I don’t have a car so whenever I have to go to the Whiteaker I take the bus. I think that is always an experience in itself. After spending a half hour waiting for the bus at the Eugene Bus Station, I felt like I was ready for whatever the Whiteaker had to throw at me. I was wrong.
I got off the bus a block earlier than I usually do looking to find a new perspective on the Whiteaker. I got off the bus and headed straight to Washington Jefferson Park. I immediately knew I was on to something.
I walked cautiously under the bridge and approached a group of transients sitting together playing dice. It was uncharacteristic of me, but I asked if I could join. They were happy to have new company.
I introduced myself as someone who is a student from a reporting 1 class at the University of Oregon, and asked them what they wanted to share about the neighborhood. They couldn’t wait to share. They told me about what they liked about the Whiteaker, what they didn’t like (the malt liquor ban) and they shared the reasons that they had made the Whiteaker their home. This is such a cliche thing to say, but it is so true. It never ceases to amaze me how interconnected we all are. As I sat and chatted with them, I couldn’t help but feel a kinship. After all, they told me about their friend James who was murdered here a few months back and and played a game of dice.