I deeply appreciate the coverage of local environmental and planning issues provided by the Eugene Weekly, which is regularly both more probing and more accurate than what our community gets from any other local media.
In that spirit, Id like to add to and clarify one aspect of the 3/10 Weekly article "Envision Sprawl.”
When I referred to an Envision Eugene group that is "really lopsided” to development-oriented interests, and "...oppressively dominated by the homebuilders and the Chamber,” I wasnt thinking of the overall Envision Eugene Community Resource Group (CRG).
The 60-plus-person CRG group has seemed to me to be broadly inclusive and fairly well balanced, and during most of its many day-long meetings, the CRG worked largely in a genuinely collaborative, consensus-oriented process.
For instance, I think much of the strength of protections around neighborhood concerns in the current draft Envision Eugene proposal comes from the diverse neighborhood voices around the big circle of the CRG.
However, in the last accelerated month of CRG meetings, the process seemed to shift the role of the CRG gradually from profound community consensus building, to something more like a jumbo focus group providing feedback on the draft proposal emerging from City staff.
In the course of that rush month, four committees were started to continue CRG work between meetings at a finer level of detail. To these committees were distributed some of the most controversial and technically pivotal details of the Envision Eugene planning process.
And it was with regard to these committees, three of which are still meeting, that I complained of substantial imbalance. At least two of these committees appear to have an absolute majority who are paid representatives of development-related interests ã numbers that can readily swamp the broad public interest.
Equally troubling, in these continuing committees spun out from the CRG without a firm grasp on maintaining consensus process, the collaborative seeking for win-win approaches, to meet real long term community needs, seems to have broken down. (The 400 to 500 acre industrial expansion number came out through just such a breakdown.)
The committees are still fixable. With a restoration of balance in their membership, and a renewal of real consensus facilitation, it is very possible that the good work of the Envision Eugene CRG could continue at a finer level.
To my eye, the overall value of the Envision Eugene effort hangs in the balance. Will the outcome be high-minded words providing a thin progressive veneer on development business-as-usual? That would be a disaster for the next generation of Eugenians.
Or will the outcome be a firm change of direction for development in Eugene, letting 6,000 more single family detached homes by 2031 be enough ã in addition to the 47,000 already here ã while setting our strong focus on high-quality mixed-use redevelopment in the existing commercial areas in the inner half of the UGB and firmly protecting our established residential neighborhoods?
That could be a win-win-win for walkability, for our spirit of community, for affordable housing and transit, for the nature around us and for the development community. We need to help build a more compact, more efficient, more beautiful Eugene.
Come to the public hearing on April 25, 2011, and let the Eugene City Council hear what you think about planning for Eugene to grow inward, in the underused core commercial areas, or planning to grow outward, onto farmland, forests and rare natural areas.
Kevin Matthews, Friends of Eugene
Before I moved to Eugene, I had assumed her to be a place full of social and political progression, which included progressive views of marriage and sexual orientation. I was even naive to think that most, if not all, local Christian churches in the Eugene area would be progressive as well. I have recently found out otherwise.
I overheard what I believed to be demeaning conversations about homosexual and transgender relationships from pastors or elders of a local conservative Presbyterian church, and I later began to research these types of groups. I researched local churches in the Eugene area to better understand the conservative voice locally regarding definitions of marriage. It did not take long to find a statement which is related to a local church here in Eugene called Cascade Presbyterian PCA. This church denomination has stated in 2000 the following on its national website:
"The PCA is committed to the sanctity of human sexual relationships. We believe Gods intent in creation was that male and female would be complementary, that the privilege of sexual expression would be between male and female only, and this expression would be only in the context of marriage. Both heterosexual and homosexual sexual behavior outside of marriage violates the human spirit and distorts Gods intent for men and women” (see http://wkly.ws/11o).
Does anyone else find it interesting or appalling that the appeal here is that homosexual behavior violates the human spirit? Does this view perpetuate degrading and demeaning views of homosexual in the conservative groups here in Eugene? Does it also perpetuate the view the heterosexual couples are alsoprivileged? Well, in actuality you are right, they are privileged, sadly, and the PCA just admitted it clearly.
But perhaps this group has progressed since 2000 since in reality this was a statement from over 10 years ago. What do they say now?
