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You might have noticed there’ve been a lot of really big, kind of scary, brown spiders running around lately. It’s not your arachnophobia making you paranoid; late summer into fall is mating season for the arachnids. 

• A new Organizing for America (OFA) field office for Oregon opened Sept. 30 at 115 W. 6th Ave. Eugene. “The office will allow supporters to come together with their friends and neighbors to discuss the critical issues at stake in this election and work together to reelect President Obama and other Democrats,” reads a statement from the national OFA offices.  Call 525-9387 for information on voter outreach and canvassing. 

Lane County’s parks suffer from off-season vandalism, and homeless people who are currently prohibited from sleeping in their RVs or campers in Eugene need a legal place to sleep. The Lane County Parks Advisory Committee, the Homeless Coalition and St. Vincent de Paul think they might have found a way to reduce both problems.

Beginning around Thanksgiving, or by the holidays at the latest, the Lane County Parks Division will experiment with using homeless people who own RVs or campers as hosts in parks with hookups for power, water and septic systems.

The fight over transporting coal is heating up not only in Eugene, which faces the possibility of coal trains coming through town, but in Washington, D.C., as well. “The Republicans were in full election mode,” Congressman Peter DeFazio says of the recent House vote on the “Stop the War on Coal” bill. 

Will the next controversial public health issue in Oregon please stand up? Oh wait, it just did. On Sept. 12, the Portland City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to authorize the Portland Water Bureau to fluoridate the city’s water supply in order to “reduce tooth decay and promote good oral health.” The move effectively resurfaces the fluoridation issue in Oregon, where, according to the Oregon Dental Association, only about 20 percent of residents drink fluoridated water. 

Each year, the Civil Liberties Defense Center’s Harvest Feast benefit highlights civil liberties issues related to food production, like pesticide sprays and genetically modified organisms. This year’s theme, “Fiesta en el Jardin,” honors the work that CLDC and its partners have done for immigrant communities in Oregon.

CDLC’s Oct. 5 Harvest Feast at Mount Pisgah features a five-course organic Latin dinner, wine, sangria and Ninkasi beer, plus music from Sol de los Andes. 

Saving the Amazon sounds like a project for South America, not south Eugene, but local conservationists and land use advocates have long been fighting proposed development in the headwaters of Amazon Creek in Eugene’s south hills. They say the creek is Eugene’s primary watershed, covering about 60 percent of the city’s area. This week Southeast Neighbors announced that an independent land use hearings official in Eugene has rejected a proposal to construct the 75-lot Deerbrook PUD (planned unit development) in the sensitive Amazon headwaters.

Svitlana Kravchenko literally wrote the book on human rights and the environment. The widely lauded UO law professor died of a heart attack in February of this year at the age of 62, but she will be both honored and remembered this week as two UO law journals and the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide join to present “New Directions for Human Rights and the Environment: A Symposium Inspired by Svitlana Kravchenko,” to be held free and open to the public Friday and Saturday, Sept. 28-29, at the Knight Law Center, 1515 Agate St. in Eugene.

Construction has begun on the Nobel Peace Park in Alton Baker Park and the project is being coordinated by Paddock Construction.

• Climate expert and author Bob Doppelt will be speaking from 7 to 9 pm Thursday, Sept. 27, at Tsunami Books, 2585 Willamette St. His free talk will be based on his new book, From Me to We: The Five Transformational Commitments Required to Rescue the Planet, Your Organization, and Your Life.

Attorneys for a mentally ill homeless man say Lane County refuses to turn over documents related to a case against the county that alleges officials violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and violated Mark Andrew Kemp’s constitutional rights.

Gumby is back, he’s in Lane County and he’s green. The clay animation character was always green in color, but after more than a decade of quiet living outside Cottage Grove, Gumby’s only authorized impersonator — Michael West when he’s not in his Gumby suit — wants to bring Gumby back out and embrace the environmental movement.

The Eugene Peace Team will join the international Culture of Peace Initiative to observe the 2012 U.N. International Day of Peace Sept. 21 with a series of events.

