Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Sonia Marie Leikam Oral History Interview, June 17, 2016

Oregon State University
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00:00:31 - Early life

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Partial Transcript: Where were you born?

Segment Synopsis: Leikam describes that she was born in the United States because her father was studying Petroleum engineering at Stanford, however, her whole family is from France. She says as as child she traveled back and forth between France and California quite often. She shares that she had an advantage over her siblings because she got to learn English more naturally, while they had to learn it later in life. She tells that her parents lived in California for three years before she was born. She shares that she did kindergarten in France, and then she said that she was spend her summers in France. During the school year, she lived in the Silicon Valley, and discusses how wealth flooded into the area during the dotcom era. She shares how she enjoyed the performing arts a lot. She also discusses how she enjoyed painting a lot, and her room became an ever changing canvas. She tells about how she loved books and reading and disappearing into a new world. She shares that she had this fascination with the holocaust, and didn't find out til a lot later in life that she actually has Jewish heritage. She shares that her family never practiced the religion and she shares that she actually attended catholic church growing up.

Keywords: American teenage hood; Books; Catholic; Culture; Diversity; Family; France; Jewish; Painting; Palo Alto, CA; Performing arts; Petroleum Engineering; Post-doc salary; Prom; Sisters; Stanford; Travling; holocaust

00:13:10 - Being Jewish in California

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Partial Transcript: So, how did that, how was that cultural piece of being jewish in California?

Segment Synopsis: Leikam shares that she started to connect a lot more with her Jewish identity during high school. She shares that she attended some Jewish services with friends, however, she didn't start to practice until she got into college. She says she may have been drawn to it because a lot of the rituals and traditions surrounding Jewish faith are about the family, and her parents divorce split family for her, so she wanted it to be central to her life.

Keywords: Boarding school; College; Family; Highschool; Home; Judaism; Rituals; Tradition

00:17:06 - Attending college at Lewis and Clark

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Partial Transcript: So did you go straight from California to Lewis & Clark in Portland?

Segment Synopsis: Leikam shares that she fell in love with the Lewis and Clark campus from the moment she first saw it. She tells that she was attracted to some of there programs and thought that she might want to work in international relations. She shares that she loved Lewis and Clark but after four years she realized that the space was almost to comfortable and shares that she never really got to spread her wings. She tells that she made really good friends at the school and was involved in political activism and feminism. She shares that she noticed a lot of hypocrisy in students at Lewis and Clark as well.

Keywords: 9/11; Democracy; Feminism; Frienships; Hypocrisy; Lewis and Clark College; Pageant; Political Activism; Portland; Privilege; Safety; Study Abroad

00:22:32 - First impression of Portland

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Partial Transcript: What is it like to come from the bay area to Portland?

Segment Synopsis: Leikam describes what it was like first moving to Portland. She shares that she first moved to Portland in 1999, but describes being in college as sort of being in a bubble on the hill. She shares that her older sister and husband actually ended up at OHSU, and was nearby to her. She tells that her and her husband purchased their first home in 2003, and had always had a roommate until they had their first child. Leikam shares that she always had a tough time when she was asked where home was for her. She would not want to tell people that Palo Alto was her home, even though that was were she grew up. She always thought of France and Portland as home. She shares that when she was in college she would fast all day because if he parents were coming that evening they would take her out to food, and it was something that she immensely looked forward too. She shares that she rarely went into downtown, and her evenings were always filled with something related to to theater. She tells that college students in Portland now are more likely to talk advantage of the Portland food scene then when she was still in school.

Keywords: College; Drinking; Food; Food Scene; Home; Impressions; Indian; Landscape; Lewis and Clark; Moving; OHSU; Portland; Sister; downtown; theater

00:28:10 - Faith and studies in college

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Partial Transcript: Where were you as far as religion goes, when you came up here?

Segment Synopsis: Leikam shares that she knew when she came to Lewis and Clark, it was going to be her time to find Judaism. She shares that she got involved with the Jewish student union, and took classes related to Jewish history. She shares that she delved right into her faith both spiritual and academically. She shares that she worked Judaism into a lot of her studies and frequently wrote papers and explored research topics around Jewish issues. Leikam shares about her passion surrounding the Holocaust and talks about themes of oppression and human hatred.

Keywords: Community; Faith; Genocide; History; Identity; Jewish Student Associations; Judaism; Oppression; Relgion; Religion Resistence; Theater

00:35:48 - Working as a Teacher/Interest in Holocaust

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Partial Transcript: You end up at Portland State, not studying history or religion, but secondary education?

