Tales of a NyQuil Dreamer

Part 1: The Beginning

It was near mid-day, surrounded by family and friends we walked into the building that would hold the Great Meeting of Kings this term, a ceremony to be held once each season to address anything that was happening within the realm. The meeting’s attendance seemed to follow the seasons as well, more during the Summer and Winter due to the great number of problems and actions needing taken, the King’s needing to discuss more dire situations than Spring or Fall. To say the least, it was one of the most overcast Summer solstice meetings emotionally that I had ever seen in all my 20 years of life.

“Gottfried! Why are you just sitting there, stand up with the rest of the battalion!” Father always seemed to be yelling at someone these days. Though I shouldn’t say father seeing as I’m only an adopted member of the family, after my parents deaths during the war between Shandaller to the East and Conthrat to the South. Our kingdom lies in the West, overlooking the ocean, the most beautiful sights to be seen when the sun begins to set across the crashing waves and the sky darkens to a shade of violet and pink that I never knew existed. 

“Bloody fool if you think I’m standing this whole damn meeting.” I heard Gottfried mumble under his breath as he walked to position, all the way across the room and I could still hear him, though there are only a few that I cannot hear but they’re trained in stealth and enchantments. I stood as King Allomancer walked into the hall, a man of great strength and prestige, or so I’ve heard from the mumbling. He must be someone of great prowess or he would not dare step into the hall nearly an hour late, let alone being completely vulnerable and away from his royal guard which from what I can assume is normalcy for him now. 

“Allomancer, what begs you away from this meeting of such importance that you would be so late to arrive?” Father’s voice boomed through the empty space as the spectators grew silent. 

“If you believe it not truly of great importance, you are more of a fool than your orphan in the corner thinking I don’t feel him moving closer.”

How did he know? I couldn’t have been moving for more than a few moments, none other could have even detected my presence let alone known my desired path. Maybe I should listen to the grumbles in the shadows and keep away from such an odd man. What a bore, these meetings don’t usually have anything to do with me anyways.

The sun shone as I stepped outside, watching the trees around me rustle from the slight breeze running through them; green, more so than I had ever seen them before, how can this possibly be the beginning of a bad year? It will be beautiful I just know it. I scanned the entrance as the subjects walked from the building, waiting across the street because I knew Father would be late as always talking with the fellow kings to discuss what to do about the impending threat of the Skenthroas. Watching mother exit the building, trying to wave down the other children, my brother Jenol and sister Cyndria (adopted brother and sister that is). Walking toward me I could see the smiles on each one of their faces, till I got to Jenol, looking more annoyed than usual as Mother whispered in his ear, arm wrapped around him.

Embracing me in a hug Mother greeted me, she had always been quite fond of me seeing as I was gifted as she was. Her with the incredible ability of sword fighting, i’m sure she could do it now but in her day she could take down a whole battalion and best Father in a duel one on one. 

“Mother.” I said wrapping my arms around her, nestling my head right in the pocket between her head and shoulder, stroking my head as she did with all the children. She walked ahead as Father came out, he rarely addressed any of his children when in public ‘The less your enemies know about you, the greater strength you have when battling them” he would always say. 

“What would you say they’re chatting about up there that’s got Jenol so up in arms?” snickering at Cyndria as we walked some ways behind them. I could see the slump of Jenol’s shoulders as they walked and sadly both Mother and Father have their strongest mage protect their voices so they choose who they want to hear them and everyone else is deaf otherwise. 

“Jenol’s got some girls attention and Father wants to make a marriage deal with the King of Sinders.” Though try as she did, she could never hold back a laugh when she thought something funny, only when she caught the attention of the others did she put her hand over her mouth.

“Just like in the ‘gool ol days’ huh?” Laughing as we raced toward the castle ahead of the others. She always loved keeping up with me, even when she was three years old she would jump on me and tear my hair out of my head till I would wrestle with her. 

“I knew I’d beat you!” She always was cocky, but it was good, this way she’ll never willingly let anyone win because she’s so damn competitive.

“Yeah whatever twerp.” I couldn’t help but tease her sometimes, she’s really like a little sister to me, i’d do anything for her. “Why don’t you wait for the others here by the guards and I’ll go inside and check everything out.” 

