The Memory Keeper

Gosia Wozniacka Reflections

In February, I took a break from the AP and have since been living and working in Poland, Eastern Europe, helping to take care of my 92-year-old grandmother and participating in a 9-month course of workshops for reporters at the Institute of Reportage in Warsaw. Poland is famous for its long-form journalism, with literary giants such as Ryszard Kapuściński. For the past few months, I’ve been lucky to meet many of Poland’s top long-form reporters and editors and have been working on my own piece of reportage, in Polish. In the meantime, I wanted to share a personal essay I wrote (in English) as a guest blogger for the Rough and Rede Blog. It’s part of a series of original essays published on the blog every summer. My essay is titled The Memory Keeper, a letter to new refugees.

You can read it here: https://georgerede.wordpress.com/2016/08/06/the-memory-keeper/

gw-hands-768x512

Roseburg shooting, stories

Gosia Wozniacka AP STORIES

During the week in Roseburg, I was part of an AP team that included several reporters, video shooters and photographers. Covering a mass shooting is easier when you’re part of a great team of journalists. We produced multiple stories, too many to list, but here are a few I worked on that stood out.

Our dramatic narrative retelling of the shooting: Oregon shooter showed little sympathy in calculated killings Roseburg shooting narrative

A Sunday story on churches’ response to shooting: Pastor’s sermon: ‘Violence will not have the last word’ Pastor’s sermon story

And an important story about mothers, guns and mental health: Mother-son bond over guns links Oregon, Connecticut slayings Mother-son bonds

(Writing this last one, I wished I had a lot more space… there was so much left out on the cutting room floor.)

Roseburg mass shooting

Gosia Wozniacka AP PHOTOS, AP STORIES, Reflections

Events like the Roseburg UCC college shooting are always difficult to cover. As a reporter, you work like a machine, 12 hour days on auto-pilot, and your emotions and exhaustion only catch up with you later. What’s most difficult is having to approach families whose world just collapsed. How to journalistically cover a tragedy like a mass shooting and still be a decent human being? I don’t have a good answer, I don’t know if it is possible — but some moments give me hope that it is. Most families affected by the shooting don’t want to speak with reporters, and there are dozens if not hundreds of reporters trying to call on them, to intrude on their grieving. It feels very exploitative and invasive. But we have to do our jobs. I try to approach the families with respect, imagining what it would be like if I was in their shoes. What gives my job meaning is the families or individuals who do want to share their stories. They tell them in great detail. And you can see that the telling of the story is cathartic, that in recounting events they are trying to understand and order their world again, to honor those who were hurt or who are gone. Their stories help us all grieve. This was the case for me when my colleague and I interviewed a pastor whose daughter miraculously (and that is not an overstatement) survived the deadly rampage inside the UCC classroom. Pastor Randy Scroggins sat near the altar at New Beginnings Church in Roseburg and told us in excruciating detail what his daughter witnessed during the shooting, and how she was saved by a classmate who had rolled onto her after being shot, soaking her with his blood. Because her clothes were bloodied, the shooter likely thought she was dead and shot everyone else around her instead. My body contracted and eyes filled as the pastor recounted the story, and later when he took a phone call from that classmate’s mother and he sobbed for several minutes while leaning against the church wall. And though the imagery of being saved by blood was too strong to be missed inside a Christian church, that morning the father trembling over his daughter’s life was more present than the pastor. And I was grateful for his story, not just as a reporter but as a person.

Wildfires’ impact on rangeland

Gosia Wozniacka AP STORIES

Wildfires exploded this summer in the Pacific Northwest. Thousands of acres were scorched. I wondered: whose land had actually burned? A lot of the land that was engulfed in flames was isolated forest, grasses, hillsides. To whom did the land belong? I started hearing about ranchers losing their grazing allotments in Oregon, Washington and Idaho and knew I had a story. The vast majority of fire-affected land was federal… US Forest Land, BLM Land, etc. How much of it was grazing grounds? You see, the US government leases its land to ranchers across the country. This practice is especially popular in the West. Ranchers pay a small fee, and they’re allowed to run their cattle on far-out mountains and hillsides. Cows and calves share the land with the wild species. Ranchers, in turn, help with conservation efforts on the land. It’s a controversial practice… environmentalists say cattle grazing destroys the land, especially near streams where riparian habitat is very fragile. Ranchers, of course, say they have grazed the land for generation and are good stewards of it. In recent years, there’s been a growing practice of “conservation grazing”… using cattle to graze in prescribed ways to mimic what deer once did, as a way to get rid of invasive species and keep the fuels low in case of wildfires. Some environmentalists don’t agree with this practice, others support it. All this to explain that grazing is prevalent on remote federal lands. Knowing this, I figured ranchers must have suffered a lot in these fires. My AP colleague wrote about the impacts of wildfires on wildlife, including the sage grouse and other species. So I tackled the other side. It was hard to track down exactly how much of the federal land was leased as so-called grazing allotments, but I was able to interview a good number of ranchers, forest managers, and grazing specialists at the federal agencies to get a good grasp on this. In a few cases, I got specific acreage, in others estimates. Here is the story link and the PDF: AP-Wildfire Ranchers

