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Idaho Microbes Wins Idaho Library Association Book of the Year

Idaho Microbes book coverThe Idaho Library Association has awarded Idaho Microbes: How Tiny Single-celled Organisms Can Harm, or Save, Our World its Book of the Year Award for 2015.

The award will be presented at the ILA’s annual meeting in Idaho Falls on October 6-7.

The award was established in 1985 and is given annually to encourage excellence in writing and to recognize books that make an outstanding contribution to Idaho.

Idaho Microbes was written by Boise author Steve Stuebner and edited and co-authored by Boise State professor Todd Shallat.

Read more about the Book of the Year award at the Idaho Library Association website.

Purchase Idaho Microbes at Rediscovered Books.

The Other Idahoans Released

The Other IdahoansFallen angels in the bawdy houses. Migrants barred from Main Street. Homesteaders driven from homesteads when August rained black storms of dust. The Other Idahoans recovers their hard-luck stories. Volume 7 of Boise State University’s prize-winning research series, the book closes with a driving tour of storied places from history’s underside.

“The vulnerable and marginalized helped build the Boise Valley. The Other Idahoans, in recalling their lives and labors, enriches our understanding of the cities we inhabit today.” Corey Cook, Dean, Boise State University School of Public Service.



“Idaho Microbes” Wins Silver “IPPY” Medal

microbes coverA book published last fall by Boise State University has garnered a silver medal in the “science” category from the Independent Publisher Book Awards, also known as an IPPY.

Read University-Published ‘Idaho Microbes’ Book Receives IPPY Award in Boise State Update. April 11, 2016, by Kathleen Tuck.



Book Review – Surviving Minidoka: The Legacy of WWII Japanese American Incarceration

Rocky Mountain Review on Minidoka: unforgettable, monumental

Russel M. Tremayne and Todd Shallat, eds. Surviving Minidoka: The Legacy of WWII Japanese American Incarceration. Boise, Idaho: Boise State UP, 2013.

Joy Landeira
University of Northern Colorado

Both a memoir and a memorial, Surviving Minidoka: The Legacy of WWII Japanese American Incarceration combines detailed photos, poetry, multimedia artwork, and compelling profiles of survivors into a collage of unforgettable images that tell the story of more than 13,000 souls who lived in the Hunt Camp Relocation Center in Jerome County in south-central Idaho from 1942 to 1945. The sixth largest of ten relocation camps, and now a National Historic Monument, Minidoka is an indelible reminder of U.S. national hysteria and fear that Japanese American citizens would sabotage and undermine the security of their adopted country. German and Italian Americans were not similarly corralled into detention centers for presumed disloyalty. In compliance with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Executive Order 9066,” a total of over 110,000 Japanese American immigrants, both first-generation Issei and second generation Nisei, including Japanese orphans in the care of white foster families and mixed- race peoples, were forced to leave their homes, farms, businesses, and belongings along the Pacific Coast and were relocated to inland confinement centers across the nation. Over fifty percent were children.

Abundant photos from the National Archives contribute to the scrapbook- like quality of this glossy, well-structured depiction of life at Minidoka Center. From interior shots of a woman shopping for yarn and buttons in the camp dry goods store, to families wearing destination tags and seated on their luggage waiting to be transported, to small children reciting the pledge of allegiance, to a teenager wearing white tasseled majorette boots, the individual faces tell us more than statistics ever could about the anxieties and adaptations that whole families had to endure while living suspended lives. Documenting camp structures, food, medical and dental services, and loyal workers who were released back into society east of the exclusion zone, many images are sourced from the Japanese American Relocation Digital Archive and Calisphre-JARDA online, which offers thousands of photos pertaining to Minidoka, including those of only one Japanese American, Hikaru Iwasaki, who was hired as an official photographer.

Ten essayists discuss the historic background of xenophobic policies restricting Asian immigration, intermarriage, and voting rights that contributed to segregation and loss of Constitutional rights. Hollywood tackled the intermarriage taboo in Frank Capra’s The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933) before WWII. Following the war, stories of patriotic Nisei soldiers who were awarded over 9,400 Purple Heart medals while their families were incarcerated were dramatized in films like MGM’s

1951 Go for Broke, starring Van Johnson, about the 442nd regimental combat team in Italy and France. It is these heroic sacrifices which helped ease bitter attitudes and heal suspicions; Japanese American soldiers proved their loyalty.

