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Slant 11-14-2013

• Want to help with the calamity in the Philippines? Climate activist and author Bill McKibben of 350.org recommends non-governmental organizations that do direct relief in the Philippines. He lists them and provides links at wkly.ws/1mf. Super Typhoon Haiyan, the most intense storm on record to hit land, has drawn more attention than usual to issues of climate change, in part due to the timing of the Warsaw Climate Change Conference. But it was irritating to see CNN’s Piers Morgan giving air time this week to global warming skeptic Mark Spencer. A much more relevant debate is how do we best reduce the causes and effects of climate change going forward.

• A documentary called Agents for Change told a special story Nov. 7 at the 40th anniversary celebration for the Center for the Study of Women in Society, the department of Women’s and Gender Studies and the ASUO Women’s Center at the UO. The documentary, made by Gabriela Martínez and Sonia De La Cruz, chronicles the development of CSWS within the broader context of the women’s movement. Especially important, it portrayed the role of Joan Acker, the diminutive but fierce sociology professor who led the way for CSWS. Acker is retired and living in Eugene, but was unable to come to the birthday party. She was remembered as a remarkable agent of change.

• Disturbing numbers have come to our attention concerning homeless students in Lane County. Local statistician Joe Kosewic has collected data from the Oregon Department of Education for the 2011-12 school year. Lane County had 2,262 homeless school-age kids (pre-K-12), Benton County 276 and Linn County 1,040. What’s surprising is that Multnomah County has 2.1 times Lane County’s population but only 1.7 times the number of homeless kids. The reasons are puzzling, but regardless, this local crisis is more serious than we might have imagined and is getting worse. Thousands of young children are going to school hungry, dirty and sleep-deprived; in addition, hundreds of college students are couch-surfing or sleeping in cars and tents because they can’t afford both housing and tuition. 

What’s encouraging is the massive effort by the city of Eugene, local nonprofits, church groups, public schools and individuals. There are multiple ways for people to contribute to this effort, whether it’s through cash and other material donations, volunteer work, advocacy or inviting them home. A garden shed with a cot would feel palatial to someone shivering under a bridge.

• From our sports closet under the stairs: Oregon football Coach Mark Helfrich faces a new challenge this week. For the first time, he is leading a team coming off a loss. Helfrich was handed the keys to a high performing machine — a team that had won 35 out of 39 games over the previous three seasons and had key players coming back. Helfrich drove that machine well, but now it has hit a bump. Can the Ducks regain their decisive swagger? Will other teams replicate Stanford’s grinding game plan? Can Helfrich get the team back on track? We’ll find out at 1 pm Saturday, Nov. 16, when the Utes come to Autzen Stadium. 

• We’re still recovering from our Best of Eugene party at Level Up Arcade last week. We did something different this year: Instead of a big staged event with an entry fee at the door, we threw a free party with free food and a no-host bar. It was back-to-back, belly-to-belly, especially around the tables of gourmet treats provided by Brails, Noodle Bowl, Sushi Pure and Track Town Pizza. Thanks also to DJ Audio Schizophrenic, the band Dubious and the guys from All Comedy 1450 who announced our winners. Many of our award winners had their pictures taken in our photo booth, but not all winners picked up their framed awards. Come claim them at the EW offices.