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An Ounce of Prevention…

November 8, 2018

Written by Anna Goodwin, Collections Manager at Maryhill Museum of Art

Maryhill fire image

Milepost 90 Fire near Maryhill Museum of Art in the Columbia River Gorge, 2018

Every museum should have an up-to-date emergency preparedness plan. The importance of this is especially relevant given the recent museum fire close to home in Aberdeen, Washington, as well as abroad at the National Museum of Brazil. Here at Maryhill Museum of Art, we recently revisited our plan and made some significant changes.

Working with a risk assessor, we determined that our plan was cumbersome and lacking critical information for managing human assets during a crisis. This led us to create a new document which we named our Emergencies Resource Guide. This guide is a concise, easily accessible book that personnel use to familiarize themselves with our procedures in advance, and draw upon quickly in an emergency situation. It is laminated and bound, and has tabs for each emergency.



From the beginning, it was clear that having a fresh, outside perspective was critical. Previously, our plan focused heavily on our collections, and less on staff and visitors. We also needed to add several new emergency procedures, including: Lost Child/Parent, Lock Down/Out, Active Shooter, and Armed Person. This whole process involved a multitude of revisions among key staff, and a review with our regular emergency duty officers. We also sent the plan to our local Sheriff’s office for feedback. Once a final draft was compiled, we presented it to our staff at the annual orientation.

We learned several lessons during this process.  Most importantly, a plan should be something that will be carried out by the assigned staff. If the procedure is unrealistic or if a staff person is uncomfortable with performing the duties, adjustments must be made. It is also essential to review the plan regularly. Our plan had not been updated in almost ten years when we revised it in 2015, and we still had many more changes with the latest iteration. Another critical detail is to ensure that all of the equipment needed is accessible, such as flashlights and clean-up kits.

Ultimately, this process allowed us to examine closely our procedures for addressing emergencies. By doing so, we were better able to equip our staff to respond in an emergency situation, and feel confident in that. Though we cannot predict when a crisis may occur or what the conditions will be, having a plan sets an institution up for timely and effective management of a situation. And it provides invaluable peace of mind, so we can continue to protect our most valued cultural treasures.

From Monthly “Chats” to Productive Board Meetings at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center

October 22, 2018


Written by: Carolyn Purcell, Executive Director, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center

I am blessed to have a board president whose career in the Forest Service honed his skills as a well-seasoned administrator.  Under his management, board meetings have moved from a two and a half hour “chat” once a month, to a focused and productive 45-minute meeting.  The difference is astounding.

Unlike most non-profit boards, our organization has 23 board members.  Though it is unusual for all of them to make all the monthly meetings, there is usually a turnout of 15 to 18 people.  The agenda, minutes from the previous meeting, financial statements, and a written directors report are all distributed via email (and snail mail for a few less tech savvy) about 5 days in advance of the meeting.  But even with this meeting plan, the key is how the meeting is run.

The board chair is responsible for keeping everyone focused and turning everyone back to the matter at hand when the conversation begins to veer towards a rabbit hole.  He is masterful in identifying side issues and assigning subcommittee work to be addressed outside of the monthly meeting.  This subcommittee work can often be accomplished via email in between meetings, with a report brought back to the full board at the next monthly meeting.

If you read this and think, “well of course,” then you probably have not experienced the droning two and half hour board meeting where little is accomplished.  I have learned so much from seeing how to run a meeting efficiently and encourage others to find their own master of the board meeting. It is a true talent that will save time and help you get back to the meaningful work of meeting your mission.

Here are an additional seven tips for running an effective nonprofit board meetings.

Mark your calendar for the 2019 Heritage Summit “The Culture of Board Engagement” that will take place in Medford April 25-26, 2019. 



The Oregon Archives Crawl

October 9, 2018

Written by Anne LeVant Prahl, Curator of Collection, Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education

What are you doing for American Archives Month this October? Every year about 500 Oregonians choose to spend some time getting to know their local archivist. Since 2010, a collaboration of institutions has presented the Oregon Archives Crawl. History buffs, students, and heritage tourists spend the day “crawling” between the three host institutions, visiting tables staffed with archivists from around the area.

Dreamed up by an optimistic group of Oregon archivists, the Archives Crawl organizes more than 30 participating archives into three, easy to reach destinations. Participants stroll from one venue to another, visiting hosted tables where heritage collections are displayed. They talk to archivists about their missions, programs, and collections. “Passports” are available at each site to help guide visitors through the 30 or more organizations represented.

