Monday, December 31, 2012

The Yachats Gazette, December 31, 2012


(This is the second part of the interview with Dr. Stacey Harper, Assistant Professor at Oregon State University of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology. We now move into the Harper Nanotoxicology Laboratory in Weniger Hall, and are joined by Bryan Harper, Dr. Harper’s husband, who is the research coordinator of the laboratory.)

Bryan Harper: So, what is it about nanotechnology that interests you the most?

TYG: I just like the whole thing, generally, the new flavor of it. [laughter]
BH: It’s a wide field, as you’re probably aware. There are lots of different applications for it and we look at a lot of different applications even within what we do here in our lab. One of the things that we look at, that I think you heard Stacey talk about, is that we look at how toxic [nanomaterials] are, how dangerous they are to people and animals.

TYG: Toxicology. 
BH:  Toxicology, exactly. One of the things we use is zebrafish to do that, zebrafish embryos. So we’re looking, for one, when it’s normal and hasn’t been exposed to anything, and then as we expose it to different amounts of nanomaterials, we get more and more malformations in there. [Points to a chart showing zebrafish embryos subsequent to various degrees of exposure to silver nanoparticles]

We work with a wide range of different particles here. Metals, silver and gold, we’ve done a lot of work with; but we also work with polymers, dendrimers, carbon-based—pretty much anything that’s out there, because the other side of our lab is about green chemistry and building safer materials up front. So we have an engineering team that’s always looking for ways to synthesize things better, purify things better, how to redesign things once they have a nanomaterial that can do something that an engineer wants it to do. We test the toxicity, go back and make it safer, before it actually gets out on the market, rather than doing it the other way around […].  Traditionally, engineers are focused on getting something that does the job […], that solves the question they’re trying to address: we need something that will do “this.” They build something that does “that,” it goes on the market, and then sometimes they go “Oh, maybe we should have thought about that a little more.” So what we’re trying to say is that if we have cheap, fast ways to look at how toxic something is, you can bring them back over; we can test it real quick once they have it and then they can go back to the design board and engineer out some of those things, especially if we can understand what little aspects can cause toxicity. […]

TYG: How big are zebrafish when they’re full-grown?
BH: About an inch long.

Stacey Harper: They’re aquarium fish.

TYG: They’re like a gazillion times the size of their embryo!
BH: In fact, have you ever been at Pet Smart and seen the glow-fish, they sell these glowfish that glow in the dark? Those are zebrafish. Those are actually zebrafish that have green fluorescent protein or other fluorescent proteins added to their DNA. […] They actually started out for research purposes, and now they sell them as pets.

TYG-Graphic Designer: So it reproduces glow?
BH: Yeah, they actually put it right into their genes.

TYG-GD: I can see some tribal modifications coming along! 
BH: So a lot of this lab is really set up for doing these zebrafish exposures. We don’t have the fish here, we have a fish facility on campus that raises them, so we just go out and get eggs and do the work here. […] We have some animals that we raise here, not zebrafish. So we also do some work with some other types of animals… Here we have what are called Daphnia—they’re plankton, fresh-water plankton, sometimes called water fleas. We can actually put a couple of these on here [brings out a microscope slide].

TYG: They’re cute!
SH: And they’re also crustaceans like the Artemia […], the sea shrimp.

TYG: What about here, what are you raising in here?
SH: Crayfish. I used to do cardiovascular research with them.

TYG: That must have been heart-breaking! [laughter all around] […]

[We move back to the microscope to look at the Daphnia. Allen climbs up on a stool to zoom in and see them, and pronounces them cute. Meanwhile, BH brings out the female crayfish holding her babies under her tail, which is also cute.] […]

BH: So the crayfish are something we use, similarly to how we use the zebrafish: we use mainly the embryos, and [study how nanoparticles] affect them. Crayfish and zebrafish are not super-sensitive out in the environment. We use the zebrafish for human ALF [a gene called TFIIA-alpha/beta-like factor] to look at toxicology and how it relates to humans, but they’re not real sensitive. They’re sort of like crayfish: they can survive a wide range of things out in the wild. So we also have these Daphnia which we use. The Daphnia are very sensitive: you can blow on Daphnia the wrong way and it’ll kill the whole population, just about. So they’re something that’s used by the EPA and a lot of regulatory agencies as sort of a quick screen, a standard where they can look real quick and see how toxic something is. […]

SH: Another cool thing about the Daphnia is they’re all genetically identical—the females actually clone themselves, so you don’t have the genetic variability.

