News Briefs: Bishop Shines Modern Light on Religion | Songs for Salmon | Riverfront Research Park Document | Nonvoter Election | Homeless Action | Activist Alerts | War Dead |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Happening People: Maxine Proskurowsky
BISHOP SHINES MODERN LIGHT ON RELIGION
Bishop John Shelby Spong isn’t your average Episcopal preacher. A retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, NJ, Spong is known for lectures joining Christian beliefs with scientific inquiry in an attempt to create a “new Christianity.” Spong will be visiting Eugene Nov. 13 and 14 to present his ideas and spur community conversation.
“I call him a modern-day Renaissance man,” said Rev. Ed Conrad of Unity of the Valley, where Spong will speak Sunday. “He creates a bridge for people to look deeper into the fundamental beliefs of Christianity and then challenge them.”
Conrad said that the Unity church is founded on similar goals, aiming to update the old dogmas of religious texts for “21st century spiritual life.” Unity and Spong’s movement both focus on welcoming all members of society, deeply religious or not, to explore spirituality.
“His work means different things to different people,” Conrad said. “He represents something the Unity and its diverse congregation can relate to.”
Spong has a history of challenging the majority of traditional Christianity beliefs. He opposes the rejection of homosexuality and protests racial inequalities. Spong calls himself “a believer who knows and loves the Bible deeply,” while also recognizing that “parts of it have been used to undergird prejudices and to mask violence.”
In addition to writing -— he has published more than 20 books on his ideologies — Spong, 79, spends most of the year traveling around the county to lecture and discuss a more modern Christianity with the public.
Public controversy remains a constant for Spong. Conrad said that as of 2006, Spong had received 16 death threats for his ideas.
“He’s courageous to speak out on his beliefs,” Conrad said. “Wherever he goes, there’s always a chance for negative feedback. I can’t say what will happen next weekend.”
On Saturday, Spong will speak at the Hilton Eugene at 9:30 am and on Sunday at Unity of the Valley at the 11 am service, followed by a 1:30 pm lecture. To register and purchase tickets, visit www.unityofthevalley.com — Alex Zielinski
SONGS FOR SALMON
They’re jammin’, and they’re jammin’ in the name of the fish; salmon to be precise. Local acts the Sugar Beets, jazz & rock performers Kokobola, and Kirtan artist Jaya Lakshmi are teaming up with advocacy group Artists4Action to host a “Jammin’ 4 Salmon” concert at the Vet’s Club on Nov. 13. Proceeds from the concert will raise funds for the conservation group Columbia Riverkeeper through a CD that could be released as early as spring 2011.
“I’m looking forward to the music,” Vicki Estrada, Artists4Action contributor and backup singer for Lakshmi, says. “I love the Sugar Beets, and they get everybody going. Kokobola, they’re not really well-known, but they are fantastic. They are real musical magicians — they are just technically perfect. Their music is beautiful, and it’s coming from another realm.”
The CD, a soundtrack for a proposed movie that Artists4Action is promoting, will benefit Columbia Riverkeeper, a Portland-based conservation group that works to restore and protect the salmon-bearing waters of the mighty river. The salmon-bearing Willamette and McKenzie Rivers, which flow through Lane County, join with the Columbia before it flows into the ocean.
Brett VandenHeuvel, the executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper says that water preservation in Lane County is vital to the health of salmon. “Fish travel all the way from the ocean to these beautiful headwater streams,” VandenHeuvel says, “so that’s land we need to continue to protect.”
Both the concert and CD are part of a larger project promoting environmentally-oriented films and music to advocate for their causes, according to Cat Koehn, Artists4Action’s director. The CD is planned as a soundtrack to a movie that Koehn is pitching to agents. “It is designed as a full length adventure romance that just happens to have a lady biologist as the protagonist,” she says.
Artists4Action plans to continue their work after the salmon project with more environmentally conscious art. “We want to work on addressing a lot of environmental problems through collaborative action between artists and their audiences,” Koehn says.
Doors open at 7 pm; the music starts at 8 pm. Tickets will be sold on a $10-30 sliding scale at the door; kids 12 and under are $5, under 3 free. — Shannon Finnell
RIVERFRONT RESEARCH PARK DOCUMENT
Members of the Connecting Eugene citizen group say they have uncovered an intergovernmental agreement signed by the University of Oregon in 1986 “entrusting public institutions to protect the public interest by establishing an open and inclusive process for the development of the Riverfront Research Park.”
The group and the UO’s student government allege the document implicates the UO in “violating local laws and a contractual obligation that requires public review before new construction occurs in the controversial Riverfront Research Park.”
