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May issue features China, 3-D, marijuana and Hollywood Video

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Articles - May 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010

It isn't often that we report from abroad. (OK, never.) As our name surely suggests, we keep our feet firmly in Oregon. But earlier this year our intrepid associate writer Adrianne Jeffries struck out on her own for five weeks to travel to Shanghai, Taipei and Beijing.

Jeffries studied in Singapore for a term while at William & Mary College and fell in love with Asia. She was drawn to China by its vastness, its contradictions and its rapid emergence on the world stage. Like all good journalists, she wanted to see the story for herself.

Along with amazing tales about the food and culture, she also brought back one of my favorite stories in this issue. It’s about a Portland couple who left the green beauty of Oregon to set up shop in the smoggy hardscape of Shanghai. Jeffries interviewed Jeff Delkin and Rachel Speth after a former Nike employee in Shanghai introduced them. Delkin and Speth are just two of many Oregon businesspeople with a China connection.

I envy their ongoing adventure and Jeffries’ exploration of such a complex and fascinating place. Being a roving reporter has it all over the chair-bound editor any day.

No less adventuresome in their own way are the marijuana entrepreneurs profiled in our cover story. In his report, managing editor Ben Jacklet finds Southern Oregon a hothouse that’s incubating more than medical marijuana. It’s creating its own cluster of businesses that are thriving in a down economy.

Another take on altered reality can be found in our story on the growing number of 3-D technology companies. Surely everyone had a View-Master as a toy. Only now I find out that they weren’t made for those great slides of national parks that I was addicted to as a kid, but to show scientific slides. Oregon has a storied history around 3-D, and now a shot at a strong future.

The future for Hollywood Video is not so certain. Contributing writer Jon Bell gets the story behind the story of the bankrupt Movie Gallery, which owns Hollywood Video. Neither company would talk to us, but what the analysts have to say isn’t kind or encouraging. The Wilsonville company has been beset by years of bad management, bad economy and bad decisions, and no one is betting on the company’s survival. That’s not good news for the thousands of employees hanging in the balance.

But despite Hollywood’s travails, the economic indicators are getting better. While no one in the state thinks we are done with this downturn yet, I see signs of hiring and I hear a bit more optimism. If this keeps up, I might have to reconsider that foreign bureau.

Robin Doussard
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