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The brand of basketball in Israel reflects a survivor’s mentality: tough and proud, impulsive and defensive. 

In practices and games, in the painted area or beyond the three-point line, physicality is relentless. Body checks, sharp elbows and swiping hands — the referees let it go. Without the ball, the body is a weapon; with the ball, it’s protection. Everyone competes. They play to win.

This community lost a truly stellar human being Dec. 19. Peg Morton, one of the best that the human race had to offer, sailed off into the great mystery surrounded by loved  ones, on a courageous journey that started only 13 days before with an intentional fast to end her life.

One of the few useful insights I got from college sociology is that societies are complex organisms with their own history and internal dynamics, not simply collections of individuals. Societies shape the lives of the individuals within them.

The U.S. is a migrant society, settled by ambitious risk-takers, producing a highly individualistic culture that tends to see everything as personal rather than social. That has a lot to do with our economic history.

“I think if you’re going to be working on environmental issues, you need to have a cursory understanding of every region of the world.” This is the ambition of Nick Clarke, a Luce Scholar working at a biogas startup in Kunming, Southwest China. When I meet him in late September, the confident, clean-cut 26 year old was in his third month of Chinese language study and his second week of contract meetings with local suppliers and clients. The drive behind the project is an American organization called RIPE energy (see fuelcity.org). The startup is using the project as a pilot to establish and test their model of community-oriented biogas commercialization, which they say will "reduce emissions while generating ... organic fertilizer, energy and capital."

A number of letters and comments have appeared recently regarding local developers’ proposal to solve the traveler/transient problem in downtown by filling Kesey Square with a five-story apartment building. Downtown Eugene Inc. and the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce have both come out in favor of this closing of the commons and privatizing of our public land. 

“They didn’t just kill Rabin, they didn’t just shoot the messenger. They killed the concept of peace,” my friend proclaims over Shabbat dinner in Tel Aviv. “The sad part is that they succeeded — the right wing. They killed Rabin and got what they wanted. Look at Israel now.” 

As Oregonians, we should all be alarmed at the numerous signs of a great calamity to come: the mass migration of Californians to our state. The climate-change-induced drought in that region has pushed California’s 38 million residents to the brink of social collapse, with millions on the verge of fleeing the devastation.

As programmer of the summer film screenings and the All Hallows’ Eugene downtown Halloween event that attract “students, families, Eugeneans of all stripes” (“A Sense of Place” cover story, 11/19), I do not endorse or support any anti-development effort toward Kesey Square. Broadway Plaza is not a well-utilized public space. Instead, it is a remnant of failed urban planning whose greatest defenders lack the imagination and determination to champion a better-conceived common area for political and cultural activity. 

I’ve produced more than 350 art shows, exhibits and events promoting more than 1,200 artists during the past 25 years. The shows include the very popular “Salon des Refusés” from 1991 to 2009, an exhibit of artists refused by the Mayor’s Art Show; the “Salon du Peuple” and “Zone 4 All Shows” from 2007 to the present, open non-juried community art exhibits; and New Zone Gallery members and theme shows from 1998 to the present. All of these were done on a shoestring budget and, recently, without grants.

Sokolov Avenue is bustling outside of my studio apartment in Ramat Hasharon, Israel, just north of Tel Aviv: pizza joints, tech vendors, hair salons and Western clothing boutiques. The towering McDonald’s logo above (sigh) competes with the palm trees; in the distance, the Tel Aviv skyline resembles an American city. The robust high-tech infrastructure boasts abundant free wifi, and texting via “WhatsApp” is the medium of communication — no matter your age!

As president of the Eugene Water & Electric Board of Commissioners, I have read hundreds of comments in opposition to management’s recent rate restructuring proposal. The proposal clearly offended the community. It did not take into account how important the two-tiered energy charge structure is to customers who sacrifice comfort to save money. 

It’s not often you can, quite literally, don a hero’s cape for Planet Earth, and even less often that it would be plastic, and unheard of that this would land you in a global art festival, but here’s your invite: Thanksgiving weekend — on the eve of the most important meeting ever, when world leaders gather in Paris for climate talks — Eugene will mount a march and collaborative art event so creative and bold that we’re featured in the ArtCOP21 Global Climate Art Festival curated through London. 

After the disaster in Paris there will be enormous pressure, especially from the Republican candidates, to do something. They will condemn the Obama/Clinton administration as ineffective and suggest simplistic solutions to this very complex problem — that will likely make everything much worse.

Recently the Eugene City Council was scheduled to act on a detailed rezoning ordinance for a large area of south Eugene. However, it raised the ire of local citizens because the issues it addressed had not been adequately presented to the people who would be most affected by its changes.

Arts funding is important. Without it, even our longest-running institutions close. The Jacobs Gallery at the Hult Center is the most recent in a string of examples.  

People wring their hands when yet another art venue closes in Eugene, and the standard frustrations are conveyed: “There’s not enough funding!"; “I can’t survive as an artist in Eugene!”; “Nobody buys art!”; “Someone should step up and donate!” 

Paul Robeson once observed: “The man who accepts Western values absolutely, finds his creative faculties becoming so warped and stunted that he is almost completely dependent on external satisfactions, and the moment he becomes frustrated in his search for these, he begins to develop neurotic symptoms, to feel that life is not worth living and, in chronic cases, to take his own life.”

It seems like only yesterday, and not 20 years ago. And I don’t know why or how, but Lewis Puller’s suicide “got” to me. But, what I wrote 20-plus years ago still stands: Another Vietnam vet has committed suicide. I do not know the particular demons which finally drove Lewis Puller to kill himself. I do know I have a few of my own that propelled me to the edge in 1975. 

The City Council deftly headed off a major confrontation with residents of the South Willamette area by voting Oct. 21 to not rezone single-family homes in the area. It was the council’s first opportunity to provide guidance to city planners on the highly controversial South Willamette Special Area Zone. 

We at Occupy Medical see suffering, lots of suffering. We see people, fellow citizens, who have been hungry for so long that they aren’t used to consuming more than a cup full of food at a time. The food that they do get is often from garbage cans. They soften food with milk or water to make it easier to chew as they are losing their teeth from poor nutrition.

Each month when you pay your electricity bill a generous portion of your payment is spent to restore salmon in the Northwest. In fact, when you write that check, you’re contributing to the largest fish and wildlife conservation effort in our nation’s history.

It’s Oct. 29. Have you voted yet? There’s only one item on the ballot, and it’s really important. Measure 20-235 will restore critical funding to Eugene’s public libraries, and we urge you to vote “yes.”

Dick Vitale owes me a working eyeball.

Vitale, if you are not familiar, is the loudest basketball announcer in the world, according to a poll of ESPN viewers, audio specialists and the recently deceased. When he gets going, according to SB Nation, the guy can hit 180 decibels, louder than a gunshot, and equal to the explosion of Krakatoa.

What might Bernie Sanders have to say about Eugene’s $2.7 million a year property tax increase for the public library? Well, it’s definitely “socialism,” which is defined as a redistribution of wealth. But, it’s the opposite of Bernie’s brand of socialism because it enables the redistribution of wealth up to the top of the economic ladder, instead of in the direction of average working people.

The academic school year has begun and as a graduate student in clinical psychology, I am reminded of the many roles I have played over the years: researcher of sexual violence victimization and other traumas, teaching assistant, instructor, mentor, and therapist. Amidst these responsibilities, social justice advocate is the most unexpected role I have had.