Oregon Research Institute’s planned new riverfront building and the research park development plan from the 1980s have created dissent among many in Eugene who would rather see the riverfront used as a public space and for both ecosystem and human connectivity.
Paul Cziko, a graduate student in the Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and member of Connecting Eugene says, “We should figure out as a community what should be done.”
According to the uncovered 1986 document: “The uniquely sited land in question will have maximum attractiveness to potential tenants if care is taken to achieve thematic consistency in terms of layout, open spaces and boundary interfaces” with the Willamette River, Eugene’s downtown and the university campus.
Connecting Eugene says on its website that the issue is not with ORI’s work, but with the planning process and the definition of good use of the riverfront.
According to Connecting Eugene, public processes have been subverted in the planning of the new construction. “For a university, which teaches democracy, openness and due process, we should hold ourselves to the highest standards of these ideals,” says Cziko.
The group says it is putting pressure on President Richard Lariviere to uphold the 1986 agreement. “It’s not ‘what do we want,’ and ‘what do you want,’ it’s that there’s a public process that’s required by city code and agreements between our institutions,” says Cziko.
They have also asked the University Senate to vote on a “Resolution Requesting the University to Comply with the Existing Intergovernmental Agreement on the Riverfront Research Park” at the Nov. 10 meeting. UO professor emeritus Frank Stahl and landscape architecture professor Ron Lovinger are among the sponsors of the resolution. EW will post the results of the vote at blogs.eugeneweekly.com
The senate has been supportive of Connecting Eugene’s goals in the past. In January 2010, the University Senate voted to declare “opposition to the planned development of the first 4.3-acre increment of the Riverfront Research Park” until the university underwent a student and faculty inclusive and open process for revising the Riverfront Research Park master plan.
The resolution and other documents can be found at http://wkly.ws/w9 Go to connectingeugene.org for more information. — Camilla Mortensen
This month’s election swept into power one of the most right wing county commissions the area has seen in decades.
But did voters change their minds, or was it simply that other people voted?
With nearly 40,000 fewer people voting this year than two years ago, the Lane County turnout percentage dropped from 88 percent in the November 2008 presidential election to 71 percent this month.
The nonvoters were more than enough to sway the election. Republican Sid Leiken won the Springfield commissioner seat by 2,526 votes, and Tea Party libertarian Jay Bozievich won the west county seat by 3,052 votes.
In the Bozievich race, another big factor was money. Developer, land speculator, gravel and timber baron interests showered the anti-regulation candidate with cash, pushing his war chest to $208,150. Immediately after his election, Bozievich called for canceling proposed rules to protect Eugene’s drinking water from fecal matter. — Alan Pittman
In the 1990s the local Homeless Action Coalition (HAC) successfully pushed for a camping ordinance allowing legal places for the poor to sleep, but the group became inactive around 2000 after key members became ill and died (EW 10/7).
But now, says the group’s chairman Wayne Ford, “HAC is back.”
Ford says the need for homeless advocacy has only grown. “The population is bigger, and the economy sucks.”
The city is in the midst of a crackdown on the homeless, using an exclusion ordinance to kick many poor people out of downtown.
But Ford says the group will start slowly with trying to increase awareness of the homeless problem. “We’re going to keep it simple; we’re just an infant organization right now.”
Ford said one action area might be trying to get more homeless people the Social Security and disability benefits they are entitled to. He said up to a third of those eligible may not be collecting. The effort could bring millions of dollars into the local economy where it will be quickly spent, according to Ford. “It could be a huge stimulus.”— Alan Pittman
• The Oregon Climate Summit will be held from 8 am to 5 pm, Friday, Nov. 19 at the Eugene Hilton. Speakers include Nobel Peace Prize winner Bill Moomaw and Mayor Kitty Piercy. Info and registration ($75) at www.ompoc.org online.
• Public comment on the Elliot State Forest logging plan (http://tiny.cc/5l6sa) has opened. Send comments by Dec. 30 to Keith Baldwin, Oregon Dept. of Forestry, 2600 State St., Salem, OR 97310 or email@example.com by email.
• The 4J School District has planned a public hearing on plans to boost class sizes, reduce days in school and close neighborhood schools in response to a budget crisis. A location for the Wednesday, Nov. 17, 7 pm hearing has not been determined yet. Check www.4j.lane.edu for information.
