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January 20, 2017 12:31 PM

Eugene Opera Cancels Remainder of Season
The company wants to take a breath and start up again in the fall

Strapped for cash, Eugene Opera has canceled the remainder of its 2016-17 season, scrapping a planned March production of West Side Storyand a May production of Peter Brook's adaptation of Georges Bizet’s The Tragedy of Carmen.

The move is designed to give the company — which celebrated its 40th anniversary last fall — breathing room to regroup financially, check in with its supporters and return in the fall, says Mark Beudert, general director of the company for the past 10 years.

While it has almost always faced financial problems, Eugene Opera has never before canceled part of its season, he said. But the picture has worsened in recent years.

“We have been trailing debt in one form or another since Nixon,” he says, referring to the company’s musically and visually gorgeous but financially unrewarding production of the contemporary John Adams opera Nixon in China, which the opera staged here in 2012.

That production, which drew rave reviews but filled few seats at the Hult Center, was part of a deliberate shift by the opera company to perform more contemporary work in place of traditional European fare. “Companies around the country that relied on the old standards were not doing any better,” Beudert says. “In fact, they were going under. We were going to swim against the tide.”

Beudert declined to say how much money the company currently owes.

Photo by Bob Keefer

 

Opera is among the most expensive art forms to produce, requiring — in addition to the usual costs of theater production — a large number of trained singers and an orchestra. The audience for opera is passionate but not large, and it’s unusual for a city the size of Eugene to support a professional opera company.

When he took over in 2007, Eugene Opera had a deficit of about $90,000. A professional tenor with solid contacts in the opera world, Beudert saved the company from possible extinction when he directed a well attended production at the Hult Center of Gilbert and Sullivan’s popular Pirates of Penzance. Beudert had sung in the chorus in a 1980 Broadway production of the show alongside Linda Ronstadt and Kevin Klein.

But after producing Nixon in China in 2012, the company found itself $100,000 in debt. And two years ago it had a $90,000 shortfall at the end of its season.

This spring’s planned production of West Side Story — as an opera — seemed likely to sell well, given the musical’s great popularity. But mounting the show would have plunged the company even deeper into debt, at least temporarily, with its high upfront costs, from stiff royalties to the cost of hiring Eugene Ballet dancers for the dance scenes.

Beudert didn’t share numbers, but the two productions the opera has done so far this season, of Much Ado About Nothing in October and Trio, a mélange of excerpts from three different classical operas for its annual New Year’s Eve show, fell short. “The box office for Trio didn’t do anything like what we thought it would do,” he says.

The company will take the remarkable step this spring of conducting a series of town hall meetings in Eugene to find out, as well as can be determined, the answer to that impenetrable question: What do audiences really want?

“We want to explain what we’re about and we want people to tell us what they like and what they don’t,” he says.

He also anticipates more “balance” returning to the company’s repertoire. That means staging more standards and fewer contemporary works. “We’re going to open it up to tradition again,” he says.

Beudert, who has weathered repeated financial storms in his decade at the Eugene Opera, isn’t giving up.

“We’re not going anywhere,” Beudert says. “We’re coming back, better than ever.”

January 5, 2017 03:16 PM

Press release of the day goes to SAIF for its advice on dealing with slippery sidwalks.

With inclement weather arriving in some parts of the state and forecast for others, SAIF again wants to remind Oregonians to "walk like a penguin."

"Slips, trips, and falls are the leading cause of injury in Oregon--both in and out of the workplace," said Scott Clark, safety innovations manager for SAIF. "Changing how you walk on slippery surfaces can mean the difference between making it home safely and taking an unexpected trip to the hospital."

Clark offers the following guidance for taking walking cues from our arctic friends:

*Keep your hands by your side (and not in your pockets).

*Slow down and take short steps.

*Walk flat-footed.

*Point your toes slightly to the sides. 

