It was with inspired heart that I took my kids to the Oct. 16 Occupy Eugene March. Looking at the exuberance and peace embodied by the people surrounding us, I thought that this movement might be one I could support and work for. And I did to the best of my ability. Until recently.
Under the umbrella of Occupy Eugene is a group called Tango Down. The name derives from police/military jargon and means “target killed.” It is this group that was responsible for the Christmas action at Councilor Poling’s home, among others. They have been unapologetic and uncompromising in their actions, many of which have undertones of violence.
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” I believe King would have wept tears of joy had he marched with us on Oct. 16, and I believe he would decry the actions that Tango Down has taken in the name of this “peaceful” movement.
It saddens me that Occupy Eugene has allowed a group whose very name implies violence to sully what was such an amazing movement for positive change. I hope that our local Occupy can find a way to return to the roots of nonviolent civil disobedience. When they do, I’ll be able to fully and joyfully voice my support again.
Taylor Rutledge, Springfield
Once again Eugene planners have an opportunity to innovate and improve Eugene’s transportation as a bike friendly town. Once again they fail with the new Willamette Street upgrade. Apparently some businesses oppose bike lanes and safe sidewalks because of a perverse and false notion they will lose customers. Where did they get this idea? Where is the evidence this actually happens? Do they think their customers only drive cars?
Numerous towns in Europe and the U.S. have adopted mixed-use designs to everyone’s advantage but once again Eugene refuses to change. Once again urban designers consider the needs of cars over the needs of people. I guess alleviating traffic congestion, offering a safe environment for pedestrians and bicycles while increasing local business is not part of the city’s plan. I already avoid biking that part of town because of the unsafe conditions.
Alisa McLaughlin, Eugene
SORENSON’S BIG SHOES
In case anyone in Pete Sorenson’s district isn’t already aware of how well we have been served by the commissioner, here are a few high points.
Without Sorenson, we would have lost protection of the F-1 lands. Farms and forestlands in Lane County that are now protected would instead be subject to development. This protection endures thanks to strategy and organizing that originated with Sorenson.
Sorenson brings dedication, knowledge, resilience and a generous spirit to the office. On the nonpartisan front, he was the only liberal invited to testify in congressional committee’s deliberations introducing the concept of federal payments to forested counties. He took a leading role in bringing millions of federal dollars to Oregon. Human rights and environmental groups, working people and students have a friend in Sorenson. Active in the community and accessible at the courthouse, he keeps up an amazingly high level of service.
Watch board meetings that are televised on Channel 21 and you’ll see how courageously Sorenson represents south Eugene. He respects differences but he holds his ground on matters of principle. On countless issues, he asks the right questions, helping us to see exactly what is going on, often beneath surface appearances.
Anyone who aspires to fill Sorenson’s shoes should understand that south Eugene’s best values are upheld and sustained by the commissioner we have now.
Elaine Weiss, Eugene
What a great smile! Andy Stahl tries always to be a great forest protector but politically he fails even with his smile. He thinks he can persuade Faye Stewart to support his ideas on forest protection. That won’t happen! He thinks countywide elections are better than having five county districts. Wrong again! That would produce a slate of candidates sponsored by the timber barons and their million-dollar campaigns. The money would take away what democracy we have left. Sorry, Stahl, but I can’t support you as a commissioner until you learn a little more about democracy and fair elections.
Ruth Duemler, Eugene
BASHING SMART METERS
I am amazed by the continuous bashing of smart meters and the assertion that these meters pose a dangerous threat to our health, never mentioning the EMFs that are emitted by everyday appliances. For example, the clock radio at the side of most people’s beds just inches from our heads for six to eight hours. I think these terror mongers really want the free power that comes with the older meter technology, due to its limited ability to record fractions of a kilowatt.
Why hasn’t there been any uproar regarding NW Natural Gas use of smart meters?
Eric Briggs, Eugene
On behalf of the Eugene Mutual Aid Society I would like to encourage everyone to check out our website at eugenemutualaidsociety.org and learn more about forming or joining a mutual aid society among your own friends and family, in your neighborhood or together with those who share a common interest, hobby or club. Each one of us can help us all be less dependent on government and the capitalist economic system that owns it. It’s fun, it’s free and empowers us all. Mutual aid societies build and strengthen communities in a way that makes us all more than just voters and consumers.
All it takes is one meeting face-to-face the first week of each month to discuss what you can all do to be more self-sufficient, what your needs are and what resources you have to offer other groups. Your group then picks a representative to meet with those from other groups around you the following week. Such community groups are unlike other neighborhood associations in that they are open to everyone, not just homeowners, and are small enough — less than 30 people is ideal — to where meetings can be quiet, friendly occasions (maybe followed with a potluck or partay!) and all decisions made by consensus.
Mutual aid societies can also help us grow more local commerce and cottage industry and home business opportunities; they can be skills-sharing centers to learn or teach self-sufficiency and money-saving skills such as sewing, canning, brewing and fermenting, beekeeping and gardening. Please join us!
Warren Weisman, Eugene
AWARENESS IS A START
In response to the Jan. 5 cover story about young people in action, highlighting Perry Graham, I wholeheartedly agree that this generation of young people (age 18 to 25) have forgotten they can make a difference. In the article the readers learn that Graham was the “brains behind the Occupy Eugene’s Expression Center” and was also arrested while protesting. Graham is a reminder of how very few of today’s young people get involved in politics, even when it comes to local issues.
As one of the young people myself, I believe we can disprove our current title of “apathetic” simply by being aware of what is going on outside of our own little worlds. How many young people were aware of Occupy Eugene? How many young people have voted since turning 18? Perhaps the core of this issue is that it is less common for young people in these times to be passionate about things they have become desensitized to.
Celene Eldritch, Eugene
There is a fundamental understanding in America that “we the people” are born with inalienable rights that the government cannot violate. Yet all of these rights are now on hold while the government attempts to fight this modern threat known as “terrorism.” With the newly signed National Defense Authorization Act, the government now claims the ability to have the military arrest American citizens, hold them indefinitely, without a trial, on the accusation that they may be terrorists.
Over the last decade, an authoritarian police state has been erected not only to fight “terror,” but now to pepper spray peaceful protesters demanding that our financial system not be run like a giant casino. The tools to fight terrorism were never to fight shadowy foreigners, they are aimed at us who demand equal protection under the law.
Government continues to use 9/11 as justification of the elimination of our rights and, until we know the whole story about 9/11, they will continue to do so.
Sean Smiley, Springfield