Dr. Jennifer Sasser, human sciences chair and gerontology program director, is one of several experts who will lead Oregon Humanities' Talking About Dying Series starting in September 2015.
Peter Qualliotine, Marylhurst art alum, is planning a memorial for the victims of the Green River killer – the first of its kind. The story was featured in the April 2013 issue of Seattle Magazine.
Excerpt from an article by Michelle Goodman in Seattle Magazine, April 2012.
Seattleite Noel Gomez knows how it feels to be regarded as one of society's throwaways. A teen mother whose parents kicked her out of the house, she soon wound up under the thumb of an abusive pimp, turning tricks from Seattle's Highway 99. "I pretty much envisioned myself being thrown in a ditch somewhere and being Jane Doe," Gomez says. Now out of "the life" for seven years, she wants to ensure that the Green River victims are recognized as whole human beings, not just as the head shots—or in some cases, mug shots— portrayed by the media for two decades. "They were sisters, daughters, nieces, aunts, friends and mothers," she says.
Last year, she cofounded the Organization for Prostitution Survivors, a volunteer-run nonprofit that offers support groups for current and former prostitutes, as well as community education programs. The Green River Victims Memorial is OPS's pet project. Gomez and OPS co-founder Peter Qualliotine believe it will be the first U.S. memorial to women and children killed while in the life of prostitution.
During phase one, which spans from January 2013 to the end of the year, OPS will hold weekly art workshops for prostitution survivors. OPS will display these collected works in a series of public exhibitions and during presentations at churches and schools, to community and social groups, and "basically any place that will have us come in and do a presentation," says Qualliotine, who has led community outreach programs in Seattle and Portland to dispel myths about prostitution and domestic violence for the past two decades. The memorial's design and construction— phase two of the project—won't begin until 2014.
"A lot of people want us to tell them what it's going to look like and where it's going to be," OPS's Qualliotine says. But before he and Gomez pursue a design or location or begin hashing out details with community leaders, they want to build support at a more grassroots level. For them, this means beginning with the voices and artwork of local prostitution survivors and the input of the families of the Green River victims.