Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Happenin' Person: Jonathan Renich
Should all city planning be left to city planners? What happens when the scale of planning is so large that it encompasses two cities, county and federal land, a state highway, an interstate freeway, a university, a transit system, a utility, a major river, Native American sites, ripanian habitat, parks, neighborhood groups, bicyclists and kayakers, dozens of developers and hundreds of property owners? (Have we left anyone out?)
A group of local architects, students and civic activists are hoping to not leave anybody out as they embark on the Franklin Corridor Study 2007, a free design workshop that kicks off at City Club of Eugene luncheon Friday, Feb. 2 at the Hilton; continues with an open house and keynote talks Friday evening at the Atrium Building at 10th and Olive; leading to a design workshop from 10 am to 5 pm Saturday, also at the Atrium. Details can be found at www.franklincorridor.org
The area of study includes Franklin Boulevard from downtown Eugene to downtown Springfield, with the Willamette River alongside and all the land in between. "Many studies have been done regarding different parts of this important stretch of roadway, open space and riverfront," reads a statement on the website. "But the American Institute of Architects (AIA) is setting out to study how all the parts connect. We want to reach beyond the 'usual suspects' to include those whose views and experiences may not overlap any more neatly than the ideas that have begun to emerge for what could happen along this corridor."
The Franklin Corridor Study is a long-range project with a long-range vision spanning the next several decades. More workshops are planned for mid-April and at the Eugene Celebration next fall. The study is initially funded by a $15,000 grant from the AIA.
Civic activist Don Kahle of the study's steering committee says the group is more interested at this point in asking the right questions than coming up with immediate solutions.
"The issue has something for everyone," says Kahle. "Traffic, mass transit, riverfront, railroads, bike trails, Glenwood development, Walnut Street nodal development, the UO's plans for an arena and a front door, the emerging neighborhood around the federal courthouse. Even larger looms how Eugene and Springfield relate to one another and how both relate to the state's major interstate highway." — Ted Taylor
FEW WANT FASTER GROWTH
Every year developers and the Chamber of Commerce push for faster growth in Eugene. But for the last 16 years, far more people in Eugene have thought the city population is growing too fast rather than too slowly.
In 1990 about twice as many people thought the city was growing too fast rather than too slowly, according to city surveys. Growth opposition crested in 1999 when 56 percent thought the city was growing too fast compared to only 2 percent who thought the city's growth was too slow. That year, 40 percent said the city's growth rate was just about right.
In 2006, more than four times as many people thought the city was growing too fast rather than too slowly. Half of survey respondents said the city's growth rate was just about right, 31 percent said it was too fast and just 7 percent said it was too slow. — Alan Pittman
JAZZED ON ENERGY
The lights inside Harris Hall were dimmed low, but spirits were high at the first Lane County Energy Forum Tuesday, Jan. 23. By the 7 pm start time, so many people had filled the Public Service Building hall at 8th and Oak, they were spilling out the doors.
The Energy Forum's co-director Kathy Ging estimates there were 300 to 350 community attendees, about half of whom stood in the back, leaned against walls, or sat on the aisle floors for the entire two-hour session.
The panel of 11 speakers included EWEB and EPUD (Emerald People's Utility District) representatives, longtime energy activists, and experts on climate change studies, biofuels, solar energy and green building.
Other than a few technological hitches involving fussy PowerPoint presentations (a couple of techies from the audience rescued the presenters), the forum covered a lot of ground. The meeting was at once an informational session and a statement — that Lane County is ready for a sustainable future, according to Ging. "We had the top minds in the city there," Ging says, noting that several attendees were energy professionals and activists she has worked with and read about for nearly three decades. The turnout and response "was truly amazing," Ging says. An email sign-up sheet received 190 signatures. "I've never seen 190 people sign up for anything in Eugene," Ging says.
In the rear hall, eight local groups staffed info tables, including the Climate Crisis Working Group, the Neighborhood Climate Council, and CitizenRE, which is offering to install and maintain residential photovoltaic systems for a $500 fee (the company owns the panels and sells metered solar electricity to the homeowners).
Ging says the second Energy Forum, scheduled for Feb. 27 at the First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive St., won't include any PowerPoint presentations. Instead, community members will discuss energy topics in small focus groups (and yes, floating between groups is allowed). Ging and her fellow coordinators hope to find community leaders interested in being group facilitators. Check out oregonenergymodel.org or contact Kathy Ging at 342-8461 or Kathy@kathyging.com for more details. —Nicole Fancher
CIRCUS IN RIVER ROAD?
