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"Guest Viewpoint"

Memorial Day has its roots in the aftermath of the Civil War when Americans searched for a way to honor and remember the three-quarters of a million people who died in that horrific conflict. The original declaration in 1868 called for “strewing of flowers or otherwise decorating the graves” of the war dead, hence its original name, Decoration Day.

On Saturday, May 23, Lane County residents will participate in the worldwide March Against Monsanto for World Food Day (see details below). Over 600 cities around the world are scheduling events on that day. The UN has named this the “Year of the Soils” and in Eugene we will hold a march to declare our right to protect and restore the soils upon which our food, the climate, and all life ultimately depends.

The plaza at Broadway and Willamette (Kesey Square) has been around since urban renewal in the late 1960s. An old drugstore building was on the site and was condemned because of its unsafe condition. Located at what was then the “100 percent corner” of downtown, the planners of the now long-gone downtown mall decided to put a plaza there. 

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion,” the Dalai Lama says. “If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” But what does it mean to practice compassion? I sometimes think it’s only a warm, fuzzy feeling towards others, or a New Age trick to subvert my consciousness. Perhaps it’s a sign of weakness and I’ll be bullied. Maybe I should reserve compassion just for a deserving few.

April 26 through May 2 is National Preservation Week and most people don’t really know about it. We do appreciate the historic places around us. We can appreciate buildings from an earlier age for their quality of construction and materials, their remarkable and memorable shape and form or for what might have occurred behind their doors. Sometimes those buildings sit in the landscape, isolated and unique. Sometimes they’re found together in neighborhoods, or the several neighborhoods that make up a town. Each of these, when held in our memory, tells us the story of where we are and why we’re here.

This year Lane Community College embarked on a Cultural Competency Professional Development initiative designed as educational programs for faculty and staff about the history, culture and current experiences of diverse peoples and communities. In this context, the Lane Peace Center Committee chose to focus our upcoming 8th annual Peace Symposium on indigenous peoples. Our purpose is to look at the history and culture of the United States from an indigenous perspective, to borrow a phrase from one of our keynote speakers, Suzan Harjo, “Seeing Red.”

I hope the community will take the time now, before it is too late, to visit the exposed structural frame of our City Hall. It currently has been reduced to the frame, structure or bones. It is very open, transparent, extravagant and architecturally significant. It is still a strong and valuable base one could build from anew if our city seriously embraced sustainability.

In your Jan. 8 email to the UO community, “A message from Interim President Coltrane on sexual assault lawsuit” [see http://wkly.ws/1xk], you indicated that you welcome feedback from the campus on your progress. I agree with the open letter provided here by OASA [see http://wkly.ws/1xj]. I would like to express my additional concerns. 

At its core, the West Eugene EmX project is about growing. On the heels of a long recession, we now see our economy ticking up with new businesses and redevelopment in downtown Eugene, downtown Springfield and across our metro area. We want to keep our economy vibrant. We want to retain the natural beauty around us with clean, fresh air. And we want to have more — and better — choices in how we live, travel and recreate.

We have come to a historical moment, when in the course of a few months the issue of racist police violence has fired the imaginations of people all over America, and the world. It represents not so much a reaction to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, but the overflowing of a cup that has been filled to the brim with the blood of Americans, mostly young, unarmed African-American males.

The Slow Money movement is about transitioning from an economy based on extraction and consumption to an economy based on conservation and renewal. It is about investing close to home and seeing your dollars make tangible change in your community. Following on the heels of the international Slow Food movement, which was begun by Italians to defend regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slow pace of life, Slow Money is based on the premise that we should be investing in the future of our food, i.e., the soil, the farms and the food businesses populating our local food systems. 

How would you like to live in the area of Oregon that has the smallest babies born in the entire state? According to Oregon Office of Rural Health and OHSU, if you live along scenic Hwy. 36 from Junction City all the way to Swisshome, your newborn will be the smallest in the state. In fact, this Triangle Lake area far exceeds the state average. The same study states that low birthweight children are significantly more likely to have mental retardation, cerebral palsy, visual and hearing defects, lung disease and learning disabilities.

