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In the coming months, all eleven of Douglas County’s public libraries will close due to severe county budget shortfalls brought on by the loss of federal timber revenue.

Beneath Eugene’s Washington Jefferson Bridge, a swath of park stretches from Sixth to First avenues. On a sunny March day, every pillar is occupied — some with tarps, blankets and shopping carts, and some with makeshift shelters constructed from clothing, towels and fabrics. Most people blanketed below these temporary refuges are asleep at 2 pm. 

If you were dismissive, as we were, of the recent rumor that Oregon’s own Art Robinson could be named Trump’s science advisor, you might read Jane Mayer’s brilliant article in the March 27 New Yorker on “Trump’s Money Man.” That’s Robert Mercer, “a reclusive hedge fund tycoon” who rivals the Koch brothers for bankrolling extreme-right politicians. Mercer has funded Robinson in his several failed efforts to beat our Congressman Peter DeFazio. After reading this shocking article, it is clear that

How do we assign value to a forest? Is it in board feet of timber? Is it in jobs? Is it in its ability to re-grow trees?

Is it in the size of the trees? Is it in tourism? Is it in waterfalls and boulder runs? Is it in elk and deer to hunt? Is it in salmon to fish? Is it in habitat for ravens, bald eagles, osprey, northern spotted owls, marbled murrelets, belted kingfishers, juncos and chickadees? Is it in foraging for chanterelles, thimbleberries, fiddle heads and stinging nettle?

It’s all over now except for the hiring. Eugene Symphony’s yearlong music director search has all but ended, once more attracting national attention as the orchestra seeks to replace Danail Rachev when he leaves at the end of this season.

Artists live at the crossroads of the active and the passive, between merely creating and sharing or creating and engaging with the broader community.

Asian-American pop-punk band The Slants perfectly represent the latter by intertwining their classic punk sound with a fight for social justice.

TOO MANY PEOPLE

The root cause of current climate change must be addressed: human over-population in a world with finite resources.

Too many people equals a large appetite for energy, fresh water and arable land. In 1900, the world population was 1.5 billion. By 1965, it was 3.3 billion. Only 52 years later, 7 billion!

Technically speaking, Dear World isn’t a very good musical. In fact, it’s well-nigh ridiculous, a shameless crowd-pleaser that is somehow baggy and thin at once, swapping character development and narrative coherence for broad strokes of platitude and attitude stitched together by the pomp-and-circus-pants of forced Parisian gaiety and bunk philosophical truisms. The songs are pretty good, though.

Gay guy here. Met a guy online. He came over. We had incredible sex and then a great conversation lasting several hours. But—and you knew there was one coming—he told me that he lied about his HIV status. (I asked him before meeting him, like I do with anyone.) He is undetectable, but he told me initially he was “HIV/STD negative.” I got very upset—more from the lie than his status. (I know that undetectable is practically the same as negative.) I really like him, but that was a big lie. He told me all about his life and any other secrets after that.

I live with two cats, and I haven’t looked at either of them in quite the same way since seeing Kedi, a lovely new documentary about the entrenched population of street cats roaming the ancient city of Istanbul.

The homeless are not the problem; homelessness is. Eugene’s advocates for the unhoused are working overtime, searching for solutions. We should do more, we can do more and our local governments must do more. 

The dog ban pushes those with nowhere to go out of downtown or forces them to give up a source of comfort and security, without fixing the root problem that puts people on the streets.

In this issue we look at Pastor Dan Bryant, one of the city’s tireless workers for those in need, and the unsung Eugene Public Library, which has been filling in the cracks a day shelter should fill.

Eugene Public Library: The De Facto Day Shelter

A Day in the Life

 

A couple degrees colder and the rain would freeze.

“Hi there. Hello. Excuse me,” Pastor Dan Bryant says to a crumpled heap of blankets and backpacks. “It’s time to start collecting your things.”

Silence and darkness. Only select corner marts, coffee joints and gas stations are open at this hour.

“I just need a sign of recognition,” Bryant asserts.

