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"Guest Viewpoint"

Recently, a new transplant to Eugene asked me why people are so emotional about Civic Stadium. What follows is my note to my new friend, Austin. I don’t know when you moved to Eugene but my guess is that it was after Civic Stadium was wrapped in mothballs and allowed to decay.

I am a product of Oregon’s school funding crisis. I was in first grade when Oregon voters approved Measure 5, the constitutional amendment that shifted the financing of public education from local communities to the state by capping property taxes in Oregon. For the next 12 years I saw my education opportunities diminish as teachers and school programs were continuously cut because of inadequate funding from the state.

This year marks my 30th year in Oregon. To celebrate, I took in a double feature which exemplifies the two poles of my Oregonian experience. 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, both films helmed by directors of color. 12 Years served to ground me in reality, while Gravity took me to my favorite fantasy: a world without borders, floating free among the stars. The reality of space, though, is that it has no breathable atmosphere, extremes of hot and cold and is always trying to kill you, nothing personal. Same with Oregon; sometimes we don’t like your kind.

EW ran a feature on LCC’s “Creativity for Peace” program Oct. 17, including a photo of Israeli and Palestinian exchange students smiling happily in a semi-hug. It looked benign and hopeful. Until one looks more closely. The headline read, “Peacemakers: LCC Students from Israel and Palestine.” The story described how two young women from “opposite sides of a conflict” are being prepared “to pave the way for peace in their communities and across borders.” Unfortunately, this introduction seriously misrepresents the reality of the Israel/Palestine relationship. 

Saving energy and improving energy efficiency is vital to restoring the environment, reducing carbon emissions that contribute to global climate change and creating sustainable jobs. It’s being debated all over the world, but the debate over how to get there has left out something more meaningful to a lot of Lane County residents: saving them money.

Global warming is the most serious crisis that humanity has ever faced. The world is headed directly towards a cliff in the dark: We know the cliff is ahead of us, but we don’t know how soon we might reach it. Some people think that the countries of the world will not be able to do what is necessary to avoid millions of people suffering the death penalty as a result of global warming. When they express their defeatist attitude to others, they make things harder for those of us actively fighting global warming. Nobody can predict what the future will bring.

Local media is all abuzz about a proposal to reconfigure Willamette from 24th to 32nd. Writing in the Nov. 3 Register-Guard, Jack Billings clearly identified cyclists as the driver of efforts to alter South Willamette — efforts that would remove one car lane and add two bike lanes. Quoting Billings, “The discussion [about Willamette] is only about bicycles. Were it not for the small but organized bike lobby, there would be no debate about reconfiguration.” Billings doesn’t know the half of it.

When I ran for Congress in 1986 I campaigned against the unsustainable timber harvest levels in western Oregon. Back then the Bureau of Land Management was logging 1.6 billion board feet per year on the statutorily unique O&C lands. 

I advocated for a 30 to 40 percent reduction on the O&C lands. But today, O&C timber harvests have dropped by more than 85 percent. I didn’t think then, and I don’t think now, that an 85 percent reduction is necessary to protect old growth, rivers, streams and wildlife — particularly given its negative impact on county revenues and rural communities. 

It has become an a matter of widespread belief, as Giesen asserts, that economic contraction not economic growth is essential for an ecological future.  I would like to offer another prospective based on the pursuit of sustainability and making economic growth mean ecological improvement. It is a fundamental error to conflate all economic growth with ecological pillage.

The Eugene City Council has a decision to make about Civic Stadium and it will be made very soon. The question is: Will the city put in an offer, using the city parks bond funds, and allow Friends of Civic Stadium (FOCS) to refurbish and reopen it for use, or will it step back and allow Civic to be demolished? As a longtime citizen of Eugene, I consider demolition to be a mistake.

After I’d heard that a hedge fund manager was spending big bucks in 2012 to convince voters to toss out Democratic U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, I wrote a check for thousands of dollars to DeFazio for Congress. I was terrified that Republican candidate Art Robinson would pillage the public’s forests, waters and wildlife. It turns out I should have also feared the incumbent on that score.

There seems to be an excellent option for the 10-acre Civic Stadium property: Use it to help expand the city of Eugene’s park system.

As I go around giving talks for Here on the Edge, my book about how a small group of World War II conscientious objectors on the Oregon Coast helped plow the ground for the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s, I sometimes encounter people who ask if I am a conscientious objector. Others ask if I believe that we should all refuse to fight any war under any circumstances.

Individualism is the antithesis of communalism and cooperation. It is a powerful idea, mostly a male notion, and it permeates our society. We are very likely the most individualistic society on the planet or in history. This essay is about the ways individualism works to prevent the mitigation of global warming.

I’ve been having a month-long email conversation with West Lane Commissioner Jay Bozievich regarding the termination of former county administrator Liane Richardson, the role she alleges he played in the activities leading to her firing and the now famous 29-plus pages of redaction of the Olson Report, which was the basis for the Richardson termination. May I share some information and some opinions based on that email conversation?

A large mural on the former Goodwill building in River Road illustrates what an eco-friendly cluster of neighborhood scale local businesses might look like. There is a cafe, a bakery and small grocery with boxes of veggies out front. 

The scene I painted 10 years ago is complete with images of real people from the neighborhood meeting and greeting each other and even favorite Eugene guitar player Eagle Park Slim.

What better time to celebrate the connections being made between kids and local food than October with the harvest season at its height and the school year in full swing. The Willamette Farm and Food Coalition’s Farm to School Program is actively working with the Bethel, Eugene, Springfield and Oakridge school districts to educate students about where their food comes from, provide their families with resources to access healthy, locally grown foods and assist district Nutrition Services in incorporating more locally grown foods into school meals. 

I’m deeply involved in the Oakleigh Meadow Cohousing (OMC) project situated in the River Road area along the Willamette River and bike path. Planning is under way with the city of Eugene and we’re aiming to break ground June 2014. I’m also a River Road resident and OMC household member along with my wife and two boys – we currently live just a block away from the beautiful cohousing site where we’ve gathered many times with friends and family.

I love the Ruth Bascom Riverbank Trail System. I use it almost every day to take walks with my son and dog. We love that where we live -— next to the West Bank section of the trail system — much of the trail is surrounded by the Willamette River Greenway, a mix of city parkland and open spaces. 

 As the Obama administration continues to market its planned war on Syria as a “limited” strike and “shot across the bow,” the language of the resolution the Congress is being asked to consider and the plans of the president’s national security team belie any such limited intention. 

The other day, I walked out and got into my car, which takes just plain old regular unleaded gasoline. I drove into town on the asphalt roads, which are a remarkable feature. They’re basically just crushed gravel and tar or pitch (bitumen, technically), which is one of the leftovers from refining oil, and they cover an impressive amount of the surface of the Earth at this point. Less than .1 percent to be sure, but that is still a lot of asphalt.

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. — Karl Marx

One saying goes like this, “When you have your health, you have everything!” That is a wonderful sentiment, but I think I could add that having a loving family, a challenging job and enough money to live comfortably — all of those things are part of my idea of “everything.”

Forty-eight years ago this month, Lyndon Johnson overcame years of resistance by the medical establishment and signed Medicare into law. It’s as close as this country has ever come to establishing the kind of universal, publicly funded, “single-payer” health care system that prevails in most other industrialized countries. Coming at a time when half the nation’s seniors lived in poverty, its passage quickly demonstrated that it was possible for the federal government to provide health coverage for the costliest section of the population to insure, at a fraction of the administrative cost required by private industry.