Our favorite arts, culture and human interest stories in Beaverton, Tigard and Tualatin from 2017.

TIMES FILE PHOTO - Grace Ingram controls the burners as she brings up the Firenze balloon, owned by her grandfather Koi Murai, during the Tigard Festival of Balloons at Cook Park. Ingram is training to become a pilot for her high school senior project.When I joined the staff of the Beaverton Valley Times and Tigard-Tualatin Times this March, I was told by my editor that our "Living Here" section acts as a sort of catch-all for intriguing stories — there's a good deal of arts and entertainment coverage, a smattering of social and community issues, and a whole lot of stories that can only be put under the heading of "local people doing cool stuff."

That assessment of Living Here's nebulous nature turned out to be true — and I'm so glad it did. This past year, I've had the chance to ride in a hot air balloon with a seasoned pilot and his granddaughter-cum-trainee at the Tigard Festival of Balloons; speak with a longtime Tualatin resident about what it's like to finally become an American citizen in the Trump era; and smell different hops with a Beaverton-based brewer who shared his thoughts on the future of Portland-area beer. You can read excerpts from those stories and more below, in our Living Here Year in Review.

It's my hope that my most successful features have given our readers a sense of the widely diverse ways that people live here — in Beaverton, Tigard and Tualatin. I look forward to discovering more ways to live here in 2018. — Blair Stenvick

"Gold at last: Dan Schauffler finally received his gold record for Nu Shooz track "I Can't Wait."

In the summer of 1986, the disco track "I Can't Wait" by Nu Shooz spent 15 weeks on Billboard's Top 40 chart — and went gold in the process, meaning it sold more than 500,000 units.

Over 30 years later, former Nu Shooz saxophone player and Valley Catholic band director Dan Schauffler just received his gold record.

"I was always glad to have been a part of that, but I didn't get a gold album," Schauffler said about his time with Nu Shooz. The song was recorded originally in 1984, but wasn't released until 1986, at which point Schauffler had left the group — so, no gold record for him.

"By the time I got around to asking my friends in Nu Shooz, I don't think anyone knew about acquiring one," he said. "Atlantic (Records) had just taken care of it for them. So I kind of forgot about it for 30 years."

"Hopstory: Oregon's deep connection to craft beer"TIMES FILE PHOTO - Tyler Staples does a "hop rub" of a Cascade hop at Uptown Market. The oils left on his hand smelled like earth and grapefruit.

Tasting beer with Tyler Staples is like watching a movie with a film buff, or going to a museum with an art major. He can give you a prolific string of descriptors that might characterize the IPA you're sipping on, including but not limited to: grapefruit-forward, soapy, dank, resin-y, sour, funky, astringent, citrusy, lemongrass and stone fruit.

The wide-ranging adjectives used by Staples, who is the head brewer at Uptown Market in Beaverton, all originate from the same source: hops, those nugget-sized, flowery green plants that flavor beer. American hops have their origins in the Pacific Northwest — Oregon and Washington grew about 90 percent of the country's hop yield in 2016, according to the USDA — and that has helped spark an independent brewer culture that dates back decades.

Tiah Edmunson-Morton, who curates the hops and brewing archives at Oregon State University, gave a talk at the Tigard Public Library titled "Brewing in Oregon: How Science, Farming and People Shaped Beervana." She credits the pioneering spirit of Oregonians when talking about this "Beervana."

"There is a certain characteristic of West Coasters," she said. "Whether it's a stubbornness of wanting to do it ourselves, or this community that has allowed craft breweries to thrive. There is something magical about this whole combination. And the brewers, farmers and scientists are all a really important part of that."

"Faith and Pride: Beaverton church participates in Portland pride parade"

When David Randall-Bodman, senior minister at Bethel Congregational United Church of Christ, attended Pride last year, he said he received mixed reactions from people in the crowd. Many members of the LGBTQ community have had negative experiences growing up in more conservative Christian denominations, such as Catholicism or Mormonism. In fact, many of the parishioners at Bethel are people who originally belonged to those churches.

Randall-Bodman wore his clerical collar to Pride, something he doesn't do often around the church.

"I think it's important for people to know that I am an ordained Christian, and I'm here," he said. "Last year, I got essentially two ends of the spectrum, from 'who the hell do you think you are? I know what you are, you're just a wolf in sheep's clothing, so I'm not buying this,' to people who were just overwhelmed, and would come up and hug me. People I didn't even know, because they were just so moved that someone who is clearly connected to the Christian church is there with a message of love. Some people were in tears, having never seen a clergy member out marching in Pride."