Segment Synopsis: Leikam shares that she went back to school at Portland State to pursue a masters in secondary education in order to become a teacher. She tells a story about how even when she was just observing a high school class, the teacher realized her passion for the Holocaust and had her start teaching right away. She shares how she ended up meeting someone while student teaching that worked at National Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. She reflects that children were really interested and engaged in the holocaust, especially the kids who were sometimes the most difficult to reach. She shares that she got her first job teaching in the Hillsboro as both a social studies and theater teacher. She shares that she would work all day, then put on a theater production all night, then have over an hour commute both ways and shares that it was an extremely exhausting period of her life. She shares that it became apparent really quickly, that it was either going to be her marriage, or working in Hillsboro, because it was just to much time and energy, so after a year there she decided to go a different path. Leikam shares she had no clue what was coming in her future, however, she just trusted that it was going somewhere good. She shares that the summer after leaving her teacher job she spent five weeks in Israel and shares that it was a great time for her to recharge. She shares that while in Israel she realized that she wanted to be a mom, and spend more of her time and energy into her family. Leikam tells that when she returned she got a job at St. Mary's Academy as the director of activities and was there for three years. She also discusses how she spent a lot of time as a volunteer at the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center, she shares that conducted workshops and led discussions.

Keywords: Clackamas High School; Education; Family; Hillsboro; Holocaust; Mentor; Mother; National Holocaust Museum; Oregon; Oregon Holocaust Resource Center; Portland State; St. Mary's Academy; Teaching; Washington D.C

00:44:58 - Holocaust/Genocide Activism

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Partial Transcript: How did you bring that back to the Portland area?

Segment Synopsis: Leikam shares that as an activist and an educator she thinks that she gives back about issues of intolerance by educating teenagers and collage age students. Now she says she gives back a lot more by being political and support direct action. Leikam discusses how she left the Oregon Holocaust museum because she wanted to focus more on genocide as a whole. She tells how she became a Carl Wilkens Fellow and went deeper into her studies of genocide. Leikam discusses why she left her job at Saint Mary's and discusses how she became more family orientated, and also tells how she felt a rift because of her faith and the Catholic faith of the institution.

Keywords: Action; Activist; Carl Wilkens; Education; Fellowship; Genocide; Lobby; Political Action; St. Mary's Academy

00:51:28 - Early ideas of making a brewery/Carl Wilkens Fellowship

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Partial Transcript: In 2014, you are awarded the Carl Wilkens fellowship, what was that like?

Segment Synopsis: Leikam shares how 2014 was a crazy busy year. She shares that her husband was really unhappy in his career. She tells how her husband would always get a lot of complements on his beer, and was really into home brewing. She describes how at that point in there life, they threw around a lot of different ideas of what to do with there life. Eventually they both took an online craft brewing course through PSU, and then whipped together a business plan to go into the beer industry. She says that participation in the fellowship allowed her to have more time to focus on her family and the business. She shares that it also required her to travel to DC and to LA to do direct lobbying work. She shares that the fellowship also really allowed her to deepen her knowledge of genocide and learn from others about experiences.

Keywords: Armenians; Cambodia; Carl Wilkens Fellowship; Children; Craft Brewing; DC; Family; Homebrewing; Knowledge; Lobbying; Los Angles; New Zealand; Porter; Portland; Pregnancy; Stouts

00:59:16 - Starting up Leikam Brewing

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Partial Transcript: At what point do you two decide to make this a Kosher brewery?

Segment Synopsis: Leikam discusses how the process works to get Kosher certified. She tells how rabbi's come in and inspect the facility and deem it Kosher. Leikam shares that Kosher never was intended to be there "thing" but it just ended up being there thing. She describes the brewery as a reflection of her family and her home, so as result, Leikam brewing is a Jewish brewery. She shares that she sees the brewery as an extension of community work, and wants to bring people together.

Keywords: Backyard Brewing; Community Involvement; Community Supported Brewery; Hanukkah; Inspections; Jewish; Kosher; Pink Boots Society

01:10:59 - Challenges of starting a small brewery

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Partial Transcript: Where were things that you thought I would ask about or things that you wanted to say that I haven't talked about?

Segment Synopsis: Leikam shares that she thinks it takes a lot of courage to start up a brewery, because you really are putting yourself and your name out there. She discusses how there is so much talent, and great beer out there already that it is quite risky when you do the same. Leikam discusses the unique challenges that there are when your both the brewer, and the owner. She says that as a brewer who is not the owner you allowed to be a lot more creative and adventurous with your beer, however, if your both your always worried about the bottom line and making sure you stay profitable.

Keywords: Beer; Beer Industry; Brewers; Courage; Fermentation Sciences; Gateway Brewing; Owners; Widmers

01:14:11 - Perks of Pink Boots Society/Leikam Brewing Future

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Partial Transcript: What do you think the function of groups like the Pink Boots Society is?

Segment Synopsis: Leikam shares that being a part of the Pink Boots Society allows her to seek out help from others and get advice. Leikam shares that her being a member gives her advantages over her husband because she has a network of people to tap into for help that he does not necessarily have. Leikam describes herself as just a brewing assistant, and shares that she is not actually to good at brewing herself. Leikam discusses some of the politics of the Pink Boots Society, and the people who are a part of the organization. Leikam discusses how the next step for Leikam brewing is opening up a taproom. She shares that she is really excited for the future of the brewery.

Keywords: Buying; Cats; Children; Family; Help; Membership; Mentorship; Pink Boots Society; Portland; Rent; Resources; Servers; Steel head Brewery; Taproom; Vulnerability; Whole Foods; Women Brewers