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The first thing we noticed was the quiet. Even the wind seemed muted as it whipped through the tall grass. Five friends had traveled 340 miles east from Eugene to find the ghost town of Whitney, and now we stood at a dirt crossroad, reading a sign with a horse-drawn carriage painted next to a steam engine. “Rails of the Sumpter Valley R. R. reached Whitney Valley June 1, 1901,” we read, squinting in the hot July sun. “At one time 150 people called Whitney their home. When the railway was abandoned in 1947, the town closed down.” 

Outside is the place to be when summer weather is officially here to stay, and many of the options to comfortably enjoy the heat in Eugene involve water. Take a dip in swimming holes in the area, or travel to a water park and enjoy all it has to offer. Eugene and its surrounding areas have it covered, with refreshing activities that cater to both adults and children. 

Climate experts insist we’d better reduce carbon emissions by 6 percent a year if we hope for a livable planet, but politicians continue to greenlight coal mining, fracking, oil drilling and a Keystone pipeline expansion that former NASA climatologist James Hansen says means “game over” for the atmosphere. 

 Most of my friends, if they discuss the politics of global warming at all, shake their heads in disgust, then in despair and, finally, with a statement of resignation along the lines of, “We are so screwed.”

But Kathleen Dean Moore says we don’t get to sit this one out. 

Some might say that running is Eugene’s claim to fame, but the art of running while kicking a soccer ball has legions of fans in this town. Known as the world’s game, the sport has taken center stage in the states, particularly in the Northwest. It has grown so big in Eugene that some of Italy’s best female players have hopped on a plane to join in on the fun, while more and more of the city’s youth are getting into the game. And, if that isn’t enough, the possibility of Civic Stadium turning into a soccer field only adds to the buzz.

Convening in the parking lot of an unspecified hardware store, passing around “vessels” filled with delicious beer and cracking sexually explicit jokes at any given moment, the Eugene Hash House Harriers will really throw you for a loop if you’re unfamiliar with the tradition (or if you can’t take a joke). The “hounds” do their best to follow the madcap path laid by the “hare,” and once they reach the end, it’s time for more fraternizing. 

A kickball outfielder hits the turf at Tugman Park in South Eugene. Play is halted while she’s carried to the sideline. Is it a twisted ankle — or worse? “Need some ice?” teammates ask. “Get her a beer — STAT!” responds a teammate helping her from the field. She ices down the calf cramp with a cold one, cracks it open and is soon sitting with her friends, laughing in the shade.

It is 4:54 pm along a dusty trail in the high desert of Eastern Oregon. I am out of breath, heaving my weight against a wooden post trying to finesse a centimeter of slack in the latch that is holding together a large, awkward barbed wire fence. There is some urgency to my efforts because two humans and three horses are waiting to access the trail on the other side of the fence. We have been riding for 43 miles and we have seven more to go. Welcome to endurance horse riding.

“Golf is a good walk spoiled,” Mark Twain once said. In that vein, I would add that disc golf is a good walk enhanced. On several Sundays this spring, my partner and I have filled a bag with the candy-colored rubbery discs — drivers, putters, mid-rangers — and headed down to Alton Baker Park’s new course. After purchasing a $3 pass at the pro shop, we spend the next two hours on a leisurely amble through the course’s 18 holes, following arrows that point across sunlit fields and deep into cool, shady groves, and, of course, stopping every couple dozen or a hundred yards to pick up a disc and line-up a shot. We were not alone; dozens of groups spread out throughout the park sailing discs into the chain-link nets.

It was bound to happen: A Eugene spoof of the zeitgeisty show Portlandia, called, of course, Eugenia. The viral video lays down the same beat-heavy opening music as its Portland inspiration with “Eugenia” spelled out in an identical gritty typeface in front of a city view of Spencer Butte, followed by downtown shots of the federal building, Voodoo Doughnuts, the bus station, Cowfish and finally City Hall.

Enter roller derby skaters Erin (Bullet) and James Brains and Mayor Kitty Piercy. Another parallel to the original TV show: Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen frequently call on Portland’s mayor for favors or support. In Eugenia, the Brains pay a visit to Piercy’s office to inform her about The Big O, the city’s second annual international roller derby tournament.

Unless you’ve been leading a monastic, media-free existence, you know His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is coming to Oregon. The Dalai Lama is both the former head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet, and to quote his webpage (you can also find him on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — he’s monastic, but he’s also all over social media), Dalai Lamas “are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the bodhisattva of compassion and patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity.”