Not Portlandia

Gosia Wozniacka AP PHOTOS, AP STORIES

I wanted to write a story about a different Portland – not the hip, popular Portland of overpriced artisan lattes and overgrown facial hair, but the hidden part of town where immigrants, refugees and low income people live: East Portland. I have rented in East Portland for several years now and have watched it change and grow into a mix of Mexican, Somali, Burmese, other immigrant, African-Americans, and poor Whites. I have also grown very tired of the stereotypes featured in the show Portlandia. I found a convincing news hook to write this story – East Portlanders are seeking greater representation and an overhaul of at-large elections, because they feel neglected by city hall – but I also proposed a series of vignettes/profiles to go with the main piece, so that I could describe the lives of those who live here. The story and profiles got a great run online in The New York Times, The Washington Post and many other websites. You can read the main story here: AP Big Story link or here in in PDF: AP-East Portland. And the vignettes profiles are here or here in PDF: AP-East Portland-Profiles.

Lamprey harvest

Gosia Wozniacka AP PHOTOS, AP STORIES

OREGON CITY — They dove into the cold waters, emerging with writhing, eel-like fish in hand and thrusting them into nets.

Thus began Northwest Native American tribes’ annual lamprey harvest at a rushing, 40-foot waterfall about 15 miles south of Portland. The jawless, gray fish are a traditional food source for tribal members in the Columbia River Basin… Read More

In this Friday, June 12, 2015 photo, Native Americans catch lamprey, eel-like fish, at Willamette Falls, a 40-foot waterfall south of Portland, Oregon. An ancient fish that's a source of food for tribes in the Pacific Northwest, lampreys have been in drastic decline in recent decades. (AP/Gosia Wozniacka)

In this Friday, June 12, 2015 photo, Native Americans catch lamprey, eel-like fish, at Willamette Falls, south of Portland, Oregon. An ancient fish that’s a source of food for tribes in the Pacific Northwest, lampreys have been in drastic decline in recent decades. (AP/Gosia Wozniacka)

(AP/Gosia Wozniacka)

Tribes Lamprey Harvest

In this Friday, June 12, 2015 photo, Native Americana catch lamprey, eel-like fish, at Willamette Falls near Oregon City. An ancient fish that's a source of food for tribes in the Pacific Northwest, lampreys have been in drastic decline in recent decades. (AP/Gosia Wozniacka)

_MG_2079

Tribes Lamprey Harvest

Tribes Lamprey Harvest

In this Friday, June 12, 2015 photo, a Native American fisherman passes a burlap sack full of lampreys, eel-like fish, at the rocks at Willamette Falls, a 40-foot waterfall south of Portland, Oregon. Northwest Native American tribes began harvesting the lampreys this week.(AP/Gosia Wozniacka)

In this Friday, June 12, 2015 photo, a Native American fisherman passes a burlap sack full of lampreys, eel-like fish, at the rocks at Willamette Falls, a 40-foot waterfall south of Portland, Oregon. (AP/Gosia Wozniacka)

 

Obama, Nike and outsourcing

Gosia Wozniacka AP PHOTOS, AP STORIES

Well, President Obama came to Portland, and it’s been fun. The goal of his visit: to make a speech at Nike headquarters touting a trade deal with Asian nations – the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP – in an effort to garner some much needed political support. Nike is an interesting choice of location, given that some critics are afraid the TPP will lead to jobs going overseas and labor violations. A fellow reporter and I wrote a story looking at Nike’s track record in those areas. Read the story at the link here, and PDF here: AP-Obama Nike

As a side note, it’s been fascinating watching this presidential visit. Obama is a star and receives star treatment. People go into a frenzy when they see him. The presidential airplane is a behemoth. His speech is a show. The president waves, shakes hands. Even reporters get excited. Given these high emotions and the way a presidential appearance is carefully “packaged”, it’s hard to know what objectivity means and whether people (aka fans) ever question the policy issues.

