News Briefs: Occupy Continues Sans Central Camp | Library’s Free, Legal Music Downloads | Kids Take Climate to Court | Bird Count Coming Up | Bad Duck Jokes | Building Homes for Haitians | Activist Alert | Biz Beat | War Dead | Lighten Up
A Mountain of Destruction
Mining continues at iconic Parvin Butte
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Occupy Continues Sans Central Camp
|Occupiers circle before starting to take down camp
If 4,000 people were homeless after a natural disaster such as a tsunami, that would be an emergency, Occupy Eugene volunteer Chris Calef said Dec. 22 as the Occupy camp slowly shut down. Around him Occupiers packed, sang and put up a tree-sit. However, as the chant goes, “Occupy will never die; evict us, we multiply!” and it appears that Occupy Eugene might have lost its camp at Washington-Jefferson Park, but not its spirit.
Calef was echoing comments he’d made at a Eugene City Council meeting earlier this year. He pointed out the fact that about 4,000 people (according to the last homeless count) are houseless and in the cold in Lane County because they are poor is something most people ignore. But if a natural disaster hit, the city would be offering long-term camping, bathrooms, showers and everything else the victims might need.
Instead, Occupiers said, many of the county’s homeless found themselves back on the street only days before Christmas. They protested this at Councilor George Poling’s lawn at 8 pm Dec. 25, putting up tents, ringing his doorbell and making noise. Poling was targeted not only for his vote to close the camp, but specifically for blocking the campers from using heating fires. Four people were arrested for trespassing.
Poling said in an earlier interview with EW that he blocked having an immediate public hearing and action on the fire issue because he did not know that the issue would “have received a fair and impartial ‘public hearing’ due to the fact that other than one person that I know of, the rest of the people in attendance were either city staff or folks from the camp” at the time the council was making the decision.
Geneva Martin, who sat in a tree at the edge of Washington-Jefferson Park on Dec. 22 as Occupiers celebrated the solstice and protested the camp shutdown, said “I have friends that have been evicted from a warm place to sleep three days before Christmas.” Eugene police officers at the Occupy Eugene camp, in a marked turn around from previous responses to downtown tree-sits, let Martin remain in the tree until she came down on her own the next day. Police and firefighters also put out attempts to start warming bonfires without fanfare.
OE held a candlelight vigil Dec. 23 for Rick Youngblood, the Florence man who died last week after an altercation at Washington-Jefferson Park. And for Christmas, Occupiers delivered socks full of coal to five banks in Eugene: Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, and Umpqua. Next to each sock hung a chronicle of the bank’s actions that OE said “made them part of Santa’s naughty list.” The coal came from the wood stove used at the Occupy Eugene site.
Occupy Eugene is currently cleaning up the park campsite and offering to participate in its restoration, planning protests against corporate greed and working to end homelessness. The Occupiers have an office at the Growers Market near the train station and have another space at 7th and Polk.
A “living, evolving” vision statement for Occupy Eugene can be found at http://wkly.ws/15f — Camilla Mortensen
Library’s Free, Legal Music Downloads
Eugeneans now have the chance to take something from the library and never give it back. On Dec. 7 the Eugene Public Library began offering a music lending service, “Freegal Music.” Freegal provides free and legal MP3 files to all library cardholders.
As EW goes to press, Eugene’s number one download is Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” followed by the Glee cast’s cover of Adele’s “Rumor Has It” and “Winter Wonderland” by Ukulele Christmas in the third spot.
The content of Freegal’s online database is based on a license with Sony Music Entertainment, and it is available to libraries all over the country. More than 500,000 songs are available for download in every genre, from current hits to classics, and the database is growing every day. The library pays an annual sum based on its number of cardholders for the service.
To download music, library patrons can log into the Freegal Music on the library’s website using their library card number and password. The songs download to a variety of music software, and no special program is needed to access the database. Once you have a song, it’s yours to keep — there is no digital rights management on the music files, although other copyright laws do apply for all music downloaded. Each cardholder is allowed three downloads per week, with the week’s allotment turning over every Sunday at 6 pm.
Connie Bennett, the director of the Eugene Public Library, hopes that this new service will attract new people to the library’s services. “If we offer a service like this, people will notice that the library is still relevant to our entertainment and information needs,” she says. “Log in now and you can get three songs before Sunday!” — Caitlin McKimmy
Kids Take Climate to Court
Eugene’s Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) has filed a brief on behalf of climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, which was part of a lawsuit that will now be reviewed by a U.S. district court in Washington, D.C.
The lawsuit was filed by members of Kids vs. Global Warming, a nonprofit organization led by 15-year-old Alex Loorz, in an effort to force federal and state governments to reduce carbon emissions by 6 percent in the U.S. each year by 2013.
