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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.

Listen up, Oregon — your schools are underfunded by $2 billion.

Just ask Sabrina Gordon, a reading teacher at Awbrey Park Elementary School in Eugene.

She started teaching in Eugene School District 4J in 1999, but prior to that she was a student in 4J schools. Gordon experienced 4J at its peak in the ’80s, before the devastating passage of Measure 5 in 1990, which capped property taxes for school funding and shifted budgetary responsibility from local government to the state. 

While technology continues to inch its way further into our everyday lives, a group of students at Junction City High School (JCHS) are embracing that trend by building robots. Yes, robots — not the kind that will take over the world, although they might attack your interest. 

Stacey Johnson, a science teacher at JCHS, meets with students twice a week after school in a building near the school’s soccer fields. Johnson, who had no experience with robotics prior to this endeavor, says students in robotics programs often do better in college because of the experience they get in the club. 

It’s soup day on a Friday at Eugene Waldorf School (EWS). In the corner of the multi-age kindergarten classroom, a group of students sits at a table helping their teacher make soup from the vegetables brought from home. The room is fully set up for preparation for the meal. There are pots and pans stacked on a shelf, and cutting utensils for the children to use for the vegetables.

“It is an education of doing, and that is not only rich with opportunity to learn social skills, but it’s also the way to have them most engaged,” says Valerie Perrott, the public relations and enrollment coordinator at the school.

In the late 1980s, a third-grade student went with his mom to a parent-teacher conference and saw his score: There was the line that represented the average, and then he saw the dot, way below that, which represented him.

That student is now history teacher Jesse Hagopian, who works at Seattle’s Garfield High School and serves as the advisor of the school’s black student union. 

On Jan. 21, “Berners” commandeered the Cozmic building on 8th and Charnelton in downtown Eugene. There were about 30 people at Cozmic when the Lane County for Bernie Sanders meeting began. The space, often used for concerts, might have been quieter than usual, but the atmosphere was a mixture of excitement and optimism. 

The Sanders supporters were diverse in age, ranging from teens, not yet old enough to vote, to senior citizens, as one woman humorously described herself. After the meeting, volunteers made posters, wrote letters to local publications or joined the phone-banking team. 

Surprise! Fat people have sex. Fat people have really good sex and lots of it. If you believe what you see in the media, you would think I was full of beans. I am most assuredly not. 

We are portrayed as loud, obnoxious and completely devoid of style. We are never appreciated as sexual beings. We are never the leading lady. We are never the love interest. Instead, we are the butt of every dumb joke. We are made to look so unfortunate and homely — it’s offensive. This is antiquated and extremely problematic and not at all how the world actually works.

It’s hard to imagine creatures more enigmatic than the gray whales that migrate along the Oregon coast each year. Ever since the ban on the commercial slaughter of gray whales took effect in the 1930s, the species has slowly recovered, and now thousands of these graceful marine mammals make the yearly journey up and down the West Coast, from Alaska to Baja California and back.

Each summer, around 200 whales decide that Oregon is the place to be, and rather than go back to Alaska for the summer, they stop in Oregon and hang out until it’s time to return to Mexico. 

As soon as I step through the door, my nose fills with that universal sex-shop smell, a combination of chlorine and something sort of sweetish and sweaty and overripe. The guy behind the Plexiglas says “23 bucks,” and I push him three crisp 20s, apologizing for a lack of smaller bills. Yeah, baby, I’m cool! He gives me back a 20 and then my actual change, and slips a small voucher, room keys (no. 161, no TV), two blue Lifestyles rubbers and a bleached towel through the change trough.

Thanks to a gun law in Texas, Eugene is now home to relationship author and blogger Duana Welch. She moved to Eugene last year after her home state of Texas passed a law allowing guns in classrooms. As a college instructor, Welch says she retired in protest, and she and her husband moved to Eugene in search of political ideals more closely matched to their own.

Welch brings to Eugene a wealth of knowledge on science-based dating advice. She runs the online blog LoveScience and wrote the book Love Factually, a guide to finding love based on scientific studies and data. She’s currently teaching a class at Ophelia’s Place that elaborates on the book’s concepts. 

EW sat down with Welch to find out what science has to say about relationships.

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

That was Eugene’s, ahem, slightly overstated city slogan until 2010. 

The city then rolled it back to:

Eugene: A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors. 

Never has the chasm between “the” and “a” been so wide.

As of Jan. 31, the Jacobs Gallery, located in the basement of the Hult Center — the only city-subsidized visual arts venue — closed after 18 years. Perhaps the powers that be should tone the slogan down once more:

Eugene: A City Where People Go Outdoors.

On Jan. 20, scientists from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced 2015 as the hottest year on record since record-keeping began in 1880. 

Oregon itself experienced its hottest year since the state's records began in 1895. Phil Mote, director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, says the state’s “average temperature in 2015 was 50.4 degrees, not only a record but far above the average yearly temperature for the 20th century, which was 47.8 degrees.” Mote attributes this to a combination of meteorological conditions and greenhouse gases.