The not-for-profit insurance company supplied a video to illustrate its point:

January 4, 2017 12:33 PM

City Club of Eugene

Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy

December 9, 2016

MY TWELVE YEARS AS MAYOR OF EUGENE, OREGON

I thought today I'd share some of the inside story of my twelve years of being Mayor. Some of this you may have forgotten and some you probably never knew. In any case this is some of my perspective of the last twelve years.

It's hard to remember how it was in 2005. We had had a twenty-year community disagreement over the West Eugene Parkway and it had become a litmus test for which side of the community anyone aligned with. It was a daily reminder of our city’s reputation for contention.

Our downtown was virtually empty and had two long-term pits and the general consensus was that downtown was never coming back.

There was a lot of negative talk about our community, and people questioned whether it was possible to get anything done. Our community was often described as anti-business.

Our road infrastructure had been neglected and potholes were everywhere.

We had a lot of people living in poverty and our local economy was not strong.

We were still recovering from the Lara Magana case when two officers were jailed for abusing the public they serve. Distrust between the public and EPD was high.

Councilors fought. Staff hunkered down and council meetings were difficult. City hall was not open to everyone. The public forum was often angry and the public objected that they were not given time to speak. Relationships with governing partners were strained and often hostile. Neighborhoods felt unsupported and unable to fully participate in community decision-making.

We had frequent riots in the campus area that included property destruction.

And, this was before the recession.

Then I ran for office. I had an economic plan in hand thanks to advice from a sociologist and an urban planner. This plan included investing in our physical and social infrastructure; a Sustainable Business Initiative; initiatives to strengthen our local and regional businesses; downtown revitalization; strategic land use; and improving our business climate. I have been operating from this plan for twelve years. 

I believed that the best way to bring us together and move forward was to work on the triple bottom line of sustainability: social equity, economic development, and the preservation of our great natural resources. We all love the beauty of this place, care about our neighbors and need to make a living so we can raise our families. I decided to aim for the future we wanted, building on our community strengths.

This was not a friendly environment as a new Mayor, especially a liberal one. I was barely tolerated at city hall and encouraged not to be around much. So I asked to have the dark ceremonial furniture removed and a real working desk brought in. And, I came to work every day.

At some meetings such as at the Chamber of Commerce, I was avoided and subject to many snide side comments.

I went right to work.

I consulted with sustainability experts and launched the SBI, the Sustainable Business Initiative, to encourage the growth of businesses that produced sustainable products and utilized sustainable practices. This was my first step toward my economic goals.

I discussed the SBI with the then city manager. He said the city had neither the staff nor resources to undertake such an initiative. They could not even supply a minute’s recorder. I turned to my university connection: Bob Doppelt and his students helped organize and implement the SBI. This felt, in my mind, a bit like The Little Red Hen story. I would do it myself.

As good fortune would have it, Rusty Rexius came to visit me about a sustainable product invention and consequently agreed to co-chair the SBI with Dave Funk. He was the board chair for the Chamber of Commerce at the time and it was brave of him to do it. Dave and Rusty proved to be excellent leaders and good friends. They helped give the SBI credibility. We organized a broad based committee of community leaders from across the political spectrum. We had roundtable sector meetings and the SBI completed a report with a number of recommendations that council accepted.

Out of these recommendations came our Sustainability Commission, our Climate and Energy Plan, and one of the strongest climate ordinances in the nation. I attended every meeting and learned a lot about the strength of perseverance. I also proved I had some chops.

The ordinance developed because school children asked me what they could do to inspire council to more action and to do their part to protect our planet from climate change. My advice to them was to come to council to express their concerns for their Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy Eugene City Club December 8, 2016 3 future. They did an incredibly good job of this. I also advised them that surveys showed strong community support and that they should ask for something big. They did and proposed turning our climate and energy plan into an ordinance with teeth.

Just three months into my tenure, you may remember, LTD had a bus strike. I ordinarily would not intervene in the decisions of another government body, but this was a matter of social equity. How would transit dependent people get to work, to services and to the grocery store? I agreed to put together a group of community leaders, including me that would mediate this strike. We spent days at the Hilton going between labor and management. The good news is we were able to settle with the help of a number of highly skilled community members and people could get back on the bus. It could have gone the other way. It taught me that it’s important to do what is right; even taking the chance I could fail.

