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When we opened up our Voters Pamphlets and saw Donald Trump’s mugshot, it felt a bit surreal. So this is what democracy looks like? The 2016 election from the local to the national is either amazing or crazy or both, depending on your perspective and political leanings.

Bernie Sanders fired people up on the Dem side. And Trump has started a less pleasant conflagration on the right. EW’s endorsements in the May 2016 primary stick to the Democratic and nonpartisan races — it would be a bit hypocritical for this liberal-leaning paper to endorse in the Republican races.

A huge proportion of seed production in the U.S. (80 percent-plus) and around the world (40 percent-plus) is controlled by a handful of corporations such as Monsanto and DuPont. Should you care? That depends. Do you like to save your own vegetable seed? How do you feel about giant monopolies, genetic engineering and the idea of plants as intellectual property? 

When it comes to weed, a clutch of competing cannabis mythologies seems to guide our collective imagination, each one containing seeds of truth and shakes of misinformation and ignorance.

One of the more subtle myths surrounding cannabis goes something like this: “Dude, it’s all good. Weed is a product of the earth, God-given, and we are meant simply to grow it, smoke it and enjoy. Unlike alcohol, weed never hurt anybody. It’s just a plant, for goodness sake.”

Bridges aren’t just transportation structures; they can be iconic parts of the landscape. Picture the Golden Gate or any of Lane County’s covered bridges. But what happens when the structure is no longer usable? 

Anywhere from 2.5 to 4 gallons of water per minute flow from a standard showerhead, says local inventor Erol Chandler. That’s a lot of water circling down the drain.

This past November, Chandler, who makes   artisan lamps locally and is a former science teacher, began engineering his most recent invention: the Shower Commander. 

Would you believe there are beavers, otters, herons and a variety of other species living along Amazon Creek in Eugene? 

It’s true, thanks to a growing number of local businesses that are becoming certified by the Long Tom Watershed Council’s (LTWC) Trout Friendly Landscapes program. The goal of the program is to make habitat and water quality improvements in private lands that will, in turn, support native aquatic life in Amazon Creek and the Willamette River. 

There’s something odd about 13th and Olive. Better known as Crap, er, Capstone, it’s a pretty blunt edition to downtown Eugene. But something about it just doesn’t quite make sense. A handful of the first-floor rooms are completely uninhabited, and yet they’re all done up: televisions turned on, beds made, journals on the desks and one or two lone T-shirts hanging in the closet. 

It’s a little creepy.

Eugene has a handful of new apartment complexes popping up just like 13th and Olive, from campus onward. Most of these buildings seem like viable housing options for students. But does Eugene really need so many new units — or rising rent prices?

Maybe more apartments isn’t the only approach to better housing for students.

For more than four decades, 82-year-old Howard Purkerson carefully managed his timberland in Crow, Oregon, choosing to selectively thin the 90-acre forest instead of toppling it in a more profitable clearcut. But now almost all of the trees are gone. And Purkerson is furious. 

“I didn’t want some logging company coming in and raping this beautiful parcel,” he told InvestigateWest. “If there was any way I could balance the scales, I would do it.”

Purkerson refused to sell to Lane County land developers Greg Demers, Norman McDougal and Melvin McDougal because he had heard of their well-publicized clearcutting and mining at Parvin Butte, their burning Pilot Rock landfill (which earned Demers a $792,062 state environmental fine) and their efforts to obtain McKenzie River water rights that an administrative law judge denied as water speculation.  

When Floomf and Schmorple descended upon Earth, it was for one specific reason: To investigate a claim made by the city of Eugene in the early aughts.

The two were inspectors for the highly regarded Associated Stars Systems for Cross-cultural Outerspace Propagation (ASSCOP) located in the Boopz Galaxy, and their satellite scanner had intercepted the message:

Eugene is The World’s Greatest City for the Arts and Outdoors.

Peggy Wolfheart was rescued from Valley River Center yesterday after the lifelong Eugene resident got lost on her way to The Kiva and found herself smack in the middle of Eugene’s largest mall.

Wolfheart, who had never before left downtown Eugene, says she quickly became overwhelmed after entering the retail shopping center.

I don’t like myself very much.

For me, self-loathing is a matter of principle. It’s not so much that I see myself as unlovable; it’s more to the point that I consider myself utterly unworthy, and I experience human attention of any sort, much less gestures of affection and compassion, as a kind of assault on my very being. Abuse, derision and outright neglect are my real life’s blood. I thrive on being ignored. And when you up and shit on me, it ratifies my low self-esteem, as though all is right in the world.

Susan Cox was born in South Korea and grew up in Brownsville, Oregon with her adoptive parents. She was one of the first to serve on the Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islanders in Washington, D.C., during the first term of the Clinton administration. That’s when she met Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“The idea that Mrs. Clinton is not inspiring — I just find that astonishing,” Cox says. “When I watch her victory speeches, and she talks about what she would do, I find it very inspiring.”

The Republican race for the presidential nomination has been compared to a clown car with its circus of candidates. No one expected Donald Trump to be more than a joke. Now he might seriously get the nomination. 

