Grandpa Marlin

When I say “It is with a heavy heart…” I know that many have felt the gravity of what I am about to write. Many have had loved ones who were here for the exact right amount of time for them, and yet, not even close to enough time for those who they left still here. And if I’m being honest, as life goes, “enough time” doesn’t exist for great men like Marlin Hammond.

My grandpa Marlin was quite possibly one of my best friends. I have a heart full of memories, but from the day I told him “I’m 6.” and he responded, “Well Brenny, I’m 66, so that means I’m only twice your age.” I felt a kindred spirit in him. With 60 years between us, my grandpa and I had no problem ever finding something to talk about, something to laugh about, or something to just bullshit over. When I went to visit him just a few months ago my aunt told him Matt and I were there and he said, “Oh good those are my kind of people, farmers.”

My grandpa was in the service where he served in WWII. He was a farmer, the hardest worker you will ever meet (those who knew him know this is the truth), a carpenter, a real estate salesman, a husband of 77 years, a dad, a grandpa, a great grandpa and a great great grandpa.

At 97 I think he lived enough for three lifetimes over. Although with our math together we could never figure out how he got so old since he was only twice my age (such a mystery). He was a traveler and enjoyed trips with my grandma Arlene, many times with other family in tow. I doubt I’ll ever walk in a camper or trailer without thinking of the many adventures we all had with him and grandma. He said words like “pertnear” and “davenport” and was always clean shaven. A gentleman to the end.

Marlin Hammond passed away peacefully on Friday October 22nd. The night before I was there holding his hand, he still had enough grip to let you know he knew you were there, and the hospice nurse told us all that in death people will go when it’s their time, and it’s on their terms. So to hear that within minutes of my Aunt Jo arriving and praying over him, he had passed away, it just all felt like it was right. I find great comfort in that thought; he was ready in all the ways that you can be to move from this earth.

There’s a part of me that is a little jealous of all the folks who I know were there with open arms to welcome him to heaven. I can imagine all the handshakes (because let me tell you Grandpa Marlin’s handshake will go down in history) and all the big hugs. Even as I sit here writing this all down, all I can picture is him with a giant smile on his face, and for that, I’ll forever be thankful.

My grandpa Marlin taught me important life skills like how to get out of a bear trap (hint….it’s say “Please”). He gave me good advice like never put a raspberry on the top of a dessert at a strawberry farmer dinner, or to never underestimate the value of perfection when hanging a picture frame. When farming he always said to let those roots go deep. And maybe most importantly; how to love and laugh your way through a whole lifetime of memories.

He loved his family and as it grew and grew, to well over 70 people. He showed me that you can have a place in your heart for every single one of us that were lucky to call him Grandpa, 5 generations worth.

I’m forever thankful that out kids got to know him and love on him for as long as they did. Hoot loved him for his farming & hunting stories most, and Auggie for all the M&M’s that he would give to him. Millie just loved teasing him and giving him hugs, which he also in turn loved.

Grandpa Marlin you took a big piece of my heart with you when you left this earth, but like I said before, a very good man once taught me how big a heart could be and how much it could stretch. So until we meet again, I’ll stay down here with Grandma Arlene and her giant crew of family to continue making memories, laughing and loving, thankful for one more angel looking out for us.

Tomorrow we will do a send off to one of the greatest men that this world has ever seen. For me, I couldn’t be more grateful that I got to be around for so many years with my wonderful grandpa, who happened to be only twice my age.

Below you will find a link to Grandpa Marlin’s obituary along service information:
Marlin Ellis Hammond

Please Don’t Silence the Rural Voice in Oregon

The Oregon legislature is currently taking on the enormous task of redistricting. This happens once every 10 years and coincides with census data. This year is a bit different because census data is not planned to be compiled until after the deadline of redistricting here in Oregon. So the question then becomes, how can this process be done fairly and accurately so as to not marginalize or silence the voices of so many? The answer is that it truly needs to be done by an independent commission, not politicians.

So why as a rural Oregonian do I even care about district lines? To answer that question you will have to check back with my last blog. A few weeks ago I wrote about a terrible experience where my rural voice was marginalized to about half the weight of those who were speaking in opposition to my testimony. I know I’m in the minority in many situations, but does that give my voice less importance than anyone else’s? It certainly shouldn’t. And yet I am supposed to sit back while our voice gets cut up into tiny pieces along district lines, just so this can continue?

