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Eugene Weekly : News : 11.18.10





News Briefs:
Folklore and Folklife at the UO | Will City Tax the Rich for Schools? | Large Trees May Reduce Shady Behavior | Grow Spuds in Leaves? | Puddle Stompin' Fun | Activist Alert | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule | Obama's Socialism | Lighten Up | Early Deadlines |

Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes

Something Euge!

 

 


FOLKLORE AND FOLKLIFE AT THE UO

When Bill Ivey was appointed chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts back in 1997, The New York Times asked then-President Bill Clinton if he was “installing a kind of Southern folklore mafia inside America’s cultural institutions.” 

Ivey, an ethnomusicologist and folklorist, is not only the former NEA chairman, he is the former director of the Country Music Foundation, past-president of the American Folklore Society and he was team leader for arts and humanities on Obama’s presidential transition team. And he’s here in Eugene this week to kick off the Oregon Folklife Network’s inaugural symposium, "Public Sector Folklore in the 21st Century,at the UO, as well as the founding of the Oregon Folklife Network (OFN).

OFN takes up where Oregon’s previous statewide public folklore organization left off when it was discontinued in June 2009, due to the economic downturn, according to Lisa Gilman, the director of UO’s Folklore Program.

The new network is administered by the Folklore Program and the Arts and Administration Program and brings together arts and cultural partners across the state of Oregon that are involved in arts and heritage programming.

Gilman says OFN will be involved in documenting diverse communities across the state with oral history projects, apprenticeship programs, exhibits, festivals and interactive internet sites. 

Folklore and folklife as OFN conceives it, Gilman says, consist of the creative materials important for a community’s identities and survival, such as traditional art forms, games, music, costumes, holiday celebrations and food. 

A third year folklore grad student who is involved in the conference, Tiffany Christian, says, “Folklore is in the jokes we tell and the songs we sing, the emails we forward on the internet and the naughty things we write on bathroom walls. It’s sitting in the living room with the family, telling stories about the past or trying to raise the dead. Folklore can be the way a grandparent teaches the grandkids how to make a quilt. It’s in our body art, our webpages, our religions, movies and comic books. Some people think it has to be old, but we’re creating new folklore all the time.”

It’s folklore’s connection to the community that allows something like the OFN to thrive in a poor economy. “I think that sometimes in some situations because the folk arts connect with ethnic communities and with a sense of community identity it is easier to raise money for the traditional arts than the fine arts,” says Ivey. He is often credited with restoring congressional confidence in the work of the federally supported NEA after years of controversy and significant reductions in funding.

Ivey says his talk, based on his book Arts Inc.: How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights, will deal with the need to reframe our sense of what constitutes the cultural sector. He says “I’ve argued for years that Americans who care about arts and culture need to not only think about the nonprofit sector but also the for-profit providers of arts services.” He gives examples of guitar shops that give music lessons or theaters that show both popular and art films.

“As our definition of the arts sector expands to include more than just what nonprofits offer, you get a policy environment where it’s easier to get support, a more robust part of the policy spectrum,” he says.

In the current political climate, Ivey says, “I’m convinced that a vibrant expressive life is a key component of our democracy and it’s more and more important as the false dream of consumerism is taken away.”

He says, “We’re either going to see that talking about cultural vitality as a public good will bring contending parties together or we’ll see a return to some of the culture war arguments of the 1990s.”

OFN is off to a good start with a $50,000 in initial support from the Oregon Cultural Trust and support from the Oregon Arts Commission and space on the second floor of the UO’s Knight Library.

Ivey will give a public lecture at 5:30 pm Thursday, Nov. 18, at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. A daylong discussion of public folklore begins at 9:30 am Friday, Nov. 19, at the UO’s Many Nations Longhouse. For more information, go to aaablogs.uoregon.edu/ofn  — Camilla Mortensen

Will City Tax the Rich for Schools?

As 4J holds hearings on a radical proposal to dramatically increase class sizes, reduce school days, close schools and combine elementary and middle schools to close a $29 million budget deficit, tentative discussions have begun on a city income tax on the wealthy to help reduce the impact on children.

Joy Marshall, Lane County director of the state-wide organization Stand for Children, said her advocacy group has begun discussing the tax option reported in an EW cover story Sept. 16. “It’s worth the time to try to build as much support as possible before diving in,” she said.

Mayor Kitty Piercy said she and others are planning a discussion on whether or not the city should help the schools. “We are going to have a community forum.”

State property tax measures prohibit the city and school district from raising property taxes to increase local school funding. But the measures do not prohibit the city from creating an income tax on the wealthy and giving the money to the struggling 4J School District. 