Hansen directs the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and is an adjunct professor of Earth Sciences at Columbia University. He gave his opinion in what is known as an amicus curiae brief, which was filed by WELC attorney Daniel Galpern. In this form of legal brief Hansen is not part of the lawsuit, but a volunteer offering information he has on climate change to help the court decide the matter.
In the brief Hansen warns of threats to our climate and a need for action. “Failure to act with all deliberate speed in the face of the clear scientific evidence of the danger functionally becomes a decision to eliminate the option of preserving a habitable climate system,” he writes.
This type of lawsuit has never been filed in the U.S., according to professor Mary Wood, faculty director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program at the UO.
“This is a case of planetary significance,” she said. “It’s almost a case of indescribable importance.”
If the plaintiffs win the lawsuit, the court will order the federal government to come forth with an enforceable plan for carbon reduction.
Wood emphasizes that Hansen’s role is crucial for the lawsuit because he and other climate scientists have done research to find out what is necessary for curbing the effects of global warming.
There is no set date as of now for the court case to begin in the nation’s capital. — Ted Shorack
Bird Count Coming Up
The Eugene Christmas Bird Count (ECBC) will be Sunday, Jan. 1, and this year will be the 70th year for Eugene and the 112th National Audubon Society (NAS) Christmas Bird Count.
The count this year will not conflict with college football bowl games that are typically on New Year’s Day. The Rose Bowl will be on Monday, Jan. 2.
The 15-mile-diameter count circle is centered in the Danebo part of town and is divided into 27 areas, each with a team leader who organizes the team, leads the group through the area during the count day and then submits the results to the ECBC Committee.
Dick Lamster is the count compiler this year, and he will be working with NAS on the administrative tasks of the count. He will also be coordinating with the team leaders as well as handling publicity, assembling the packets for the team leaders and writing part of the post-count narrative. Lamster can be reached at 343-8664.
Barbara Gleason is the volunteer coordinator and can be reached at 345-3974. Dan Gleason will be gathering checklists from team leaders and can be reached at 345-0450. He will also review rare and unusual bird sightings and submit all results to NAS.
Those who cannot participate on a count team but would like to count birds that visit backyards can call Herb Wisner at 344-3634. Wisner has forms for feeder watchers, though it may be getting late to ask for them.
After the count, participants will gather at the Eugene Garden Club at 1645 High St. for the traditional chili feed. Doors will open around 3:30 pm and the chili feed will start around 5 pm.
Bad Duck Jokes
We polled our readers for jokes going around about the UO Ducks, University of Wisconsin Badgers and the upcoming Rose Bowl game Jan. 2. We found a few that may or may not be worth passing along.
• What do Ducks and pot have in common? Both get smoked in bowls.
• What does the average Wisconsin player get on his SAT? Drool.
• What’s the difference between Duck football players and Rice Krispies? The cereal knows what to do in a bowl.
• An unknown white powdery substance was found on the Ducks’ practice field and an FBI forensics team determined it was — the goal line. Practice resumed after agents decided the team was unlikely to encounter the substance again this season.
• Two Badger fans were walking through the woods near Madison when they came upon a set of tracks. The first Badger fan said, “Those are deer tracks.” The second Badger fan said, “No. They’re too big to be deer tracks. They must be elk tracks.” As they were arguing back and forth they got hit by the train.
• Why should the Wisconsin Badgers change their name to the Wisconsin Opossums? Because they play dead at home and get killed on the road.
• How do you get to own a small business? Take a large business and put a Duck grad in charge of it.
• How do you get a Duck grad off your front porch? Pay for the pizza!
• What are the longest three years of a Wisconsin football player’s life? His freshman year.
• Did you hear about the Wisconsin Badgers fan who was injured in a pie-eating contest? A cow stepped on his head. — Ted Taylor
Building Homes for Haitians
|A sprawling squatters’ camp at Port-au-Prince. Photo by Kurt Jensen
While Lane County’s 4,000 un-housed people are finally getting lots of attention in the media, nearly 600,000 Haitians are still living in tents and under tarps in squatter camps two years after the major earthquake of January 2010. That disaster was followed by Hurricane Tomas and its flooding, which exacerbated the damage and casualties. Over the past five years, more than 13 million people around the world have lost their homes to a natural disaster, according to Habitat for Humanity.
Kurt Jensen, a longtime Eugene-area photojournalist for EW and a builder of small, hand-crafted homes in Lane County, recently returned from Haiti. He will be showing photos and talking about his experiences at 7 pm Wednesday, Jan. 4, at BRING’s Planet Improvement Center, 4446 Franklin Blvd. in Glenwood. The presentation is sponsored by the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild.
Jensen has been working with Habitat for Humanity, building a community called the Santo project in Léogâne, just 18 miles from Port-au-Prince. Léogâne is near the epicenter of the earthquake and nearly 90 percent of its buildings were destroyed or damaged, he says.