TYG: You don’t even have males?
SH: Not unless they’re stressed—then they make males, and then they go back to sexual reproduction. If the temperatures get wrong, if the salinity gets wrong, if they’re stressed environmentally, then they produce male offspring which form in kind of a case that can dry out.

TYG-GD: How would that help restore the un-stress of the population?
SH: Because then, once the water comes back, the cases—they’re called ephippia—they hatch, and then you have genetic mixing. […]

BH: So it’s sort of a way of giving a new hand shuffle. If there’s plenty of food and everything’s good, they play the hand they’ve got. They don’t need to do sexual reproduction, they just keep making copies of themselves. But the minute things go bad, or get stressful, or things might be changing, they go into sexual mode.

[Moving to another part of the lab] These instruments will actually measure the color of nanoparticles and how they interact with light, whether they will fluoresce if we excite them.

SH: This is one of the cool new instruments we got that allows us to watch Brownian motion of particles—do you know what that is?

TYG: Yes, I think so: it’s when different things are constantly moving.
SH: Right. It’s their natural vibration. We can actually watch the particles; we put them in here, and they go through this little chamber here, and there are laser lights that go on it. What we see is the reflection off of those particles. […]

BH: It’s basically just a microscope that has a laser and a camera on it, instead of a white light.

SH: But remember how I was talking about some particles attract to each other, and they agglomerate? In here we can change things like the pH, or the salts that are in there, and we can watch that Brownian motion turn to agglomeration and then they start vibrating together, combining. Very cool. […] What this instrument lets us do is to track the particles, and then you can get their size by how fast they’re moving. […]

TYG-Editorial Assistant: So how much does it matter what the substance is?
SH: For this particular instrument, if you’re dealing with something metal-based, you get a lot more reflectivity so you can pick them up better. [With] something that has a high aspect ratio, like the nanocrystalline cellulose, the tracking [of the Brownian motion] on that sometimes is off, because it’s not a sphere. Those models are based on a spherical particle, so there are some limitations there. […] Then we can do some data analysis on it, and it allows you to figure out what size they are and what intensity they gave you.

TYG: What size most of them are… It would be nice if you could measure something directly.
SH: That would be really nice.

TYG: But why couldn’t you just get one, or two, or even three or four, and then just do it that way?
SH: Well, you could… but then you don’t know how it’s going to interact with all those other particles. Remember how important that is? Particles alongside of it can cause this one to…

TYG: Conglomerate.
SH: Yup. And they can be attractive, or repulsive. The particle that’s in solution with them affects them way more than the gravitational force of the planet.

BH: So we have this instrument that measures the size, and we have these instruments that measure the color and the fluorescence and how they react with other chemicals. We have an instrument over here which allows us to measure something called zeta potential, the charge on the surface of them. Zeta potential tells you whether they’re likely to aggregate or not. You know, opposite charges attract, like charges repel, and so by knowing—especially if we look at two particles we want to mix—we look at their zeta potential to know how much they might interact.

TYG-Ed Asst.: Now does a given material tend to naturally form particles of a fairly consistent size, or can you take one substance and have all kinds of different sizes?
SH: All different sizes, and shapes! So depending on how you’re synthesizing it, you can have a chemically identical material, but different shapes […].

BH: Gold is a great example of that. You can use the same gold synthesis process, but if you change the temperature and the stabilizing agents, one will make spheres, and one will make rods.

TYG: What are some of the nanomaterials being tested?
SH: We try and test whatever materials we can get our hands on. We’ve tested all different types of metals and metal oxides, carbon-based materials, the cellulose materials, polymers that they’re developing for drug delivery. We’ve even tested viral capsids—the casing on the outside of a virus; the RNA is on the inside—the case is actually in the nanometer range, so they are nanoparticles. […] They’ve developed some on campus that actually have like a little plug that they can chemically unplug and plug back up, so you can literally fill it and use it as a delivery agent then unfill it.

TYG: How dangerous are gold and silver nanoparticles? 
SH: Gold? Not very dangerous at all, especially relative to silver. And silver’s not very dangerous to humans, but it is quite toxic to aquatic organisms. […] It’s not the silver nanoparticles, it’s actually the oxidation of the surface of the silver, and it’s the silver ions that go out and cause the problem.

