News Briefs: Long Live the S.L.U.G. Queen! | Blame it on the Climate | Tasers Used in Prisons | WE Group to Meet | Bottled Water Backlash | Cascadia Ecofair Coming Up | Open Forum on Broadway | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | War Dead |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Science Pub eyes invasive plants and animals
The Cowboy Way
Horse training goes natural
Happening Person: Eularee Smith and Sarah Beth Byrum
LONG LIVE THE S.L.U.G. QUEEN!
Saturday Aug. 11 marked a quarter century of S.L.U.G. (Society for the Legitimization of the Ubiquitous Gastropod) queens in Eugene. The competition was hard fought, but in the end Queen Glorious Gastropause (or Queen Glo to her minions) beat out the other hopefuls.
|New S.L.U.G. Queen Glo. Photos by Roger Rix|
After a display of talent by the Old Queens, the competition asked the candidates to show off their own talent, answer questions that would have stumped the brightest of Miss Americas, and display their costumes. Unlike Miss America, there were no two-piece bathing suits. This was perhaps for the best, though contestant Malta Landers was lovely in what appeared to be an evening gown of sorts.
Talents included singing by Slugaña, whose entourage chanted "Escargot!" as he shuffled across the stage. Slugaña looked rather like a male snail, but during his spiel, while "coming out of his shell," s/he pointed out that snails are hermaphroditic. Queen candidate Terre Verde wowed the crowd with stiltwalking and also showed off her devotion to slug-green with her nail polish and unmentionables.
The crowd was horrified and delighted when contestant Pittie Pie Slugstocking dropped her skirt while hula-hooping to "Baby Got Back," but the unclothing revealed pink ruffled hip-high grandma panties, suitable for all but the most discriminating audiences.
In the end, after a lengthy debate among the judges, it was Queen Glo (also known to Eugenans as Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant) who was coronated by the Old Queens. Please note: There are no former S.L.U.G. queens, only Old Queens, Very Old Queens and, for those whose "rain" ended more than 20 years ago, Very, Very Old Queens.
Queen Glo, a humorous author and speaker and former KOPT radio personality, won the judges over with a monologue poking fun of everything Eugene, from field burning to anti-Bush administration quips. (The competition encourages the contestants to "Bribe early, and bribe often" when it comes to the judging.)
Pittie Pie was first runner-up and stands ready to take over if Queen Glo cannot fulfill her duties; Slugaña slimed into third place. The competition ended with dancing to the music of J.C. Rico and Zulu Dragon.
Queen Glo will meet her public at the S.L.U.G. Queen Silver Jubilee from 6:30 to 7:30 pm Friday, Sept. 7, at the Eugene Public Library and again Saturday, Sept. 8, during the Eugene Celebration Parade. — Camilla Mortensen
BLAME IT ON THE CLIMATE
Is the spotted owl the latest victim of climate change? An article in the summer 2007 edition of Forests for Oregon, the Oregon Department of Forestry's (ODF) magazine, blames climate change for the dwindling numbers of spotted owls.
Barred owls have moved west and begun to push the threatened northern spotted owl out of its dwindling habitat. Barred owls not only eat the same mammals spotted owls do, they also interbreed with them, creating owl hybrids. Scientists fear that the incursion of the barred owl into spotted owl habitat is one more nail in the coffin of this threatened species.
According to the 10 year report on the Northwest Forest Plan, spotted owl populations have been steadily declining, possibly due to weather, harvest of habitat (logging), fires and insect infestations that alter habitat.
Jeri Chase, an ODF public affairs specialist writing about the work of Forest Service researcher Ronald P. Neilson, speculates that "the incursion of the barred owl into spotted owl territories is a harbinger of climate change."
Chase calls the incursion of barred owls "a potential increase in overall biodiversity," while noting the barred owls place "the continued existence of an endangered species in peril."
The Northwest Forest Plan called for unlogged reserve blocks of old-growth habitat intended to support owl reproduction. However, the recently issued Western Oregon Plan Revisions (WOPR), which supercedes the Northwest Forest Plan, does away with those reserves.
