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Lead Stories

Kelly Kenoyer

 et al.

This past September, Brenda went to pick up her 5-year-old son from kindergarten at McCormick grade school. “The principal said he was at the office and to come get him,” she says. Brenda followed the principal to an office containing her son, locked in and crying. "She felt like he was going to hurt her and she said she didn’t know what to do,” Brenda says. 

Her son ended up suspended within a week of joining the kindergarten class and was removed to a one-on-one program at Fox Hollow Elementary School. He was the only Hispanic student in the class at McCormick. 

Candidates in the race for the Eugene’s 4J School District board — a four-year-long commitment — are not happy about the Feb. 7 appointment of Betsy DeVos as the nation’s secretary of education.

Add to this the recent protests of Latino families lobbying the 4J school board to do more against the harassment of immigrants, and the May 16 board election has some weighty issues to address. 

Surely that’s not new news, but what is new is the approach our schools are taking to not just pump up grad rates, but also to help kids give a damn about their education. 

Perhaps the reason our high school grad rates have lagged behind some neighboring counties (not to mention they pale in comparison to the national average) is because we’ve failed to put the students first. Programs like Career and Technical Education (CTE) are working their butts off to change that.

Rachael said “no” repeatedly to the man who came into her Oregon apartment and attacked her on the night of July 6, 2014. 

She cried, knowing that her children were in the next room. She didn’t want them to hear. The man who raped her lived across the street. 

Two days later, Rachael went in for a sexual assault nurse exam (SANE) in which evidence would be collected for a rape kit. She waited weeks more to report the rape to police because she was “terrified” of her attacker.

“I had already showered and everything by then, but I still had my underwear not washed yet, my pants not washed yet, the sheets, blanket, and I submitted that for evidence in the place of … you know, I mean I had the full kit done, but they were saying you showered pretty well,” she says. 

No DNA was found on her body, but it was found on the clothing and bedding. Eugene Weekly is not using Rachael’s full name because she has never told her story outside of court and does not want to be identified.

Shirley Temple once paid a visit and may have rested her blonde ringlets on soft Hotel Benton pillows.

Symmetrically doomed presidential candidates John F. and Bobby Kennedy each stopped in, as did history’s great scurrying mole rat, Richard Nixon.

Built to capitalize on tourist traffic after the highway now known as Route 34 came through the middle of town about 100 years ago, connecting hayseed Corvallis to what’s now Interstate 5, the Hotel Benton was like a rural pageant queen — more stunning for the low brutish frontier edifices skirting her hem.

“It is difficult to measure the impact the Hotel Benton has had on social, commercial, political and cultural structure in Corvallis,” reads the building’s nomination form for the National Registry for Historical Places. “Being located within one block of the Southern Pacific Railroad station, ten blocks from the university and in the heart of the commercial core of Corvallis, the building served as host to nearly every conceivable event or convention for over 30 years.”

Walking along Broadway downtown on a Saturday night, you see a black man approaching from the opposite direction. You feel nervous — a split second of fear. Your instinct is to nonchalantly cross the street, but you know you can’t, because you don’t want him, or anyone else, to think you’re racist. 

You’re not, right? Nah, you can’t be. You live in Eugene. You voted for Obama, twice. You care about social issues, evidenced by the cool photo you Instagramed from the Women’s March. Hillary Clinton’s description of young African-American men as “super-predators” bothered you.

I’m sorry to break it to you, but your guilty conscience doesn’t mean you aren’t racist. 

To understand the future of the Willamette Valley as a food-producing region, it’s a good idea to look at its history. And to get a good look at its history, you have to go back about 50 million years. 

Before the Pacific Northwest as we know it was formed, a series of volcanic islands known as the Siletzia Island Chain sprouted up, forming the backbone of what we now think of as the Coast Range. 

Flash-forward 10 million years, and “the Siletzia block was accreted onto the North American Plate and covered with a thick pile of sediments,” says Leland O’Driscoll, a research associate at the University of Oregon’s Department of Earth Sciences.

