Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
At home in Eugene
Peak Oil Educator
Happening Person: James Cloutier
SHELTER FOR THE HOMELESS
Eugene should open a publicly funded, secular homeless shelter, say members of a city-sponsored human rights group.
"We strongly suggest that the city and the community begin efforts to provide a publicly funded shelter as a responsibility of our community," the seven-member group wrote to the City Council Dec. 27. The group is a Eugene Human Rights Commission support system subcommittee on homelessness.
Eugene has a private, religious shelter, the Mission on 1st Avenue. The Mission provides about 400 beds but requires those seeking shelter to attend gospel services. The mission does important work, but the religious requirement "raises significant concern," the subcommittee stated. "Eugene has too long relied on a private shelter for the homeless."
The subcommittee, which includes four members of the Eugene Human Rights Commission, applauded the City Council for its recent launch of a homeless initiative. The group called for broadening the planning effort including involving a street police officer, White Bird representatives and more homeless people.
The human rights group also said the city should address training for city staff to avoid stigmatizing the homeless. "An attitude of judgement, condescension, or arrogance by city employees, as an example, toward homeless individuals has been described by many in the homeless community as offensive and prejudicial." — Alan Pittman
Eugene's Circle of Hands Collective members met New Year's Eve "to make the hard decision to close our store and disband the collective in its present form," says collective member and "keyholder" Diane McWhorter. "The downtown economy just hasn't been good enough to keep us afloat. We're all healthy individually and looking forward to regrouping in some future incarnation or other."
McWhorter says the organization's landlord Jeff Geiger "has been really supportive and the space is wonderful, so it will be interesting to see what moves into that block." The collective is 14 years old, and has rented space on Pearl Street, on Broadway, and currently at 1030 Willamette.
The collective has about 60 members currently at various levels of involvement. No one was paid, says McWhorter. "We all got a percentage of our sales from 55 to 70 percent, depending on whether we were partners or just consignees." The manager is Sue Theolass.
Circle of Hands is planning a party Friday night, Jan. 6 during the First Friday ArtWalk and the doors will close after the party. The office number is 342-4957. — TJT
DUELING STATE OF CITY TALKS
The mayor's State of the City Address at 5:30 pm Thursday, Jan. 5 at the Hult Center lobby will be followed by the fifth annual Citizens State of the City Address at noon Monday, Jan. 9 at the Eugene Public Library. The alternative address will focus on broad views on progressive issues.
This year's alternative presentations will include Full Circle Farm's Kate Perle discussing "Food Security," First United Methodist Church's John Pitney on "The Economics of the Food Industry," The Bus Project's Adam Petkun on "Bringing More Youth into the Local Progressive Political Movement," and the Eugene Permaculture Guild's Jan Spencer on "Global Trends."
"The way we live locally has global impacts," says Spencer, who is also a member of Citizens for Public Accountability (CPA) and was instrumental in forming the CSOC address five years ago when Jim Torrey was mayor.
Even with a progressive mayor and majority city council, members of CPA and Friends of Eugene, sponsors of the CSOC, believed it was important to continue offering an alternative version of where Eugene is at politically and economically, and in which direction we should be heading.
"The presentation of an alternative viewpoint has a potential for creating fresh solutions to issues that have become bottlenecked," says Lisa Arkin, CPA member who will also give Monday's summation speech.
The address is co-sponsored by the Helios Resource Network, Women's Action for New Directions, Community Alliance of Lane County and the Eugene Springfield Solidarity Network. It is free and open to the public.
Mayor Piercy plans to recap her State of the City Address at the 11:50 am Friday, Jan. 6 Eugene City Club meeting at the Downtown Athletic Club.
CLASSES ON WEB OF LIFE
We almost lost him to Portland. But after much deliberation and cajoling from his students, Dr. Alder Fuller has decided to keep his science school, ProtoTista, in Eugene.
|Dr. Alder Fuller|
Fuller, who has degrees in biology, math, systematics, ecology and evolution, teaches an emerging approach to science called "complexity" or "systems theory." While conventional science is based on the assumption that the world is linear, like a machine, complexity examines the world as a web, emphasizing the interconnectedness of life at all levels and viewing the whole as more than the sum of its parts.
Fuller launched ProtoTista in 2001, offering courses in complexity and it applications to math, biology and geology. Some of the concepts in the study of complexity include Gaia theory (examining the earth as a biological form), fractal geometry (finding emerging patterns in nature), symbiogenesis (viewing evolution as driven by relationships between species) and chaos theory (exploring how small changes can cause big reactions in complex systems like the weather).
Though rigorous science is the agenda, ProtoTista doesn't feel like a typical classroom. There are no exams and no grades; no desks, chalkboards, microscopes or lab counters. Instead, the classroom is a spacious warehouse where students sit on couches, the teacher uses a movie-sized projector screen, and theoretical discussions spiral around the lessons.
That works for Cynthia Beal, old Slug Queen Radia and former owner of The Red Barn, who has been taking classes at ProtoTista since 2001. "I feel like I can see what's happening in the world more clearly" after taking ProtoTista courses, she says. "And I very much like the people who are coming to the classes. They are some really bright and interesting people in our community." Other regular ProtoTista students include MindFreedom Director David Oaks, Lane County Chief Deputy Medical Examiner Frank Ratti and singer-songwriter Carsie Blanton.
