OPB's daily conversation covering news, politics, culture and the arts.
Oregon lawmakers consider bill creating peer respite centers
Oregon lawmakers are considering a bill that would create three peer respite centers across the state. The centers are homelike facilities where people who are experiencing mental health crises can go, and are staffed by people who have experienced mental health crises themselves. The centers are meant to be an alternative to emergency rooms or jails, where many people in crisis currently end up.
Fourteen other states already have peer respite centers. The Rose Houses, run by People USA, are centers in New York. We talk with Steve Miccio, the CEO of People USA.
Oregon Cabaret Theatre reopens with limited capacity for in-person musical
Oregon Cabaret Theatre in Ashland has reopened. “The Spitfire Grill,” is its pandemic premiere, the 1990s hit musical based on a movie and book of the same name. The state COVID-19 restrictions are being observed, including temperature checks at the door, limited seating of 25 percent of capacity, tables six feet apart and masks required anytime audience members are not eating. Artistic Director Valerie Rachelle joins us to share how the show is going under the safety measures and how she’s feeling about the health of theatre in Ashland more broadly.
Is all this sanitizing really helping?
We are at yet another crossroads in the pandemic. It's a race to see how many people can get vaccinated before new variants start to spread widely. Richard Corsi is an indoor air quality expert and dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Portland State University. He says public health messaging has focused too heavily on sanitizing surfaces and not enough on preventing the way the coronavirus spreads through the air. He says it's ventilation that's going to be key in preventing another spike in cases.
Oregon lawmakers consider proposals to allow incarcerated people to vote
Oregon lawmakers are considering two bills that would allow prisoners to vote. House Bill 2366 and Senate Bill 571 would restore voting rights to the roughly 12,600 prisoners in custody around the state. The bills would also allow inmates to register to vote in their last place of residence prior to being incarcerated. If passed, Oregon would become the third state in the nation to allow people to vote while incarcerated. The Oregon Justice Resource Center is one of the groups in favor of the bills, and there is no organized opposition. We talk with OJRC Executive Director Bobbin Singh.
Imagine Symphony Live project is a love letter to community symphonies
Community symphonies are designed to make music accessible, engage the public and maybe even spark a lifelong love of music. That’s at the heart of the Imagine Symphony Live film and music education project. The composer of the film’s music Chris Thomas recently won a big industry award for the score. Both he and the Imagine Symphony Live creator Evan Sigvallsen play cello in the Central Oregon Symphony, and their whole project, like symphony performances, are free to the public. We talk with Thomas and Sigvallsen about their music and how they hope it will be enjoyed and used to enrich children’s lives.
How homelessness is criminalized in the western U.S.
People experiencing homelessness are frequently cited for public intoxication, illegal camping and trespassing. In 2018, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported that people experiencing homelessness accounted for over half of the arrests made by Portland Police the previous year.That number has only increased since that time. High Country News correspondent Leah Sottile joins us to talk about her recent article on how homelessness is criminalized in the west and about a homeless man who died after being tased by police in Albany.
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