Eugene’s School District 4J has many school buildings that date to the post-war era of the 1940s and ’50s and some elementary schools have 40 doors to the outside, a security concern. Most of these cheaply built older schools would not stand in a major earthquake and some, like River Road Elementary, have such inadequate ventilation that teachers sometimes evacuate their students when air quality monitors warn of bad air.

Ballots are in the mail for the May Special Election in Oregon. Ballots can be mailed until approximately Thursday, May 16. After that they can be dropped off until 8 pm Tuesday, May 21, at any white ballot box around town or at Lane County Elections offices at 10th and Lincoln. Here are our endorsements on selected local issues and contested races. More information can be found in our election coverage this issue and past issues, in the Voters Pamphlet and on various websites.

Opponents of the city service fee on Eugene’s May ballot say it is a poor budgetary path for a laundry list of reasons: Its proceeds can fund a wide swath of expenditures or even be held in reserves; it’s unfair to poor people just above the low-income cut-off; it’s unfair to small businesses; it will charge a struggling nonprofit just as much as a Walmart; and EWEB’s board could vote not to collect it, leaving the city in a bind. Five out of eight Eugene city councilors oppose the fee.

If you’ve read the newspapers or watched the news lately, then you know that the Lane County Jail has been setting criminals and accused criminals free early for months now due to lack of funds. However, for opponents of Measure 20-213 on the May 21 ballot, the fact that the tax funds only jail beds — not increased patrols in rural areas, victims’ services or other aspects of public safety and rehabilitating criminals — means it’s not worth the $85 a year the average homeowner in Lane County will pay because it doesn’t solve the problem of public safety.

On a typical spring evening in Eugene, inside Paper Moon Photo Studio is a warm celebration of flesh: leather straps wrapped around narrow waists and ruffles cupping curvy bottoms; sequins shimmering on large breasts and fringe dancing on flat bosoms; full hips hugged by velvet and slender torsos bound in spandex; tattoos and nipple rings peeking out beneath bra straps and ribbons. The studio is hosting modeling fittings for the upcoming Eugene Fashion Week, running April 29 to May 4. 

In nature, colors communicate: Red means danger and avian mates are selected based on the hue of their feathers. In fact, when it comes to birds, the males almost always display brighter plumage and greater ornamentation than their female counterparts; think ducks, peacocks and birds of paradise. Charles Darwin concluded that sexual dichromatism (the color differences between sexes in species) is caused by an evolutionary-honed female preference for bright colors in males. 

Midwestern jewelry designer Kylie Grater doesn’t find her materials in a bead shop — the majority of her pieces are harvested “afoot” on nature ambles or hikes through knee-deep grass, whether that’s feathers, bones, stones or leather. The Kansas-born-and-bred Grater has brought her prairie-tinged line, Early Jewelry, to Eugene, where she features pieces at The Barn Light’s monthly The EUG Pop Up Shop in addition to selling online.

EW hits the streets to capture Eugene’s fashion-forward after dark.

here, they describe their style in their own words.

Under The Root, VaVaVie and La Femme Noir.

Bicycles make the world go round, or at least they will as more and more people see them as essential transportation rather than a toy. There are a lot of great ways to celebrate Earth Day (for events check out the Earth Day listings in Calendar), but if you want to celebrate Earth Day every day then park your fossil-fuel guzzler and start biking.

Critical Mass: It’s all about the bike community

Bus then Bike: Biking through beauty on the Aufderheide

Bike Couture: Innovations in helmets and attire for your commute

Cycling Oregon: Cycle Oregon’s weeklong ride takes bikers to Eastern Oregon

Riders Ed: Safety beyond the helmet

Winter Bicycles

Bike Shorts: Brief bike news items

Attention all car commuters! Your excuses for pushing the gas pedal instead of the bike pedal — at least from a fashion perspective — won’t be worthy much longer. Yes, we all know it’s better for the environment and our health if we bike, but often it’s superficial justifications that keep us from trading four wheels for two. Here are some nifty tricks and cycle-centric designers who are making roadblocks like helmet head, or stuffing a change of clothes in your pack while pedaling to work like a spandex-encased sausage, obsolete.

Brief bike news items

One of the pleasures of living in Eugene is the accessibility of the outdoors and recreation within a relatively short distance. As an enthusiastic cyclist, I am always intrigued with the many possibilities for outdoor rides in our own backyard.

We’re living in a golden age of cycling. And we might have a bunch of loud, traffic-stopping cycling activists with anarchistic tendencies — better known as Critical Mass — to thank for it.