Transportation issues became a huge part of my work and some of the most difficult. I did what I had promised and ended the West Eugene Parkway dispute. Many people and public partners were angry with this, and not just a little. This was understandable. A lot of time and money had been invested and non-binding votes taken. I felt that it was the right decision in terms of protecting our natural resources for future generations and because it had never met federal environmental approval. An official came to see me and told me, "Little Lady, the WEP might not be the best thing to do but we are going to do it." He was wrong. People said ODOT would never allocate funds to Eugene again. I was committed to continue to strive for collaboration, even in the face of great opposition.

I brought together those who had fought each other over the West Eugene Parkway and formed the West Eugene Collaborative. The funds were cobbled together from a variety of private sources to pay for facilitation since we had no approval to try this. We received help from Oregon Consensus.

Former adversaries took a fresh look at the area, seeing it as a neighborhood, not just a through way. They developed deep respect for each other and even did presentations together. I attended and participated in every meeting. It's because of this work that ODOT asked me to co-chair the Oregon Passenger Rail preferred alignment NEPA process and to work on the Oregon Rail Plan.

I am a strong supporter of transit and EmX. I believe we cannot meet our Envision Eugene goals, our economic goals, our access goals or our climate goals without a great system. The commitment to such a system was made decades ago and yet the West 11th location proved to be hugely controversial. Part of the choice about that segment was in response to the findings of the West Eugene Collaborative and a commitment to deal with traffic issues in the area. I used a lot of political chits on this one, and was sometimes a lone voice. EmX is part of the evolution of that part of the city with improved access and new neighborhood connections.

 I have to give my colleagues on council and the voters full credit for two successful road bonds and a raise of the gas tax that has allowed us to make huge progress in our road infrastructure. It was a smart decision for the bond to be modest and limited and to tell the public exactly what would be repaired. This is the most road repair ever in the history of our city: real investment in our infrastructure.

In the first four years we also passed an ordinance to put an independent police auditor in place and a Civilian Review Board. Many initially saw this as anti-police. The then city manager strongly opposed the auditor reporting to council rather than to him, and he was angry with me when it passed. He thought his powers were being usurped. We have now had three auditors and the position is well established, working well with the public, civil rights advocates, and EPD.

In the second term the Occupy movement occurred and had a great deal of support in Eugene. A protest grew into an awareness of homelessness as part of the financial inequities of this nation. Police Chief Pete Kerns and City Manager Ruiz decided to try reduce any potential conflict and the inherent costs of conflict through open communication and many meetings with activists, which I participated in.

I promised to continue to work to reduce homelessness and improve shelter options in our community and formed a broad committee, which we dubbed “Opportunity Eugene.”

Out of that work came recommendations including a village concept. All our pilot programs for rest stops and Opportunity Village came out of this work with strong innovation and support from the community. People showed up at our council meetings over and over. We now have frequent visitors from across the state and nation to learn about these innovative pilot programs. Their success lies with partnerships of religious leaders, citizens, un-housed folks, non-profits and local governments. We all recognize these are temporary solutions to a large, yet unresolved housing issue.

We have built hundreds of units of affordable housing, the latest being a hundred units in North Eugene at Bascom Village, but the unmet need is great.

In 2015 I undertook Michelle Obama’s Mayor’s Challenge to house all our homeless vets. It was clear that federal resources would be provided for this work and strong partnerships could be developed. Working together we housed over 404 vets. That work continues and serves as a template for other efforts.

The deep recession provided an opportunity for all local partners, such as schools, universities, chambers of commerce, and governments to work together on a Regional Prosperity Plan. This resulted in identifying and prioritizing the clusters that could be game changers for our regional economy. We had two very productive summits.

