Bob Zybach & Janet Meranda present The Story of Letitia Carson in Oregon, 1845-1888


February 28 Central Oregon Coast NOW Meeting

Bob Zybach & Janet Meranda present The Story of Letitia Carson in Oregon, 1845-1888 Tuesday, February 28 6:00 p.m. Newport High School Boone Center (Newport High library)-sponsored by the Newport Public Library Foundation and Central Oregon Coast NOW Foundation.

In recognition of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, Dr. Bob Zybach and Jan Meranda will share their research about Letitia Carson.

Letitia was a former slave who moved to Oregon with her white husband, Dave in 1845. After Dave died in 1852, their land was taken from her by Greenberry Smith, a wealthy white landowner. Letitia’s story is significant because she fought for years to regain her property, and eventually won, becoming the first black woman to make a successful homestead claim in the Pacific Northwest. Her story was the inspiration for Jane Kirkpatrick’s novel A Light in the Wilderness, and Jan Meranda’s recent biography, Freedom’s Light: The Letitia Carson Story Begins.

Women scientists: “We’re not backing down, and we’re not going away”


It started as a group text message among four friends from graduate school about new kids, puppies, and jobs. You know, the successes and struggles that are the building blocks of everyday life.

In the wake of the election, the discussion changed. While everyday life continued, the four friends — all women working in the climate and ecology fields — faced a new reality. Their discussions turned into an email chain, which grew to include a group of women, until finally it spawned a pledge of inclusivity in science and the need for reason in politics that’s now been signed by more than 14,000 women in science.

The group, dubbed 500 Women Scientists, was created in response to President Trump and his anti-science, anti-women comments. Its pledge vows to protect the scientific enterprise from his attacks as well as “build a more inclusive society and scientific enterprise.”

Cross-posted from Climate Central

President Trump’s War on Women Begins


Can you imagine if Alice Paul or Ida B. Wells, women who fought for our right to vote, had to watch as a Donald Trump is sworn in as President of the United States (recognize the last male voice on the video? Listen to what he says – really scary)?

Created by Frank Chi and A Angélique Roché. Production of this video was provided in part by a grant from Art Matters Foundation.

We will not be silent as elected officials attempt to roll back our rights. We will fight against any attempt by state houses, Congress or this Administration to limit rights or freedoms in our country, particularly the rights of those most marginalized. Stand with us as we fight for justice.

Donald Trump may have accidentally created a new women’s movement


Read more here:


Women, Science and Diving Into Leadership

I was scuba certified and exploring the complex and beautiful world below the ocean’s surface by the age of 16. Few get to venture into that world, but many should. My first underwater experience was on a 90-foot wreck dive in the cold, murky waters off the New Jersey Shore; I later had a vibrant, colorful dive on the Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately, experiences like those simply will not be available for future generations if we don’t address the threats to our oceans from climate change, pollution and overfishing. With the waters I loved facing such dire straits, I entered a career in science focused on ocean conservation.

PROHeath Alseike / Creative Commons

Getting here wasn’t always smooth sailing—and when times were tough, I had great mentors of both genders, though I’ve always found it useful to consider the accomplishments of women who succeeded before me.

One of these women is Rachel Carson, who truly struggled to be recognized for her scientific achievements in a gender-biased world. She fought tirelessly against the use of DDT because of its effects on the environment and the birds that she loved. It was rare at that time for women to be on the front lines, and her opposition was deep-pocketed and powerful. So it’s not surprising that she was portrayed by her critics as a hysterical woman, prone to being less rational and more emotional. She was attacked fiercely by the chemical industry and shunned by magazines unwilling to publish her work. But her now-famous book, “Silent Spring,” paved the way for the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 – perhaps her greatest vindication, though it happened long after her death. And her resilience in the face of tough odds continues to inspire many of us today.

Four decades later, the situation for women in science has improved, but there is still a long way to go. The same is true for the business sector and the non-profit sector, in which I work. Fortunately, there has been a lot of progress and I’ve never been more hopeful and confident that times are changing than I am today.

As senior vice president for U.S. oceans at Oceana, I’ve led campaigns that have fought the expansion of offshore oil drilling, reduced cruise ship pollution, promoted shark conservation and more. Most recently, we launched Global Fishing Watch, a groundbreaking new digital tool that allows governments and citizens around the world to improve fishery management to bring back ocean abundance and strengthen food security. I’m proud to be involved in this exciting new era of fisheries management, and I’m here today because of female role models, both past and present.

Today there are many. Their actions, their successes and most importantly, their words of advice have been invaluable to me.

