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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 03.23.06

ECO-CONTROL

Alan Pittman's story, "Who Are the Real Terrorists?" (3/9) informed your readers what many have observed for some time: Greens have become the new Reds. Government is captive to Green-baiting demagogues and ideologues who deny intrinsic value of other species and deeply discount future generations. Those who do not subscribe to the dominant paradigm of short-sighted greed are marginalized and vilified, just as were those who fought for social justice and civil rights 50 years ago. Protests are symptoms of government ineffectiveness and disenfranchisement of an entire constituency.

The article shows the roots of environmental activists' disillusionment with elected officials reach back before the 2000 election, and the backlash began before Sept. 11, 2001. Pittman glosses over the Clinton administration's role in both spawning environmental protests and creating the apparatus used to repress protesters. His article fails to explain the motivations of protesters betrayed by an administration that took them for granted. Fueled by optimism in the early '90s, many in the environmental movement had their expectations dashed by political expediency. Although the Clinton administration's efforts against environmental activists paled by comparison to the current one, it would be naïve to believe that all will be well if the party in power changes.

While not all environmentalists practice tactics described in the article, we all suffer from the repression of those denied their right to political expression. Those who care for the Earth would do well to remember Ben Franklin's advice to hang together.

Brian Baker, Eugene

 

SAFETY BOXCARS

I went to the "Take Back Our America" rally in Eugene Saturday. The Bush cabal need not worry about this group. This bubble blowing, peace flag waving crowd was willing to be penned in like cattle behind "safety barricades" while bicycle short wearing "peace officers" kept them from crossing the street in the crosswalks.

A word of advice to those planning on attending "Take Back Our America" rallies 2007-2028: Remember, the first step is to take back your protest area before the "peace officers" load you into the "safety boxcars" bound for "safety camp."

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain

 

SENSELESS

The Eugene City Council nixed Sacred Heart's move to Crescent and Coburg Road because a hospital at that location would generate too much traffic. Now the council favors McKenzie-Willamette/Triad's relocation to North Delta Highway, a growing neighborhood that already suffers from just as much traffic, if not more, than Coburg and Crescent. Where is the sense in that?

Jean Rubel, Eugene

 

REGISTER BIAS

Recently, I read a letter in The Register-Guard about a lesbian couple who had a baby and the Guard refused to list them both as parents because their policy was to list only the biological parents in the birth announcements. This is truly unbelievable to me.

With this action the Guard takes a blatant stand of rights denial. They refuse to change their policy with the times. They have, in essence, said that they do not support equal rights for everyone in Eugene. As a member of this community I am ashamed of the Guard's refusal to accommodate a broader spectrum of our community.

And what about the little child? Whether you like it or not, she has two mommies and that will never change. So from the minute she is born, there are those who claim that her heritage is less than everyone else's. Hogwash! Shame on anyone who claims that denial of equality to anyone is appropriate. It is long past time for us to collectively stand up and demand equality on all fronts. As members of the one human family, we have earned it!

Linda Cathey, Eugene

EDITOR'S NOTE: R-G Managing Editor Dave Baker was quoted in a 2/22 R-G story saying "We've heard some complaints and concerns, but our policy is that we don't include in birth announcements the names of unmarried partners unless they're biological parents."

 

LAST FRIDAY RIDE

Whether you ride your bicycle to commute to work, to pick up the groceries, to enjoy the river path, or to go around the block to visit a friend, consider yourself invited to the Critical Mass bike ride. On the last Friday of every month, at the park on 17th and Charnelton, several dozen bicyclists will meet at 5:30 pm to go on a leisurely paced group bike ride along the streets of Eugene. The purpose of Critical Mass is to raise awareness about the presence of bicycles on city streets.

While vehicles dominate city streets, bicyclists and pedestrians are still legally permitted to use public roadways. However, because many drivers do not realize this fact, they often endanger the lives of countless cyclists — as well as their own lives — by not keeping an eye out for the smaller profile of a bicycle, by illegally taking over a lane a bicyclist is entitled to occupy, by frustration and sometimes even anger about being delayed by seconds (remember: a cyclist is just as anxious to get home as a motorist), which has led to incidents of reckless and dangerous driving.

The intention of Critical Mass is to make a visible statement to the public that bicycles share the road, as well as to encourage more people to use modes of transportation that are not dependent on fossil fuels (which are often the premise for war, or are extracted from the nation's few remaining wild places), and are environmentally sound. A significant percentage of Critical Mass bike riders own cars (though use them as little as possible) so one needn't feel as if he must be a bicycle purist to participate.