Walking inside I once again see the suits of the ancient guards that used to sit in these same castles, my true grandfather being one of them; 4000 years old, the wisest most incredible King to ever oversee this land and yet nobody knew his last name, so on his banner hang only the name he was given “Vlad.” I see two rows down the last name “Hammond” written across a banner (the name of my Uncle’s family who adopted me), sitting in the front as leader of the battalion of his kingdom. Something else catches my eye, three women or what seem to be women, drawing circles and markings in the dirt in front of the armor. Disturbing seeing as I know almost everyone in the kingdom and not once have I ever seen any of them, they’d stick out like a sore thumb any day of the year. Reaching for my knife in my backpack, I unsheath it and start toward the three of them, one turns toward me after hearing my footsteps on the crunch of the dirt, barreling toward me faster than I thought any human could possibly run. Throwing a punch at her gut to test her reflexes and capabilities I was wildly mistaken to have taken it so easy, with lightning speed she jabbed my wrist with what seemed like a thorn, only looking again to see that it was her razor sharp claws protruding out of her fingers. 

“If this is all I’m going to be tested on, why go to class in the first place?” Switching grip so my pointer and middle finger were over the blade with the others gripping the handle, rolling to avoid another jab at my eyes, piercing the skin of her ribcage just enough to keep her from attacking again. Only her eyes moved on me, with anger and hatred now rather than a toying annoyance as before, distracted I didn’t notice the other one in time to block her attack. Ripping at my left shoulder with her claws, now covered in blood, I recoiled and threw my knife into her right thigh, using an enchantment to ground her where she stood. I returned the blow with excessive force, her face colliding with my knee in midair while she tried freeing herself, only then did the last one intervene. Slowly walking toward me and her wounded comrades, a oddly sweet smile across her face as she neared. Taking a closer look at the three of them, they seemed to be of the feline people of Elteross toward the North of here, but what would they possibly have to do here? 

“It’s not time to play yet my young pup, your time as a man is nearing its end, and I just can’t wait to play with the wolf.” Almost as if she was serenading me I suddenly unbelievably weary, having to clutch at the ground as I dropped to one knee in front of her, I have to sit and watch her walk off with her dear friends that almost killed me. I can’t help but think ‘this isn’t a training exercise is it?’ 

About the Author

***Warning*** some of the themes and characters in the stories have similarities with: shows, comics, stories, etc. They are not meant as my beliefs or ideas, nor as representations of these similar entities. Dreams are dreams, I am simply trying to put them out as accurately as possible.

Hello everyone! My name is Michael Hammond and I am the creator and writer behind this page. This is a bit of a rundown of the next few posts I plan on making about my collection of short stories. They are recreations of dreams I had after drinking NyQuil while I was sick, as well as the inspiration to write down later vivid dreams that I thought would be interesting. They aren’t exact, I did what I could with writing down the big portions of it to remember it. To help the story hold together and flow better, some of the smaller details aren’t necessarily straight from memory, but it works. For the past three years I have been writing them down for fun, but I thought I would share them with you all. I remember many of my dreams so the content won’t be very difficult to put out. Thank you all!

As a student at Oregon State, we are usually required to take the basic classes before we really start on what we are most interested in. That being the case, one of those classes happen to be writing. There was a point in time where I didn’t write well, it was sloppy and overrun with errors regarding what tense I was speaking in. Although I have gotten better with those issues I’ve decided to keep everything in the original writing to keep the authenticity of it. I’ll likely go back to fix it later, but I’m also a tad lazy and would rather not right now.

Back to it, this all started as an assignment in my writing class. While we had other projects to focus on, they also required we write in a program called “Write 365.” I’m thankful for that now because it allowed me to bring these stories to all of you.

One night my freshman year I was extremely sick, so much so I didn’t go to my classes all day. Might not seem like much, but with how rarely I get sick now I wanted to be done with it as soon as possible. Taking NyQuil seemed like the best solution! So I did… maybe a bit too much. With an already exceptional imagination it’s not hard to see how this could have happened, but I had crazy dreams. I chose to write them down as my Write 365 assignments. The idea just popped into my head, the perfect name, just clever enough to fit, with inspiration from the Grimm Fairy Tales. That is how “Tales of a NyQuil Dreamer” came to be. Here we go!

