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Joanne Gross is a stay-at-home mom with two sons. She and her husband, Scott, bought a house in west Eugene where Scott can bike to work, and she can grow food in her garden. Standing in front of her house on a hot summer evening, while her sons, Ian and Connor, play with their friends on the quiet street, Joanne points to the food she grows in her front yard. What look like decorative shrubs are sweet potatoes, artichokes and herbs. Hops wend their way up the chimney — Scott is a home brewer — and kiwis, figs and grapes adorn the yard. Joanne says it’s the garden that lets them afford to have her stay home, and Scott’s bike commute to the mill keeps him in shape and keeps them a one-car family.

Joanne Gross just wishes she knew a little more about what pollutants are in the soil. If the soil is contaminated, what about the food she feeds her kids? 

In an age when money is speech and corporations are people, following the money doesn’t always produce a clear, well-documented trail of dollars. The opposition to Eugene’s planned West 11th EmX extension is no exception. Now the issue is heating up in anticipation of a Sept. 26 City Council work session.

It was a battle of opposites at Eugene Weekly’s Next Big Thing finals this year. First up: Paul Quillen — his brooding, acoustic ballads turned Celebration-goer heads who were otherwise occupied on a perfect late-summer Saturday in Eugene with Cart De Frisco and Ninkasi. It ain’t easy filling up an outdoor stage with just voice and guitar, and Quillen had us all holding our breath, listening intently. A relative newcomer to Eugene, Quillen is perfect for the area’s small, intimate venues. Welcome to town, Paul.

On Colgan’s Island there are roses and a vegetable garden to attend to. There’s music blaring from a stereo in a workshop barn. There’s a gang of chickens and a tail-wagging black Labrador. There’s a former slaughterhouse and there’s a bright blue cottage. At the moment, this equally peaceful and industrious setting is the scene of many ongoing changes, and they all have to do with stoves. 

She is an emissary of the arts — a thread-spinning, yarn-whirling ambassador of costume — and a die-hard advocate for keeping Eugene wonderfully weird. Queen Sadie Slimy Stitches is Eugene’s new 2012 SLUG Queen, the official royal representative of the Society for the Legitimization of the Ubiquitous Gastropod. It’s a Eugene thing, and this queen wears it well.

It’s almost time again to “Raise the Roof” in celebration of all things Eugene at the 30th annual Eugene Celebration. While you’re sure to be busy stuffing your face at one of the food carts, or rooting for your favorite mustachioed contestant, don’t forget to take in at least one musical performance. 

Film in Eugene is a different animal from the sleek, ultra-refined cinematic beast of Hollywood. What reigns supreme in this dank, rugged environment is something truly unique and truly Cascadian. Let’s face it; in Oregon things are just a little different — a little more grimy, a little more earthbound and a little more badass. This weekend at the Eugene Celebration, the award-winning work of local filmmakers will be screened for all to see, acquainting Eugene with varied and eccentrically diverse hometown cinema talent. Here are a few choice picks for film fanatics to groove on.

Walking the streets of downtown Eugene can be an adventure. On any given day you might encounter a unicycle-riding cowboy, a man tattooed from head to toe, exotic animals (or at least a cat on a leash), pierced people, painted people, naked people and most definitely bearded people. Now there’s a forum for all those hairy folk to go head-to-head in a contest at the Eugene Celebration’s Beard and Mustache Competition. 

Clad in a worn tan Carhartt jacket and rubber boots as insurance against the rain threatened by a slate-gray, wind-wiped spring afternoon, Derek Brandow is in his element — multiple elements, really. Today, the former elementary school teacher’s classroom is a field of knee-high grass, his young student a potential customer for the community-supported agriculture (CSA) subscriptions that Our Family Farm, his poultry operation, is selling. After raising backyard laying hens for two years and learning about the horrors of factory-scale poultry farms, that customer-to-be, a precocious preteen girl, is determined not to eat chicken unless she can inspect the farm herself and see that the flock is raised under humane conditions and allowed to express their avian nature, their very chicken-ness.

With one look at Kelton you know she is unusually beautiful. But there’s more to her than long legs, a thin shape, gorgeous hair and stunning complexion. She may be beautiful but she’s got substance, she’s got spunk and she’s ready to kick ass. She effortlessly proves all of the typical assumptions about fashion models false.