"Flight in the Family: Tigard Festival of Balloons pilot trains granddaughter"

Koi Murai wants his granddaughter to train with a few other pilots, so that she can learn from different perspectives. And he said a few close calls, like landing in downtown Houston on a "weird wind day," have changed his style over the years.

"That's why I'm still here," he said. "I'd be lying if I never told you I had really close calls and instances. You only get so many of those, so you have to learn from them."

Understanding weather codes and paying attention to wind patterns is crucial for any hot air balloon pilot, and Grace Ingram, Murai's granddaughter, said it's been the most challenging part of her training so far. But no matter how experienced or well-versed in meteorology a pilot may be, a few bumpy rides are unavoidable — and she's okay with that.

"I don't know if there really can be a favorite (ride), because there's just a lot," she said. "You can't say the easy ones are your favorites, because they're not as challenging. But you never want the challenging ones to be your favorites, because sometimes they can hurt your balloon."

"Finding a home at the Night Market"

When Kenechi Onyeagus was preparing to take part in the Beaverton Night Market last year, she had her doubts about whether she could pull it off.

"I was petrified," Onyeagus said. "I didn't know if I could do it."

That's because her Nigerian pop-up and catering business, Motherland Treats, was just getting off the ground, and she hadn't done any events yet. But the City of Beaverton, which hosts the Night Market, worked with her to help get her ready.

"It was awesome because I wanted to start a business, but didn't really know how to or what resources I needed," Onyeagus said. "The Beaverton Night Market was just a perfect platform. It held our hand throughout the whole process."

The Night Market, held at The Round in Beaverton, brings together about 45 food and craft vendors, and about a dozen performers, from a wide range of different cultures and ethnicities. It is now in its third year.

"Setting the stage for Tigard's summer concert series"

Jason Fellman, the front man for Radical Revolution, grew up in Beaverton and went to Beaverton High School. He said that '80s music hits the "sweet spot" for family-friendly concerts.

"Our kids listen to the same music as we do," he said. "They hear it in the car and everything. So one of the things that's fun about these summer concerts is, yeah, the parents know the music, but the kids do, too. It's like, wow, I can't believe we have 10-year-olds singing along to Joan Jett up here."

Along with "I Love Rock 'n Roll" by Jett, some of the band's favorite tracks to perform include "Dance with Somebody" by Whitney Houston, "Mickey" by Toni Basil, "Modern Love" by David Bowie and anything by Bon Jovi.

Though Fellman has a passion for playing '80s covers — especially the wide range of styles and moods that the decade has to offer — his band played mostly original music when it first started out. They reserved the '80s hits for the last hour of their shows, so that people would stick around longer.

"If you want to keep people in clubs late, you have to keep people interested," Fellman said. "And it was so fun, we decided, we should just start an '80s cover band."

"Kickstarting a film career: Young Tigard filmmaker raises funds for coming-of-age movie"

The film, "5th Ave Film Society," is a play on the classic coming-of-age novel or film, but with a distinctly Oregonian twist. The plot follows a group of close-knit young adults dealing with the grief of one of their friends.

Just as important as plot is the film's setting. Tyler St. Pierre, who wrote the film, and his director, Geoff Vrijmoet, plan to shoot around Oregon and use the film as a tribute to other Oregon-shot movies, including "Wild," "Stand by Me," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Green Room."

Tyler St. Pierre's script was inspired by "a variety of young adult novels, and watching films such as 'This is Where I Leave You' and 'Manchester by the Sea,'" said St. Pierre, who is a member of the Arts and Communication Magnet Academy's class of 2013 and a recent graduate of the Portland State University film program.

"Me and the director were watching 'Manchester,' and we thought, well, why don't we do a story like that, but aimed at a different audience?" St. Pierre added. "That's much more for the 20-30 crowd, and we wanted to get the 18-25 crowd."

"Q&A with a new American citizen, longtime Tualatin resident"

The Times: This is a very unusual time in American politics. Do you feel more responsibility to be involved now that you're a citizen?

Debra Macaulay: I'll definitely have a responsibility to vote. I'm not the kind of person to go to a rally. I'm pretty quiet. But I think to vote will be huge to me, and to feel like I can be part of a conversation.

I think when you're from another country and you're with Americans and they're discussing politics, you don't really feel like you have a voice, because you're not an American, even though you live here. I always felt like I had to keep my thoughts to myself.

But I should say, it's absolutely coincidence that I became a citizen during all of this. I just decided now is the time.

The Times: It's funny, because you hear a lot of Americans joking about wanting to move to Canada these days.