Mixing Realities: The Final Blend

Art is an ever changing and evolving piece of human history, what is it, what is it not? Try searching the history of art and most of what comes up is a definition for art history, it is a grand and expansive subject that covers anything from cave drawings to the statue of liberty. To make it more difficult, what qualifies as art has changed dramatically over the centuries; music, street art, chalk drawings, classical paintings like the Mona Lisa, all with their own credit as artists. A fascination with the history of art and how it is changing and evolving in the newest age of technology and inspiration, seems complicated and difficult to follow. Though realistically it is easier than ever to be part of the developing culture and connected further to artists and audience with tech like the Vive or the Oculus.

            In its most basic element, art is defined as the expression of human creative skill and imagination typically in a visual form.[1] So really whenever you aren’t able to buy a Halloween costume, so you sew and glue one together yourself, that is art! What stands out with art is the artists ability to go beyond the average thought and understanding, creating something out of the ordinary. We may not realize it, but the way they make it changes our perspective. It is safe to say that a historical piece of art and history such as the statue of liberty would be forgotten, but this can’t just be because of its representation. To say nothing else, a giant statue sitting on a platform in the sea next to one of our first 13 colonies is out of the ordinary. Some of this credit must go to the build itself, made entirely from copper, steel, gold, and cast iron.[2]

            So, what makes a piece of art so special? Well it is many things, what it is made of, how long it took, the rarity and specialty of the materials, more goes into it than you might imagine. What makes it so special to true artisans is the meaning, the depth and heart filled within the piece created. This new age of creation symbolizes that more now than ever, there is no rarity with this product, there is no material being made. What makes the developing culture so special is the awe-inspiring capabilities of the software.

            Technology has not only changed the interface in which we work within but the way we discover those interactions. Truth be told the products that are used with the systems aren’t cheap, but with them becoming more common and more consumer driven, even this is changing drastically. From a system being over $2,000 for the least expensive versions, there are now portable VR headsets with controllers for less than $400.[3] That being the most recently updated and released system, one of the most advanced for common consumer use, not a multi-billion-dollar business. No longer are we required to try and simulate a 3D landscape with a computer monitor that will become obsolete within the next two years. With an entirely new view, artists bring everything they could ever wish for to life. The limited restrictions really come from the hardware of the device they are using and its capabilities, not the users. They can choose from paint colors, textures, sizes, shapes, anything and everything they need is reimagined with this device. The device itself was designed as a piece of art!

            Video games and this type of technology originated as a military program to determine the trajectory of ammunition when shot; it wouldn’t seem likely at the time that it would be used in this way.[4] More and more are users going to this medium for displaying their art and productions. It gives the player a better chance of seeing and interacting with the exhibit because they can be part of it wherever they are and whatever they are doing. Any of us can do it. Time magazine asked seven different artists to create a piece with VR, whether that be a model, a sculpture, a painting, but bring it to life. Each had their own unique piece, but each was interconnected through this technology. Each artist created something with meaning to them, in a virtual space, but with real materials that they could change and manipulate as they would in the real world. Tilt Brush, an app developed by Google, allows you to model and paint as if you were in real life. They even created the same type of set up as a traditional artist, with the paint brush in your dominant hand and the different colors and aspects in your other as a color palette.

            It doesn’t stop there, you can then pair your piece, your system up with a 3D printing device.[5] This takes some time and practice to perfect depending how detailed the piece was. It no longer has to stay in virtual reality, (although it can if you so choose) the data and details of the piece can be transferred to the printer and be created just as it was when you made it! The system is so in-depth that it even takes the direction of your brush strokes and analyzes the difference in your piece because of it!

            The border between artist and audience is closing. We are no longer in two separate groups of great idealists that wish and hope that our dreams will become reality one day, we can make it happen. With a small amount of training and understanding of the different systems each and every person could create an entire world! Limited only by the capabilities of the hardware. With step-by-step process training, our ability to use the technology is becoming easier every minute, the price is dropping, our connectivity through the devices is growing. As long as it is in the cloud and we allow it, our works, our process, everything we create can be put out into the world. Shared with everyone, as easily as taking a picture or a screenshot. Entire museums have been recreated with this technology, as well as museums using them for exhibits and attractions. So, creating art is easier than ever, sharing it and developing it into something more as well. A misunderstanding so often made with emerging mediums, they aren’t here to destroy, only rebuild. The same technology for 3D scans in video games are also being used to recreate the historic Notre Dame.[6] It is about making better, taking the old and immortalizing it with the constantly changing and developing culture that our world creates. Even if that means the creation of new worlds beyond our imagination. “We are one, after all, you and I, together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.


