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November 6, 2017 06:53 PM

While the Tuesday, Nov. 7 election has grabbed most of the voter-related attention nationally and locally, an upcoming election for the GreenLane Sustainable Business Network board of directors has caused a furor among the green-oriented businesses in town.

GreenLane is a nonprofit “membership organization providing education, resources, networking and marketing ideas for Lane County businesses committed to sustainable business practices,” according to its website. Its monthly lunch hour meetings feature networking and educational opportunities.

The members who are running to be on the organization’s board of directors were introducd at GreenLane's Oct. 4 meeting, according to board member Robin Forster. According to GreenLane's website, the candidates are Judy Lamb of Northwest Exposures Photography, Casey Roscoe of Seneca Sawmills and Theresa Brand of the Lane Transit District (LTD). The election is Wednesday, Nov. 8.

Roscoe, the granddaughter of Seneca founder Aaron Jones, together with the company she represents, is at the center of the controversy.

Roscoe, who has worked to improve Seneca's reputation in the local community, says that Seneca joined GreenLane in 2016. According to Shawn Donille, vice president of Mountain Rose Herbs, the furor over the board started two weeks ago. Donille says he had no objection to Seneca joining the green business group, because “Maybe they could learn something.” But, he says, “Seneca is in no position to set policy for a local sustainable business work group.” The board of directors sets GreenLane policy he says.

As a result, Donille says Mountain Rose is leaving the organization.

He adds, “If you don’t draw the line with Seneca, what next?” citing cattle ranching, mining and local controversial land developers the McDougal brothers as other environmentally problematic businesses.

Donille says he was told that there was nothing in the bylaws that would prevent Seneca from being on the board.

In a statement from the board, emailed to GreenLane members, the board writes, “Based on GreenLane's bylaws, the Board cannot refuse to seat a candidate who is fully qualified. Individual members can vote to approve or deny a candidate to the Board, but the Board itself cannot block a candidate in good standing’s quest to join.”

The board continues, “GreenLane has faced controversial issues in the past, and we’ve always faced them with transparency, honesty and open dialogue.”

Of Mountain Rose’s departure, the board states, “We followed up with Mountain Rose Herbs to hear their concerns, explain our position, and tried to find some common ground. Unfortunately, we were not able to find that common ground. Mountain Rose Herbs has announced that it will withdraw from GreenLane and actively encourage others to follow.”

EW has reached out to GreenLane directly for comment. They responded via email saying: "As you know, and have read, GreenLane is an inclusive business networking group. We welcome all business and nonprofits that are interested in suitability [sic]. We don’t judge, nor do we certify who is, or isn’t’ a sustainable business. As I’m sure you know sustainability, it’s a journey, and we are all at different places in that journey."

The board continues, "As a Board, we were very surprised at method and technique used to bring this issue up."

Donille says, “In all honesty, I don’t want to be on an organization that is supposed to teach about sustainable initiatives if Seneca, one of the area’s most-polluting industries, is setting policies."

Seneca’s biomass burning plant in west Eugene caused controversy when it was built and began burning woody biomass to generate energy.

Donille also points to Seneca’s controversial logging operations. “Google ‘Kathy Jones, Seneca, Elliott,’” he says. “She wants to buy it just to clearcut it.”

Donille is referring to a 2014 statement that Seneca co-owner Kathy Jones made to The Oregonian about the Elliott State Forest in which she “said her company didn’t bid on the land because her mill needs lumber but because she and her two sisters refused to be bullied by ‘eco-radical’ environmental groups and believed no other timber companies made an offer.” Jones called the bid “very much a personal decision.”

Threatened marbled murrelet sea birds had been found within two miles of the public land.

Donille says he thinks that Seneca would use an election to the GreenLane board as a "marketing coup in future puff pieces." He points out that Seneca has not pursued sustainable forestry certifications.

Casey Roscoe, granddaughter of Seneca founder Aaron Jones, says that as a member of 10-member board, her vote would not be a ruling factor, it would be a one in 10 vote.

She says, “If it’s about sustainability, then I belong. If it’s about community, then I belong.” But she says if the election is about being part of a “clique” then “It’s possible I won’t ever fit in, but that doesn’t mean I don’t belong."

Roscoe says a core Seneca value is sustainability, and the company has a long history of giving back to the community. She cites the Seneca House of The Veteran’s Housing Project, the donation of dimension wood for the Kalapuya High School’s Bethel Barn, donating wood for St. Vincent dePaul’s project for homeless teens and more.

Mountain Rose is not the only group to say it plans to withdraw from GreenLane over the board election or take a position on the issue.

The Pacific Green Party of Lane County issued a statement saying the group “considers the description of Seneca as a ‘green’ company questionable. We hope that the members of GreenLane Sustainable Business Network will choose to maintain their commitment to sustainability.”

Josh Laughin of Cascadia Wildlands, a GreenLane member group, sent a message to the board saying, “I have always been skeptical of Seneca’s membership in GreenLane. I don’t believe that a company that clearcuts forests and sprays herbicides for a living has any place on the member roster.”

He writes that he sees Seneca’s role in GreenLane "as yet another way to greenwash their company image in the local community while they clearcut and spray their vast private forest holdings in western Oregon as well as log older forests on our public lands.”