On the double standard that exists for women in the workplace, this quote from Hillary Clinton really stood out for me. She told Susan Page of USA Today, “Any woman who wants to be on the stage — whether in politics or business or journalism or anything — just has to toughen up.” She then added, “If you allow it to define you, if you allow it to adversely impact you and your dreams, then you’re going to be blocked, and you’re going to be blocking yourself.”

The last thing we want to do is to block our own success.

Another source of inspiration is Indonesia’s Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Susi Pudjiastuti. Minister Susi is a self-made entrepreneur and even created her own airline, Susi Air. But what I love about her is that she is relentlessly fighting against illegal fishing. She has seized, prosecuted and sunk more than 200 vessels caught fishing illegally in Indonesian waters—a dramatic but effective tactic to deter bad actors in her country’s waters. Minister Susi is a partner with Oceana in Global Fishing Watch, and spoke at its launch in September.

Women in leadership positions offer us continued inspiration. They inspire us with their strength and their accomplishments.

I hope I can help our resilient oceans return to abundance so that future generations can enjoy their many benefits. I hope that my position can offer one more example to girls and young women beginning their careers— that science is a field for women and that leadership is an opportunity for women as well. I hope more women and girls will explore our oceans and never hesitate to dive into any field that inspires them.

I’m grateful to the women that have shown so clearly that we all have the potential to change the world, and I intend to pass that on.

Jacqueline Savitz is the Vice President for U.S. Oceans at Oceana, where she previously served as senior scientist, senior campaign director and deputy vice president of U.S. campaigns. Prior to her work with Oceana, Savitz served as Executive Director of Coast Alliance, worked as an environmental policy analyst with the Environmental Working Group and worked as an environmental scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. 

Is Donald Trump’s Cabinet Anti-Woman?


Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Donald J. Trump’s campaign was dogged by accusations of misogyny. Now his cabinet is shaping up to be one of the most hostile in recent memory to issues affecting women, advocacy groups for women say. Tax credits for child care and the prospect of paid maternity leave are exceptions to a host of positions that could result in new restrictions on abortion and less access to contraception, limits on health care that disproportionately affect women and minorities and curbs on funding for domestic violence, as well as slowing the momentum toward raising the minimum wage or making progress on equal pay.

Consider their positions on these issues.

Domestic violence

Jeff Sessions, Mr. Trump’s selection for attorney general; Tom Price, chosen for Health and Human Services secretary; and Mike Pompeo, the pick for C.I.A. director, all voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act in 2013, which funds shelters and services for victims of domestic violence, because of amendments extending protections to L.G.B.T. victims. The act is up for reauthorization next year.

Pay discrimination and equal pay

Senator Sessions and Representative Price also voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which extended the statute of limitations to allow women to sue for pay discrimination.

Mr. Sessions, as well as Elaine Chao, Mr. Trump’s choice for transportation secretary, opposed the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have strengthened federal equal pay laws for women.

Minimum wage

Ms. Chao, in her tenure as secretary of labor in the George W. Bush administration, opposed raising the minimum wage. President-elect Trump generally opposed raising the federal minimum wage during the campaign, although he occasionally contradicted himself. Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, points out that two-thirds of minimum-wage earners are women, who dominate fields with low-paying service jobs.

Mr. Trump, who supported the right to abortion as recently as 1999, opposed abortion during the campaign. And so do almost all of his cabinet picks, including Betsy DeVos, his nominee for education secretary; Nikki Haley, for ambassador to the United Nations; and Ms. Chao. Governor Haley signed a bill into law in South Carolina banning abortions from 20 weeks, a rollback from the medically established viability standard of 24 to 26 weeks.  Ben Carson, his nominee for Housing and Urban Development, is a longtime abortion foe.

In Congress, Senator Sessions and Representatives Price and Pompeo have consistently voted for abortion restrictions, including a ban on abortions after 20 weeks and against funding for Planned Parenthood and Title X, because abortion is included in these family planning services.

A Trump administration may well restrict funding for family planning or abortion in programs overseas to which the United States contributes.


In Congress, Mr. Sessions, Mr. Price and Mr. Pompeo all voted against requiring employers to provide health care plans that included contraception, citing religious liberty.

In an exchange that went viral in 2012, Mr. Price scoffed at the notion that any woman could not afford contraception as part of his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, which requires contraceptive coverage without co-payments as well as a range of other preventive services for women. “Bring me one woman who has been left behind,” he said at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “Bring me one. There’s not one.”

As numerous women’s advocacy groups have demonstrated, high co-payments for birth control have been a significant deterrent for many women.

