Eugene: An Emerald Of The West

With ever gloomy news out of the world, rapidly changing climate and the ever-worsening prophecies of the crumbling social peace of this land, I wanted to take up the cudgels on behalf of, if not the entire republic, at least this city. As an immigrant it has become more than a place to study — but a home, a source of inspiration and hope.

Should we cut down acres of forest for a new water tower? Is the new zoning law a savior in need or an ill-fated attempt by ideological hippies? Topics as these carry weight with opportunity enough to divide a community. Listening to the shrill voices in the world, there is supposed to be only bitter ideologues, entrenched views and no common ground here.

Yet, week and week again I am invited to experience the opposite. Civil arguments are carried out in print, topics sensibly explored, and town meetings attended by different interests. In parking lots yoga moms discuss second hand motorcycles with gruff biker types. The radio offers sensible reporting if you tune to the right station. A group of people of many backgrounds and ages discuss their views every week in German over a beer.

Against everything I was led to believe democracy’s essence is thriving here. At times under pressure. At times strained. Let’s uphold what we have, build on it, fight, argue, stand our ground, but never forget what we have: A community of engaged citizens.

Arne Bruns


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