News Briefs: Reality Kitchen: Whiteaker Be Up! | O.U.R. Still in Business | Feathers: Hair Cool or Hair Cruel? | Bags and BPA Still OK in OR | Is LEED Bogus? | Activist Alert | Lane County Spray Schedule | War Dead
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Happening People: Gwen Meyer
REALITY KITCHEN: WHITEAKER BE UP!
Not many buildings have a black and white checkerboard exterior. Fewer still are the headquarters for a nonprofit autism support program for individuals 21 years and over. And only one of them has Jim Evangelista, the man who took his dream and made it a reality.
"Working with special education children, I saw this great need for services for people 21 and over,” he said. "Being able to support this population of 21 and over is so important, and its not being done.”
About a year ago, Evangelista started Reality Kitchen ã part community center, part autism support program and part (soon-to-be) organic salad bar and kitchen. Tucked away on Van Buren Street across from Ninkasi Brewery, Evangelista and about 20 other volunteers provide social and academic services and living help to 13 adults with mental disabilities in their Transition Graduate Program.
The idea is to provide students with real world skills such as budgeting, food preparation, meal planning, nutrition, workplace safety, etc., as well as providing constant support for program students. This, according to Evangelista, is what makes Reality Kitchen different from other support programs.
He said although there are organizations that provide assistance to those 21 and over with special needs, it isnt ongoing and generally ends when the person finds a job. "What they do is to help job opportunities to come around.”
"Hopefully what well be doing is providing more unique and ongoing support,” he said. "We want to get people who are in that transition time, and give them critical focusing skills.”
Evangelista has worn many different hats over the years, alternatively being a muralist (check out "Tuscany,” a mural he did at 12th and High), theater set painter, restaurant owner, anti-war activist in Nicaragua and managing the free library at the Oregon Country Fair. The name Reality Kitchen, the black and white checkerboard pattern and the somewhat ambiguous tagline "Whiteaker Be Up!” are a throwback to the days when he owned a 24/7 restaurant in Gainesville, Fla., also called Reality Kitchen.
He graduated with a bachelor of fine arts from the UO and earned his masters in special education from UO as well. He is currently working on getting his art therapy license.
"Ive been blessed; people have been kind, people have been patient,” he said. "This is many things for me; its kind of going back to the past, of moving into the future.”
Reality Kitchen is networking with several other organizations that provide services to the mentally disabled, including KindTree ã Autism Rocks, Specialized Employment Services and Lane ESD, among others.
"Were still in the beginning process,” said Eileen Brixey, a volunteer with Reality Kitchen and a member of Autism Rocks. "Were still trying to figure out who we are. If anybody is interested we recommend they contact us.”
"What I want to do is invite the community here to participate with us,” said Evangelista. "Its about all of us. We all have unique and special needs. Here were very open and very welcoming.”
You can visit Reality Kitchen at 245 Van Buren, or email firstname.lastname@example.org ã Nils Holst
O.U.R. STILL IN BUSINESS
The future of O.U.R. Federal Credit Union in Eugenes Whiteaker neighborhood is yet to be determined since the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) took over operations in late June. But even if the credit union eventually folds, NEDCO, the nonprofit Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation, is talking about providing similar services by forming a Community Development Financial Institution, according to NEDCO Executive Director Claire Seguin.
"We were working behind the scenes (with O.U.R.) to try to figure something out,” says Seguin, "but it was too big a can of worms Ä hopefully something good will come out of the discussion with the federal agency.”
O.U.R. (an acronym for Oregon, Urban and Rural) has provided basic financial services to thousands of low-income people in Lane County since 1975 (see story in EW archives 7/12/07). The nonprofit has provided savings accounts and short- and long-term loans for everything from bicycles to business start-ups. Many Saturday Market businesses, for example, got their initial funding through O.U.R., along with better-known enterprises such as Burley Design, which now sells bicycle gear worldwide. The credit union also offered bilingual counseling and training in basic household finance.
The NCUA has appointed itself conservator of the institution and has replaced managers with its own team in order "to continue regular operations with expert management in place, correcting previous service and operational weaknesses,” according to a statement from NCUA.
What were the "service and operational weaknesses”? The NCUA regional director did not return a phone call by press time, but local board and committee members say the credit union has suffered from an embezzlement in the past, "management problems” in the past year or so, and a high rate of loan defaults by members due to the recession and job losses.
When asked to speculate about the future of the institution, longtime board member Larry Abel would only say, "I cant really tell you anything more than whats in the NCUA press release.”
Bob Cassidy served on the credit unions Supervisory Committee for years and worked with credit unions for decades before retiring. He says theres plenty of blame to go around, but declined to fault any specific manager or board member. "This credit union is an old favorite of mine,” he says. "I had wished that NEDCO could have taken it over. Now I wish NEDCO would form their own credit union and then the remnants of O.U.R. could be merged into it. It looks like no credit union in the area is interested in taking it in.”
