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Two remarkable women from our philosophically diverse community will be remembered Saturday, Jan. 16, both starting at 2 pm. Peg Morton will be honored at the First United Methodist Church and Robin Jaqua at the Jaqua Concert Hall at The Shedd. Better go early; both auditoriums are likely to be full. Morton fiercely devoted her life to peace and justice on many levels (see our cover story Jan. 7).

Two remarkable women from our philosophically diverse community will be remembered Saturday, Jan. 16, both starting at 2 pm. Peg Morton will be honored at the First United Methodist Church and Robin Jaqua at the Jaqua Concert Hall at The Shedd. Better go early; both auditoriums are likely to be full. Morton fiercely devoted her life to peace and justice on many levels (see our cover story Jan. 7).

• What’s the buzz with the Oakleigh Meadow Cohousing (OMC) project? “We’re still moving forward,” says Will Dixon, the local architect for the controversial project off River Road next to the Willamette River bikepath. “We received re-approval of our tentative PUD application back in October,” Dixon says. “No surprise, the opposition has appealed this once again to LUBA. On Nov. 12 we re-applied our final PUD application.

350 Eugene is having a New Year’s gathering from 7 to 9 pm Thursday, Jan. 14, at the First United Methodist Church, 1367 Olive Street. The agenda includes an expert panel on Oregon’s Healthy Climate Bill and updates on climate campaigns. 

The son of an active-duty Marine, Jon Labrousse grew up in several West Coast cities, then went to high school in Hawaii. “Most of the kids were Asians and Pacific Islanders,” he says. “It was a huge growth experience.” He enrolled at Oregon State University to study engineering, but after a required reading class with John Campbell he began writing poetry and changed his major to English. He spent two years teaching in Japan and South Korea before settling in Eugene in 1996 with his wife, Tasha Katsuda. “We met at OSU,” he says.

Most people think of the University of Oregon’s contribution to our community’s creativity as primarily educational. But many of its faculty members perform, and this Thursday, Jan. 14, at 7:30 pm, a passel of them will be strutting their onstage skills at the school’s Beall Concert Hall for MASSIVE: A UO Megarecital.

Songwriter Vanessa Carlton’s 2015 release Liberman is partially inspired by her grandfather. “He was a painter,” Carlton tells EW. Carlton’s family changed its surname from Liberman to Lee after World War II “because of anti-Semitism,” she says.

Carlton hangs her grandfather’s work near the piano where she writes her music. “The swirling, beautiful, crazy colors ended up being the inspiration for the type of music I was writing. I wanted to honor his work as a painter,” she recalls.

San Francisco band The Shanghais have never been to Eugene. Lead vocalist Natalie Sweet is wondering if we have any good vegan food here.

“I’m always on the hunt,” Sweet tells EW via email. Based on that question alone, the quartet should feel right at home in our fair city with its verdant veggie foodie scene.

DEAR OREGON

Your air feels freer, your coffee tastes richer and you always sound like a Sunday afternoon. I must a steal line and declare, “Oregon, I have just met you, and I love you.” It has been so few days, and yet I already wish to rip off my license plate and replace it with yours and a matching collegiate bumper sticker. 

As a queer man of color—I’m Asian—I feel wounded whenever I am exposed to gay men in New York City, Toronto, or any city where white gay men dominate. Gay men, mostly whites and Asians, reject me because of my race and no one admits to their sexual racism. I understand that sexual attraction is subconscious for many people. But it is unfair for a gay Asian like myself to be constantly marginalized and rejected. I fight for gay rights, too. I believe in equality, too. I had the same pain of being gay in high school and the same fears when coming out.

Mexico-born director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu is custom-built for Hollywood. Like Hollywood, Iñárritu is neither as deep nor as heavy as he believes himself to be, and he regularly mistakes size and scale for epic seriousness. Since he burst onto the scene in 2000 with Amores Perros, and up to his Oscar turn last year with Birdman, Iñárritu has been making a practice of philosophizing with a hammer, turning supposedly heavy spiritual and existential themes (21 Grams, Babel) into sophomore courses in reductive obviousness and false epiphanies.

Sniffing out what you shouldn’t miss in the arts this week

Margaret Miner Morton, better known as Peg Morton in the activist and Quaker community, died Dec. 19 at age 85 of natural causes. Before she died, her voice and charisma still filled rooms, and with medical intervention, she likely would have had more years to live, love and be politically active, but her body was telling her, “It’s time to go.” 

