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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 6.25.09




THE LAST DANCE 

The Tango Center closes June 30 after a six-year run. It is North America's largest Tango facility, and the first new downtown partner dance hall in Eugene in 50 years. This is a good opportunity to reflect on what we were trying to do, and what we actually managed to achieve.

Our primary goal was to repair downtown. My wife, Olga Volchkova, and I knew that urban repair only happens when people actually fill a space with public activity. We picked the worst stretch of downtown, the spot that needed the most help.

We also wanted to offer something different: a place where people could do something, and learn to do something — not simply a place to watch and listen. In this case, we wanted people to learn the gentle Argentine Tango, which may be both the most simple and the most challenging of partner dances. We wanted a community venue, where the “audience” was the creative talent. Some 10,000 people were able to experience this at The Tango Center, and I think it broadened their understanding of what a lively downtown could provide.

Although we're not able to stay downtown, we played a pivotal role in repairing our neighborhood. We were able to protect perfectly good buildings and businesses from reckless demolition by Urban Renewal, preserving them for our final act — when the relationship with our landlord degenerated, we made so much noise that a nonprofit in the position to buy the block, Lord Leebrick, was able to finally fulfill our mission to turn the neighborhood into a permanent haven for the arts.

If you'd like to be able to say you were there, come to our events this month. Saturday, June 27, is the last big Saturday dance, or Milonga, with an introduction lesson at 8 pm. Tuesday, June 30, is the last big Bailonga, an all-night affair starting at 8 pm.

Greg Bryant, Tango Center Founder



BIRTH COST A FACTOR

While I really appreciate recent letters pointing out home birth and alternative birthing center options for those who had planned to birth their babies at the Sacred Heart Birthing Center, for me, and others I know, that is not the point. The point is we already chose the Birth Center over alternatives for very specific reasons. 

Our insurance does not cover other birthing options. We had a choice between the Birth Center and the hospital if we wanted insurance coverage. The lower cost of the Birth Center was a key factor in our decision. We can barely afford the out-of-pocket expenses after our insurance, let alone something our insurance doesn't cover at all. 

A home birth was never a consideration for us. It wasn't something we wanted nor something our small condo would accommodate. The Birth Center was the ideal situation for us — a home birth away from home. 

I, like many others, was more than halfway through my pregnancy when the news of the closure came out of the blue, and the thought of having to find new providers and basically start my care over was not something I wanted to do even if I could.

PeaceHealth should have communicated with us expectant parents in a more honest and transparent way long before the closure announcement. They should honor the estimated costs that we began our care with and budgeted our finances around. And they should get the new Birth Center built as quickly as possible, so other families can use the low cost, less invasive services that the nurse-midwives have been offering for more than 20 years.

Kim Harper-Kennedy, Eugene



PROTECT THE STAIRCASE

Last week Rep. Peter DeFazio introduced legislation in the House of Representatives that would protect one of the most rugged and wild areas left in the Oregon Coast Range. This bill would create a Wilderness area for the Devil’s Staircase, an area of 30,000 acres near Reedsport.

The Coastal Range used to be an area of old growth forests that was a one-of-a-kind place in the country. However, extensive logging has reduced nearly all of the Coastal Range to a patchwork of tree farms and clear-cuts. The Devil’s Staircase is pristine and untouched, and serves as a historic landmark of what the Range used to be like. It is very important to permanently protect it from logging by making it wilderness. Only 4 percent of Oregon’s public land is set aside as wilderness, while surrounding states like Idaho, Washington, and California all have over 10 percent of their public land protected. It’s time for Oregon to step up and protect more land, as we all know that we have just as many amazing places in our state.

Bryan Warf, Eugene 



CHINESE IMMERSION

David Atman’s “The China Connection” (6/5) raises an important issue: the value of Eugene’s immersion system. 

It is an absolute treasure. Graduating from Fox Hollow French Immersion School (now Charlemagne) in 1996 I wasn’t fully aware of this fact, but then again I was 11 years old. Since then the feedback from my national and international conversations concerning my education has been overwhelmingly positive. “Amazed” is the best word to describe people’s faces when they learn that a city the size of Eugene provides such an extensive public language immersion system. 

I’m amazed too. Since graduating, I’ve learned to speak fluent Spanish, decent Mandarin and I’m working on my Italian. But I don’t disillusion myself: While I am extremely proud of these accomplishments I realize that the real credit belongs to the language immersion I received at Fox Hollow.