Laughlin accompanied his message with a photo he says he took of a Seneca clearcut  while he was checking a BLM timber sale near Azalea a few years ago, adding, “This is how Seneca manages its forests, and I don’t believe this is what GreenLane stands for.”

Laughlin concludes by saying if Seneca become a board member, “Please remove Cascadia Wildlands from the membership roster and our logo from the website.”

Lisa Arkin of Beyond Toxics says her group was one of the first environmental nonprofits to join GreenLane. Beyond Toxics sent a statement to GreenLane saying:

“We do not support greenwashing GreenLane by adding board members who do not represent truly sustainable businesses. There are plenty of businesses doing the right thing to protect Oregon's environment and the health of the people. Seneca has repeatedly shown that they are not one of these companies.”

Roscoe says when she speaks in the community as a representative of Seneca, people are very supportive of the company.

In addition to the board election, the luncheon topic for GreenLane’s Nov. 8 meeting is fair trade businesses. According to a Facebook event, there will be a demonstration outside the meeting, starting at 11:30 am. 

November 6, 2017 02:58 PM

In recent days, the political situation in Barcelona has been rapidly changing. On Oct. 22, in my morning class, my professor told us that the president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, was scheduled to finally declare Catalonian independence. A few hours later, in my afternoon class, the professor reported that, instead, Puigdemont had declared he would leave the decision up to Parliament. Eventually, Parliament voted and declared independence.

The situation changes quickly, but not without warning. My professors have started to link political events to the class subjects, and my economics professor told us that by looking at the Spanish stock market you can predict what is going to happen politically. Often, the stock market is influenced by information not yet accessible to the general public and on the morning of Oct. 22 the stock market was doing well, implying that Catalonia would not be declared independent that day.

In my Sport and Culture class, the professor has addressed the role of soccer team FC Barcelona in the Catalan independence movement. On Oct. 1, the day of the original referendum vote, FCB played its game behind closed doors and released a statement condemning the violence against voting citizens. FCB has a huge global audience and is able to introduce people all around the world to the issues that are stirring in Catalonia.

People are not afraid to share their opinion and many walk around with either the Catalan flag or the Spanish flag, hang them from their balconies, and even attach them to their cars. Recently, the majority of protesters I have seen have been opposed to independence. These people walk or drive around with the Spanish flag, honking and occasionally yelling. The huge demonstrations occur near government buildings or in popular plazas, but are easy to avoid.

Also, many people are pushing for unity and not picking a side in the Spain vs. Catalonia struggle but hoping for Spain, Catalonia and the European Union to work out their issues. I understand where the deep-rooted Catalan pride and the strong will for independence come from, but I do not think independence is a good solution to the problems many Catalan people have. I think there needs to be discourse between Spain and Catalonia, and that neither side is handling the situation well. I hope these parties can come together and unify.

The U.S. State Department has sent the same message many times to American citizens in Spain, urging us to stay away from demonstrations and providing sources for further information. The director of my program has been very helpful, sending us thorough emails explaining what is happening and where. No classes have been cancelled, and recently things have been quite normal — although throughout my two and a half months in Barcelona, “normal” has come to include an uncertainty about the state of political affairs and constant surprises. 

Harper Johnson is graduate of South Eugene High School and former EW summer intern. She is on a study abroad program in Barcelona through Arcadia University and taking classes at Pompeu Fabra University.  

November 3, 2017 02:20 PM

It may be a few days after Halloween, but climate activists and concerned citizens sure think the proposed Pacific Connector Pipeline and Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal is a trick and not a treat. Dozens of protesters, many wearing red as encouraged by protest organizers from 350 Eugene, showed up at the Nov. 3 Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) meeting in Eugene to raise concerns about the energy project that won’t seem to die.

 

In the works since 2010, the Pacific Connector Pipeline and Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal, would create a 229 mile pipeline from rural Klamath County to Coos Bay. The pipeline and terminal, which are owned by the Canadian company Veresen, would move fracked natural gas from America’s interior to export markets abroad.

 

The EQC is an oversight board appointed by the governor to direct the work of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Activists are targeting DEQ because the agency will be responsible for issuing water and air pollution permits for the project.

 

Roseburg resident Francis Eatherington, a former conservation director for Cascadia Wildlands and part-owner of property in the path of the pipeline, says the pipeline makes no sense for the people of Oregon. She points out that the company has proposed to use eminent domain to force landowners to allow the pipeline to cross their lands.

 

“It’s incredible that we’re giving America’s gas away to China,” Eatherington says. “Because it’s getting exported it will make our natural gas prices go up, and the profits will go to a Canadian company.”

 

Eatherington called out Sen. Jeff Merkley for failing to oppose the project. She says, “Sen. Merkley has a ‘Keep It in the Ground Campaign’ and he can’t even support our greenhouse gas goals here in Oregon by coming out against these projects.”

 

Paul Howard, a Eugene resident, says he’s opposing the Jordan Cove project because the export terminal, “would be the single most polluting facility in the state” in terms of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emission. He says that Oregon should follow the example of Washington and California and deny permits for coastal pipelines and export terminals.

