Sense of Place


Sense of Place

Fostering a deeper understanding of connections to our landscape and to each other.

Now in its 9th year, the annual Sense of Place Lecture Series continues to deliver interesting, meaningful lectures that bring us closer to the human and natural history of the Columbia River Gorge. Each lecture draws, on average, over 100 people looking to build a greater connection with the place they call home.

This Season’s Line-Up

October 10, 2018 -- The Ice Age Oregon Trail with Rick Thompson

The rich soil of the Willamette Valley originated in eastern Washington and was brought by the ice age Lake Missoula Floods.  It was this soil that attracted Oregon Trail pioneers to become part of one of the largest non-forced migrations in all of history.  But did you know that from Pendleton to the The Dalles, some of the very trails the pioneers used were actually channels of those very floods?  Join GO on October 10th, 7 PM at the Columbia Center for the Arts with author Rick Thompson for an exploration of how the Oregon Trail migration was made possible by flood geology. Thompson will take us on a visual journey of the flood channels through canyons, waterways and along the giant gravel bars the pioneers saw as they traveled using photos, LIDAR and maps.

Rick Thompson is a native Oregonian who is passionate about sharing the beauty and natural history of the great Northwest with others. A descendant of Oregon pioneers and rock lover, his intrigue with local land formations, huge boulders and glacial erratics, lead him to embark on a 20-year study of the effects of the largest ice age flood effects in NW Oregon and SW Washington.

Rick is President of the Lower Columbia Chapter of the Ice Age Floods Institute which holds monthly public educational meetings in Tualatin.   Rick is the authorof “GigaFlood – The Largest of the Lake Missoula Floods in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington” which is illustrated with his own photographs, maps and diagrams to show you the evidence still visible today from this catastrophic flood which so affected the Northwest. Learn more at

Event Details:

Interfluve - Lecture Sponsor

Lecture Sponsor, Interfluve

  • When – Wednesday, October 10, 7PM
  • Where -Columbia Center for the Arts, Hood River Oregon
  • Cost – $10 suggested donation
November 14, 2018 -- Native Voices of the Columbia River

A Confluence Story Gathering with Colin Fogarty, Patricia Whitefoot, Pat Courtney Gold, and Chuck Sams






PLEASE NOTE: This event has sold out. However, we always have last minute cancellations, and our waiting list can typically admit 10-20 patrons. Also note that tonight’s schedule is slightly different, with a special performance of the Little Swan Dancers at 6:15:

    • Ticketing table opens at 5:45 pm
    • Waiting list opens at 5:45 pm
    • Theatre doors open at 6:00 pm — ticketed guests admitted
    • Performance of social dances from the Yakama Nation by the Little Swan Dancers at 6:15 pm
    • Empty seats released to waiting list at 6:50; all ticketed guests must be present and seated by 6:50
    • Lecture and Storygathering begins at 7:00

Stories have a unique power to deepen our understanding of the histories, cultures and environment of the Columbia River. Based on first-person story telling, Confluence Story Gatherings are designed to elevate indigenous voices as a way to connect us to a deeper, more inclusive, sense of place. Story Gatherings combine recorded interviews with Native Elders and cultural representatives with a panel of guest speakers whose experience and capacity to share their own personal stories springboard into larger conversations on Native experience along the Columbia. Join Gorge Owned as we listen to intimate personal stories from Patricia Whitefoot, Pat Courtney Gold and Chuck Sams on their experiences living along the Columbia during “Native Voices of the Columbia River: A Confluence Story Gathering”, November 14th, 7 PM, at the Columbia Center for the Arts.

The Story Gathering will begin at 7; all ticketed guests must be present in the theatre by 6:50 pmTicketed guests are also welcome join us at 6:15for the Little Swan Dancers (Iksiks Washanalma), who will be performing social dances of the Yakama Nation. The Little Swan Dancers offer a space for young children and families of the tribe to connect and build on their unique culture and traditions of their people and the environment. The families live mainly on the Yakama Nation Reservation in south, central Washington and also deep ties to the Columbia River Basin and rich landscape.

