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A muted chorus of flip-flops drags across pavement on a sweltering spring day, as scantily clad coeds make a pilgrimage toward the river, inner tubes draped like bandoleers. Gotta keep those hands free for important things, like beer. Yes, you can drink on any river in Oregon, but as to whether you should … well, as in many things, moderation is key. 

From farm to sea to garden, Oregon is an invigorating place to live if you love good, fresh food and drink. Every summer, foodies gather around the state to celebrate the bounty of our cuisine at food festivals. Here are six events worth planning mini road trips around in the summer of 2014.

Keegan Keppner sits in a green plastic lawn chair with “Whoville” scrawled on it in Sharpie, the O written as a peace sign and surrounded by hearts and asterisks as if it was decorated by an adoring fan. Keegan’s knees are jammed up in his black sweatshirt and he shifts around to evade the chilliness of the spring evening. Cars roar past the temporary encampment on 8th and Mill. 

Eugene Weekly asked geographer Al Urquhart to let us in on some of his favorite spaces and places in Eugene.

What would he show summer visitors from larger Western cities — Portland, Seattle? We don’t want sites simply of local interest. With these places and spaces Urquhart said he is trying to show the unique character of Eugene and Springfield. Urquhart taught cultural geography at the UO for about 30 years and has been keenly interested in the unfolding of this area. Let us know what you would add or subtract from this list.

Oregon is “the hub, for whatever reason, of the for-profit fire industry,” writes journalist and South Eugene High School grad McKenzie Funk in his book Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming (Penguin Press, 2014, $27.95). Funk writes not simply of how we are preparing for a warmer planet, but rather he focuses on those who see the melt, drought and deluge of climate change as a market opportunity. Funk will speak at 6 pm Thursday, June 5, at the Eugene Public Library, free. 

On May 27 the Eugene Police Department brought the City Council a proposal to close Kesey Square between 11 pm and 6 am, a move that some say is targeting the homeless population. Kesey Square, aka Broadway Plaza, is a city-deemed performance space that sits on the corner of Broadway and Willamette, home to the bronze statue of Ken Kesey. The City Council has not scheduled a vote.

Civil Liberties Defense Center attorney Lauren Regan says the proposal to close the public square is repugnant in the face of the human rights image touted by the city of Eugene.

The current fight against GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in Lane County is one small battle in a larger war, according to Thomas Linzey, the executive director of the legal nonprofit group the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.

Marbled murrelets have been observed in the East Hakki timber sale in the Elliott State Forest, according to the Coast Range Forest Watch, a group of citizen scientists that regularly surveys for the threatened sea birds that fly many miles in from the ocean to nest in the Elliott.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality sent International Paper a warning letter on May 16 following a line break at International Paper’s Springfield facility, which resulted in discharge of treated process water into Irving Slough. According to DEQ’s letter, the discharge violated Oregon environmental law, and this violation is classified as “serious.” DEQ determined that the violation was beyond International Paper’s reasonable control, and therefore chose not to assess a penalty.

Emerge Oregon has been recruiting and training women to run for public office for five years now. The May Primary had 14 Emerge alumnae running for positions around the state, including Dawn Lesley’s challenge to unseat Jay Bozievich in the West Lane commission race, a race so close it’s still undecided. Sheri Moore, who ran against Sid Leiken in the Springfield commission race, is another grad, along with Rep. Val Hoyle.

The Oregon Legislature last summer approved $3.75 million in seed funding for the South Willamette Valley Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network. RAIN’s goal is economic development for our region, which is slowly making the transition from a dependence on natural resources to a knowledge-based economy. RAIN is intended to help researchers at UO and OSU spin off private companies, provide mentors and create workspaces for tech start-ups.

• Oregon author and fish biologist Jim Lichatowich will speak at 6 pm Thursday, May 29, at Cozmic, 199 W. 8th Ave. He will read from and discuss his new book Salmon, People, and Place: A Biologist’s Search for Salmon Recovery. This event is free and sponsored by the Western Environmental Law Center. Call 255-0209.

Serving up morsels of Eugene food and drink news

“My mom is white and my dad is black,” says Rena Dunbar, who learned about racism first-hand, growing up along with her twin sister Leah in Fort Wayne, Ind., a segregated steel mill industrial town. “Seeing discrimination made us activists.” The twins won scholarships to DePauw University in southern Indiana. They majored in English, started a chapter of Amnesty International and protested the first Gulf War. After graduation in 1994, Rena followed the Grateful Dead on tour as far as Autzen Stadium shows in June, and decided to stay on in Eugene.

It’s tough to convey unbridled enthusiasm via email, but Trevor Straub of Pookie and The Poodlez (of Oakland, Calif.) comes close: “Yeah, I can do that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!,” Straub responds to my email interview request. 

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

When hard-pressed to describe Pigeon John’s sound, I choose “soul-rap” — living somewhere between early Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder (hard to listen to and not smile) and uplifting indie West Coast hip hop. 

We welcome you all, to a world where no paper currency exists, no dreams of the afterlife are sought after and everyone is together, striving to form a unified consciousness. That’s not a snippet of The Communist Manifesto, but the opening line to the comic book Bustin’ Jieber vs. The Gravy Robbers.

In the U.S. your freedom of — and from — religion is protected. Everyone’s is. Under federal law, you have the right to believe or disbelieve whatever you want, to practice (or not) any religion you choose, and to attend the church, synagogue, mosque, temple, coven, or faerie circle of your liking — if any. That’s a lot of freedom.

According to the National Survey of High School Biology Teachers, 13 percent of American high school bio teachers explicitly teach creationism in the classroom. Sixty percent give evolution very little class time and 17 percent don’t even touch the subject at all, wanting to avoid the whole controversy. These statistics speak to the state of radical religious interference with education, which gives a ’50s play new relevance in the 21st century.

THE POWER OF SEXISM

The emergence of sexuality in the teen and early adult years is confusing for all of us. For women, the situation is complicated by their position on the victim end of sexism. Many young women, myself included, enter this period with a belief that men and women are equal, and that their wishes regarding their own bodies will be generally respected by others. It is a shock to find out that this is not true.

I’m a 25-year-old straight guy. Last month, I was in the locker room at my gym. It was 4 a.m., and I was the only one around. I was getting ready to leave, when I noticed someone exiting the showers. He kinda caught me looking (he was very well-endowed), and I quickly turned my head, embarrassed. About 20 seconds later, he came around the corner and said, “Hey, how ya doin’?” He was still naked, and it was obvious that he was wondering if I wanted to try something.

By some fateful collision of time, situation and personality, certain individuals come to represent the places where they live, in such a way that the association becomes nearly mythological: Lou Reed symbolizes the junky glam of the East Village, Harvey Milk is forever Mayor of the Castro District, Saul Bellow haunts Chicago’s Humboldt Park.

Days of Future Past opens in a dark future, a world devastated by war. A ragtag band of mutants, led by Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellan), puts up a decent fight against the Sentinels, but they have zero hope of victory against the shape-shifting, mutant-hunting robots.