Eugene Weekly : Letters : 2.7.08


Thank you for bringing the topic of “green” jewelry to the local community. The discussion of diamond alternatives in wedding jewelry in your recent Weddings issue (1/10) may have misled readers into thinking that I believe cubic zirconium is a good, or even preferred, alternative to “conflict diamonds.” In fact, they are generally not recommended in wedding rings due to their tendency to chip. The hardness of a gem is important to consider when choosing a piece to be worn “forever.”

For those who choose to include gemstones in their wedding wear, I prefer to recommend natural sapphires and/or rubies because of their durability and vibrant rainbow of colors. I like to think of a wedding set as a physical embodiment of each couple’s unique relationship and an opportunity to create an inspired piece of wearable art that can be treasured for generations to come.

Thank you again for highlighting some of the current issues in the jewelry industry.

Heather Nolan, Eugene



Thanks to James Johnston for his well-written, informative and accurately detailed article on four hikes in the Greater North Cascades (10/4). I could take off tomorrow — he’s as good as Bill Sullivan on how to get there and actually hike — and I have an understanding of the larger ecosystem I’m entering.

Kudos to someone who is knowledgeable, inspired and that fairly unusual talent these days — a really good writer.

Let’s have more articles by him!

Carol Armstrong, Eugene



This is in response to Dylan Wilks’ letter (12/27).

I am a careful bicyclist (not perfect), who cares about my environment, future generations, community, health and well-being where I choose not to release CO2 into our atmosphere, which causes global warming. I am a bicyclist who does not ignore stop signs, traffic lights and signals when I turn. Please do not group all bicyclists together and state that all bicyclists are the same in their actions.

I was bicycling in the bike lane on 5th Avenue heading towards Charnelton on the first Friday in December when a woman opened the door to her pick-up truck. I was hit by her door and landed where the cars drive. Luckily, there wasn’t a car behind me. I was also very fortunate not to break any bones. A week later, I was at the four-way stop at Broadway and Olive heading towards Charnelton. I stopped, and a vehicle headed towards the library. Next, it was my turn. But the vehicle behind the vehicle that just proceeded towards the library pulled out and missed me by about 5 feet!

The city certainly didn’t “cater” to bicyclists when, in November, Mayor Piercy cast the deciding vote for a massive regional freeway plan (the RTP is more than $250 million) that takes a big step back from efforts to reduce driving and will dramatically increase global warming.

We are challenged morally to change our behavior as individuals, but the bigger challenge is for our leaders to come up with a coordinated survival plan.

Our local government can play an important role in initiating projects and programs, removing obstacles and creating incentives and fostering an environment of cooperation and experimentation and urgency.

Planet Glassberg, Eugene



Recently The Register-Guard and The Oregonian have editorialized in favor of Dave Frohnmayer’s proposal to build a UO Nike Arena with $200 million in state funds. The R-G has repeatedly suggested that Phil Knight’s “Legacy Gift” of $100 million dollars will be used as a financial “backstop.” Past UO donor dramas and a patter of recent dismissals would suggest that the “gift” is indeed a mechanism but would be more accurately described as a $100 million trapdoor.

It’s a trapdoor designed to eliminate anyone who disagrees with Nike’s Just Do It approach to expanding the UO campus and transforming the university into a world-class global marketing opportunity. Recently Frohnmayer described his incomplete financing information as “a moving landscape of developing information.”

If the Legislature denies Frohnmayer the $200 million, perhaps his focus will change to more reasonable goals, like how to raise money to address an estimated $150 million in deferred maintenance that has accumulated at the O.

Zachary Vishanoff, Eugene



As I write this, it is a very cold, rainy January morning. I remember the years I spent on the street, in rescue missions and mental hospitals. I remember the hundreds of men who lived like ghosts around me, distant spirits unbound by family or relationships of any kind, men broken, trying to keep alive by daydreams and illusions.

If God is Spirit, that which is generated by a common people on a common journey, then our God is truly dead, for we are not a common people, and we are certainly not on a common journey. Reagan’s spirit lives on in the suffering of the very poor. The far right devastated housing programs, and now the homeless pay the price.

When times were good, logging trucks clogged the highways, bringing timber to the mills. Much of that wood was from the property of the very poor, National Forest land. Yet no poor person ever saw a penny of the profits from the sale of their property, not really.