Cassidy says he doubts that NCUA "wants to run it to get it back in shape. If they did, it would be difficult to get a manager to run it. Its a unique niche in the community and it will be a loss to the community when it goes.” ã Ted Taylor
FEATHERS: HAIR COOL OR HAIR CRUEL?
Ever since singing sensation Ke$ha put feathers in her hair, a trend has emerged across and country and here in Eugene that has left fishing shop shelves empty and fly fisherfolks pissed off. Fashion-crazed women (and some guys) are running off with all of the feathers. But instead of being attached to a lure, these feathers are being woven into hair or are dangling from earrings.
The real issue is where all of these feathers, called "hackle,” are coming from. You cant have a feather without a bird ã or in this case, a rooster.
These roosters are bred to create the perfect long, thin, flexible feathers with a black-speckled pattern called "grizzly” that fly-tying fishers ã and now trendsetters ã lust after. And its not as easy as just plucking one of these beautiful feathers and letting the rooster go back on its merry way. After living a year of a life that may not even go beyond a cage, these roosters are skinned for their pelts ã particularly the "saddle hackle” that adorns their backsides.
And much to the roosters dismay, this feathery trend doesnt seem to be going anywhere. Gwynne McLaughlin, owner of Studio Mantra Hair Salon, where hot pink grizzly feathers are the most popular, says more than 100 women ã and a few men with longer hair ã have requested these feather extensions since last spring.
These feathers "are a unique way to add flair to your hair without a big commitment,” she adds.
So, what about the roosters commitment?
"Animals are killed for our food all the time,” McLaughlin says. "That bothers some people and not others.”
Lin Silvan, founder and executive director of Eugenes Veg Education Network (EVEN), which works to promote education about the vegan lifestyle, said, "Animals are not here for us to eat or wear or use. If one must spend time preening, braid your hair with beads or ribbons and let the birds keep their feathers.”
Studio Mantra, along with many other salons, uses feathers from Whiting Farms in Colorado, one of the largest producers of hackle for the fly fishing industry, and coincidentally for the feathery realm of the fashion industry. According to company reports, Whiting Farms harvests more than 1,500 roosters per week ã most roosters dont survive the process.
Silvan points out that this cruel practice is self-serving, inflicting pain on an animal purely for vanitys sake.
"The important thing to remember is that we can choose” whether or not to use these feathers, Silvan says. "It takes the same amount of energy to choose compassion as it does to choose cruelty.” ã Kendall Fields
BAGS AND BPA STILL OK IN OR
Oregons Legislature has wrapped it up for the year, and while the border collie didnt get voted in as Oregons state dog, Jory soil, that red dirt thats so good for growing pinot noir and Christmas trees, did finally get its due and is Oregons official state soil. But soil aside, the environment made some gains and took some hits in the Legislature this session.
The proposed ban on single-use plastic bags was tanked by plastic bag industry. Though this might have less effect here in Eugene, where many stores like Kiva and Market of Choice already dont offer single-use plastic bags, its still bad news for Oregons landfills and for the ocean, where many bags end up.
The proposed ban on toxic chemicals in baby bottles and sippy cups didnt go through either, so moms and dads will need to look closely at what they buy for their babies. The chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in the polycarbonate plastics used to make many types of sippy cups can seep into foods stored in those containers, according to the Mayo Clinic. And the National Toxicology Program at the Department of Health and Human Services has said it has some concern about the possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. If you're looking to avoid BPA, note that the polycarbonate plastic is usually a hard, clear, lightweight plastic and often has the number 7 recycling symbol on the bottom. Washington state banned BPA in childrens food containers in 2010.
Oregons large-scale renewable energy industry ãwind and solar ã took a hit from the Legislature when the lawmakers decided to make changes to the Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC) program, but the good news is that small renewable projects can still get credits ã under the new legislation, projects would be capped at 35 megawatts and could not receive more than $250,000.
Also good news is that the latest attempt to hunt cougars with hounds once again was defeated, as were a number of bills going after Oregons wolf population that would have undermined the state wolf plan. Legislators did pass a bill that would compensate ranchers for livestock lost to wolves and created a $100,000 fund for counties to deal with attacks on livestock by wolves.
Also in the $100,000 range was the money that legislators approved to keep California sea lions away from Oregon salmon during fishing season.Salmon might fare better this year when it comes to predators ãbald eagles apparently prevented 7,000 Caspian terns from nesting and reproducing this year, according to Bird Research Northwest. Terns (rather than dams) have been blamed for declines in salmon populations.
Finally, also on the greener side, Oregons landmark bottle bill was updated, adding new beverage containers and opening the possibility of higher deposits.Mandatory inspections of boats for invasive species were approved and, with the exception of the spiny dogfish, it will be illegal to sell or possess shark fins (and thus make shark fin soup) after Jan. 1, 2012. ã Camilla Mortensen
IS LEED BOGUS?
