Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Happening Person: Nick Routledge
Skinny Dipping for Guinness World Record
If you can’t stand the heat, get naked and make history! In Marcola and across North America Saturday, July 11, individuals will be stripping down to set the first Guinness World Record for largest number of people skinny-dipping simultaneously.
The American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR), the event coordinator, plans to hold the skinny dipping in more than 140 locations in the U.S. and Canada. Eugene’s local family nudist resort, The Willamettans, will host one of the eight Oregon happenings on their grounds in Marcola. Pre-registration is not mandatory, but those new to nudity are encouraged to call beforehand. Organizers estimate they’ll have about 500 participants at the Willamettans location alone.
The skinny-dipping will take place at the Willamettans’ sizeable heated pool, where all ages are welcome. The official record-breaking begins at noon Pacific time, but guests can disrobe at any point. Willamettans’ grounds are free for the day, and the resort will have an open house for curious visitors. Accommodations are available at the site.
The promotional event comes as a finale to Nude Recreation Week, which began on July 5. For more information, check out www.aanr.com or www.willamettans.com — Sachie Yorck
Global Warming, Local Inaction
Local transportation planners have attended at least 20 different meetings, conferences, discussions and workshops over the last year to talk about global warming, but it remains unclear if they will actually do anything about it.
“There has been no lack of studies and discourse on the subject but little coherent direction,” said a memo from the Lane Council of Governments (LCOG) to the Metropolitan Policy Committee (MPC) last week.
LCOG staffs the MPC, the lead government agency in controlling local global warming pollution. Nationwide, about 28% of global warming is caused by cars, but in Eugene, where most electricity comes from dams, about 51 percent of carbon pollution comes from transportation, according to LCOG’s “Planning for Climate Change” memo.
As in the rest of the nation, driving has dropped locally in the past couple of years with higher gas prices and higher unemployment. In March 2009, fuel usage was about 88 percent of usage in July 2005, according to LCOG. LCOG also estimated per capita miles driven were down 4 to 6 percent in recent years.
But a turn in gas prices or the economy could easily reverse the trend. LCOG has previously estimated that local driving per capita will increase 13 percent by 2031 under its plans to spend a half-billion dollars on new freeway capacity in the next decades.
Local environmentalists have criticized LCOG for failing to act to reduce climate change. While LCOG’s plans call for increasing car pollution, state-adopted goals call for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 75 percent by 2050.
LCOG’s memo said such reductions will be a challenge. Cutting car emissions in half while accommodating population growth will require reducing per capita driving to less than one-fourth of today’s levels, according to the memo.
LCOG points to a UO study that population growth could increase locally with global warming “climate refugees,” making reductions more challenging.
In all LCOG lists more than a page of bureaucratic and planning “challenges” to reducing global warming in its memo, but it doesn’t mention simply spending less on increasing freeway capacity.
As a “next step,” LCOG will take part in a state “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Task Force” created recently by the state legislature. Instead of responding to calls to actually limit $1 billion in global warming inducing highway construction in a funding bill this session, the state opted for more meetings. —Alan Pittman
A new option for environmentally concerned taxi patrons has arrived in Eugene. Biotaxi says it is the first taxi service in Eugene to run its cars exclusively on biodiesel.
Although this is not a new concept in the U.S., it is the first time such a business has been started up in Lane County.
Biotaxi has been in its planning stages for about two years. After developing a business plan and ironing out details, Biotaxi founder Feena Powers purchased a 1999 Mercedes-Benz E300 Turbodiesel Sedan.
However, the car required some work. “The first one took a lot longer to get everything up to code,” Powers said. “Now we have all the logos and everything, so it’s going to be a lot easier and a lot faster. It’ll probably be another month and a half or so and we’ll have the second car on the road. The first one is sort of the breakthrough.” She said that Biotaxi’s second car would also be a Mercedes.
With two drivers for day shifts, two drivers for night shifts and a back-up driver for both shifts, there are plenty of drivers, which allows Biotaxi to operate at all hours. The single car does limit the Biotaxi to the greater Eugene area, but with the advent of additional cars Powers has plans for fanning out the taxi service’s range. “We are trying to expand into doing wine tours. But that reaches out into the countryside. For the day-to-day, we mostly just cover the Eugene and Springfield areas,” Powers said.
