Sunday, September 26, 2004

Barbara Coombs Lee

Barbara Coombs Lee is the President of Compassion in Dying Federation and was one of the three Chief Petitioners for Oregon's Death with Dignity Act. Compassion in Dying is a nonprofit that provides legal activism, public education, and client services to expand and protect the rights of the terminally ill. For over ten years, Compassion in Dying Federation has been advocating for more humane and caring options for dying individuals.

Barbara is also the editor of the book Compassion in Dying: Stories of Dignity and Choice. The book is a compilation of the stories told by people in the process of dying, by their family members, friends and by spiritual leaders who respect and support choices of dying individuals. The stories are about people who chose to use Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act to control how they died.

Oregon's law has been in place since 1994 and during that time Oregon citizens have used the law sparingly. The many safeguards and guidelines established by the state have allowed its implementation without complications. As a result, and primarily under the leadership of Barbara Coombs Lee, Oregon has become a national model for end-of-life care.

Barbara received her undergraduate and nursing educations at Vassar College and Cornell University. She obtained training in medicine at the University of Washington and a law degree from Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College. She is a member of the Oregon State Bar.

She has appeared on NBC News, CNN Crossfire, 60 Minutes, McNeil Lehrer News Hour, NPR Morning Edition, The Today Show, has testified before Congress on end-of-life issues, and was interviewed by Bill Moyers for his four-part television documentary ''Our Own Terms,'' which looked at death and dying in America. She has personally battled US Attorney General John Ashcroft regarding his vendetta against Oregon’s law, and won. No easy task. She continually presents programs on end-of-life choices throughout the US and abroad. And has won too many awards to mention.

Please welcome the amazing Barbara Coombs Lee.

Barbara Roberts

by Carla Perry, founder/director Writers On The Edge.

I met Barbara Roberts two years ago when she was a featured author of the Nye Beach Writers' Series in July 2002. I was amazed at her frankness, her compassion and the urgency of her message about coping with the death of love ones and the necessity of allowing for individual responses to grief.

I knew she was a brave woman because I lived in Oregon during her reign as Governor. I have always been impressed with her courage to stand up and demand constitutional rights for the handicapped, seniors, children who are victims of abuse and neglect, and low-income families.

Barbara Roberts is a fourth-generation Oregonian; a descendant of Oregon Trail pioneers raised to believe that girls could do anything. She began her public service as a volunteer advocate for handicapped children. From 1981 to 1984 she served as a member of the Oregon House of Representatives and was elected Oregon's first woman House majority leader during her second term. In 1984, she was elected Oregon's Secretary of State, and reelected in 1988. In 1991, she was elected Oregon's first (and only) female Governor. During her four-year term, Oregon was recognized by Financial World Magazine as the seventh best-managed state in the nation. Her administration was known for its strong gay rights advocacy and its appointment of women and minorities to positions in state government.

After leaving public office, she had a five-year association with the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and taught at Portland University as an Associate Director of Leadership Development. She is on the Board of Trustees of the Oregon Hospice Association and the Human Rights Campaign. She is a member of the Advisory Councils for Compassion in Dying in Oregon and the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. She is involved in the new Relief Nursery in Portland, serving small children who are victims of abuse and neglect.

Her book, Death Without Denial, Grief Without Apology, first published in 2002 is already in its fourth printing and is available for sale and autographing today.

Barbara Roberts is a brave, clear-spoken woman of indefatigable energy. She is the least pretentious governor Oregon has ever had. It is an honor to host her in Newport.

Please welcome Barbara Roberts.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Marilyn Johnston

Wars don't end when the shooting stops. Poet Marilyn Johnston's husband Carroll served as a soldier in Vietnam and like many of the men and women who lived to return to their families, he brought the war home with him. Carroll's memories so intensely permeated their lives that Marilyn finally suggested that their entire family travel to Carroll's old war zone in Southeast Asia. Their journey in March 2002 provided relief and the poems that resulted helped them heal from the trauma of the barbarism Carroll witnessed and participated in. They heard stories of how Vietnamese families coped with death and destruction year upon year in a cruel succession of wars and of the unexpected kindnesses of strangers who were once mortal enemies. Marilyn's poems are collected in the award-winning book, Red Dust Rising published this year by The Habit of Rainy Nights Press of Portland, Oregon.

Marilyn Johnston has received national and regional awards for writing, including the Donna J. Stone Literary Award for Poetry, a Robert Penn Warren Award from the New England Writers, several first place prizes in the Oregon State Poetry Association competitions, and a Fellowship for Writers from Oregon Literary Arts. Her poetry has appeared in a number of literary journals and six anthologies. She is Human Rights and Relations Specialist for the city of Salem and formerly Director of the Oregon Governor's School.

Red Dust Rising, which the Salem Statesman Journal included in its list of the Best Oregon Books for 2003, is hand-sown on natural and handmade papers. The book received an award from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for Women, and the poems in this collection have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Proceeds from the sale of the book are used to encourage writing projects for veterans and their families.

Please welcome Marilyn Johnston.