Medicare and Medicaid

Mr. Price proposes offering states lump sums, known as block grants, for Medicaid. These measures could disproportionately hurt women, particularly poor and minority women, since they would end up reducing the amount of federal money going to the states for health care. Medicaid is the main source of health care for low-income women, providing prenatal and maternity care as well as paying for nursing home care, which affects women more because they live longer. Under Obamacare, federal money to expand Medicaid has helped to narrow a longstanding gap in health care between blacks and whites.

Mr. Price has also proposed that the federal government provide a contribution that could be applied to private insurance or Medicare. Some fear those changes would hurt women because they become sicker as they age and would be more likely to exceed a fixed federal contribution.

“They will frame this as flexibility, but it’s about the federal government paying less or making it easier for states to cut back on services,” said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families.

Mothers In Prison

“Prison got me sober, but it didn’t get me anywhere.”

By NOV. 25, 2016  New York Times

TULSA, Okla. — The women’s wing of the jail here exhales sadness. The inmates, wearing identical orange uniforms, ache as they undergo withdrawal from drugs, as they eye one another suspiciously, and as they while away the days stripped of freedom, dignity, privacy and, most painful of all, their children.

“She’s disappointed in me,” Janay Manning, 29, a drug offender shackled to a wall for an interview, said of her eldest daughter, a 13-year-old. And then she started crying, and we paused our interview.

Of all America’s various policy missteps in my lifetime, perhaps the most catastrophic was mass incarceration. It has had devastating consequences for families, and it costs the average American household $600 a year.

The United States has recently come to its senses and begun dialing back on the number of male prisoners. But we have continued to increase the number of women behind bars; two-thirds of women in state prisons are there for nonviolent offenses. America now incarcerates eight times as many women as in 1980, and only Thailand seems to imprison women at a higher rate.

And the situation may well worsen under the Trump administration; the president-elect’s nominee for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has in effect defended mass incarceration.

The global capital for female incarceration may be right here in Oklahoma, which incarcerates 142 out of every 100,000 women, about 10 times the rate of low-ranking states like Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I wouldn’t argue that mass female incarceration is worse than mass male incarceration — they’re both counterproductive — but the imprisonment of women has heartbreaking collateral damage, because women are disproportionately likely to be primary caregivers, and 60 percent of American women in state prisons have children under 18.

“There’s a devastating impact on the children,” said Amy Santee of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, which supports an alternative to imprisonment for women. “They’re put in chaotic homes, they’re more likely to be sexually abused, they’re more likely to be imprisoned themselves.”

Research shows that prison routinely fails at helping women straighten out their lives — although it does mess up their children.

“I felt my life was going to repeat my mom’s, and it did,” said Alisia Hunter, 37, who said her mother was imprisoned for financial offenses while she was a child. Hunter then ended up having a baby at age 16 by one of her father’s buddies, and she soon began doing stints in prison for drug offenses.


Alisia Hunter is a client of Women in Recovery, a Tulsa program that is an alternative to prison for women with drug offenses.CreditAndrea Morales for The New York Times

“Prison got me sober, but it didn’t get me anywhere,” Hunter told me. Each time she went to prison, she would get clean, and then once out she would return to drugs.

She did try to get into a drug rehabilitation program. But the state, while willing to pay to imprison her, was unwilling to pay for drug rehab except for the most serious addicts; she didn’t qualify.

One reason mass incarceration doesn’t get fixed is that society regards felons with a mix of fear and contempt. In fact, the women should evoke sympathy; even more than male prisoners, they have been through the wringer.

A quarter of women in state prisons reported having been sexually abused as children, one 1999 Justice Department study found. A different study found that 43 percent of women in jails that were examined had serious mental health problems, and 82 percent had drug or alcohol problems.

Anessa Rabbit, 31, says she grew up in a family of addicts and was born with drugs in her system. I can’t confirm her life story, but she told how she was molested by her father beginning when she was 7, began smoking methamphetamine daily when she was 11, moved in with a man when she was 13 and dropped out of school in the ninth grade.


Anessa Rabbit, right, being trained at work by Floyd Massey at Webco Industries in Tulsa. Ms. Rabbit also participates in Women in Recovery. CreditAndrea Morales for The New York Times

Like many female felons, Rabbit seems to have gotten in trouble because of a boyfriend who manipulated her into committing crimes.

“He always put me in the position of doing the dirty work,” Rabbit said, speaking of a boyfriend who used to choke and beat her when he wasn’t coercing her to commit crimes. She says they committed robberies and other offenses, sometimes she at his behest; he ended up with a sentence of four years probation and she faced a possible sentence of 26 years in prison.