I served on the Regional Solutions advisory board and through this worked regionally to develop RAIN, the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network. RAIN brings together cities, universities and the business communities, with legislative support, to create an innovation ecosystem to foster the development of new technology businesses. It has been a success thus far with 418 of those businesses in our area, a nationally recognized hub (the Silicon Shire).

The reinvigoration of downtown has occurred filling pits and storefronts that were dormant for close to 40 years. It’s still new and it’s still fragile and will require focused attention for years to come. We lost one urban renewal vote in the process but we just kept on going until we got it right, with public private partnerships. There is now over $300 million invested in our downtown.

There are a lot of other stories along the twelve-year trail, including the Mayors Prayer Breakfast, which was on the front page for at least four days. In my support for all faiths and my commitment to separation of church and state, I declined to have a Mayors Prayer Breakfast. It now continues as Lane County Prayer breakfast and is a non-governmental event.

And, there were the Amazon headwaters, paid sick leave, and others.

The life of a city is iterative. There is no beginning and no end. It is ongoing.

Governance has been very interesting. As you know, we have a city manager city council form of government. So then what does a mayor in this form of government do? What makes this job such a hot election ticket?

The mayor is the highest local elected official and speaks and acts on behalf of the city.

The mayor prepares an annual State of the City to report on the past year’s government activities and to advocate for future goals.

The mayor and the city manager construct the council agenda. The mayor facilitates meetings.

In my tenure I have worked hard to establish respectful relationships with and between council and staff. I think council meetings go quite well and each councilor uses his or her voice in deliberation.

I have worked hard to create meetings where the public voice could be heard and people treated each other well in the public process, a place that is safe for everyone. I have never had to have any person removed from council chambers.

 Our manager and staff have given us great professional service, always striving to help the council have the information to make good policy decisions. I am proud of them.

The mayor is also a tiebreaker but I endeavor to help the council find agreement on direction.

The mayor can form committees to pursue initiatives. The mayor makes council committee assignments and recommendations for some committee members.

The mayor represents the City at many state and federal meetings and lobbies to obtain funding for important city needs.

As a member of the MPC, I help make transportation policy decisions and I helped form the Area Transportation Commission. I have served on the Lane County Poverty and Homeless board steering those efforts locally.

The mayor speaks to groups, supports local organizations and businesses, meets with school Superintendents, and visits schools.

I belong to the U S Conference of Mayors, working in tandem with Mayors across this nation on a number of important issues. I am a member of Mayors for Peace and Mayors against Illegal Guns.

The role of mayor is a big one that has a huge impact.

That is why it can be a million dollar race here in Eugene, Oregon.

In the last twelve years we have survived hard economic times intact and with the continued provision of services. We have made strides in every area. We have not solved every problem but we have taken strong steps foreword.

There have been disappointments: the quality of Capstone; the endless saga of the city hall; the failed school levy; the loss of the Eugene Celebration; and the continuing lack of a public shelter.

The mayor does nothing alone and all in partnership with others. I believe in respecting people of all political persuasions and working with them when it is possible. I have striven to never take a public potshot at anyone. And I have never strayed from my core values. I have always been willing to lose my elected position over an important issue.

Even down to the wire, I am meeting with the Governor this afternoon about the state budget, and striving to help council make a decision regarding city hall.

It has been my honor to serve. I look forward to the next mayor with great anticipation.  

Here are my takeaways:

If you get it wrong, keep working on it.

Keep your hands on the wheel when you want to go somewhere.

Model what you’d like to see. 

Ask for and expect the best. 

Take chances and strategize.

Keep your sense of humor.

Surround yourself with wise and kind people.

Have a team at your side and be a good team player.

Help others attain their goals.

Work through frustrations and get on with it.

Listen carefully to all perspectives.

Find the win/win whenever possible.

Never begrudge your time.

Keep a good scorecard.

Ask for the help you need.

Celebrate your successes.

THANK YOU.

January 2, 2017 01:39 PM

Now that the 49ers have fired Chip Kelly, on the heels of the University of Oregon firing football coach Mark Helfrich, you cannot help but to wonder if the former Ducks coach should have listened to the pleas of musician (and Ducks fan) Mat Kearney?

