In The Shadow of Fairview: Full Documentary (2020)

Independence Northwest’s Board of Directors President Linda Gheer is among several high profile self-advocates and former Fairview residents featured in the film. Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) has done an extraordinary job capturing a very difficult chapter in our state’s history while also illuminating the exceptional efforts and vision of Oregonians with disabilities, their family members, and community advocates.

From OPB: “Twenty years ago, the last resident left Fairview Training Center. For nearly 100 years, Fairview was Oregon’s primary institution for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Oregon is considered a leader at in-home and community-based services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). But it wasn’t always that way. For nearly 100 years, the Fairview Training Center housed thousands of Oregonians with disabilities. The facility opened in 1908 as the State Institution for the Feeble-Minded. Most of the first patients were transferred from the Oregon State Hospital for the Insane. For decades, residents were officially referred to as ‘inmates.’”


In The Shadow of Fairview Clip: The Institution

Twenty years ago, the last resident left Fairview Training Center. When it closed in 2000 amid lawsuits and investigations, it was one of the largest and oldest institutions of its kind in the nation.

1965: Medicare and Medicaid

In the Shadow of  Fairview Clip: People First

More than forty years ago, a small group of Oregon teenagers with developmental disabilities helped launch a global self-advocacy movement. Together they formed the organization People First, drawing over 500 attendees to the group’s inaugural meeting. That 1974 conference is generally thought to be the beginning of the developmental disabilities self-advocacy movement. Today, People First is an international organization dedicated to supporting all people with disabilities in over 40 countries.

People First Film (1976)

The film shows the first state conference of People First of Oregon. The conference was chaired by Valerie Sharf. The conference is considered the beginning of the self-advocacy movement in the United States.

Copyright: James Stanfield Film Company

The John Calhoun Story (2003)

For most Americans, a home to call one’s own is an unspoken expectation. This is the story of one man’s quest to find a home. From leaving his family home at age five to his thirty-five-year stay in Fairview (originally called the Oregon State Institution for the Feeble-Minded), his placement in care facilities to his journey into home ownership, John Calhoun never lost sight of his goal: a home to call his own.

This short documentary follows one of America’s leading disability-rights advocates in a story that mirrors thousands of other Americans with disabilities winning the fight for equality, respect, and autonomy.


Tom Nerney – Defining Self-Determination

This short powerful clip is a tribute to the life work of Tom Nerney – a person whose life work was to create a world where self-determination was possible and practiced for all.


The Americans with Disabilities Act Signing (July 26, 1990)

Voices From Fairview

Firsthand accounts from residents of Fairview Training Center, Oregon.

In the Shadow of Fairview Clip: Eugenics

Over a period of 60 years, the state forcibly sterilized over 2,600 Oregonians. From 1923 to 1983, Oregon law allowed for compulsory sterilization of those deemed unfit for reproduction. It was part of a broader eugenics movement to remove “undesirable” individuals from the gene pool. Today, some Oregonians still live with the consequences of that outdated law.



In the Shadow of Fairview Clip: Coming Home

The cremated remains of more than 3,500 hundred Oregonians sit unclaimed in the state’s custody. They are the forgotten and abandoned residents of Oregon’s state institutions, such as the Fairview Training Center in Salem. But now, some are finally making it home.



After Fairview: Linda Gheer

The 3rd prize winner in the 2018 Free Our People Film Contest, this short portrait explores the art and work of disability rights activist Linda Gheer. Born with disabilities in the 1950s, she has navigated institutionalization at Fairview Training Center and group homes, and she now lives independently in the community.

We welcome your feedback. If you have comments or feedback about the Our History is Our Gravity presentation, please email Larry Deal and Linda Gheer at larry(at) Thanks!