Old-growth forests are one of the most secure forms of carbon storage, according to conservation group Oregon Wild. Carbon storage slows the greenhouse gases that lead to climate change. — Camilla Mortensen
TASERS USED IN PRISONS
Eugene is debating the role of electronic weapons known as Tasers in the arsenal of the Eugene Police Department, and similar debates are happening at the state level and around the country. And now the national Partnership for Safety and Justice (safetyandjustice.org) is calling for action to reduce or eliminate the use of Tasers in our jails and prisons.
The Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) is proposing a change in its rules that will allow prison guards to use Tasers on unruly or noncompliant prisoners.
"The DOC currently uses electronic shields and has an older model of an electronic gun in its arsenal," says a statement from the group. "The newer electronic projectile weapons are much more likely to hit their targets than older models, and they've proven themselves to be deadly weapons. More than 220 people have died after being shot with electronic weapons."
The deadline for comments on the proposed DOC rules change is Aug. 25. Information on how to send a message to DOC's Director Max Williams can be found at SafetyAndJustice.org Look for the Action Center page.
In Eugene, a series of public meetings on Tasers are being held by the Police Commission and a commission subcommitee. These meetings are being videotaped, in part, and broadcast later on Community Television Channel 29's Altruistic Insight program with Christopher Kelsay. Meetings from July 26 and July 5 will be broadcast at noon and 11 pm Thursday, Aug. 23. Another Taser meeting is planned for Aug. 20 and will be broadcast the following week. See CTV29.org for program schedule.
WE GROUP TO MEET
The West Eugene Collaborative, aka WE Group, has scheduled another in its series of facilitated community meetings to hash out solutions to traffic congestion in west Eugene. The group was formed after the Eugene City Council withdrew its support for the West Eugene Parkway last year.
The meeting runs from 2 pm to 5 pm Monday, Aug. 20, at the Lane Council of Governments building, 99 E. Broadway.
The meeting, facilitated by Dennis Donald and John Huyler of The Osprey Group, will begin with an overview of meeting goals and a review of key decisions from the previous meetings.
Presenters and discussion leaders include Emily Proudfoot, Tom Schwetz, Gerry Gaydos, Chris Pryor, Sue Wolling, Rob Zako, Susan Ban, Mary O'Brien, Mayor Kitty Piercy and Jack Roberts.
Updates on the meeting agenda will be emailed this week to participants and interested parties. To get on the email list visit www.TheOspreyGroup.comor email firstname.lastname@example.org
BOTTLED WATER BACKLASH
There's "water, water everywhere" but is any of it environmentally sustainable to drink? The most recent backlash against the bottled water industry is the revelation that Pepsi's Aquafina and Coke's Dasani bottled water are actually tap water (you can read a "Democracy Now" transcript on this issue at www.alternet.org/environment/58604/). Pepsi, whose previous Aquafina slogan was "So pure, we promise nothing," has begun a campaign to heighten its "7-step purification process" and downplay its new tap water image. Pepsi has agreed to include the words "public water source" on Aquafina labels.
The bottled water backlash has also involved the revelation that bottled water is no healthier than tap water. A study put out by the Natural Resources Defense Council showed that while the Environmental Protection Agency demands that big city tap water be tested 100 times or more a month for bacteria, the Food and Drug Administration demands only weekly testing for bottled water. Yet consumers pay more per gallon for bottled water than they do for gasoline.
Even bottled water from "natural springs" has its problems. A popular water like Evian, which comes from source near Lake Geneva in Central Europe, must be transported thousands of miles to get to consumers in the U.S. Making the bottles themselves also uses massive amounts of fossil fuels — enough to fuel 100,000 cars for a year, according to the Earth Policy Institute.
But just when you thought the safest and most eco-friendly thing to do was carry your tap water (Eugene's comes from the McKenzie River) in one of those ubiquitous Nalgene bottles, think again.
Although a panel convened by the National Toxicology Program downplayed the possible danger of a compound called bisphenol A (BPA) found in plastics used to make Nalgene bottles as well as baby bottles, other scientists disagree.
