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It’s a chilly April day with bursts of sunshine interspersed with blustery wind and rain. It’s not the worst day to be on the streets of Eugene, but it’s not the best day either, especially if you’re ill. The cold wind cuts through you and the rain soaks you, making the shaking and chills of fever feel that much worse; the moments of sun remind you that you have nowhere warm and dry to be, and no one to take care of you.

What do you do if you are homeless, uninsured or just plain broke and you’re sick? Where do you go if you do have a home but the waiting list is too long at the clinic or your insurance isn’t good enough to get you the care you need? 

As the final bell rings at South Eugene High School, 40 girls trade their books for oars as they head to Dexter Lake, where they practice four days a week. Some members of the South Eugene Rowing Club have collegiate crew scholarships to look forward to, but for now, hard work into the early evening on this vast lake is solely in preparation for their third-to-last regatta of the spring season. Crew is an ever-growing sport and a scholarship opportunity for young women, in part due to Title IX — and one of the biggest sporting events in the Northwest is a regatta taking place right here in Lane County.

The Covered Bridge Regatta to be held at Dexter Lake, 16 miles southeast of Eugene, April 13-14 is the reservoir’s biggest event of the year, and its popularity exemplifies the rise of rowing as a sport. More than a thousand rowers spread across 36 clubs, five states, 21 cities and ages 15 to 70 are currently entered to participate in the 19th annual rowing competition that features junior, collegiate and master classifications, and more are expected to join.

Opium has, and has always had, this country by the short hairs. But for myriad reasons, the dope epidemic in the U.S. tends to elude detection as the massive health crisis it is — reasons that are intricate and complex and interpenetrating, deriving almost in equal parts from public-policy myopia, bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo, political opportunism, inadequate social welfare, incompetent or absent education, rampant drug hysteria and the inexorable nature of addiction itself.

As an addictive substance, opioids are a total bitch. Seductive, elusive and exacting, junk presents itself as a physiological and socio-economic Catch-22. The reason for this, boiled down to the narcotic itself, is rather simple: Opium, and all its derivatives, is at once the world’s most perfect treater of pain and the most devastating of addictive substances. Homer referred to the nectar of the opium poppy as the “destroyer of grief,” and morphine, created in 1804 by Frederich Serturner, was named after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. French poet Charles Baudelaire, a smokehead, wooed opium as “his demon, his lover.”

As women in this world, we’ve got issues — and so EW’s first Women’s Issue is born. We don’t want to leave topics like reproductive rights, workplace equality and representation in the media to be covered in this March section alone; they deserve timely attention year-round. (Call us!) Instead we have profiles of local women on our radar. We applaud women who stand out, love them or hate them, so here are some conspicuous local women.

For a market that doesn’t include any sardine vendors, the briny fish is often thrown into descriptions of the Saturday Lane County Farmers Market: “People are packed in there like sardines.”

“I think the site has been a real problem,” Jack Gray of Winter Green Farm says. He says they could sell more produce if they could just have a little more room. Plus, the crowded walkways might be discouraging some potential customers. “Basic accessibility is really bad for families or anyone with physical disabilities of any sorts,” Gray says.

Alice Aikens has been cultivating her plot at Amazon Community Gardens for 20 years. “I just pull my boots on and get down there,” she says — almost every morning, even in February. What’s so great about it? “I can eat fresh vegetables the day I pick them, and it’s nice to share tomatoes and cukes with family and friends in summer.” But Aikens also likes the challenge of gardening at Amazon. “You nurture not just plants but people. And I think it makes you a more responsible person — you are responsible for your garden, and the more time you put in the better it is.” Aikens’ very favorite thing to grow is sweet peas, especially a fragrant white variety called April in Paris. I bet her fellow gardeners appreciate those, too.

Everyone crowded around the new “playscape” at the Co-op Family Center on Patterson Street, not far from the UO campus, on a crisp February morning; hugs were exchanged, parents, teachers and college students chatted, kids were zooming around the new sustainable gravel bike path and bellies filled with pancakes and orange juice kept everyone warm. It was the Family Center’s 18th Annual Pancake Breakfast, but it was also the playground dedication — a playground designed and constructed by the UO student organization designBridge. The co-op’s pedagogical coordinator, Ben Minnis, called the cluster of designBridge students up to the stage that they had imagined and built with their own hands to thank them. The crowd hooted and hollered, and a ceremonial ribbon was cut.

EW's Planting Guide 2013

Attention seed-savers and gardeners: Lane County’s 4th Annual Spring Propagation Fair is coming up. It will take place in the Lane Community College Cafeteria (main campus) 11 am to 3 pm Saturday, March 23.

Until this year, a month-by-month portion of Eugene Weekly’s annual vegetable planting guide began in May. In a way, that’s logical — May is about when our heavier valley soils become workable. These days, however, with many people building raised beds and all-season gardening becoming ever more popular, lots of gardeners know that the planting year can start a lot earlier. 

