John Baxter

Jefferson Exchange Producer

John Baxter's history at JPR reaches back three decades.  John was the JPR program director who was the architect of the split from a single station into three separate program services.  We're thrilled that John has taken a hiatus from his retirement to join JPR as co-producer of the Jefferson Exchange.

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People may talk in ominous terms of "the government," but the government does the business of the people.  So there's a general sense that the workings of government should be open to the people. 

The reality can be a lot trickier to navigate, especially when it comes to public records.  Ginger McCall is Oregon's Public Records Advocate, just on the job since earlier this year, and her first report shows some problems with public records.  Those include a lot of confusion about the system and how it is supposed to work. 

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Alan DeBoer never really planned on becoming an Oregon state senator.  But Sen. Alan Bates died suddenly in the summer of 2016, leaving a big hole and a seat to fill in a special election. 

DeBoer, the former mayor of Ashland and a wealthy car dealer, won a two-year term in the senate.  He opted not to run for a full term this year, expressing some frustrations with people and processes in the Oregon legislature. 

Gary Stevens, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39160410

Maybe you were in an art gallery or museum and saw something that caught your eye.  And ultimately, you couldn't quite figure out what you were looking at. 

You're not alone; fine art installations range far beyond pictures on the walls and sculptures on pedestals.  They include a hole dug in the floor of a gallery and a pile of candies in silver wrappers, with art viewers invited to take a candy. 

Art critic Lance Esplund hears the frustration of people who otherwise consider themselves lovers of art.  He provides a guide in his book The Art of Looking: How to Read Modern and Contemporary Art

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No one wants to reach a place in life where a guardian is appointed to make decisions on her or his behalf.  Guardianship situations arise when the law determines that people are unable to care or make decisions for themselves. 

Under guardianship, they can no longer make decisions about their care or their finances.  Disability Rights Oregon has worked with the legislature to add some safeguards to Oregon's guardianship law, but DRO still feels some further refinements are needed, and will ask for them when the legislature convenes next month. 

U.S. Fish & Wildlife

December 1st is the rough target date for the opening of Dungeness crab season in the Pacific.  But it didn't open until mid-January this year, and may open even later next time around. 

Frustration with ocean conditions produced a lawsuit by fishing groups: they are taking fossil fuel companies to court.  The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations says the practices of the fossil fuel industry led to the ocean conditions now damaging fisheries. 

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A.W. Barnes lost his brother, Mike, to suicide 25 years ago.  They had much in common, being gay brothers in a big conservative family in the Midwest. 

But their relationship was fraught, as were many in the family.  A.W.--Andrew--remembers his brother, his brother's suicide, and the aftermath in a series of essays contained in the book The Dark Eclipse: Reflections on Suicide and Absence

Maxim Kozin, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45205912

  The history of science--for that matter the history of knowledge--begins with curiousity.  It's what drives people to ask questions like "how do birds fly," and "what causes diseases?"  Vera Keller at the University of Oregon studies and teaches the history of science, and she refines her approach to the study of the history of curiosity.  Only fitting that we have this discussion with Dr. Keller in our monthly "Curious: Research Meets Radio" segment. 

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We want to encourage kids to be creative, but yikes, that is a big paint stain on the floor!  Although... that's not an issue if the paint is a certain kind, as in the kind made by Ashland-based Natural Earth Paint

The company's products are for kids, from the environment, and good for the environment.  And they clean up pretty well, too. 

We learn more about the company and its creation from founder Leah Fanning, in this month's edition of our business segment, The Ground Floor. 

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Income inequality, environmental destruction, and the constant churn of old and new jobs in the economy produce heated arguments.  Many seek to assign blame, some seek solutions. 

Edgar Villanueva proposes looking to the original inhabitants of North America for solutions.  Villanueva, a member of the Lumbee Tribe, proposes Native America as a guide, in his book Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance

The book examines issues in the financial and philanthropic sectors, and suggests using a new way of thinking--actually a very OLD way--about addressing those issues. 

Pavla Pelikánová, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37180275

We're not done learning after high school, not by a long shot.  And the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute--almost universally known as just OLLI--continues to teach people who have many decades behind them. 