The Eugene mayoral race might also lend itself to clown car comparisons, with its plethora of candidates. Thus far two candidates have stood out the most: Lucy Vinis, because she reflects Eugene’s concern for social issues and the environment, and Mike Clark, because his votes show he does not. 

Progressive Values Lucy Vinis has a liberal track record 

Councilor Clark and his 10-year track record 

Scott Landfield The anti-establishment candidate 

Bob Cassidy Wants Your Vote

Five candidates for mayor of Eugene — four men and one woman — lined the stage at First Christian Church March 3. When asked if they believed in human-caused climate change, candidate Lucy Vinis’ answer stood out from the rest: “I don’t think it’s a matter of belief,” she responded. Take a look at the facts, Vinis said: They show that human activity has caused climate change. 

Vinis, who worked at housing nonprofit ShelterCare as developmental director before retiring and deciding to run for mayor, was the first to file as a candidate last September. She has limited political experience, but she says her background in working for environmental and humanitarian nonprofits has helped hone her skills in bringing people together, a strategy she says she would use as mayor to find solutions to Eugene’s problems.

“When you’re dealing with God and country, nothing in Eugene is easy,” says a Fox News story about Eugene City Councilor Mike Clark’s 2011 effort to force the council to say the Pledge of Allegiance before every meeting. 

It would seem hard to believe that green-Eugene would even consider voting into office a conservative candidate who has voted against helping the homeless, against combatting climate change and against environmental ordinances. 

But when you’re dealing with social issues and the environment, nothing in Eugene city politics is easy, either. 

If Scott Landfield, owner of Tsunami Books, is elected mayor of Eugene come November, what will be the top item on his agenda?

“The first thing I’ll do is demand a recount,” Landfield tells EW. He’s only half-joking. 

In an election year when it’s become trendy, nationwide, for candidates to puff out their chests and claim to be the anti-establishment choice, this designation seems to actually ring true for Landfield.

For starters, Landfield says he’s not looking for endorsements or sniffing out campaign contributions.

The big question surrounding the current mayoral election is: Will the wide field of Democratic candidates help sweep Republican Mike Clark into the mayor’s office this May? Former EWEB commissioner and current mayoral candidate Bob Cassidy doesn’t think so.

Cassidy doubts his conservative opponent can stitch together the just-more-than 50 percent of the ballots he’ll need in order to settle this race in May’s primary. Nor does Cassidy think Democrat Lucy Vinis can match Clark’s experience or name recognition in the general election. 

Your individual choices affect climate change — if you drive a car, or what car you buy, what products you consume and if you reuse and recycle. 

At the same time, major corporations have spent millions of dollars denying climate change. As Big Tobacco once denied cigarette smoke is unhealthy, corporations such as the Koch Industries and ExxonMobile have spent millions to sow doubt about climate change, despite knowing the science is real. 

The fossil fuel industry would like you to think it’s all your fault. Climate change gets blamed on consumer choices, not corporate misdeeds. Can you affect climate change? Yes, and you can fight it. As anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “All social movements are founded by, guided by, motivated and seen through by the passion of individuals.”

Locked together in a cage during a recent MMA match, heavyweight fighters Jimmy Jennett and Juan Figuerva rip into each other like wild bears. Figuerva punishes Jennett with short inside punches and brain-rattling uppercuts. Jennett slams his knees over and over again into his opponent’s stocky, muscled body.

The sold-out crowd that packed the Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City for the fight was on its feet, screaming for blood.

“It was beautiful,” Jennett says, wistfully, the gnarly gash over his right eye still angry and swollen weeks later.

“Wear argyle socks,” the website insisted. Apparently this is a real requirement for those actually competing in the American FootGolf league. Also, this league is a real thing.

Unfortunately, I do not have argyle socks, so I am not eligible to go pro as a FootGolfer.

When the group I was with checked in at RiverRidge Golf Course in Eugene to get a scorecard, we were told that all rules of normal golf apply. I realized then that my somewhat limited golfing experience, consisting mostly of playing miniature golf in late elementary school, may have inadequately prepared me for what I was about to undertake. 

It’s a calm Monday night in Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood, but Crux Rock Climbing Gym is packed. Or at least it looks packed. For Crux it’s actually a slow night, with about 30 or so climbers, ranged between middle-school-aged to late 50s, gripping handholds and falling onto thick blue mats. 

Tonight, it looks as though I might be the only newcomer.

Kaden Lipkin, 17, reaches across the foldout table and bro-handshakes his teammate Michael Russell, 18, in the middle of expressing nothing but appreciation for being a part of the water polo club. “I love you guys,” Lipkin says, perfectly summing up the energy at Echo Hollow Pool, which hosts Eugene City Water Polo — a grassroots club geared towards the 18-and-under crowd that wants to kick some ass and be a part of a team.

EW asked birder Noah Strycker a question we’ve been mulling over: Is birding a sport? In 2015, Stryker set a new world record by seeing almost 60 percent of the known bird species on Earth in a continuous round-the-world trip, traveling through 41 countries on all seven continents.

Defining a sport is like deciding what is or isn’t art: These things are devilishly squishy around the edges. When in doubt, it’s best, I think, to just ask someone if they consider themselves an athlete (or an artist). Sport is a definition of self, like art and so many other things.