The strength of our existing immersion system is good reason for us to fill the Mandarin gap. The addition seems obvious: There are 855 million native speakers and they sell us $26 billion of products annually. At some point, speaking their language needs to become a priority for us, just as speaking English has become a priority for them. Otherwise, we may quickly find ourselves at an international disadvantage.

Erin Noble, Eugene



SUSTAINABLE TROUBLE

The city of Eugene likes to engage in endless and meaningless discussions about "sustainability" and dense mixed-use urban village "visions." These processes lead nowhere and result in sustainable fiscal and political trouble for City Hall. I am attempting to divert the city out of this costly and unproductive spiral. 

At 11:50 am Friday, July 10, the City Club of Eugene will hold a real conversation on a realistic planning proposal at the Eugene Hilton. If you miss the event you can also hear the entire program on KLCC the following Monday at 6:30 pm. I hope you will take part in this event and bring questions. 

The topic is a fiscally and environmentally sound proposal to move City Hall to the existing EWEB building along the riverfront. City Councilor Mike Clark will present his commonsense ideas about the feasibility of this plan. This talk, and the debate that follows, could help set a new precedent for Eugene planning policy decisions by inviting real involvement early for citizens without letting decisions be hijacked by expensive out of town consultants and architects like usually happens.

 Zachary Vishanoff, Eugene



RECHARGE US

With public awareness and interest growing for electric vehicles, and with hundreds of electric scooters, bicycles and other small electric vehicles already in use around Eugene and Springfield, there is one simple and inexpensive step local government and business can do to encourage and support these choices.

Locate and identify with a small iconic sign the many hundreds of electrical outlets available to the public around the community. Most public buildings, many commercial buildings and parking lots already have outside accessible 110v outlets for service and maintenance. In some cases these are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to be available for electric wheelchairs. These and many more could be identified and marked for use by electric vehicles.

Almost every electric vehicle (EV) produced today can be charged on a normal 110v outlet safely and conveniently. The cost of electricity is minimal: about 25 cents for an electric car, and far less for an electric scooter which uses less than a cent per mile of electricity. Most EV's would just "opportunity charge" while shopping. Ray’s Food Place and other businesses are already encouraging EV charging to draw customers to their stores.

Such a program is cost effective, stimulates the economy and a cleaner, greener future for us all.

Mark Murphy, Creswell



SCARY TREES

In Eugene, we all get used to the sight of trees all along our downtown streets, but is it really a smart choice? Maybe big cities have the right idea by letting trees grow in forests where they belong.

These trees are not as harmless as some may think: their roots ruin the same pavement that our hardworking Americans built, they tempt our children to climb their hazardous limbs, and they throw their leaves on the ground for us to slip on and then expect us to clean them up? And the fear of getting hit by a deadly loose branch on windy days can be nerve-racking.

A lot of people will say that my complaining is unhealthy for this period of time when major climate change is becoming a popular concern, but people must see how dangerous these things really are! These few trees are not an appropriate solution to the problems they cause. Yes, trees provide oxygen, but does anyone even really know how much? Are these “scraps” of fresh air required for the fate of humanity? And isn’t this the 21st century? It seems to me that the dependency on oxygen is a little out-dated.

What will happen when these wooded monsters get so big that they devour the same streets that they are now welcomed on? What will happen when they decorate us on their holidays with lights or kill us to make houses and structures out of our flesh? I say we suck it up and cut all these trees down before it’s too late!

Kelvin Glownia, Eugene



WHO’S TO BLAME?

I have been following the issues and problems concerning Lane County public safety from the beginning of time. As a concerned citizen and business owner, I can’t not help thinking why humans will not address the real problems causing so many, which is also the core creating so many problems with this public safety issue.

The key word here is money, which is based upon the economy and monetary system. Until the economy gets better, this problem is only going to get worst. When people have nothing to lose, then they go to great lengths to do nothing more than trying to survive in a society that forces you to pay so much for simple things as drinking water.

Humans are forced to pay in order to live on a planet that they were born to. You are also trapped in the corruption of your own political and social structure. Let’s face it, when the economy and standard of living is raised, the planet is trashed. 

This problem with public safety is a prime example of the political, social, and religious boxes that you are in where greed, corruption and ego are leading you nowhere. Until humans address the real problems on this planet, you have lost all rights to complain about anything politically, socially, economically, religiously and above all anything environmentally. You have only yourselves to blame.

This problem with Lane County public safety is a prime example of what is taking place worldwide and not just within Lane County

Go ahead! Humor me as to what excuse you will come up with in turning it into something that it is not!

Norman Free, Florence