Monthly Archives: May 2012

McMinnville residents attempt to stop growth of landfill

What began as a small disposal site in 1982, dedicated to serving primarily local users, has been sold several times and is now owned by Texas-based Waste Management, Inc., the world’s largest waste handling company and the 196th largest company overall. It was previously scheduled to be closed and the land returned to farming in 20 years

Today, Riverbend Landfill serves as a regional dump for Portland and several other areas around Yamhill County.  Out of 640,000 tons of garbage per year, only about 25 percent comes from Yamhill County.

“That’s what most citizens object to,” said Ramsey McPhillips, an established farmer whose land shares a border with Riverbend Landfill. “Yamhill County is getting paid $1.25 per ton for storing other people’s garbage.”

McPhillips is one of the founders of a movement to stop the landfill from expanding. The Stop the Dump Coalition is a collection of businesses and environmental groups who want the landfill to close in 2014, as it had been scheduled to do, instead of expanding. Currently, Waste Management, Inc. is trying to obtain a permit to build a mechanically stabilized earthen
berm around the perimeter of the landfill. The proposed berm would rise as high as 40 feet and expand the landfill’s capacity from its current 13.3 million to 16.2 million cubic yards.

In the past, WM has submitted permit requests to expand horizontally onto neighboring farmland, like McPhillips’ farm, but the Stop the Dump Coalition has fought WM in court and has so far managed to prevent the conversion of farmland to landfill. According to McPhillips, the group’s main method
of fighting the landfill’s expansion is to prevent WM from obtaining a permit for any kind of expansion.

Besides loss of prime farmland and the storage of other counties’ garbage, the Stop the Dump Coalition is also worried about leaks. According to the group’s website,, Riverbend Landfill began collecting garbage before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency implemented rules regarding gas management and the use of liners, so several sections of the landfill are not lined properly and have been leaking volatile organic compounds into the groundwater around the dump.

“I don’t use my irrigation anymore,” McPhillips said. “The only things we’re growing are things not consumed by humans.”

According to McPhillips, the soils beneath the landfill are loose, sandy and saturated. In the event of an earthquake, the soil has a high chance of losing its structure and its strength through soil liquefaction, and the landfill would be destroyed, letting roughly 15 stories of trash spill into the South Yamhill River.

“If the landfill was destroyed in an earthquake, there would be a huge amount of toxins going into the river,” McPhillips said. “There are other landfills in Oregon that are not on a river and don’t have this danger of liquefaction. There’s no need for this one.”

Waste Not of Landfill County is an organization that is “the official arm of the Stop the Dump Coalition” according to the coalition’s website. Waste Not formed in 2009 and has been opposing the expansion of Riverbend Landfill ever since. Other partners of the Stop the Dump Coalition include local wineries, restaurants, farms and vineyards.

McPhillips said although he helped found the Stop the Dump Coalition, he is no longer part of the group.

“I need to be able to get in people’s faces,” McPhillips said. “I need to be able to be waving signs on the side of the road.”

Read more about Riverbend Landfill at, the Stop the Dump Coalition at and Waste Not of Yamhill County at

Sharon Gollery/
Culture editor

Linfield students attend competitive speech tournament

Two students from Linfield College were the only women in Oregon to qualify for a speech tournament in Boston, Mass. Coached by Dr. Jackson Miller, associate professor of communication arts and director of forensics, sophomores Clara Martinez and Stephanie Stovall competed
against students from all across the country.

“The tournament provided me with an amazing learning experience,” Martinez said. “I feel like I have a better idea of what it takes to win first place at a persuasive speech tournament.”

The finals round took place at the Boston Public Library. Every contestant at the tournament also had his or her speech published in Winning Orations, and the book will be available in most college and university libraries soon.

“If students get the chance I highly encourage them to check out the speeches contestants write,” Martinez said.

Martinez said she plans on returning to the Linfield Forensics Program because it has helped shaped her Linfield experience.

“Forensics has become an important part of my college career,” Martinez said. “I plan to stay active in forensics until the end of my senior year.”

The biggest challenge Martinez faced was having to catch up with classes after missing days at a time and being off-campus during most weekends throughout the year for speech and debate tournaments, she said.

