DOWNTOWN SPACE FOR THE UNHOUSED
Regarding City Council’s Urban Renewal Agency discussion on expanding the financial capacity of the Downtown Urban Renewal Plan (“Bringing Back Redlining,” online Viewpoint, Feb. 2).
I feel distressed over how the City Council as the Urban Renewal Agency appears to be redlining Eugene’s core downtown area, at a time when creative, inclusive and workable solutions are so urgently needed.
Downtown is where unhoused folk naturally gather, both for community and for many vital services.
I also know that their lack of shelter and their multiple health problems create an undesirable environment for business.
What’s not the problem; what is: This situation of unhoused people in the city’s core is not the problem. It is the clear indicator of what’s not working that urgently needs to be addressed. The problem is an economic system unencumbered by common-sense guardrails, generating intractable waves of devastating social fallout.
Obvious solutions: Two large and long-vacant properties in downtown Eugene come to mind (at least in my imagination) to serve as a hub for the unhoused: the boarded-up Greyhound station and the former tire center on the corner of East 11th and Pearl.
Unhoused individuals already are there. With a hub, they would be inside, receiving social services, taking showers, doing laundry, navigating life via the internet, staying warm in winter and cool in summer, getting a cup of coffee, preparing a meal, reading, taking online courses and maybe visiting with friends over a jigsaw puzzle or a game of cards.
I join my voice with others who advocate for these or other properties to be considered as a humane and business-friendly way to address downtown concerns and move toward a thriving environment for all.
People who insist “it can’t be done” need to humbly admit that at the moment they don’t know how to do it. But someone does. It’s a matter of pushing a little harder on the closest door, then progressing to the next open door.
Maybe it means advising out-of-state corporations who want to do business with Eugene that becoming a part of this community means paying full freight, not getting a discount.
I moved to Eugene in 2000, and no matter where I end up, Eugene will always be home. And as an Egan Warming Center volunteer in my ninth winter, I can tell you that right now a lot of unhoused folk are wretchedly sick, with nowhere to go to recuperate and heal, much less live their life with a sense of human dignity and inclusion.
Eugene can — and must — do better than this.
Mary Sharon Moore
THE FORESTS ARE CALLING
Are the meanings of our relation to nature non-negotiable, as romantic poets like Hölderin and Wordsworth suggest in response to a rationalized, disenchanted industrialized world? Or are they simply matters of taste?
Imagine a nightmare: We live in a concrete jungle consisting of airport lounges — nowhere land, to steal from John Lennon. In such a place, we’d find Shakespeare, Goethe, Keats, Hölderin, along with The Beatles, of fundamental value. We’d cling to them like shipwrecked sailors to life floats.
But is art enough? Of course not. We need our relations with loved ones. Is that enough? Again, no. We need our relations to the world, the universe, to things, forests, fields, mountains, seas, along with our relations to loved ones and art — a realm where we feel recognized and called upon to answer.
How do we explore such resonances in an age of climate change?
First, look at our behavior — the way people seek the countryside, the wilderness, gardens to visit as well as to plant, and so on. There are deep hungers here. Robert Pogue Harrison’s Forests: The Shadow of Civilizations (1993) interprets the meanings forests have for human beings and explains why people turn again and again to wilderness.
Second, follow poets and their epiphanic languages in the wake of the Romantic period.
Both looking at our behavior and following poets help us to articulate what we seek and to define what these resonances of these relations mean to us.
CHILDREN ARE THE FUTURE. LET’S IGNORE THEM.
It seems that the Captain Planet types on our City Council have decided to continue with a dubious natural gas ban with no public vote. Here we go again, dummies. Ignore Mike Clark like they did on the EWEB city hall building and spend years and millions pissing off most of the residents.
Here are some ideas that could enhance the green Eugene brand they hype. How about big spending and polling towards renaming Eugene “City of Sustainia”? Should a overpriced monumental statue of Greta the Great be placed in Alton Baker park? How about spending millions on a sustainable table menu telling Eugene residents what to eat in order to protect the weather of the planet? There might be potential for creating a LEED study explaining how for every over the top University of Oregon sports complex those porkers build, the temperature of Earth gets a bit lower. That is why UO established the world renowned Climate Studies major.
Those genius UO climateers spoke loudly and proudly at the natural gas ban hearing. Children are the future, and those kiddos obviously know how the rest of us should live.
HELPING TO FEED THE HUNGRY
The Interfaith Food Hub is one of a handful of local responses to growing food scarcity in Lane County. In November 2022, we were making as many as 6,190 bag lunches for distribution, up from 4,160 midday lunches the previous year.
We almost depleted our budget in December 2022 and wondered whether food donations from FOOD For Lane County, as well as income from a half-dozen local faith communities (Sikh Dharma, First Christian Church, Central Lutheran Church, First Congregational United Church of Christ Church, Episcopal Church of the Resurrection and Temple Beth Israel) would be sufficient to continue feeding those we currently serve, let alone meet the growing demand. But thanks to two generous grants from the Chambers Family Foundation and Three Rivers Foundation, we can safely say that we will be able to distribute meals through spring 2023, and perhaps beyond.
IFH, a volunteer-based effort, distributes to more than nine local agencies and shelters: White Bird, HIV Alliance, Everyone Village, St. Vincent DePaul, First Place Family Center, Helping Hearts, Nightingale Hosted Shelters, Emerald Village, Square One Village, Garfield Safe Spot and Egan Warming Center during the winter months.
Do we want to expand? Honestly, we wish we didn’t need to. But we don’t imagine hunger will disappear anytime soon. In the meantime, we’re glad we can make a dent, one day at a time.