I wouldn’t have even thought about going to the 7th annual Northwest Conference on Teaching for Social Justice Saturday at Madison High School [2735 NE 82nd — a troubled dividing line in East Oakland, oops Portland] but for Ted Pyle.
This indefatigable man showed up the other day at my front door, banging for entry. He wanted to borrow The Adventures of Unemployed Man, by Erich Origen and Gan Golan.
Well, to be precise, it was created by Origen and Golan, written by Origen and Golan, with art direction by Golan, but the artists who did the pencils were Rick Veitch, Ramona Fradon, and Michael Netzer, with inks by Terry Beatty and Joe Rubinstein, colors by Lee Loughridge and Lettering by Clem Robins, among other artists. This was a substantial venture with a collection of the best artistic talent in the country.
Ted Pyle and I tabled at the event, Ted in order to broadcast his conviction that Annie Leonard’s series of videos is the best teaching tool for explaining the present state of political economics; I to urge people to register and vote Pacific Green. Another very effective animated presentation of Green political economics — one which I wasn’t at the time able to recommend to Ted — is the so-called RSA series (here’s their take on acting to address climate change). Although bubbling with enthusiasm for high-tech audiovisuals, Ted was not averse to breaking off a grounding prong to plug into an extension cord (we’ve all been tempted, I am sure; but how many do it?).
I met folks I’ve known for many years at the NTSJ. Down the hall was the Rethinking Schools table, with coeditor Bill Bigelow standing behind it; we shook hands, he learned for the first time that I was running for Congress, and he promised to vote for me. Linda Christensen, his partner and coworker, I met when I helped bring extra chairs to her packed-with-attendees workshop: we said hello but only in passing. Jamie Partridge, the head of Community and Postal Workers United — he’s the guy in the white hat in the video — was arranging some activity with Ted, and as a co-defendant of his in a trespassing arrest at the Main Post Office I took the opportunity to greet him warmly. I owe CPWU some groundwork with the City Council, still.
A couple of people had to remind me — yeah, I’m at the age of forgetfulness — of their names: Marion Ward, who sat next to me at Anna Faro’s annual invitational luncheon for political activists, came by; a fellow teacher I’ve known for years told me he’s named Ethan and I blush to tell you I still cannot recall his last name.
Tom Sincic, and his wife Sally, were at the Healthcare for All Oregon table. We thought we’d drive down to the November meeting in Salem of the HCAO coalition together with Jim Robison. We’ll see.
John Grueshow, of the War Resisters’ League, showed me the WRL table, well-furnished and beautifully decorated. He introduced me to Joanne Lucchini, with whom I spoke at some length.
Joanne, the daughter of French immigrants, has taught French and Spanish in the public schools, both (and we share this background) in Oakland, California, and in Portland. As teachers we have both found that you can’t accomplish much until you first establish some rapport with your students, and that rapport is harder to attain with black youth but really effective if you get it. Her son Christopher, who has joined the Friday afternoon Portland Peaceful Response Coalition at our Pioneer Courthouse Square anti-war witness, came by a few minutes later.
At lunch I met Jessica Oakes, who was so impressed with my pamphlet introducing my work on Romanticism in Russian astronomy that I let her take my one copy. She spoke of combining astronomy and art, so I told her about the decades of work, of national and indeed international award-winning quality, done by the local artist-astronomer Mark Seibold.
In the afternoon Tom Getts, a power in the local union scene, joined Ted and me at the table. Tom and I work together at the Eastside democratic Club, which is where I met the indefatigable Ted. The highly skilled and longtime substitute teacher Barron (he goes by only one name) stopped by to break up the two of us with his comedic approach to topics. The World War II veteran Will Pool, longtime friend of Tom’s, spoke to us of the destruction of clothing at the end of the war in which he participated (under orders) to protect the profits of industry.
Ted argued a bit with the pro-Israel table across the corridor from us; his optimism that that could accomplish anything is typical of his positive outlook.
Finally, a mysterious guy who wouldn’t state his name [“My mother calls me Kevin”] stopped by the table to announce that he was going to publicize our work. Okay. . .
Well, that’s how it went, Saturday, 18 October 2014, at Madison High School on 82nd Street, at the Northwest Conference on Teaching for Social Justice. I hope Ted Pyle and I continue to work together in the future.