[1] Art. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/art

[2] What Is Art? Why is Art Important? (2018, July 07). Retrieved from https://www.theartist.me/art/what-is-art/

[3] Oculus Quest. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.oculus.com/quest/?&utm_source=gg&utm_medium=a_ps&utm_term=oculus&utm_campaign=2018526934&utm_content=354224529967&utm_parent=quest&utm_ad=74385408154&utm_location=1024429&utm_location2=&utm_placement=kwd-308227195178&utm_adposition=1t1&utm_device=c&utm_matchtype=e&utm_feed=&gclid=CInl8cqs4uICFQKExQIdT7MJQQ&gclsrc=ds

[4] Beekman, C. (2019, April 15). The History Of Video Games And The Military. Retrieved from https://taskandpurpose.com/us-militarys-close-history-video-games

[5] Atwell, C. (2017, May 11). 3D Printing and VR: A New Spin on Design and Manufacturing. Retrieved from https://www.machinedesign.com/3d-printing/3d-printing-and-vr-new-spin-design-and-manufacturing

[6] Gilbert, B. (2019, April 16). The effort to rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral could get help from an unlikely source: A video game. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/notre-dame-cathedral-assassins-creed-2019-4

Mixing Realities Pt. 2

“There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.” Although Douglas Everett’s reference may have been decidedly different than mixed reality technology, there is no doubt in his understanding. There are those who both dream and live in a way that allows their dreams to become reality, turn everything they have ever wanted into a realistic part of their lives. With the new mixed reality technologies coming out there is an even greater way to make it all come to life. In those worlds that have been created for us, anything we can imagine can become reality, with the right programming.

            The term “virtual reality” was not used until somewhat recently in history, closer to 1960, but the origins are still up for debate.[1] The difficulty really comes from determining what exactly it means, a solid definition for what counts as virtual reality. There is evidence that pieces of art as far back as Renaissance Europe showed alternate worlds and experiences that took you to another place. More recently it was reimagined with the Sensorama. In the 1950s this device was created that allowed for color display and a stereo system as well as a simulation that took you through a world similar to ours but with a whole new experience.[2]

            With years of work and millions of dollars of funding and projects into the mix, in 1992 the first interactive movie was created by Nicole Stenger. The advancements made allowed for this program to track your movements completely and in real time, with a similar device created by Louis Rosenberg the same year. Less virtual reality than mixed reality, but what do the details matter? A whole lot, that’s how much!

 The turning point between virtual, augmented, and mixed realities gets a bit blurry, but overall, they have been known as X-Reality.[3] Let’s start with the differences between them. Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated simulation of a world that can be interacted with, whether by fitted gloves, controllers, you name it! While augmented reality takes those same aspects, the virtual objects and environments, and meshes them into the real world through a medium. Our phones can even be augmented reality mediums with games like Pokémon Go or filters on Snapchat that turn you into a dog. Virtual elements that change or alter reality without actually changing them. So where it all comes together is with mixed reality (MR), which many people oftentimes assume is the same as Augmented Reality (AR). Imagine for a moment that you slap someone in the face with a banana, you see it hit them, they have a reaction, it physically touches them. Not so fun for them, but with VR and AR it won’t actually touch them, just the avatar they use. Hell, the banana you slapped them with isn’t even real; but when we’re talking about mixed reality it switches things up. Mixed reality will take that banana and its data and show it through whatever medium you’re using, then it will render an item over the top of it. You will still be holding the banana, but in the game you could be holding a pack of Gushers. If you slap them with it, it won’t just hit their avatar, but it will hit them as well, the mixing of the two realities.[4]

            Let’s not complicate things by getting into all that right now, how about we focus on virtual reality for today instead?

            Virtual reality may not bring virtual things into real life, but it can do the reverse. Anything and everything you can possibly imagine can be created using virtual reality; as a hero fighting a mighty dragon, or vice versa. The closest thing there is to a limit with virtual reality is the imagination of whoever made it and the processing power of the computer. Needless to say it has its drawbacks. Currently there is no way for us to virtually recreate smell or taste like we do vision and touch.[5] Our senses of smell and taste are part of our chemosensory system meaning our smell comes from special cells. In average terms, our body detects and analyzes different chemicals that creates a specific smell for whatever we are smelling.[6]

