Every year City Club invites individuals who see Eugene from a great variety of perspectives to offer virtual gifts to our community. We ask them to tell what they think would make us an even better place to live, given their experience of our assets and deficiencies. Because each sees Eugene from a unique perspective, each has a different insight about our needs. In past years, a giver offered a gear shift lever excavated from a junkyard, in hopes it would make it easier for us to change when a policy or practice becomes plainly unworkable. Another offered a challenge: meet someone with whom we disagree; have lunch and learn all we can about their position without trying to change it. A third proposed to share his old VW van for a trip down Memory Lane to revisit moments of sweetness in a turbulent age. Good natured ribbing and calls to new action give us ideas to consider as the New Year approaches.
This year Dan Bryant is reprising his role as host. He is the Senior Minister at First Christian Church. His many civic activities include chairing the board for Opportunity Village Eugene and the Public Policy Committee of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (www.emoregon.org).
Ten distinguished community members will offer their gifts. Jenette Kime, AKA SluGoddess Slime Shine, is the reigning Slug Queen of Eugene. She participates in this program as one of her royal duties. Jim Evangelista is the founder and executive director of Reality Kitchen. Bethany Grace Howe is a journalist and comedian whose recent work focuses on transgender identity. Jean Tate is a developer and philanthropist who started work as a high school teacher and still serves as a mentor and advisor to many. Clay Beauvais is the vice president of the UO College Republicans. Erik and Fay de Buhr are the executive director and financial director of Community Supported Shelters. David Fidanque is a journalist who served for decades in the leadership of the ACLU, from which he recently retired. Diane Retallack is the longtime director of the Eugene Concert Choir and Eugene Vocal Arts. Heather Sielicki has been a leader in Southeast Neighbors and serves as the operations director of White Bird Clinic. James Manning is the state senator representing Oregon’s 7th District, which includes north Eugene and Junction City.
Dan Bryant (MC) is the Senior Minister of Eugene’s First Christian Church. He has a doctorate in Theology from Claremont University. He has served as City Club of Eugene President and manages the recording of our weekly forums. This is Dan’s third round of MCing our Gifts to the City.
Jenette Kime is Eugene’s current Raining Slug Queen, her slimeness SluGoddess Slime Shine. After moving to Eugene and seeing the Eugene Celebration Parade in ’98, she immediately joined the planning committee, and they haven’t been able to get rid of her since, as she continues to help coordinate the NEW and Improved EUG Parade. In her day job, she is College & Career Liaison at Springfield Public Schools.
Jim Evangelista earned his BFA and Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Oregon and has spent a lifetime making and building community from Gainesville, Florida to Eugene. From designing, painting, and producing theatrical events, public murals, and developing community focused centers that give a home to diverse groups and individuals, Jim is a “big picture” kinda guy. He is Co-Founder and Director of Reality Kitchen Nonprofit, a local organization serving the Employment Path goals of young adults who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Dr. Bethany Grace Howe a recent doctoral graduate of the UO School of Journalism and Communication, will continue to use that title until her student loans are paid off. She currently works as an independent researcher in coordination with the UO’s Prevention Science Institute, and volunteers with the Suicide Prevention Council of Lane County. Along with doing the occasional stand-up comedy gig around town, she also writes a monthly column for the Eugene Register-Guard in an attempt to preserve the print newspaper for at least a few more years.
Jean Tate is a decades long mover and shaker in Eugene. She graduated from Pacific University and taught school for a total of five years. She then volunteered in the community for several years before going into the real estate business. She retired in 1988, and since has volunteered as the developer of affordable housing and then in 2005 of not very affordable housing. She has two children, five grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren.
Clay Beauvais is the Vice President of the University of Oregon College Republicans. He graduated from Marshfield High School in Coos Bay, the same high school as Prefontaine! He is in his junior year at the University of Oregon, working on a BA, with a major in Political Science, and double minors in Classical Civilization and Business Administration.
Kristin Fay and Erik de Buhr are community pioneers. Together they have slept behind their office and shop on Grant Street in three different versions of the Conestoga Hut during its development. Erik and Fay founded a nonprofit organization, called Community Supported Shelters (CSS) in March 2013, with the mission of “Fostering opportunities for community development and safe functional shelter in Lane County, Oregon.” They recently completed building a 400 square foot house where they live with their youngest son, Abram.
David Fidanque is best known for his role as Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon from 1993 until 2015. He worked on many landmark Oregon court cases, lobbied federal, state, and local elected officials on civil liberties and civil rights issues, and participated in numerous ballot measure campaigns. From 2006 to 2010, he was Chair of the National ACLU Executive Directors Steering Committee. In March 2013, he received the ACLU of Oregon’s highest honor, the E.B. MacNaughton Civil Liberties Award.
While many people assume Mr. Fidanque is a lawyer, he was actually trained as news reporter, receiving his Masters in Journalism at U.C. Berkeley in 1974. He worked as a reporter for KEZI-TV and KZEL-FM in Eugene in the mid-1970s. He served in the Oregon Legislature as an aide to former U.S. Rep. Jim Weaver before joining the ACLU of Oregon staff.
Diane Retallack is celebrating her 35th season as artistic director of the Eugene Concert Choir, a resident company of the Hult Center for the Performing Arts. In 2005, she was honored with the Bishop Arts & Letters Award for extraordinary contribution to the cultural life of the city of Eugene, but she didn’t quit and sit on her laurels then. She has collaborated with the Eugene Ballet Company on Carmina Burana and involved kids and community in For Kids concerts and outreach performances, and commissioned award winning Shadow and Light–An Alzheimer’s Journey. She’s also a pretty hot amateur ballroom dancer, and recently won the world championship in her division in cha cha, samba, rumba, and jive.
Heather Sielicki has played an active role in facilitating dialogue and sharing information about homelessness and housing issues in the community. She is a past chair of the Southeast Neighbors Association and past Co-Chair of the Eugene Neighborhood Leaders organization. She currently helps manage communications and operations at White Bird Clinic and participates in both the Neighborhood Leaders Council Housing and Homelessness subcommittee and the Eugene Human Rights Commission Homelessness working group, engaging in community education efforts to help people understand the issues at stake.
James Manning is the State Senator for District 7 (North Eugene, West Eugene, Santa Clara, and Junction City) His career includes roles as a state corrections officer, police officer, railroad special agent, private investigator, and Sergeant Major in the US Army. Among his numerous community involvements are as City of Eugene Police Commissioner and Eugene Water and Electric Board Commissioner. He was appointed to fill a vacancy in State Senate District 7 in December 2016 and was elected to that seat in November 2018, running unopposed in both the primary and general election.