And now times are bad and threatening to get even worse. Now there is no money for public shelters and housing. The question in my mind has been for a long time not, “Why is there crime?” but instead, “Why isn’t there more crime, more violence of the poor against the rich?” The very poor have been silent for too long.

Hugh Massengill, Eugene



Dear Madam Mayor,

Years ago, as a bookseller at a beloved (but underappreciated) downtown bookstore that has since closed its doors, I listened with interest as then-Mayor Torrey spoke about revitalizing downtown business. And then I watched to see if he ever shopped in the bookstore where I worked. A consensus among my fellow co-workers and me concluded that if he did, we never saw him.

When my former bookstore coworker and I opened a new independent bookstore — Books Without Borders — in downtown Eugene, we listened with interest as you spoke about revitalizing downtown business. And then we watched to see if you ever shopped in our bookstore.

I still remember the time you walked in. A couple of years ago, the store acted as a nesting place for one of the large ducks on the Duck Walk scavenger hunt in downtown Eugene. On a tour and photo-op with the event organizers and some other folks, you briefly stopped in to visit the duck. Perhaps you had your Duck Card stamped. Then you left again.

Grandiose plans for revitalizing downtown Eugene are exciting, and we wait in anticipation for the day when the housing development down the block opens and the day when the Enterprise Call Center opens. Hopefully, more people downtown will translate into greater sales for our business and others. Likewise, the recent story in The Register-Guard about redevelopment of decrepit city blocks is a hopeful sign for downtown.

But the bigger problem, as I see it, is getting people who already live and work downtown to shop in the businesses that are already here. Maybe we don’t need much that is new and better; maybe we need more appreciation of what we already have.

Please, Mayor Piercy, consider the impact that you and others could have simply by shopping in locally owned downtown businesses and by encouraging other people to do the same. We are mere blocks from City Hall. You and the city council members could stop by on your lunch break to pick up a magazine or a book.

In fact, why not make a commitment to shop at every existing locally owned downtown business in the next year? It would doubtless give you some good insight into the actual state of downtown businesses — all of them, not just the two or three that get constant media exposure — and the real concerns of all downtown business owners.

Thank you for your commitment to downtown and to all of Eugene. We look forward to seeing you downtown soon.

Amelia Reising, Books Without Borders



In Survival 101, James Johnston wisely insists on maps but says “You don’t need a compass.” Perhaps not, but maps are far more informative when oriented with a compass. Especially in unfamiliar country. I use compass to navigate to unique off trail places like stream forks, outcrops and tiny lakes. A Silva Ranger with adjustable declination. Fits in a pocket, doesn’t go dead.

My forestry associates and I have set plots through trailless North Cascade wilds; laid out miles of cruise line across dissected Coast ranges; and located ancient bearing points in deep Siskiyou canyons. We’ve returned, often cross country, sometimes at night or during grayouts, always by compass. None of us remember anyone getting lost who used a compass. Snap a leg or lose daylight and return to camp the next day? Yes. Lost? No.

Western Oregon may not get “danger-ously cold,” but don’t underestimate an icy rain. Underprepared and overexposed, it will nail you as quick as a colder but bone-dry Arctic day. Down can let you down in rain. Wool stays way warmer when wet.

To start a fire on wet days, use “Strike A Fire” paraffin bars. A folding pocket saw and gloves lets you notch and break dry dead limbs from underneath big firs. If they snap, they’ll burn.

If you wander the woods alone, let someone know where you’re going and when you intend to be back.?My wife agrees to delay a search for 24 hours. This lets me hunker down,?overnight if needed, with less stress.

Why sweat bears in the woods? It’s hornets and criminals you need to be careful of.

Roy Keene, Eugene



I was appalled by the tone of and headline (“White People Can’t Play Harmonica”) for the article on Paul Oscher in your January 31 issue. To imply that blues can only be truly performed by black musicians is to segregate, stereotype and marginalize the music. Would you have written a similar headline for Curtis Salgado or Paul Delay??

Paul Oscher was asked to join Muddy Water’s band not because he was white, but because he was a good harmonica player. He is now a great harmonica player and a repository of an important part of our cultural history. The audience before which Paul performed on Feb. 2 was treated not only to fantastic music but also to stories of and insights into the classic Chicago blues scene.