December 20, 2016 01:25 PM

December 19, 2016 06:42 AM

According to German folklore, nutcrackers were given as symbols of good luck and protection. And who couldn’t use a little of that right about now?

Inspired by Alexandre Dumas’ lighter adaptation of the E.T.A. Hoffmann story, the ballet was set to music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and originally choreographed by Marius Petipa, for its 1892 Moscow premier.

Though critically well received, The Moscow Imperial Theatre’s Nutcracker didn’t enjoy great success at first, and the acrimonious dynamic between the composer, and his Sugar Plum[p] Fairy, Antonietta Dell'Era, is legendary.

But the fantastical story of Marie (here Clara), her battle with the Mouse King and her journey to the Land of Sweets, endures.

The ballet’s ascendency, to a place of such beloved recognition and lore, is a testament to this music, and to the power of this incredible, indelible story.

After hopping the pond in ’44, with a performance by the San Francisco Ballet, and in ’54, with George Balanchine’s version in New York City, this ballet has delighted generations. The Nutcracker has become a no-miss holiday tradition for many, and as keepers of the torch, the Eugene Ballet Company’s sturdy production twinkles and delights as ever: There is much to love about EBC.

What a delight to enjoy live music.

Brian McWhorter’s Orchestra NEXT and the Cantible Collective, under direction of Chris Dobson, elevate the effort from enjoyable to resplendent.

Live music feels a salve these days, and McWhorter is clearly enjoying bringing terrific live music to audiences. He makes the work approachable, connected, inspiring audience members not to distance themselves from the music, but to enjoy it as though they are taking part in the making of it, through McWhorter’s irrepressible energy and spirit.

And not enough can be said about Toni Pimble’s choreography.

Have I seen this Nutcracker before? Sure, more times than I can count. But it works, and watching it, all I could think was “generous.” There is something inherently humane in Pimble’s eye for detail. Her deep passion for technique and perfection is there, and exacted by her dancers, but Pimble creates something so much more than that. This work is an invitation to audience members to access dance, many for the first time, or for the only time all year. Pimble stewards this art form, holds it, keeps it, with each moment of comic timing, every lush pathway or relationship, every lift, nod, gesture.

Pimble’s artistic acumen and vision stands shoulder to shoulder with giants.

Hats off to the production design team, sets, costumes, props, and lighting: They successfully create Clara’s mysterious and ever-changing world. This show is pure fantasy, yet it’s rooted in glorious, rich detail. The dance shines against an immersive and thorough backdrop.

On to the performances:

Isaac Jones lends a mischievous zip to Drosselmeyer, a character who can come off as a little scary to the younger set. Not Jones’ interpretation, though: His uncle is fresh and lively, with a bouncy, impish quality.

As Hans/the Nutcracker, Reed Souther lends cartoon pilot good looks, and tremendous energy and technique. Souther’s a pleasure to watch, strong and relatable, with terrific acting chops.

As Clara, Yoshie Oshima shines, an incandescent depiction of youth on the cusp of maturity, of hope, and strength. Clara’s a tough cookie! She has a really weird night! And Oshima is up for it: Infusing each step, each gesture, with meaning and connection. She seems fragile and doll-like one moment, and achingly sanguine the next. In her hands, we don’t love Clara. We are Clara.

Yuki Beppu as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Hirofumi Kitazume as her Cavalier, are compelling and vibrant. They come along in act two as a kind of tonic, a pure, powerful expression of beauty. Even the tiny kids seated next to me couldn’t look away: They were simply transfixed. It’s like watching real damn fairies.

Children from the Eugene Ballet Academy add an element of genuine “Aw” to the effort, from baby mice to angels to Bon Bons and Party Goers: This show is special because there are so many kids involved.

And as an ensemble, EBC glows. Too many shout outs to mention, but the whole smorgasbord in the Land of Sweets – coffee, tea, cocoa, etc - delights. 

