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"Guest Viewpoint"

Individualism is the antithesis of communalism and cooperation. It is a powerful idea, mostly a male notion, and it permeates our society. We are very likely the most individualistic society on the planet or in history. This essay is about the ways individualism works to prevent the mitigation of global warming.

I’ve been having a month-long email conversation with West Lane Commissioner Jay Bozievich regarding the termination of former county administrator Liane Richardson, the role she alleges he played in the activities leading to her firing and the now famous 29-plus pages of redaction of the Olson Report, which was the basis for the Richardson termination. May I share some information and some opinions based on that email conversation?

A large mural on the former Goodwill building in River Road illustrates what an eco-friendly cluster of neighborhood scale local businesses might look like. There is a cafe, a bakery and small grocery with boxes of veggies out front. 

The scene I painted 10 years ago is complete with images of real people from the neighborhood meeting and greeting each other and even favorite Eugene guitar player Eagle Park Slim.

What better time to celebrate the connections being made between kids and local food than October with the harvest season at its height and the school year in full swing. The Willamette Farm and Food Coalition’s Farm to School Program is actively working with the Bethel, Eugene, Springfield and Oakridge school districts to educate students about where their food comes from, provide their families with resources to access healthy, locally grown foods and assist district Nutrition Services in incorporating more locally grown foods into school meals. 

I’m deeply involved in the Oakleigh Meadow Cohousing (OMC) project situated in the River Road area along the Willamette River and bike path. Planning is under way with the city of Eugene and we’re aiming to break ground June 2014. I’m also a River Road resident and OMC household member along with my wife and two boys – we currently live just a block away from the beautiful cohousing site where we’ve gathered many times with friends and family.

I love the Ruth Bascom Riverbank Trail System. I use it almost every day to take walks with my son and dog. We love that where we live -— next to the West Bank section of the trail system — much of the trail is surrounded by the Willamette River Greenway, a mix of city parkland and open spaces. 

 As the Obama administration continues to market its planned war on Syria as a “limited” strike and “shot across the bow,” the language of the resolution the Congress is being asked to consider and the plans of the president’s national security team belie any such limited intention. 

The other day, I walked out and got into my car, which takes just plain old regular unleaded gasoline. I drove into town on the asphalt roads, which are a remarkable feature. They’re basically just crushed gravel and tar or pitch (bitumen, technically), which is one of the leftovers from refining oil, and they cover an impressive amount of the surface of the Earth at this point. Less than .1 percent to be sure, but that is still a lot of asphalt.

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. — Karl Marx

One saying goes like this, “When you have your health, you have everything!” That is a wonderful sentiment, but I think I could add that having a loving family, a challenging job and enough money to live comfortably — all of those things are part of my idea of “everything.”

Forty-eight years ago this month, Lyndon Johnson overcame years of resistance by the medical establishment and signed Medicare into law. It’s as close as this country has ever come to establishing the kind of universal, publicly funded, “single-payer” health care system that prevails in most other industrialized countries. Coming at a time when half the nation’s seniors lived in poverty, its passage quickly demonstrated that it was possible for the federal government to provide health coverage for the costliest section of the population to insure, at a fraction of the administrative cost required by private industry.

In a Viewpoint on Aug. 1, 2012, Roy Keene described how Timber Town Eugene buzzes along nearly oblivious to the forest destruction and herbicide poisoning around it. Much like a frog in a pot of water brought to a slow boil, the timber industry relies on what geographer and author Jared Diamond has referred to as “landscape amnesia” — slow environmental degradation that would be offensive if only at a faster pace.

I know you’re slammed with work, debt and episodes of Downton Abbey to catch up on. And I know you feel like an eco-hypocrite jetting to see Grandma and coral reefs before they disappear. Me, too. But if your political inaction on climate change stems mostly from not knowing how to make a difference, Bill McKibben just issued his Tarzan call for your help.

Millions of Americans have been educated to believe that their psychiatric drugs correct a known “biochemical imbalance,” but they might be surprised to find that this belief is not actually supported by science. In fact, the evidence that psych drugs correct “biochemical imbalances” is so weak that an editorial in Psychiatric Times recently claimed that it is only within “urban legend” that well-informed psychiatrists have ever believed such theories.

The revelations of the past month and a half have shone light on system of suspicionless global and domestic surveillance so pervasive that George Orwell would have been stunned. The goal of the NSA is that all electronic communication whatsoever will be stored and analyzed. If “red flags” are raised in the analysis, or if suspicion is raised for other reasons, then a closer look may be had.

My friend and former Congressman Jim Weaver, who lives on Seavey Loop Road, called me about a month ago asking what might be done, if anything, about the summer events in Buford Park that seemed to be multiplying exponentially. He told me about an event last year that backed up traffic from the park to I-5 and kept him from getting out of his driveway.

The air was calm, the birdsong brisk, as sunlight slanted through the canopy, spotlighting the Wiley Griffon Historical Monument in the Eugene Masonic Cemetery. It may have been a trick of the light, but Wiley’s bronze eye sparkled. The Preacher and I stood looking out into the forest, overlooking the gravesite on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Medgar Evers, June 12.

The politics of gun control today clearly indicate that at the federal or state level in Oregon, legislation to either enact new limitations or expand current regulations regarding firearm ownership is highly unlikely.

Since I was going to drive all the way to Tucson from Eugene for a weekend retreat, I decided that afterward, on Monday, I’d continue a couple of hours down U.S.-19 to the Mexican border town of Nogales, and stay until Saturday. A mini-immersion experience in life at the border.

Summertime! When clear skies and warm sun lure us to the edge of the river for a float, a swim, a picnic or maybe just a nap on a shady bank. In the old days it was not uncommon to find that the river’s edge had changed from the high waters of winter, with trees and banks shifted, gravel bars moved from one place to the next. But our rivers have been increasingly narrowed by the convenience and stability of roads and other hard surfaces. Still, there are home waters nearby where the river’s shifting compass still holds sway, and somewhere it is getting a chance to meander again.

As a high school freshman Katelyn VanBerkel would carefully pick her way through the broken glass and muddied potholes of the trailer park in Glenwood, warily skirting a drunk prostitute, avoiding the local junkies until she could make it onto the warm and dry bus that would take her to the one place she felt safe, school.

David Matthew Minor died five years ago this month in a bicycle-car collision at the corner of 13th and Willamette. His “ghost bike” memorial still stands in front of FedEx/Kinkos: the white bike that his mother Susan keeps surrounded by flowers, and the sign peeking out of the petunias “Start Seeing Everyone” reminding drivers to be aware of pedestrians and cyclists.

Charlotte Behm

 et al.

A chorus of bird songs filled the air on a recent stop at HAL-BA (“downstream”), one of the new Kalapuya Talking Stones that will be dedicated at a public ceremony on June 8. The beauty of the Whilamut Natural Area provided a peaceful place to reflect upon the incredible progress Springfield and Eugene have made in honoring the Kalalpuyas.

High cheekbones, even tans, long hair, perfect teeth, small feet, long eyelashes. The list goes on and on. What comes to your mind when I say beauty?