“I actually find it a bit odd to spend a weekend on campus during the breaks we get throughout the semester because I’m always at tournaments,” Martinez said. “On the plus side, I have time management down to an art.”

Through forensics, students are able to learn valuable skills that they use after their time at Linfield, Martinez said.

“I love feeling a part of a team,” Martinez said. “I spend time with students who love talking about current events and debating philosophical concepts, basically being nerdy. I work with talented students and we have a great coach; it’s like icing on a cake.”

Samantha Sigler/
News editor

Speaker questions democracy in America

Democracy is not possible in America, our votes do not matter and bigger is not always better. At least, this is all true according to Susan McWilliams, an award-winning professor from Pomona College who spoke to students and staff  May 7 in Jonasson Hall.

“We are too god damn big,” McWilliams said. “Democracy is not suited to big regimes like our own.”

McWilliams began the lecture with a political joke from the election of 1952 and continued on with more throughout the lecture to lighten the subject at hand.

“Virtually all Americans have trouble describing what a positive democracy looks like,” McWilliams said.

Depicting the similarities of the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement, McWilliams said that both groups give a negative sense of what democracy looks like, but are unable to depict what a healthy democracy would appear as.

To begin to explain healthy democracy, McWilliams explained that Americans learn at a young age that voting is the right way to get things done by taking votes at the playground.

“God dammit we are Americans and we are going to vote for what the right decision is,” McWilliams said. “[However}, while the extension of voting rights have made this a more democratic nation in a formal sense, we become more informally concerned.”

Although most Americans would agree that voting is important, McWilliams points out that voting is only meaningful if we are presented with meaningful choices. The problem that follows this is that Americans know our votes don’t matter.

According to McWilliams, democracy depends on people feeling known and important. This can only happen in small states or regimes, as America is too big for it to function properly.

“Come to Linfield, everyone knows who you are and we know that matters,” McWilliams said. “Human beings are engineered in living in smaller communities.”

The idea that we need to feel important and heard is a point that McWilliams reiterated throughout the lecture. Through smaller communities, people are able to have a louder voice and feel as though they matter as a person, as well as have a vote that matters.

“[We need to] not be afraid of small communities,” McWilliams said. “When you have the experience of mattering, you don’t give it up.”

McWilliams referenced liberal arts colleges as a good example of mattering through the idea that people do not focus enough on college’s civic functions.

“They train people to be good and active citizens,” McWilliams said. “We learn how to matter [and] have the ability to affect other people.”

McWilliams also said why she felt liberal arts colleges
were important to society.

“What makes liberal arts colleges so special and so important is that they are in fact counter cultural,” McWilliams said. “It is precisely in their smallness that gives them their power.”

Quoting political theorist Sheldon Wolin, McWilliams explained that the best we might be able to achieve is spaces of fugitive democracy, moments and places where we can cultivate the habits of democratic life, and in so doing, cultivate an oasis of engaged citizenry.

“In this large, mobile and impersonal society of this United states, democracy is never going to be the dominant thing,” McWilliams said.

Samantha Sigler/
News editor

Students debate issues with Internet via Skype

Linfield students debate issues, such as having access to the Internet as a fundamental human right against students in Afghanistan at Kabul University using Skype on May 8. Photo courtesy of Adam Leclair

Cultures collide as thoughts were argued between Linfield College and Kabul University students.

Students debated about the motion, “access to the Internet is a fundamental human right.” Coming from two different cultures, the teams used Skype to debate the idea May 8 in Ford Hall.

Starting the debate out on the government side was Kabul University student, Sadaf Maqsoodi. She defined the terms of the debate.

“Fundamental human rights are like the freedom of press, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly,” Maqsoodi said. “Internet access should be included in these freedoms.”

Maqsoodi went on to argue that by having Internet access it will help in education and that it would help connect people to politics and other world events.

Linfield sophomore Megan Schawab countered Maqsoodi as she took the opposing side.

“While we agree with everyone deserving the fundamental rights to speech, press, assembly and so on, we believe that the Internet is merely a tool to obtain those basic human rights, but it is not a fundamental human right in itself,” Schawab said.

Schawab continued to say that fundamental human rights include “the right to travel freely, but that does not make the plane a basic human right.”

