If you’ve got a little extra spending money this weekend, there’s a flea market planned from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 27, at the St. Helens High School Commons, and proceeds will go towards supporting upcoming historical education projects coming to Columbia County.
According to organizers, the flea market is designed to be like a combination of the Portland Saturday Market and a yard sale. They’ll have backyard chicken farming supplies, wooden signs, Hot Wheels collectible toy cars, camping and hiking gear, plus size women’s clothing, musical instruments (didgeridoo, anyone?), headbands, hats, jewelry, Christmas décor, crafts, baby clothes and more.
The event will also have a local food truck on site with a variety of lunchtime food items, as well as hot coffee and pastries, Mountain Man snacks, and more. The Blind Rootin Hogs will play live at the market from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
There will also be plenty of activities for the kids on site, including face painting, beanbag and horseshoe tosses and a “fishing pond.”
More importantly, the money spent at the flea market will go to support upcoming historical education projects put on by the Columbia County Coalition for Human Dignity (CCCHD).
“We work on human dignity issues in Columbia County, whether they are ongoing or sudden, national or as local as Vernonia,” CCCHD volunteer board member Georgiana “Gigi” Gordon said. “We have been part of the fabric of this county for nearly 25 years and sprouted one of the most active Human Dignity organizing groups known nationally – The Rural Organizing Project.”
Most recently, the CCCHD brought in an exhibit on the Japanese American Internment during WWII that toured the county in the fall of 2018. Gordon said in doing so, the group discovered something interesting – many adults in their mid-30s that attended were completely unaware of the fact that thousands of Japanese Americans, children included, had their property and bank accounts seized and were sent to live in camps during the war.
“So many adults were unaware of the internment, we were left with the conclusion that it wasn’t a case of students not paying attention in class. We believe that the students some 20 years ago were sadly not being taught about the internment,” Gordon said. “What else weren’t they being taught?”
The group’s next mission is to shed light on the Holocaust. Recently, the State of Oregon passed a law that will require schools to provide instruction on the subject, to “prepare students to confront the immorality of the Holocaust, genocide, and other acts of mass violence and to reflect on the causes of related historical events.” However, according to the Associated Press, a recent poll found that two-thirds of American millennials surveyed were unable to identify what the Auschwitz concentration camp was.
“Apparently, we weren’t alone in our concerns about a potential failure to teach about some of the ugliest moments in our history, and in our opinion, the bill came just in time,” Gordon said.
Some believe that these awareness gaps within the educational system can have consequences. According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic assaults tripled in 2018 from 2017 levels, and anti-Semitic incidents have reportedly quadrupled on the playgrounds of K-12 schools from 2015 to 2017.
“Are we seeing those kinds of events happening now?” Gordon asked. “It worries us that we currently have a combination internment/concentration camp situation taking place at the southern border of our country. We have to wonder: what’s next?”
To combat those awareness gaps, the CCCHD will present a program about “What Led Up to the Holocaust” in the fall of 2019. The program will also likely travel the county, and will feature a local authority on the topic, who Gordon said has dedicated a tremendous amount of time to creating a Holocaust timeline, including the events that preceded it.
Then, in the fall of 2020, the CCCHD will bring in Dr. Jeffery Blutinger to speak on the Holocaust and how it relates to the political climate today. A California State University Long Beach professor, Blutinger is internationally known for his work regarding Jewish history and the Holocaust.
As a nonprofit organization, Gordon said the group put their heads together and came up with the flea market as a way to fund the upcoming educational programs.
“It’s not just a source of income for us,” Gordon said. “It’s a chance to meet some of our friends and neighbors, getting to know more about each other.