Your reporter’s misbegotten attempt to be cute and humorous was insulting to Paul Oscher, and he deserves an apology from the Eugene Weekly. I expected better from your paper.

Jon M. Silvermoon, President, Rainy Day Blues Society



I was absolutely shocked to find out that Holy Cow, the only option for organic, consistently healthy meals at the UO, has been threatened with closure. What is the basis for such a decision? Why would the university discontinue the one food establishment on campus, even near to campus, that provides students, staff and community members locally grown, organic food? I think the decision-makers should come forward, address the public and solicit comments. I wonder if any one of them has ever eaten at Holy Cow. Something tells me no.

Molly Sirois , Disability Advisor, UO



Holy Cow! The EMU administrators think that the Laughing Planet Café can provide the UO with “everything Holy Cow could do in terms of organic, vegetarian food, and more” (Daily Emerald 01/23)? Holy Cow! We are at risk of losing our only option on campus to eat food that was grown locally — something that one would think would be very important at a university that touts sustainability as a core value. Also, what of supporting local businesses? Is it too much to ask that there be one nonfranchise for students to patronize on campus? I’ve always thought that one of the most appealing qualities about Eugene is that it is unique, and part of what makes it so are the local businesses. Do we really want to continue down this path of homogenization until all that’s left are McDonalds and Starbucks? Is that what’s best for Eugene? Not only would this hurt Eugene in terms of losing the town’s charm, but it would contribute to one of Eugene’s everlasting problems: the suffering economy. Since I’ve lived here, it has been a constant area of concern, and now the UO administrators voting to replace a local business with one that will be sending its profits elsewhere? Holy Cow! If the university really wants to do what’s best for the UO and for Eugene, they will opt to keep Holy Cow!

Austin Hazlett, Eugene



John Zerzan’s criticism of my letter favoring light rail over bus rapid transit raises some profound and fascinating questions: Is it possible for a technological, industrial civilization to be genuinely sustainable and humane? Are technology and industrial civilization themselves inherently evil or does the problem lie in the consciousness of the people — particularly those in charge?

I’ll be the first to concede that present modern industrial civilization is very bleak and that achieving genuine, meaningful and humane sustainability is a dauntingly complicated task. I believe John Zerzan will soon get his wish at seeing modern civilization begin to crumble. I’ll rather enjoy seeing this too. I don’t know how paleolithic Zerzan envisions humankind going. The world can’t support 6.6 billion hunter/gatherers. Will our numbers be reduced through benign attrition or through brutality and famine? I don’t especially want to live in a Mad Max/Road Warrior scenario. Perhaps Zerzan would like to offer a vision for the future that is both positive and plausible.

Meanwhile, building a light rail system would, in one sense, be contributing greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, but it would eliminate more greenhouse gases by taking cars off the road. If engineered, planned and built correctly, it would perhaps be the most enduring mass transportation system possible. I expect that in the coming turbulent times, the communities that saw the writing on the wall and began constructing enduring infrastructure not dependent on petroleum will have a better chance at retaining some semblance of order — to say nothing of food distribution.

Robert Bolman, Eugene



Why aren’t student voices being respected at UO’s student union? Despite collecting well over 400 signatures asking that Holy Cow’s contract be renewed, they are being unceremoniously dismissed from duty. It seems the EMU board thinks the EMU’s mounting financial problems can magically be solved by getting rid of a proven moneymaker that added to the university’s fame as the first organic restaurant in a college food court and replacing it with something supposedly more mainstream. There’s something wrong when a leased space set aside for an organic, vegan/vegetarian restaurant is given away because a competitor serves meat.

I’m glad Laughing Planet’s in Eugene, but one must admit they lack the variety and environmental focus Holy Cow has built its reputation on. For years the EMU has been taking baby steps to lessen its $18,000 in annual waste removal expenses, and Holy Cow has been ahead of the movement from the start. Holy Cow created its own “plate club” a full four years before the rest of campus caught on, and they compost and recycle everything possible, saving the EMU money and inspiring Lane County to give a Trashbusters Award to the owners last year. Similarly, due to Holy Cow efforts, all EMU oil is now made into biodiesel, again saving disposal fees. Kathee Lavine and Anton Ferreira are caring and creative business people who are respectful and honest with their employees and they deserve the same treatment from their employers at the EMU during this process.

Amy Leikas, UO alum