Artistic responses by the Japanese interned there—poetry, painting, landscape design—round out the picture, giving us a sense of the individual responses and coping mechanisms that helped them survive. A series of tender poems by Lawrence Matsuda are interspersed throughout the multimedia-style book, converting clear images into symbolic reminders of life on the dusty Idaho plains, where the War Relocation Authority sought to protect its sense of security by “corralling the fear.” Childhood visions of his father “chucking potatoes at the pot belly stove” in the General Store and his mother scrubbing diapers on a metal washboard combine with reminisces of gardens cultivated by residents who sought to preserve an oasis of beauty irrigated by wastewater runoff from the laundry. Poet Mitsuye Yasutake Yamada conjures up her memories of those polished white majorette boots swaggering through ankle-deep dust. Linked to civilization by Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck catalogs, freedoms were limited to planning gardens with mail-order seed and strutting around the compound pretending to be leader of the band. Lawson Fusao Inada’s verses explain, “There was no poetry in camp. . . The people made poetry.” The people also responded with other artistic media: paintings by Roger Shimomura, a camp youngster who grew up to be a Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas and US Fellow in Visual Arts, and Hatsuko Mary Higuchi’s “Executive Order 9066 Series” turn camp scenes into visual stories. Using materials from the earth, Woodworker Marion Nakashima reflects the philosophy of earning a living with the natural world and harmonizing the rhythm of work and world order.

Supported by Boise State University College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs, the College of Southern Idaho, the National Park Service, the Idaho Humanities Council, Idaho State Historical Society, and Friends of Minidoka, Surviving Minidoka: The Legacy of WWII Japanese American Incarceration presents a historical, artistic and poignant picture of life in this remote internment center on the plains of Idaho. The volume is an important contribution to retelling the history of the state and nation, opening our consciousness and our consciences to the human rights violations of innocent citizens that so often accompany war. The editor, Russell Tremayne, from the College of Southern Idaho, will be one of the featured speakers at our upcoming 68th Annual Rocky Mountain Modern Language Convention in Boise, Idaho. His presentation, scheduled for Thursday afternoon, October 9, 2014 at Boise’s Grove Hotel will discuss Minidoka’s story and its part in the largest forced relocation of an ethnic group in U.S. history.

Copyright of Rocky Mountain Review is the property of Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder’s express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.

Book Review: Sad pieces of Idaho’s past

Originally posted by the Idaho Statesman on November 3, 2013 at

By Janice Hildreth — Book Addicts

“‘Surviving Minidoka’ is a history book about the present as much as the past.”

“This is not a book about camp life,” said co-editor Todd Shallat. “It is an art book and a tribute. It is a book about how an event shaped race relations more than a story about the event itself.”

My take: I chose to highlight both of these books because they document a part of Idaho history that many would like to ignore or forget and are written from two unique viewpoints.

While both books tell stories of the people who lived at Minidoka, in “Minidoka: an American Concentration Camp” you get a historical perspective of the people incarcerated there.

Their narratives, accompanied by photos, both old and current, relay their personal viewpoints, then continue with a recounting of the paths their lives took after they left. These recitations, culled from newspaper accounts and personal interviews, are brief and compelling.

In “Surviving Minidoka,” the creators grasped what Aristotle meant by “the aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance,” and concentrated on the effect Minidoka had on individuals as shown through personal photos, art and poetry.

The stories are in-depth, giving a perspective of the fire Minidoka set that fueled its residents’ later accomplishments.

Despite the beautiful photography, this book, with its wealth of data and documentation, reads more like a report, and was saved only by the personal stories that put heart in the book.

My rating: Both are beautiful books, well worth owning, if for no other reason than to remind ourselves that what happened once could happen again if we don’t learn from the past.

Right-Sizing—And Right-Buying: What’s Working At Indies

Originally posted on:

In the new book retail environment, bigger, in many cases, is not better. Having the right-sized store for a community and stocking the appropriate inventory, even if that means adding nonbook items, are keys to success today.

