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May 21, 2015

In May, as the sun sets each evening, thousands of small birds swarm above the brown brick chimney of Agate Hall on the University of Oregon campus. They are Vaux’s swifts, newly arrived from Central America. When the light begins to die, the cloud flies together and spins into a funnel above the chimney mouth and the swifts dive down to roost for the night.

Below in the parking lot, a dozen people watch the show, including Maeve Sowles, president of Lane County Audubon Society.

May 21, 2015

For most Eugeneans, “foraging” means a trip to Market of Choice or The Kiva. But the ability to forage for food in the wild, a throwback from our hunter-gatherer days, has a certain appeal and lets food-intrepid adventurers connect their nourishment to the outdoors. 

Pat Patterson, currently a volunteer master gardener with Lane County’s Oregon State University Extension, has been foraging since her grandmother tasked her with gathering stinging nettle and other wild greens when she was young. Foraging is “very in,” Patterson says. 

May 21, 2015

Despite the potentially disastrous effects a multiyear, recording-breaking drought will have on the people and wildlife of western Oregon, there is a small consolation prize: early season hiking near the Cascade Crest.

Typically trails in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness are under snow through late June, but with snowpack in the Willamette Basin at an abysmal 8 percent of the normal snowpack for that area, the majority of snow below 6,000 feet has already melted. 

May 21, 2015

Forget this remote BLM campground north of Bend if you hate bad roads, rattlesnakes, ticks, heat and bugs the size of your thumb that crawl up inside your pant legs. And forget your dog. This time of year brings acres of foxtails, nasty little barbed seedpods that can get up dog snouts and work their way into dog brains.

May 14, 2015
John O’Malley (kneeling with suitcase, front row left) and Colin Graham (holding disco ball, back row right) with the community in front of the future Hammered Lamb Pub. Photo by Athena Delene.


May 7, 2015

In ancient times, a traditional Roman town often had two major streets: the cardo and the decumanus. Where those two streets intersected, Romans built a forum or public space that marked the intersection as significant. 

In Eugene, says UO professor of architecture James Tice, Willamette Street is the cardo, and Broadway is the decumanus.

“Whether people know it or not, the placement of Kesey Square is highly appropriate, and it’s an echo of that impulse to mark those two important streets,” Tice says. 

April 30, 2015

Like so many of us, I grew up on Sesame Street, that magical Manhattan block where fuzzy puppets and real people cooperate and collaborate and teach the ABCs of life. Seated before the television in my pajamas, laughing at Ernie’s antics and wondering what it was like inside Oscar’s garbage can, I was gifted the rudiments of an education that was at once practical and deeply moral.

Big Bird still breaks my heart. Oscar still makes me giggle.

April 23, 2015
The university ‘can’t get together a respectful offer to those who teach thousands and
thousands of students and run research labs.’  — Michael Dreiling, United Academics


April 16, 2015

A lot of money goes into denying climate change, and yet despite the best efforts of corporations to deny it, Oregon just had its warmest winter on record, according to the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute (OCCRI): “Eugene was 4.6 degrees warmer than average in December, 2.9 degrees warmer in January, and 5.3 degrees in February.” 

April 16, 2015

Frogs really don’t stay in a pot of slowly boiling water and die. Given a chance to jump out, they will. That anecdote has been used endlessly to describe people who simply don’t react to negative changes if they happen gradually. And it would be a useful one to describe Oregonians and our changing climate … if it were true. 

Slow boiling frogs might be apocryphal, but our changing climate is real.

April 16, 2015
Longnose butterflyfish in a coral reef off the Philippine Islands. Photo Dwayne Meadows, NOAA.


April 9, 2015

If Rick Bartow reads this — which he won’t, he already told me so — he would probably furrow his brow and mutter something about the article being too “woo-woo,” a term he often uses when talk gets too reverent or lofty, usually in discussions of art or religion. 

April 2, 2015
Kris Jacobson of Umami Truffle Dogs displays dog-harvested truffles. Photo courtesy Jeff Kastner


March 26, 2015

Crossing 20th Avenue and heading south on Willamette, the back walls of Civic Stadium seem to rise from the east side of the street. Most who pass it on their daily commute probably no longer notice; others might deem it a ramshackle eyesore. 

Or as Greg Ausland, of the Eugene Civic Alliance, puts it: “Right now, it looks like a beached whale.” 

March 26, 2015
Jim watson of Friends of civic stadium stands beneath the stadium’s wooden beams. Photo by Trask Bedortha.


March 19, 2015
Trimming weed at a eugene dispensary. Photos by Todd Cooper.


March 12, 2015

Why lock people up?

In the spring of 2013, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office began to give a persuasive reason for putting people behind bars: to keep the dangerous ones away from the public. 

Informed by the frequent press releases from the sheriff’s office, local media began to describe Lane County Jail as a “revolving door” and underfunded to the point that it regularly released even Measure 11 offenders — those who commit serious violent or sex-related crimes — for lack of holding capacity. 

March 5, 2015

These days, you can grow apples without the hard work, responsibilities or space required by full-size apple trees.

Cute and amazingly compact, columnar apple trees can grow up to 10 feet tall or higher while remaining barely 2 feet wide, and they can be spaced as close as 2 feet apart. The trees need minimal to no pruning, because the few side branches they produce grow vertically and can be removed, shortened or left to increase the crop. 

March 5, 2015

Some people dream of sparkling granite countertops, spacious pantries and glossy whirlpool tubs set next to enormous showers tricked out with the latest technology.

Rhonda would just like a bathroom, and Emerald Village Eugene (EVE), a new proposed village of tiny houses, could give her that along with the stability she and others need to get back on their feet. Currently, she lives in Opportunity Village Eugene, but because subsidized, low-income housing is difficult to find, she and her husband need another transitional step — which is where EVE comes in.

March 5, 2015

It’s Garden Love Month here in Lane County, a time to show your affection for rosy radishes and leafy greens. And there’s hardly a better way to share your love for all things vegetable than to volunteer for the School Garden Project, a local nonprofit dedicated to bringing the joy of gardening to kids in 16 schools spread through the Eugene 4J, Bethel, Springfield and Crow-Applegate-Lorane school districts. 

March 5, 2015

The iconic space-age cartoon The Jetsons features a technologically advanced home, complete with a robot housekeeper and a home full of futuristic gadgets. The show first aired in 1962, and while houses still don’t brush your teeth for you or make breakfast with the press of a button, technology now enables us to do some advanced home control, like dimming your living room lights from miles away. 

Home automation systems have arrived. Along with compost, urban gardens and solar panels, they’re the future of sustainability. 

March 5, 2015

Warm summer days picking apples for homemade applesauce and canning with Grandma in a hot kitchen are memories Annika Parrott cherishes — ones she hopes to pass on to her daughters. Parrott is one of the many people living in Eugene who has turned back the clocks 100 years and started urban homesteading. 

An urban homestead is a household that produces a significant part of the foods, including produce and livestock, that are consumed by its family, with a focus on the family’s desire to live in a more environmentally conscientious manner.

February 26, 2015

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

February 26, 2015
Daily Tibetan Language and Meditation practice by SCS teachers and students