Jefferson Greene brought stories to life in humorous style. wphoto by Olivia Brebrick
Jefferson Greene brought stories to life in humorous style. wphoto by Olivia Brebrick
Stories of Change brought Native American artist and performer Jefferson Green to the shores of Blue Lake this weekend. The annual fundraising event for Caldera presents storytelling, documentary film and performance showing how the organization’s programs change the lives of youth.

Founders Dan Wieden and Priscilla Bernard Wieden, also known by their camp names Papa Bear and Moonflower, greeted people at the door. About 200 celebrants mingled in Caldera’s central Hearth Building and its surrounding studios, art installations, and forest. Logs burned in outdoor fireplaces. As at summer camps of yore, guests invented camp names for themselves, wrote them on “wood cookies” with Sharpies, and wore them around their necks.

Embracing the confluence of indoor and outdoor space, the built environment (designed by Brad Cloepfil) invites exploration and meandering. A skilled hand-drummer, camp manager Catón Lyles eventually called wanderers in for dinner, though the plan backfired a bit. Some in the audience didn’t want to go take their seats for fear of missing a single beat.

Once inside, diners played art games and got to know each other. Local folks chatted with designers from Portland and artists from Los Angeles. Philanthropists mixed with students and artists. Organizers invited students from their youth programs to gather around one table, while another table seated alumni of Caldera’s Artist in Residency program (including this writer).

“Caldera’s work is unique,” wrote Executive Director Brian Detman in a welcome note. “We believe in beauty, hope, and joy. We are committed to maintaining relationships with youth for seven-plus years, and supporting them to find and amplify their voices through art and experiences in the natural world.”

Chabre Vickers served as the evening’s emcee. With her strong stage presence and gracious speaking style, Vickers brought attention to how Caldera has changed her own daughter’s life. Raised in poverty, Vickers has said that as a child she could never have imagined such a beautiful place as Caldera. Vickers is now the community development officer for Wells Fargo bank throughout Oregon and highly active in Portland charities.

A short documentary film celebrated the work of youth program alumna Adiana (“Addy”) Wilmot. A first-generation American born in Portland of a Jamaican family, Wilmot was “a shy young girl who wasn’t interested in art.” She came to “experience and appreciate all different types of art,” becoming confident in expressing herself vocally and artistically.

Jefferson Greene brought stories to life with his humorous performance style and beautiful singing voice. Accompanying himself on a drum hand-painted with a volcano, Greene sang and spoke a story of when “the animals were new on this earth,” as his grandmother would say. Then he told jokes, from groaners to a sly, funny narrative in which a non-indigenous attorney gets his due for poaching on reservation land.

A cultural artist born and raised on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, Greene also showed his recent map of Oregon at the event. The artwork consists of a large canvas made of tule mat, harvested and woven by the artist. He researched indigenous place names of Central Oregon towns and beyond, and painted them on the map with natural materials. The map will go on permanent display at the Warm Springs Museum.

The audience hollered and clapped wildly for Central Oregon youth mentors Kevin Ball and Meg Ball, a.k.a. Skillz and Smallz. They are among the Caldera staff who have helped youth participants go on to achieve a 90 percent graduation rate, some going on to attend college or become creative professionals. Since 1996, Caldera has worked with more than 10,000 young people throughout Central Oregon and Portland. Many come back to work as Caldera

staff.

Presenters gave thanks to Pamela Hulse Andrews, the publisher and arts supporter who passed away last year. As Board Chair René Mitchell explained, it was Andrews who came up with the idea for Stories of Change.

“We are so grateful to the Central Oregon community who make the annual trip to Caldera for a fun and dynamic event,” Mitchell said.

Detman said of this year’s Stories of Change, “We exceeded our goals, and are so happy that our event provides time and space for people to connect, hear about Caldera’s impact on students, and experience the beauty of Blue Lake and the surrounding land.”

“My favorite part of the event is how our community comes together to make it happen,” said Maesie Speer, programs director for the arts center. “After it’s all over and the tables and decorations are put away, Caldera staff and Sunset Soirée catering staff have a highly competitive game of musical chairs to cap off the

evening.”