            Used from anything like formal training for a sales person or a business seminar to performing an operation as complicated as heart surgery. The VR device is connected to the surgeon along with gloves and other highly complicated controllers that allow for the extreme precision necessary. They then get connected up with a robotic arm or an entire robotic device. With this type of technology, they are able to know exactly what is happening at every point and every step of the way and not even have to be in the same building! The implications something this advanced can have is beyond what was possible even half a dozen years ago. Arguably the most important part of this is the feedback the surgeon gets. It helps create physical pressure against the surgeon’s controls for them to know exactly what kind of adjustments they have to make.[7]

            That same type of precision and detail has been developed for all types of technology, including art. The early history of this type of art can be traced back to the beginning of the Renaissance period in history with perspective art, creating a new world of sorts. VR allows for artists to create models and truly experience what it is like to see their creations in realistic environments.[8] Fashion will never be the same. There are entire virtual reality fashions shows, entirely with VR goggles and controllers. This is only the beginning, but more to come! In part 3, Ethenreal from Avalon Blogging out!


[1] History Of Virtual Reality. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality/history.html

[2] History of Virtual Reality. (2016, November 16). Retrieved from https://www.fi.edu/virtual-reality/history-of-virtual-reality

[3] What’s the Difference Between AR, VR, and MR? (2017, September 29). Retrieved from https://www.fi.edu/difference-between-ar-vr-and-mr

[4] Brandon Bray. (n.d.). What is mixed reality? – Mixed Reality. Retrieved from https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/mixed-reality/mixed-reality

[5] Matthews, D. (2017, March 09). Why Smells Are So Difficult To Simulate For Virtual Reality. Retrieved from https://uploadvr.com/why-smell-is-so-difficult-to-simulate-in-vr/

[6] Smell Disorders. (2018, January 16). Retrieved from https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/smell-disorders

[7] Virtual reality in surgery. (2017, June 28). Retrieved from https://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality-healthcare/surgery.html

[8] Segura, A. (2019, January 21). AR and VR in Fashion Retail. Retrieved from https://fashionretail.blog/2018/05/07/ar-vr-in-fashion/

Mixing Realities Pt. 1

Our world is constantly changing at every moment, every day, forever.  We as individuals will change and evolve with time whether we wish to or not. Our cultures and traditions will change, but one of the few ways we have stayed the same is our choice of representation. Art has always been a large part of human history and our understanding of the world as it is and as it was long ago. Historians will use pieces of art from cave drawings to massive sculptures to help analyze and describe different points in history. Bear with me when I say that it isn’t the only thing they use to determine the culture of a time period, but it is a large part of the process. Just as humans do now, we choose to create art based on what we know and understand, what we hope for, and what is happening in the world around us. This helps historians understand the type of life people are living, their status, even what type of governmental system they have.

            The earliest found art is over 40,000 years old and consists of cave drawings and a sculpture known as “Venus of Willendorf.” That depends entirely on the idea of art, when shells and weaponry can be dated back further than 500,000 years ago, as well as what we believe to be art now compared to then. Obviously items such as this can have many different meanings and symbolism to a culture, but it is argued that strictly necessity-based items can’t entirely be classified as art. Art being an expression of emotion, creativity, and imagination; which could mean the arrowheads, depending on what exactly it was.

            Art can even depend on the necessity-based objects, the Iceman named Otzi was found with a copper axe and yew handle. Now seen as a beautiful piece of cultural art and history, it was originally meant for killing, whittling, hacking, etc. It can tell more about their history than you would imagine on first inspecting it. The prominent minerals and resources nearby, what is rare is often viewed to be the most important and most valuable. Copper in this area was a show of great status and strength, meaning he was a leader of the village he was part of at the very least. More than that, art has grown incredibly across time, numerous mediums used to change and represent different parts of life. With cave drawings, to metals and other natural resources, to canvas and paint, even using our own bodies as pieces of art.

            The Renaissance period is still one of the most famous time periods for art and history. A defining time for rebirth and revitalization of culture and traditions, depicted in their way of life as well as greatly in their art. A link between art, history, and science, the time period inspired by life itself and a search for understanding of the human form. The unforgettable Vitruvian man, drawn by Leonardo de Vinci in 1490 depicting the beauty of humanity. The inherent ideas and values of beauty we see in humans, the symmetry and complexity that is our entire culture. Using art as an exploration of creativity and inspiration for the world, the beauty these artists saw in humanity and what we could be. The advancements in scientific knowledge changing and molding the way we experience life and see things beyond what we had imagined. Similar to how it does now.