TYG-GD: So is that why they use silver for wound coverings? 
SH: Absolutely. It’s the best anti-macrobial agent. […]

BH: What it looks like now is that silver nanoparticles aren’t really any different, any more toxic from the silver you might have in a silver ring or a silver necklace; it’s just that they have a lot of surface area relative to the other forms of silver. […]

SH: And did you know that silver nanoparticles form naturally, too? If you took your sterling silver earrings, and stuck them even in just a humid chamber the silver on the surface would actually start ionizing off and it would nucleate somewhere else, and naturally form other silver nanoparticles. So it’s probably been going on forever, we just didn’t know!

TYG: How dangerous are nanomaterials as a whole, and are there some that are particularly concerning?
SH: I would say that as a whole, what we’ve found in our lab is that they are fairly safe. We’ve tested over a hundred different nanomaterials […] and we’ve only found a handful of them that appear to be toxic at a level that would be concerning.

TYG: What are they?
SH: Some of the more toxic ones are the quantum dots, that are made of cadmium selenite. It’s mostly because of what they’re made of: cadmium is really not good for organisms and selenite is not either.

BH: So I was going to show you this: these are dried fungus, like mushrooms, and these will actually synthesize nanoparticles. We have a whole group from Korea working in our lab right now. They’re actually using fungi and bacteria as green synthesis methods for nanomaterials. So they’re taking just like silver salt, and putting it in with these, and that will actually make the silver nanoparticles themselves.

TYG: Cool! What kind of research do you see happening in the future? 
SH: […] I think we’re going to get enough information to be able to design the materials in computer models, before we even synthesize them, and be able to predict where they’re going to go and what they’re going to do. […] I don’t know that we’ll have global [rules], more material-specific ones.  I just don’t see us having an overall global [rule].

TYG-Ed. Asst.: Size is not destiny.
SH: No.


Nicole Loxley makes and sells leather goods at Turtle Island, 153-b Hwy 101, in Yachats.

TYG: So, how did you come to Yachats?
Nicole: Well, I found out about Yachats when I was travelling and doing festivals and shows, up and down the Oregon coast. This was a place [where] I used to stop a lot, and get food at the restaurant next door, Luna Sea, and when I was thinking about buying a house, I had two or three choices that I could go, and I was able to find property here! And I was so excited to have it.

TYG: Well that’s really good! Especially if it was relatively cheap. I mean, properties around here can be really expensive because of the oceanfront.
Nicole: They can, but if you don’t want an oceanfront property, which I didn’t, then it was perfect! I love it here—there are lots of opportunities for artisans and craftsmen here, and that was one of the things I wanted.

TYG: How did you get into leatherwork?
Nicole: I learned doing leatherworking originally from my father, because he built and repaired pipe organs, and played pipe organs for the silent movies back in the 30’s and 40’s, and the pipe organ actually has leather bellows that drive the air through the organ pipes. If you are someone that builds and repairs a pipe organ, you have to be able to do leathercraft repair when the bellows tear.

TYG: I bet that was hard, when he first learned it.
Nicole: Well, he knew how to do it, and I used to steal his leathercraft supplies and make little bags and things like that out of it…

TYG: Oh no! 
Nicole: It wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing, but it was fun. I learned a little bit of leathercraft from him, and then I did it as a hobby for many years. I used to make my neighbors’ boy scout projects for them, because they would pay me extra money with their allowance to make a project they didn’t want to do, because they knew I could do it. It was fun! I got to make belts, and purses, and all the little knife sheaths, and all the kinds of utility tool things that one does. I learned it from that, really!

I did a lot of other jobs in my life, and decided then that I wanted to work for myself. I thought: What do I know how to do? And I thought: I know how to make leathercraft. I know how to do leather projects. So I started a business doing that! And I’ve done that professionally for 18 years.

TYG: Wow. What kind of leathercraft do you make now, here?
Nicole: Here in Yachats, I think my best-selling products have been a lot of cellphone cases for people, because now there are all these different sizes and shape phones, so I’ve been making custom cases for people. I’ve made a lot of custom knife sheaths for people here in town, local folks; I’ve made a few gun holsters and things like that, and a lot of leathercraft repair since I moved to Yachats.