 

“We don’t need additional fossil fuel infrastructure,” Howard says. “We are weaning ourselves off petroleum as a primary fuel source and moving to wind and solar as an economic necessity, let alone the climate change impacts.”

 

Multiple Coos Bay fisherman also raised concerns over the impact additional dredging for gas tankers would cause to the fishery many rely on for business in Coos Bay.

 

Mirinda Hart of Myrtle Creek, a member of the Round Valley Tribe in Northern California, says that resistance to the project has been and will continue to come from water protectors inspired by Standing Rock. Hart, who helped out in the Standing Rock camps, says “it is the ultimate goal and common thread of the resistance that we hope to not get to that point and that the project will be denied again.”

 

“But if we have to mobilize, people will come," Hart said.

 

Rowena Jackson, a member of the Klamath Tribes who lives in Eugene, attended and read a poem in protest of the proposed terminal:

 

"I am Water from Klamath and Crater Lake"

 

Make no mistake

Forever, I refuse to Negotiate

Make no mistake

Forever, I refuse to Relinquish

It is a given to protect, and love our fish

 

For all my relations and next generations

I don't accept Nestle bottled water, in consultations

 

Make no mistake

It was the government's fault, to over allocate

Water is life, corporations excavate

My elders fought hard, near and far, (look Up)

Inter-generational trauma, I nurture my scar

 

Make no mistake

I am water, from Klamath and Crater Lake

I will protect, our Senior water rights

I embrace tribal sacred sites

 

Since time immemorial

Keep it to one burial

RIP my ancestors,

Heads up oppressors and even investors

 

NGO's are everywhere

Headlines here and headlines there

Against the oil & gas pipelines

Klamath Senior Water Rights

Since Time Immemorial and on the sidelines

I am bringing awareness and addressing the highlights

 

Since 1864,

we are still at war

Making calls on water, Just look at the websites

Ancestors are with me as I roll up my sleeves

Stakeholders "hurry! relinquish your water, rights"

Negotiate now! greedy like thief's

 

IN Wells Fargo I divest

Because mother earth and her veins are stressed

 

Canadian Company, Pacific Connector gas pipeline

From bloodline to coastline, it's time to resign!

Pardon me while I  file as an INTERVENOR

I will always oppose you, to keep this land cleaner.

 

It was a headache to intervene

I jumped thru FERCS hoops and in between

Electronic submission accepted

In hopes we are not rejected

 

I hold legal power to appeal

If FERC can’t keep it real

 

Strike 3

I repeat No LNG

 

This is my home

Like the Lava Beds catacomb

 

So I pray for the people

We overcome all this evil.

United we stand

As I raise my hand

 

 

 

October 27, 2017 11:21 AM

The Cascadia Forest Defenders provided a press release with additional information following the collapse of their protest on Wednesday morning (EW Oct. 26, “The Forest for the Trees”). Read their press release below.

 

Non-Violent Protesters Assaulted While Being Cut from their Blockade by Loggers Sub Contracted by Seneca Jones Timber.

Mckenzie Bridge, OR– Just after dawn on Wednesday morning, Cascadia Forest Defenders (CFD), who were occupying and supporting a road blockade preventing access to the Goose timber sale, were woken to the sounds of loggers disassembling their blockade. A line was cut, risking the life of a protester in the trees and the 2 vehicles which were anchoring a platform in a tree with a person on it, were towed away by workers’ trucks. One man physically assaulted two protesters; once with an open-handed swat to the face, and once by grabbing a different protester by the neck and throwing him to the ground. No law enforcement was present.

4 men were present during the dangerous forced disassembly of the blockade and the two assaults. They are thought to be subcontracted by the company Seneca Jones to cut the Goose timber sale, which has been the focal point of a forest defense campaign and tree sit since May. The loggers who did this have so far been identified as follows: Joe Johnson, resident of Evergreen CO drove a white and green truck with California plates (CA 09130D2) to tow the anchor vehicles out of the road. An unnamed older man driving a truck with Nevada plates (NV 3L13905) assaulted two protesters during the attack on the blockade. Sonny Wendle, from Kamiah, ID and another unnamed worker (thought to be the owner of the CA truck) looked on.

“This is a very disturbing turn of events, and something that we have not seen before from workers during a non-violent protest on public land,” says Matthew Hawks, a Cascadia Forest Defender for the past decade. “Usually workers will allow law enforcement to do their jobs and extract protesters safely, instead of taking matters into their own hands and extracting them with no regard for their civil rights, civil liberties or safety.” The majority of the incident was videotaped by Cascadia Forest Defenders, footage in which you can clearly see that the workers were told, multiple times, that cutting lines and dismantling the anchor could risk the life of the person in the tree. In the video they acknowledge that they know this fact, and continue to do so anyway.

This incident comes right on the tails of a different assault on a different protester, which happened Monday on an abandoned logging road below the blockade. It involved someone brandishing a gun and threats to the protester’s life. “We have to speak out about these attacks. They are happening in the woods, with few or no witnesses, away from the presence of law enforcement. We want to see some accountability,” says Eric, another member of CFD. He goes onto say, “As an organization we are saddened that this violence has come from workers. We never meant to protest loggers themselves, instead take issue with timber companies such as Seneca Jones profiting off the cut of old growth trees on public land. We want people to know that we support workers going to their jobs and providing for their families. We know it is not them behind this type of environmental destruction.”