“We’re in a position to have another good year,” said Paul Jaffe, cofounder and co-owner of 32-year-old Copperfield’s Books in California’s Bay Area. That’s in part because several years ago Copperfield’s began rethinking the size of its stores in Sonoma and Napa counties. “Four of our six stores have moved or been right-sized,” said Jaffe, who significantly reduced square footage at several locations, like the one in Santa Rosa, which was scaled back from 11,000 sq. 5,600 sq. ft. in late 2011. “We think we’re in a good position… with less rental cost. It’s really about making Copperfield’s self-sustaining,” he noted. Now the microchain is about to expand, while continuing to keep the footprints of its individual stores small, with its first new addition in many years: a 5,500 sq. ft. bookstore and café in San Rafael, in Marin County, set to open in November. The new store will use fixtures that Copperfield’s put in storage when it right-sized its other locations, plus items it bought when the Borders in San Rafael closed in 2011. 

Copperfield’s has also changed its inventory mix. “We’ve seen a steady decline in new book sales. Only 70% of our sales at this point are from new books,” said Jaffe. “Publishers know how important browse-ability is. For us, it’s not just about browsing books, it’s about creating a place where people can buy a range of products.” One product that has done particularly well at all Copperfield’s stores is greeting cards, which comprise 5% of sales for the chain.

Copperfield’s isn’t alone in turning to cards as an add-on to book sales. Booklink in Northampton, Mass., has been selling cards for many years and ranks it as one of its best sidelines. “I have between 18 and 20 different card lines,” said owner Gabriel Moushabeck. “People like to write cards in this town. [Card sales] really support the books.”

At 13-year-old Longfellow Books, the only remaining new bookstore in Portland, Maine, one of the biggest sidelines is the Out of Print T-shirts line. “Good god do we sell those. It’s been like shooting fish in a barrel,” said co-owner Chris Bowe. On the book side, Longfellow customers have been gravitating to local authors like Monica Wood (When We Were the Kennedys), Michael Paterniti (The Telling Room), and Susan Conley (Paris Was the Place).

Local titles and new, as opposed to used, books have been a mainstay for a number of stores. “Five of our top 10 books last year were by local authors,” said Bruce DeLaney, owner of eight-year-old Rediscovered Books in Boise, Idaho, which is up 8% over 2012 from January through August. “Our customers want new books. They’re looking for a guide to whitewater rafting in Idaho or [Todd Shallat’s] Surviving Minidoka, about a Japanese American internment camp in Idaho. They want those things more than they want a $2 Agatha Christie [book].”

At 44-year-old Left Bank Books, which has two stores in St. Louis, Mo., local has also been key. Last year the store did particularly well with the hardcover edition of One Last Strike, by St. Louis Cardinals’ former manager Tony La Russa. This year sales are up slightly overall thanks to a combination of titles that included Sisterland by local author Curtis Sittenfeld. Looking ahead, co-owner Kris Kleindienst said that she’s particularly excited about another book by a local author—Eric Lundgren’s The Facades. She described it as “a thinly veiled send-up of St. Louis.”

Of course, local isn’t the only draw when it comes to books—although it helps. At 39-year-old the Bookshelf in Cincinnati, Ohio, where sales have been flat, co-owner Chris Weber has been buying more signed first editions from publishers. “They tend to do pretty well,” she said. “By and large, signed books move, if the publishers move forward and have them signed by their release dates. Later, they don’t do as well.” This summer Hanya Yanagihara’s People in the Trees sold “like crazy,” but then, too, so has Cincy author Beth Hoffman’s Looking for Me. And at Linden Tree Books in Los Altos, Calif., co-owner Dianne Edmonds has been shifting her buying strategy to include more backlist titles, particularly when the prices are right. “We’ve been taking advantage of all the publishers’ backlist specials,” she said.

