Kesey Square

Heated Debate Over Kesey Square Curfew

EUGENE, Ore. — The debate over the potential closure of Kesey Square was heated at times at Monday night’s public hearing.6-9 kesey square

The closure as currently constructed would be from 11 p-m to 6 a-m.

It would make it illegal to hang out in Kesey.

Councilor Mike Clark argued Kesey should be classified as a park.

That would make it subject to park rules, which are already closed overnight.

Councilor Claire Syrett said that closing the square would shut people out.

Here’s what the community had to say on the issue:

“I want a place where I can assemble and speak freely. I want to be able to go down to Kesey Square at three in the morning and read a book,” said Eugene resident, Emily Semple.

“I think what you’re really talking about is trying to create another tool to keep people out of downtown who disrupt business,” said Eugene resident, Jennifer Frenzer-Knowlton.

No decision was made Monday night — but the council plans to revisit the topic before summer break.

Heated Debate Over Kesey Square Ban

5-27 keseyEUGENE, Ore. — Kesey Square may soon be off limits for part of the night.

The City of Eugene is considering an overnight ban that would restrict people from the popular hangout spot and the community is speaking up about it.

Public comment was heated at the public hearing Tuesday night.

Some local business owners were in favor of the ban saying the square at night has turned into a public safety issue.

But others said the potential ban would violate their rights.

The ban would close Broadway Plaza/Kesey Square from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

“I have to deal with picking up fortified alcohol empties, broken glass, broken drug paraphernalia that’s just scattered about,” said business owner Todd Patopea.

“I’ve lived on the streets for about ten years and honestly I’ve never seen a city work so hard to pretend that they’re helping the homeless and really they’re just back dooring it so where they’re trying to get us out of here,” said homeless citizen Sparrow RainGarden.

The plan also makes it illegal to have unlicensed dogs inside of the area described as the downtown activity zone.

A number of people said adding a public bathroom would help some sanitation issues.

But many said limiting access during certain hours might not be the solution to any issues downtown.

Disco and dodgeball hits coming your way at City of Eugene’s third annual dodgeball tournament

“Just remember the five Ds of dodgeball: dodge, duck, dip, dive and…dodge,” said seven-time dodgeball all-star Patches O’Houlihan (played by Rip Torn) in the 2004 movie “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.”

Jack-O-Lanterns on Broadway a Hit for Sheltercare

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Nate Gartrell, EDN

Jack-O-Lanterns on Broadway, a Halloween-based charity event to benefit the homeless, raised $26,390 last Saturday through the donation of jack-o-lanterns.

Several local businesses sponsored the event, donating five dollars to ShelterCare for each jack-o-lantern brought to Kesey Square, where the event was held. In total, 5,278 carved pumpkins were donated to benefit the human services agency.

Tom Lindskog, left, said this was the second giant pumpkin he's carved.

Additionally, ShelterCare accepted cash donations from around the community, which likely added to their total gain. Those figures haven’t been released publicly.

Brad Bassi, a development associate with ShelterCare and the event’s primary organizer, said he and his fellow employees were “super-happy” with the total.

“Anything more than last year would’ve been great, or even slightly less than last year, since we moved the event,” Bassi said. “We’re definitely psyched.”

Last year’s event, which was held at the Fifth Street Market plaza in Eugene, featured 4,361 jack-o-lanterns, and set a record for the largest carved pumpkin display in the Pacific Northwest.

This year, ShelterCare reset that record with an additional 917 carved pumpkins.

Bassi said that public events, such as Jack-O-Lanterns on Broadway, have become an increasingly important method to raise money as government funding decreases. It also serves a dual purpose of educating the public about the need for human services.

“Homelessness is an issue that people see a lot. It’s pretty visible in Lane County,” Bassi said, “and this event has a direct impact on that.”

A line of jack-o-lanterns, donated by Levi Strauss. In the background is the Vicki Stevens Band.

It’s unclear exactly how many homeless people there are in the Eugene area, but a few indicators exist. The One Night Homeless Count, for instance, is a study conducted every January by the Lane County Human Services Commission. It counted 2,140 homeless living in Eugene this year.

Additionally, from 2010-2011, 10,708 separate individuals who sought assistance from Lane County were homeless during some point in the year, according to a press release put out by Lane County. Bassi said that the need for services tends to increase during the winter, too.

Despite the high demand for human services and the limited availability of public funds, Bassi said that ShelterCare hasn’t yet had to close any of its 10 programs. However, budgetary constraints have limited the number of people ShelterCare is able to help in one of its programs.

“Our family-housing program took a budget cut from the county, and we had to cut back on the number of families we are able to serve as a result of that,” Bassi said. “But our other programs are still going strong.”

Car traffic through Kesey Square was blocked off throughout the day, allowing passers-by to view the pumpkins.

But Bassi said that strength comes from their “private support” and from fundraisers like Jack-O-Lanterns on Broadway.

This year’s Jack-O-Lanterns on Broadway was similar to previous events. Jack-o-lanterns were lined up on bales of hay and shelves in groups of about 25. Members of the public were free to walk through as they pleased, and local small businesses provided Halloween-themed food nearby.