[Showing an item] This is a medium buffalo hide purse. There are different ways that it’s decorated and finished, but this is probably the single most popular item that I have. It’s a good medium size, it’s really strong, and it lasts just about forever. I use real good materials, and I can make everything, and then I guarantee my work. So if somebody actually manages to break something on one of my pieces, if they bring it back to me I’ll fix it for free. If their dog ate it, or something like that that’s beyond my control, then I might charge them a small fee; but if they tell me an entertaining story usually I just do it for free.

TYG: Are these just colored, or are they actually green hides?
Nicole: No, I actually dye them.

TYG: Where do you get all these different… holdings, on the bags?
Nicole: Oh, you mean the metal findings? You know, I have a number of different suppliers. Some of them are made for me by people that I know who do jewelry work, and many of them are things that are commercially available if you know where to look for them. The trick is knowing how to find it, and once you have it, knowing what to do with it!

TYG: I see! I think I know why you’re getting so much cellphone business, because of J.D. next door, especially. I bet you didn’t do so many cellphones in your old space, but now, people can just go into J.D. and then come right over here for a custom case.
Nicole: He’s sent me a few customers! When I’m not working in the store, I go on the road and I sell at festivals and shows, and I do a lot of Renaissance Faires, so I make medieval-style leathercraft. I repair horse tack for the jousters at the Renaissance Faire events, and I make costume equipment, sword carriers, and all the medieval-style equipment: pouches and belts and so forth that people wear as part of their costumes.

TYG: Cool! 
Nicole: And then when the people that are sword-fighting at a Faire break something, they bring it to me and I fix it for them.

TYG: I think a Renaissance Faire is a time when you bring back old things, basically a time when you sort of re-live the Renaissance….
Nicole: It’s a re-enactment: they have people in costume that re-enact historical events that occurred during the Renaissance period, or in a lot of cases, it’s more of a fantasy thing—the re-enactment is done in a way that makes it really fun. They re-enact the good parts, the fun parts of the Middle Ages: the honor, and the chivalry, and the beautiful costumes, and the pageantry of it—not things like the disease, and the religious intolerance, and the ignorance.


TYG: So—how did you come to Yachats?
Mari: Well, in 1995 I came over to Yachats to visit my sister-in-law and brother-in-law… and at that time I was teaching at the University of the Pacific, in Stockton, California…

TYG: Psychology, if I remember correctly—?
Mari: Yes, educational psychology, right. So I came over to visit them, and I sat out on their deck several afternoons, and I thought, “You know, I think I would like to retire up here.” See, my sister and I grew up in a family that moved to Oregon when I was in junior high school, so we lived in Portland and in Corvallis and in Eugene, so Oregon was a place that we knew about. Plus my dad used to drag us over here in the car, and make us look at the ocean, bored us to death [joking sigh]….

TYG: I know, I hate that! [laughter]
Mari:  So he must have infected me with the Oregon coastal bug. So the following year I came up and I bought a house! And then I used that house for a vacation rental for several years, because I didn’t retire as quickly as I thought I would. And then, in 2006, I opened the bookstore, next door in that little space.

TYG: Wow, I thought it was a lot older than that.
Mari: No, no, we’ve just about finished seven years now. But the bookstore is something, Allen, that I’ve wanted to do for many, many, many, many years. And I don’t know why I’ve wanted to have a little bookstore, but I really have. So ever since I bought the house, I’ve been kind of looking at places in Yachats where I might want to have that bookstore. And I kept looking at that little space next door. And in December—no, I guess it was January of 2006, Jeannine and I came up here to spend a couple of weeks, because we lived in San Francisco—and there was a sign, “FOR RENT” on that store next door.

TYG: And you were so happy.
Mari: Mm-hmm. And Jeannine said to me, after a day or so, she said, “You’ve talked about this as long as I’ve known you. Now do you really want to do it? Because if you do, you’d better—you’re getting old.” So [chuckles] we made our decision in about 48 hours.

TYG: Wow.
Mari: And then we told my sister about it, although we had talked about this with her—she lived in St. Paul, Minnesota. So she says, “Well, I’d like to get involved with that bookstore too, but I can’t right now, ‘cause I live in Minnesota.” So we made her our Midwestern regional, uh, buyer, so she bought books for us. That was kind of like a joke. She bought all kinds of books at library sales and shipped them out here to us. And every time she would come out here, she would work in the store. And then, miracle of miracles, a house was for sale a block away from where we live, and Mary decided to buy that house, and now we are neighbors!

