Best of Eugene 2013-14: Mortals in Combat (Civics)

Alley Valkyrie. Photo by Todd Cooper.

20131107-BOE-header-mortals-in-combat

(Civics)

Alley Valkyrie. Photo by Todd Cooper.

Alley Valkyrie. Photo by Todd Cooper.

Best local hell-raiser

1. Alley Valkyrie

2. Lefty Kelleher

3. Occupy Eugene

If you’ve been to city or county meetings, you’ve probably seen and heard Alley Valkyrie. If you’ve read the paper in the past two years, you’ve encountered her. Valkyrie’s take-no-prisoners approach to arguing for human rights for the unhoused — the right to sleep, the right to use a bathroom — has pissed off plenty of politicians but also made them respect and listen to her and to the members of Occupy Eugene and of SLEEPS (Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep). Valkyrie says, “I’m glad I’ve set a good example of raising hell, but it’s unfortunate that anyone has to raise hell in order to secure basic human rights.” 

 

Kitty Piercy. Photo by Athena Delane

Kitty Piercy. Photo by Athena Delane

Best local politico

1. Kitty Piercy mayor of Eugene

2. Peter DeFazio U.S. House rep., Oregon’s 4th District

3. Pete Sorenson Lane County commissioner, 3rd District

Mayor Kitty Piercy has been gaining momentum since her overwhelming election win last year. She championed downtown revitalization and supported respectable options for the city’s homeless, making a statement at the opening of Opportunity Village. She’s visible even for a political figure, making a point of attending nearly every Eugene event that matters, from bar crawls to the SLUG queen coronation. 

 

Eugenean of the year: 2013

1. Kitty Piercy

2. Alley Valkyrie

3. Frogg

 

Photo by Todd Cooper

Photo by Todd Cooper

Best local uproar

1. SLEEPS/homeless protests

2. Occupy Eugene

3. Liane Richardson

SLEEPS has frequently been described as an offshoot of last year’s best uproar winner Occupy Eugene, and while it is certainly born of the energy and the community, as well as the focus on the needs of those without food, medical care and safe shelter of Occupy, SLEEPS is an uproar all its own. The group has camped out in — and been booted out of — the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza, raising civil liberties issues of having a place to raise a voice in protest against the government, in addition to the human rights focus of having a safe place to sleep. SLEEPS has also staged both pop-up camps and long-term camps all over Eugene. The organization will not rest while the unhoused of Eugene don’t have a safe place to lay their heads. SLEEPS member Alley Valkyrie says, “I look forward to a day where we start putting people over profit and we don’t see a group of people fighting for the right to sleep as an ‘uproar.’”

Occupy Eugene comes in second place this year and third place is fired county administrator Liane Richardson, known not only for her attempts to raise her $150,000-a-year salary at a time when Lane County is hurting for money, but also for shutting down the Free Speech Plaza, which led to the arrest of more than 20 SLEEPS members. The charges were later dropped when the shutting down of the plaza was found to be unconstitutional. Richardson made headlines post-BOE voting with allegations of inappropriate hook-ups with a cop on county property. 

 

Photo by Athena Delene

Photo by Athena Delene

Best nonprofit

1. FOOD For Lane County foodforlanecounty.org.

2. Greenhill Humane Society green-hill.org.

3. Planned Parenthood plannedparenthood.org.

FOOD For Lane County doesn’t just find food to distribute to the community. They find local solutions to the “protein shortage” in food options for the county. According to Dawn Marie Woodward, media relations coordinator for FFLC, the focus for this year has been intentional food production, to build on the 8 million pounds of food they distributed last year — a record for the nonprofit. FFLC has connected with local farmers to create packs of instant refried beans, applesauce and a chili made from local lentils and barley, all of which is distributed through food pantries and distribution programs throughout the county. “We know solving the hunger program has to be local,” Woodward says, and FFLC embodies that goal.

Photo by Athena Delene

 

 

Photo by Trask Bedortha

Photo by Trask Bedortha

Best LGBT group or advocate

1. Basic Rights Oregon basicrights.org.

2. HIV Alliance hivalliance.org.

3. Soromundi Lesbian Chorus of Eugene wkly.ws/1lr.

The rockstars at Basic Rights Oregon can’t be stopped. While BRO can’t take credit for the Oregon United for Marriage campaign (it can’t run a political campaign as a  nonprofit), the group is popularly considered to be the campaign’s driving force. A popular vote in November 2014 could modify our state constitution, nixing the 2004 Measure 36, “Oregon’s DOMA,” which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. BRO and its allies have until July to reach the signature threshold, but they insist on doing so by this December. Good hustle, bruh. Basic Rights Oregon also has a growing focus on transgender and racial justice and will continue to amplify the agency of its intersectional lives. Eugene is host to the only BRO office outside of Portland and, wow, do they make it count. 

 

Executive director Julie Daniel at BRING. Photo by Todd Cooper.

Executive director Julie Daniel at BRING. Photo by Todd Cooper.

Best enviro organization

1. BRING bringrecycling.org.

2. Cascadia Wildlands cascwild.org.

3. Cascadia Forest Defenders forestdefensenow.com.

BRING Recycling near Glenwood has an amazing and highly organized collection of building supplies and other discarded materials that come in handy for not only remodeling and new construction but also art projects. BRING has evolved beyond recycling to programs that encourage people and businesses to prevent materials from going into the wastestream in the first place.

Cascadia Wildlands is a professionally staffed enviro group working on preserving threatened areas and wildlife throughout the Cascadia bioregion from Oregon to Alaska. Cascadia Forest Defenders is a grassroots group of volunteers that organizes nonviolent protests (including tree-sits) and lobbies and supports other groups to protect shrinking old-growth habitats in the Cascades. 

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