Downtown Eugene

Monday, March 20, 2006

Well that didn't work

Despite the largest showing at a hearing for years, the city council passed the bill to fund the parking garage, a subsidy to Whole Foods to enter the Eugene market. As the developers and land-owners hoped, property in downtown's extreme east end immediately became hotter.

I went to the meeting with one long-time resident who felt that the speeches by Eugene's activists were not very good. I told her that this is not the problem. The problem is, they were just activists, and in a tough battle, what they say doesn't matter, unless they marshall the forces of the general population.

This is a common misconception. In 1995, I created the clearest proposal for a public-benefit development project in Eugene's history. It was so compelling, that the City Council needed to dedicate a meeting to it, even though this was supposed to be a committee's decision. But it didn't matter. Money and local power won the day, and my proposal was pushed aside for an unclear proposal, made by friends of the powerful.

So, being eloquent and correct isn't enough. You really need to make the population rise up. One of the most effective tools for this is the local initiative. It's very underused.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Keep it Local

We're trying to fight a public subsidy for Whole Foods ... an unnecessary $9 million public parking structure next door to a proposed Whole Foods development. There are far better ways to spend that money ...

And we hope that Whole Foods will pull out. In the face of corporate agribusiness and its massive distribution system, Eugeneans have built a local food web of great quality, perhaps the best in the US. An organic-farm revolving fund, ARABLE, operated for years to launch small organic farms in this area. The Organically-Grown Co-op, Starflower Distributors, Down-to-earth gardening store, Oregon Tilth, local CSA's, the Grower's Market, The Saturday Market, the Farmer's Market, the Hoedads, and the kitchen foods businesses ... Surata Tofu, Genesis Juice, bakers, spread-makers, tea makers, essential oil makers, natural food stores ... the list of Eugene's commitment towards real whole foods is unprecedented.

And it was done with almost no help from the government. Which should be spending tax money on things like healthy food, but doesn't. Because it needs to spend it on parking structures for money-extracting national chain stores. No.

Keep it local

Come to the rallies.