Last night Chelsea, Kayla, and I experienced our first Friendly Area Neighbors (FAN) meeting. The meetings occur the second Monday of every month in a community center, Washington Park Cottage. When we first arrived we were a bit skeptical if a meeting was going to actually take place because the building was dark inside. However, people started slowly arriving, and when the meeting started there were eight members sitting around a long table.
I was surprised by how formal the meeting was. At 7:05 the meeting was called to order, and they began a discussion about the cost of the newsletter they recently sent out. At one point during the meeting the members had to vote on a specific matter by responding to “all those in favor say ‘I’”. Our group was handed an agenda that was broken down into topics by the minute, and the meeting followed it pretty well.
Some of the issues that the members had to deal with were ones that pertained more to their association rather than the community. FAN sends out a newsletter to approximately 3,500 households, and they recently tried to find a cheaper way to send them out to residents. The new issue of the newsletter was only two sheets instead of four and printed on a different kind of paper, but it still had nice color. Andrew Fisher, the newsletter editor, was told that the cost would be comparable to their previous newsletter expenses, but that was not the case. One of the main goals of the newsletter is to help boost attendance at the meetings. The members came to the decision that a postcard would do the job and for cheaper.
After getting some of the smaller issues out of the way, the members welcomed Joyce Berman. She was there to give a presentation to the members about the current standing of Save Civic Stadium, which is an organization focused on preserving the historic ballpark. Berman referred to the ballpark as a great community asset that Eugene residents “love the stadium, love of people.” There was much talk among the members about zoning codes and the legal logistics of the situation. On February 17th, the Eugene 4J School District is having a meeting where they will file a permit to remove the historical designation from the building. Berman, and others at the meeting, were well aware that this is just another way of saying that the school distract is starting the demolition process. Berman’s main plea to the FAN members was to appear at the meeting on the 17th, and if possible testify against the removal of the historical designation.
The discussion of the Civic Stadium continued for a while, with FAN members giving input into what Save Civic Stadium should discuss at the school district meeting.
The meeting was kind of hard to follow along with because we were unaware of the issues beforehand, and the members were already well invested in the topics. However, the meeting was a great way to see the behind the scenes involvement of the community, rather than from an outsider wandering around the streets hoping to get a glimpse into the people and culture of Friendly Neighborhood.