EUGENE NEEDS TO SUPPORT ARTISTS
The gentrification-fueled real estate environment makes it increasingly impossible for artists to keep pace with. We are at a point where there is almost no shelter to find for the visual arts in Eugene that will allow artists to practice their art and to display their work in adequate public spaces at affordable cost. We are close to the point where there are no places for artists to gather, organize, plan and exhibit to the public.
Latest example is the New Zone Gallery, a nonprofit cooperative gallery that just lost its lease — the third time in five years. It’s again looking for a downtown location that enables presenting eclectic work of high quality created by local artists.
Art is a service to the public. In these challenging times of pandemic stress, ecological unravelling and the discord of social polarization, art and a vibrant arts community help bring inspiration, healing, awareness and, perhaps most of all, a collective sense of hope and wonder.
As the self-proclaimed “Great City for the Arts and Outdoors,” the city of Eugene needs to find a long-term solution providing a viable and permanent home for our community’s nonprofit art scene, to the benefit of the artist, artist generations yet to come, and most importantly to Eugene’s public so it has a place to enjoy art not driven by commercialism
WE NEED CHANGE NOW
Yes, we need change, fast. Yet carbon taxing will be too hard to initiate, too slow and inadequate to the real rate of warming and global ice-melt, to prevent increasingly catastrophic years.
Carbon tax will help. Yet almost everything we generate, produce, consume, use, eat and grow now involves about 85 percent waste (energy and/or water, etc.). So accelerating transition to a waste-free national culture will be faster. France’s interior ministry found that increasing cover-crops on bare fields by 0.4 percent per year will absorb increasing emissions of greenhouse gases. Will that save coastal infrastructure, nuke plants, cities, etc.?
Annual rates of ice-melt and warming now accelerate exponentially. Science shows all the “forcing” factors increasing, at much greater rates. So to stop or reverse ice-melt and average sea-level increase, sane policy would increase cover-crops, reforestation, de-desertification and habitat restoration at an accelerating rate.
Yes, enjoying simplicity is a great idea. Yet addictions to energy/water-wasting habits, buildings, vehicles, appliances, toys, consumer goods, amusements and, increasingly, crypto-currencies are worse than heroin.
If we want a sustainable civilization, we need mass-rehab and a change of heart enabling changing minds — about reality, real possibilities, the future and appropriate response.
LET’S BLACKLIST THE 126
Shame on President Donald Trump for fomenting distrust of the results of the Nov. 3 election — which had the largest turnout in history and was the most secure, according to the professionals in charge. The state of Texas filed a bogus lawsuit to overturn the will of the people in four other states: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Shame on the 18 Republican state attorneys general who supported this lawsuit.
Shame on the 126 representatives in the U.S. House who supported the Texas v. Pennsylvania et. al lawsuit — apparently out of fear that Trump, in his wrath if they appeared personally disloyal, would back challengers in their next primary elections. They are more concerned about staying in power than honoring their oath of office to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” These congressional Republicans are listed in the amicus brief.
None were from Oregon. But if you have family or friends in any of their districts, please encourage them to notify their representatives that they disapprove of their action and intend to vote against them in the future.
On Dec. 11 the Supreme Court declined to consider this irresponsible lawsuit. Meanwhile, all 50 states certified their votes — with no evidence of widespread fraud — and the Electoral College finalized the win for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
IT WASN’T ABOUT LOUD MUSIC
As a long-time anti-rape activist I’m acutely aware that how assaults are reported can either hold perpetrators accountable or reinforce the blame of victims and keep power dynamics intact. This applies as well to violence against people of color. Focusing on the fact that 19-year-old murder victim Aidan Ellison was playing loud music suggests that the violence was justified. White supremacy reinforces the belief that Black people should submit to the will of white people and that violence is an acceptable way to compel submission. The murder of Aidan Ellison is a modern-day version of the lynchings used to punish Black people who refused to show white people “proper respect.”
There is one reason only for the murder: the decision of the perpetrator to use a firearm. Media accounts focused on the fact the killer was likely under stress having lost his home to the recent fires, but it is notable that no such grace is given Black people who live with constant stress and fear and suffer their own losses. In my own neighborhood, an individual (likely white) habitually shoots off fireworks late at night, awakening residents and terrifying their animals. As angry as people are about this behavior, I have not heard anyone suggest shooting the perpetrator.
Just as with rape, we will see no changes until we place responsibility for the violence where it belongs — on the perpetrators who choose to act out their white supremacy and violence and those who choose to explain both away.
THE ART OF THE STEAL
Soon-to-be ex-President Donald Trump might get away with enriching himself by having visited his own properties hundreds of times. And if he does, he creates the playbook for any future president to do the same:
Borrow enough money to buy a nice hotel property from a willing lender; there will be many willing financial institutions or billionaires. Set room rentals well above market rates. Then visit the property hundreds of times, dragging the Secret Service along for protection. Make them pay the full price for room rentals! Don’t discourage foreign and domestic dignitaries to stay there as well.