Members of CFD and their supporters can’t help but draw parallels to Charlottesville and the increase of bullying and violence towards protesters under the Trump administration. “We stand behind our First Amendment rights, and will continue to non-violently speak out for what we believe is right,” says Hawks.

The non-violent protesters sustained minor injuries, they are filing police reports and pressing charges today. Reports will be made to OSHA and the requisite insurance companies. They were saddened to find that after the blockade was torn down, the trees in Goose which have housed their tree sit platforms for the past 6 months were cut down as well. 

October 26, 2017 05:15 PM

The six-day strike by members of Lane County’s largest union came to an end Oct. 24.

County negotiators had walked away from discussion Monday afternoon telling members of AFSCME, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, that they would not return until Wednesday; however, a tentative agreement was reached Tuesday evening. 

In a press release before workers returned to their jobs Wednesday, Oct. 25, the county said, “We are pleased an agreement has been reached that demonstrates respect for our workers and our community,” said Lane County Administrator Steve Mokrohisky. “We look forward to welcoming our coworkers back and continuing to provide high-quality services that improve the health, safety and vitality of our community.”

Lane County workers had kicked off their sixth day on strike Tuesday after negotiations for a “fair contract” stalled Monday. 

On Tuesday before the strike ended, picketers walked in front of the Wayne Morse Plaza by the county courthouse, holding signs asking drivers to honk if they needed a raise, too. 

Not every worker on strike was unhappy with their own contract, but some showed up to show solidarity for fellow workers. 

Jill Hambly said she was willing and able to strike as long as necessary but some workers don’t have that option. 

Hambly said that a number of county workers qualify for assistance and things like bills, car payments and medical costs make remaining on strike unfeasible. Had the strike continued, county workers would have lost their health insurance on Nov. 1. 

Major sticking points include a cost of living increase that is balanced out by workers beginning to contribute to their own health insurance plans. 

Jennie Guyan, a union spokesperson added, “It’s not that the union is against [paying for health care] but with the proposals the county has, a lot of our employees would not receive much of a difference in wage increases and it would be offset by what they have to pay in health care. This is happening at a time when non-represented staff don’t have to pay for their health care.”

Guyan has worked for the city since 2009. She says that for the first five years, she qualified for assistance. “I feel frustrated that the county won’t use fair market wages for all employees, both represented and non-represented.”

Along with health care and wage disputes, union members were frustrated with the way the county treats temporary employees. 

Guyan stressed that no one expected overnight change. Wage improvements take time, but the union is asking the county to begin taking steps toward market wages. 

“I moved to Lane County because it’s a place of equity,” Guyan says, “and I know the county likes to exemplify how equitable we are and what are great place this is to live, but they’re not walking the walk … they’re not putting their money where their mouths are.” 

The strike and return to work were the culmination of eight months of negotiations, according to the county press release. 

October 26, 2017 12:21 PM

Creswell’s upcoming vote on Measure 20-280 has gotten messy.

The measure, which would legalize marijuana sales in specific districts of the city, is supported by local weed start-up One Gro. The opposition, a coalition of citizens and local business owners under the political action committees Say No to One Gro and Keep it Creswell, last week mailed a biased voters pamphlet to the 97426 area code.

The pamphlet mirrors the appearance of official voters’ pamphlets. The inside cover has a notice in small print, stating, “This unofficial voters’ pamphlet was produced by the political action committees of Keep It Creswell and Say No To One Gro.”

Printed on newsprint, just like official voter pamphlets, the cover declares the publication as a “Voters’ Pamphlet” for the Nov. 7, 2017 special election.

Michael Weber, public relations representative for Say No to One Gro, says, “There was no conspiracy or desire or attempt to make it deceiving. We asked for a pamphlet that looked similar to what a pamphlet would look like, and that's what we got and we liked it and went with it.”

Dan Isaacson, the CEO of One Gro, thinks it’s a lot more duplicitous. “The goal is clearly to deceive people,” Isaacson says. “They created a guide that has the same paper, font, size and look of an official one. The only conclusion that can be taken is that it’s meant to prey on vulnerable voters in the community.”

Creating materials similar to voters’ pamphlets is not currently illegal, though the Oregon Legislature introduced a bill earlier this year in an attempt to change that. House Bill 2349 “proposed limitations regarding political advocacy materials that look like the voters pamphlet,” says Stephen Trout, director of elections in the office of the Oregon Secretary of State. The bill did not become law, meaning the Creswell pamphlet is legal.

“There is, however, a limited remedy under ORS 260.532 where an individual can file a complaint in the appropriate circuit court,” Trout adds. The measure he cites bans the publication of “a false statement of material fact relating to any candidate, political committee or measure.”

Isaacson says the tactics used by the opposition campaign are unfair. “We have held town halls, tours, calls, sit-downs and interviews to allow folks the ability to get to know their new neighbor and to start a conversation,” he explains. “And since the beginning a vocal minority, with clearly no bottom to their moral compass or respect for our democracy, has tried to subvert it through deception, lies and behavior that borders on criminality.”

Isaacson claims that supporters of the two opposition PACs follow his employees to the store. “They take pictures of them,” he says. He adds that the opposition has discussed farm sabotage. “I have pictures and video of them stalking the farm,” he says.

