Read. Talk. Think.

Things that make you say O. Hm.

Ezra Marcos Ayala

“A common thing as humans is that we all just want to belong. We want to be considered a part of society. No one wants to be seen as illegitimate.

One thing I learned following people all day is that they lay low. They stay home. They only go out to go to church, get groceries, and go to work: it’s too much risk. One lady didn’t even drive. She refuses. She’s not going out for leisure.”

Ezra Marcos Ayala, reflecting on the experience of working on “To Live More Free,” an Oregon Humanities’ This Land online project that featured his photos of Southern Oregonians who are undocumented, with audio by Luis Rodriguez.


“I posit these two worldviews, indigenous and colonial, and am, as a Diné and Dakota woman living in the twenty-first century, constantly torn between them. There is no way our traditional culture and worldview can persist without being permitted actual space in the physical world to live out these ideas.”

—Jacqueline Keeler, ed., Edge of Morning: Native Voices Speak for the Bears Ears, Torrey House Press, 2017


What qualities must one possess to be considered a “good person”?

How should we approach people when they fail to demonstrate the qualities of a good person?

What prevents us from receiving criticism about our beliefs or behaviors that hurt others?

Brittany Wake, an Oregon Humanities Conversation Project leader uses questions like these to get people talking her program “What Does It Mean to Be Good? Exploring Morality in the Midst of Structural Oppression.


“This couple, down on their luck, is just trying to get a bit of food to keep them going until next week. And here I am making sure they don’t slip a few extra potatoes into their cart. I feel like an oppressor, and an unduly suspicious one at that. We both had been ensnared in charity’s web. I can’t imagine the couple left feeling liberated and uplifted. I end the shift feeling despondent and ashamed.”

—Andrew Fisher, Big Hunger: The Unholy Alliance Between Corporate America and Anti-Hunger Groups, MIT Press, 2017


“It’s about everybody. I want to create a story of Oregon history to help change the course of young people’s lives and how they interpret their potential.”

Gwen Trice, executive director of the Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center, describing what drives her in “Reaching Back for Truth,” an Oregon Humanities’ This Land online project written by S. Renee Mitchell with photos by Joe Whittle.


Now it’s your turn. Share your thoughts about the quotes on these pages—and the rest of this issue—on Twitter (@orhumanities), Facebook (Oregon.humanities), or Instagram (@oregonhumanities) with the tag #readtalkthink.


Conversation Project, History, Place, Literature, This Land, Oregon Humanities


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Also in this Issue

Editor's Note: Chipping Away

From the Director: Guns, Tools, and Talk

Field Work: Opening the Conversation

Field Work: Bridging Divides over Dinner

Field Work: People in Motion

Field Work: Community Stories Onstage

The Original Laws

Protecting Inequality

The Third Bullet

To Heart Mountain

The Reflex

Cuts and Blows


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