A limited number of presale tickets will also be available at Columbia Center for the Arts, for sale in the gallery beginning Friday, November 2nd. Please note that we do anticipate this event to sell out in advance, and urge patrons to purchase a ticket online or in the gallery as early as possible to reserve a seat.

About our guests:

Patricia Whitefoot (Yakama) – For over 40 years, Patricia has managed Indian Education and community mobilization programs from preschool to adult education at the tribal, state and national level. She advocates her ancestors’ vision of holistic health, environmental and spiritual well-being.

Pat Courtney Gold (Wasco) – A nationally recognized basket weaver and artist, Pat was born and raised on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. She lectures about Columbia River Native cultures to universities and museums. 

Chuck Sams (Umatilla) – Chuck serves as Communications Director, and has served as Interim Deputy Executive Director, for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. He is recognized for his numerous leadership positions in environmental protection, restoration and reclaiming Native lands.

About Confluence:

Confluence is a community supported nonprofit that connects people to place through art and education in collaboration with Northwest communities, tribes and celebrated artist Maya Lin.

Event Details:

            Lecture Sponsor – Lee & Melinda Weinstein

          • GO Sense of Place
          • When – Wednesday, November 14, 7 PM
          • Where -Columbia Center for the Arts, Hood River Oregon
          • Cost – $10 suggested donation 
          • Tickets available in advance at Columbia Center for the Arts and online at
          • Note: we do anticipate this event to sell out in advance. Please reserve your seat early, and thank you for supporting Sense of Place!
December 19, 2018 -- Crisis on the Columbia: Native-White Alliances & Opposition to The Dalles Dam with Katy Barber

At mid-century, the Native fishing community of Celilo Village was in crisis. Large dams, a highway widening, and federal policies of termination and relocation conspired to remove Indian people from a place their families had occupied for more than 12,000 years. Stepping into this maelstrom were two women from very different backgrounds. Together, they forged an alliance that made a difference.

Flora Thompson, along with her husband Chief Tommy Thompson, had fought to protect fish drying sheds, fishing stations, and Celilo Village homes for decades. Joining her was Martha McKeown, a high school English teacher, community activist, and author of several local histories, including two children’s stories about the Thompsons. Their remarkable friendship can be traced through dozens of letters recently unearthed in the University of Oregon archives. Their intertwined story illustrates the importance of cross-cultural alliances at a transformative period in NW history.

Join Gorge Owned for “ Crisis on the Columbia: How two Women Made a Difference on the Cold War River”, a lesson on the importance of cross-cultural alliances lead by Katy Barber, December 19th, 7 PM at the Columbia Center for the Arts.

Katy Barber returned to her hometown of Portland to teach in the history department at Portland State University in 2001. Her books include In Defense of Wyam: Natives -White Alliances in the Struggle for Celilo Village (2018) and Death of Celilo (2005).

Event Details:

  • When – Wednesday, December 19, 7PM
  • Where -Columbia Center for the Arts, Hood River Oregon
  • Cost – $10 suggested donation
  • Tickets available in advance at Columbia Center for the Arts and online at
  • Note: we do anticipate this event to sell out in advance. Please reserve your seat early, and thank you for supporting Sense of Place!
RESCHEDULE DATE: APRIL 1 -- Schemes, Dreams and Teams: a Century-Long Saga to Protect the Columbia Gorge with Kevin Gorman

PLEASE NOTE: This event originally scheduled for February 13 has been rescheduled for April 1 due to winter weather. Tickets purchased for the 2/13 event will be honored at any of the remaining 3 lectures of the season, and are also transferable to another guest. If planning to use previously purchased 2/13 tickets for any lecture other than the 4/01 reschedule, it is important to email so that we may reserve your seat. Thank you!

Over a century ago, new roadways into the Columbia Gorge led to audacious schemes to “improve the scenic holdings of the Columbia Gorge” by building the world’s tallest elevator at Mist Falls and polo grounds atop Devil’s Rest.

Development proposals like these and others eventually led to the creation of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. However, the visionaries of the National Scenic Area couldn’t have foreseen the population increases of the Portland area, the explosive growth of outdoor recreation, let alone climate change and wildfire threats.