Weber would seem to disagree. “I feel Dan is feeling the pressure of the fact One Gro does not have support they had hoped for in Creswell,” he says, adding that One Gro representatives have made a few baseless accusations on Facebook, including claims that the opposition campaign is funded and supported by black-market growers.

Isaacson, for his part, says he is concerned about the safety of his workers. “This is an industry where it’s not unheard of for someone to try to target a manager at a farm and be violent, and we’ve all accepted that to a degree, but this was appalling,” he says.

October 23, 2017 03:19 PM

Eugene Weekly’s story last week on the local antifa movement has garnered heated response.

A man named Jacob Laskey was profiled in the story. He emailed EW over the weekend announcing he had taken issues of the paper and burned them. In the video subtitles he calls himself an “anti-antifa supremacist.” Eugene Antifa allege on their website that Laskey is associated with the American Front white supremacist group.

 

Laskey describes his video on the Wolfclan Armory YouTube page as “Patriots Outraged by Eugene Weekly's pro-Domestic-Terrorist Antifa Propaganda gathered up thousands issues in Eugene OR and threw them away and celebrated by burning them!”

He writes that “carloads” of patriots threw “thousands” of copies of EW away and celebrated with an “A Eugene Weekly Antifa Propaganda Burn,” and adds, “Eugene Weekly’s pro Domestic Terrorist propaganda is not tolerated.” He calls to “Burn Eugene Weekly for backing Antifa!”

The video then shows the newspapers on fire set to the music of Burzum, a Norwegian “black metal” band that is the solo project of a man who calls himself Varg Vikernes. Vikernes served 21 years in prison for murder and church arsons. Laskey himself went prison in 2007 for throwing stones etched with swastikas through the window of Temple Beth Israel synagogue in 2002.

Laskey posts his diatribes regularly on his YouTube channel, including a previous response to EW's request for comment for the antifa story.

Taking and burning newspapers is a controversial method of attempting to silence the free press.

EW has filed a police report with the Eugene Police Department.

If you notice any empty EW boxes that need filling, please call 541-484-0519.

If you witnessed anyone taking large numbers of EWs or witnessed the burning, please call the police nonemergency line at 541-682-5111.

The nearly five minute video is below.

October 20, 2017 02:19 PM

I arrived in Barcelona Sept. 12 to begin a study abroad program through Arcadia University. The program brings together 25 American students, and we take classes at our program’s center and the local public university, Pompeu Fabra University (UPF).

One of the first topics mentioned during our orientation was the Oct. 1, Catalan Independence Referendum. If you were a tourist visiting Barcelona for a few days, it would be easy to miss signs of the controversial vote. In most of the city, life goes on as normal. However, once you know what to look for, you started to notice the pro-independence flags and banners on many balconies, and understand why people are walking around draped with the Catalan flag.

Our program director ensured us that non-violence was a priority of the pro-independence movement, and that he would monitor the news and make sure we were aware of any protests or potentially dangerous situations. Members of the Catalan police force, Mossos d’Esquadra, also visited our class and ensured us that the city was still very safe, but advised us to stay away from any protests, as it is very easy to get caught up in the chaos and, should the situation become violent, the police will not take the time to differentiate between protesters and observers.

As the date of the vote approached, we got frequent updates on areas where protesters were gathered and were advised to avoid those areas. The U.S. Embassy in Madrid and the U.S. Consulate General in Barcelona also sent updates advising U.S. citizens in Spain to avoid demonstrations and to check on social media of local authorities for more information. Classes at our program’s center and at UPF were cancelled on two separate occasions, as a result of a citywide general strike and planned demonstrations.

I have seen some large groups of demonstrators, numbering more in the hundreds than thousands. However, I have been avoiding the major gathering places and I know it would be easy to find even bigger groups. Before the vote, I would often see demonstrators, young to old, walking around carrying flags and posters, on their way to or from a demonstration, always in favor of independence. This continued after the vote, until the day before the Catalan leader was scheduled to announce a unilateral declaration of independence, when I noticed a huge shift.

That day, everyone I saw with a flag was carrying the Spanish flag, a symbol of unification and rejection of Catalan independence. As the possibility of independence has become more real, those who may have protested the vote are becoming more vocal about their opinions.

In my apartment building and gym the Spanish news is always on. I pick up a fair amount of information from these sources, but also rely on BBC and other international news outlets for updates, in addition to those I receive from my program. These sources are accurate, but they focus on the demonstrations and paint the city as being in chaos, which I have not been experiencing.

As a visitor, it is hard to say whether I am in favor of independence. It is inspiring to see the passion of pro-Catalan people, and those who simply protest for the right to vote. The fight for Catalan independence is not new, and has been a part of the Catalan identity since the cultural renaissance in the mid 19th century, which emphasized pride in the Catalonian language and traditions that are still celebrated today.

Catalonia was an individual territory at the time of the unification of Aragon and Castile, which created Spain as we know it, and September 11, the day Catalonians lost the right to rule themselves, has been celebrated as the National Day of Catalonia since 1886.