Soon enough, the farseeing president can be rich as Croesus (or anyway as rich as Trump). And while there might be complaints, if soon-to-be ex-President Trump gets away with it, who cares! Do you?
SHUT OFF NATURAL GAS, EUGENE
Climate change impacts are painful. Let’s help each other work for policy change as we take personal steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s time to pressure the city of Eugene to place a moratorium on all new natural gas (methane) infrastructure. In 2018, Colorado State University research showed that methane leakage from producing, gathering, processing, transmitting and storing natural gas was 60 percent higher than had been reported by EPA. Those updated measurements put the climate impact of utilizing natural gas very close to that of coal.
Over a 20-year period methane traps 80 times more atmospheric heat than CO2. Natural gas utilization will not help us reach our GHG goals. Eugene, do the right thing!
Oxfam reports that the richest 10 percent of the global population ($38,000 or more annually) is responsible for 52 percent of the cumulative global carbon emissions.
Those of us who are economically comfortable can learn to base our decisions on greenhouse gas pollution, rather than the dollar alone. I’m not in that 10 percent, but this year I finally managed to unplug completely from natural gas.
For years many of you have worked steadily to develop climate supportive policies and have reduced your individual pollution. Thank you!
IN PRAISE OF HEAT PUMPS
My home came with a natural gas furnace and in the winter time my largest bill was $90 per month.
Because of the forest fire season of 2017 and the thick blanket of smoke that enveloped all of Eugene/Springfield from Aug. 27 thru Sept. 7, I put a heat pump in my home. Now on hot days during forest fires I can cool my home without having to let in cool smoky air overnight. The heat pump also has easy to clean air filters that helped me keep my indoor air smoke particulate free.
Since 2017, I’ve experimented with heating all winter exclusively with the heat pump, and it’s much cheaper to run than the natural gas furnace. Winter of 2019 my highest electricity bill was $35 per month, and modern gas furnaces do not turn on without electricity so both heating systems would not work during a power outage.
I removed the gas furnace this summer and now have new pantry space.
SAY NO TO NW NATURAL
Despite NW Natural’s best attempts to convince the public otherwise, the fracked gas utility is more closely aligned with the interests of the fossil industry than they are with their customers. Polls show us that the majority of Americans support dramatic action to address the climate crisis, yet NW Natural is still perpetuating the same lies about “natural” gas being a source of clean energy.
After years of fighting against the Jordan Cove fracked gas pipeline, our community isn’t falling for these lies. We know that natural gas is just as destructive to our climate as coal. We know that the extraction, transportation and combustion processes are dangerous to the health of anyone living nearby. And we know that these impacts, as well as the broader impacts of the climate crisis, will disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.
But there’s a clear step that our city can take right now to lead the way in the fight against fracked gas. Eugene has the opportunity to take a stand and refuse to renew their franchise agreement with NW Natural until the utility agrees to halt the construction of all new gas infrastructure, end their subsidies for people to transition onto their dirty fuel, and pay for the damage that they have already caused through irresponsibly pushing fracked gas onto our community.
It is time for Eugene to take a stand.
NOT IN ACCORD WITH THE ‘ACCORD’
Associated Oregon Loggers’ Amanda Astor (Register-Guard, 12/19) calls SB1602, the Private Forest Accord (PFA), “a landmark bill developed collaboratively between the timber industry and environmental groups”, but there are many of us who call this bill a betrayal of the people of Oregon and the forest itself. Oregon’s Wall Street-driven industrialized forest management practices are outmoded and dangerous. The bill, agreed upon by some of Oregon’s “friends” in the environmental community, ignored the demands of many of us who are directly and indirectly affected. We refuse to sell-out the environment and our future.
One glaring breach of trust: minor buffer provisions on waterways for aerial herbicide applications are ridiculously insufficient to protect drinking water, lakes, rivers, soil and air from toxic chemical trespass. Herbicides drift offsite and must be banned.
Astor maintains that the “PFA includes an agreement to ‘stand-down’ on pursuing forestry-related legislation” and that “legislators must avoid disrupting this process.” It is beyond offensive that a paid staffer for a timber lobbying organization is telling legislators to stay out of the way. Legislators serve at the pleasure of voters, and are “supposed to” work for all Oregonians, not only those corporate interests who pay for their campaigns.
In reality, it is only when citizens empower ourselves to become decision-makers, through the initiative process, and other means, that laws and practices protecting our health, safety and welfare will reflect the will of the people and elevate the authentic needs of the Earth and future generations.
GOVERNMENT FAILS TO AID MCKENZIE CLEANUP
The wildfires in the North Santiam, McKenzie, Rogue and Clackamas river watersheds not only caused incalculable loss and suffering for those who lost homes and livelihoods, but now threatens the drinking water supplies of hundreds of thousands of Oregonians. One result of the wildfires burning thousands of houses, automobiles, RVs and businesses has created is a hazardous waste ash cocktail that now threatens the drinking water for hundreds of thousands of Oregonians. Congressman Peter DeFazio, in local TV news, stated in September, “We’ve got to get a lot of that stuff out of there before the winter rains, otherwise it’s going to go into the McKenzie River. The McKenzie River is a source of drinking water for the people of Eugene. We can’t have toxic materials falling into, leaching into the river. So, there’s going to be an awful lot of stuff that has to get done in the next few weeks.”