The event also featured a children’s costume parade, trick-or-treating, a raffle, a pumpkin toss and a live pumpkin carving demonstration by expert carver Tom Lindskog. A wood carver by trade, Lindskog also performed at last year’s event, and said he’s been carving pumpkins for about four years.

Lindskog began carving his giant pumpkin at 11 a.m. Saturday morning, and seven hours later was still carving away. He said he sometimes feels his own face before working on facial proportions in his pumpkin sculptures, and uses simple clay tools for his carvings.

“I did three smaller figures so I could get a lot more depth out of it,” Lindskog said of his artwork.

Jack-O-Lanterns for a Cause

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Jack-O-Lanterns for a Cause
Nate Gartrell, EDN

Jack-O-Lanterns on Broadway, a Halloween-based charity event designed to raise money for homeless services, will be held on Oct. 29th, at Kesey Square in Eugene.

A child examines jack-o-lanterns displayed at the 2010 event. Photo by Sarah Fountain-Burns

And ShelterCare, the local human services agency which organized the event, is asking the public for donations – not of cash, but of carved pumpkins. For each donated jack-o-lantern, ShelterCare’s sponsorship, comprised of local businesses, will donate $5 towards the agency’s general fund.

“The money raised is helping solve the problem of homelessness in Lane County,” ShelterCare Development Associate Brad Bassi said. “…not just through housing, but also the casework and the counseling necessary to prevent these folks from returning to homelessness.”

It’s not clear exactly how prevalent homelessness is in the Eugene area, but based on studies done by the county, it appears that homeless or near-homeless people have made up one to two-and-a-half percent of Eugene’s population over the last three years.

The One Night Homeless Count, an annual survey taken in January by Lane County Human Services Commission, found 2,673 homeless living in Eugene in 2009, and 3,971 in 2010.

In 2011, however, that number dropped significantly to 2,140. But Bassi said that a different criteria for “homelessness” was used for this year’s homeless count, meaning the amount of homeless could be similar to figures from past years.

A pumpkin, carved by world-famous Scott Cully, on display in 2010. Photo by Sarah Fountain-Burns

“Their intention wasn’t to steer how it looked. Their intention was to make it a more accurate system,” Bassi said of this year’s homeless count surveyors. “But, in terms of our wait list at ShelterCare and the need for services we offer, we haven’t seen a decrease at all.”

Additionally, Bassi said that demand tends to rise during the winter months, when Eugene becomes much colder and wetter.

“If we had an unlimited budget, we’d be able to serve more people as the need increased, which it does every winter,” Bassi said.

ShelterCare has organized two previous jack-o-lantern events, which were held in recent years at the Fifth Street Market. This year’s event will be held on Kesey Square to accommodate its growing popularity, but will follow the same format as previous years, Bassi said.

Tom Lindskog carves a pumpkin during the 2010 event. On display are other jack-o-lanterns by Lindskog.

Jack-O-Lanterns on Broadway will have a raffle, a children’s parade, trick-or-treating, face painting and live music throughout the day. Pumpkin carving will be available for those unable to bring a jack-o-lantern to the event. Additionally, carving demonstrations will be featured by expert carver Tom Lindskog, who performed at last year’s event as well.

Bassi said that local restaurants and other businesses will be opening their doors and serving Halloween-style food. Local doughnut and coffee house Voodoo Doughnuts, for instance, will provide pumpkin pie doughnuts.

“Part of the intention is to bring a family-oriented event to downtown Eugene,” Bassi said. “Instead of bringing in our own vendors, we’re trying to engage the downtown businesses.”

At 6:30 PM, the jack-o-lanterns will be lit. If things go as ShelterCare organizers expect them to, the event will break a record for the largest jack-o-lantern display in the Pacific Northwest, which was set last year at Jack-O-Lanterns on 5th.

That event raised $21,805 through the donation of 4,361 jack-o-lanterns. This year, ShelterCare has set a goal of 5,000 to 7,500 carved pumpkins.

“As some of our government funding gets scaled back, fundraisers like this become increasingly important,” Bassi said.

Inside Outlaw – Occupy Eugene

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 The New York Times quoted a woman giving advice to a new protester. “It doesn’t matter what you’re protesting,” she said. “Just protest.”

The Occupy Wall Street protest, vague in its goals and a little cloudy in its origins, is gaining momentum as it branches out across the nation with the help of social media. Occupy Eugene is one of the more than 100 reported participants in the fledgling movement.

EDN’s Inside Outlaw stopped in on Saturday’s protest/membership drive to get a first hand account.

 

Some information from around the internet:

Occupation Declaration: http://occupywallst.org/forum/first-official-release-from-occupy-wall-street/

Faq: http://www.thenation.com/article/163719/occupy-wall-street-faq

15 definitions of Freedom: http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/fifteen-definitions-of-freedom-from-occupywallstreet/

Occupy Eugene: https://www.facebook.com/groups/occupyeugene/

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