Terra in Print: Winter 2013

Staying in Touch

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When my mother came to the United States, she never intended to stay. She grew up in the Netherlands and, when she was 8, her mom and dad moved her and her three siblings to Long Beach, California. Despite occasional trips back to Europe courtesy of Shell Oil, her dad’s employer, she missed familiar places, her friends, her grandparents.

Kids in Long Beach didn’t understand why she wasn’t overjoyed to be in America. Europe, after all, was still recovering from a war. It was 1927.

As Mom finished high school, threats of another war grew abroad. She never did go back to live in Holland. She became a citizen of the United States, married a Dutch sailor and eventually bought a home in which to raise her family. She always spoke her native language with her parents, but at work and in the community, it was English. She was determined that would be my language too.

Susan Houtman, right, came to the United States as a child but never lost the language of her homeland.

I’ve heard similar stories from other descendants of European immigrants. Many are unable to talk with their extended families in their ancestral language. We may have old photos of great-aunts and great-uncles and great-grandparents at dinner parties in unfamiliar places. We may have even gone back to see the homes they lived in. But we’ve lost the language link to the culture that nourished our families. Now, we visit as tourists.

Susana Rivera-Mills is writing another version of this story. Her research on language and cultural ties shows how people from Mexico, El Salvador and other Spanish-speaking countries stay connected to their past (see below, “A Place of Belonging”). Whether families trace their roots back one generation or five, they often retain an identity linked to their traditions. Her work can help us understand this complex society we call America.

My mother had her eyes focused on the future. America is the only home my sisters and I have ever known. Fortunately, most of our Dutch relatives speak English. We stay in touch.

Nick Houtman
Editor

A Place of Belonging

A Place of Belonging

Features, Healthy People, Winter 2013

It was tragic enough that Susana Rivera-Mills’ girlhood was visited by war. It was frightening enough to flee her hometown of San Salvador on a dark night bundled in the backseat of the family Fiat with her little brother Fabio. And yet, as improbable as it seems, the hardest part was still ahead.


Words to Live By

Words to Live By

Features, Healthy People, Winter 2013

The early findings from Independence reveal a community that is holding onto Spanish for five and six generations.


10 Steps for Innovators

Diagrams, Healthy Economy, Terra Blog, Winter 2013

The journey from idea to innovation turns, twists and hits the occasional roadblock. Follow the progress of an Oregon State idea that is making the wood-products industry more sustainable. Research by wood-science professor Kaichang Li has enabled Columbia Forest Products, North America’s largest manufacturer of hardwood plywood, to switch from adhesives made with formaldehyde to […]


Corps of Discovery

Corps of Discovery

Features, Healthy People, Healthy Planet, Multimedia, Service to Oregon, Stewardship, Winter 2013

Just as some babies are born with special gifts for music or math, Harvard’s Howard Gardner argues, others come into the world with an exceptional sensitivity to nature. The Oregon Master Naturalist program was designed to tap into this devotion to the land and build a statewide corps of expert volunteers.


Concord Elementary School

Concord Elementary School

Features, Healthy People, Stewardship, Winter 2013

Amid the chaos, the kids are learning about the art of gardening.


Lake of the Woods

Lake of the Woods

Features, Healthy Planet, Stewardship, Winter 2013

“The three key words in the mission of Oregon Master Naturalists are explore, connect, contribute.”


South Slough

South Slough

Features, Healthy Planet, Winter 2013

Anne and Philip Matthews have explored every twist and tangle of the South Slough, which became the nation’s first national estuarine research reserve in the 1970s.


Rimrock Ranch

Rimrock Ranch

Features, Healthy People, Healthy Planet, Winter 2013

Guiding tours for the Deschutes Land Trust has been, for years, an outgrowth of Mary Crow’s passion for the land.


Caring for Cows

Caring for Cows

Features, Healthy Economy, Winter 2013

Studies show that a stressed animal is more likely to be a sick, scrawny, infertile animal — hardly the formula for business success if you’re a rancher or dairyman.


An Ethical Tightrope

An Ethical Tightrope

Healthy Planet, Stewardship, Winter 2013

Making ethical choices about animals can be a philosophical high-wire act — a precarious balance of practicality and principle. Weighing practical needs against “normative ethics” — right or wrong, good or bad, just or unjust — requires more than a handbook of do’s and don’ts. “The institutional protocols — the laws, regulations, policies — provide […]


Oregon State University In Asia

Oregon State University In Asia

Footprints, Healthy Economy, Healthy People, Healthy Planet, Winter 2013

For growth in research and educational opportunities, Oregon State University faculty and students increasingly look west. Connections to Asia are expanding. They encompass a wide range of activities including academic conferences, student exchanges and faculty collaborations. They focus on business, engineering, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, wood science, music and more. The university’s growing international influence is fueled […]


Volunteers for Science

Volunteers for Science

Healthy People, Terra Blog, Winter 2013

I get to call myself a scientist because I’ve got a Ph.D. in oceanography, but is that a prerequisite? No. Before there were “scientists,” even “ordinary people” did science. They learned to grow crops and domesticate animals. They associated the heavens with the seasons and events on Earth. Keen insight into plant properties, animal behavior […]


Normative Science

Normative Science

Perspectives, Terra Blog, Winter 2013

Too often, however, scientific information presented to the public and decision-makers is infused with hidden policy preferences. Such science is termed normative, and it is a corruption of the practice of good science.


Staying in Touch

Staying in Touch

Winter 2013

My mother had her eyes focused on the future.


The Road to Ecosystem Safeguards

The Road to Ecosystem Safeguards

Healthy Planet, New Terrain, Winter 2013

“This new tool will help speed up transportation projects while beefing up environmental stewardship.”


Twice the Rice

Twice the Rice

Departments, Healthy People, New Terrain, Winter 2013

A new breed of rice could fend off crop-damaging diseases and improve human health at the same time.


The Glove Goes Wireless

The Glove Goes Wireless

Healthy Economy, Innovation, Student Research, Winter 2013

A student-designed “wireless hand sensor” may not only help reduce hand and wrist injuries associated with repetitive motion but may have applications in robotics, medicine and computer gaming.


The Hidden Dangers of Flame Retardants

The Hidden Dangers of Flame Retardants

Healthy People, New Terrain, Winter 2013

Your old sofa, as comfy as it is, could be a hazard to your children’s health.


Ice Core Diaries

Ice Core Diaries

Earth, Healthy Planet, Student Research, Winter 2013

We are slowly beginning to understand the anatomy of global climate and how it changes, its geographic fingerprint and its tempo. Ice cores paint a complex and sometimes surprising picture, one that generations of scientists will spend decades trying to fully understand.


Sex in Play

Sex in Play

Features, Healthy People, Vitality, Winter 2013

It takes media savvy and strong role models to promote healthy development in the face of what the American Psychological Association calls “the massive exposure to portrayals that sexualize women and girls and teach girls that women are sexual objects.”