After growing up in a large city in southern California, the thought of neighbors making friendly conversation with each other became simply a distant dream. Let’s put it this way: if you were making cookies and ran out of sugar, you better get in your car and drive to the grocery store before asking for a cup from next door.
That experience may have left me jaded, but the people of Eugene’s Friendly Neighborhood gave me a refreshing reminder that people still care, and that they take a particular interest and pride in their community.
Ken Fuller, owner of BBQ King on 18thStreet, has been apart of the neighborhood since 1967, when he was attending the University of Oregon as a student. “I’ve been here and watched this neighborhood change, I’m an original to the community. Across the street at Safeway was where I used to barbeque, and in 1980 when times got tough and the lumbering industry fell through, I decided to open my own place to support my family,” he said.
He gleefully chatted about his favorite parts of the neighborhood, but came to one conclusion, “The best part of working in this neighborhood is that I never know who I’m going to meet. Whether it’s sad or funny, I like talking and getting to know everyone.”
When asked if there’s anything he would change Fuller suggested, “I’d really like to see a flea market type thing set up in the neighborhood kind of like the Saturday market, but with more food vendors.” He believes that everyone in the community should be supporting one another, and by full-participation in a flea market setting, everyone can get to know each other.
“The best thing is the view of Spencer’s Butte from almost every part of the neighborhood. It never really gets old, to me at least,” said homemaker Sharon Edwards, who was on her way to pick up her family’s groceries from the local Capella Market.
One thing is for certain: the view of the butte is the backdrop for much of the buildings occupying the neighborhood.
“Living in the neighborhood is nice because my kids attend South Eugene High School just a few streets away,” said Terri Feldman, 43, who is a mother of three children, all in their teen years.
Feldman voiced her concerns of the neighborhood street overcrowding, “Traffic gets very busy on school days near Amazon Parkway and 19th. I think there should be different access points or wider streets to lighten up the congestion.”
Traffic has been a main concern among most residents in Eugene since many roads have been under heavy reconstruction the past few months.