Last fall, when Fuller announced plans to move ProtoTista to Portland, Beal and others tried to convince him to stay. Unable to find a suitable warehouse space in Portland and discovering a perfect new space in Eugene, Fuller acceded. "I realized what a cool town Eugene is, and the amount of outpouring that I got from former students made a huge difference in the way I'm looking at things," he said.
ProtoTista will offer four courses during the winter term. The cost is $125-$500, sliding scale, for a 10-week course. Class overviews are free: Complexity 101 on Monday, Jan. 9; Climate Change 101 on Tuesday, Jan. 10; Biology 101 on Wednesday, Jan. 11; and Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics and Life on Thursday, Jan. 12. All classes are from 6:30-9:30 pm at 151 Cleveland St., Suite #1. RSVPs are appreciated; contact Fuller at 762-1217 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.prototista.org — Kera Abraham
Former Congressman Charles O. Porter died this past weekend at the age of 86 from complications of Alzheimer's disease, leaving behind a legacy of personal integrity, visionary thinking and courageous activism. The world could use more Charlie Porters, and we hope his life will continue to inspire others. Porter was a maverick in his thinking and was lambasted for ideas that were considered by many to be outrageous at the time: admitting China to the U.N., opening trade with China, reforming our failed policies in South America, halting nuclear testing, decriminalizing marijuana, challenging corporate power abuse, and one of the big issues locally: restoring the separation of church and state as symbolized by a giant cross on a public butte. More recently, Porter led the Oregon Democratic Party's call to impeach five Supreme Court justices. As an attorney, Porter took on many pro bono cases, and stood up for the powerless in our community. He was also one of the visionary founders, along with Jerry Diethelm and Jerry Rust, of the Emerald Canal project, a $20 million scenic waterway through Eugene that might someday become reality and transform the entire West University Neighborhood. Shall we rename it the Charlie Porter Canal?
Eugene City Club's getting lots of attention in this column lately, but then the programs have been particularly good. This last Friday we were happy to see a standing ovation for Mayor Kitty Piercy in response to her Sustainable Business Initiative (SBI). The applause was also in her defense. Piercy and other progressives on the council have been under recent attack by former Mayor Brian Obie and other entrenched advocates of business as usual. City Club President Tom Lininger gave Piercy a rose in response to the lump of coal she received from Obie earlier in December. The topic of Friday's program was sustainability and David Funk and Rusty Rexius of the SBI Task Force did a commendable job of making sense of a topic that tends to be complex and wonkish. The bottom line is that conserving resources and thinking ahead about the impact of our actions makes economic as well as ethical sense. Polluting our air and water and bulldozing farmland for short-term gain is a rotten and unsustainable business model. Piercy and the SBI are attempting to plan ahead on a modest scale for a more livable future. The mayor's sustainability initiative is neither radical nor revolutionary; it's just a shift in perspective. If anything, the SBI discussion to date could stand to be more radical. For Eugene to catch up, and then become a leader and a model for sustainability, we need bold action on a broad scale. Meanwhile, hats off to the many people in our community who are involved in this initiative.
In our Dec. 22 issue we wrote in this column about the Dartmouth senior who was grilled by the FBI after ordering a copy of Mao's The Little Red Book from a college library. Molly Ivans also mentioned it in her column that week in the R-G. We read on-line in The Standard-Times of New Bedford, Mass., that it was all a hoax. The student has confessed to fabricating the elaborate tale. What remains true, alas, is that our government is spying on us in violation of our Constitution's Fourth Amendment, and most Americans don't seem to have a problem with that.
Is RiverRidge north of Eugene a done deal for Triad's new hospital site? The city of Springfield doesn't seem to think so and is working on putting together a package of properties in Glenwood for hospital development. And what about the UO's Riverfront Research Park? Triad officials this week declined to confirm the rumor that Triad and the UO are talking about the sale of a big chunk of land between the river and the railroad tracks west of the Autzen Bike Bridge. The RRP is a failure as an economic development project, but the site is zoned for development, access is easy, and it's near downtown and existing medical offices. Folks who want this site preserved as parkland will make a fuss.
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, email@example.com
Artist and native-born Oregonian James Cloutier poses with the cartoon creatures in his newly completed volunteer project, a mural that enlivens the outdoor play area at St Vincent de Paul's First Place Family Shelter. The small figure on the left is Hugh Wetshoe, the soggy Oregon everyman popularized by Cloutier in his Orygone cartoon books. More than 100,000 copies were sold, he notes. Following high school in Portland and two years in the Navy, Cloutier first arrived in Eugene in 1958 to study art on a UO baseball scholarship. He fell in love with Africa on a summer trip to build classrooms in Ethiopia, then returned after graduation as a member of the first Peace Corps group in Kenya. "I used art a lot, illustrating brochures for farmers," he recalls. "It was a formative experience." Cloutier returned to the UO for an MFA, then made a splash in the '70s with his "Oregon Ungreeting Cards." He founded Image West Press in the '80s to print the Orygone books. In 2004 he updated his 1985 cartoon map of Eugene, incorporating 300 local businesses. "The original had 75," he says. "It easily took six months longer than I expected." -BY PAUL NEEVEL