The same applies to Salem, Estacada and Grants Pass. To prevent this toxic waste cocktail from contaminating our rivers and drinking water requires Oregon’s elected leaders — especially Gov. Kate Brown, U.S. senators and all congressmen — to step up to this unprecedented challenge to prevent another human disaster for hundreds of thousands of Oregonians.
On Nov. 10, a FEMA report stated it hadn’t requested aid from the EPA to clean up toxic ash along the McKenzie River. It did so for the North Santiam and Rogue River watersheds. It appears Eugene’s water supply will be contaminated because of the complete failure by state and federal police makers, agencies and the local media like The Register-Guard to do their job.
WE CAN’T GO BACK TO ‘NORMAL’
The last thing we need to do now is to go back to so-called normal. Perhaps like me, you are experiencing a kind of tension, feeling deep grief caused by the pandemic and at the same time, a great relief that at long last we may find ourselves in a truly transformational moment. We’ve been rightly humbled by COVID-19, and we should recognize it for the opportunity it is, a sort of portal, to give birth to an authentic inclusive, multiracial democracy, which recognizes the primacy of the natural ecological systems on which all life depends.
We cannot unsee the murder of George Floyd or unhear the chants “Say her name!” for Breonna Taylor. And just as we must reckon with our country’s brutal history of genocide and enslavement, we must accept the scientific reality of the climate collapse that is unfolding before our eyes. This is a time for courage. Those of us not taken by the pandemic have a duty to step up with renewed dedication to make the personal and systemic deep changes that our survival demands.
OUR ENEMIES ARE HUMAN, TOO
An analogy is made in the movie Legends of the Fall where the same woman has an emotional/romantic relationship with three brothers. The metaphor is that the woman is like pure clean water satisfying the siblings. One of the functions of water is to generate life. In this movie, the water who served as a bond between the men froze and turned to ice, fracturing their unity.
This analogy appears also in activism. Activists who are working on a particular problem are for the most part in agreement about that primary goal. Every one of them have, also other issues to which they are also committed. When these affiliations are brought up, sometimes disparity appears, putting in danger the original focus or intention of the group.
This reveals the fissure which sooner or later breaks up the glue holding people together.
Groups fighting for the fruit of capitalism are not as restricted as we are. Their goal is making a lot of money and in that, they find solidarity. This, once solidified, can serve as a launching pad to other business ventures. They work hard, aren’t restricted by ethics, nor do they analyze their actions’ future impact.
Activists need to check our egos before going to work with others. While we are fighting for our lives, the future of life, and justice we should never forget that our “enemy” is just as human as we are.
David Ivan Piccioni
SUGGESTIONS FOR ALL
We are being told: Come together as a country, heal divisions. I’m fine with that.
Trump voters: Put down your weapons and extend an overdue handshake of inclusiveness.QAnon adherents: Renounce stupidity and talk-radio hate-mongering. Begin that long march back from your self-inflicted, delusional hell.
Haters and white supremacists don’t need permission to walk with Jesus towards redemption. Remember, Jesus never spoke English and wasn’t even a white guy!
All you who refuse to wear masks during a pandemic, segregate together under that (misspelled) anti-science sign, hold a red balloon for our (fake the steal) press release.
That socialist country just north of us called Canada hasn’t built a wall yet. Canada has health care for every citizen; we are currently barred entry.
At age 67 I found myself nightmarishly discarded, vanquished from the safety and comfort of my Eugene home, tossed into the COVID tsunami. Homelessness became my stark reality.
As someone who looked unfavorably upon Lane County’s homeless population, I found myself among their ranks, wherein I discovered gifts of gratitude found walking in someone’s shoes to get their perspective, more aptly empathetic realizations.
It seems oxymoronic to ascribe gratitude to being homeless but there are aspects of it that can be called “turning ‘it’ into fertilizer.” Yes, I grew as a human being from the crap I became mired in.
I am not grateful for always being cold with a never-ending chill in my bones; not having nutritious home-cooked meals or daily shower; being hyper-vigilant, fearful of having my bare necessities stolen, robbed, or murdered in my sleep; wondering how it is going to get worse aka despair; feeling forsaken by God.
I am grateful for the unexpected life-affirming and spirit-renewing kindness of strangers; the constant problem-solving of survival on the streets; joy in finding a bathroom to use, and if it had hot water, hallelujah!; strategizing how to stay ahead of COVID because I had to rely upon public places for basic needs (yes, masks, washing and distancing are the shields of protection); the always present soul-searching; being stripped of me to be re-birthed with empathy born in reality.
Remember, never forget to show kindness to strangers, for some who have done this have unknowingly encountered angels.