A city income tax on incomes above $250,000 would raise roughly $5 million a year for each percentage point of tax, according to EW estimates based on state tax data. A city income tax on incomes above $100,000 would raise roughly $14 million for each percentage point.

State Measure 66, which similarly increased taxes on the wealthy, passed overwhelmingly in Eugene in January by nearly a 3-1 margin.

The Eugene mayor and City Council (mayorandcc@ci.eugene.or.us or 682-5010) can decide whether to enact a city income tax for school kids, refer it to the ballot, or do nothing. — Alan Pittman 

LARGE TREES MAY REDUCE SHADY BEHAVIOR

Local street-side trees may be taking on a new role: crime-fighters, according to a recent study conducted by U.S. Forest Service researchers in Oregon. 

Trees provide a range of benefits in an urban setting, ranging from energy conservation to atmosphere (both aesthetically and scientifically), but a  Portland study also found that urban neighborhoods with tall, older trees attract less crime than those with shorter trees with branches lower to the ground.

“We believe that large street trees can reduce crime by signaling to a potential criminal that a neighborhood is better cared for and, therefore, a criminal is more likely to be caught,” Geoffrey Donovan, co-author of the study, said. Donovan added that smaller trees with lower foliage could obstruct the view of the house from the street and provide a better hiding spot, rather than trees with large higher branches.  

Mark Snyder, Eugene urban forester, said that this report is just another beneficial piece of information that could help people understand the true value of trees. 

“This is a very well-documented, well-designed study,” Snyder said. “It shows that urban forestry really works both ways. A lot of trees are great for a city setting, but some, if not pruned properly, could be very dangerous.”

He said that aside from welcoming crime, trees with low limbs could spread fires. 

While people may be drawn to the safety benefits of their urban forest, some believe that this is probably not a priority for many. 

“Dry facts don’t seem to have that much of an effect on people,” Erik Burke, president of the Eugene Tree Foundation, said. “If you can make a connection on a more psychological, spiritual level, the community may catch on.”

Over the past years there’s been an increased area of study on the social benefits of trees, including both physical and mental health, said Burke.

However, he stressed that this type of social science research is still in its infancy.

“I think it’s going to be a long while coming before the community understands the importance of these studies and for the city to strengthen their tree ordinances,” Burke said.

For the time being, the aesthetic aspects of the study’s results may attract followers.

While a burglar alarm may deter criminals, Donovan said, “it won’t provide shade on a hot summer day, and it certainly isn’t as nice to look at as a tree.” 

Want to be a crime fighter, er, tree planter? The Eugene Tree Foundation is having a tree planting on in the Trainsong Neighborhood from 9 am to 1 pm Saturday, Nov. 20. Meet at the Red Cross building at 862 Bethel Dr. The morning begins with talks by Mayor Kitty Piercy, Union Pacific spokesman Brock Nelson, Friends of Trees Executive Director Scott Fogarty and Trainsong Neighborhood President Nicole Sharette.

More Trainsong tree plantings are planned Dec. 4 and Dec. 18. Contact Burke at erikburke@gmail.comAlex Zielinski

GROW SPUDS IN LEAVES?

Eugene is known for its shade trees, and this time of the year the fallen leaves are clogging gutters, blocking bike lanes and parking spaces and costing taxpayers a bushel of bucks to haul off. Is there a better way? Some local folks are talking about using those leaves to turn backyards and unused sunny alleys into potato patches.

Fergus Mclean of Green Eugene said, “We’re pursuing David Hazen’s idea of established on-site leaf piles for growing potatoes, etc., instead of hauling leaves out of neighborhoods to some distant collection point. We’re thinking we could encourage local folks to have leaves delivered now to their yards or undeveloped alleyways to create potato beds for planting next spring.”

Mclean said he contacted Harry McCormack at Sunbow Farms in Corvallis to ask about the idea. “Harry’s the dean of local organic growers and the inspiration behind the Grain and Bean Project.”

McCormack told Mclean in an email that the idea will work. “I’ve done potatoes, sweet potatoes, all kinds of squash, melons and tomatoes in leaves,” he wrote. “I think almost any root crop would work. Probably any crop that can be transplanted. You’d just have to try. The trick is to have large enough piles. Minimum I would say is three feet of depth.”

McCormack said he puts transplants into the piles, adds fish meal, or when the plants show leaves, adds compost tea and liquid fish with kelp. Depending on how wet the leaves are, he said, irrigation might not be needed, or “sometimes need one to three irrigations during the heat of the summer.”