However, some potential ramifications of an independence declaration make me lean towards opposing separation—separation could harm the economy, the European Union would not welcome Catalonia, and there are even rumors that Messi would leave FC Barcelona if Catalan leaves. I think the Spanish government needs to be willing to open up a discourse with the Catalan government.

As a visiting American, witnessing this struggle gives me insight into the complex history of Europe. It is difficult to see something like this happening in America. The passion for independence in Catalonia is deep rooted, and has built over years and years of perceived poor treatment from the Spanish government. A cab driver described the relationship between Catalonia and Spain as that of an unhappy marriage. Catalonia has been having problems for quite a while, but Spain ignores the problems and expects the marriage to continue.

Now, Catalonia has had enough and is threatening divorce, but as a last resort, wants to try marriage counseling and work out their problems. I certainly hope Spain and Catalonia can create a happy ending.

Harper Johnson is graduate of South Eugene High School and former EW summer intern.

October 19, 2017 01:21 PM

When Eugene Symphony’s new music director Francesco Lecce-Chong took the podium Monday night, he explained that the musicians arrayed in front of him were perfect for Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

That’s because they were all teenagers, members of the Eugene Springfield Youth Symphony, who were rehearsing in the band room at South Eugene High School.

Professional musicians, the conductor explained, might have better technique but they can be too cool and restrained in making music. The Fifth embodies the kind of passions that rage during adolescence. “Love and death!” he said. “Don’t be afraid to go for it!”

Lecce-Chong’s visit to the orchestra’s rehearsal is part of a larger campaign the 30-year-old conductor has been waging since he took over from Danail Rachev on July 1. In brief, Lecce-Chong intends to become a well known part of the greater Eugene-Springfield community, not just another musician known only to symphony fans.

As a first step, he’s moved here and rented an apartment in downtown Eugene. Unlike most of his predecessors at the symphony, who commuted in for concerts, he actually lives here.

Since his arrival, Lecce-Chong has also been out pressing the flesh around town.

He conducted the University of Oregon Marching Band playing the National Anthem at the Ducks’ football season opener in Autzen Stadium. He’s talked to the Rotary Club. And he’s expanded the traditional pre-concert talk, with its somewhat classroom feel, by adding in a symphony happy hour at a local pub one evening before the concert.

And he delighted an audience of 5,000 at the symphony’s free summer pops concert in Cuthbert Amphitheater last July when he conducted the Star Wars theme by waving a light saber in place of his usual baton.

“Some people are going to think I conduct everything with a light saber,” he said later.

At this week’s youth symphony rehearsal, Lecce-Chong singled out the string players for a pep talk. One particular passage from the Tchaikovsky, he told the players, should blow the roof right off the band room. “You should really be wailing away. Hold nothing back! From the moment we hit that note we should be one wild hurricane!”

The young musicians immediately played louder — and better.

In a more-restrained moment before he left, turning the rehearsal back over to David Jacobs, the regular conductor, Lecce-Chong talked about the huge importance of youth orchestras in his own life and career.

“The reason I’m here is because of a youth orchestra,” he said. “And I’ll never forget that.”

Playing in an orchestra, he went on, requires a wide range of skills sometimes not fully appreciated even by musicians.

He began to list them: You have to be able to read music, he said. You must develop proper technique. You have to understand how to follow the conductor. And, he said, you must learn to listen.

“Listening is the most important skill in an orchestra,” Lecce-Chong said. “Don’t think about this too hard, But what you are doing is amazing.”

Before he left, the conductor added one more item to that list.

“The last thing is, it requires your own heart. Your own emotional life. So don’t ever take what you’re doing for granted!”

October 18, 2017 03:22 PM

Kesey Square is now, officially, Kesey Square.

The Eugene City Council settled the battle for Kesey Square’s name Wednesday, Oct. 18. The council voted 5-1 in favor of renaming the central downtown area from Broadway Plaza. 

Councilor Mike Clark, the sole opposed vote, was a member of the ad hoc naming committee, which recommended the name change to the council. Alan Zelenka and Greg Evans were absent from the meeting. 

The work session convened in the Tykeson room of the Eugene Public Library while county union members were on a picket line downtown. 

Mayor Lucy Vinis explained that out of respect for the workers this and future meetings would be held off-site. 

Colloquially referred to as Kesey Square since the “The Storyteller” — a statute of Ken Kesey reading to children — was unveiled in 2003, Broadway Plaza’s name is now officially changed. 

“I don’t think we needed the committee,” councilor Betty Taylor said, referring to the ad hoc committee that recommended the name be changed. “The public named it before that. It wasn’t as if we had something brand new to name.”

Emily Semple, representative of Ward 1 agreed with Taylor that there didn’t need to be so much action around renaming the space. 

“I don’t really think that naming it Kesey Square is going to change anything,” Semple said, “it seems like when we decided to make it official there was an outcry about it. I think that it has been accepted by the entire city and maybe we should have asked for other names but really it’s already called Kesey Square.”

Clark was obviously frustrated by a lack of options. While the committee was formed on his recommendation, he said that the charge the committee was given did not align with what he thought he proposed. Rather than considering naming options, the committee had the binary choice of whether the plaza should be renamed Kesey Square or not, Clark said. 

“It was brought up, ‘should we consider another name,’” Clark told the council. “No other names were considered or we were instructed not to have other names considered.”

