EUGENE, Ore. (BN) — An Iowa woman who recently moved to Eugene is offering her unsolicited opinion about social justice issues to anyone she thinks may not believe what she does, sources told Brimborion News Tuesday. Constance “Cornflower” Maxwell, 28, decided to pack up her belongings and relocate from Keokuk to the Willamette Valley in March after taking part in discussions on several online forums, believing it’s now her job to educate people about important social issues.
“I started getting into these real intense conversations with people online, and began to realize: This is my calling. You know?” Maxwell said. “I just think the world is headed in this really horrible direction. And I thought, ‘What better place than Eugene to go and start fighting for what I believe is right?’”
Since the 1960s, Eugene has been known as a hub for the American counterculture movement and, later, for its strong anarchist presence, sparking popular mobilization for social reform, including the infamous downtown riot of 1999. But the counterculture has been fading since the ’80s, and even the anarchists today are fragmented, refocusing more on community-building and uniting people with similar ideals and interests through things like fairs and poetry readings.
“It ain’t what it used to be,” said Johann Siegel, former anarchist organizer and pirate radio station host. “Since the early 2000s, the anarchists have been heading for the hills. Now, it’s these kids drifting in who not only don’t seem to get what the anarchist movement was about, but who also aren’t all that well informed. They get everything they know from places like Twitter and Facebook. There’s just no real history there.”
“They think it’s more important to wear a uniform and get the right tattoos than it is to actually be educated and then get active about issues that really matter.”
“I just got this one. It’s a tree,” Maxwell said, pointing to a recently-acquired tattoo on her upper arm. “And then there’s this. It’s the anarchy symbol. I always look for it when I talk to other people who look like they might be anarchists, too.”
Among the changes in lifestyle Maxwell has adopted since moving to Eugene have been to bathe only twice a month, stop grooming her body hair, to no longer use sun block or a cell phone, becoming vegan, using bee balm for cuts and yeast infections, getting a job at a coffee shop, shopping for her clothes and appliances second hand, applying patchouli as a natural deodorant, growing her own vegetables, making her own kombucha, and attending every courthouse protest she can.
“She just won’t shut up about what she thinks,” said Katie Gurpa, 26, a fellow employee at The Wandering Goat, a local coffee shop. “Which is great, don’t get me wrong. It’s just she and I believe almost the exact same thing, and every time I try to bring up a sensible, practical middle ground on some issues, she starts arguing with me.”
“I haven’t actually been to any protests yet, no,” Maxwell said. “They keep coming up while I have to work, so. But I will. I’ve been super active on Reddit and Twitter, staying up on issues there. I feel I just can’t let my voice to go silent during this critically important time in the world.”
“Better she stays online, she’s a terrible listener,” said Toby Elias, 33, a friend to someone who befriended Maxwell not long after her arrival. “It’s like she just reacts to certain buzzwords she waits for you to say. Or if she senses an idea that doesn’t quite parallel hers is forming, she’ll just shout at you until you can’t get a word in anymore. And if you persist, she’ll just storm out of the room like a baby. It’s so dumb.”