The chairs were organized in circles in the library of Eugene’s Temple Beth Israel, and the congregation was chatting, swelling the sound of their collective conversation. But as the rabbi entered, singing, the talking quickly faded and everyone began to take their seats. 

It was the beginning of the havdalah, meaning distinction, a ritual that marks the end of holy time and transition back into ordinary life at the end of Shabbat or Sabbath, Judaism’s day of rest.

Rabbi Ruhi Sophia Motzkin Rubenstein was recently appointed head rabbi of this Eugene congregation that serves about 350 households in the area. Rubenstein was singing a niggun, a wordless melody intoned by a group or congregation. The niggun is meant to bring them to a place of meditation, she says.

It’s been a heavy week for Adam Jacques. As he tours around the 40-plus-acre farm in west Eugene where he cultivates some of the most highly regarded medical cannabis in the world, Jacques, always outgoing, nonetheless seems weighted by sadness — not exactly downbeat but weary, like a man recently smacked by the cosmos.

Atop the 100-hour week Jacques and his team routinely put in breeding medical cannabis for patients, he’s also been filling out the reams of bureaucratic and legal paperwork required to go recreational, a move he’s making largely to fund the healing side of his profession. It’s this professional work — the breeding of strains with record-breaking percentages of cannabidiol or CBD, one of the major medicinal elements in pot that, unlike THC, does not get you high — that led Canna Magazine to give Jacques the Most Influential Grower in the Northwest award at its Seattle conference this past August.

But there’s business, and then there’s the business of healing, with its hard-won triumphs and inevitable losses. On the morning of Jan. 3 came news of the passing of Frank Leeds, a cancer patient with whom Jacques had been working closely for the past five years. It was his work with Leeds — and in particular the breeding of “Frank’s Gift,” a high-CBD strain of cannabis — that opened up for Jacques the possibility of turning his green gifts toward the services of healing.

Margaret Miner Morton, better known as Peg Morton in the activist and Quaker community, died Dec. 19 at age 85 of natural causes. Before she died, her voice and charisma still filled rooms, and with medical intervention, she likely would have had more years to live, love and be politically active, but her body was telling her, “It’s time to go.” 

She was hospitalized with pneumonia over Thanksgiving weekend, and her overall health and vitality were slipping. She said she didn’t wish to burden herself or her loved ones, or expend resources through the kind of prolonged decline she had observed in others, most recently while living at the Olive Plaza senior apartments downtown. Morton said she appreciated medical science, but not when it artificially extended life at great expense and suffering.

She granted EW an hour of one-on-one conversation in her light-filled 12th floor apartment, overlooking east Eugene and the Cascades in the distance. She was limiting her diet to a cup of yogurt a day and some green tea. She was about to begin the dry fast that ended her life Dec. 19, after two days in a coma, at the home of friends and in the presence of loved ones. The way she chose to die, by not eating or taking in fluids for 12 days, represents only a small part of her life, but it was also a spiritual and political statement. 

Charles Wilson is founder and CEO of Portland-based Cricket Flours, a platform food ingredient and consumer food product company. 

Wilson says his mother’s gluten-intolerance inspired the business. He founded the enterprise during his last year of law school at the University of Oregon.

“Ten or 15 years ago my mom got diagnosed,” Wilson tells EW, “and she couldn’t have gluten anymore.”

About four years ago, Wilson and his sisters were also diagnosed gluten intolerant. Wilson’s family had to make significant changes to their diets. “That’s what led me to find cricket protein sources,” he says. “The whole idea is to get this new type of food ingredient into your favorite recipes — dishes, shakes, smoothies. It’s basically a way to incorporate more protein into your diet.”

Have you ever listened to a song and, without even realizing it, started tapping your toes? Have you ever been brought to tears through music? Most of us can probably answer “yes.” 

There’s a science, and a whole profession, built around the reason why. 

I’m in the cheery downtown studio of Danielle Oar, a board-certified music therapist and owner of Refuge Music Therapy, LLC in Eugene. 

I have come to accept the fact that I will never love running. You heard me, Track Town USA. I admire Eugene’s gleeful hoards of marathon runners and I understand that, to some, running is a sacred form of exercise.

To me, it is a merciless slog. 

And yet, I still do it. Or rather, I jog. “Jogger” is a term that actual runners use to describe amateurs such as myself. The hallmark of the “jogging” condition: feeling as though I’m burning nine million calories while dutifully dragging myself along the bike path when, in actuality, I am moving at a geologic pace as 5-pound dogs and small children hurtle past me, laughing joyously. 

LIke yoga but with a stick, Bo Yoga combines elements of yoga with a bo, a wooden staff used in the Japanese martial art of bojutsu. Those familiar with yoga may recognize hints of familiar poses like table or warrior, but it is a unique discipline, incorporating tai chi and dance. 

Nate Guadagni, founder and instructor of Bo Yoga, says he came up with the idea while trying out different kinds of bo staffs. 

“I realized it allowed me and my students to do a lot more,” Guadagni says about the plastic-and-foam bo he uses in class. “The bo staff allows you to use leverage.” And that means it is possible to stretch more deeply with less effort and strain. The practice is particularly helpful for people recovering from injuries, he says, as well as improving balance and self-discipline.