During Habitat for Humanity’s 28th annual Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, the Carters and a group of 400 volunteers built 100 core homes, he says, and the eventual goal of the project is 500 houses in the next two years. The five-year goal is to provide at least some assistance to 50,000 families.
The small houses being built are constructed with wood frames, pressure-treated plywood walls and tin roofs. Permanent concrete slab foundations are designed to support concrete blocks for later additions. More than 3,000 Haitians have been trained in construction or construction business practices, and Habitat says permanent housing is a prerequisite for rebuilding lives, families and social and economic networks. Haiti currently has an unemployment rate of 60 percent.
Jensen and his Cascade Small House Company can be found at www.cascadeshc.com or call 747-8925. — Ted Taylor
• “Occupying the Heart and Mind,” a silent meditation/ prayer circle, will continue despite the camp’s shut-down at 11:30 am Friday, Dec. 30. The location will be announced later this week at http://occupyeugenemedia.org and on Facebook. A basic introduction to the universal practices of prayer and meditation will be offered at 11:30 and the meditation will be from noon to 1 pm. Bring a chair, cushion or floor mat and warm clothing.
• Parvin Butte owners (see news story this week) have appealed the fines the county has assessed for their illegal mining and a hearing is scheduled for 2 pm Thursday, Jan. 5, in Harris Hall, 125 E. 8th Ave.
• Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy will give the annual State of the City Address at 5:30 pm Thursday, Jan. 5, in the lobby of the Hult Center downtown. Council Vice President George Brown will be emcee for the event.
• Lane County Board Chair Faye Stewart will deliver the State of the County Address at 6 pm Tuesday, Jan. 10, at the County Fairgrounds Gleason Atrium.
• Springfield Mayor Christine Lundberg will give her State of the City Address at 5:30 pm Wednesday, Jan. 11, at the Wildish Theater, 630 Main St. in Springfield.
SeQuential Biofuels has a sign up at one of the two closed 76 service stations at the busy intersection of 18th and Chambers in Eugene. SeQuential will take over both stations, selling both regular gas and biofuels, opening just after Christmas, but will not occupy the 7-Eleven convenience store that shares a parking lot with Bi-Mart. SeQuential is expected to offer its popular natural food selections later in January at the station across the street that shares a parking lot with Albertsons.
Blanton Turner is a Seattle-based property management firm expanding in the Eugene market. The firm opened its Eugene office in July and now manages Broadway Place and Boulders on the River in Eugene. Owner Blanton Turner says he’s taking a creative approach in management of mixed-use properties, student housing and multi-family housing. See blantonturner.com
Street Ministry, a local nonprofit that has been feeding and caring for the homeless for years, now has a concession cart at the corner of 6th and Lincoln selling biscuits and gravy, nutritious bran muffins, local Equator coffee, Jenny’s Street Cookies and other breakfast and lunch food. Proceeds will go to assisting offenders coming out of prison. Contact Robert Swan at email@example.com
New CEO at United Way will be Noreen J. Dunnells, who is currently president and CEO of United Way of Central Minnesota, an organization similar in size to Lane County’s. She will succeed Pricilla Gould, who has served as executive director for 22 years.
Oregon’s Pride Foundation has awarded more than $50,000 in grants to Oregon’s LBGTQ equality movement. Along with the Portland and statewide groups, HIV Alliance in Lane County got $5,000, Community Alliance of Lane County got $4,500, and Valley Aids Network of Corvallis got $1,500.
A date of Aug. 26, 2012 has been set for the third annual Eugene Women’s Half Marathon, lauded as “one of the best women’s events in the Northwest.” More info on commercial participation and registration at eugenewomenshalf.com
Send suggestions for Biz Beat items to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Biz Beat” in the subject line.
• 1,847 U.S. troops killed* (1,846)
• 15,138 U.S. troops wounded in action (15,090)
• 981 U.S. contractors killed (981)
• $486.1 billion cost of war ($486 billion)
• $143.5 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($143.5 million)
The war officially ended in December 2011 with a total of 4,421 U.S. troops killed, 31,921 wounded in action and undisclosed hundreds of U.S. military suicides. But U.S. contractors are assuming a larger role, high levels of U.S. spending continue, and the body count from civil unrest grows.
• 1,554 U.S. contractors killed (1,554)
• 114,042 to 1.2 million civilians killed* (113,770)
• $800 billion cost of war ($800 billion)
• $236.1 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($236.1 million)
Through Dec. 26, 2011; sources: icasualties.org; defense.gov, U.S. Dept. of Labor
* highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate Iraqi civilian deaths as high as 655,000 (Lancet survey, 2006) to 1.2 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)
by Rafael Aldave
No joke: Have a happy 2012!
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