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Letters to the Editor: 8-27-2015

LOST EUGENE TRADITION

Well, I waved goodbye to one more Eugene tradition today. How I’ve loved the annual Eugene Celebration in the past, the crowds, the hoop-la. So Eugene we were! So unique! We were so us.

Today (Aug. 22) I was one of the 20 or so people who attended the “sidewalk” Eugene parade. Maybe there were 35 people walking on the sidewalk led by the SLUG Queen, few in costume. Oh, it was sad to see a long-held tradition gone by the wayside. A last gasp at trying to save something uniquely Eugene. Thanks to those who made the effort.

I loved our parades of the past — the annual three-day Eugene Celebration, the Memorial Day parade, the great crowds of enthusiastic folks enjoying our time together, waving flags, laughing and sharing the moments. Everyone turned out.

I loved the big fountain on Willamette where we all met on weekends and sang and laughed and listened to the Bible guy preaching to us all. I loved being in Kesey Square, which had no name back then but drew us all every weekend to watch the juggler or the hacky-sack guys, the street musicians and the many shoppers all over the place, from Woolworth’s to The Bon Marché. We were so alive with Eugene-ness.

Remember those days? I waved goodbye today.

Patrice Dotson, Eugene

 

FESTIVAL IS FOR PROFIT

I read with interest your Festival of Eugene article Aug. 20. Last year I helped organize the festival. As planning began in the fall for this year’s festival, I encouraged the festival organizer to convert the festival’s legal status to a nonprofit corporation and offered to assist in doing so. Subsequently in an email to me the festival organizer stated that she was not going to form a nonprofit. That decision, along with a decision to continue to not pay bands, resulted in me ending my involvement with the festival last November.

Although your article quotes her as stating that the festival is “not for profit,” in reality the “Festival of Eugene” is her assumed business name registered with the Oregon Corporation Division. While it may be true the organizer does not expect to make a profit this year, the festival is organized as a for-profit entity. If and when the festival organizer is willing to convert to a nonprofit corporation, I will again offer my assistance. Converting to a nonprofit will bring financial transparency and result in a truly community-based festival with an accountable board of directors.

 Jon Silvermoon, Vipertoons Productions, Eugene

 

CALL TO ACTION

How can it be business as usual after witnessing the destruction caused by this year’s fires? This year’s fire season saw the blazes grow in leaps and bounds at an alarming rate, burn damp areas along with land adjacent to water, and take the lives of brave individuals enlisted to fight them. Such has been the nature of this year’s fires, unparalleled in size and number. There is an unspoken sense of grief in the air from the recent death of untold scores of wildlife, firefighters, loss of homes and of course the charred landscapes in our mountains where there were once thriving ecosystems.

And yet, I do not count on the major news sources’ attention span to truly engage what is at stake here and the necessary and swift transformations that need to take place. Frankly, I sense the potential for these catastrophic fires to be spun in a way that gives a green light to extractive industries and speculative practices.

This is a call for every single person to reach deep inside themselves and summon the energy of a mama bear. Every person who loves to hike in the outdoors knows about what happens when you get in between a mama bear and her cub. Well, we have to do something similar. There are numerous indications that our current system is bereft of structure, responsiveness to the current calamities and responsibility to life itself.

The system is not going to change without our collective energies, as it does not know how. Even with these raging fires that feel eerily prophetic of some of the most dire global warming predictions, applications for new systems of pipelines, new mining claims, etc., continue to proliferate. This is in addition to practices such as clear-cutting, aerial spraying of forestland adjacent to local farms, cancer-causing pesticides that threaten public health, and the list goes on and on.

Please get to know the activism that is out there and get involved. We are seeing the current problems escalate to catastrophic levels. The response from our country’s mainstream media and politics will not do these events and lost life justice. It is easy to feel like a deer caught in headlights with the onslaught of so many things bombarding us; however, these are the challenges of our time of having to adapt to current matters while working so very hard to change them. May we all rise to the challenges in front of us right now. 

Kerstin Britz, Cottage Grove

 

SLOPPY ASSESSMENT

The online third grade Smarter Balanced practice test is riddled with errors. That’s fact, not ideology. It was thrown together in only 10 months and not corrected in the intervening five years. For example:

 Questions 2, 11, 13, 27: This particular Part A/Part B format is confusing even for adults, let alone third graders. Should it assess test-taking ability or knowledge?

Question 10: Correct punctuation requires quotation marks around “placed one on top of another.”

Question 16 has a typographical error: “Move the groups of sentences so that the group that makes the bestbeginning (sic) comes first.” Oh, my. Meanwhile, even English majors don’t agree on the best sequence for the story. 

Question 12: “What inference can be made about why the author includes the backpack in the passage?” Most 8 year olds do not know how to “infer,” because they don’t yet understand abstract concepts. It shows that no early childhood expert helped write this test.

Question 21 is too wordy for third graders: “Which of the following sentences has an error in grammar usage?” Why not, “Which sentence uses incorrect grammar?” 

Question 23: You can’t even get adults to agree why the author spoke about the International Space Station. 

This standardized test is sloppily written and not age-appropriate. Taxpayers have a right to expect more for their billions and students have a right to expect more from us, the adults. So let’s work together on a better assessment system for Oregon’s students.

Rachel Rich, Eugene

 

SMASH CAPITALISM

It has been interesting to follow the plurality of perspectives in response to the July 16 cover story, “Radical Predictions.” However, these responses lack a cogent social analysis and, thus, fail to provide a tenable way forward. 

