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Michelle Holman

"I thought I'd go to law school," says Michelle Holman, who grew up in Medford, majored in sociology at the University of Oregon, and worked briefly at Zoozoo's Restaurant in Eugene, "but then I met Richie." Richie Gross was a Hoedad tree-planter living in Deadwood, an unincorporated community in the Coast Range. The pair got married and purchased a parcel of land six miles up Deadwood Creek in 1979. "We lived in a teepee for one wet winter," she says, "then in a school bus for two years, and in a funky camping trailer with two kids for eight years, until we finished building our house." Gross took up cabinet-making and fine woodworking, and for 17 years the couple traveled to crafts fairs with their renowned Coyote Collections multi-layered wooden puzzles. "At one time we had four workers," she says. "We were the largest employer in Deadwood." Holman's current craft work can be seen at deadwoodcreekmezuzot.com. She has served 25 years on the board of the Mapleton School District, where her own three children went to school, and she has taken part in several unsuccessful efforts to halt unannounced aerial spraying of herbicides on adjacent industrial timber lands. "The problem is that corporate lobbyists write the laws and government officials enforce the laws," says Holman, a co-founder of Community Rights Lane County, an organization that aims to empower citizens to enact their own laws through the ballot initiative process. "Six other counties in Oregon have active chapters. We call ourselves the civil rights movement of our times, challenging corporate power and privilege." Learn about current campaigns and events at communityrightslanecounty.org.

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 9 November 2017

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