The traditional holy book of Islam has been defaced, burned, defecated on and denounced in the decade and a half that’s followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by Islamic extremists on New York and Washington. 

A new exhibition opening Friday and running through March 19 at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art presents a very different American reaction to the Qur’an.

In American Qur’an, the museum’s spacious main gallery will be full to bursting with the scores of original paintings that make up Los Angeles painter and lifelong surfer Sandow Birk’s reflection on the Qur’an.

Here I am at 79, I’m going to be an activist,” says Deanna Eisinger, a retired grade school teacher. “I think we need to ruffle feathers and raise some consciousness.”

Recently out of the hospital after an asthma attack triggered her atrial fibrillation, Eisinger is not going to let something like an irregular heartbeat stop her from speaking up. She is going to carry a sign in the Jan. 21 Eugene sister march to the Women’s March on Washington, the day after Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration.

“I’m planning to go; I may not be able to walk the whole route but I’m going to go,” says Eisinger, who lives on a farm in Lorane. “We have to keep resisting and speaking out. I’ve never been a loudmouth but I’m changing. At my age I don’t care what people think.”

You hear the rhythmic metal tick-tock of armor plates clapping against chainmail from a long way off.

The sun sinks in the west as three swordsmen reach the wide cement platform that covers the College Hill Reservoir. 

Kurt Gerhard Studenroth lifts the steel helm from his cranium and offers his winded fellows hot tea from a half-gallon camping flask slung around his waist.

It’s the neoprene thermos that looks uncannily out of place; all other signs indicate we’re looking at Studenroth through a wormhole that connects South Eugene to medieval Europe.

The reality is much simpler than that, though. Think of it this way: Businessmen dress in suits and carry briefcases; police officers patrol the streets wearing guns on their hips and badges over their hearts; knights put on armor and swing swords.

An oceanic change has swept over national and international landscape, something swelling and churning for many years that, regardless of your sociopolitical orientation, seems with the recent election to have broken with all the force of a tsunami.

Regardless of whether we are now facing the collapse of Western civilization and the world as we know it or, instead, the prospect of becoming “great” again, a lot of people are feeling really antsy and uncomfortable these days. Nobody seems to feel fine. Anxiety is going through the roof. The forecast is uncertain.

For our annual Health issue, EW decided it best to take a look at quick, or at least quickish, routes to personal well-being — ways to relieve stress, to deal with input overload, to take the pressure off. Because, really, there’s no way to know what’s actually coming in the months and years ahead, but if you plan on sticking around, you might as well be in a decent and balanced frame of mind, to the extent that such things are possible.

A person’s period doesn’t give a damn whether she’s in the woods, if she has a house or if there’s a trashcan around to take care of the, erm, aftermath.

Cue Animosa, a local start-up company that is redefining menstrual product disposal by creating long-term, sanitary and odor-free period pouches.

Two days after the presidential election, my therapist asked me how I was feeling. A continuous loop of video footage of people shouting, “Hail Trump,” photographs of swastikas spray-painted on buildings and reports pouring in by the hundreds, and later thousands, of people being threatened because of the color of their skin repeated and shuffled in my mind, and it terrified me.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of submerging myself in a sensory deprivation tank.

As a kid, I was mesmerized by Ken Russell’s 1980 sci-fi film Altered States, in which William Hurt plays an abnormal psychologist who repeatedly enters an isolation tank with increasingly drastic and surreal results, eventually emerging as some regressed form of Neanderthal man and then, finally, a big ball of protoplasmic consciousness swirling on the event horizon of galactic nothingness.

"Walking is the best physical exercise,” writer Bill Sullivan says. “People are designed to walk. It gets rid of the crap of civilization.”  

Sullivan is pretty famous in these parts, and around the Northwest at large, for his collection of hiking guides. Many of us outdoorsy types have one, two or all of his books on our shelves. 

Give a thousand people the same camera and tell them to shoot the same thing, and maybe five will hit that thousand-word mark. I call this quality “soul,” for lack of a better word — that magical something that only a handful of photographers reveal in their work. You know it when you see it.