Group at Archives CrawlThe power of the Archives Crawl is its ability to draw new faces each year.  Archives events are usually aimed at the people who are already engaged with our institutions; the Oregon Archives Crawl works to introduce new audiences as well as the patrons and supporters who come out to support the archives they love. Each year, informal polls of visitors consistently report that about 30% of the “crawlers” have never visited an archives or special collections before. That is irreplaceable outreach for a usually invisible profession.

The Oregon Archives Crawl is an annual feat of coordination achieved through the collaboration of colleagues. It is rare to see the kind of energy and enthusiasm required to bring this event to the public. At the end of the Crawl, the coordinators and presenters retire to a nearby pub to compare stories, visit more casually with “crawlers,” and start making plans for next year’s Crawl.

Details for the Oregon Archives Crawl

October is Oregon Archaeology Month!

September 26, 2018

Each year we celebrate Oregon Archaeology with a poster highlighting a current event or celebration in the world of Archaeology.  This year the committee has chosen to highlight a collaborative research project between PSU student, Tia Cody, and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

44026 Archaeology 2018 Calendar of Events_Page_2

Hidden in the Willamette Valley are hundreds of Kalapuyan mounds. These low-lying earthen features have long been considered culturally significant to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. We still have much to learn about why and how pre-contact people created these sites. The first step in understanding and protecting the mounds is identifying where they are. Many of them have a low profile, were disturbed during the historic period, or are overgrown, making identification difficult using traditional field methods. Adding to these difficulties is that much of the Willamette Valley is privately
owned, limiting access.

Portland State University graduate student Tia Cody and her advisor Dr. Shelby Anderson have partnered with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde to create a predictive model to locate these features across the Calapooia River watershed using LiDAR (light detection and ranging) data. LiDAR uses aircraft-mounted lasers to scan the surface to create 3-D models.

With permission from private landowners, likely site locations are then visited to “ground truth” the model’s predictions. Cody has already confirmed the presence of several mound sites. LiDAR technology can change our approach to archaeology in the Pacific Northwest, where dense forest growth, uneven terrain, and access are major obstacles in identifying sites. By viewing archaeology on the landscape level, we can also better understand how sites are related. More importantly, this research demonstrates the possibilities that occur when universities, tribes, and the community collaborate to learn more about the past.

The calendar of events associated with the poster provides additional opportunities to learn about archaeology in Oregon in the coming months.

For more information, to participate, or if you or your organization are interested in receiving copies of the poster or calendar please contact Jamie French (

Written by: Oregon Archaeology Poster Committee

Hear in the Gorge & Car-Free Travel – Changing the Way You Experience the Columbia River Gorge

August 29, 2018
Blach Hotel-Credit Blach Hotel

Photo courtesy of Balch Hotel

Dufur, Oregon, is a tiny town steeped in history and located approximately 100 miles east of Portland. Dufur was a stop along the Oregon Trail, specifically the Barlow Road, which took westward traveling pioneers over the shoulder of Mt. Hood. Today, Dufur is off the main transportation routes. It’s just enough out of the way to feel away without being impossible to reach.

In Dufur, the 1907 three-story brick Balch Hotel is a fine place to stay a few nights. Dufur and Balch Hotel co-owner, Josiah Dean, are featured in an audio Postcard for the Hear in the Gorge podcast. Eposide #4 of the podcast, by producer Sarah Fox, is an Oregon Trail Roadtrip. The hotel is also a destination for a car-free travel experience highlighting Oregon’s heritage resources, including sites from other Hear in the Gorge episodes. Heidi Beierle, champion of bicycle-heritage tourism, made the journey from Portland to Dufur car-free and reviewed the trip during her stay at the Balch.

Bike in Gorge-Credit Heidi Beierle

Photo courtesy of Heidi Beierle

The Oregon Trail Roadtrip episode, along with a forthcoming Hear in the Gorge episode spotlighting Latino experiences, are being developed with Oregon Heritage grant funds. The podcast illuminates untold stories in the Gorge and encourages residents and visitors to hear, see, and experience this place in new ways. The car-free experiences created for the Gorge with Travel Oregon and Oregon Heritage funding likewise provide people with an opportunity to encounter the region’s heritage in new and different ways.

With summer winding down, it is an ideal time to tune into Hear in the Gorge and explore Oregon’s many heritage resources car-free. Trips initiated in Portland can use a variety of public and private transportation options to reach heritage sites, including two National Historic Landmark sites. Listen to Woody Guthrie while riding the Columbia Gorge Express to Cascade Locks and learn about Bonneville Dam, one of America’s most unusual National Historic Landmarks.

