Thursday, 23 July 2009


A BETTER LIFE WITHIN BIKING DISTANCE Willamette river--clean--clear--tasty--soul of the scenic Willamette valley. Photo taken from a bicycle bridge. Could you guess that just behind the trees on either side bustles the city of Eugene? A far sighted lady mayor fought the rich and greedy to arrange it so. I pedal along its banks noting the set-back-a-ways mansions. Occasionally I see the wealthy looking down from balconies at us common folks passing across "their" front yard.
An imaginative, educational, inexpensive project that lets us accurately envision our solar system at a scale of one to one billion along the bike path. This is of course the sun. Within a stones throw is grain-sized mercury and pea sized Venus and Earth. Kids are a bit shocked to see our humble dimentions in the solar system, especially when seeing basketball sized Jupitor a half mile away----and---A seeming mile away this scale model of Saturn. I'm curious how they've handled the Pluto situation---but I've never seen it--must be miles away.
Aaaahhhh sweet people--here begins the big story---"Hippies from the woods selling natural goods" at the famous SATURDAY MARKET. Don't Miss it! Located smack in the middle of downtown--three city blocks big---colorful as Joseph's coat.
OOOOOOhhhhh---I loved it! My kind of happening. A huge hodge podge of people and interest as you will see!
Hippies -a- drumming. Sounds good. Amateurs all, but joyful and harmonic. One begins a beat and others imitate it till all are together----then the volume rises to a crescendo and slowly trails off to a whisper---till someone else tries out a new beat and all work on the new rhythm till they get it then go loud again. WWWHHHHHHOOOOOOeeeee---they lose themselves and capture me. (I'm gonna try this with my WIN friends) I'm too chicken to join this group---when will I grow enough cajones to jump in over my head? (I know that's where the joy and growth is.)
I've never known how they do this--but I love it. One more contribution of the Hippies.
" the veggies are all organic---all the vines have berries, the trees have cherries and the music is all romantic". Even the persnickity would approve these goodies.
A sign like this is to me what a red flag is to a bull. Diana is not here to restrain me and of course I engage--and rediscover, for the umpteenth time, that our fundamentalist are every bit as irrational as Islamists fundamentalist. Belief in God doesn't trouble me much--but believing in MESSAGES FROM GOD AND HOLY BOOKS is without foundation, tribalizes humanity, freezes ethical evolution, inhibits scientific progress, overpopulates the earth, wastes creativity. Why is it so hard for people to live with mystery. Speculate away, BUT ADMIT THAT YOU ARE SPECULATING-------AND FOR HUMANITY'S SAKE UPDATE YOUR SPECULATIONS when its appropriate. Think I'm alone? A hard core of 10% of Americans agree with me. But I digress
And this whole movement---I don't know what to make of it--keeping my mind open.
A really nice kid was holding this sign--about 20--with dreadlocks--wouldn't let me show his picture. I know they are being effective because loggers I engage complain bitterly that they are hamstrung and impoverished by unreasonable environmental restraints.
I wished my Libertarian friend Sharon were here. Oh what a dramatic exchange would ensue.
These were pushing the single payer plan---which I approve.
As this guy wheeled passed me I asked the obvious question.
I think he said "TRACKER" as he whooshed past--leaning left and right propelled it.
Thoughtful generosity is omnipresent in Eugene---this kind gesture located by the riverwalk trail.
And this one nearby--for the kids--and ducks--and geese.
A thoroughly unpleasant fellow--drunk--lazy--self pitying. In my mind I wished him off the planet. He is the toughest challenge to an enlightened city. He complained bitterly about being excluded from "the gang" seen below. Even so I elicited lots of information from him about social service policies in Eugene--and resolved to go answer this question: If a city is generous with such as this----will such as this flock to Eugene, overwhelm resources and contaminate the city with indigents.
The gang of indigents he was tossed out of. They meet here regularly---proving to me that everyone wants--needs --to belong.
Here's where I came seeking answers. I engaged Ernie Unger, director of the Eugene Mission, who generously answered my questions and arranged a tour of the entire facility. We shake hands in their huge dining area where they feed 350 people a day. He has been dealing with "lost" people for 50 years. Their motto: a bed, a meal, the gospel---which they do superbly well.
350 double decker cots fill a huge room--looked and smelled clean. A day room really impressed me (sorry, my camera died at this instant) In it were: seating and magazines, water fountain, a free barber shop, free showers, a secure place for valuables. They Really respect their clients but do not allow themselves to be abused. A modest tough love has them up at 5 am-- Chapel attendance manditory. Surprisingly, no government funding here because it comes with strings. (no religion) Evangelical Churches collaborate to support the mission. He did not believe that generosity multiplies generosity seekers---said that 70% of his clients were local casualties. I come away a tad moderated in my anti-religious fervor. Ayn Rand and I would not rescue indigents. Neither would I feed the starving in Africa. Ultimately, would a sink or swim world serve humanity better? But again, I digress.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: I've not done justice to this city--didn't mention its fine university, it's art theatre in an old church, its wetlands program etc. I have overfocused on down and outers (wonder why?). But I move on anyway. I write this from Lincoln City, Oregon, having attended DaVinci Days (celebration of technical and artistic creativity, conservation etc) in Eugene's sister Corvallis--almost as super duper. A friend sniped on this blog: "if Eugene is so great, why not live there?" I give the classic answer Thoreau gave his sniping friend about why he left so wonderful a place as Walden Pond: "I left for as good a reason as I came: BECAUSE I HAVE MANY MORE LIVES TO LEAD AND COULD NOT SPARE ANY MORE TIME FOR THIS ONE."

No comments:

Post a Comment