A green building rating system widely used in Eugene for government buildings and in awarding tax breaks is under fire as bogus for failing to consider urban sprawl.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program of the U.S. Green Building Council gives ratings up to Platinum level for "green building.”
The city of Eugene increasingly uses the LEED ratings to gauge the environmental impact of new government buildings and in granting tax breaks under its MUPTE exemptions for new multiple-unit housing.
But the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRCD) faults the ratings for giving top "green” awards to car dependent locations where the energy used in driving eclipses the energy saved by the energy efficient construction.
NRDC Director of Sustainable Communities & Smart Growth Kaid Benfield cites research demonstrating that "a home in an urban location will save more energy than one located in an outlying area, even if the suburban house has advanced green building features and the occupants drive hybrid cars.”
Benfield writes on his blog, "even an ordinary building in a highly accessible, urban location is better for the environment than most anything that goes up in a greenfield.”
Benfield cites a top LEED award two years ago to Arbor South Architectures SAGE home in Eugene as a bad example. He faults the home for its car dependence, located on a dead-end street in North Eugene far from a bus stop and stores.
Benfield has been working with the LEED program for years to reform its ratings to give more weight to less car dependent and more walkable, bikeable and busable locations. But he said the LEED group is only "inching in that direction” with a pilot program.
Last month the widely respected Victoria Transport Policy Institute weighed in with a report adding to the pressure for LEED reform. The report detailed how new LEED transportation standards could work and called for building locations in bikeable, walkable neighborhoods with nearby stores and frequent transit services and for separately charging for worker and resident parking. ã Alan Pittman
« July 16 is the deadline for comments and suggestions for alternatives on a BLM proposal to return to using four herbicides along roadsides and in rights of way in the Eugene area. Between 100 and 500 acres would be treated with Glyphosate, Imazapyr, Triclopyr or Clopyralid. Send comments to Michael Mascari, BLM, 3106 Pierce Parkway, Springfield 97477 or email email@example.com
« MoveOn is helping organize at least four local meetings in private homes Sunday, July 17, in its campaign called Rebuild the Dream. "The American Dream used to mean something in this country,” reads the email campaign message. "That if you put in a hard days work, you could expect good American wages, benefits, a dignified retirement, and a better life for your kids. Everyone wasnt in the middle class, but everyone believed that ã given a fair shot ã they could make it there. Thats the American Dream Im fighting for.” Information on the location of Eugene-area meetings and how many people have signed up for each one can be found at http://wkly.ws/12v and people can also sign up to host their own meetings.
« Lane County Democrats are holding their eighth annual Chili Cook-Off competition from noon to 3 pm Sunday, July 17, at Alton Baker Park Picnic Shelter #2. Live entertainment, food, raffle prizes, all for $5 suggested donation. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (503) 927=8189. The next monthly meeting of the Lane County Democrats will be at 6:30 pm Thursday, July 21, at EWEB. Contact email@example.com or call 484-5099. Dems will also be celebrating Obamas 50th birthday from 5 to 8 pm Thursday, Aug. 4, at an open house for their new offices at 228 E. 11th Ave. in Eugene. Find the DPLC newsletter at http://wkly.ws/12x
« The second International Copwatch Conference will be July 22-24 at the University of Winnipegin Manitoba. "Copwatching groups and individuals can share their experiences and knowledge of police in their communities, contribute to a larger understanding of police, and provide new creative tools and ideas to take back to our communities,” according to the Copwatch website (http://wkly.ws/12w). For local Copwatch videos and information, search for "Picture Eugene” on YouTube or Google.
LANE COUNTY SPRAY SCHEDULE
« Western Lane County: Seneca Jones Timber Co. plans to do aerial applications of Glyphosate, Imazapyr, Metsulfuron Methyl and MSO on 144 acres in five locations in T19S 08W Sec 20 and T20S 06W Sec22 near Gillespie Corners. See notice 2011-781-00500.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
« 1,638 U.S. troops killed* (1,627)
« 12,306 U.S. troops wounded in action (12,137)
« 763 U.S. contractors killed (763)
« $429.3 billion cost of war ($427.9 billion)
« $122.1 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($121.7 million)
« 4,421 U.S. troops killed (4,421)
« 31,922 U.S. troops wounded in action (31,922)
« 185 U.S. military suicides (updates NA)
« 1,537 U.S. contractors killed (1,537)
« 110,949 to 1.2 million civilians killed* (110,811)
« $785.5 billion cost of war ($784.9 billion)
« $223.4 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($223.2 million)
Through July 1, 2011; sources: icasualties.org; defense.gov, U.S. Dept. of Labor
* highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate Iraqi civilian deaths as high as 655,000 (Lancet survey, 2006) to 1.2 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)
« How great would it be if Connecting Eugene would reach beyond the Riverfront Research Park and connect other parts of Eugene, maybe the precious riverfront all the way from Valley River Center to Glenwood! Connecting Eugeneis the onefiercegroup, mostly UO faculty and students, who persisted for years until the university, led by President Lariviere, Oregon Research Institute, the developer, and all the players agreed to put the new ORI building and its parking lot south of the railroad tracks instead of on the rivers bank.Thats a huge and complicated win for smart planning and the environment. Lets not waste the dollars and years that conflict cost. Connecting Eugene, Lariviere and the UO, ORI, EWEB, the city of Eugene, local architects, the public, plus the visionaries in the U.S. Courthouse could bring about a viable plan for the Willamette riverfront through Eugene.
