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Gay guy here. Met a guy online. He came over. We had incredible sex and then a great conversation lasting several hours. But—and you knew there was one coming—he told me that he lied about his HIV status. (I asked him before meeting him, like I do with anyone.) He is undetectable, but he told me initially he was “HIV/STD negative.” I got very upset—more from the lie than his status. (I know that undetectable is practically the same as negative.) I really like him, but that was a big lie. He told me all about his life and any other secrets after that.

I live with two cats, and I haven’t looked at either of them in quite the same way since seeing Kedi, a lovely new documentary about the entrenched population of street cats roaming the ancient city of Istanbul.

The homeless are not the problem; homelessness is. Eugene’s advocates for the unhoused are working overtime, searching for solutions. We should do more, we can do more and our local governments must do more. 

The dog ban pushes those with nowhere to go out of downtown or forces them to give up a source of comfort and security, without fixing the root problem that puts people on the streets.

In this issue we look at Pastor Dan Bryant, one of the city’s tireless workers for those in need, and the unsung Eugene Public Library, which has been filling in the cracks a day shelter should fill.

Eugene Public Library: The De Facto Day Shelter

A Day in the Life

 

A couple degrees colder and the rain would freeze.

“Hi there. Hello. Excuse me,” Pastor Dan Bryant says to a crumpled heap of blankets and backpacks. “It’s time to start collecting your things.”

Silence and darkness. Only select corner marts, coffee joints and gas stations are open at this hour.

“I just need a sign of recognition,” Bryant asserts.

A corner of fabric folds back, and out from the confusing wad signals a tiny hand.

It’s ten minutes before the doors open and more than 30 people have gathered in the entry garden of Eugene’s downtown public library. They are reading books, looking at their phones and chatting about movies. Some buy coffee at the Novella Café. They are in wheelchairs, in camo, in beanies. Some carry bags, one has a didgeridoo. There are fathers with babies, retirees, young professionals and sleepy-eyed women carrying crafting supplies.

A number of them are homeless.

When the library doors open nearly 50 people enter, a quiet mass that spreads to every floor, perusing books, heading into story hours for infants or getting online on the many available computers. 

According to the city of Eugene, roughly 3,000 people in the community have no home to return to on any given night, and many others are on the brink of becoming homeless.

Yet for the past four years, the city has poured money, time and energy into designing a new City Hall that has yet to come to fruition, while the unhoused continue spending their nights on the streets.  

Air quality concerns — after revelations about Portland’s glass factories — bee die-offs and longtime worries about the dangers of aerial sprays, are hopefully being addressed via bills introduced into Oregon’s Legislature this session. 

After nearly six months of discussion, Springfield will join dozens of cities nationwide, including Eugene, to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday of October. 

Giustina Land & Timber Co, 541-345-2301, plans to hire Northwest Reforestation Services LLC, 541-520-6215, to ground spray 54.2 acres on three units south of Fox Hollow Road; 162.1 acres on three units near Camas Swale; 50.6 acres near Bennett Creek; and 5.1 acres near Jones Creek with clopyralid, sulfometuron methyl, atrazine, hexazinone, Forest Crop Oil and/or Crop Oil Concentrate. See ODF notifications 2017-781-02786 and 2017-781-02857, call Brian Peterson at 541-935-2283 with questions.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) sent VISCO, Inc., a warning letter on March 10 for Clean Water Act violations at its Awbrey Lane facility. DEQ inspected VISCO’s facility on Feb. 9 and observed that VISCO was failing to clean up sand blasting material, leaving it exposed to precipitation and therefore vulnerable to ending up in local waterways.

• Close on the heels of the news that conservative Councilor George Poling was stepping down from the Eugene City Council, longtime conservative Lane County Commissioner Faye Stewart announced his departure from the Board of Commissioners. Appointments for replacements will be made in April, and the replacements will probably reflect their predecessor’s right-leaning values, but here’s to hoping that these transitions leave some openings for electing progressives who prioritize the environment, human rights and helping those in need. 

• The growing popularity of tiny houses is leading Keith Schneider of Eugene’s Bohemian Cottages to expand from construction into all-day, do-it-yourself seminars locally and across the nation. Schneider and his crew have built or remodeled about 35 custom-crafted tiny dwellings over the past eight years, most 200 square feet or smaller.

Ten Douglas County library branches will close on April 1, and Roseburg’s main branch library will close May 31. Douglas County Commissioners have asked for specific input on governing source, funding streams and other library system operating issues. Public comment is needed on long-term solutions to the library system’s funding crisis. Whether you can or can’t attend the hearing, submit comments by email (commissioners@co.douglas.or.us leif@co.douglas.or.us) or snail mail (DC Commissioners, Courthouse, Room 217, 1036 S.E.

“My parents were the children of sharecroppers in the panhandle of Texas,” says David Monk, who was born in Texas but was reared from age 6 in Las Vegas. “My dad worked at underground construction, digging tunnels for sewers and hydroelectricity.” After high school, Monk came to Eugene to study Russian at the University of Oregon. He took three year-long breaks to work underground, in a coal mine and a hydro project, on his way to a 1983 degree in political science.

For Lane County musician and educator Tony Rust, Rolling Stones’ record Sticky Fingers is a “top of the pile” album. “It’s an album I grew up with,” he says. “Solid songs all the way through.” 

Thaddeus Moore, owner and operator of Eugene’s long-running Sprout City Studios, jokes that he hates battles of the bands.

K. Flay’s music is an old fashioned that’s been spiked with a mystery upper: It has an edge you can’t quite put your finger on, but you can’t get enough of it either. This alternative hip-hop artist is casually strolling to the top of the scene with her refreshing twist on a crowded genre.

There are songs, and then there are “art songs.” I hate the latter term, mostly applied to vocal works written by 19th-century classical composers, because it implicitly suggests that all those other songs — y’know, the ones everyone actually listens to on their computers and phones and radios all day — are somehow not capital-A ART.

MINING TV BUTTE

The Lane County Board of Commissioners has approved the land use change on a 4-1 vote, allowing for the destruction of a Native historical landmark, TV Butte, near Oakridge. This, against the protests of locals who live nearby and of our fellow Americans who are native to this land.

Shame on them, I say!

Nightingale Health Sanctuary (NHS), a city-sanctioned rest stop, needs help from its supporters. 

There’s nothing quite like very short plays to whet or renew your appetite for live theater. Don’t like what you’re watching? Wait a few minutes, and you get a brand-new story.

That constant variety helps explain the popularity of the Northwest Festival of Ten-Minute Plays, which premiered its ninth annual incarnation last weekend with an evening of eight 10-minute new plays at Oregon Contemporary Theatre.

The White Lotus Gallery has put up a new show, replacing an exhibit of contemporary art with Japanese paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries. The beautiful paintings will be up until April 1, and then they will come down, about 20 works altogether, and another group of artworks will replace them. 

I recently spoke at Curious Minds Weekend in Toronto at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. Audience members submitted questions on cards before the show—anonymously—but the moderator, Lisan Jutras of the Globe and Mail, and I were having so much fun talking with each other that we didn’t get to many cards. So I’m going to quickly answer as many of the questions from the audience at Curious Minds as I can this week.


March is Wine Month in Washington (that state north of ours). Unless you have a passion for wine, that fact is not very important.