Join Gorge Owned for a lecture by Friends of the Columbia Gorge’s Kevin Gorman on February 13th April 1, 7 PM at the Columbia Center for the Arts. As we cannot close the door to the Gorge, Friends of the Columbia Gorge Executive Director Kevin Gorman explores steps to protect the beautiful areas we are all drawn to, and think through our impacts as explorers, travelers and stewards.

Can we develop practices to replenish ourselves and the Gorge at the same time? Join Kevin for a dive into history, conflict and how technology might help all of us keep the Columbia Gorge wild and beautiful for generations to come.

Kevin Gorman is the executive director of Friends of the Columbia Gorge and oversees all the activities of Friends of the Columbia Gorge, as well as its land trust, which currently owns 1,400 acres of land. Kevin joined the organization twenty years ago and during his tenure Friends has grown from eight staff and one office to 22 staff and three offices.

Kevin helped lead the $5.5 million Preserve the Wonder campaign to protect nearly 500 acres of land and assisted in created two nonprofits in the Gorge: the Klickitat Trail Conservancy and the Cape Horn Conservancy.

Kevin was previously the associate director of Oregon Natural Resources Council (now Oregon Wild) and has served as board president for both the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts and EarthShare Oregon, a workplace giving organization. Prior to his non-profit adventures, Kevin was the creative director of an advertising agency in Detroit, MI.

Event Details:

Lecture Sponsor – Hood River Valley Residents Committee

  • When – Wednesday, February 13 Monday, April 1, 7PM
  • Where -Columbia Center for the Arts, Hood River Oregon
  • Cost – $10 suggested donation

TICKETS ON SALE NOW: Tickets are available (while they last) in the gallery at Columbia Center for the Arts, as well as online — linked here.


March 20, 2019 -- Shifting Sand: A Journey Through Time at the Columbia’s Nichols Boat Basin

With Lorri Epstein, Carina Miller and Arthur Babitz (organized by Columbia Riverkeeper)

Once towering with cottonwood trees and cut with braided channels, history has shaped and re-shaped the Hood River’s confluence with the Columbia. Our dynamic waterfront has been inundated by rising waters behind Bonneville Dam, altered with fill, and transformed by industrial activity. Today the waterfront and Nichols Boat Basin offer new opportunities for habitat restoration, education, and community.

Join Gorge Owned for a panel discussion that peels back the layers of time at the former Nichols Boat Basin site and explores the dynamic history of the Columbia River waterfront—and how the past informs the future, March 20th , 7 PM, at the Columbia Center for the Arts. Carina Miller, a dynamic speaker and Tribal Council Member from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, will share stories about how Native Americans used the confluence of the Columbia and Hood rivers for fishing and hunting grounds—and how tribal members continue to exercise treaty rights in the area today.

Former Hood River mayor and amateur historian Arthur Babitz will offer a birds-eye view of the changing waterfront and anecdotes from the lives of people that shaped waterfront’s history. And Columbia Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Director, Lorri Epstein, will present Riverkeeper’s ambitious plans to turn Nichols—a former industrial site—into an outdoor classroom and community-led habitat restoration site. You’ll walk away seeing the Columbia in a whole new light.


Carina Miller is an elected member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Tribal Council. She holds a degree in Ethnic Studies from the University of Oregon and has worked in mainstream media, Warm Spring Tribe’s Children’s Protective Services, and at Head Start.

Lorri Epstein coordinates Columbia Riverkeeper’s Nichols Natural Area and volunteer Water Quality Monitoring programs. She has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from UNC-Chapel Hill and an M.S. in Biology from the University of Montana. Her graduate research focused on juvenile salmon on a remote river on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula.

Arthur Babitz is an electrical engineer, a former mayor of Hood River, and an amateur historian. He is currently helping the History Museum of Hood River County digitize and organize its collection of photographic images. He is also author of the popular photoblog

Event Details:

Lecture Sponsor – Sitka Stairs


  • When – Wednesday, March 20, 7PM
  • Where -Columbia Center for the Arts, Hood River Oregon
  • Cost – $10 suggested donation

TICKETS ON SALE NOW: Tickets are available (while they last) in the gallery at Columbia Center for the Arts, as well as online — linked here.

