flying down to Phoenix, then driving with my daughter to southwestern New Mexico for tomorrow’s funeral service and burial at a military cemetery.

There’s so much I’ve thought about, but not yet put in writing, as I think about my dad. I know I will share those thoughts in the coming days. But first, I owe it to myself to acknowledge the entirety of our five-night stay on Orcas. After all, the purpose of this blog is to serve as a digital diary. And we all know that life represents the stitching together of memories and milestones, both bitter and sweet.

***

We arrived late Friday afternoon. Though we usually have the cabin to ourselves, this time Lori and I knew we’d be sharing it for a couple of days with our youngest son, his wife and their daughter.

Jordan and Jamie and our granddaughter Emalyn arrived earlier in the week, a welcome Spring Break reward for our son, who’s been working his tail off in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in biology. Jamie, too, deserved a respite from the 24/7 responsibilities of a stay-at-home mom.

We enjoyed two home-cooked meals with the kids, and I joined them on a hike in Moran State Park on Saturday while Lori stayed behind to wait for a handyman to complete a plumbing job in the kitchen.

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Sunday morning came all too early, as the kids headed back home. We had the place to ourselves for the next three nights, and mostly just hung out at the cabin, enjoying the exquisite peace and quiet. Even the birds stayed away, though we put fresh seed in two new feeders.

We treated ourselves to dinner Sunday night at Doe Bay Café, always a relaxing experience. We read books and magazines, listened to favorite CDs, and took walks in the surrounding woods with our lovable Charlotte.

Our friend Juliana joined us for dinner at our place on Monday night, though we missed her husband Carl, who was tied up with a long work day.

On Tuesday, we drove into Eastsound (population 2,000) to buy a few things for the cabin, had a snack at a coffeehouse, and headed back to the cabin at a leisurely pace, appreciating the natural beauty of the clamshell-shaped island.

That same morning had begun with a phone call from New Mexico. My stepmother Ora said Dad had suffered a heart attack at home and had been taken to the local hospital. Just hours later, a family friend called again to say the end had come. Mercifully, I thought. I wouldn’t ever want Dad or any loved one to hang on needlessly, in pain or if there is no hope of recovery.

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Sweet memories of a hike to Big Twin, the larger of the Twin Lakes in Moran State Park.

Wednesday morning came and as we sailed across the waters back to the mainland, it dawned on me that now Lori and I are the oldest generation in our family. First, it was Lori’s dad. Then her mom. Then my mom. And now Dad.

I look forward to tomorrow’s service, not just to support my stepmother, reunite with my two sisters and assorted relatives but also to celebrate my father.

Celebrating 35 years of voluntarism

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A nice way to spend a Friday night, in the company of people who help kids who come to The Dougy Center.

Lori is way too modest, way too selfless to call attention to her volunteer activities, so leave it to me to do so.

Friday night, we attended The Dougy Center‘s annual Volunteer Appreciation Celebration, an event that marked 35 years of this Portland nonprofit providing peer support groups for grieving children and their families.

Lori was among a roomful of big-hearted men and women — and, by the way, they are mostly women — who work with these children as they deal with their feelings after the death of a parent, a sibling or other loved one.

There are 31 peer support groups who meet at The Dougy Center’s headquarters in Southeast Portland or in satellite offices in Canby and Hillsboro. Children ages 3 to 18 meet every other week in age-appropriate groups with a professional facilitator and trained volunteers. Young adults, ranging from 19 to 35-ish, have their own groups.

As a past member of the center’s board of directors, I underwent the training too and volunteered for less than a year before outside commitments got the best of me and I had to quit. So I know what these volunteers go through and fully appreciate the love and care they provide as these kids heal, each in their own way and on their own time.

Some of those honored Friday night were celebrating 5, 10 and 15 years of service. Remarkably, two were celebrating 20 years, five were celebrating 25 years, and two were celebrating 30 years. Amazing.

Lori has been with the same Esperanza group for six years. Esperanza is Spanish for hope — and the name fits because these are the children of Latino parents, many of whom speak little or no English, and it’s the one group out of the 31 that caters to their language and culture.

Of the eight volunteers in Lori’s group, two others joined in the celebration Friday. We shared a table — three female volunteers and three of us male partners — and enjoyed a fun evening that included a catered dinner, speeches, raffle prizes and a silly photo session with props.

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Highlight of the evening? No question, it was when a former participant in a Young Adult Group shared his story of loss and healing. John spoke of the devastation he felt when his older brother died at age 26, leaving him at age 23 to sort through the pain and confusion.

Now 35, John became a first-grade teacher, a husband and father of a young daughter. Last year, when he and his wife welcomed a second child into the world, death struck again. Their daughter was born with severe brain deformities and died in their arms just an hour after being born.

Another person might have been crushed by despair. But John said the self-healing that occurred at The Dougy Center, with the unconditional love and support provided by adult volunteers, made all the difference in getting through his brother’s death and gave him the strength and the tools to both celebrate and accept his daughter’s short life.

In all my years being affiliated with The Dougy Center, I can’t recall a speech that was more profound than John’s. His moving testimonial was a gift to all in the room that evening, for these are people who are either retirees or else already-employed men and women,who give three to four hours of their time every two weeks to be there in a child’s time of need.

Knowing Lori is among this caring group of people made me, once again, very proud of my wife and her giving spirit.