A corner of fabric folds back, and out from the confusing wad signals a tiny hand.

It’s ten minutes before the doors open and more than 30 people have gathered in the entry garden of Eugene’s downtown public library. They are reading books, looking at their phones and chatting about movies. Some buy coffee at the Novella Café. They are in wheelchairs, in camo, in beanies. Some carry bags, one has a didgeridoo. There are fathers with babies, retirees, young professionals and sleepy-eyed women carrying crafting supplies.

A number of them are homeless.

When the library doors open nearly 50 people enter, a quiet mass that spreads to every floor, perusing books, heading into story hours for infants or getting online on the many available computers. 

According to the city of Eugene, roughly 3,000 people in the community have no home to return to on any given night, and many others are on the brink of becoming homeless.

Yet for the past four years, the city has poured money, time and energy into designing a new City Hall that has yet to come to fruition, while the unhoused continue spending their nights on the streets.  

Air quality concerns — after revelations about Portland’s glass factories — bee die-offs and longtime worries about the dangers of aerial sprays, are hopefully being addressed via bills introduced into Oregon’s Legislature this session. 

After nearly six months of discussion, Springfield will join dozens of cities nationwide, including Eugene, to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday of October. 

Giustina Land & Timber Co, 541-345-2301, plans to hire Northwest Reforestation Services LLC, 541-520-6215, to ground spray 54.2 acres on three units south of Fox Hollow Road; 162.1 acres on three units near Camas Swale; 50.6 acres near Bennett Creek; and 5.1 acres near Jones Creek with clopyralid, sulfometuron methyl, atrazine, hexazinone, Forest Crop Oil and/or Crop Oil Concentrate. See ODF notifications 2017-781-02786 and 2017-781-02857, call Brian Peterson at 541-935-2283 with questions.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) sent VISCO, Inc., a warning letter on March 10 for Clean Water Act violations at its Awbrey Lane facility. DEQ inspected VISCO’s facility on Feb. 9 and observed that VISCO was failing to clean up sand blasting material, leaving it exposed to precipitation and therefore vulnerable to ending up in local waterways.

• Close on the heels of the news that conservative Councilor George Poling was stepping down from the Eugene City Council, longtime conservative Lane County Commissioner Faye Stewart announced his departure from the Board of Commissioners. Appointments for replacements will be made in April, and the replacements will probably reflect their predecessor’s right-leaning values, but here’s to hoping that these transitions leave some openings for electing progressives who prioritize the environment, human rights and helping those in need. 

• The growing popularity of tiny houses is leading Keith Schneider of Eugene’s Bohemian Cottages to expand from construction into all-day, do-it-yourself seminars locally and across the nation. Schneider and his crew have built or remodeled about 35 custom-crafted tiny dwellings over the past eight years, most 200 square feet or smaller.

Ten Douglas County library branches will close on April 1, and Roseburg’s main branch library will close May 31. Douglas County Commissioners have asked for specific input on governing source, funding streams and other library system operating issues. Public comment is needed on long-term solutions to the library system’s funding crisis. Whether you can or can’t attend the hearing, submit comments by email (commissioners@co.douglas.or.us leif@co.douglas.or.us) or snail mail (DC Commissioners, Courthouse, Room 217, 1036 S.E.

“My parents were the children of sharecroppers in the panhandle of Texas,” says David Monk, who was born in Texas but was reared from age 6 in Las Vegas. “My dad worked at underground construction, digging tunnels for sewers and hydroelectricity.” After high school, Monk came to Eugene to study Russian at the University of Oregon. He took three year-long breaks to work underground, in a coal mine and a hydro project, on his way to a 1983 degree in political science.

For Lane County musician and educator Tony Rust, Rolling Stones’ record Sticky Fingers is a “top of the pile” album. “It’s an album I grew up with,” he says. “Solid songs all the way through.” 

Thaddeus Moore, owner and operator of Eugene’s long-running Sprout City Studios, jokes that he hates battles of the bands.