OLLI's programs are based on the differences between how people learn at different ages.  The OLLI program at Southern Oregon University is reaching out for potential new faculty members. 

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The commercial image of the Christmas season is nearly impossible to live up to.  All that smiling and singing and buying and wrapping and surprising can wear people out. 

And people often need to step back to restore mental health.  Mental health is the regular focus of "Compass Radio," our regular monthly segment with Southern Oregon Compass House in Medford. 

And this holiday season, we acknowledge the deep depression some people feel amidst all the bright lights.  The focus this month is suicide and its prevention. 

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Only after government pressure on the tobacco industry increased did we learn how big a fight Big Tobacco put up.  The release of volumes of documents from the industry revealed how hard it worked to twist the science and influence public opinion, keeping people smoking for years. 

Anybody else use this strategy?  Yes, the food industry, says Cristin Kearns, an assistant professor in dental public health at the University of California-San Francisco.  She points to the large archive of food industry documents now housed at UCSF. 

Every election, Oregon voters must wonder what all the fuss is about in most of the other states.  Reports of having to show ID to vote, or waiting in long lines, do not sound familiar in a state where all elections have been conducted by mail for two decades. 

The Vote At Home campaign aims to make mail-in elections the norm in other states, and Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker is part of the effort.  And there's a potential bonus for Oregon voters: Walker favors pre-paid postage, negating the need for stamps on ballots. 

Sarah Ruhl is a playwright, author, professor and MacArthur genius grant recipient.

Max Ritvo was one of her students. When Max's pediatric cancer resurfaced, the two developed a deep friendship and exchanged an extraordinary series of letters in the four years before Max's death in 2016.

Their relationship comes alive in their collected letters, published in the book Letters from Max: A Book of Friendship

Casey Minter/Oregon Public Broadcasting

Southern Oregon stood to lose some clout in the state legislature when Mike McLane opted not to run again for his position as House Republican leader. 

But the loss of regional clout didn't happen because another southern Oregonian stepped up.  Rep. Carl Wilson of Grants Pass is another legislative veteran, and he will lead his party in the House in the next session. 

US Bureau of Reclamation

Plans to raise Shasta Dam by 18 feet are still on the books.  But there's a long process to go through before any construction might start, including a lawsuit filed over a creature that could be affected by an expanded Shasta Lake. 

The Center for Biological Diversity filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for not acting on a 2012 petition to protect the rare Shasta salamander. 

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Housing is already tight in both Oregon and California, and the Camp Fire wiped out nearly 14,000 homes in a single day.  Many decisions remain to be made about the future of Paradise, where most of the homes were lost. 

But there's a ripple effect elsewhere, as people driven out by the fire seek new places to live, either for now or for good.  We talk about the impacts with Steve Bade, who runs the Community Development office in Redding, Ryan Buras, a housing specialist at FEMA, Christina Curry at Cal OES, and Ashland realtor Colin Mullane, who is a past president of the Oregon Association of Realtors

The job title "firefighter" is self-explanatory; what it is is what they do. 

But wildland firefighters can have some questions about the tactics used on large fires.  That's the case with the group Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology, or FUSEE. 

FUSEE takes exception to the firefighting methods used in some environmentally sensitive areas, including on the Soberanes Fire in Southern California in 2016.  That fire alone cost more than a quarter of a billion dollars to fight, and included multiple retardant drops from planes, to little effect. 

Southern Oregon Digital Archive

Just because trees grew here once doesn't mean they'll grow back just like they were before.  Forests can be tricky things to create, and it takes more than just planting a lot of trees. 

Darwin Moore knows that from years of experience.  He's this month's guest in our regular segment "Stories of Southern Oregon," curated by Maureen Flanagan Battistella. 

Darwin's days with the Forest Service included leading the crew that successfully replanted the notoriously difficult Cat Hill Burn near Butte Falls. 

Staff Sgt. Jennifer Cohen, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39627441

17 years and counting.  That's how long the United States has maintained a military presence in the frequently hot war in Afghanistan. 

Women serve over there as well as men, but the women's teams have performed some duties men could not, like having conversations with Muslim women in the countryside. 

In the book Beyond the Call: Three Women on the Front Lines in Afghanistan, we hear the stories of women performing delicate and dangerous duty far from home. 

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