Thirty years, one unified passion

Originally posted at:

One man’s lifelong passion is another man’s scholarship. That’s the personal and professional bond of Dr. Bob Sims, founding dean of Boise State University’s College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs, and Dr. Todd Shallat, who was recruited by Sims to come to Boise State in the 1980s. Shallat would go on to helm the university’s Center for Idaho History and Politics and collaborate on 20 books about cities, economics and culture. His latest effort, Surviving Minidoka, is a project that Shallat says was inspired by Sims through his leadership in making Minidoka, the site of Japanese-American incarceration during World War II, a national landmark.

Shallat was quick to point out that Surviving Minidoka has many collaborators, including co-editor Russ Tremayne, multiple authors and hundreds of rarely seen images of a shameful chapter in Idaho’s and America’s history. But the core inspiration of the project was always Sims.

Bob, you have Native-American blood coursing through your veins.

Sims: I’m a registered member of the Cherokee tribe. My great-grandfather was full-blooded Cherokee and my grandmother raised me on a mix of Indian customs and mythologies and cures for whatever ails you.

Which prompts me to ask about your health.

Sims: I was told in 1998 that I had six months to live, due to prostate cancer. Boise State said, “Keep your office” because, quite frankly, we thought I was going to die in a few months. Fifteen years later, I’m just now moving out of my office.

And your health today?

Sims: I’m about to start a new round of oral chemotherapy. Plus, I underwent triple bypass surgery this past May. The medications make me more fatigued but maybe they’ll give me some more longevity.

Todd, do you remember when Bob first called you?

Shallat: Right out of the blue, in the 1980s. Bob was among a generation of historians that transformed the profession, an international movement that today we call “public history”–it’s the idea that historians should work within communities. It wasn’t just Bob and me; it was a whole bunch of people and it was happening throughout academia. But I’ve always considered myself just a writer.

But that’s not entirely true.

Sims: Of course not. Todd’s an impresario. He makes things happen, connects people and produces work that people pay attention to.

How long ago was the idea for your book, Surviving Minidoka, generated?

Shallat: Since I first came to Boise State. Almost 30 years.

Let’s talk about how words matter when describing what happened in 1942. Isn’t the term “internment” a watered-down word to describe Minidoka?

Shallat: The New York Times still uses the word “internment.”

Sims: And the U.S. Park Service used the word “internment” when they developed the first plan for the monument.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right word.

Sims: The original language was “evacuation and relocation.” The terms generally embraced now are “removal and incarceration.”

Shallat: The Park Service calls it the Minidoka Relocation Camp, which is a misnomer. It’s really a fascinating debate. “Concentration camp” is really more accurate for what was going on at the time.

Haven’t words like “relocation” or “evacuation” lessened the shame over what happened?

Sims: Following Minidoka conferences and lectures, we still get letters saying the incarceration was justified.

Shallat: This subject matters more than ever today, in an age when we continue to see ethnic or racial profiling. That’s really what this book is about. It’s not just 1942.

In these letters that you receive, are people denying what happened at Minidoka?

Sims: They’re trying to justify the existence of the camps.

Shallat: These are Idahoans that truly believe military necessity always trumps civil liberties.

How happy are you with how the book turned out?

Shallat: Because of my relationship with Bob, it’s really important to me. He’s one of my mentors. Bob is my friend and my dean. And in many ways, it’s a tribute to that.

Through the Lens of Local

black and white photo of foothill taken through tree branches

“through the lens of local we learn to value organic connections between the health of our bodies and the health of our farms.” ~Janie Burns, Meadowlark Farm

Driving across the Midwestern landscape, it is not difficult to discern what takes place in this region of the country. Aside from a few disruptions to the landscape, corn and soybeans are the predominate row crop. Miles turn into counties, countries turn into states, and still the view from the window changes little. It’s here, in between these narrow rows of hybridized crops we’ve taken on the challenge of feeding the world. Yet despite our efforts to feed everyone some regions of the country, apparently ungrateful for the gifts bestowed upon civilization by agribusiness, have opted to feed themselves. A recent publication from Boise State University proves that Idaho is known for more than beautiful landscapes and the potato. “Local, Simple, Fresh: Sustainable Food in the Boise Valley” is the fourth edition in a student research series at Boise State University. The publication contains student essays based on their interaction with both practitioners and public officials. The publication covers a wide range of topics and makes it apparent that the effects of monoculture and industrial agriculture extend beyond the horizon.