            Modern art is similar in the expression of self and beauty. Outward or inward, disgusting or delightful, our understanding and representation in the world comes a great deal from our artistry. Why else would we have competitions to see who could make the most remarkable and innovative buildings or pieces of art or food. Our exploration of culture and the world, our traditional and non-traditional views becoming ever more apparent in our lives. The interconnected reality of our world and our people seeming to become more apparent to those with their eyes open. Art and the development of our cultures have never been more readily available. We are standing at the precipice of possibly the greatest artistic technology in history. Not only does this new mixed reality tech allow us to create completely new pieces we could have never dreamed of putting on a simple 2-dimension surface, it allows us to re-imagine what has already come to pass. You can recreate the entirety of the Sistine Chapel as a square inch sized building and have it printed out as a souvenir. We can create more, no longer bound by pen and paper or canvas and paint brush. Yet still being able to use everything we used to know in the same way we loved. More logistics and history on mixed reality technology to come. Check us out next time for a deeper understanding of how the tech works and how it has been tied in to our vastly growing existence!

Free Write

This is my last assignment for my writing class. After this I may use this website to post the stories I’ve really wanted to, hence the name. I have hundreds of short stories written down that are just dreams I’ve had.

I have learned that I need to set a strategic plan for myself. Whether it’s regulating the words I use in a single sentence or how much detail I put into certain subjects. It took an entirely different way of thinking to write these papers. They were looking for different characteristics than I am used to writing with. The most difficult part would have to be writing the news feature, trying to write in an interesting and enticing way, but keeping it professional and making it factual. I am much more used to writing fiction, the rules of which have been loose and malleable up until this point.

Even with the screenplay it took me nearly two hours to come up with a set of rules for myself. The process of creating a good story was much more difficult than I had imagined as well. You can’t just come up with a good story, there are processes and gates you have to pass through to get to a cohesive, relatable story.

The class taught me different writing styles, the 2-3-1, the kabob, the nutgraf, etc. None of which I had ever even heard of before so that was disappointing. It was better to learn about them in a class that will actually utilize them, rather than just bringing it up in a general education class.

I am hoping to take another class with this professor because I feel that my skills and abilities are tested more than in other classes. With a vast experience of writing he has a good idea of what good writing actually looks like. I look forward to using these lessons in the future to impress literature professors. I will keep the books I bought rather than selling them back to the Beaver store, Vogler especially will help me create new stories and understand every aspect of them. Screenwriting is especially intriguing for me, I had not realized all the steps and formalities that took part in the process. This will be useful in my future career so I would like to learn more about it and possibly work to write a (good) full story rather than just the first act.

Homelessness in Corvallis

This is a news feature story writing project I wrote for my Writing for the Media Professional class. It is about homelessness and the homeless culture in Corvallis. There are resources and service around Corvallis, but the population grew from 400 in 2010 to about 1,200 in 2015 and has been stagnant ever since.

“I would love it if my job had to disappear because the problem didn’t exist anymore, but I don’t see that happening.” Ms. Hindes alluded to homeless crisis plaguing the nation. The League of Women’s Voters found that homelessness in Corvallis has grown over 300 percent from 2010 to 2015. It is a national epidemic, in 2017 the National Alliance to End Homelessness estimated over 500,000 people experiencing these problems. Ms. Nicole Hindes, Director of the Oregon State Human Services Resource Center, has worked closely with this community and many others throughout the country. Groups like Community Outreach and the Corvallis Police Department are looking to decrease the number of homeless in Corvallis. The problems only grow when trying to work together due to their vastly different views of the source and how to proceed.


https://corvallisimages.com/above/

The service and resource center was first proposed in 2008 when the financial crisis first began impacting Oregon. “I had a safety net, my family,” Hindes talks about what made her interested in this line of work, “for me it feels like an integrity piece.” It has expanded immensely from their original vision, a subsidy program for a group of students required to buy health insurance, as stated by their home page. Although there are certain restrictions on who can participate in the program, they are driven to help every student in need, in one way or another. These restrictions on a need-based system, those that are in the most need are often the ones who are given priority depending on their situation. Ms. Hindes stated in an interview that, “there are all levels of help for students in need, going so far as to support travel, so the expense of the program doesn’t hinder them.” The program has spent countless hours working to enhance the program and create a better environment for students. Their 20-page manual, link provided on their website, gives; name, number, address, hours, and description of different resources throughout Corvallis. Whether helping them personally or just finding the support that will allow them to get the services they need, each person strives to better the community.