Can it be “Nutcracker” season again next week? Please?

 

 

           

            

December 19, 2016 05:58 PM

The Electoral College voted Donald Trump in as president today. 

At least Saturday Night Live can still make us laugh. 

And Trump hates it and hates that you watch it.

December 15, 2016 03:21 PM

Eugene Service Station, the social services hub on Highway 99N for homeless men and women in the Eugene-Springfield area, has temporarily closed due to lost power in the winter storm, and is seeking donations of warm clothes, blankets and sleeping bags to assist the needy in the meantime.

“We really need warm clothing right now,” says Paul Neville, the director of public relations at St. Vincent de Paul’s. “We’re asking people to donate.” St. Vinnie's also administers Egan Warming Centers and the Dusk-to-Dawn homeless camping programs, and provides warm clothing and other items to homeless people using those programs.

According to a press release, “St. Vinnie’s retail thrift stores throughout the region are issuing vouchers for clothing and other items to homeless individuals.” This means that unhoused people can go to St. Vincent locations to get free supplies.

The cold weather has made travel difficult, but Neville asks that the public bring warm clothing to any St. Vincent drop-site or location. “Our preference is to donate to the Seneca store, but that depends on road conditions,” Neville says, but certainly not if it is too dangerous. The Seneca St. Vinnie's is at 705 S. Seneca.

St. Vincent serves meals to 200 homeless individuals every day, and provides 80,000 showers a year, according to Neville. “The demand always surpasses out ability to meet those needs,” he says, but donations can help.

Those interested in volunteering with the Egan Warming Center can attend the new volunteer orientation and training on Saturday, Dec. 17 from 9:30-11:30am at First Christian Church 1166 Oak St. in the chapel.

December 11, 2016 04:55 PM

Ballet Fantastique warmed up a cold, rainy winter’s evening with its latest offering, “The Book of Esther: A Rock Gospel Ballet”, featuring the UO Gospel Singers and live original Persian rock music led by Gerry Rempel and band.

The design team shines here, with rich, illustrative costumes by Donna Marisa Bontrager and Allison Ditson, which transport, from the first moment the dancers enter from the back of the house, carrying warmly lit lanterns.

The gospel music is a soothing and stirring undercurrent, and the choreographers, Donna Marisa and Hannah Bontrager conceive of using these performers artfully, arranging their entrance and spacing cleverly, seamlessly, so that the singers become an integral part of the whole.

Hats off to Andiel Brown, UO Gospel Choir director, as Mordecai in this production. Brown’s voice is compelling and clear, his gestures relatable and connected. He even has a couple of lifts! Bravo.

As Esther, Leanne Mizzoni dances with a precise, yet earnest approach. Her delicate, lyrical quality is tempered by her strength, and as Esther traverses through this narrative, we see Mizzoni’s determination grow. 

A strong duet ends Act One, danced to music by Byron Cage: The pairing exudes a longing, a sinuous connection between Mizzoni and King Xerxes, played here by Justin Feimster.

Feimster anchors the men’s roles. He is physically grounded, convincing, with great acting chops.

As the antagonizing Haman, Gustavo Ramirez throws out a ton of passion, but one wonders if choreographically, there wasn’t something left in his back pocket. (Ramirez dances the hell out of what he’s been given, I just would have liked him to be a bit more of a baddie.)

The ensemble works together nicely, and as a narrative, this classic tale delights, especially with BFan’s musical choices, and a thoughtful and judiciously interwoven narration adding dimension.

At times, group dance work has a predictable rhythmic and patterning cadence, leaning heavily on the 4/4 power of gospel. Set to jazz, BFan’s choreography slips and slides and works over and under the beat, but here, especially in Act Two, the movement at times sacrifices organic dynamic intensity for adherence to the musical phrase.

But we quibble. Will most notice the technical dance structures, and see them repeating? Probably not.

 BFan sets a remarkable course here: Taking an ancient story, making it new and fresh, and presenting it for all audiences.