Earth: Too big to fail. That’s the theme of this year’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) Feb. 28 through March 3 at the University of Oregon. But perhaps we should be asking the question: Are we failing the Earth? The beginning of the modern environmental movement is often dated to Rachel Carson’s 1962 Silent Spring, but from the more radical Deep Green Resistance to the attorneys from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, some are starting to question whether the planet is any better off than it was in the ’60s and ask conservationists to do things differently.

Fighting for Africa

What Can Be Done Now?

Local Laws

“We are screwed in all kinds of senses if we keep doing what we’re doing and don’t change course,” says Thomas Linzey, executive director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Linzey, an attorney, says that he had to be persuaded to come give a keynote talk at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) because “we don’t see lawyers as change agents.” He adds, “I let them know up front that my talk would be based on why environmental law has failed.” 

Efforts are mounting to create political space and bolster the president’s renewed determination to avert increasingly devastating disruption of our planet’s climate system.

The Academy Awards are about everything but the art of film. So forget the Oscars, or turn it into a game (e.g. drink every time new host Seth MacFarlane tells an offensive joke). Here at EW, we still really love film, without all the spectacle, and thus we proudly present 2012’s Top Movies (many of which were not nominated). We would not like to thank the Academy …

Top 10 Movies of 2012 - Molly Templeton's Top 10

Top 10 Movies of 2012 - Rick Levin's Top 10

Top Documentaries

The Misunderstood and Overlooked

Molly Templeton's pics for the best films of the year.

Rick Levin's pics for the best films of the year.

1. Elite Squad: The Enemy Within 

City of God meets The Wire in this fast-paced political action-thriller set in Rio de Janeiro. An exciting and devastating look at corrupt systems of law enforcement, politics and media, this was the highest-grossing film of all time in Brazil (even out-grossing Avatar).

 

2. Sound of My Voice

How to Survive A Plague

This harrowing and inspiring doc follows the highly organized activists that demanded medical and social progress for AIDS sufferers during the height of the epidemic in the ’80s and ’90s — a lesson in complacency, compassion and the power of a dedicated group of people.

 

The Art of Rap

Valentine’s Day. One of the many holidays that started as a mix of a pagan festival (Lupercalia, a fertility festival) blended with a day in honor of some dude (St. Valentine) who died in an unpleasant way for the Catholic Church. No one runs through the streets anymore gently slapping women with the blood-dripping hide of a sacrificed goatskin to ensure fertility, but some of us would probably rather get hit with a dead goat than be subjected to the Hallmark cards and pink candy hearts of our modern Valentine’s Day celebrations. Valentine’s these days is about more than just boy-girl dating. It’s about dating across all types of gender identification; it’s definitely still about sex (and that means it’s a good time to remember safe sex and the importance of speaking out against sexual violence) and it’s also about loving yourself — either emotionally or with an eco-friendly sex toy.

Having “hot animal sex” isn’t always a good thing. Take cats, for example. Male cats have spikes on their penises that bury into the vaginal wall during sex. Cats in heat aren’t yowling because they’re having a great time — it’s because they’re being stabbed by a barbed penis. And in the insect world, after praying mantises have sex, the female skips right past the pillow talk and bites the male’s head off if she’s hungry or stressed. 

If you’ve found yourself single in the past few years, chances are you’ve considered signing up for one of the many online dating websites. And there are plenty to choose from, be it Match.com, eHarmony, OkCupid or one of the million or so others. If you haven’t taken the plunge or are still skirting the “free glances” fringes, allow this e-dating vet to share a little learned wisdom and perhaps ease the nerves.

San Francisco has the Castro, Seattle has Capital Hill, Portland has the Burnside Triangle. In a smaller city with no gay district, center or bar, Eugene is a difficult place for men to date. And for a university town, where the UO was voted number one in Campus Pride’s Climate Index of gay-friendly colleges, it is puzzling that there are no designated queer spaces off campus. Many people will tell you, “Go to G.L.A.M. Night,” the Saturday night dance party at John Henry’s complete with drag queens and go-go dancers, or point you to “gay-friendly” bars downtown, but G.L.A.M. Nights are only held twice monthly and “gay-friendly” bars do not equal gay bars. So where does a young, gay man in Eugene go those 341 other days a year? The answer is, there is no answer.

“I show up and transform their living room into a sex toy store. Lots of samples, lots of testers,” Kim Marks says. Marks is the proprietor of Oregon’s As You Like It – The Pleasure Shop and she devotes many of her evenings to putting on PleasureWare Home Parties, showcasing the store’s many ecofriendly and ethical sex toys and products, from glass dildos to phthalate-free vibrators.

The tried-and-true dinner and a movie formula for dating has gotten scores of us laid, but there’s something to be said for avoiding a rut. So the next time you want to plan a date, try switching it up just a bit.