Population overshoot, industrialism, spiritual alienation, uncontrollable economic growth and a culture of domination are all secondary or tertiary problems. “Solutions” that address these problems — population control, attacks on infrastructure, individual spiritual practices, living off the grid and wallowing in alienation — will never be effective on their own. 

If we want to cut ecocide at the root, we must address capitalism. It is capitalism that is the dominant mode of production on the planet and the undeniable cause of ecological devastation. 

The transformation of the natural world into commodities through the work of labor power is at the core of capitalism. Even those of us not directly involved in production are coerced to buy these commodities and sell our labor power just to survive.

It is only by ending this relationship between labor and capital that we will be able to end the abusive relationship between humans and nature. If you want to organize with this premise in mind, contact me at kelleyvincent@gmail.com

Vincent Kelley, Eugene

 

ROOT OF THE PROBLEM

An Aug. 6 Slant item advocates electing politicians who have better attitudes toward the global warming crisis. The sad reality is that the world cannot afford to wait until U.S. voters kick the bums out of office.

Grassroots political activism must instead convince the current crop of elected officials to effectively fight global warming. Protesting, lobbying, writing letters to the editor, etc., can be part of the democratic process.

Global warming scientists cannot predict the exact effect of greenhouse gas emissions over a short period of time, but the failure of the 2009 U.N. Copenhagen Conference was very harmful. If the U.N. Paris Conference of December 2015 does not create an international agreement preventing 2 degrees Celsius of global warming, the world’s peril will increase further, as greenhouse gases build up in the atmosphere.

The U.S. government is the biggest barrier to an effective international agreement, and within the U.S., Congress is the biggest problem. Some good news: Reports from the Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s June meetings with congressional offices show a change for the better in the attitudes of Republican politicians. A carbon tax could become part of a tax reform bill.

Milton Takei, Eugene

 

SIMPLE SOLUTION

I have a simple, two-word solution for trash on the riverbanks: trash cans. The city of Ashland has one on every corner downtown and one every quarter mile or so throughout Lithia Park. Every time I walk the bike path here, I’m shocked at how few trash receptacles there are. My guess is that if they were there, people would use them. Yes, even the homeless.

Angela Kern

Eugene

 

CRAZY AND EXTREME

I am conservative, an independent, and I decided not to vote Republican, because they will cut Social Security 20 percent, cut Medicare and cut disability. I am a senior. I don’t need them after all. Forget it! And they’re nuts about abortion. They’re too crazy and extreme for me.

D.H. Bucher, Eugene

 

ANTI-PET BIAS

When we talk about housing for the homeless, I don’t understand how pets are treated with such discrimination and prejudice [A Sense of Normalcy, 7/23]!

When we see an article about homelessness, rarely does it include animals in nonprofit shelters and humane societies! The recent article “Time to Play,” cover story of the EW pets issue July 23, boasts, “Clients can choose one of three packages for their adventurous dogs.” Although this is helpful to some, it’s disturbing to know many property owners, including the low-income apartment complex I am inhabiting, still discriminate on breed and have been less than lenient about letting your dog on the premises without a $400 pet deposit, $200 more than what I was paying a month ago! This is in addition to a pet rent of $20 per month. My 5-year-old boy is cause for more damage than my 14-pound miniature pinscher! Get over it, and let them eat cake!

Emerald Cumberland, Eugene

 

CECIL IS A SYMBOL

Cecil the lion is not a distraction [Letters, 8/6]. Cecil is a sentient being with a family and a life, which was murderously ended by a selfish collector of trophies. Cecil is a symbol to animal rights activists and to all those people who love and respect animals — in a similar way that Rosa Parks is a symbol to civil rights activists. 

Those who try to make a hierarchy of pain and claim that their issue is more important than someone else’s wounds, be it a suffering lion or a suffering planet, do not bring support to their point of view. To vilify or put down people’s emotional reaction to a tragedy is not helpful. Would the fundamentalist right juxtapose photos of tortured Abu Ghraib victims next to photos of fetuses the way they used Cecil? Comparisons like this make me even more horrified by the state of this decrepit civilization. 

All sentient creatures have the right to a life without suffering, especially one tired old lady on a bus like Rosa Parks; especially one magnificent lion, father of his pride, like Cecil. To care about individual life is the first step to caring about the Earth and all life. I’m glad that the children in my neighborhood understand this and care about Cecil. 

They will care about the Earth someday if we adults get our priorities straight and fight for the rights of one lion and one old woman, one homeless man, one transgendered person, as well as fighting against the institutional, bureaucratic and corporate destroyers of the planet.

Eileen Polk, Eugene

 

POPULATION CONTROL

To answer Mr. McMahon’s concerns [Letters, 8/6 regarding forced sterilization], it figures someone would put their own Hitlerian spin on my suggestions. I specifically cited the rhinovirus because it causes the common cold, which practically everyone on the planet gets sooner or later! Ergo, a genetically altered rhinovirus would affect almost everyone eventually and not target any one group in particular, regardless of race, intelligence, wealth or lack thereof, gender, political preferences, religious beliefs, etc.! 

Also, it wouldn’t matter where on the planet it was released, as the rhinovirus spreads like wildfire on a windy day. Mr. McMahon, if you have another suggestion that is completely fair to everyone, let’s hear it! My solution would be.

Todd L. Bone, Junction City