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Conversation Project, bench dedication set

“If the Constitution of the United States speaks to the head, the Declaration of Independence speaks to the heart and the body; if the Constitution is prose, the Declaration is poetry.”

by: PHOTO BY: ROXANDRA PENNINGTON - Shown is the new Conde McCullough Obelisk Bench Viewpoint overlooking Willamette Falls.These are the words of Wendy Willis, former federal public defender and law clerk to the Supreme Court, also a poet and wordsmith, and back by request to speak at the Clackamas County Historical Society’s annual meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 26, in Oregon City.

Willis’ interactive Conversation Project program, “The Truths We Hold: The Poetry and Lessons of the Declaration of Independence” is offered, along with free museum admission and refreshments, in honor of Independence Day by sponsors Oregon Humanities and Portland General Electric.

Attendees are invited to arrive as early as 6 p.m. to tour the Museum of the Oregon Territory’s 2014 exhibits and share in an outdoor dedication barbeque for the new Conde McCullough Obelisk Bench Viewpoint overlooking Willamette Falls.

Many partners volunteered skills and materials to make the new falls view contemplation site possible, including architect Todd Iselin, CCHS vounteer project manager Terry Judkin, and the Oregon Department of Transportation (donors of materials from McCullough’s original 1922 Arch Bridge), and concrete artisans Bill McCommon, Everado Saldana, David Salisbury and Larry Weston. CCHS also wished to thank Joe Poole and Wayne Scacco of A36 Structures and Full House Electric. Most importantly, Oregon City’s Civic Improvement Trust provided funding in part for this unique salvage effort and installation.

Willis, a national leader in civic engagement, invites community members to come and “discuss what the Declaration of Independence might offer us as 21st century Americans, what it means to have a right to pursue happiness, and how we might use the Declaration to improve the state of our Republic.”

Willis currently serves as executive director of the Policy Consensus Initiative, a national nonprofit organization housed at Portland State University and devoted to improving collaborative, democratic governance. Her first book of poems, “Blood Sisters of the Republic,” was released in 2012.

CCHS can be reserched online at clackamashistory.org, and more information about Oregon Humanities programs can be found at oregonhumanities.org.

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