From 7 to 8:30 am Friday at the Eugene Hilton will be an interfaith community breakfast with Anita Weiss, Ph.D., speaking on “Understanding Women’s Rights in Islam.” Cost is $5-$25.

• ODOT plans to do herbicide spot and structure (guardrail) spraying along Highway 36 for noxious weeds from Sept. 24 through Oct. 5. They do not plan to do any spraying in the section from milepost 24 to 32.2 at Amy Road in the Beyond Toxics Adopt-A-Weed program.

• Giustina, 245-2301, is hiring Washburn Contract Services, (503) 831-1593 to do roadside and other spraying on many miles near the Long Tom River, Owens Creek, Jones Creek and Swartz Creek. See ODF notice 2012-781-00659.

Big changes are coming with the implementation of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and some local midwives are worried that low-income clients from the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) will be lost in the shuffle. OHP services in Lane County have historically been provided through Lane Independent Practice Association and LaneCare, but beginning Nov. 1, those services will be provided by Trillium, Lane County’s new coordinated care organization (CCO). 

Nothing’s worse than science getting in the way of a good clearcut. On Aug. 13, timber industry, livestock and off-road groups filed a case in federal court alleging that a planning rule for federal lands unlawfully establishes “ecological sustainability” as a primary purpose of national forest management. Conservation groups say the industry suit aims to drastically limit the use of science in managing national forests.

Need to dump your load? Rexius recently raised its minimum dump fee for yard debris and wood scraps from $2 to $5. Lane Forest Products tells us they still have a minimum dump fee of $2.50 but it will go up to $4 this fall. So the choice is mostly a matter of convenience, drive time and quality of service. How about buying yard and garden products? The two companies offer some unique products, and some that are the same. Both sell hemlock bark but Lane Forest’s hemlock is a buck a yard cheaper. Most rock products are also a bit cheaper at Lane Forest.

• An interactive workshop on “Class Prejudice: What It is and How Do We Fight It?” lead by Roscoe Caron will be from 9 am to 3 pm Saturday, Sept. 22, at Central Presbyterian Church, 555 E. 15th Ave. in Eugene. Sponsored by CALC, sliding scale $20-$25 with scholarships available. Call 485-1755 or email calcoffice@gmail.com to register.

Local homeless people and homeless advocates have long complained of difficulties when they seek justice for those who have been assaulted or harassed. Two travelers and a Eugene resident allege that a local food vendor isn’t being charged with an assault that left the Eugenean with a fractured face. Social justice advocate Carol Berg-Caldwell says the vendor has a history of violence and one Eugene bias crime conviction for a 2007 assault on a black man.

What’s the first thing you should do when you commit to living a more sane and energy-efficient life? “Inventory your possessions” and figure out what you can live with and what you can’t live without. That was the painful advice home designer and artist Michael Pease gave to empty-nesters Alan Dickman and Sue Burden-Dickman, who downsized from a large conventional house to an efficient new 1,300-square-foot living space in June.

This summer’s “animal scramble” at the Cottage Grove Rodeo appalled animal lovers, who say the rabbits used in the event can be hurt or even killed. The Cottage Grove Riding Club, which puts on the scramble, said at a Sept. 10 board meeting that the event prevents the rabbits from being slaughtered for meat.

The Eugene City Council is readying for another public forum on the Downtown Public Safety Zone, often called the downtown exclusion zone, in advance of an Oct. 8 vote on whether to renew it. Occupy Eugene police liaisons and attorney Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center say the Eugene Police Department stonewalled their public records request until the last minute. Now the EPD is suggesting that the city pay $15,000 for legal representation for the accused rather than do away with the exclusion ordinance.

Those trees lining the streets of Eugene are more than just urban decoration. They could help the city deal with climate change. Friends of Trees (FOT) is an organization that brings people together to plant and care for trees and green spaces. The group hopes to begin a community-wide conversation about creating a resilient urban canopy to help mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

Everyday People Yoga is a new donation-based studio offering “yoga, pure and simple.” It opened Sept. 11 at 352 W. 12th Ave. in Eugene. Three levels of classes are offered, including for those with physical limitations. Classes are mornings or evenings. Owner is Phoenix Desmond and website is everydaypeopleyoga.com