The publication begins with a piece entitled, “Return of the Family Farm” authored by Todd Shallat and Angie Zimmer. This piece tells the story of Janie Burns of Meadowlark Farm, an advocate for local agriculture and founding member of the Capital City Public Market. Burns begins with two questions, “Why were there so many vegetables listed in the seed catalog, yet so few vegetable choices in the supermarket? Why, in a valley so rich with farmland, was so little food locally grown?”1 Burns’s questions are applicable beyond Idaho. It’s a question that many find themselves asking across this country. It’s a seemingly rhetorical question for many of us can answer it. It’s the market, it’s the farmers, it’s federal subsidies, we have to feed the world, those crops don’t grow here. While these statements provide a simple answer to a confusing question, perhaps we don’t know anymore. It’s disturbing to think that perhaps the answer is because the infrastructure necessary to grow, process, and distribute local crops has been removed in favor of hybridized row crops. Or that the knowledge of cultivating local varieties of produce has been forgotten.

Burns is correct in her observation regarding the variety of vegetables and choices at the supermarket. A trip to many local markets reveals that there is limited selection and what is available is often grown elsewhere. It seems ironic that for a culture defined by hyper individualism that our sources of nourishment have been standardized. After all, taken as a whole we tend to define ourselves through the exclusivity of the items we purchase. For example there is the sheer variety in cell phones, automobiles, computers, and clothing, yet there is only a pittance of varieties of green bean, sweet corn, onions, or peppers at the supermarket. While we’ve been led to believe that our gadgets say something about us as individuals, apparently that logic doesn’t extend to our food. However, I would offer the idea that food and nourishment says much more about us. Our days revolve around the timing of meals, it’s a time to re-energize, discuss, reflect, visit, and reconnect in the company of family, friends, and colleagues. Although a staggering amount of profit has been made from designing, marketing, and selling the necessary dishware, pots, pans, silverware, cups, and glasses, there seems to be little interest in the food that will be prepared.

B and W photo of a crumbling barn

Yet, what is driving farmers like Burns and the Treasure Valley Food Coalition is a desire to make local food relevant. Her produce isn’t a product whose value is driven by exclusivity or a marketing campaign. According to Burns, she is “selling the values – the managing of vegetation, the integration with the whole farm”2. Values, however, don’t show up on food packaging. A trip to the supermarket reveals a different set of values, one of convenience and ease made possible by factory farms, depleted soils, and fossil fuels. While agribusiness turns the complexity of industrial agriculture into a convenient microwaveable meal, small farmers turn the complexity of a farm into a connection with the land. Local products differ from those of industrial agriculture in that they include a set of values which can’t necessarily be reflected in price but rather in the relationship between people. While many ponder how to promote the value of local foods compared to the industrial agriculture alternatives, perhaps it’s a fruitless exercise. After all agribusiness is judging food quality by a set of standards many find unacceptable. The local food movement has an agenda that extends beyond advocating for the positive ecological and nutritional benefits. It’s about building communities. According to Burns “local food is about stewardship of local resources and building a community that’s prosperous and resilient”3. Thus ironically communities are turning to the local food movement to deliver what’s been promised by agribusiness for decades, prosperity. Prosperity however isn’t a turn key operation. The infrastructure that allowed local produce to be grown, harvested, and prepared locally has decayed or fallen into disrepair. Beyond that, much of what had been common knowledge has been lost. In Idaho Burns notes that “the packing houses, the processing facilities for meat, vegetables, storing those things, the canneries, the flour mills, all those things that used to support our economy and feed ourselves have vanished”4. It’s an observation that’s applicable to many rural places and draws attention to the fact that it will require a concerted effort to reconnect communities with working lands.

From Idaho to Illinois it’s becoming apparent that some of us want to get our hands dirty. We want to walk in the pastures where sheep graze. We want to know who feeds the cows that become our beef and shake hands with the person who tends to the chickens that produce our eggs. And, finally, to know that someone is keeping the land fertile for our children. Whether it’s soybeans or potatoes we recognize that the land, our communities, and each other are capable of something better.

