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Happening People

November 9, 2017

 “I thought I’d go to law school,” says Michelle Holman, who grew up in Medford, majored in sociology at the University of Oregon and then worked briefly at Zoozoo’s Restaurant in Eugene, “but then I met Richie.” Richie Gross was a Hoedad tree planter living in Deadwood, an unincorporated community in the Coast Range. The pair got married and purchased a parcel of land six miles up Deadwood Creek in 1979.

October 19, 2017

 “I had a great childhood,” says seventh-generation Mainer Anna Howe, who grew up in Cape Elizabeth, a short walk from the ocean. She slept in a tent all summer, skied in the winter and garnered more merit badges than any other Girl Scout in the country. Later, she studied business at nearby Westbrook College, ski-bummed in Colorado and protested the Vietnam War by helping draft resisters move to Canada. She also moved to Canada, was married twice, raised two sons and homesteaded off the grid for 14 years in Nova Scotia.

September 28, 2017

On the weekend of Sept. 22 through 24, Eugene’s Very Little Theatre Stage Left hosted three staged readings of a brand-new play — Now I am Your Neighbor — written by Nancy Hopps, directed by Carol Dennis, produced by Community Alliance of Lane County and based on real-life stories of immigrants living in Lane County. One of the featured immigrants is Rosie Hernandez of Springfield, who wrote a poem for the presentation. Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, she moved with her family to Mexico City when she was 12 years old. “I went to middle and high school in Mexico City,” she says.

September 14, 2017

 On Friday, Sept. 29, in Portland, The Street Trust, formerly known as the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, will present its Bud Clark Lifetime Achievement Award to Shane MacRhodes of Eugene, whose advocacy was instrumental in securing $125 million for Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) in a recently passed statewide transportation bill. A third-generation Eugenean, MacRhodes moved to Alaska with his mom at age 11, when his parents separated. “I biked to high school in Anchorage,” he notes.

August 31, 2017

I’ve been working six or seven days a week,” says Hal Hushbeck, native plant nursery manager for the Friends of Buford Park and Mount Pisgah, who oversees the production of more than 100 species of native flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees. He works with a paid field crew of four and a pool of 50 volunteers. Starts, bulbs and seeds from the nursery are planted to restore native habitats in the park and in neighboring areas. “We do fee-for-service restoration on the Nature Conservancy’s Willamette Confluence project and on the power line right-of-way,” he says.

August 10, 2017

“My mission in life is bringing people to nature in a sacred way,” says Rob Miller, founder, program designer and lead guide for Cascadia Quest, a Eugene nonprofit that offers nine-day small-group wilderness rites of passage for adults and for 14-18 year-old boys. Outings for teenage girls will be added next year. “Music was where I found my voice,” says Miller, a Florida native who started playing clarinet in high school, majored in music performance at the University of Miami, and improvised on saxophone and flute in world beat bands in New York City and on tour.

July 20, 2017

“My parents were apolitical,” says Shawn Donnille, who grew up in Orange County, California, a Republican stronghold. “Every summer we spent two weeks in Nevada City, an old mining community, and connected with plants and wildlife.” At age 15, Donnille started an environmental club at Villa Park High School. “We planted trees on campus,” he notes, “and organized monthly debates.” After high school, he moved to Nevada City and took part in Earth First! campaigns to save redwood forests and to ban sport hunting of cougars.

June 29, 2017

In November of 2016, the League of Women Voters of Lane County named Janet Calvert as recipient of its Annabel Kitzhaber Education and Advocacy Award, honoring her long commitment to the community. A third-generation Oregonian, Calvert grew up in Tigard. “I had a 4H home-ec project,” she says.

May 25, 2017

“People who need stuff seem to fall in my path,” says Magnolia Rainbow, known to her friends as a champion of the underdog, who takes care of wayward teenagers and animals. “And I find a way to help them.” Her small house in Springfield currently shelters 11 people, including her sons Tanner and Mac, ages 21 and 15, and three dogs, including Paddy and Bernie, on the porch in the photo. “My parents were hippies,” says Rainbow, who was born in a school bus and spent her elementary and middle school years in Ashland.

May 11, 2017

 “I loved the mountains,” says Carter McKenzie, who spent her childhood in Colorado Springs. She studied English literature at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, on her way to a master’s from the University of Virginia, and she worked on American history projects in the Library of Congress. “I was writing poetry and short stories on my own,” says McKenzie, who got married and followed her husband’s theater production career from New York City to Berkeley.

April 20, 2017

“I got my first camera at the age of 13,” says Walt O’Brien, who joined the camera club at Stephen F. Austin Junior High in Amarillo, Texas. “Our darkroom was in the janitor’s closet.” O’Brien built a darkroom in the attic at home while in high school and another in the basement of his frat house at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. He spent one five-month summer season working at Yellowstone National Park while in college and three more summers there after graduating with a degree in German. “I had only one day a week off,” he says.