Powers said, “I’ve been looking for something to do in my life that will hopefully make a positive impact. There’s a lot going on in the world that’s hard to hear. I would love to see life on Earth sustained. It’s such a big thing to address. And I’m not saying that Biotaxi is going to save the day or anything, but it’s something I can spend my energy and my time doing that will hopefully have a ripple effect.”
Biotaxi can be reached at (541)747-BLUE (2583) and will soon have a website at www.biotaxi.us —Shaun O’Dell
Pedaling to a Green Eugene
In an effort to promote sustainability and green living in Eugene, the Neighborhood Leadership Council Sustainability Committee (NLCSC) is holding its 2009 Green Homes Bike Tour.
“We are interested in self-sufficiency and building neighborhood self-reliance,” says Doug Black, the Green Homes Bike Tour coordinator.
On Saturday July 18 the NLCSC, which was created on Earth Day 2008 and works with the various Eugene neighborhoods to advance green lifestyles, will begin its series of green tours through the neighborhoods of Eugene. The tours will take place over the course of 10 Saturdays and one Sunday, ending on September 26. Each tour will focus on homes using various green living techniques such as grass to garden conversions, rain water catchment systems, active and passive solar design, nonconventional residential arrangements, habitat restoration, seed saving, food preservation and winter gardening.
The first area being toured, on July 18, is the Far West neighborhood. The tour group will be meeting at the intersection at Garfield and 22nd Ave at 11 am. For more information about the NLCSC and the Green Homes Bike Tour, including an updated schedule of which neighborhoods will be toured and when, go to www.eugeneneighbors.org/wiki/NLCgreen or contact Black at 485-6846. — Topher Vollmer
County Cuts Logging Lobbying
|Commissioner Faye Stewart|
The Lane County Board of Commissioners voted on Tuesday, July 7 to form a work group to look whether or not to continue to pay thousands of dollars in dues to the Association of O&C Counties (AOCC). Opponents to membership in the association say that it serves timber lobbyists, not the counties, and that its meetings are not public.
During the last budget cycle, the Lane County Commissioners voted to defund the annual dues. After Tuesday’s meeting, Lane County will continue to not pay the organization while a committee looks into whether is is more effective to continue to not pay dues or to pay the AOCC and attempt to change the group from within. The committee will include commissioners Bill Fleenor and Bill Dwyer as well as citizen members such as Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild and Dale Riddle of Seneca-Jones Timber Company.
Commissioner Faye Stewart was part of the unanimous vote to form the committee but said during his comments that he had never seen lobbyists at the association meetings. “I don’t believe they are [having] closed meetings as an association,” Stewart said.
Commissioners Fleenor and Dwyer spoke in favor of trying to change the AOCC from within, while Commissioners Pete Sorenson and Rob Handy spoke in favor of withdrawing from the association. “I believe our forests are worth more standing up, not lying down,” said Handy. — Camilla Mortensen
• Lane County Sheriff Russ Burger and Lane County DA Alex Gardner continue to host community discussions on public safety around Lane County: “to raise awareness of challenges and opportunities facing the public safety system, to listen to community concerns and answer questions from area residents.” Are they really listening to community concerns? The next meetings will be from 11:30 am to 1 pm Thursday, July 9, at Leaburg Training Center, 42870 McKenzie Highway; and at the same time Wednesday, July 15, at the Junction City Council Chambers, 680 Greenwood St.
• All activists need to drink something to survive, and if beer is what keeps you alert, check out July’s Science Pub at 7 pm Thursday, July 9, at Cozmic Pizza, 8th and Charnelton. The topic is “Beer: A Tasty Blend of Art, History and Science”
with Jeff Clawson, Pilot Brewery Manager at OSU and an avid supporter of research and instruction in the Fermentation Science program at the College of Agriculture Sciences’ Department of Food Science and Technology.