The River Road Community Organization has an ambitious neighborhood celebration planned for Saturday, Feb. 3 at the Park District Recreation Center in Emerald Park, 1400 Lake Drive. A full day of fun, education and entertainment is scheduled from 1 to 9 pm. The event is being likened to a circus by organizers, with activities and entertainment planned for all ages.
Elected officials such as Mayor Kitty Piercy are expected to be there, and neighborhood groups will have tables and displays. The "Vision Room" will be a place to find out about issues and concerns in the neighborhood, and the "History Room" will focus on River Road's past, including a slide show at 3 pm by city of Eugene Historian Ken Guzowski
Workshops will be offered on how to set up a Neighborhood Watch, emergency preparedness for the home, and permaculture- ecological design.
A spaghetti dinner fundraiser will begin at 5:30 pm. For more information, call 686-6761 or visit www.rrpark.org
WOMEN SAY PULL OUT NOW
Many of the two dozen or so Oregonians who traveled to Washington, D.C., last weekend to stop the war experienced turbulent landings as they set down in the nation's capital amid a swirl of snow flurries and frigid temperatures. Yet the climate soon warmed for Saturday's peace march and the estimated half a million people who arrived from at least 47 states calling for peace.
Speakers at Saturday's pre-march rally, organized by United for Peace and Justice, included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who admitted to the crowd, "Peace is controversial," and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who called for a Department of Peace. Rep. Maxine Waters chastised the administration, drawing huge cheers when she declared "Condi Rice doesn't represent me."
The march, led by Code Pink, a women's peace action group, completely encircled the Capitol building. Code Pink members drummed and chanted, "Women say pull out now," and marchers carried signs declaring, "The rapture is not an exit strategy," and "Impeach Cheney, then Bush."
Next, marchers swarmed past the Supreme Court Building, spontaneously chanting, "Bring back habeus corpus."
On Sunday, UFPJ held a lobby training day, followed by Monday's day on Capitol Hill that saw nearly a thousand Americans visiting their representatives to lobby for an end to the Iraq War.
All of Oregon's congressional districts were represented by citizens, and Rep. Walden appeared in person to meet with those who traveled to ask for peace. Denny Miller, a retired firefighter from Central Point, said his visit with Walden was a "positive experience." Miller also met with Sen. Wyden's aide Alex Perkins. Miller, whose son is pre-enlisted in the Marines and will begin service next summer, said, "I can hardly trust my son with a wristwatch or a condom, never mind putting a rifle in his hands and sending him off to a foreign country."
Bruce Freeman, a Vietnam veteran from Newburg who was permanently disabled in combat training near Pendleton, spoke out during visits with aides to Smith and Wyden. "I remember when we were at 3,055 dead in Vietnam," he said. "Time is ticking for those still in Iraq."
The lobbyists who attended the meeting with Rep. DeFazio's aide Tom Vinson said they left disheartened, hoping the new Democratic majority in Congress would make a difference. Vinson said things were moving slowly and DeFazio may still consider voting for the next supplemental bill.
The trip ended on a high note. Tuesday, Jan. 30, many in the Oregon contingent headed to Hillary Clinton's office for a Code Pink action. The women entered her office and hung a banner out her window that read, "Hillary, we want a woman for president, but we want her to be for peace."
Eugene Code Pink member Pam Garrison made it inside Clinton's office, where she said five young women who'd tied themselves together were treated roughly and arrested. Garrison and others left before they were arrested.
Doe Tabor, also a member of Eugene Code Pink, said, "In the face of the Capitol police, the women of Code Pink stood fearlessly. We occupied Hillary Clinton's office for at least half an hour with our message of peace."
After the action, most of the Eugene contingent arrived at the Senate floor in time to hear Senator Russ Feingold say that Congress must listen to the will of the people.
"By prohibiting funds after a specific deadline, Congress can force the President to bring our forces out of Iraq and out of harm's way," Feingold said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The above report was compiled by the Eugene D.C. delegation. The group plans a report-back and slide show at 7 pm Friday, Feb. 9 at the Whiteaker Community Center (Head Start Building) at the corner of Clark and Jackson Streets.