For every day since Jan. 7 — the day 12 people were murdered at the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo — I could write a book trying to explain the emotional rollercoaster I have been experiencing as a young French journalist. Let me start by paying a tribute to all the victims of the killings that took place in Paris last week. My thoughts go to all who were close to these journalists, cartoonists, employees, police officers, Jews, Muslims, atheists …

A woman with mild developmental disabilities finds herself in an abusive relationship with a man who is also the father of her 8-year-old daughter. Tired of the physical violence and verbal abuse, she files for a restraining order and has the man removed from their shared apartment in a Section-8 housing unit. 

I’ve had this sense of it, open season, aka socially sanctioned targeting, since age 7, reinforced at 19, and lulled into a Eugene false sense of security pushing 60. I admit to a certain numbing grief over my lifetime composed of anger, rage, sadness, depression, loss and, finally, resolution. Being black bears the responsibility of acting as though you have some wisdom (at least sense, good freedom-fighter home training) and are working for the liberation of human beings everywhere. Illuminating and undoing the matrices supporting extrajudicial killings interests me more than protesting. 

A background in and understanding of grand juries has led me to be very suspicious about the recent grand jury proceedings regarding Darren Wilson, the police officer who murdered 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Over the last 17 years I have represented dozens and dozens of clients who were subpoenaed to testify as witnesses at state and federal grand juries regarding government investigations. 

Eugene will celebrate International Human Rights Day Dec. 10. Once again we will listen to city officials talk about how Eugene is (or aspires to be) a human rights city that follows the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But the reality is quite different on the streets where around 2,000 people survive without shelter, (un)aware that they have human rights, treated as criminals by the city. 

A memorial service was held for Lady Naljorma Jangchup Palmo, affectionately know as Amala, on Oct. 10 in the Ragozzino Theater on the LCC campus. Mayor Kitty Piercy, presidents of the UO and LCC, faculty members and Sen. Jeff Merkley’s office offered special tributes and condolences. Amala was a champion of peace and one of the key people who helped to bring His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Eugene in 2013. She was also a co-founder of the Palmo Center for Peace and Education.

As a doctoral candidate in the Department of Romance Languages at the UO, I have dedicated the past four years of my academic career to research and writing on Chicano theater and performance. Central to my dissertation project is the history of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, during which time farm workers in California organized and participated in the five-year Delano Grape Strike. This unprecedented strike culminated in the first major victory for the United Farm Workers, which remains an active labor union today.

For nine years, the killing of 15-year-old Jason Michael Porter has haunted me. Jason was unarmed and operating a reportedly stolen vehicle when he was stopped after being pursued by a Springfield police officer. The officer approached Jason’s car with gun drawn and fired a single shot into his face. The officer said he thought he saw Jason raising a gun. There was no gun. The Lane County district attorney, not waiting until the conclusion of the Oregon State Police investigation, quickly pronounced the killing “justified.”

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) technology has enabled production of previously uneconomic shale gas in North America. Some believe that using more natural gas will slow the growth of green house gas emissions. Five research teams from the United States, Australia, Austria, Germany and Italy completed independent studies for a project led by the Joint Global Change Research Institute. The research analysis was published in October in the journal Nature with the conclusion that increased use of natural gas will not slow climate change, due to increased release of methane and increased total energy use spurred by inexpensive gas.

Councilor Alan Zelenka’s Oct. 16 Viewpoint was a good summary of the Eugene City Council majority’s rationalizations about tearing down and replacing City Hall. The smaller building would be more energy efficient. We wouldn’t need to consolidate city services in the future at City Hall because no one was complaining and people were getting used to running around town. 

As a former Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court and with more than 30 years of experience as a judge, I have reviewed thousands of laws. I have also carefully read and considered Measure 91, which will regulate, legalize and tax the adult use of marijuana. I believe it is both a solid, well-written law and the right thing to do. 

I’m a graduate of the University of Oregon, I’ve been a community organizer here in Eugene for years, and I help run a small local business. I wear a lot of hats around here. But no matter what hat I have on, regulating, legalizing and taxing marijuana looks like a clear winner. That’s why I’m voting “yes” on Measure 91.