An independent panel of scientists concluded that BPA, which is now found in the blood of most Americans, may play a role in "prostate and breast cancer, uro-genital abnormalities in male babies, a decline in semen quality in men, early onset of puberty in girls, metabolic disorders including insulin-resistant (type 2) diabetes and obesity, and neurobehavioral problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder."
Aside from water bottles, BPA is also found in products ranging from dental fillings to Coca-Cola containers. An article at Green Guide (www.thegreenguide.com/doc/114/bpa) gives hints about avoiding BPA, such as washing a Nalgene bottle by hand and not in the dishwasher and not using bottles that are cracked or cloudy. Drink up! — Camilla Mortensen
CASCADIA ECOFAIR COMING UP
|Lost Valley Educational Center circa 2005|
Lane County is known nationwide for its permaculture community — people living and working in environmentally and socially sustainable ways. And one event that draws people from all over the country (and beyond) is the annual Northwest Regional Permaculture Gathering, known this year as Cascadia EcoFair.
This year's 10th annual gathering runs Aug. 23-26 and will feature a rural location, River's Turn Farm in Coburg. New this year will be camping and expanded programs and entertainment, according to organizers.
"This site offers the opportunity to demonstrate a dynamic and vibrant emerging sense of community, informed by sustainable and permaculture models," reads an email from the group. Organizers include members of Lost Valley Educational Center and the Eugene Permaculture Guild.
Workshops are still being finalized, but so far include sessions on human development, appropriate technology, bicycle culture, parenting, climate crisis, alternative energy, water issues, ecobuilding, culture change, relocalization of the economy, food and gardening, farming and farmscaping, and workshops for children.
Sliding scale ticket prices start at $15 per day; work trades and scholarships are available.
For more information or registration, email email@example.com or call 349-4309. Two websites (cascadiaecofair.org and suburbanpermaculture.org) feature the event and its schedule.
OPEN FORUM ON BROADWAY
Eugene architect Art Paz and other leaders of Eugene's urban design community will offer their perspectives on West Broadway redevelopment at a public forum at 7 pm Thursday, Aug. 16, at EWEB's meeting room, 500 E. 4th Ave.
The topic is "What Does Our Community Want For The West Broadway Redevelopment?" and discussion will be facilitated by Rob Handy, board member of Citizens for Public Accountability and a member of the West Broadway Advisory Committee. For more information, visit www.lanecpa.org/cpa
Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
• Weyerhaeuser Co. — South Valley (744-4600) will ground spray 412 acres with Arsenal, Garlon 4, Oust, Escort and Chopper herbicides plus Moract adjuvant near starting Aug. 20 (#50896).
• Weyerhaeuser Co. — South Valley (744-4600) will spray roadsides with Accord and Garlon 3A herbicides plus Methylated Seed Oil and Induce adjuvants near starting Aug. 23 (#50909). Call Paul Clements, Oregon Dept. of Forestry at 935-2283.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
Since the U.S. invasion began on March 20, 2003 (last week's numbers in parentheses):
• 3,689 U.S. troops killed* (3,676)
• 27,279 U.S. troops injured* (26,558)
• 292 Coalition troops killed* (292)
• 417 contractors killed** (414)
• 75,723 Iraqi civilians killed*** (74,927)
• $451.7 billion cost of war ($449.7 billion)
* through Aug. 13, 2007; source: icasualties.org; some figures only updated monthly** estimate; source: icasualties.org*** highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate civilian deaths as high as 655,000 to one million
The Eugene City Council Aug. 13 took a big step toward authorizing urban renewal funds for subsidizing private redevelopment of the West Broadway blocks downtown. But a ballot initiative is now in the works to stop it. During the testimony Monday night, Sundance Natural Foods owner Gavin McComas told the councilors that he will, "acting on behalf of a group of concerned citizens and fellow retailers, begin a petition drive to place this issue on the ballot."
Most Eugeneans would like to see our downtown recover more quickly from decades of bad planning, but one of the most basic questions regarding the latest redevelopment plans has not been adequately addressed: Should taxpayers provide subsidies for private development to the detriment of established local businesses? McComas says he supports spending urban renewal money for a new library, a new City Hall, the restoration of historic buildings, affordable housing downtown, a new hospital or "any number of other projects that are clearly of benefit to the general public."
