I have lived in Israel for more than seven months now and I struggle to reconcile many residents’ opinions with current events and accounts of history. Eager to find opposing viewpoints — and not apt to withhold my own — I’m familiar with the proverbial “you’ll understand when you’re older.” Perhaps. Or perhaps one man’s naiveté is another’s objectivity. I keep wrestling with these arguments, nonetheless.
It’s mid-October and I’m on The Nature Conservancy’s 9,000-acre Staten Island, part of the 46,000 acre Cosumnes River Preserve, in California’s Sacramento River Delta. Owned by the Conservancy, the island is all farmland, farmed for the benefit of migrating birds. I’m looking over fields of harvested wheat, corn and potatoes as hundreds of 5-foot-tall greater sandhill cranes jump and dance in the fields. As I watch, hundreds more arrive with their haunting, gurgling call.
It was one of those moments when I felt like all the air had been sucked out of the room. I had entered the Growler Underground in anticipation of meeting several friends and hearing lots of great music at the weekly open mic on Main Street in Springfield. As soon as I walked in, someone handed me the latest issue of Eugene Weekly and said, “Look what they did to Springfield.”
In the beginning, “downtown renewal” in Eugene was really about greasing the skids for the controversial Valley River shopping center. The development community embraced this “tool,” and a chorus of the optimistic and the self-interested promised an attractive, renewed downtown and a gigantic mall.
I am sorry to hear that the small square at Broadway and Willamette will possibly be replaced by a commercial building. Since this square is, I believe, the only hard-surfaced square in Eugene’s downtown, it would seem a very unfortunate decision. Most cities value and preserve their public places.
Negro History Week started as an internal Negro Community Celebration, remembering the birthday and the difference between Frederick Douglass (my personal favorite Republican) and Lincoln (my least favorite Republican who edges out Ben Carson and Donald Trump). Douglass was part of a pre-Civil War meeting in which Lincoln suggested the solution to slavery was to ship all four million black people to Costa Rica.
Maybe it’s that my children and I twice spent spring vacations at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in the early 1980s, when water was unusually plentiful and the birds at dawn were a cacophony. Or that we hiked near the refuge to see pre-dawn sage grouse males burbling like coffee percolators with inflated chests while the females feigned disinterest.
And then, in 1983, there was the memorably titled book, Sacred Cows at the Public Trough, written by former Malheur Wildlife Refuge naturalists Denzel and Nancy Ferguson. It was a ground-breaking book about, well, breaking of the ground.
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.