“Sounds like a great project as long as the alleys are not fire lanes,” wrote McCormack. 

Mclean said the city, “might need people to do some local organizing before delivering leaves for an alleyway. Local folks might well need to check in with all residents adjacent to the alleyway, and someone is going to have to guarantee to the city that the leaves will be properly spread and cared for once they’re delivered.”

Mclean said finding good growing sites might only be the start of getting these beds going. “What a great opportunity for bringing neighborhood communities together,” he said. “The quest for leaf-grown potatoes!” For more information email potatopatch.ggdc@gmail.com  — Ted Taylor

PUDDLE STOMPIN’ FUN

Kids climb trees in the rain

Rain or shine, families will gather to enjoy the great outdoors on Saturday, as the Youth in Nature Partnership at Mount Pisgah Arboretum hosts the third annual “Play in the Rain Day.” 

The event is intended to kick off the Willamette Valley’s rainy months by reminding families that a little precipitation doesn’t have mean outdoor fun is over until the summer, says Chris Orsinger, director of Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah. 

“It’s important for kids to develop a wonder at the beauty of nature and to develop a relationship with nature,” says Orsinger. “It’s a way to connect with your children outside of the busyness with cell phones and video screens and modern life.”

In addition to the hikes one might expect, multiple outdoor and rain-friendly groups will facilitate activities like recreational tree climbing, archery, campfire cooking, horses, hay rides and learning about outdoor survival skills. Cascades Raptor Center will show off some of its birds, and Smokey Bear will make an appearance. The event is joint effort of the Northwest Youth Corps, Friends of Buford Park and Mt. Pisgah, Mount Pisgah Arboretum, the Forest Service, BLM, WREN, Nearby Nature, Willamalane Park and Recreation District, and the city of Eugene.

“The partnership is trying to increase the opportunities for kids to get outdoors and in particular connect families with organizations that provide opportunities for kids to get outdoors, whether that’s nearby nature for younger children or Northwest Youth Corps for teens who want to earn money in the summer outdoors,” Orsinger says.

Play in the Rain Day will run from 10 am to 3 pm Saturday, Nov. 20, drizzle or downpour. —  Shannon Finnell

 

ACTIVIST ALERT

Oregon WAND will hold its monthly meeting from 6:30 to 8:15 pm Thursday, Nov. 18, at First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive St., Eugene. After a brief post-election recap, the group will discuss gender issues and feminism. All WAND events are free and open to the public. See www.wandoregon.org

Amigos Multicultural Services Center is celebrating the graduation of members of its Latino-Immigrant Youth Leadership Program, Juventud FACETA, from 6 to 9 pm Friday, Nov. 19, at the former Whiteaker School, 21 N. Grand St. in Eugene. The event is free and refreshments will be served.

• An Inclusive Visions Recreation Fair is being planned for 10 am to 1 pm Saturday, Nov. 20, at the Hilyard Community Center, 2580 Hilyard St. in Eugene. Three organizations will be presenting their programs for inclusion of local people with impaired vision. “This is sort of an off-shoot of the EyeCycle tandem cycling program, one of the Clubs being showcased,” says Mallory Goelz of the city of Eugene’s Adaptive Recreation Services. The other two are Team Sight Unseen, and the Obsidians Club.

• The Civil Liberties Defense Center’s annual fusion fundraiser “Rebel Revelry: A PATRIOT Act Bash” will be from 6:30 to 10:30 pm Saturday, Nov. 20, at Cozmic Pizza, 199 W. 8th Ave. Admission is $10 and includes raffle tickets and pizza. Kids 10 and under free. Entertainment includes Ty Conner, Jorah LaFluer, Patrick Dodd.

• A social event and fundraiser to help retire the campaign debt of Jerry Rust is planned for 3 to 5 pm Sunday, Nov. 21, at a private home near Hendricks Park. For directions and to RSVP, call Deborah Noble at 344-9933 or email dnoble4990@aol.com Contributions can also be sent to Rust for Commissioner, PO Box 40820, Eugene 97404.

• Public comment on the Elliott State Forest logging plan (http://tiny.cc/5l6sa) has opened. Send comments by Dec. 30 to Keith Baldwin, ODF, 2600 State St., Salem 97310 or email kbaldwin@odf.state.or.us

 

LANE AREA HERBICIDE SPRAY SCHEDULE

Near coastal coho streams: Plum Creek Timberlands, L.P. (541) 336-3819 will contract helicopter application of urea fertilizer near Greenleaf, Deadwood, Mapleton and Walton adjacent to Nelson, McVey, Whittaker, Wildcat, Salt, Chickahominy, Elk, Henderson and Sweet creeks starting Nov. 10 (ODF No. 2010-781-00845). If you see fertilizer going into water, please report to Oregon Department of Environmental Quality at 686-7838.

Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org

OBAMA’S SOCIALISM 

When the Republican Party made significant gains in the midterm elections, much of its success could be linked to their framing of Democratic economic policies as socialist. Is this frame accurate? Are Obama’s and the Democrat's policies socialist? What effect did this frame have on the election.

It will be useful to define cognitive framing. George Lakoff, a cognitive scientist from University of California, Berkeley defines frames as follows in his book, Don’t Think of an Elephant.

“Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world. As a result, they shape the goals we seek, the plans we make, the way we act, and what counts as a good or bad outcome of our actions. In politics our frames shape our social policies and the institutions we form to carry out policies. To change our frames is to change all of this. Reframing is social change.”

The effort by the GOP to brand Obama’s administration and the Democratic Party as socialist was quite thorough. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich recently authored a book titled To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Machine. Other GOP leaders who have joined the charge in denouncing Obama’s socialism are John McCain (Washington Times, Oct. 19, 2008), Sarah Palin (Swamppolitics.com, Nov. 3, 2008) Glen Beck (glenbeck.com, Jan. 12, 2009), and many others. Many writers have addressed the subject, from fringe publications to mainstream press such as The Christian Science Monitor. 

By defining President Obama’s economic policy as socialist, the right is not entirely being accurate. The definition of socialism according to The American Heritage Dictionary is, “A social system in which the means of producing and distributing goods are owned collectively and political power is exercised by the whole community.” There are no free markets in socialism. 

Obama has engaged in some social spending but many self-avowed socialists say that he does not fit the bill. Ron Scherer a staff writer for The Christian Science Monitor, wrote a recent article, “Is Obama a Socialist? What does the evidence say?” What he found were socialists who were ready to claim that Obama was not one of them.

“I’ve been making a living telling people that Obama is not a socialist,” says Frank Llewllyn, national director of the Democratic Socialists of America. The article goes on to argue that Obama’s policies are really a return to Keyensian economics, “What Mr. Johns, Mr. Gingrich, and others brandishing the “socialist” s-word are really complaining of is a return to the policies of John Maynard Keyens,” the English economist who advocated vigorous government involvement in the economy, from regulation to pump priming, says labor historian Peter Rachleff of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.

The Obama administration is also pushing forward on several Free Trade Agreements, the most recent being the South Korean Free Trade Agreement (See “Trade Pact a Threat to Oregon,” EW, Sept. 9). 

Americans have very strong views on socialism. This is shown by a 2008 Rasmussen poll, found at “Voters Champion Free Market But Want More Regulation” at Rasmussenreports.com, that showed 70 percent of American likely voters preferred a free-market economy, and 15 percent preferred government-managed economy. The vast majority of Americans are against socialism, and with strong emotions, many associating free-markets with political freedom. Milton Friedman, writing in Capitalism and Freedom, went to great lengths to draw this parallel. Framing Obama’s policies as socialist have gained the right a strong advantage.

When framing the debate, the right wing traditionally has used highly emotional words. Other than socialism, the words tax relief, permission slip, rogue states, and partial birth abortion have all been used to frame various debates (Lakoff, Don’t think of an Elephant). Many conservatives on open source websites like yahoo refer to taxes as stealing. Lakoff encourages us to reframe this reference as “an investment into our national infrastructure. By tapping into peoples emotions they are stimulating our limbic system, which among other things controls the flight or fight response.  The flight response may be manifested in angry, argumentative behavior, and the flight response may be manifested through social withdrawal, substance abuse, and even television viewing,” (Foundations of Health Psychology, New York: Oxford University Press.) Neither of these responses include digging any deeper into the issues past 30-second sound bytes. Framing is very successful in the world of the internet and the flash writing of blogs, where an in-depth discussion is lacking. 

The Republicans, according to Lakoff, have poured more than $2 billion into developing the craft of framing through various think tanks over the last 30 to 40 years. As of 2004 there was only one progressive think tank that was working on framing, that is the Rockridge Institute (www.rockridgeinstitute.org). Language matters in politics. What the Republicans realized 40 years ago was that whoever controlled the language controlled the debate. — Philip Shackleton

 

LIGHTEN UP 

The recent elections remind us that science has yet to find a cure for stupidity.