When you break it down, you can’t deny the fact that rural voices are being marginalized. And this isn’t the first or the last time this will happen, we need to do better, Oregon needs to do better. Which is why I still showed up, just a few hours after being silenced, to testify yet again and try to be heard.

In listening to testimony on the issue of redistricting, I have heard people question the term rural and question MY identity. This is wrong, and it’s offensive.

Did you know…
**25 of Oregon’s 36 counties are categorized as “non-metro” rural, meaning they have no communities of 40,000 or more residents.
**Ten of those counties have population density of less than 6 people per square mile.
**Even Oregon’s most populous counties have many rural and agriculture-dependent residents.
**The lower population of these communities makes them more vulnerable to gerrymandering, where districts are drawn to dilute the voice of these rural citizens.

As a farmer, I know when something doesn’t work. When it doesn’t work, we must change the process. Having legislators choose their electorate is innately a conflict of interest – perhaps the greatest conflict of interest. Seeing how the committees are split up with majority Democrats, knowing the Democrats have control of the Secretary of State and the Governor’s office, I can only believe those that hold all the power want to keep that power, and will draw the lines accordingly. I also can’t help but notice both chairs (Rep. Taylor & Rep. Salinas) of the committee formed for this project are from the greater Portland metro area. I have spent enough time in the Capitol and advocating for the agricultural community to know how “understanding” Portland legislators are of communities outside Portland. In fairness I would also guess that I don’t understand a lot of what needs there are to be determined within the metro area either.

In listening to public testimony over the past multiple weeks, the overwhelming ask is to move this responsibility out of the hands of partisan politicians and into an independent nonpartisan commission and I completely agree.

We know how partisan and divided our state and country is. There is an opportunity to choose people over political power, and ultimately choose what is best for Oregon. The current political situation we find ourselves in makes it difficult, maybe impossible, to achieve fairness without political gerrymandering. Rural district boundaries have been superseded and overshadowed by larger metro areas, and because of this, has diluted voices just like mine.

County Road Safety, House Bill 3213

Next Wednesday (4/24/19) at 5pm there will be a hearing at the capitol on House Bill 3213.  I’m asking for support…here’s why:

As a farmer you can imagine that I live in a fairly rural area.  That said, I’m also only 30 minutes south of Portland, and 30 miles north of Salem.  We are faced with an urban and rural collision, literally and figuratively on our country roadways from folks going through our area to get to and from work.  The problem comes from those who drive freeway speeds on country roads, people who don’t know the turns in the road, or folks who don’t understand how to drive around farm equipment that is going super slow on a 55mph road.

As a volunteer EMT and firefighter I have seen my fair share of accidents on these roads.  Some where folks walked away, many where they didn’t.  Some were due to high speeds, some were due to passing in no passing zones, some were where people were trying to pass a tractor and misjudged the whole scenario.  All of these I don’t take lightly, so the discussion around road safety from a farming perspective is always high on my list, from a rural community member it’s also right up there.

For example, a road just north of where I grew up, which is in our fire district, has seen 10 fatal crashes since last summer.  Let  that sink in.  More than a person a month has died on that road, now coined, “Death Road”.  So what can we do?  The discussion brought a few of us rural community members to the idea of allowing for this roadway to be considered in the program of “Safety Corridors”.  Unfortunately the idea was brought to a halt when it was realized that only state run highways could fall under that program.

So here’s the fix….or at least the step in the right direction….Many thanks to Representative Shelly Boshart Davis who introduced House Bill 3213, which would allow for counties to also handle and maintain safety corridors within the same program that ODOT currently uses.  It’s a process in which a community can lobby to get their road designated.  Once the designation comes, you get signage that goes along with safety corridors and also all traffic tickets automatically double in this corridor.

My hope is that this will enable us out here on the county roads to give other folks who are just driving through a second thought to their speed.  It will help folks realize that this is not the place to pass on a double yellow line, this is not the place to drive 91 mph, this is not the place to go on auto pilot and not pay attention.  And if they don’t realize that, then I hope they are caught red handed and hit in the pocket book.

If you’re interested in supporting this bill I urge you write to your legislator or email support testimony to jct.exhibits@oregonlegislature.gov.  And of course if you have any questions please let me know!

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