Prosecutors often understand what’s going on but threaten the women with long sentences (sometimes based on conspiracy laws) to get them to testify against their men. That’s how the criminal justice system works, but when the women refuse to cave, they go to prison for many years — and the guys then drop them.

When men are in prison, they seem to get visits frequently from girlfriends, who also add money into their commissary accounts so they can buy small items and make phone calls. But the prisoners and social workers I spoke to said that when women are imprisoned, they get fewer visitors and their accounts are often empty.

Mass incarceration also has an abysmal record. Recidivism is high, and imprisonment breaks up and impoverishes families. A newly published study from the Russell Sage Foundationfound that incarceration of a family member is associated with a 64 percent decline in household assets, magnifying poverty and the race gap in America. And the 2.6 million American children who have a parent in prison or jail pay an enormous price — which, as Rabbit’s story shows, isn’t always necessary.

Rabbit was diverted from prison to a model program in Tulsa called Women in Recovery. (Hunter also is in the program.) It reduces the numbers of women in prison, saves money and has had remarkable success helping troubled women shake drugs and restart their lives.

It has a two-generation approach that works with both the women and their children. The program offers counseling, intensive support, coaching on budgeting and conflict resolution, and help getting high school equivalency diplomas, housing and jobs.

The upshot is that Rabbit has now been clean of drugs for nine months — the longest since she was a young child — and has a job in a warehouse with some prospects for promotion. She has custody on weekends of her son, 12, and daughter, 11, and is trying to rebuild relationships with them.

Women in Recovery programs last 17 months and cost $19,700 on average; after that, the woman is in a job, and recidivism over the next three years is just 4.9 percent. Without the program, the state might imprison the women for years at a much greater cost — and end up with a much higher recidivism rate.

So if we want to reduce female incarceration, we have a solution here in Tulsa that will also reduce crime and pay for itself.

I know some of you are glaring at this article and thinking: It’s their own fault. If they don’t want to go to prison, they shouldn’t commit crimes!

That scorn derives partly from a misunderstanding of drug abuse, which is a central reason for mass female incarceration in America (and a major reason for mass incarceration of men as well, although to a lesser degree). As Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the surgeon general, noted in releasing a major report this month: “It’s time to change how we view addiction. Not as a moral failing but as a chronic illness.” In short, we should think of drugs not primarily through the criminal justice lens but as a public health crisis.

If you think all this is just coddling criminals, consider for a moment Michelle Vavrick, 24. I can’t independently verify her story, but her counselors believe it, and it tracks what many other women in her position have experienced.

Vavrick says she was raised in a chaotic and violent home with alcohol and drugs. Beginning at age 7, she says, a pedophile named Sean began picking her up at her house and taking her away to rape her on an almost daily basis. She responded by acting out, self-mutilating and becoming violent.


Michelle Vavrick at Katy’s Pantry, where she works as part of the Women in Recovery program. She hopes to run her own bakery some day. CreditAndrea Morales for The New York Times

“At 10, I became uncontrollable,” Vavrick remembered. “Sean and his friends would shoot me with heroin so they could do what they wanted to me. Six of them.”

Vavrick self-medicated with alcohol and drugs, went through rehab programs that didn’t work and ran away at 18. She lived on a park bench, sold sex, connected with a gang and robbed people. “I was a big ball of anger,” she recalled. “I couldn’t stand being in my own skin.”

Last year she was finally arrested for drug running and faced a sentence of 15 years to life. Fortunately, she was diverted to Women in Recovery, underwent intensive cognitive processing therapy — and transformed. She has now been clean for 10 months and is warm and hopeful. Instead of sitting sullenly in a prison cell, she works in a bakery, loves it, and hopes to run her own bakery some day.

At one point when I was interviewing her about her past, she began crying. Alarmed, I quickly apologized, but she shushed me up. “This is progress,” she said, beaming through her tears. She wants to let herself feel again.

Reporting these kinds of topics is often tough: I see people stuck in cycles of poverty, drugs and incarceration, with their children often headed in the same direction. Even well-meaning help is sometimes rejected, for we humans have an astonishing capacity for self-destructive behavior — just as society does, with policies like mass incarceration. That backdrop makes it exhilarating to see a program like Women in Recovery succeed, and an individual like Michelle Vavrick blossom through it into a new future.

“I know how precious my life is, and I never want to stick a needle in my arm again,” she said. “I want to live.”

100th Anniversary of the Death of Inez Mulholland