Disagreeing with Schawab, Kabul’s Muhammad Fahim spoke on how the United Nations believe that access to the Internet is a basic human right.

“Can we go and replace the Internet with other tools? No, we cannot,” Fahim said.

Junior Kole Kracaw, a member of the opposition, took a different approach to his argument against the Internet as a basic human right with a personal testimony.

“The other day I woke up, and I went to check my Facebook, and the Internet was down,” Kracaw said. “I felt that I was being denied a fundamental human right, and after a while of moping around, I realized, wait a minute, the sun is out and I have friends.”

While Kracaw agreed with his opponent’s definition of fundamental human right, he said that he doesn’t think that access to the Internet falls under it.

“If your life is at risk by taking away one of these things that falls under being a basic human right, then obviously that is a basic human right,” Kracaw said. “I do not think the Internet meets this standard.”

Kracaw made the point of how the Internet is deteriorating our interpersonal skills. Kracaw ran out of time and was not able to say his second point.

With students from both sides working together, sophomore Clara Martinez spoke about how access to the Internet should be a fundamental human right.

“The Internet shows us that we are apart of a greater community,” Martinez said.

Martinez paused during her argument to take a question from Fahim, who asked about the use of Internet in Egypt and their recent revolution.

“Do you think the revolution stopped when the government took away access to the Internet?” Kabul student, Muhammad Dawood, asked. “The Internet was used as a tool.”

Martinez responded with saying how if it weren’t for the country’s original access, the revolution would have been slower to start.

Tamana from Kabul University spoke on the side of the opposition and countered Martinez’s argument by stating if the government can take away something, then it cannot be counted as a fundamental human right.

Closing for the government side, Linfield sophomore Sam Javier acted as the Government Whip, pushing for the final arguments on their side. Starting the final argument Javier countered Tamana’s argument on the lack of access to the Internet due to government and costs.

“Putting it in terms of the right of the pursuit of happiness, everyone has the right to be happy, just because you don’t have the means to be happy doesn’t take away your right to it,” Javier said.

Speaking on the down side to full Internet access, Dawood concluded the debate for the opposition.

“The Internet is growing into an addiction,” Dawood said. “We don’t have time for our own family or our studies or our friends. We can do this all in person. Yeah, we can use [the Internet], but as a tool.”

Wrapping up the debate, both sides exchanged questions about culture and each students’ true belief about the debate’s motion.

“I believe some Americans would say that the Internet should not be a fundamental right, but there are probably others that think it should. We’re pretty divided,” Javier said.

Dawood spoke about how the Internet doesn’t really affect the everyday lives of Afghani citizens like it does for Americans.

Kaylyn Peterson/
Copy chief

Habitat for Humanity is expanding

Potential for Habitat for Humanity neighborhoods in Portland is momentous.

Habitat for Humanity has recently taken great strides in progression of its organization—and it’s happening right in our backyards.

During the Great Recession, about three years ago, the non-profit housing group took advantage of the depressed real estate market.

With the help of incredibly generous donors, Habitat spent millions investing in vacant land right outside Portland—a genius business strategy, which is expected to keep it busy for five years or more.

With about 150 lots to its name, Habitat will be taking an innovative step in its organization and creating entire Habitat neighborhoods.

This big-scale approach is just one of many new methods being tested by Habitat across the United States during this market downturn.

According to a local building trades association, Habitat has become the 10th largest home builder in the Portland-metropolitan area by housing volume.

This statistic will become even more applicable as the first 22 homes of its 150 lots rise this spring on the east side of Portland.

This is the largest project in Oregon that Habitat for Humanity has overseen.

Habitat for Humanity is an ingenious approach to housing in general and reaches far closer to any ideal standards of housing than other for-profit companies do.

But this step in its organization is one which will surely benefit not just them but the communities and lifestyle in general.

It is a sustainable and purposeful use of land that would otherwise be bought and used for less meaningful functions.

The idea of having entire Habitat neighborhood is also a really healthy, momentous initiative.

The sense of connection and community that a neighborhood like that would foster would be really inspiring and life-changing.

Because each individual person or family would have endured the same process, the networking of support would be incredible.

The potential that this new idea has is limitless, and Habitat is on the forefront of fostering huge change in the realm of non-profit housing.


Andra Kovacs/Senior reporter