• Green Drinks, the monthly social gathering of progressives, is happening from 5 to 7 pm Friday, July 10, at World Café, 449 Blair in Eugene. “Here’s your chance to let your hair down and unwind with the folks you work so hard with on your political, social and environmental endeavors,” says Cary Thompson of Helios.
|Cascadia Rising Tide and Earth First! activists set up a blockade on a logging road this week using aerial “sky pods” and ground blockades to defend the native forest planned for clear cutting in the Umpcoos timber sale in the Elliot State Forest on the Oregon Coast. The groups say they plan to hold the blockade until logging in the Elliot State Forest is halted.|
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 4,325 U.S. troops killed* (4,316)
• 31,408 U.S. troops injured* (31,368)
• 185 U.S. military suicides* (185)
• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 100,964 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (100,911)
• $684.6 billion cost of war ($682.5 billion)
• $194.7 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($194.1 million)
• 725 U.S. troops killed* (713)
• 3,100 U.S. troops injured* (3,063)
• $191.5 billion cost of war ($191.0 million)
• $54.5 million cost to
Eugene taxpayers ($54.3 million)
* through July 6, 2009; source: icasualties.org; some figures only updated monthly
** sources: icasualties.org, defenselink.mil
*** highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate civilian deaths as high as 655,000 (Lancet survey, 2006) to 1.2 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)
• Last week EW reported on a detailed annual report from the independent police auditor and Civilian Review Board documenting numerous areas of police abuse including violating free speech, biased investigations, illegal home invasions, mistreating the homeless, drunk driving, excessive force, taser misuse and resistance to oversight. The Eugene City Council should immediately schedule work sessions to put the police chief and city manager on the hot seat and demand reforms. An independent follow-up report should document whether police practice has actually changed. The council should direct that the city manager and police chief provide detailed public explanations about exactly why they repeatedly ignored the recommended independent adjudications on citizen complaint cases. As it stands now, the council appears more concerned with frivolous police complaints against the auditor than with citizen complaints of police misconduct. Have elected officials even read the report?
• The life and recent death of Edwin (Bing) Bingham forces us to focus again on the heart and soul of a liberal arts university. Bing, who died in Eugene on July 2, was an 89-year-old professor emeritus of history who taught at the UO from 1949 to 1982. A tennis-playing sun-loving Californian, he came up here to teach history of the West, his professional passion, and he never left for long. He eventually published his biography of Erskine Scott Wood and received the UO Distinguished Service award, the highest faculty honor. But it was Bing’s genuine love of challenging students, his positive presence in their lives and in the life of the institution, his unusual academic ability to wryly laugh at himself and his deep fascination with his field that made him great. That’s what a liberal arts education is all about.
• Recent hoopla about a sex offender treatment program located near a 4-H program needs to be kept in perspective. In some cities sex offenders are living in large, inhumane and unsafe encampments under bridges because local laws and hounding make it impossible for them to live anywhere near anything related to children, which is everywhere in the city. The local sex offender treatment program hasn’t caused problems during its long operation at the current location. Sex offender treatment increases the safety of children.
• Portland papers, especially Willamette Week, continue to rag on new Attorney General John Kroger because his five-month investigation found “insufficient evidence” to charge Mayor Sam Adams with criminal conduct in kissing Beau Breedlove (can that really be his name?) before Beau was 18. In journalism we call that a “he said, he said” problem. It’s tough to nail down the truth in personal relationships. The underlying theme of the WW stories is that Kroger was too soft on Adams, who, incidentally, is a graduate of South Eugene High School. Remember that WW broke the Adams stories. Remember that Kroger is not new to tough investigation and prosecution. He prosecuted Mafia cases in New York, and he was called to D.C. to work on the Enron cases. If Portlanders don’t like his Oregon investigation, they can vote to recall Mayor Adams, and Breedlove still has the option of civil court.
The son of a senior executive in the pharmaceutical industry, Nick Routledge enjoyed a childhood of privilege in Southeast Asia and an English boarding-school education. He studied banking and finance at a business school in London. “My buddies went into high finance,” says Routledge, who instead went into writing, first as a reporter for the financial magazine Euromoney and later, in the U.S., as a advocate of the Internet in its early days. Recovering from a hunger strike that left him near death, Routledge moved to Noti in 1997 to work at a Chinese medicinal plant conservancy. “That fall I decided to give wisdom teachings a go,” he says. “I gave up my few possessions and went for a walk. For a couple of years, I walked among farmers and gardeners who founded an avant-gardening collective: Food not Lawns.” Since 2005, Routledge has lived in a small motor home as caretaker of FOOD for Lane County’s Springfield Transitions Garden. He experiments with open-pollinated crop varieties, eats what he grows, writes extensively and volunteers as a supervisor of young adults with special needs. “The rewards are profound and beautiful,” he says. More at seedambassadors.org