Macaulay: (laughs) My daughter said, "Mom, why would you give up you Canadian citizenship?" But I couldn't just move to Canada. I have no ties to it whatsoever. I've never had a job there, I've never paid into their version of Social Security.

But I have found sometimes people that are really staunch Americans, even if you're a Canadian, they're like, "Why are you here?'"

It's the tone right now. The things going on now, like with Charlottesville, it breaks my heart, and I think it breaks my heart a little bit more now that I'm an American. Because this is just not what this country is. It shouldn't be.

"From fighting for her life to making a 'deal'"

Tigard resident Noelle Gross said that ever since she overcame breast cancer earlier this year, she's "just been trying to get back to normal."

But before getting back to normal — which for 35-year-old Gross means teaching kindergarten in Portland, taking care of her two young daughters, and spending time with her husband — she did something a little out of the ordinary: appearing in an episode of the popular CBS game show "Let's Make a Deal."

"Let's Make a Deal" played on the TV screen at the Kaiser Permanente Interstate Medical Office in Portland one day when Gross was undergoing a chemotherapy treatment. And it wasn't just any episode — it last year's breast cancer awareness special, in which breast cancer survivors are invited to compete.

"I just thought the women all looked so good and so strong, and I just looked horrible and didn't have hair," Gross said. "I just said, 'you know what, I'm going to go on that one year.'"

That one year came closer than Gross might have predicted.

"Washington County Museum 'After Dark' event explores spooky local history"

Museum After Dark has been a Halloween tradition for the Washington County Museum for the last several years. Each October, Liza Schade and her colleagues dig out the creepiest, strangest and most morbid parts of the museum's collection, and arrange them around a different theme. The event is for ages 21 and older, and wine, beer and appetizers are served.

"It's an environment where people can come together without the stress and obligation of making sure kids are safe and fed, et cetera," said Nathanael Andreini, the museum's director of learning.

This year's theme: "If These Walls Could Talk." One of the gems of the museum's collection is an old one-room jailhouse that once served the original county courthouse in Hillsboro, and now sits just outside the museum on PCC Rock Creek's campus.

"They held up to 10 men in that jail, all at the same time," said Schade, a curator at the Washington County Museum. "Most of the time they were only in there overnight — it was a lot of drunk guys. They'd get too drunk at the saloon, and then the sheriff would drag them over there for the night."

"From the garden to the stage: Classical Indian dance production celebrates persistence of hummingbirds, artists"TIMES FILE PHOTO - Jayanthi Raman's "Dance of the Hummingbirds" premiered at the Portland5 Winnigstad Theatre, before Raman performed excerpts at the Beaverton City Library.

Beaverton resident Jayanthi Raman, who has taught and choreographed traditional Indian dance in the Portland area for more than three decades, hadn't received a grant she'd applied for, and she was feeling discouraged about her creative pursuits. That's when a particularly tenacious hummingbird, battling a strong wind to reach the nectar at the center of a flower, caught her attention.

"I saw this hummingbird going back and forth," Raman said. "And I thought, how brilliant, the wind is moving, the honeysuckle flowers are moving, and this thing is darting — back and forth, back and forth — and not sitting, not taking a moment, until it reached the center of the flower, and then it was so happy."

For Raman, the hummingbird was a revelation — and the inspiration for her show "Dance of the Hummingbirds," which she will perform excerpts from at the Beaverton City Library Auditorium.

"I thought, wow, how amazing and resilient this bird is," she said. "Every time we take a step back, it doesn't mean we are failing. It just means we need to refocus on the goal and start our work all over again. That was the seed concept, and from there I started the production."

"Between 'Two Worlds': Beaverton artist creates multimedia project about immigrant, refugee experience"

Merging the idyllic, calm shots from the parks with the sometimes harrowing and chaotic stories of immigration was a deliberate choice on Irina Boboia's part. In one of her videos, Boboia interviews a Portland woman named Salomé Chimuku, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Angola in the 1970s. As Chimuku talks about how her father used irrigation techniques to make sure their refugee camp could grow enough food, the screen shows people tending the community garden in Portland's McCoy Park.

This is just the sort of juxtaposition — from a refugee camp farm to an American community garden — that Boboia was aiming for.

"It's always very strange to me how the life around you arranges into giving you answers," said Boboia, who shot her b-roll the day after the interviews. "The life around you almost echoes your own questions and problems. ... When I did shoot the b-roll in the parks, most of the times the interview was in my mind. So I knew what I was looking for, but what I discovered was, it was more looking for me than I was looking for it."

Blair Stenvick
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