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Rogue Theater Company

A place that probably already has more stage plays per capita than just about anywhere just got more. 

The Rogue Valley is now home to an additional outfit, the Rogue Theater Company, lighting up an Ashland stage with its first production in early March.  "Fragments" is written by RTC Artistic Director Jessica Sage; it draws from her own life growing up on New York's Long Island.  Ashland theater veteran Liisa Ivary directs the production. 

Public Domain

The title of Oregon's new five-year housing plan is aspirational: "Breaking New Ground."  The report is part of a state effort to spur the building of new housing, with an emphasis on housing affordable to people who do not make much money. 

The report shows more than a quarter of Oregon's low-income residents spend more than half their pay on rent.  The report comes from OHCS, the Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services


Insects outweight humans on the Earth.  So when the large numbers of insects become somewhat smaller numbers, there is cause for concern. 

A long-term review of scientific research shows insects going instinct at an alarming rate; up to 40 percent of all species could be at risk. 

Entomologists can give us some insight into causes and effects; Alan Journet of Southern Oregon Climate Action Now is retired, but paying plenty of attention.  So is Lynn Kimsey at the University of California-Davis, as well as Kristina Lafever at the Pollinator Project Rogue Valley.


We trust that regulators will make sure nothing deadly gets into our food.  But that doesn't mean our food is completely pesticide-free. 

Recent research by Friends of the Earth and Eugene-based Beyond Toxics sampled store-bought foods away from the organic aisle.  The research found measurable amounts of pesticides in many products, including breakfast cereals and produce like spinach and apples. 

Janna Nichols/REEF via UC Davis

Sea stars--starfish to the kids--took a pounding from an undetermined pathogen along the West Coast several years ago.  Since them, some populations of sea stars have rebounded. 

But not sunflower sea stars.  These creatures, given the name because of multiple arms that make them resemble sunflowers, are still very hard to find in waters close to shore. 

The zone extends from Baja California to Alaska.  Researchers from University of California-Davis,  Cornell University, and other institutions are tracking the situation. 


The demands of the workplace would seem to work against the calm practices of Zen.  But that's exactly the point, says Marc Lesser. 

He is a longtime Zen practitioner who developed a program that he teaches to big corporations to help ease strain on workers and smooth workflow.  The principles are contained in Lesser's book Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader: Lessons from Google and a Zen Monastery Kitchen


Societal attitudes and laws may be changing, but it can still be a real challenge growing up LGBTQ.  Research from the University of Texas Department of Human Development and Family Sciences bears this out. 

The research, based on student surveys in California, shows that LGBTQ youth are more likely to be living either in unstable living situations or in foster than straight kids. 

True South Solar

Will there come a day when all of our electricity truly comes from renewable sources?  If so, Eric Hansen plans to be ready. 

He is the founder of True South Solar, which installs photovoltaic panels all over the Rogue Valley.  The business has grown since Hansen and Shawn Schreiner started the company not quite ten years ago. 

It is the focus of our business segment, The Ground Floor, this month. 


It's been called the sharing economy or the gig economy.

Whatever the name, the legions of temporary Amazon employees, Uber drivers, and Taskrabbit workers inhabit a work environment that offers flexibility, but fails to offer basic worker protections or any stability.

Alexandrea Ravenelle explores the contradictions of the new gig economy in the book Hustle and Gig: Struggling and Surviving in the Sharing Economy

As you survey the current landscape of unscripted "reality" and game shows on broadcast TV, it's hard to imagine the major networks having a fight over Shakespeare.  But they did, way back in radio days. 

Both NBC and CBS broadcast adaptations of Shakespeare plays in 1937, a situation Rogue Valley writer Michael Jensen explores in his book The Battle of the Bard: Shakespeare on U.S. Radio in 1937

William Smith

The groundhog has come and gone, the Valentine gifts are half-eaten or starting to wilt, and the rain is coming in buckets. 

What food could dispel the mid-winter gloom?  Citrus!  Will Smith, our partner for the Savor food segment, says the brightly colored orbs definitely raise the spirits. 

Geoffrey Stewart, the produce buyer at the Ashland Food Coop, visits with talk of varieties. 


So you're an animal here that needs to go over there.  Maybe you can't sprout wings or legs or flippers on the spot, but evolution might address the need, a few generations down the line. 

The idea that how we move dictates how we got these bodies is explored by Matt Wilkinson in the book Restless Creatures: The Story of Life in Ten Movements

KyleAndMelissa22, Public Domain,

The spectacular view of Mount Shasta from Interstate Five is occasionally blocked by the big mountain's cousin, the cinder cone called Black Butte.  The butte is now permanently protected from development by a conservation easement granted at the beginning of the year to the Pacific Forest Trust by the landowner, the Michigan-California Timber Company

There will still be timber management on the land, but it will be sustainable.  Cal Fire played a part in the granting of the easement. 

We get new lessons in use and abuse of the media all the time.  Was the kid from the Catholic school smirking?  Did the Native American man get in his face? 

That's just one situation we discuss in this month's edition of Signals & Noise, our monthly perusal of media.  Our regulars return: Precious Yamaguchi and Andrew Gay from Southern Oregon University's Communication department. 


More than a few people have thought that racism might eventually die out in our country.  But new racists are made all the time. 

Jennifer Harvey says we could bring up future generations of non-racist white children if we wanted to. But she says both current paradigms, color blindness and diversity training, are failures.

US Fish and Wildlife Service via Wikimedia Commons

Researchers believe the Western Monarch butterfly's population floor is about 30,000.  Anything below that number could make it impossible for the species to make a recovery. 

And the Thanksgiving Count last fall showed fewer than 30,000 already.  Organizations focused on preserving the Monarch put out a call to action to urge people to help the butterflies return to their former numbers. 

Those include the Xerces Society, based in Portland. 

Josh Estey/AusAID

Criminal justice reform in the United States has lately focused on reducing the number of adults living behind bars, more than 2 million of them. 

At the same time, California's new governor is focused on reforming the juvenile justice system.  Gavin Newsom wants to move the juvenile justice agency out of the corrections department and into human services. 

This and other changes are welcome news for the National Council on Crime and Delinquency

Attorneys can toil for years in service to the government and never see their names in the news. 

Then there's Bill Erxleben, who worked for the state of Washington, the federal justice department, and the Federal Trade Commission.  The causes and cases he took on earned him a nickname, "Front Page Bill." 

Erxleben gives his own view of his work on behalf of the environment and consumers, and against corruption, in the memoir A Lion Where There Were Lambs: The Quest for Truth, Justice, and the Rule of Law in the Pacific Northwest


"Identify theft will explode."  That chilling phrase is just one of several predictions made for this year by Internet security expert Tom Kelly. 

He is the CEO of ID Experts, based in Portland, and he is not encouraged by what he sees in the handling of data by social media sites. 

His predictions are presented in a recent post at Morning Consult

Michael Richardson/Wikimedia

The country was ablaze in patriotic fervor 100 years ago, coming down from the high of having won World War I with less than two full years of American involvement.  But not everybody got on the war bandwagon.

This month's edition of Stories of Southern Oregon visits with retired Mail Tribune writer Paul Fattig.  He wasn't around for the war, but two of Fattig's uncles hid out in what is now the Kalmiopsis Wilderness during the war, refusing to take part in the fight and living off the land. 

Fattig tells the story in his latest book, Madstone.