We continue to live in a societal roller coaster with joyous moments crashing against trauma. Our July Fourth holiday began with 3000 people running and walking in the Butte to Butte and the Mayor’s Fitness Walk. The morning was cool and perfect for exercise; and the crowd hummed with enthusiasm and joy to be gathering for this annual event that has either been cancelled or very diminished in the past three years.
And in traumatic counterpoint was the mass shooting at a parade in Highland Park, Illinois. I am at a loss for how we, as a society, will resolve our differences about gun control. There are sensible measures that would save lives and shift this trajectory. The idea that gun rights should outweigh human life is incomprehensible to me, and yet, that is where we are. I encourage people to sign the petition being circulated by Lift Every Voice that would require a permit to purchase firearms and ban high capacity magazines.
All the same, we are rolling into a festive July. The City is literally setting the stage for the Fan Festival --our free, accessible 10-day event to complement the OR22 World Athletics Championships. Visitors from all over the world will get a taste of Oregon – and Eugene – before and after they attend the track and field events. The festival’s goal is to share the excitement, celebrate all the communities within our community, and enjoy one another -- track fans or not.
Amid all of this, City Council has a demanding schedule this month before taking their summer break in August. On Monday night we’ll discuss and probably take action on the first phase of protections for renters.
This has been in the works for several years and feels increasingly urgent as the tight housing market and high cost of rent has made it even harder for folks to find affordable housing. We’re working all sides of this challenge: seeking to increase the production of housing through recent decisions about Middle Housing and funding affordable housing through the Affordable Housing Trust Fund; striving to offer stable shelter and transitional housing to people who are unhoused; and in this coming week, seeking to reduce some of the barriers people face in accessing housing.
Council has heard a great deal of testimony about the proposed protections and we are striving to be balanced and realistic. This is the first of three phases, so the conversation about how to protect the half our community that are renters will continue through fall and winter.
This Saturday, I have the pleasure of cutting the ribbon to celebrate the new mural on the Dr. Edwin Coleman Jr. building in Westmoreland Park that honors the Kalapuya people and their stewardship of the plants and animals of the Willamette Valley. The Friendly Area Neighbors and Beyond Toxics partnered in this grant; Kalapuya elder Esther Stutzman consulted on the traditions and knowledge depicted by artist Susan Applegate. The mural is both beautiful and informative – I hope your summer walks will take to the park to see it yourself.