The debate goes on over where to locate the new McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center, despite the dogged commitment by Triad to build way the hell out at the north end of Delta Highway, isolated from Eugene's population on a road known for gridlock. We see that an online petition by North Delta Neighbors (www.petitiononline.com/NDN2006/petition.html) has generated more than 600 signers so far. Several local email lists are carrying discussions about the hospital's flawed plans and optional sites, some new and some old. New in the discussion is the Conner-Woolley property downtown, now available through the city. As much as we would love to see something big and new to replace Broadway blight, that area is really best suited to mixed commercial and housing use with some small parks to break it up. The undeveloped area along the tracks east of the new U.S. Courthouse toward the Riverfront Research Park is being discussed as a variation on the old EWEB site plans. Might work, but some of the original access problems with that area remain, particularly for eastbound traffic. Glenwood keeps popping up, along with PeaceHealth's clinic site on 13th, but looking at geography, population and existing hospitals, the real need for a full-service hospital is in south or west Eugene not far from downtown. The idea of bulldozing Civic Stadium hasn't gotten any traction. Land near Chambers and 2nd makes sense, and we keep coming back to the Lane County Fairgrounds. But would the county sell and maybe relocate the financially struggling fairgrounds to Glenwood? Springfielders would love that idea, but Eugeneans would miss their easy-access fairgrounds.
Speaking of the Fairgrounds, we wandered down over the weekend to the Good Earth Home, Garden & Living Show and noticed nearly every parking space was taken, which is a bit ironic, but then most people are not purists when it comes to sustainable living. Inside, some aisles were so packed that parents pushing strollers had to stop and grease their babies' heads to push through. Congrats to Karen Ramus and other organizers, businesses and community groups who pulled together this high-energy extravaganza. It was great to hear people debating the finer points of water-permeable driveways, non-toxic moss treatments, native plants, bee-keeping, natural soaps, bidet systems and combinations thereof. We predict the success of this show will rub off on other home shows and even the Lane County Fair next summer. Green is gold.
Is there a better use for the roughly $10 million the city was prepared to spend on a parking garage next to Whole Foods? We asked that question in Slant last week and heard from Cole Andrew Southworth that a city multiple-use venue downtown would provide a multitude of benefits. "It could provide the Farmer's Market a year-round location where the people of Eugene would buy local products and support local merchants. We could help Lane's homeless by using it as a soup kitchen on particular dates. Eugene could host an annual middle school science fair there or have summer concerts and plays. Build it downtown, and we begin to fill the empty void in our city center with a beautiful community building. I like to envision a smaller, more inclusive version of Seattle's Pike Place market."
What's it like to be poor in Lane County today? Some of us know it all too well; some of us have never felt the pain of poverty. We got a note this week from a woman expressing her frustrations with having a job and still being down and out. There are "just a few things that suck about being poor," she writes. "Shut-off notices, food boxes filled with limp produce and stale bread. Being the proud owner of a 20 year old piece of shit Mazda with wiper blades that don't work, no heat or A/C, that leaks oil, water and brake fluid and has some weird buzzing sound that goes off nearly constantly." She also expresses her distaste for Top Ramen and hot dogs and complains about "only being able to afford one gallon of gas and hoping it will get you to work and back. Buying your kids Dollar Store toys, running out of everything always, and payday. FUCK! That won't even cover rent. Now I have to decide what I can not pay now; what about FOOD? FUCK!"
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
After graduation from Churchill High School, Jonathan Renich studied children's social services in a modular program at the Kona, Hawaii, campus of the University of the Nations. "We spent three months in class, then six months as an intern with a non-profit," says Renich, who served one internship with the French agency Pour un Sourire d'Enfant in a training program for kids who worked at the city dump in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. When he finished his degree, Renich stayed on as a staff member and led two groups of students to the town of Barunburen in Mongolia. Returning to Oregon in 2005, he launched Edurelief, a program to help Mongolian kids who had dropped out of school. "The government had cut support for school supplies," he notes. "All they needed was $20 per kid for a packet of books." Renich recruited some UO students, printed fliers, and raised $10,000 in four months. "We sponsored 525 kids," he says. "When people found out, it exploded. We got calls from New York, LA, Europe, and Asia, asking, 'What can we do?'" Find out what you can do at edurelief.org