_MG_0906
_MG_0895 (1)
_MG_0918 _MG_1040

Adoptee U.S. citizenship

Gosia Wozniacka AP PHOTOS, AP STORIES

I learned about Adam and his story from a source in the Korean-American community. Interviewing Adam took six hours, and was emotionally wrenching. He is an intelligent, eloquent man who has faced big hurdles. He has many wounds and a lot of hurt, and yet he’s also trying to re-imagine his life. Adam’s story opened to me a world I knew little about: that of adoptees, the often-questionable history of out-of-country adoption in the U.S., and the immigration laws that left adoptees behind. I could have written a great magazine piece about Adam, AP’s 800 word format didn’t do this story justice. But here is the short version in link and PDF: AP-Adoptees Citizenship

In this photo taken on Thursday, March 19, 2015, Korean adoptee Adam Crapser poses with his daughters, 1-year-old Christal and 5-year-old Christina, and his wife Anh Nguyen in the family's living room in Vancouver, Wash. Crapser, whose adoptive parents neglected to make him a U.S. citizen, will face an immigration judge in April and could be separated from his family and deported to South Korea, a country he does not know. (AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka)

In this photo taken on Thursday, March 19, 2015, Korean adoptee Adam Crapser poses with his daughters, 1-year-old Christal and 5-year-old Christina, and his wife Anh Nguyen in the family’s living room in Vancouver, Wash. Crapser, whose adoptive parents neglected to make him a U.S. citizen, will face an immigration judge in April and could be separated from his family and deported to South Korea, a country he does not know. (AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka)

(AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka)

(AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka)

Flooded villages

Gosia Wozniacka AP PHOTOS, AP STORIES

This is one of the rare long-form stories that I’ve written at the AP. I worked with AP’s features editor and features photo editor to bring it together. To me, it’s an essential tale of the Pacific Northwest. It’s a story about this region’s history and its making, the area’s principal characteristics (the river, salmon, dams, hydropower), and the legacy of bad decisions, discrimination, and utter disregard for the suffering of a people. It is also a love story, about the devotion to a river, to a waning way of life, to the right to belong. It’s the story of Native Americans today, who are living along the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington in Third World conditions, across from power-generating dams. A few decades ago, those dams flooded Indian villages and fishing sites, leaving families without home for generations. Read the story here, or in PDF: AP-Flooded Villages

This photo taken on August 22, 2014 at Lone Pine, a Native American fishing site on the Columbia River near The Dalles, shows the home of Ranetta Spino and her family at the river’s edge. Lone Pine is one of 31 fishing sites developed as a replacement for tribal fishing grounds flooded or destroyed by hydroelectric dams. About 40 people, including children, permanently live at the fishing site in substandard conditions. (AP/Gosia Wozniacka)

This photo taken on August 22, 2014 at Lone Pine, a Native American fishing site on the Columbia River near The Dalles, shows the home of Ranetta Spino and her family at the river’s edge. Lone Pine is one of 31 fishing sites developed as a replacement for tribal fishing grounds flooded by hydroelectric dams. About 40 people, including children, permanently live at the fishing site in substandard conditions. (AP/Gosia Wozniacka)

Flooded Villages-Tribes

Flooded Villages-Tribes

In this photo taken on October 20, 2014 on the Klickitat River, a tributary of the Columbia River near Lyle, Washington, a Native American fisherman catches fish on a platform. Platform fishing is one of the most common Native American fishing techniques on the rivers in the Columbia Basin. For millennia, Indians have fished and lived along the ColumbiaÕs shores, the salmon central to their culture and religion, sustenance and trade. (AP/Gosia Wozniacka)

Flooded Villages-Tribes

Flooded Villages-Tribes

Flooded Villages-Tribes

Flooded Villages-Tribes

Photo assignment: Harvest

Gosia Wozniacka Uncategorized

 

Edible MarinIn August, I photographed the peach harvest at the Masumoto Family Farm, an 80-acre organic farm south of Fresno in California’s San Joaquin Valley. It’s not just any old peach harvest. The Masumotos run an adopt-a-tree program and they allow teams of friends and relatives to harvest their adopted trees every summer. These photos were printed in Edible Marin’s Fall 2014 issue. Here are a couple of the spreads.

MasumotoEdible1

MasumotoEdible2

MasumotoEdible3