Jasun ‘Plaedo’ Wellman

Photo by Paul Neevel

“I had a rough childhood,” says Jasun Wellman, who grew up in Estacada, Oregon, until age 7, when his father died. Wellman then wandered through Oregon, Washington and Idaho, “a lot of different schools, drugs and violence, police visits and poverty.” Adopted at age 11, he lived with his grandma when he graduated from high school in Deary, Idaho. “I was always a good student,” he notes. “School was a respite from chaos at home. I concentrated on poetry and history.” He enrolled at the University of Idaho in Moscow, where he escaped the scourge of drugs with the help of a sympathetic policeman, who caught him with drugs but let him go free, and a poetry professor, who arranged a year of study abroad at a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. On his return to Idaho, he stood up at an anti-Iraq-war rally to read the poem that was slipped under his door in Bangkok, “Our Deepest Fear,” by Marianne Williamson. A woman in the crowd got up to say that the poem had changed her life. “She’s now my wife, Megan Swan,” he says. Swan chose to call him “Plaedo,” a name that inspired him to change his major to philosophy, and later sparked his career as a storytelling hippie-hop philosopher, workshop coordinator and social justice activist. Shortly after he and Swan moved to Eugene in 2011, Plaedo emceed a rally for Occupy Eugene that drew 1,800 participants. He co-founded the Eugene Avant-Gardeners food activism group in 2013, and currently works with at-risk youth in the city’s Downtown Youth Initiative. He hosts monthly events at the Peterson Barn Community Center. Catch his performance at 2:30 pm Saturday, July 14, in Community Village at the Oregon Country Fair.