EW first profiled Alli Ditson in 2009 when she was a 20-year-old designer, just getting started. Three years later, she’s still going strong.

The streets of Eugene are filled with treasures: free boxes overflowing, Dumpsters unlocked and waiting to be searched, all of it yours for the taking. All you need is a good eye, a little bit of imagination and maybe some rubber gloves. All of these clothes were found in free boxes around Eugene and have been dressed up with shoes and accessories from my collection.

Revivall Clothing by Laura Lee Laroux

Spandex Body by Marcia Lent-Knee

Make Me by Rebecca Welton

Revivall Clothing by Laura Lee Laroux

Spandex Body by Marcia Lent-Knee

Rooster Baby Va Va Vie by Renne

Spandex Body by Marcia Lent-Knee art by Dr. Julien

FORM by Laurel Pearcy

Rooster Baby photos by Rob Sydor • robsydor.com

Tucked away in the sleepy corner of a west Eugene neighborhood is the workspace and studio of leatherworker Amber Jensen. The entire place is militantly organized — an arts bunker — with waxed canvas, rivets, bags, production tables and tools at the ready.

The Block Party is blasting off with nine stages this year, and each and every one of them is destined to keep you captivated, no matter how much Ninkasi you’ve managed to slide into your belly. The Ninkasi Patio Stage, on that note, is full of local icons — including Adventure Galley, Basin & Range and Marv Ellis, to name a few — but there’s a whole lot more to unearth this year in terms of novelty.

Activity on the block — or blocks — surges with so much energy and character that it’s one of the best features of the Whiteaker Block Party. Last year saw the silk performers set up in the trees and the light-up hula-hoop dancer, among other random delights.

The beauty of the Block Party fashion show is not only the stylish clothes but also how they were made, who made them and who is wearing them. It is insular in a sense, bringing together designers, models and hair and makeup professionals within and near the Whiteaker neighborhood, but it also showcases what creativity can produce with leftover material, wherever you may hail from.

When it comes to screen printing, Revaud Godwin only comes out at night. That is, unless it’s Whiteaker Block Party weekend. Then you can catch him on the street hard at work behind his press. Keep your eyes open for a man of shorter stature surrounded by T-shirts, working at a machine that looks kind of like a new-age catapult or something out of a Transformers movie. That’s Godwin. He is an old-school Whiteaker resident, enthused by the independent spirit and funky ambiance of the Block Party.

For six summers, volunteers of the Whiteaker Block Party have been hard at work adding the Block Party era to the neighborhood’s long and colorful history. The Whit has been home to indigenous people, farmers, families, hippies, anarchists, artists and small business owners — all folks who benefit from creative thinking. This thinking just might be the most continuous generational thread winding through this place that has seen many changes.

The word pet has meant “a domesticated, fondled young animal,” “a spoiled child,” “offense at being slighted” or, a personal favorite, “breaking wind, fart,” according to philologist Leo Spitzer, who once wrote an entire essay on the etymology of the word. 

“Pets” these days has come to mean animals that you treat like family: dogs, cats, even fish. A pig that might be livestock to a farmer who intends to make her into bacon is a loved family pet to someone else — they say pigs are smart. Eugeneans love their pets from ferrets to fish, and whether milking them or dancing with them, our animal friends (or as some prefer, the “furkids”) are part of our daily lives. 

Cutest Ruby

Best Dressed Winston Churchill and Bartholomew all dressed for the Sabbath

Ugliest No name submitted

Honorable Mention Amy the Angry Reindeer

Runners Up

If you’re the type of animal lover that doesn’t want to really “pet” your pet, if you’re allergic to felines, disliking of dogs or repulsed by reptilians, then fish are the way to go. And what better way to experience your fishy friends than in a natural setting, like an outdoor pond?

It happens every summer. Someone makes a quick trip to the mall and leaves her dog in the car “just for a couple minutes.” But the lines get long, the minutes drag on and before long that car sitting in the sun has gotten unbearably hot.

Moving to the rhythm of musical composition is as intrinsic to most as breathing. We humans just can’t resist tapping our toes, drumming our fingers, flailing our arms and swaying our hips, and while we’ve all experienced moments of solitary dance that must remain exclusively behind closed doors, in public it still takes two to do-si-do. “Why not tango?” you ask. Well, some folks have partners that aren’t quite capable of showcasing their gancho. These are the people that dance with dogs.