“For the most part, we do not first see, and then define; we define first then see.” This quote from Walter Lippmen was offered Friday morning at the semi-annual Arts & Business Alliance BRAVA breakfast by keynote speaker, Meg Bostrom. Ms. Bostrum is new to Eugene and is co-owner of a communications consulting firm. Her quote spoke to our challenges locally and nationally to listen and hear what others are saying before jumping to judgement.
In this week without Council meetings, our city has experienced the beating of a store owner by anti-maskers; and the taking of student hostages by an armed gunman at the University. Today, we received a report that the Japanese memorial garden had been vandalized. Council inboxes continue to be filled with messages expressing frustration about crimes that range from graffiti, to vandalism, to threats of injury.
Pointing fingers and laying blame are common responses. We are rounding the corner on year two of the pandemic with all of its associated disruptions. People are exhausted. We do not have an immediate fix for all of the challenges we face – homelessness, an uptick in bias and other crimes, the gap in housing affordability and availability, and the urgency of climate change.
And yet as Mayor I have a ringside seat to see not only the struggles but also the humanity, the effort, and the effectiveness of the work that happens every day. People in this community step up where and when needed. This week I have met with leadership of both school districts, with the nonprofits Beyond Toxics and Better Eugene Springfield Transportation; with County commissioners, Eugene Emeralds, the City’s Police Auditor; and participated in the monthly meeting of the Metropolitan Planning Commission. Those conversations included: the challenge of meeting work force needs; addressing air pollution in Bethel and Trainsong; updating progress on reviewing the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee on Police Policy; checking in on the potential for a new Ems stadium at the Fairgrounds; and updating a 25-year Regional Transportation Plan to align with our climate priorities. It is a long list of work that happens in the background and emerges only briefly in a public meeting or news story.