Written by Heidi Beierle, Enroute Transport & Columbia Gorge Tourism Alliance


A New Way to Experience the State Capitol

August 15, 2018

captiol 1There is a new way to experience a visit to the Oregon State Capitol. Through a 360-degree virtual tour, visitors are now able to explore the Capitol through the internet, without leaving the comforts of home. For those visiting the Capitol in person, the virtual tour can be accessed to enhance their experience.

Captitol 2Visitors can discover the House and Senate Chambers, Governor’s Ceremonial Office and the State Capitol State Park. Or, be transported up to the observation deck to take in in the amazing views of historic downtown Salem, the Willamette Valley and beyond. The tour also allows the visitor to get an up close look at the Oregon Pioneer statue. Red buttons throughout the virtual tour include both audio and video. The menu includes an option for sharing the experience with family and friends by clicking a button.  Additional interior and exterior photographs, information in a PDF format and related videos are also featured in the menu section.

Capitol 4The vision is to provide additional access to the building through the tour experience. One goal in the near future is to offer the audio segments in other languages.

Link to the tour by texting the word Oregon to 24587. It’s also available on the website at

This project was made possible through the Capitol History Gateway, a project of the Oregon State Capitol Foundation.

Written by: Stacy Nalley, Public Outreach Coordinator at Oregon State Capitol

Jefferson County Historical Society’s “What to do While the Museum is Closed” List

August 3, 2018

2016_the_agate_n_opt.jpgSince the 1970s the Jefferson County Historical Society’s Museum (JCHS) had been located on the 2nd floor of the old original Jefferson County Courthouse in downtown Madras. There had been continuous issues ranging from inadequate storage, overcrowded exhibit space, no work or meeting room, no ADA accessibility, no HVAC system, and structural integrity issues. The County made the decision to sell the building in 2012 after the Historical Society declined to buy it. After finding storage for the collection, the Historical Society came up with a plan they informally called “What to Do While the Museum is Closed.” It consists of eleven activities promoting historical awareness and community engagement in the interim.

What to Do While the Museum is Closed

  • Historical Tours—offer walking and car excursions to County historical sites and along historical routes, organized and led by Society members; open to the public.
  • Jefferson Co. Fair Exhibit – host “Open Houses” at our furnished pioneer homestead house and one-room school  on the Fairgrounds.
  • Jefferson County Centennial Celebration in 2014—take the lead in organizing a “Centennial Road Show,” to travel around the County with historical exhibits and a series of presentations based on important moments in County history.
  • “History Day” Poster Competition—be the main outside sponsor, providing historical resources, advising, and a $200 prize for each year’s top winner.
  • Digital Historical Photo Displays —rotate displays between Madras businesses and institutions.
  • Website and Facebook
  • The Beth Crow Award – create an award in honor of a local historian and Society director, recognizing important contributions to the preserving and understanding of local history.
  • Historical displays at the Redmond Airport
  • “History Pubs” —offer public programs in informal, convivial settings. Include talks, films, and presentations on local history; popular with younger generations.
  • THE AGATE—  launch  as an outgrowth of the Historical Society “newsletter.” Include well-written, carefully researched and documented articles on Jefferson Co. and Central Oregon history and illustrate with photos from our archives.  Collaborate with the Madras PIONEER to design and print it at discounted rates. Include copies of its issues as a supplement to the PIONEER- distributed to over 6000 readers. Mail copies to Society members.

The Results

  • Society membership initially fell off after the museum closed, it has since grown steadily, up over 20% since 2014.
  • Donations and gifts to JCHS have substantially increased over the last several years.
  • JCHS seems to be increasingly noticed and consulted by City and County officials and the media.
  • There is a wider and more active interest in what the Historical Society stands for, and offers.
  • JCHS received an Oregon Heritage Excellence Award  for the AGATE!



Upper Floor Housing Sparks Investment in Downtown Reedsport

July 13, 2018

The City of Reedsport has gone through many changes in the years since it was incorporated in 1919.  Originally a boardwalk town built on the banks of the Umpqua, then a crucial site of lumber transportation and processing, and now it is a place where one can enjoy a small town lifestyle in the bucolic setting of Oregon’s Coast Range.  While many things have changed in the past century, it has always been Reedsport’s Downtown that has embodied the heart of the City.  It was out of recognition of Downtown’s core importance that the Reedsport Main Street Program was created to utilize citizen volunteers to make Reedsport a more livable, sustainable, and effervescent place to live.