The current range of the homeless community is anywhere from 800-1,200 people who experience homelessness. Families, individuals, low-income groups that are in a difficult situation due to the continuously rising cost of living. While the average price of living in Oregon nearing $4,000 per month, living at $15/hour ($5 above minimum wage) would only grant someone $2,400 before taxes. The League of Women Voters of Corvallis surveyed the community in 2017, working with shelters and volunteer centers around Corvallis, and found that there could be more than 1200 homeless persons in a year.

    Many factors can lead to homelessness; substance abuse, mental illness, social structure, economy, etc.

Jon Sassaman, Chief of the Corvallis Police Department, states that, “In the worst of cases, it is because some homeless groups choose not to utilize these resources.” He also said that their job is to make sure the people in the city are following the laws, no matter the situation or group it involves. The conditions they are in, often do not go out of the town of Corvallis or Philomath. They do not see much homeless living outside the limits of the cities where there are less population and resources.

The way they deal with certain situations, depend on the person they are dealing with entirely. The police department requires annual classes on discerning mental health from alcohol, drugs, or natural behavior. Sassaman talked about his 30 years of experience stating, “some of the things we see, with this population, range anywhere from murder to disorderly conduct.” Without giving specifics as to why or how, he went on to emphasize that five of the seven murders in the last five years, were in the homeless community. Homeless people are often in a vulnerable position with outside influences that affect their day-to-day living; territory issues, stealing from one another, being victimized by the community as a whole for being “easy targets.”

Kaitlin Philipps, a Pell Scholar at Salve Regina University, dove into this subject in her thesis paper. Outlining many of the common problems the public does not see. Defining the circumstances as a “complex series of events over a lifetime that leads to this precarious situation.” There are some obvious factors, whether locally or nationally, that appear when looking deeper. Physical and sexual abuse are sources of many significant problems leading to adulthood. Philipps writes that the abuse has a profoundly negative effect on someone’s ability to cope with certain situations; stress, stable relationships, making good decisions or dealing with similar problems. Referencing Paul Koegel’s study on homelessness, 32% of people reported abuse within the household; as well as lack of food or water (60%) and living separately from their family in childhood (25%).

A report from the Gazette in Corvallis informs the public of the rampant drug culture also affecting homeless communities in the area. Giving the information was a chronically homeless man, Samuel Ward. Having moved from Albany to Corvallis to “get away from the drug use on the streets.” This type of occurrence is not out of the ordinary. There is a lot of skepticism around the good homeless programs and resources do in the long run. Some, like Chief Sassaman, believe that programs like the Men’s Homeless Shelter and Community Outreach (COI) invite homeless travelers, but are not able to get many to be self-sufficient. The National Alliance to End Homelessness implemented a plan in 2010, that was meant to help them, then about 150, homeless people become self-sufficient and provide strategies for future homeless and at-risk groups.

Nicole Hindes

Ms. Hindes made an argument toward the taxation of Oregonians. Praising the work the shelters were currently doing to help the homeless to become self-sufficient. One of the big problems she brought up was the sheer inability and small numbers of shelters throughout Oregon. Hindes brings this up as a lack of awareness as well “Not many people can find us or even know about us.” Homeless shelters and “Housing First” programs do not have the funding necessary to grow enough to substantially decrease the homeless population.

Taxes in other states, such as Texas, are used for these types of programs as well as education. One of Hindes’ provided solutions was to raise the taxation of Oregonians stating, “I’m looking forward to Oregon taxing itself so that we can stop these problems systemically.” She claims that these problems are with the systems and not inherently with the people that are being affected by circumstances.

Five years after the process began, the homeless population was near 1,000-1,200 people. With nearly ten years of work put in till 2019, what is there left to do? The homeless population has not decreased from 2015; some say it is even growing more than before with the new opportunities. There still does not seem to be enough money for homeless shelters and programs, and the resources offered must set strict regulations.

Oregon State Human Service and Resource Center

Chief Sassaman has competing beliefs with Ms. Hindes that their situation is not always due to lack of funding or opportunity. Explaining that from his view, “Community Outreach learned that they could not just follow the same path of being a first come, first serve homeless shelter.” He believes that the best way to better the situation is by working together. The accommodations and resources, pooling their money and services together, creating a single set of codes and capabilities that were equal across programs. The sharing of resources would help each shelter or center become sufficient and able to provide legitimate services. Sassaman believed that although combining their funding may not rid Corvallis of the homeless epidemic, it would decrease it drastically due to the greater capabilities of each resource.

