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Alley Valkyrie: Where is She Now?

May 5th, 2019 by dk

Alley Valkyrie left Eugene five years ago this week, shortly after the homeless camp Whoville was shuttered and dismantled. Five years can pack plenty of changes into a 30-something’s life, so where is Valkyrie today? She’s living in France with her French musician husband and with her famously irascible cat, Squirrel.

Although our paths never officially crossed during her years in Eugene, I visited her recently in Rennes, France’s largest college town. She and her husband showed me around their adopted town and invited me to their favorite after-hours haunts.

Valkyrie clearly reveled in chatting with somebody whose verbs she could conjugate without effort. She’s learning French quickly, but she still thinks in English. That’s important, because Valkyrie thinks out loud better than most people I’ve ever met. Either that, or she had been saving her thoughts for the next native English speaker and I was the fortunate recipient.

Valkyrie was eking out a living in New York City as a street vendor in 2004, when she met some friendly activists affiliated with Cascadia Forest Defenders. They invited her to come to Oregon and participate in their tree-sit protest in the Willamette National Forest.

After three weeks in the forest, she came into town and stumbled on Saturday Market. She immediately knew two things, but only one of them consciously.

She knew that street vending her art could be easier, surrounded by a collective like Saturday Market. She saw that a few rules kept things organized, allowing a family of sharing and support to grow naturally. Somewhere inside, she also must have known a similar network was needed for Eugene’s homeless population.

Whoville provided that loosely organized system of support. In March, 2014, Valkyrie learned that the camp would be forcibly shut down in early April. She recruited a dozen sympathizers to enter City Manager Jon Ruiz’s office and then refused to leave. That was the bang she went out with. The protesters were arrested, though all charges later were dropped.

Valkyrie never wanted to be the leader and lightning rod she became for the homeless in Eugene. The notoriety and threats were more than her introverted spirit could sustain. “People I once considered friends wouldn’t look me in the eye anymore,” she told me. “I just had to get away.”

She settled in Portland five years ago this week. Two years ago, she moved to the Brittany region of France.

Brittany has always maintained a certain distance from Paris, partly by refusing to squelch its citizens’ separatist urges. The region’s history, culture and language have remained distinct. That suits Valkyrie just fine. Outliers will always be quicker to invite radical thoughts.

She believes the French government may prove to be more supple than America’s. France has had five constitutions and three revolutions over the past two centuries, while America is still working with its original model. She sees a future for herself in France, but there’s just one little problem.

She can’t make any trouble that might hurt her chances of gaining citizenship in a few years, but she won’t stop supporting the causes that animate her.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at

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