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Walk through downtown Eugene and you’ll see shops, restaurants, bars, kids on bikes, artists, business people, random pedestrians … and part of this quirky city scene is an assortment of panhandlers, travelers and unhoused residents not unlike those seen in downtowns across America.

Walk though downtown Salt Lake City and it feels a bit like Disneyland. Weirdly clean, it too has bars, restaurants and shops. The downtown mall, City Creek Center, has a manufactured creek running charmingly through its tidy, paved center. 

Let’s produce ideas instead of timber.

That’s something FertiLab Thinkubator mentor Shane Johnson says could help transition Eugene and Springfield from resource-based communities to hubs of business and idea production.

 “There are a lot of people with ideas here,” Johnson says. “Culturally, getting the momentum to grow beyond Lane County is difficult. We’re an understated town, so even though there’s success here, it’s not visible and there aren’t a lot of models.”

In the early ’90s, when Eugene’s Pride celebrations were first taking shape, David McCallum remembers telling a local news station, “Yes, some day gays and lesbians will be able to marry.” 

Back then, a prediction like that amounted to radical speculation. 

I can’t think of a more queer place to spend my Friday night — save re-animating Liberace for a wild cavort on the Riviera — than Freek Nite at Cowfish in downtown Eugene.

“Whatever Freek Nite means to you, go for it. There’s no wrong way,” says Rhea Della Vera, who produces and promotes the weekly dance party that runs 9 pm to close.

Bisexuals don’t eat cheeseburgers.

This thought had never crossed my mind in 20 years of advocating for LGBTQ people and issues. But having come out of the closet as a bisexual just a few days earlier, it seemed like this might be true.

Beth Pinkerton’s first time performing standup comedy was in March. As of June 28, she was opening for a national act — comedian Jen Kirkman — at Cozmic, where Pinkerton brought down the house with her outsider views of Eugene. It takes some serious chutzpah to tell a Chaco-wearing, CSA-subscribing crowd of the hippie noblesse that you buy your produce at Walmart, you eat at Taco Bell and that you, Eugene, can go fuck yourself already. 

On the morning of Friday, June 26, my girlfriend coaxed me awake, smiling, eager for me to hear the decision from SCOTUS that state-level bans on same-sex marriage were declared unconstitutional. In our groggy relief, we held each other quietly, then got ready for the day.

It was hot — three-digits hot — and we were on our way to a friend’s wedding rehearsal dinner. Our phones buzzed with texts and updates. My ex-husband called, excitedly asking me if I heard the news. 

Standing beneath the oculus of the church dome with lazy afternoon sunlight filtering through its circular opening, artist Daniel Balter points to a 6-foot-tall figure he sketched in charcoal on the walls the night before. It’s archangel Michael, complete with flowing robes, wings and halo. 

The Whiteaker Block Party will not be televised.

As an annual expression of the contested soul of the Whit, the block party is a shot in the arm for the communal side of neighborhood living, in all its sloppy, carnal, artistic glory. It’s at the Whiteaker Block Party that seething, sweaty mobs — gawkers and gackers, locals and carpetbaggers, heps and asshats — coalesce in celebration of the creativity that springs up when a once-and-former slum becomes home to a ragtag coalition of beautiful losers.

The real G-spot of the block party isn’t just at the G-Spot stage, but rather among all those dwellings lining the Whiteaker streets that host shows featuring everything from screamo country to good ol’ garage rock.

At one end, the blue-and-white Tacovore calavera grins down upon tattooed neo-yuppies lined up to swill cocktails and scarf quasi-Mexican style grub. Follow the acrid scent of fermenting mash north to where the brilliant Ninkasi marquee lights up the sidewalk. Late-model cars stamped with Lexus and Mercedes logos pepper the side streets along the way. On a Saturday evening, Eugeneans from all corners of the city crisscross the northern stretch of Blair Boulevard, comparing lengthy waiting lists at boutique restaurants.

Billy the Jack Russell terrier mix bounds fearlessly over a stream bank and into the water, plunging after a stick and bringing it back to the feet of Briana Kemp, who tosses the stick back into the water. Elsewhere, Norwich terrier mix Penny has her nose to the ground, sniffing out all there is to sniff. 

Lane County dog owners have plenty of off-leash dog park options when it comes to letting their pooches run free. 

And who better to explore our many dog park choices than my trusty canine interns: Huckleberry, a teddy bear-Ewok hybrid from the shelter, and Togo, an Alaskan husky with legs like stilts.

With cooped birds all around me, I wasn’t prepared when pigeon enthusiast Rod Workman quickly encouraged his two doves to jump from his hands to my shoulder and arm. But there they sat, one with a single wing stretched out lazily, soaking up the sun as it perched on my shoulder. 

Inevitably when I come home from a horse show and my friends ask me how I fared, my response starts off with, “Well, my dressage score sucked.” Or I tell them, “I swear that judge hates my horse.” (It’s more probable my high-strung horse Cairo hates dressage, a sport of athleticism and endless patience. She sorely lacks the latter.)

Congrats to the furry, fluffy and adorable winners of our photo contest, and thank you to all who entered!

Cats are winning. As I write this, my cat, Elsie, slinks around my legs, looking up at me, knowingly. Cats have always known they were winners; it just took society, with a helpful boop from the internet, some time to catch up.

Most of us have figured out by now that we are toast: Humanity will be wiped out by an asteroid, supernova, massive volcanic eruptions, global axis shift, some untreatable virus, nuclear war or climate change. Our sun is going supernova. We’ve seen the disaster movies, read the books and laughed at the cartoons. 

But how quickly?

Just a few weeks back on a hot Friday morning, I stood in a field with outgoing Oregon Country Fair general manager Charlie Ruff and his replacement, Tom Gannon, the three of us surveying the “New Area,” a 6-acre expanse that opens this year as a brand new part of the Fair’s general stomping grounds.

“The thing I love most about the Fair,” says Charlie Ruff, Oregon Country Fair’s outgoing general manager “is that, at its best, as a community, people can come and be themselves — they can express themselves in an environment as free from judgment as you’ll find.” 

Shirley Musgrove is a costume designer and puppeteer, most known for her elaborate Oregon Country Fair costumes, which include a unicorn and fiery phoenix. One year, she dressed as a wolf and made people howl if they wanted a photo with her. 

You’ve bought a ticket to the Oregon Country Fair and chances are high that at some point during the three-day odyssey, you will develop the munchies, suddenly needing a place to satiate this supernatural hunger.

Walking down the trodden dirt path of the Oregon Country Fair can be intimidating at first. To your left, there’s a beeswax candle merchant; to your right is a group of leather-clad didgeridoo players. Straight ahead, on a wooden stage in a meadow, a jam band that may or not be the Grateful Dead reincarnated plays.

The Fair offers a ton of great live music from which to chose, and here are a few acts you won't want to miss. 

“Childcare has been a part of the Oregon Country Fair for 37 years,” co-coordinator Johnny Whiddon says. “Parents need a break, kids need a break. We try to provide a Fair experience, tailored to the little guys.”