April 10, 2019 -- Along the Columbia: Discovering the Architectural Heritage of Our Gorge Towns with Ellen Shapley

Our small Gorge communities are hosts to remarkable displays of centuries of international, national and regional architectural styles: Italianate, Beaux Arts, Art Deco, Modernism, Classical, Gothic, Romanesque and more Revivals of all kinds. The look and feel of our downtowns and neighborhoods were influenced by events big and small, global and local:

  • The stunning 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago
  • A WWI soldier and artist who carried his watercolors to war and returned to become a celebrated Washington architect
  • A creative and feisty new bride from London who brought her flare to Hood River
  • The discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922
  • A chance meet up in Florence, Italy between a newly minted Portland architect and a prominent local citizen.

Join GO for “Along the Columbia; Discovering the Architectural Heritage of Our Gorge Towns” led by architectural historian Ellen Shapley, April 10th at the Columbia Gorge Center for the Arts and learn how the forces and trends that shaped our built environment shaped the lives of the owners, the architects, the engineers and all who commissioned, designed and built our towns. Their stories are abundant, but unknown to most. Yet their legacies live on. Our towns are outdoor, living museums, a feast for the eyes, accessible daily, open 24/7 and free of charge. . This talk will prepare you for your next, more observant walk, run, ride, or drive through the streets of your Gorge town or your home town!

Ellen Shapley, MLIS, is an architectural historian and owner of ArchiTouring. She has given tours and lectures for the Architectural Heritage Center of Portland, the American Institute of Architects, the Portland Art Museum, the Hood River and Wasco County Museums and the Chicago Architecture Foundation where she received her initial training. She traces her love of history and architecture and her inquisitive nature to her father, a CPA and wannabe architect, who taught her that there’s always something intriguing to investigate, even in the small towns of Iowa. Ellen resides in Hood River with her husband, Ed Dietrich, and their Chocolate Lab, Daisy Girl.

Event Details:
GO Sense of Place
When – Wednesday, April 10, 7PM
Where -Columbia Center for the Arts, Hood River Oregon
Cost – $10 suggested donation

Pre-sale tickets available now in the gallery at Columbia Center for the Arts, and online here through Eventbrite.

Headlining Sponsor


Supporting Sponsors:

  • Columbia Gorge Community College
  • Columbia Gorge Physical Therapy
  • Common Energy, LLC
  • Hausman Advisors
  • Jay F. Sherrerd, Attorney at Law
  • Mt. Adams Institute
  • Northwest Natural
  • Pine Street Bakery
  • Scott Sorensen Construction, Ind.
  • Kym and Mark Zannmiller
  • Natural Designs LLC

Individual Supporters:

  • Lynn Federie Orr (in honor of The History Museum of Hood River)
  • Dave Radcliffe
  • Brad Schrick
  • Luci Walker
  • Kevin Widener & Luci Walker

Lecture Specific Sponsors:

  • Hood River Valley Residents Committee – Schemes, Dreams, and Teams
  • Inter-Fluve – Ice Age Oregon Trail
  • Sitka Stairs and Woodworking – Shifting Sands, the Nochols Boat Basin
  • Weinstein PR – Native Voices of the Columbia River

In-Kind Sponsors:

  • Best Western Plus–Hood River Inn
  • Celilo Restaurant and Bar
  • Hood River Hotel

The series looks impressive and we’re glad to be supporting your work on it.

Jennifer Allen

Oregon Humanities

Listen to archived recordings of last season’s line-up

  • The Bonneville Landslide: A Bridge of the Gods Before Lewis and Clark, Nick Zentner
  • The Gorge Latino Experience, A Panel Discussion Moderated by Dr. Lynn Orr
  • History Slam: An Improvisational View into our Past, Arthur Babitz and Scott Cook
  • Hanford: Our River Runs Through It A Panel Discussion Moderated by Columbia Riverkeeper’s Dan Serres
  • Steamboats and Captains of the Columbia with Captain Tom Cramblett
  • River of Hope— Salmon Dreams and the Columbia River Treaty with Peter Marbach