TYG: I see. What was in the small shop before you got it?
Mari: Well, the small shop had had a number of things. Right before we got it, there had been another little bookstore there. But that man had closed his bookstore maybe about six or eight months before we decided to come down here and live. And before that it had been—oh, it had been a typewriter repair store….

TYG: Typewriter repair store! Seems like an unlikely thing for Yachats! [NB: Mari later clarified that it had in fact been a computer repair store.]
Mari: You know, I think that was way back in the nineties, at least that’s what I’d heard. But it had been a number of different kinds of store, including a little dress shop.

TYG: A dress shop in Yachats!
Mari: In Yachats, right here! But then in 2010—we liked our little shop next door, and the rent was pretty cheap, and it worked out—but then, this space became open…

TYG: And you took it.
Mari: Well, Jerry Clark, who owns this whole complex, he kept saying, “You really need a bigger store.”

TYG: Personally, I agree with him. 
Mari: Well, we finally did too. So some time during 2010, I think it was, we moved over here.

TYG: What did you do, double your stock when you got here?
Mari: Well, we moved over here with not too much more than what we had over there, which sounds kinda funny, because that’s half of this size. But we had things all jammed up together, and when we came over here we kind of spread them out a little bit. Because in the other store, if three people were in the store, they bumped into each other. So this is much better. And folks walk around and they look and sometimes they buy, and the enjoy just walking around and looking at the books.

TYG: Particularly that display over there—that’s a really interesting display.
Mari: The mysteries?

TYG: Yes, because the books are actually on the diagonal. Bet you couldn’t afford to do THAT in your other store.
Mari: No, we could not. The thing about that, is that kinda happened accidentally. We were dusting the shelves, and we kinda moved the books, and then we thought, “You know, that’s a good way to have them, because then people can see the books in the back better.” Some things happen just by accident, you know.

TYG: Yeah. 
Mari: Now, we have some things in the store here that aren’t just the books, and that’s why it’s called “Mari’s Books and dot-dot-dot.” And the dot-dot-dot means, it could be whatever else we might have. So the first thing we had was my son’s photography—his photographs are on that wall.

TYG: And now you have these cool knitting projects. 
Mari: That’s [by] my sister Mary’s daughter, Kari. She’s a teacher in St. Paul, and she likes to do this as relaxation, so we said, “Well, why don’t we try to sell those in the store.” And they sell very, very well. So it’s kind of a family store now.

TYG: Yeah, I’m not surprised—Yachats is so cold, that I can totally see why [people] would want that.
Mari: I bet you didn’t know that I grew up in country that was very cold, and very snowy. I grew up in North Dakota. […] And then when I was eight years old we moved to Iowa. […] And then we moved out to Oregon when I was 12. So Oregon was kind of home until I grew up and went away to college, and then moved and lived in lots of different places.

TYG: I see. What got you into the idea of book selling?
Mari: What got me into book selling? Um… I don’t really know. I’ve just for some crazy reason, I’ve just wanted to have a little bookstore. I guess I’ve had the fantasy that I would sit here and read books all day long, and talk to people when they came in…. But it’s been nice, because this is a good way to meet people. And you meet some very interesting people who come into bookstores.

TYG: Yes. Because the interesting people are usually the smart ones.
Mari: Well, they’re smart and they’ve got lots of ideas.

TYG: What about what you did before?
Mari: Well, I’ve done a number of different things. I started out as a teacher, of children who had trouble learning, and that was in Las Vegas, Nevada.

TYG: I bet that was hard.
Mari: Well, it was hard for me, because I didn’t know how to teach. And I have to tell you that I was not a very good teacher the first year I taught. And I wanted to quit, but the principal said, “No, I want you to come back, because,” he said, “frankly, I could hire somebody who’s even worse than you are.” So he encouraged me to come back, and then it was a lot better in the second year.

TYG: Yeah, because you’d already had some experience.
Mari: Mm-hmm. And then I became a school psychologist, and we lived in Palo Alto, California for a while, and I was a school psychologist in San Jose, and then we moved to Illinois, and I was a school psychologist there, and then I began to get interested in teaching. So when my sons finished college, I said, “Okay, now it’s my turn to do what I want. And I’m going to become a university teacher.” So I did!