1 Shallat, Todd and Zimmer, Angie. “Return of the Family Farm”. Local, Simple, Fresh: Sustainable Food in the Boise Valley. Boise, ID: Boise University Press, 2013, p.16)2 Shallat, Todd and Zimmer, Angie. p.17)

3 Shallat, Todd and Zimmer, Angie. p.18)

4 Shallat, Todd and Zimmer, Angie. p.20)

1. Obtained through the Creative Commons via Flickr.
2. Obtained through the Creative Commons via Flickr.

Thought For Food: A full diet of topics filled the book, including farm ethics, the dynamics of refugee gardens and public markets and the politics of the potato

by  @georgepren

From the Boise Weekly

RUSSELL LEE / FARM SECURITY ADMINISTRATION Local, Simple Fresh considers the return of the family farm at Peaceful Belly Farm (far left), visits a 70-tear-old Caldwell flour mill (lower right) and recalls 1941 (upper right) when teenagers lined up to work in Canyon County’s pea fields.

Idaho public servants have something new to chew on. Boise State’s College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs’ soon-to-be released Local, Simple, Fresh: Sustainable Food in the Boise Valley, examines the economics, culture and even politics of all things food in the Gem State. The publication is the fourth chronicle from the college’s Investigate Boise series, following Making Livable Places, in 2010, which included case studies of land-use conflicts; Growing Closer, in 2011, which showed how those conflicts played out in low-density housing sprawl; and 2012’s Down and Out in Ada County, which considered the ripple effects of unsustainable housing.

But a book about food in the Boise Valley wasn’t–at least initially–the first theme that editors suggested.

“Honestly, we first thought it would probably be about innovation,” said Dr. Todd Shallat, director of the Center for Idaho History and Politics at Boise State, and the series’ editor-in-chief. “Eighteen months ago, when we were finishing up our book on the recession, we kept asking everyone, ‘How are we going to come out of that recession?’ And when we asked about innovation, they would answer, ‘Yeah.’ But somehow the topic of food kept coming up and then they would say, ‘Yeah.'”

What followed was a 12-month investigation that Shallat said “connected history to economics, politics to settlement patterns.” When the project wrapped, a full diet of food topics filled the book, including farm subsidies, farm ethics, breweries and vineyards, the dynamics of refugee gardens and public markets, and the politics of the potato.

“The hardest thing for any writer is the boundlessness of a topic like this,” said Shallat. “It’s like nailing jelly to a wall.”

But Shallat could feel justifiably satisfied as he handed a preview copy of Local, Simple, Fresh to Boise Weekly as he sat with a group of his students at the college’s Center on Main storefront in the Alaska Building on Main Street. (The center will soon be relocated to new digs at 301 S. Capitol Blvd. in BODO as part of Boise State’s $1.65 million purchase of 8,800 square feet of high-profile commercial space.)

“When we started this four years ago, our target audience was within the university,” said Shallat. “But then the second book we published [Growing Closer] won an award from the Idaho Smart Growth organization, and we saw our work being used as a tool. Ever since, more and more books are being purchased on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. People really like this.”

Boise State undergraduate Dennis O’Dell has seen his work published twice–in last year’s Down and Out in Ada County, he examined Idaho Legal Aid, and in this year’s Local, Simple Fresh, he followed the farm-to-table journey of Boise’s Bittercreek Alehouse and Red Feather restaurants.

“It was never-ending,” said O’Dell. “We followed their food supply from a farm 20 miles south of Marsing to their downtown restaurant. But we also watched their recycling efforts and how they even make their own ketchup so they don’t have to buy it in tin cans or more plastic.”

O’Dell is far from a stereotypical undergrad. The Vietnam War veteran will turn 63 in June. He has one more class to complete his bachelor’s degree in communication.

“People use to ask me what I would do with a degree and I first thought it would give me material to make a paper airplane,” said O’Dell. “I was totally wrong. The fact that I have been published has already landed me job with a California company that is coming into town next month to film a documentary.”

Boise State likes to tout that much of its student body is “nontraditional.” Perhaps its most tangible examples are the student journalists, like O’Dell, who have contributed to the Investigate Boise series.