—  Rafael Aldave, Eugene

EARLY DEADLINES

EW offices will be closed Thursday and Friday, Nov. 25-26, for the Thanksgiving holiday, and we will publish on Wednesday, Nov. 24, a day early. Early deadline for reserving display advertising space in our Nov. 24 issue is 5 pm Thursday, Nov. 18. Early deadline for our Dec. 2 issue is 5 pm Wednesday, Nov. 24. Questions? Call 484-0519.

 

 

 

 

SLANT

•• Last week the UO’s University Senate voted unanimously to ask that a public review process happens before the university expands the Riverfront Research Park. Connecting Eugene says the group found an intergovernmental agreement that calls for a joint commission that would take public comment, and that requires the UO and the city to make some joint decisions on development. The UO’s been saying that agreement is over. Connecting Eugene begs to differ, pointing to an email from a deputy city recorder that reads “This contract is currently active in our system,” and a ground lease document between the UO and developer Trammel Crow from 2009 that says: “lessee acknowledges that … the development of the Riverfront Research Park is governed by an Intergovernmental Agreement between the City of Eugene, the University of Oregon, and the Oregon State Board of Higher Education.”  Huh, well, that’s interesting, isn’t it? Is the UO going to barge ahead, or will it slow down, check the facts and see what Eugeneans want for our riverfront?

• As long as we’re on the river, so to speak, what’s up with The Register-Guard continuing to stir up trouble with its incendiary coverage of Lane County’s attempts to protect our drinking water? Seems like the R-G was looking for a story that would appeal to Tea Party politics. Despite insinuations that a new board of commissioners will confound attempts to keep the McKenzie’s water clean for future generations, we take some hope from the fact that newly elected commissioner Sid Leiken was on the Springfield City Council when that city decided to protect its drinking water, which comes from city wells. Springfield’s been protecting its groundwater from contamination since about 1999, while Eugene, which is dependent on the behavior of landowners up the McKenzie, is stymied by reactionary politics. The county commissioners need to keep the conversation open so landowners and science both get heard. 

• Our guy Peter DeFazio and another prominent progressive, Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, have been the most mentioned lefties in opposition to Nancy Pelosi holding her leadership spot in Congress. Paired with “blue dog” Democrats, so-called moderates, and some members of the Congressional Black Caucus, they’ve fiercely opposed her. Interesting that Harry Reid slipped back into the Senate leadership spot without a wrinkle, perhaps because the Dems didn’t lose the Senate. But it’s unfair to throw Pelosi under the bus because of the huge loss in the House. Nor is she the reason that Art Robinson rallied so many against DeFazio in this district. That’s another story, all about money.

• Is progress being made on an affordable and efficient public option for health insurance in Oregon? The public option was our cover story Sept. 23, governor-elect John Kitzhaber is certainly interested in expanding the Oregon Health Plan, and now we see this week that several Oregon groups are collaborating on language for a bill that would establish a publicly funded and privately deliver Oregon single-payer health system. According to the Health Care for All-Oregon (HCAO) website at hcao.org, the groups are HCAO, Jobs with Justice, Physicians for a National Health Program, and the Oregon League of Women Voters. State Rep. Mike Dembrow of Portland plans to introduce the bill in the 2011 legislative session.

• Winners of our Next Big Thing music contest are now getting stage time for CD release parties, and the turnout was great last Friday night for Endr Won and the Cave Dwellers at Diablo’s. ata ghost will be playing at The Black Forest this Friday, Nov. 19, and winner Anna Gilbert (see cover story last week) will be performing with Adventure Galley Saturday, Nov. 20, at Luckey’s. All shows begin at 9:30 pm. Check our Nightlife listings. Get out and support our local talent.

• What proposals will finally emerge from President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, aka Deficit Commission? So far the leadership of the panel appears to favor cuts in everything but Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of our population. It should be obvious by now that trickle-down economics simply doesn’t work. If cutting taxes on the rich really benefited jobs and the economy, then we’d be in great shape today. Instead, our nation’s economic high-rollers have used their ample resources to squirrel away cash, buy up competitors, and move manufacturing overseas. Sen. Bernie Sanders has better ideas, and he’s quoted in The Nation this week saying, “We all know that there are a number of fair ways to reduce deficits without harming the middle class and those who have already lost their jobs, homes, life savings and ability to send their kids to college. The time has come to put these proposals into a package so that a fair and progressive deficit reduction plan will become part of the national discussion.” The best ideas include major reductions to our military, and permanently ridding ourselves of one of our biggest deficit burdens: Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy.

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, editor@eugeneweekly.com

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, editor at eugeneweekly dot com