TYG: Why psychology?
Mari: Well, when I was in college, I majored in both philosophy and psychology… and I was going to go on to graduate school in philosophy, and in fact I actually started in philosophy, but then there didn’t seem to be a lot of jobs for amateur philosophers….

TYG: Yeah, I’m not surprised–that profession’s just not valued any more. However, you’d do great if you went to Greece.
Mari: [chuckles] But I live here. [continues] My mother was a teacher of elementary school children, and I didn’t want to be a teacher all that much, which is kind of interesting, because my first child was as a teacher. But I became very interested in why kids learn, or how kids learn, and what causes them problems when they’re learning….

TYG: Brain work.
Mari: Well, brain work, and sometimes for whatever reason the instruction isn’t the right thing for them at the right time—you know, what the teacher wants to teach isn’t what they’re ready to learn. Part of good teaching is to be able to work with a student, and start with them where they are, and then help them develop their skills. And I really liked helping teachers figure out how in the world they were going to teach kids that they were having some difficulty teaching.

TYG: One of the problems is that in the classroom you have some 30 kids—how are you possibly going to help each individual student? 
Mari: It’s hard! It’s very, very, very hard.

TYG: Why do [the schools] pack in so much, instead of hiring more teachers, to teach a fewer number of students per class?
Mari: It’s a matter of how the government, or how the city wants to spend their money.

TYG: Unless it’s a private school—and then you can pretty much guarantee that kind of quality. And probably a better paycheck.
Mari: [laughs] You know, it’s interesting—private schools sometimes pay their teachers LESS than public school teachers. And you may think, well, that’s kind of strange, but a lot of people really would like to work in private schools.

TYG: Yeah, I would certainly choose a private school if there was a job available… because you can develop much closer bonds in private schools. Because the classes are much smaller.

[The interview paused here while Mari helped a customer, and then we resumed.]

Mari: One of the most important things that I’ve done with my life is that I got involved with two national organizations that worked with the Lutheran Church, to create social justice within the church for men and women who wanted to be pastors, but who were gay or lesbian. And we worked about 17 years on that project, and in 2009 they changed the policy, and those of us who were working on that for 16 or 17 years felt very good about it.

TYG: What is the new policy?
Mari: The new policy allows for persons who are of same-sex orientation, or transgender, who want to be in a committed relationship, and want to be public about it, to go into the ministry. Whereas up until that time they could be members of the church, but they couldn’t go into the ministry as pastors. And what happened is that that made a lot of people live lives of deception.

TYG: What does that mean, “lives of deception”?
Mari: It means that they couldn’t really be who they were, because they couldn’t acknowledge that they had a partner, or they didn’t have a partner because they were told that they shouldn’t have a partner. So what this has done is made the church a little more what it’s supposed to be. But that wasn’t working for a living, that was just working for justice.

TYG: What motivated you to do this?
Mari: I grew up Lutheran, and I left the church, for all kinds of reasons—not particularly about my sexuality. It was really about the Vietnam War, because I couldn’t tolerate the policy of the church. But in 1990, a church in San Francisco ordained, irregularly, a lesbian couple and a gay man. […] My sister Mary lived in Iowa at that time, and she came out to visit me, in Christmas of 1989. And she was very active in her church, and I had nothing to do with the church. But she wanted to go down to San Francisco to visit this church that was going to do this ordination—and that was going to get them into big trouble with the national church. She wanted to go down and give support to them, so I went with her, and next thing you know, I got involved in it, and it became a very major part of my life. But if Mary hadn’t come out to see me….

TYG: … That wouldn’t be a part of it.
Mari: That wouldn’t be a part of it.

TYG: That’s so interesting!
Mari: Yeah, it really is. She and I have a little bit of age difference between us, I’m eight years older than she is. So I never really knew her as a young adult, because she was always a kid, and who wants to run around with kids when you’re a young adult, you know. But then we never lived near each other, we always lived halfway across the country. So one of the really nice things about this store is that Jeannine (my partner) and Mary and I are all doing this together. And it’s REALLY fun.

TYG: Anything else?
Mari: [pauses] You asked why this became so important to me. I believe that regardless of whether or not you’re a religious person, the institution of the church is very powerful in this country. And until the church changes its policy, and begins to live up to the justice that it’s supposed to hold up, then lots of things in society won’t change.

The Yachats Gazette staff cordially wish you a Happy New Year!