EW photographers Trask Bedortha, Todd Cooper and Athena Delene all have this unteachable skill. They belong in that rarified category of photographers who not only capture reality but somehow magnify it, enhance it, elevate it. Each of them, in their own particular way, brings a passion and intelligence to picture-taking that suffuses the subject with the dignity it deserves. Beyond just having “a good eye” — a mere matter of composition, timing, framing, etc. — they exhibit a sense of curiosity and concern for their subjects that can only be called humanity.

This year, to help battle the hate, we are using our annual Give Guide to highlight nonprofits and groups that are pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-minority, pro-LGBTQ, pro-environment, anti-bigotry and anti-hate. 

Donate to positive ways to fight the Trump agenda. Some groups could use your tax-deductible donations, others need warm clothes or able bodies. 

Dig deep, and give these people some love.

 

Spite Trump, Save the Earth

Social Issues

Fight for Women and LGBTQ

The NAACP Removes Barriers

Invest in the Arts

Ninety-three years ago, cheeky cubist Pablo Picasso reflected on his career choice, on a life spent scratching away at reality. 

“We all know that art is not truth,” he said. “Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.”

Oh, the truth. In 2016, that pesky know-it-all took a punch to the gut. Facts have been shoved to the back of the line behind our aunt’s Facebook rants and the president-elects gas-lighting Twitter feed. 

Fortunately, the arts don’t care about popular or unpopular opinion. Art won’t coddle insularity. Art is an act of revolution. Art keeps us honest.

Giving to the Civil Liberties Defense and American Civil Liberties Union

What civil rights, right? President-erect Donald Trump — who thinks the Bill of Rights is a crisp twenty — has already tweeted (tweeted, for Christ’s sake) that he would like to either jail people who burn the American flag or revoke their citizenship. For real? Likely we’re heading for one serious clampdown on civil liberties, with the biggest assault coming at our First Amendment rights of free speech, freedom of the press, peaceable assembly, etc.

Treehuggers and Climate Change

The man who once tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive” is now the president-elect of the United States. In the week’s after his election, Donald Trump promptly picked Scott Pruitt, a climate change denialist, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. WTF.

“We serve as a reminder of where we’ve been and where we’re going,” says local NAACP President Eric Richardson. “We call on the United States to live up to its promise and its higher ideals.”   

Richardson is speaking at the NAACP’s offices, in one of the historic Mims houses on High Street. 

The charming home is one of the first African-American-owned buildings in Eugene, purchased by the Mims family in 1948 under the name of a sympathetic white employer. 

At the time, exclusionary laws forbade African-Americans from legally residing inside Eugene’s city limits, let alone buying property. The Mims house became a port for African-American travelers, including luminaries like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole, who were not allowed to stay in local hotels in what was then a strictly segregated town.

Whether it’s escapism through fiction or a dive into a nonfiction tome because you want to learn more about the world, the digital age hasn’t stopped us from reading and loving books. Whether we’re on a plane reading history on a Kindle or dropping ketchup on the paper pages of a novel we can’t put down, even to eat, at the kitchen table, books let us live more lives than just our own. Books provide us with a mimesis — a representation of reality — a lifetime in 250 pages. Every year Eugene Weekly staff and writers read the books that we love, or hate, and present them to you in our Winter Reading issue in hopes you curl up, read us, then read some more books.

Winter Reading 2016 - Fiction Reviews

Winter Reading 2016 - Nonfiction Reviews

Winter Reading 2016 - Even More Reviews

Winter Reading 2016 - Top Ten Lists

Read Local: A Roundup

Misfit. A Q&A with Lidia Yuknavitch

Read Electronically with the Eugene Public Library

Lidia Yuknavitch is a beast of an author. Her writing is raw, uncensored and has a strength that can only come from living one hell of a life (check out her Ted Talk “The Beauty of Being a Misfit”). Yuknavitch — a University of Oregon graduate and current literature workshop teacher in Portland — has gone from being a professional swimmer to a mother whose daughter died, and from a dazed lover of substances to a best-selling novelist. Her craft has always been constant in her life: She must write.