Chris Pryor, representative of Ward 8, agreed with Clark that he would have liked to see the committee consider other names but determined that if they wanted to consider them they would have made more of an effort. Despite the limited nature of the committee, Pryor thought that its work allowed the council to “measure twice and cut once.” 

“I don’t want to second guess the committee,” he said. “I think this was measuring twice so we can now make the cut.”

Vinis contended that considering other names would have caused the committee to work past the 45-day window they were assigned. 

Now that the name is official, the city will work to address the unanimous feeling of the split committee — to make downtown the welcoming and inviting place that everyone believes it should be. 

October 17, 2017 01:12 PM

Garrison Keillor’s 40-year run as host of A Prairie Home Companion came to an end last year, but the consummate storyteller continues to perform.

At 8 pm Friday, Oct. 20, Keillor will host his new one-man show at the Hult Center, regaling audiences with tales and insights from his career in radio, comedy and American middlebrow culture. Eugene Weekly sat down with Keillor — electronically speaking — to gain some some perspective on a career spent trying to make America laugh.

What advice would you offer to aspiring creatives on how they might endure through the trials and tribulations of an artistic path? 

The tribulations of artists are mostly self-inflicted, and you need to inflict them and then move on and connect with an audience and make yourself useful. In my early 20s I wrote poetry and worked at ambiguity, hoping to impress my peers, and then I jumped into radio where ambiguity is not viable, and that was a lucky move.

It changed everything. I was on the radio early in the morning, which is entirely different from doing a late-night poetry reading. It's a healthy and exciting thing to have an audience and to figure out how to engage them. 

You just published a piece in the Washington Post that excoriates Swedish judges for their choice of Kazuo Ishiguro for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Why is humor is so important in literature, and why do certain literary types look down on it?

The column in the Post was satiric. The Nobel Prize is a sacred cow and its tail needs to be pulled. And I think Ishiguro is a bleak nihilistic writer of a sort the Swedish Academy has honored enough of. I prefer the wild humanistic comedy of Philip Roth. He is ten times the writer Ishiguro is. Twenty times. 

A Prairie Home Companion featured music prominently. Why do you believe music has such power to bring people together?

  I am sentimental about public education, which gave its pupils a basic grounding in American music, mythology, history, so that we all participated in a common culture, had common references. I disapprove of public education that leans toward self-expression at the expense of that commonality. I think that when an audience stands and sings "America," "Shenandoah," "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," that we feel bonded to each other, even more so if the audience sings well. There is an emotional footing that people feel.

Who are some of your favorite poets?

I like young unknown poets who dare to speak clearly. It's the most thrilling aspect of doing the Almanac, coming upon someone I've never heard of who tells me something I need to hear.

October 17, 2017 05:34 PM

A statement released this afternoon by dean of the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance confirms the names of the seven-person committee that is to direct the planning of the 2018 Oregon Bach Festival. Eugene Weekly reported the names based on a source on Oct. 9.

The statement also sets the date for the 2018 festival and confirms that some previously planned events, such as premieres of works by Richard Danielpour and Phillip Glass, will move forward.

Perhaps notably, it doesn't mention the "guest curator" plan proposed by executive director Janelle McCoy in the immediate aftermath of the still-unexplained Aug. 24 firing of artistic director Matthew Halls. McCoy is not mentioned in today's statement and has been virtually invisible in recent weeks.

Here is the full text of Dean Brad Foley's statement:

Dear Friends of Oregon Bach Festival:

Following the grand opening of Berwick Hall earlier this month, all of us at Oregon Bach Festival are looking ahead to next season. The musical performance in the Don and Willie Tykeson Rehearsal Hall was an important reminder of what OBF does best – deliver an exceptional level of music performance and education to our community. Sitting in the state-of-the-art space, I was inspired by the music, the performers, and the audience members. I received feedback from a number of supporters that the experience gave them a strong feeling of hope and optimism for our beloved Festival. I also received a number of questions about what was next for OBF.

As you are aware, management of the Festival has been moved under my direction at the School of Music and Dance. I have been immensely grateful for the steadfast support of the Board of the Friends of Oregon Bach Festival, which released a statementreaffirming its collective dedication to helping the Festival flourish as a cultural cornerstone of our community. The OBF team is also extremely dedicated to the Festival’s legacy. I am working closely with both groups, as well as the music school faculty, outside musicians and conductors, donors, and patrons to ensure that the Festival continues to deliver on its mission of celebrating the music, legacy, and spirit of J.S. Bach.

To that end, I have assembled (and will chair) a highly-qualified artistic committeefrom the staff, faculty, and board to assist with planning for the 2018 Festival:

• Royce Saltzman, Director Emeritus and OBF Board member

• Michael Anderson, OBF Director of Artistic Administration

• Josh Gren, OBF Director of Marketing and Communications

• Steve Vacchi, Professor of Bassoon, OBF Orchestra member, and OBF Board member

• Sharon Paul, Professor of Choral Activities, Director of the UO Chamber Choir (an OBF ensemble)

• Peter Van de Graaff, KWAX Music Director, Program Director of the Beethoven Satellite Network, bass-baritone soloist

Many of the artistic programming activities of past years will be preserved. In addition to the world premiere of Richard Danielpour’s The Passion of Yeshua and the regional premiere of Philip Glass’ Piano Concerto No. 3 with pianist Simone Dinnerstein, we are planning an opening concert of choral and orchestral music by J.S. Bach, performances of Bach cantatas within the Discovery Series, and a large choral-orchestral work to close the 2018 Festival. A number of other guest artists are currently in talks to join us. The artistic committee is working diligently on all aspects of programming for the coming summer and they hope to have more definitive information to share with everyone in the coming weeks.