Brad Hershel, Eugene
EDITORS NOTE: We asked Cascade Presbyterian about this and the Rev. J. Kyle Parker tells us hes unaware of any gay-bashing talk in his congregation.
Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of providing classified U.S. government documents to Wikileaks, has now been held in solitary confinement for 8 months in the Marine Corps brig at Quantico, Va. Some call him a traitor and some laud him as a hero for releasing documents revealing widespread state corruption and global corporate criminality.
Manning is forced to spend 23 hours per day in an empty cell with no human contact. He is forbidden any exercise including pushups during that 23 hours. He has also been stripped of his reading glasses. In other words, Private Manning is being tortured with isolation to set an example to whistle-blowers. This is an outrageous disgrace.
A Supreme Court decision in 1940 characterized prolonged solitary confinement as "torture.” A contemporary opinion from prison psychiatrist Dr. Terry Kupers states: "If you put people in isolation, they will go insane. Symptoms include perceptual distortions and hallucinations, increased anxiety, revenge fantasies, rage, irrational anger, fears of persecution, lack of impulse control, claustrophobia, severe and chronic depression, talking to oneself, headaches, nightmares, dizziness, self-mutilation and a decline in EEG activity. Some of these symptoms occur after only seven days of extreme isolation.”
It is incredible that Marine Commandant James Amos, Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary Gates continue to ignore the pleas of Amnesty International, the United Nations Human Rights Council and a myriad of individuals such as Daniel Ellsberg to desist from the unconstitutional and criminal abuse of Bradley Manning.
Gerry Rempel, Eugene
We all need water to live, but we usually take it for granted, especially here in the Northwest where we are blessed with plenty of rain and rivers. Yet global supplies of fresh water are dwindling, and privatization of water is increasing. How do these trends affect us? The Lane Peace Symposium on April 15 will address many crucial water issues, including: Nestles move to put a water bottling plant at Cascade Locks on the Columbia River; ongoing efforts to keep our rivers clean and healthy; the mission of the Winnemem Wintu tribe of Northern California to return the sacred salmon to the McCloud River; and the bottled water controversy and what we can do about it. To learn more about this FREE event, go to: www.lanecc.edu/peacecenter. Everyone is welcome.
Ruth Wren, Eugene
In response to the comments of Don MacQueen, made on 3/24. He asks if the writers of previous commentary "understood that they were attacking the basic economic system of our country?” Then asks us to give serious thought to the idea of abandoning capitalism, maintaining that a change could bring dire consequences such as "the drastic curtailing of present economic motivations” and "the instituting of severe population curbs.”
I challenge Don MacQueen to watch the Oscar-winning documentary, An Inside Job, and then ask yourself whether unregulated capitalism is still the best economic system of choice. As the film shows us, once again, this new generation of "robber barons” have demonstrated that unregulated "laize faire” capitalism gives license to unbridled greed. Greed on such a scale that our financial institutions have made our brand of capitalism responsible for a global economic crash so devastating that millions of people world wide have lost their hold on any chance of escaping poverty. So much for supporting the "present economic motivations.”
Here in this country, the middle class complain about high taxes while billions of the government bailout money was paid out in bonuses these rich cats who systematically defrauded investors and borrowers alike. The rest of us, including our childrens generation, have been left holding the bag while they sail away with their booty like the pirates they are. The only problem is, they havent sailed away. They are still here, running our government, corrupting everything any of us hold dear about our democracy, trying to convince us all with the latest market numbers, to be greedy (or just desperate) enough to get back into their rigged game.
Perhaps you would dismiss Shannon Wilsons comments (same issue) as a Utopian dream, but he is right, other countries around the world have been experimenting with hybrid forms of socialist/capitalist economies with growing success; a difficult thing to do when the global economy keeps trying to suck you in to the "Help the filthy rich get richer” game. Meanwhile, the ever-growing chasm between rich and poor worldwide is sparking revolutions all over the Arab world, leading to the kind of instability that has us engaging our military to oust a brutal dictator that would rather slaughter the people of Libya than give them a chance to make better lives for themselves.
You maintain that "economic systems tend to come in packages,” but do they have to? Personally, I think we human beings can learn to think outside the package.
M. Gabrielle Legault, Eugene