« A dangerous incident June 29 involving an agitated veteran with a loaded shotgun at the VA clinic in Eugene could have gone much worse for everyone involved, but restrained action by Eugene police saved the vets life. Good job. Maybe were making some progress here. We recall other such encounters with emotionally agitated people that did not go so well.
« We were excited when AG John Kroger proposed an overhaul of Oregons nearly 40-year-old public records law. Keeping the work of our public officials in the open is a key to good government. Our states open records laws are full holes and exceptions, and are not up-to-date ã theres no mandate, for example, for public officials to save their text messages. Institutions from the Eugene police to the UO have been awfully cagey with their records on everything from cops who are a little too enthusiastic about using their weapons to whats going on with Uncle Phil and the UO athletics program. Kroger had proposed a 10-day initial deadline for responding to records requests, with five-to-30-day extensions possible if an agency demonstrated it had a good reason for needing more time, and he proposed that meeting minutes be available seven working days after the meeting. This would have gone a long way in helping EW, the R-G and other news sources get accurate info out quickly. Too bad the Legislature let Krogers open records reform legislation die.
« Judging by the burnt red, white and blue garbage strewn on city streets, sidewalks and parks this week, the Fourth of July has become the national holiday that Americans celebrate by trashing their country from sea to shining sea. Come on people, have fun but remember America the Beautiful; show a little love for your country by doing your patriotic duty and picking up your celebratory trash.
« We hear this is a tough season, economically, for professional wildland firefighters around the Northwest and northern California. Firefighters are finally back at work and spending a lot of time away from home. The wet spring has kept Northwest crews inactive and hungry, but all that long spring grass and lush undergrowth is turning to dry fuel.
On a barely related note, we have learned that seasoned firefighters (unlike Smokey the Bear) never pee on forest fires. Its considered uncouth. Once a fire is under control and cooling down, firefighters scout the ashes looking for hot spots to shovel up and mix with dirt. Smoke is not always visible, so they use their noses (smoldering wood underground has a distinctive aroma), and they also check for heat in suspicious spots with their bare hands. Even super-sooty firefighters get pissed if they stick their fingers in pee-soaked ashes.
« An intriguing suggestion popped up at a political gathering last week. If the Supreme Court really wants corporations to be like people and be able to influence elections, the court should set some basic rules. Corporations should be at least 18 years old before they can give money to political campaigns, and be U.S. citizens in good standing (no felony convictions among their managers). Maybe they need to register for the draft. Any other requirements come to mind?
« The conservative Oregon Family Council is crowing about a phone survey of 660 likely Oregon voters that indicates 50 percent would vote today to reaffirm Measure 36, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman. What they dont say is that Measure 36 passed by just 57 percent in 2004. A 7 percent shift in public opinion over seven years shows that Measure 36 is doomed.
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
After graduation from St. Andrews Priory, an Episcopal girls school in Honolulu, Gwen Meyer majored in Latin American studies at the University of Wisconsin. "I planned to join the Peace Corps,” says Meyer, who instead stayed in Madison, got married, had two kids, and found a job caring for developmentally disabled women and girls. When the family moved to Eugene in 1979, she studied special education, earned a masters, got divorced, and worked as a special ed researcher until she retired in 2006. In 1996, she met Coast Range sheep farmer John Neumeister at a Zydeco dance class. They were married in 2003. A three-week visit to Kenya in 2002 led the couple to launch the nonprofit Friends of Kenya Schools and Wildlife to support community development in rural Kenya. Their first project, built in 2004, was a nursery school in the village of Kirepari. Since then, five more schools have been built, and 142 primary school students receive scholarships. FKSW initiated the Malo Wool Project, 45 women who knit little wooly animals. "They have earned $24,000,” says Meyer, who has made FKSW a full-time unpaid job. "Its fun for me. John and I go back every year. Fifty volunteers have joined us.” The public is invited to a celebration of FKSW from 6 to 7:30 pm Thursday, July 7, at Tsunami Books. Online at http://fksw.org