She was hospitalized with pneumonia over Thanksgiving weekend, and her overall health and vitality were slipping. She said she didn’t wish to burden herself or her loved ones, or expend resources through the kind of prolonged decline she had observed in others, most recently while living at the Olive Plaza senior apartments downtown. Morton said she appreciated medical science, but not when it artificially extended life at great expense and suffering.

She granted EW an hour of one-on-one conversation in her light-filled 12th floor apartment, overlooking east Eugene and the Cascades in the distance. She was limiting her diet to a cup of yogurt a day and some green tea. She was about to begin the dry fast that ended her life Dec. 19, after two days in a coma, at the home of friends and in the presence of loved ones. The way she chose to die, by not eating or taking in fluids for 12 days, represents only a small part of her life, but it was also a spiritual and political statement. 

Kind of like in summer, the winter Solstice just slipped by with nary a wink or a nod. The approach is so gradual in both ways that only a calendar watcher (or member of a pagan community) knows for sure what day to celebrate Solstice. The extra rainy December meant that it was cloudy most nights. Night sky changes were hard to follow despite regular bedtime walks. I have seen Orion less than five times since he first returned to the night sky.

An urban promenade, balconies, sloped roofs, trellises, tables and chairs on the street.

Those features were all promised in Capstone Collegiate Communities’ application for a Multi-Unit Property Tax Exemption (MUPTE) submitted to the city of Eugene on Jan. 24, 2012. City Manager Jon Ruiz recommended the application to the City Council, which voted to approve Capstone for the exemption, allowing developers to pay no taxes on the new structure for 10 years — or the equivalent of a $16-million tax break. 

A female dog euthanized in late December at 1st Avenue Shelter is the subject of some online uproar. City of Eugene Animal Services and 1st Avenue Shelter say the pregnant dog had a bite record and repeatedly demonstrated aggressive behavior, while advocacy group No Kill Lane County maintains that the dog could have been rehabilitated. 

Molly Monette, animal welfare supervisor with City of Eugene Animal Services, says a Eugene citizen picked up the stray boxer on Nov. 20. While in that person’s custody, the dog escaped from her enclosure.

A manufacturer is forming a lawsuit against Eugene’s voter-approved Toxics Right-to-Know (TRK) program because he is upset about paying an annual $2,000 fee. Advocates for the program say the community TRK law is a key element in making public health decisions. 

Vanilla ISIS, Y’all Quaeda, YeeHawdists, terrorists, militants, militia — whatever you call them, and whether you fear them or laugh at them, the band of mainly out-of-state, armed and anti-government protesters who have taken over the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Oregon’s east side have drawn almost nonstop attention since their siege of the remote bird sanctuary began Jan. 3.

• Eyes nationwide have been focused on Harney County this week, but Eugene’s federal courthouse has some interesting ties to the band of armed protesters who have taken over a bird sanctuary in Eastern Oregon. The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff began after ranchers Steve and Dwight Hammond were convicted and sentenced for arson on federal lands. The judge who sentenced them for less than the congressionally mandated minimums was Judge Michael Hogan here in Eugene’s federal courthouse.

We wrote about changes afoot at Wings Seminars in this column Dec. 10 and we’ve since heard from Wings founder Kris King that the company is for sale following a personal tragedy. “My son died a year ago and I realized I work too much. Working 28 days a month is not the smartest thing,” she says. “I have two offers and three more are coming in.” Finding the right new owner may be a challenge, she says. The new owner “needs to be ethically aligned … I’m not just selling a business.

Who's who and what’s what in dance this month

• The political film Merchants of Doubt will be shown at 6 pm Thursday, Jan. 7, at Bijou Art Cinemas on 13th Avenue. The film looks at the secretive group of pundits-for-hire who dispute the science of climate change and toxic chemicals. 

Welcome back, students, to the cold wet winter of your discontent, otherwise known as the dark term before spring break 2016. It’s time to shake the shards of sugarplum fairies out of your sensory-savoring limbic systems and pay attention to politics. The Oregon Legislature returns to Salem in less than a month. Beware! 

Music News & notes from down in the Willamette valley.