But of course nothing involving public-private partnerships is ever simple. Do we derail a major development in a blighted area of downtown before we've even seen the plans, before we know more clearly what the city's commitment will be, before we know the impact on established businesses? Are there ways urban renewal funds can be used to provide public amenities to complement commercial redevelopment? A lot of public input is going into trying to make this project work for Eugene. Let's gather more information before we as a community decide to kill it.
Good news from the Eugene Planning Commission this week on its recommendation that McKenzie-Willamette/Triad be denied its siting of a major medical center in a rural area north of Eugene, far from the city's population center, and at the end of a busy highway already prone to congestion. The development now goes to the City Council for a decision that could go either way, and that decision will likely advance to the state Land Use Board of Appeals. The obstacles facing McKenzie-Willamette seem formidable, but as we've noted before in this column, just about anything can be built in this county if the developers have enough money and lawyers. In this case we think it's time for McKenzie-Willamette to look for a new and better site for a hospital. The available sites might not have the sex appeal of a golf course next to a river, but that's not what medical care is all about. A major medical center, with all the infrastructure and supporting offices and businesses that go with it, should be accessible to its patients and their families, doctors and employees. Let's revisit the fairgrounds.
It's a little crazy that Gov. Ted Kulongoski and former Gov. Barbara Roberts are picking their Dem candidate to run against Gordon Smith nearly nine months before the 2008 May primary. Leaders usually stay out of their primary as long as they can, but the announcement came out this week that the present and former guvs are signing on now with Jeff Merkley over Steve Novick and other candidates. Money rules, of course. Novick has been making money calls since Willamette Week put him on their cover, and Merkley just announced, so he's behind in the game. Because the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee with its big pockets helped to recruit Merkley, Oregon Ds need to prove his financial viability out here to the DSCC. Hence, the governors lend their credibility. But we want to wait and see, watch both guys and any others who want to run, listen to at least one "debate" and refuse to be rushed into picking our candidate to take on Smith. Should be interesting.
On EW! A blog this week: Molly handily lists links to all the Booker Prize longlisted titles, so you don't have to hunt through the Internet yourself; Suzi starts up a daily newsroll of interesting tidbits from hither and yon — and watches way too many Shakespeare adaptations for one person in one week; Chuck discusses the ability to vote on animatronic dinos at the Oregon Zoo; we hate bad fonts; Camilla covers the Monday night gas leak on High Street. And that's just by Tuesday morning! More to come, as always. Get to our blog through our website or bookmark blogs.eugeneweekly.com
What can we say about Karl Rove other than he was one of the most divisive and destructive forces in modern American politics? But even more disturbing is the fact that he was able to take advantage of our national weaknesses: fear and religious bigotry. What will Bush do without him? The pattern has been set; don't expect anything to change. Turd Blossom will be whispering in George's ear until the very end, or at least leaving behind detailed (but no longer effective) instructions on how to manipulate and obfuscate Congress and the American people. What will the Republican Party do without him? Let's hope the GOP recognizes the damage and vows to never again revert to short-term Rovian tactics. Eventually, people wise up.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
EULAREE SMITH & SARAH BETH BYRUM
A music-education major at Fullerton College, Eularee Smith taught kindergarten for a couple of years, then got married and became a full-time mom. When the family moved to Eugene in 1979, she began to give piano lessons at home and to volunteer in the community. "In the back of my mind, I always wanted to start a program to bring arts to children," she says. So when her daughter Sarah Beth graduated from UO in 1999 with a dance major, Smith enlisted her as a partner in Upstart Crow Studios, a nonprofit that offers classes in theater, music, dance and other arts to children, without regard to talent or economic status. "Thirty percent of our kids are on scholarship," she notes. After years of teaching and performing in churches and schools ("Our homes became costume shops"), UCS moved into its own own building in September 2006. "It's passion, not work," says Smith, who volunteers her time as artistic director. She still teaches piano and volunteers elsewhere, as in: Oregon Meals on Wheels Volunteer of the Year for 2006. See more on UCS classes and shows at upstartcrowstudios.com.