So if you want to go on a fun bike ride with lots of friendly people, where the larger the attendance, the safer the rides are for everyone, please come on down to Critical Mass. See you in the streets!

Scott Humason, Eugene

 

TRAFFIC DODGING

I have lost count of the number of times I have nearly been run over by cars in Eugene, even when I had the right of way. But what motorist wants to think about traffic rules if it's going to detract from that "important" conversation they are having on their cell phone while driving?

No wonder downtown is so dead! There is not one pedestrian-friendly street in the entire area! Who would go for a stroll when it means fighting traffic at every corner? Any plans for the area always favor the automobile, never the pedestrian. Of course people who don't drive realize that it is almost illegal to be a pedestrian in Eugene, besides being extremely dangerous.

Wes Markel, Eugene

 

BUZZ WORDS

I wish to comment on the "buzz" words prominent lately in EW — and for that matter, everywhere else: self-reinvention.

In reality, who does that? People are merely jammed into new molds and expected to cope. Forever square pegs in round holes.

People do change sometimes or somewhat, but they don't reinvent themselves. No matter how much the bosses (themselves reinvented and static) think it possible or obligatory for other people.

Marcia Sandhu, Eugene

 

TRANSIT TROUBLE

In the past few years, several rude episodes that fell far short of common courtesy have been directed my way by local citizens and transit drivers. When I objected to their most recent "issue," I was denied service.

I first came to the UO in 1970 and have since developed my skills as an artist. My USMC combat experience in Vietnam ('69) has left me disabled with a sleep deficit (1,000-yard stare) and I often carry a cane for one floppy ankle and two crushed vertebrae. I no longer drive as a matter of public safety due to seizures.

Due to my suppressed appetite, from the location of my spinal injuries, my appearance remains gaunt and I typically dress warmly in outdoor apparel. These distractions do not diminish my mental assets.

I recently related those discourteous incidents to our local transit training supervisor, a polite long-time driver who stated that diversity training has been on their agenda the past four months. I stated that "prejudiced denial of service amounts to practicing medicine without a license when it prolongs disabled citizens' pain."

I do respect most of our fellow citizens and transit drivers. I now rent studio space far from town and pay for alternative transportation. "Sorry about this tired news. I do speak to those who won't."

John Vets, Eugene

 

FEED A DEAD HORSE

I've only been in Eugene for 12 years but have seen many things done to "revitalize" downtown — only for the city to end up back at the drawing board trying to sell some new great idea to taxpayers. We've torn up the nice, friendly pedestrian mall, killed lots of trees, torn down park areas to build still-empty buildings and are now looking at kicking out the few successful businesses to make way for some big business pipe dream — way to go Eugene.

Having a nice downtown is a great idea, but we're not just beating this dead horse, but feeding it as well. Couldn't all this money, energy and resources be used to develop smaller areas of town that could actually thrive (e.g. 8th and Blair area, 5th around Olive to Lincoln, pockets of Whiteaker and 13th, etc.). Does Eugene really need a hotel, another parking garage, another trendy grocery store (which will crush our beloved local grocers), or other downtown proposed businesses?

Leave downtown alone — let people go to their bars, the beauty shop and Lazar's. Leave the huge ugly holes where tall buildings used to buzz with activity — let them stay as a monument to poor city management, greedy owners, misplaced priorities, apathy, and lousy parking options (How long will it take for this city to realize that no one is willing to shop where paying for parking is required)? Let's put down the stick. Leave the horse alone. Downtown is dead. Please, let's stop shoving our tax dollars down its throat and let it slip away peacefully.

David J. Gibbs, Eugene

 

LATINO EMPIRE BLUES

I just returned from three-plus months in Central America: Nicaragua, Panama and mostly Puna Mona, Costa Rica, doing permaculture. It was very warm, inspiring and depressing to my health — depressing because I'm an old, organic, healthy hippy needing real organic and raw foods daily in balance — very rare there, unless you get it from local conscious farmers at organic growers' markets. Otherwise they don't know what organic health is. They eat a very high-starchy, overcooked diet and lots of sweets, rather acidic toxins, with no green salads or organic standards or awareness. Most native traditions are gone, like using local clay for many things. I gathered and gave healing clay salve to them to try out.