Molly Harney, the Community Services assistant for Community Outreach, stated during her interview, the regulations were taking a different approach. Their specific regulations were to entrust that each person got the help they needed, but also allowed their services to those who deserve them — stating, “the policies reflect our mission to help others help themselves.” By following the rules and regulations set out; sobriety, cleanliness, searching for work, they can see who is willing and wanting to take advantage of the great opportunities they provide.

Although they may not be on the same page with the processes to lead to the most significant progress, there is continuing work to better the situation. Hindes working with students, community members, and homeless resource centers around Corvallis. Sassaman is working and training the Corvallis Police department to handle situations and provide services to the greater community.

This crisis affects everyone in some way or another, whether a family member, a friend or an acquaintance. Much of the problem comes from lack of knowledge, lack of education on the circumstances and situations. Each interview gave insight into the truth behind homelessness; providing classes to citizens, helping people be aware of the situation and understand signs of homelessness, equally distributing wealth to better the community entirely. The tricky part will be for these service and resource providers to work together, combining their efforts in an organized and productive way. Their plans for the future hinge upon their ability to work together, organize, and continue to progress as a team for the betterment of the community. Is that not what the city wants, what it deserves?

From Clearwater to Rain Water

Fresh out of football practice, Kevontre Whetzel walks into his writing class, every day closer to finishing his degree. Sitting across the table; relaxed and quiet, but also personable and outgoing. His football career began at Countryside High School in Clearwater, Florida, a key factor in all aspects of his life.

So what made you want to choose Oregon State for school?

Kee: It had a lot to do with football. My family came over to meet the coach and tour, it was such a good experience and we connected well with the coach (Gary Anderson).

And how has the transitions from coach to coach affected you as a team?

I had the same coach in high school for 4 years so it’s a big change. Having two different coaches in two years makes a big difference, one coach was replaced halfway through the year. It’s basically a whole new coaching staff this year, its like we still have to establish a relationship before we can move on and improve.

Kevontre grew up in Clearwater, Florida with his two parents and four brothers. Describing one of the most important moments that put him on his current path to success being he and his brother’s adoption when he was six. Still keeping close ties and contact to his family living back home. He continued by saying they like to stay connected, using Facetime and calling one another often.

Since your family is so close, what has it been like moving to Oregon?

It’s still difficult sometimes, there are times when I can get pretty homesick, but like I said we keep connected however we can. Florida is still my ideal place to live, a lot of people say ‘oh it’s too hot’ and stuff like that, but I love the beach and the heat. I don’t think I’d move back home, but if it’s up to me I would choose to move back to Florida.

Kevontre aspires to play for the NFL after he finishes with college, currently playing as a linebacker in all 12 games of the 2018 season. Working hard on the field to fulfill this dream, he is not one to leave things to chance. He is majoring in Digital Communication Arts with a minor in Business. With these applications he would choose to go into sports or social media marketing. Emphasizing his interest in working for Nike, he is currently on track to graduate early in the Fall of 2019 rather than Spring.

My uncle works for Nike right now as a social media manager, choosing what works for the company’s image and what doesn’t. Deciding what they post or not, I’d want to do something like that but maybe work with athletes. Managing their social media or doing something like my uncle, working for Nike. He gets paid well, gets great perks and gets the chance to travel which would be great.

On his personal media Kee likes to keep things light, often posting about football or spending time with friends. This can be said about his personality as a whole. He explained that one of his favorite characteristics about his personality is his outgoing and lighthearted attitude. With a past of trials that would give him every right to have a downtrodden attitude, he still finds joy and positivity in everything he does. Kevontre will continue on his path; graduating in the Fall, playing in the 2019 OSU football season, and what will come is yet to be revealed, but he plans to continue toward his goals.


The Journey Begins

Greetings travelers! Come explore with me

My name is Michael, an Oregon State University student majoring in NMC. I’ve always had a passion for mythology and traveling, having been to Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, China, and Japan, with years of experience reading and studying mythology in different regions. I’ll be posting about different myths and legends that interest me and if you’d like to do the same feel free! This blog is meant to help bring to light the many stories and heroes in mythology that have helped inspire me to become who I am.

Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story

-John Barth