Down Town Reedsport

Historical Photograph of Downtown Reedsport with the Burdick Building (right)

In 2017 the Main Street Program had the opportunity to apply for the Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant to rehabilitate the Burdick Building.  The Burdick Building in many ways exemplifies Reedsport’s heart and the changes the town has undertaken over the years.  It is located in the center of Downtown and bears the name of a historical resident.  It has also endured the ups and downs the economy and the wear and tear of the wet, coastal, weather.  To address this deterioration, Reedsport Main Street devised a plan to rehabilitate five upstairs apartments and bring the facilities up to a condition in which they could be rented.

Oregon Main Street awarded the Reedsport Main Street Program $100,000 to match $50,000 provided by the Program.  This rehabilitation project would serve several needs of the Reedsport community.  Bringing apartments into Downtown would increase the number of people who would shop in local stores, eat and drink at local restaurants, as well as create a safe and homey environment.  It would also provide affordable living in a housing market constricted by geography and economic conditions.  This need is critical in Reedsport since many employers could not find housing for workers and so had unfilled positions.  This meant less people making, and spending, less money in Reedsport.  Obviously, something had to be done.

Renovated kitchen Reedsport

A renovated kitchen including new appliances, floors, cabinets, and paint

Just over a year after the Reedsport Main Street Program was awarded the OMS Revitalization Grant we are happy to report that we have completed our project and are already reaping the rewards of our work.  Not only do we now have a stock of quality apartments in our Downtown ready to be filled by tenants, but there has also been a virtuous cycle of spending carried out by private owners.  Vacant store fronts have been filled, facades have been redone, and new businesses have been started since we received this grant.  While Reedsport Main Street cannot take credit for all of this positive change, many private owners have referenced this project, and the fact that we have a Main Street Program, as a reason they felt confident investing in Reedsport.

While our work on Main Street is never truly over, we are proud to have made substantial progress in our partnership with Oregon Main Street on raising local property values, encouraging new and current businesses, and creating a vibrant sense of place in Downtown Reedsport.  Reedsport has changed a lot since it was built on the banks of the Umpqua, and no doubt it will continue to adjust in the future, but when people come together with the common mission of making their town a better place, that change will be in a positive direction.

Written by: Emerson Hoagland, Reedsport Main Street Program

Results of Digital Collections Survey

July 2, 2018

In 2018, Oregon Heritage conducted a digital collections survey of heritage organizations in the state. Organizations with and without digital collections were encouraged to respond. Below is a summary of survey results. Background on the survey and more complete responses can be found on the Oregon Heritage website.

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Thanks to all the organizations who participated in the survey!

Oregon Students Researching Oregon

June 21, 2018

Each year Oregon Heritage Fellowships are awarded to successful applicants who are full time students of an Oregon university or college for researching, writing and presenting a topic related to history, geography, archaeology, cultural heritage, or historic preservation in Oregon.

Fellows 2018

Left to Right: Jenna Barganski (Oregon Women’s History Consortium Junior Fellow), Tia Cody (Oregon Heritage Fellow), Charlotte Helmer (Oregon Heritage Fellow)

Tia Cody and Charlotte Helmer were awarded the fellowships in 2018 for thoughtful inquiry of Oregon’s heritage. In April, the Fellows, along with the Oregon Women’s History Consortium Junior Fellow, presented their research at the Oregon Heritage Conference session titled, “Oregon Students Researching Oregon.”  Conference attendees had more questions for the students than time allowed. All three papers are now available for further reading. Please follow the links below to learn more!

Tia Cody, an Oregon Heritage Fellow and a graduate student in Archaeology at Portland State, completed a project titled, “LiDAR Predictive Modeling of Kalapuya Mound Sites in the Calapooia Watershed, Oregon.”

Charlotte Helmer, an Oregon Heritage Fellow and a graduate student in Historic Preservation at the University of Oregon, completed a project titled, “Wild Notions: Preserve and Protect Historic Resources in Oregon Wilderness.”

Jenna Barganski, the 2017 Oregon Women History Consortium’s Junior Fellow and graduate student in History at Portland State University completed research titled, “Giving the Noose the Slip: An Analysis of Female Murders in Oregon, 1850-1950.”

More information about the Oregon Heritage Fellowship is available on the Oregon Heritage website. The 2019 applications and guideline will be posted in August.