• 1,355 U.S. troops killed* (1,351)
• 9,095 U.S. troops injured** (9,095)
• 594 U.S. contractors killed** (594)
• $362.3 billion cost of war
• $103.0 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($102.7 million)
• 4,422 U.S. troops killed* (4,422)
• 31,935 U.S. troops injured** (31,935)
• 185 U.S. military suicides (updates NA)
• 1,507 U.S. contractors killed** (1,507)
• 107,706 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (107,594)
• $740.9 billion cost of war
• $210.7 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($210.6 million)
* through Nov. 5, 2010; source: icasualties.org; some figures only updated monthly
** sources: icasualties.org, defense.gov, U.S. Dept. of Labor
*** highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate civilian deaths as high as 655,000 (Lancet survey, 2006) to 1.2 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)
•• Shame on the R-G for articles focusing only on property rights and not on safe water. After the bad media coverage of Lane County’s efforts to protect our water, EWEB pulled out, the Lane County commissioners voted to stop the process (Pete Sorenson and Rob Handy voted to continue) and the Planning Commission also pulled the plug on the dialogue. But the issue of how to keep our drinking water safe from failing septic tanks, toxics, pharmaceuticals and pesticides isn’t going to go away just because we don’t talk about it. The Planning Commission also voted to recommend that the Lane County Commissioners prioritize working on the drinking water and floodplain issues. How do we get a good conversation going among landowners, conservationists, scientist and the folks who drink — and whose kids and grandkids will drink — the water?
• Eugene lost two longtime community members recently who will be missed by literature and animal lovers. Alison Cadbury died Oct. 29 after a long illness. Cadbury taught writing and literature at LCC for many years and spent time in Greece. She received a prestigious Fulbright award for the Greece trip and wrote the book, Panigyri: A Celebration of Life in a Greek Village. There will be a celebration of her life at 7 pm Friday, Jan. 7, 2011, at Tsunami Books. Memorial contributions may be given to FOOD for Lane County.
Starly Pupke, known for her involvement in Lane County’s No Kill efforts and for her love of animals was struck by two cars and killed on Nov. 3. Her van was found running with the door open, and friends think she probably saw a cat or dog on the side of the road and tried to cross 30th Avenue to catch him. Donations of money, food and supplies to care for Pupke’s many animals can be made to Stray Cat Alliance, or to Blue
• Speaking of losses, we’re quite disheartened by the closing of the Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts. The Register-Guard’s Bob Keefer theorizes that Eugene has too many small arts nonprofits, and that may be true, but DIVA’s location and mission uniquely complemented each other. Both would have been a boon had DIVA been able to complete the intended purchase of its building from the Lord Leebrick Theatre Company. The hardworking staff and volunteers ran a top-notch cinema series, tons of arts education events and noise concerts aside from hosting usually wonderful exhibits. We have hope that the cinema series may continue in a different downtown location, but we’ll dearly miss our corner art gallery (and so much more). See more coverage of DIVA online this week.
• If Oregon voters had heard Ron Chase and Paul Solomon at the Eugene City Club Nov. 5 or on KLCC Nov. 8, it seems unlikely that they would have voted for Measure 73, yet another corrupt unfunded mandate to put more men and women into Oregon prisons. Chase is director of Sponsors; Solomon is the assistant director next in line to run Eugene’s great transitional housing program that sends some lucky released prisoners to jobs, education and housing — someplace less expensive than back to prison. In 1995, Oregon’s prison population was 5,500. Today, it’s 14,000. We’re one of the few states spending more on prisons than on higher education. But Kevin Mannix and the prison industry continue twisting Oregonians into taking money from education, human services and even prison educational programs and spending in on bricks, mortar and bars for yet more prisons. We already have long mandatory sentences for drunk driving and sex offenses in Oregon, but Measure 73 will make them longer. Gov. Kitzhaber, any ideas for a way out of this idiocy?
SLANT includes short opinion pieces, observations and rumor-chasing notes compiled by the EW staff. Heard any good rumors lately? Contact Ted Taylor at 484-0519, editor at eugeneweekly dot com
As a kid in Mexico City, Maxine Proskurowsky went to a bilingual immersion school and got an international baccalaureate degree. She studied international relations at Mt. Holyoke College and at the University of Stockholm, where she met her husband Andrzej, a Polish refugee. After he took a UO faculty position in 1975, she went for a nursing degree at Creighton, then returned and eventually spent 11 years as a school nurse at Whiteaker Elementary, the lowest-income school in the state. “Most of my career, I’ve been involved in politics, advocating for children’s health,” says Proskurowsky, a longtime proponent of school-based health centers who was awarded a Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellowship in 2003. “It was an opportunity to work with nurses from all around the country,” she said. For the past four years, she has served as program manager for Health Services at Eugene District 4J, whose four school-based centers provide care on a sliding scale to all students. Her office is located at River Road/El Camino del Rio Elementary, now in its second year as a bilingual immersion school. “I remember 1990,” she notes, “when the first Latino family showed up at Whiteaker. It took 20 years to get to this point.”