“I’m 31 and I used to be a professional dancer with the Idaho Dance Theatre. Now, I’ve just finished my bachelor’s degree in economics,” said Jennifer Shelby, mom to a 6-year-old and stepmom to two teens.

Shelby spent the better part of the past year tracking the Capital City Public Market, a subject Boise Weekly readers know well, including the September firing of founder/director Karen Ellis (who has gone on to oversee a competing farmer’s market).

“When I spoke with her, it was a pivotal moment. The day I interviewed Karen Ellis, she had been fired one hour prior,” said Shelby. “But she had such a passion and I knew she would be back in some capacity.”

Shelby told BW that her investigation and subsequent published work allowed her to “see the urban environment completely different.”

“I don’t walk down the street any longer and just see a street. I see urban design,” she said. “For me, this whole program has developed new professional goals for me. I know I can help this city. I know there’s a perfect job out there; I just don’t know what it’s called yet.”

Another of Shelby’s and O’Dell’s nontraditional colleagues is 31-year-old Tonya Nelson, a Boise State history undergrad, who spent the past year investigating Boise’s refugee gardeners.

“They give us diversification,” said Nelson. “It’s an opportunity for us to reach outside of our own world and away from our own problems.”

Nelson not only wrote a chapter, but was promoted to become the book’s student editor.

“She’s brilliant and a great writer,” said Shallat as Shelby beamed.

Shallat already has his sights on the topic for the college’s next investigative piece.

“It’s going to be about the Basque Block,” he said.

Shallat said representatives of Boise’s Basque Museum approached the college about writing a definitive narrative.

“But I told them, ‘I just don’t want this to be about history. We want this book to also be about the future,'” said Shallat. “And then they told us something very interesting: that they would like to extend the Basque Block. Now, that’s a story nobody knows about just yet. That’s about Boise’s future.”

Local Food Politics and Economics Featured in Research Series



The locavore movement, which embraces eating foods grown or nurtured within 100 miles of home, has emerged as the mantra of the spiritual quest for simple living and healthier food.

The fourth volume of the Investigate Boise Research Series, written by Boise State University students, examines this growing movement and its impact on Southwest Idaho.

“Local, Simple, Fresh: Sustainable Food in the Boise Valley” is the fourth edition of the Investigate Boise student research series, produced by the College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs. Each summer, about 40 students interact with practitioners and public officials in downtown. Top students write peer-reviewed essays for publication. Research topics include history, commerce, conservation, transportation, social welfare and urban renewal.

“Local, Simple, Fresh” considers the economics and ethics of farm-to-fork within 100 miles. Topics include organic ranching, vanishing cropland, craft beers, local wines, public markets, potato pundits, urban worms and the politics of farm subsidies. The 124-page book is in full color with charts, art and photography.
“The economics of local food are quite controversial,” said Todd Shallat, director of the Center for Idaho History and Politics and editor for the project. “This book looks at the movement’s main players, locally, and the debate over ‘food miles,’ which some call wasteful and other see as a quest healthy living and community.”

“Local, Simple, Fresh” is edited by Shallat, Guy Hand and Larry Burke. The student writers are  Tonya Nelson, Angie Zimmer, Bryce Evans, Greg Randleman, Jennifer Shelby, Jeweldean Hull, Alyssa Johnson, Dennis O’Dell, Victoria Kazimir.

The book is available in softcover for $15 at Rediscovered Books on Boise’s North Eighth Street or via Boise State’s online catalog at

Members of the community who make a $25 gift to the College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs become friends of the college and get their choice of a book from previous years as well as a copy of the new one. For more information, visit

Media Contact: Kathleen Tuck, University Communications, (208) 426-3275,

About Boise State University
A public metropolitan research university with more than 22,000 students, Boise State is proud to be powered by creativity and innovation. Located in Idaho’s capital city, the university has a growing research agenda and plays a crucial role in the region’s knowledge economy and famed quality of life. In the past 10 years, the university has quadrupled the number of doctoral degrees, doubled its masters degrees and now offers 13 online degree programs. Learn more at