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Alley Valkyrie

Alley Valkyrie. Photo by Paul Neevel.

“I could see Manhattan from my roof,” says Alley Valkyrie, who grew up in suburban New Jersey. One of six girls in her class at school with the same trendy first name, she ran away from home at 17, changed her name, took up painting and sold art on the streets in New York. “I learned more about people than about artwork. It moved me to activism.” She protested globalization and the Iraq War, and she met a few Cascadia Forest Defenders from Oregon. On a visit to Eugene in 2004, she spent two weeks in the woods and then discovered Eugene’s Saturday Market. “I fell in love,” says Valkyrie, who returned to New York. “I was never happy there again.” In October 2007, she packed her van and moved West. Arriving on a Friday, she signed up for the Market the next day and began selling her Practical Rabbit line of clothing the following week. “I thought I would retire from activism,” she says, “but I saw how people downtown were judged according to their perceived income status.” She sat in on City Council meetings and studied Eugene urban planning. Since the Occupy movement in 2011, she has worked full-time without pay as an informal liaison between homeless campers and police. “I became a cultural translator,” she says. “Homeless people know I will act in their interest, and police know I will be honest and point out policy mistakes.”