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The Cover Story: February 2016 issue

The Cover Story: February 2016 issue Cover photo: Chris Noble

Eugene is many things — college town, the city where Phil and Bill got up and running (or jogging), future global athletics venue. But the burg is most famous as a haven for happy hippies. Witness The Oregon Country Fair for a little body-painted proof.

This month's cover story poses the question: could that peace-and-love image change with the influx of investment and new development?

The challenge to represent the story on the cover sparked a few ideas. One that stuck early on was a close-crop photo of a female hippie-type's face looking like a deer in the headlights: hair long with wraps, no makeup, eyes scared wide, mouth slack, blasted by overpowered flashes — you get the gist. It would give the impression of those living-simply locals being ruthlessly run down by the unstoppable juggernaut of progress.

Then I considered flipping the coin: fancy-dressing a tech-looking fella in a bad hippie wig and taped-on beard. Again, you get the gist. That concept might suggest new entrepreneurs trying to blend in with the earthy establishment. But the idea didn't really hit the mark. For a start, not all the new kids on the Eugene block are techies. Plus, how do you represent a tech geek just by his face now that Google Glass is defunct?

Then it struck me: the ultimate sign of hippiedom. The peace sign — with a subtle twist on the wrist. One stop for crafty supplies, a little bracelet-making, a willing organic-vegetarian volunteer's hand, some harsh artificial lighting, and the shot was in the can.

While I was on the hippie vibe, I added rainbow colors and a mandelbrot into the mix. Go with the flow. Why not?

I hope you get the gist.

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