April 6, 2017

 “I started out as an ‘A’ student,” says Barb Ryan, who grew up in Schenectady, New York, and lapsed into depression and began using drugs after her best friend’s suicide at age 14 — eventually graduating in the bottom third of her class. “Later, looking back, I learned a lot about life and myself.” In her 20s, she volunteered for a suicide hotline while working for pay at a headshop warehouse. “I was clean,” she says, “and living in a socially active, anti-war Christian community.

March 23, 2017

“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.

March 9, 2017

“I’ve had two lives,” says Ilene Cummings, who grew up in Irvington, New Jersey, got married after high school and had five children by age 35. “I was a full-time homemaker: PTA and apple pie.” Then, at 38, she enrolled at nearby Ocean County College. Eight years later, with a degree in literature from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a divorce, she returned to OCC to start up a non-credit human growth and development program at the Center for Adults in Transition. “It was the era of civil rights and feminism,” she says. “Women came out in droves.

February 16, 2017

When twins Joshua and Benjamin Phelps were four years old and living in Pittsburgh, their dad Randy Phelps taught them to build a circuit with a battery and a motor. “He got us interested,” Joshua says, and two years later the family moved to Eugene, their dad’s hometown. “Over the years, we’ve built many more complex circuits.” They ran wires throughout the house for an in-home telegraph system and built an electric airplane that flew five blocks before landing in a tree.

February 2, 2017

The daughter of a pair of Methodist missionaries, Sarah Swofford grew up from age three to eight in Montevideo, Uruguay. “I was old enough to keep my Spanish,” she notes. Back in the U.S., the family settled in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. “After high school, I lived in Bolivia for a year,” she says. “I volunteered with a women and children’s social project in a rented garage. The director and I helped them find medical and legal resources.

January 19, 2017

“I studied for a year at the University of Dakar in Senegal,” says Michael Fuller, who was at the time a philosophy major at Kalamazoo College in Michigan. His graduation requirements included study abroad and work-study at home, so he also taught outdoor school in his home state of Maine. After graduation, Fuller returned to Ocean Park, Maine, to continue teaching outdoor school. He moved to Eugene four years later, in 1986.

December 22, 2016

“As a kid, I did drama, music and dance,” says Via Filipe, who grew up in Salt Lake City. “At first, my mom didn’t allow sports.” But her mother later relented, and in high school Filipe excelled at volleyball, basketball and track. She won a volleyball scholarship to the University of South Alabama in Mobile, and also played for the USA Junior National Team in Europe and for a pro team in South America.

December 8, 2016

A native of Clearwater, Florida, Sam Krop got her start in social and environmental activism as a student at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. “I was working with Food Not Bombs,” she says. “The city had made it illegal to share food with more than 25 people. They were trying to suppress the homeless population. Lots of people got arrested, but in the end, the law was overturned.

November 17, 2016

On Sunday, Nov. 20, from noon-2 pm, Tsunami Books will host a book release celebration for Kristin K. Collier of Eugene, author of the memoir Housewife: Home-remaking in a Transgender Marriage. After high school graduation in Eureka, California, Collier’s planned odyssey to New York to study theater took her only as far as Wyoming, where she met the son of a rancher. They got married and moved to Eugene, where she studied English and he majored in architecture at the UO.

November 10, 2016

“I grew up on the creek,” says Lane County native Corrina Welding, “out past Pleasant Hill on Lost Creek Road, a mile from the dead end.” Her father, Alfie Welding, was a welder. He had a structural steel construction business and managed a crew of employees, working mostly in Eugene and Springfield. He was also a Vietnam veteran who had been exposed to the insecticide Agent Orange. He developed cancer years later and died in 2010 at age 59. Following graduation from Pleasant Hill High School, Welding studied at the Cascade Institute of Massage and Body Therapies.

October 27, 2016

Born in Sonora, California, to a Native American mother and a European-American dad, Sara Billdt grew up in several small towns in the Sierra foothills. After her parents divorced, she and her father, Luther Billdt, moved to Phoenix, Oregon, near Medford. “My father sold cars,” she says. “We were poor, but we had everything we needed.” After high school graduation in 2003, she and her father moved to Eugene, where he has retired. She held a series of food service jobs and began to sing and play guitar on open mic nights at Cafe Paradiso.

October 13, 2016

Though he was born in Eugene, Charles Denson moved to Silver City, Nevada, with his parents when he was 6. “We came back to visit family in the summer and for weddings,” he says. “I moved back in 2006 after high school and got started at Lane Community College.” He began to volunteer with campus groups addressing environmental and social justice issues, and he traveled to Copenhagen in 2009 with a group of young people to lobby U.S. delegates to the United Nations negotiations on climate change.

September 29, 2016

“I’ve been an artist my whole life,” says Mija Andrade, who made national news in 1986 at Salinas High School in California, when she went to the senior prom with her best friend, another girl. “We had boy friends at different schools. When we were denied permission, we took it to court and won the case.” Andrade studied graphic arts at University of California, Santa Cruz and worked for a decade as a graphic artist in Monterey. She began to study massage therapy in 1994, a year before moving to Eugene with her then husband.