I would welcome the opportunity to connect with you and dialogue about where we are now, as well as our plans for the 2018 season. Until that time, I am exceedingly grateful for all you have done to support the vision and legacy of Oregon Bach Festival.

With deepest appreciation,

Brad Foley 
Dean, University of Oregon School of Music & Dance

P.S. Save the dates of June 28 - July 15 for next year’s gala and Festival!

 

 

 

Brad Foley 
Dean, University of Oregon School of Music & Dance

 
October 9, 2017 05:23 PM

The nine-member ad hoc naming committee recommending a name to the Eugene City Council voted 7-2 on Oct. 9 in favor of officially renaming Broadway Plaza to Kesey Square. While the committee failed to reach a consensus on the name, it agreed that the city needs to invest in the heart of downtown in more ways than renaming it.

Vinis asked each of the city councilors to recommend someone to sit on the committee. One appointee, Tim Mueller, was not recommended but volunteered himself. City Councilor Mike Clark is the only councilor to sit on the committee himself, and he voted against the name change.

The committee is recommending that the City Council rename Broadway Plaza to Kesey Square, but other names could still be considered. Their job was not to come up with other options and the city council could still decide to name it something else. “I think calling it Kesey Square is what everybody I know [calls it],” Mueller says in a phone interview with EW. “I think it’s an organic name adoption. The community has adopted that name for the space and I think the community should be honored by having the politicians agree with them and call it what everyone wants to call it already.”

While the official name of the downtown space at the intersection of Broadway and Willamette Street is Broadway Plaza, even the city of Eugene website refers to it as Kesey Square.

Brittany Quick-Warner of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce says she was concerned that the committee wasn’t addressing the possibility of choosing a name besides Kesey Square. “If all we do is rename it we aren’t doing anything to make the space what we imagine it to be,” she said at the meeting on Monday. “Changing the name is not going to get us to where it will be inviting and inclusive to people.”

The discussion was limited to Broadway Plaza versus Kesey Square because of time constraints, Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis says. “We could go to another stage, we had 45 days and nobody floated an alternative suggestion,” she says, “so there was nothing else to choose from.”

The space downtown is familiar to Eugeneans as is the debate over what it is called. Kesey was a renowned author, University of Oregon alumnus and drug user. Proponents of renaming the plaza after Kesey emphasize his role as an author and suggest that detractors should forgive him his illicit narcotic discretions.

Others in the community say they don’t think that honoring a notorious drug user is appropriate, regardless of his other accolades.

Mueller, who believes that he can bridge the divide between most of the committee members, pointed out that Kesey’s drug use isn’t a clearcut issue. In Kesey’s time, LSD wasn’t illegal Mueller says, and marijuana — the cause of jail time for Kesey — is no longer illegal in the state of Oregon.

Jeff Geiger, a local author and committee member, pointed out that one of the largest concerns of the public is not what the space is called but whether the city will spend any more time trying to determine a name before they start acting.

With a recommendation for renaming Broadway Plaza in hand, the City Council will vote Oct. 18. Following that vote the council will begin deliberating further investment in the space.

“It’s an oversimplification to say that a name is going to change what happens downtown but it gives us a start,” Geiger says. “It’s going to take more than good vibes to get the square where we want it to be.”

Friends of Kesey Square advocated for the name change

October 9, 2017 04:38 PM

An unconfirmed report from a reliable source says the dean of the University of Oregon's School of Music and Dance has named a seven-person committee to help craft a new artistic vision for the beleaguered Oregon Bach Festival.

Dean Brad Foley has previously said he would appoint a seven-member group — composed of two board members, two OBF staffers, two musicians and a community member — to help OBF executive director Janelle McCoy plan the 2018 festival.

That announcement that the dean would appoint a committee followed the sudden and still-unexplained firing on Aug. 24 of Matthew Halls, the popular Brit who had been the 47-year-old festival's artistic director since 2013.

Foley did not corroborate the names but said in an email this afternoon (Oct. 9) that he was "hoping for board approval tonight and provost OK soon."

According to the unconfirmed report, the committee members will be:

  • Brad Foley, Dean of the School of Music and Dance and OBF Board Member
  • Royce Saltzman, Director Emeritus and OBF Board Member
  • Michael Anderson, OBF Director of Artistic Administration
  • Josh Gren, OBF Director of Marketing and Communications
  • Steve Vacchi, Professor of Bassoon, OBF Orchestra member, and OBF Board member
  • Sharon Paul, Professor of Choral Activities, Director of the University of Oregon Chamber Choir, an OBF ensemble
  • Peter Van de Graaff, Music Director KWAX Classical Radio, Program Director of the Beethoven Satellite Network, bass-baritone soloist