Joseph Bernt

Joseph Bernt

The Cannon Beach Library’s Northwest Authors Series will host Portland author Apricot Irving via Zoom on Saturday, October 10, at 2 p.m. Irving will read from “The Gospel of Trees,” her 2018 memoir that explores Irving’s conflicting reactions to missionary life in Haiti, first as a young child and then upon her return to Haiti as a teenage girl.

“The Gospel of Trees” received the 2019 Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction. Irving has also received the Rona Jaffe Foundation Award and the Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship.

Irving, who now lives with her spouse and two sons in Corbett on the Columbia River in East Multnomah County, describes her missionary experience much as a variation on James Michener’s description of missionaries: “They came to do good, and they did right well.”

Irving’s family went to Haiti to help people who would treat her missionary family as wealthy colonialists. This conflict, as well as government instability, did not erase Haiti’s colorful culture, supportive communities and natural beauty Irving so enjoyed. As Irving admits, her experience with Haiti is complex.

Irving holds a Bachelor’s in English from the University of Tennessee and a Master’s in Creative Nonfiction from Portland State University.

“The Gospel of Trees,” is her first book, but Irving is widely published in Granta, On Being, Tin House, Oregon Humanities, Portland Monthly, MORE and Topic magazines.

Her reporting on the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia Gorge was selected for “Best American Science and Nature Writing,” and she covered the 2010 Haiti earthquake for This American Life.

Information about the Zoom link and meeting ID for Irving’s presentation is available on the library website.

Cannon Beach Reads, led by Mary Lloyd, will meet via Zoom to discuss “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming,” co-authored and edited by Paul Hawken, founder of Project Drawdown, a non-profit focused on reversing global warming.

Cannon Beach Reads is scheduled for Wednesday, October 21, at 7 p.m. Those interested in participating should contact Joseph Bernt at berntj@ohio.edu or 503-436-4186 information about joining this Zoom discussion.

Richard Nixon, facing certain impeachment, resigned June 8, 1964 and waved goodbye to Washington from Air Force One. That was 46 years ago. What additional criminal activities occurring during the administration of our 37th president still require exposure?

Certainly investigative journalists from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post (helped by FBI Deputy Director Mark Felt), plus phalanxes of lawyers from two Senate Select Committees and a House Select Committee already have picked the bones clean.

When journalists and lawyers move to fresh material, though, the historians arrive. They identify gaps in the record and interview retired politicians and government employees who want to set the record straight. They follow the trail of newly opened government records.

They mine correspondence, interviews, reports, diaries, calendars and notes recently donated by former government officials and employees. They search through vaguely remembered boxes in damp basements.

With a degree in political science from Franconia College, an experimental New Hampshire college that opened in 1963 and closed in 1978, Lawrence Roberts is a driven historian. He devoted five years to researching and writing his first book, “Mayday 1971: A White House at War, Revolt in the Streets, and the Untold History of America’s Biggest Mass Arrest,” now available at the library.

Although he dodged a  journalism degree, Roberts began his journalism career in the Pacific Northwest at the Seattle Sun, an alternative weekly, and then United Press International where he drove a Subaru through an ash cloud to cover the St. Helens eruption.

After reading George Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia,” he became a foreign correspondent in Barcelona and Madrid. Receiving three Pulitzer Prizes, Roberts enjoyed a long career in investigative journalism at the “Hartford Courant,” “Washington Post,” “Bloomberg News,” “ProPublica” and “Huffington Post.”

Asked what led him to spend five years researching and writing “Mayday 1971,” a history of a largely forgotten anti-war protest in our nation’s capital, Roberts explained:

“I believed one of the great movements in U.S. history, the opposition to the Vietnam War, deserved another look. . . . It seemed important to learn how we survived the 1960s and early 1970s, when institutions were shaken to the core, when millions of people took to the streets to oppose a government policy they abhorred.”

He also noted that the Mayday Protest represented the last significant gathering against the Vietnam War and brought major movement figures of the Sixties together for a brief period. They also brought their varied experiences and ideologies with them, from which to construct a focused, exciting narrative,

In “Mayday 1971,” Roberts also reveals a personal interest. He was among the 12,000-to-15,000 people snatched from DC streets from May 3 through May 5, the largest mass arrest in U.S. history.

Throughout “Mayday 1971,” Roberts follows a few representatives of the Nixon administration and the protesters. Of this group, Oregonians may be most interested in Stew Alpert—cofounder of the Yippies along with Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Paul Krassner, satirist and editor of The Realist.

Alpert and Judy Gumbo, soon to marry, first met in Berkeley during the Free Speech Movement, split when Judy became a dedicated feminist and eventually reunited before the Mayday Protest.

Gumbo was suspected by the FBI as involved in the Weather Underground bombing of the U.S Capital building on March 1, 1971, which still remains unsolved.

Judy and Stew tired of FBI surveillance and listening devices.  Finding yet another bug on their car, they sued and received a $20,000 settlement—sufficient to purchase a new Audi and return to Berkeley with their daughter Jessica Pearl Alpert.

In 1984, they moved to Portland where they maintained contact with movement friends, wrote about progressive issues and movement history and published counterculture literature and online commentary until Stew Alpert died from liver cancer January 30, 2006 at age 66.

Judy retired after many years working for Planned Parenthood. She returned to Berkeley where she still maintains her “Yippie Girl” website and is married to Arthur Eckstein, a historian at the University of Maryland. In 2016, Yale published his latest book, “Bad Moon Rising: How the Weather Underground Beat the FBI and Lost the Revolution.”

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