I was a free lance eco-tourist; the middle-class invading countries with upper and mostly lower classes. The normal tragedies there of being conquered by waves of Spanish, Catholics, business and technology continues to trash their traditions. Most of their markets are importing toxic, techy junk and exporting what we buy: bananas, coffee, chocolate, sugar: usually sprayed with toxic chemicals.

Even in jungles, thousands of screaming weed-whackers spew poison smoke mowing lawns. Churches, schools, electricity, TV and computers invade most villages, seducing them into self-conscious, unnatural and slacker lives, except a few healthy, hard-working people. New chemo-drug medical clinics are invading many villages.

So, now I'm healing from the climate shock of returning to a cold winter after tropics where high-acid foods, bad water, zillions of microbes and rare organic foods nourish Latino bodies. Sort of like India, with a Spanish twist.

Micheal Sunanda, Eugene Ecotopia


EDITOR'S NOTE: Micheal tells us he's looking for a place to crash now that he's back. He can be reached at michealspun@yahoo.com

 

RECALLING WILD OATS

Let us look at the failure of Wild Oats, another big box food store that tried to establish itself in Eugene, before we repeat that mistake. Hailed as an excellent natural foods store, Wild Oats bought out the locally owned, highly successful Oasis Market, which had two excellent stores. Spokespeople for Wild Oats promised to change neither its character nor its products.

They promised to buy locally grown produce and to retain Oasis employees. Within weeks of taking control, prices rose sharply, and several long standing employees either quit or were dismissed; local produce was stocked sparingly. Wild Oats failed to win the hearts, minds and pocketbooks of the people of Eugene. Eight years later, they were forced to close.

Whole Foods, too, will fail. Eugene already has a host of locally owned and operated natural foods stores, plus a locally based chain of supermarkets that provide both conventional and organic products. Why would people support a large corporation that sends its profits to its shareholders, instead of remaining loyal to their locally owned markets? Why would people travel downtown to pay to park in a large parking structure, when they can park for free at any of those local stores?

Within time, the 53,000 sq. ft. building will be empty, and the parking structure, at best, half full, from time to time. Enhancing the coffers of this large corporation at the expense of our local economy will not benefit our community.

Kathleen Epstein, Eugene

 

SEE THE ELEPHANT

Many say we need a neighborhood grocery for the downtown. Not many disagree. Many say that we need another parking garage in the downtown. Many say we don't. Local grocery owners say a proposed new store will hurt their business and that the city is facilitating that harm by subsidizing a parking garage. Some downtown businesspeople say competition is the American Way and please don't confuse a needed parking garage with a subsidy.

There's an elephant loose in this conversation.

Area leaders have long been focused on keeping traffic congestion and air pollution in check by shortening auto trips and promoting walking and biking. Think urban village business nodes selling groceries and other daily needs.

Watch out! We're about to be crushed by something which isn't really a neighborhood grocery after all. Whole Foods is planning to build a 52,000 sq. ft store with abundant parking for their exclusive use, located in a high traffic area that has a 200,000 population within a 20 minute drive. (All requirements as listed on their website.) The plan is to have thousands drive there daily from Eugene/ Springfield and beyond.

Whole Foods is free to build whatever size store they want (including one appropriate to the neighborhood). But how can it make sense for the city of Eugene to balance on one leg to the tune of an $8 million dollar parking garage if the whole concept flies in the face of years of transportation, environmental and neighborhood planning? Where's the sustainability in that?

Paul C. Moore, Eugene

 

MISOGYNISTIC LAW

Whether abortions are legal or not, women will continue to seek and obtain them. Their being legal would mean simply they were performed by medically competent persons who would insure the safety and health of the women.

In pre-Roe v. Wade Chicago, where I lived at the time, 4,000 women a year were admitted to Cook County hospital for the treatment of bungled or inept self-administered abortions.

Motherhood is such a serious, responsible demand that calls for a life-long commitment to unselfishness, sacrifice, and mature unconditional love that no women should ever be forced by a cruel, misogynistic law to bear a child involuntarily.

The new South Dakota law that only permits abortion to save the life of a woman epitomizes petty thinking that is ignorant of a woman's ability to judge for herself whether she is mature enough, well enough, strong enough, stable enough or too poor, overburdened or unsupported enough to be a mother.

Voters need to chary about candidates or political parties who are likely to declare/wage war on women by denying them the protection Roe v. Wade provides [for] safe, legal abortions.

Edgar Peara, Eugene