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Many of my colleagues wish 50 Shades of Grey had never been written. I wish it had been written thirty years ago. I’ve been doing BDSM since we called it S/M. (In the early ’90s, someone mashed together B&D for bondage and discipline, D/s for dominance and submission and S/M for sadomasochism to coin the acronym BDSM. I liked it better when it had fewer initials.) 

Sitting in Sweet Life Patisserie in the Whiteaker, Aydian Dowling discusses the meaning of “going viral” — or gaining instant fame via the internet. “Once we hit 200,000 views on just the Buzzfeed page,” he says, “we were like, ‘What does it mean to go viral?’” He laughs. “I think when we break a million, we’ll say that we went viral.”

$7 million — that’s about how much a new standardized test for Oregon students will cost the state of Oregon this school year. The Smarter Balanced Assessment, rolling out for the first time this spring, is meant to measure how well Oregon K-12 schools are teaching in alignment with the Common Core State Standards, adopted in 2010.

But critics say the test is stressful for children because most students are predicted to fail. The test provides little valuable information to individual students, and some say it doesn’t accurately measure a school’s performance.

Sniffing out what you shouldn’t miss in the arts this week

Of the three school districts in the Eugene-Springfield area, Bethel School District, with 5,700 students in northwest Eugene, is considered more diminutive than the rest. That’s not entirely accurate, Bethel Superintendent Colt Gill says, when you take a look at the bigger picture. “There are just under 200 school districts in Oregon, and out of those 200, Bethel is the 24th largest school district,” he says. “So in the area, we’re considered kind of small, but in the state, we’re considered one of the largest districts because we’re in the top 25.”

The first thing a visitor notices about the Saraha Children’s School is the peace and quiet. Nestled in a dappled oak savannah in Eugene’s South Hills, the Tibetan Buddhist K-8 school currently serves just four children with two full-time teachers, although it has the capacity for someday accommodating 30 students. The atmosphere is downright relaxing. 

As a younger child, I attended three elementary schools: Edison Elementary School, Parker Elementary School and Camas Ridge Community School. I always had to get used to making new friends, getting a new routine and getting used to a new school. 

Back in elementary school, I never thought I would be this close to high school. All I was thinking about was when recess was going to be and if I should yell at boys to stop being so annoying. Now I have to think about the next four years of my life until I graduate and possibly go to college. 

While her previous position as Oregon’s secretary of state typically did not put her in the environmental spotlight, Oregon’s new Governor Kate Brown is no stranger to green agendas or protests. In summer of 2012, members of Cascadia Earth First! and Eugene’s own Cascadia Forest Defenders locked themselves together at Brown’s office at the state Capitol to call attention to logging in the Elliott State Forest.

Graduate high school. Think about your future career. Get a profession.  That is Leticia Gonzalez’s advice for her daughters. She is sitting with them at the kitchen table in their Springfield home, and they banter with each other about school, work and family.

“Sometimes I think they get tired of listening to me say ‘Go to college,’” Gonzalez says, who requested to speak with EW via an interpreter because she feels more comfortable with Spanish. “It’s the reality: work and study.” 

Oregon state legislators are worried that their constituents don’t know enough about state government. 

There are three bills proposed in the current 2015 session to improve civics education in Oregon: HB 2977, HB 2955 and SB 484. Each has a different angle, but all stem from the same general feeling: Kids graduating today don’t know enough about the legislative process to understand that they have a stake in the system. 

A representative from a local advocacy group has filed a formal request with the Lane County District Attorney’s Office seeking the release of records from Greenhill Humane Society. 

At issue is whether Greenhill — a private nonprofit that runs its own shelter but also receives public funds from the county to administer the First Avenue Shelter — is subject to Oregon’s public records laws regarding the work it does at First Avenue. 

Greenhill took over the management of FAS from the county in 2012.

It’s school board election season, and board positions are opening up at Lane Community College and Eugene School District 4J. Two candidates, one for LCC and one for 4J, are ready to fill soon-to-be-empty spots, running on platforms of affordability, equity, transparency and more.

The latest brewery to bubble up in the Willamette Valley is getting ready to take off, and you can help make it happen. Old Growth Ales recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $20,000 for equipment, truck upgrades, licensing fees, marketing and other expenses. The end goal: to make locally sourced botanic and medicinal ales commercially available. 

Springfield is in mourning, as are we all, for the pedestrian tragedy on Main Street that killed three children and seriously injured their mother Feb. 22. As we go to press we haven’t heard why the pickup driver hit the family, but regardless, the long and busy Main Street corridor has long been hazardous for walkers, bicyclists, pets and wildlife. Reducing the speed limit on this state highway would be an obvious first step. More pedestrian refuge islands are needed.

“I’m an activist,” says Angelita Chavez in her pico, a traditional handmade slip with red lining that shows when you pull the skirt up to dance the zapateado. “Here, I’m a dancer.”

• A public meeting on the 2015 Eugene Trails Plan will be at 6 pm Thursday, Feb. 26, at the Eugene Public Works Parks and Open Space facility, 1820 Roosevelt Blvd. Email philip.s.richardson@ci.eugene.or.us or call 682-4906 for more information.

Janet Range, who supervises education programs at three immigrant detention centers in Portland, will join a discussion about “The Children Who Came Across the Border” at 7 pm Thursday, Feb. 26, at First United Methodist Church, 13th and Olive. 

The mood was still somber in Salem this past week. John Kitzhaber’s gone, Kate Brown’s sworn in and the political landscape of Oregon settles in after the tsunami. Last Tuesday I took a bottle of Wild Turkey, a copy of my Feb. 12 EW column and my retirement announcement over to the Capitol. I knew I wouldn’t see John so I searched out one of his closest companions over the years, a state trooper from the Dignitary Protection Unit.

Classical music doesn’t have to be boring — usually that’s just the way it’s played

Mike Doherty, bassist for Portland indie-rock outfit Future Historians, says what initially brought the band together was the songwriting of leader and primary songwriter Dave Shur. 

Considering the sterling reputation of J. Cole, it’s incredible that his new tour kicks off here at the McDonald Theatre.

It’s a shame Franco-American jazz singer Cyrille Aimée didn’t come through Eugene a little closer to Valentine’s Day, because her romantic brand of adorable and sugary jazz would be a perfect gift for that special someone. 

Alas, poor George and Martha: As the boozy, bitchy combatants at the center of Edward Albee’s 1962 play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, these two go at it like rabid animals, incapable of restraint, tearing at each other in an alcohol-fueled barrage of verbal abuse, all set to the tinkling rhythms of ice plinking against a cocktail glass. And the beating goes on.

OCCUPATIONAL DISEASE

I taught and counseled delinquent adolescents for 28 years. Some grew up to be politicians. Most of the others were successfully rehabilitated. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning all politicians; some of them are very decent, dedicated public servants — working to promote the wellbeing of us all. It’s just that the 99 percent give the other 1 percent a bad name. 

I have been reading your column for years, Dan, and now I’m writing you for the first time to ask for a favor. I met this dude online in December and I felt like we had a good connection. He “dumped” me, though, because he was busy and was going through career shit and lived halfway across the country from me. I think a dude telling you he’s too busy for you is bullshit—because boobs—so I encouraged him to tell me the truth. He insisted he wasn’t shining me on: Busyness and career shit and distance were the truth, he said.