“The Book of Esther” is a story for the ages, and a timely one at that. 

December 5, 2016 11:31 AM

According to the website corpcounsel.com, "The University of Oregon has asked its general counsel, Kevin Reed, to look into whether the school's athletic department is violating university free-speech policies by allegedly threatening to pull the credentials of reporters who try to speak directly with student athletes."

Corporate Counsel, a publication that specializes in "addressing the needs of the nation’s in-house attorneys and executives," writes that the issue arose when the Daily Emerald reported  three incidents of violence over two years allegedly committed by Duck football tight end Pharaoh Brown.

According to a Nov. 28 Emerald story about the UO Senate calling for an investigation of athletic department for possible free speech violation, the Emerald reporter, Kenny Jacoby "had called kicker Matt Wogan for comment, following a prearranged interview in which Wogan declined to speak on the issue. The department’s policy states that all requests for interviews with players must go through the athletic department, and by calling a player directly, the Emerald knowingly violated that policy."

Corporate Counsel reports that "asked about an investigation, Reed confirmed that university president Michael Schill asked him 'to conduct a review. I wouldn't describe it as an investigation. I understand my brief is to report to the president regarding whether our rules governing the rights of speech of our student athletes and the rights of access of the press to our student athletes are consistent with university policy, law and best practices.' He said he expects to report back 'sometime after the first of the year.'"

November 30, 2016 04:24 PM

Four area state legislators will be holding a town hall next Wednesday evening at University of Oregon. Come meet the politicians you elected!

What: State Legislators Town Hall with Rep. Phil Barnhart, Rep. Paul Holvey, Sen. Lee Beyer and Sen. Floyd Prozanski 

When: 6:30 pm Dec. 7

Where: Crater Lake South Rm at UO’s Erb Memorial Union, 1228 University Street

November 23, 2016 05:03 PM

Janie Coverdell traveled from Eugene to Standing Rock in September to participate in the Sioux tribe's protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. She recently returned to Cannon Ball, North Dakota, and is sending Eugene Weekly updates from the frontlines.

Coverdell, who is posting video on YouTube of events as Tlingit Girl, was present Nov. 20 when police began to shoot water at protesters in the below-freezing temperatures, as well as rubber bullets and tear gas. One protester, 21-year-old Sophia Wilansky, was severly injured and might lose her arm.

The Associated Press reports that Wilansky's father, Wayne Wilansky says his daughter was inured by the police: "There's multiple witnesses and my daughter, who was completely conscious, said they threw a grenade right at her."

Coverdell was in the thick of the Sunday night protests. She tells EW, "Unarmed women fell to their knees telling police they loved them and were praying for their generations, too. A police officer walked up and used high-pressure pepper spray right in their faces while their hands were in the air."

Coverdell says, "I followed police and called them out every time they approached peaceful protectors and as I drew attention to them for harming unarmed people the police would actually back off."

Coverdell says she was tear-gassed and sprayed with something else as well, adding that her stomach and throat are still not better. You can find her GoFundMe raising money for the trip to the protest here. She will continue to send updates.

Illustration by Trask Bedortha

November 18, 2016 04:38 PM

Welcome to my blog. I plan to use this space to share updates on recent columns, corrections, short topics and occasional news about what I am doing in my garden. 

This picture of Iris tenax appeared (in B/W) along with my column on drought-tolerant irises. In that article I listed a couple of sources for the iris species I discussed. Shortly after the column appeared in print, a friend told me about another source: Wild Ginger farm in Beavercreek, OR. 

This nursery lists many varieties of Pacific Coast hybrid iris and a few selections of Iris tenax (Oregon iris). They are open only by appointment. Call 503-632- 2338, or visit their website (wildgingerfarm.com) to view a plant list or make contact by email. By the way, the tiny white flowers around the iris in this picture are those of a native alumroot, Heuchera micrantha.

I got mine from Doak Creek Native Plant Nursery on Doak Creek Road, Eugene. I have found this coral bells relative to be very adaptable and easy to grow.