Whiteaker Residents Talk Art, Illegal Drug Abuse

While the Whiteaker neighborhood welcomes an artistic crowd in its all-inclusive community, individuals have expressed concerns about drug use and the homeless population.

Zoe Gadsby, a manager at the Ninkasi Brewing Company, feels that the Eugene Mission brings an onset of wandering homeless individuals into the neighborhood during the day.

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Zoe Gadsby talks Whiteaker at the Ninkasi Brewery. Photo credit: Colette Levesque

“I’m all for finding a nice place for homeless people to live,” said Gadsby. “But I don’t think that’s the best solution.”

The Whiteaker neighborhood is home to a large artistic community, hosting events like the Eugene Last Friday ArtWalk and the Whiteaker Block Party.

“[Whiteaker] allows that whole artistic view on life, letting people be who they are and expressing what they want to express,” said Aubrieanne Reineke, a bartender at the Tiny Tavern.

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Aubrieanne Reineke smiles at the Tiny Tavern. Photo credit: Colette Levesque

Reineke just moved to the Whiteaker neighborhood, and is a fan of the unique artwork and savory food. She described the neighborhood as an all-inclusive community, to a point where no one can be cut out.

“It also brings a whole other group of people who want to express themselves in possibly a negative way,” said Reineke. “The drugs going back and forth between the alleys – that’s a huge problem.”

Coco Santana, a worker at El Pinche Taco, is unsure whether the eclectic crowd of the Whiteaker neighborhood acts the way they do because of health problems or drug use.

“Oh my gosh, he is speaking out loud,” she recalled, on a recent encounter with a visitor in the Whiteaker neighborhood.

“They’re diverse just like the art,” said Reineke, referring to the residents of the neighborhood. “Usually once you start talking to them, they’re pretty awesome and have a lot of stories.”

John Munro, owner of Eugene Glass Menagerie, would like to see more police patrolling the neighborhood to combat the Whiteaker drug problem.

“It’s got its rough points but overall the community is really great,” said Munro. Munro was most interested in seeing increased community involvement, possibly through more events and the organization of neighborhood clean-ups.

“I’d also like to see the city get behind the community more,” said Munro.

Gadsby, a long-time resident of Whiteaker, explained that the neighborhood has been cleaned up since her first few years living in the area. “Our neighborhood is changing and it makes a lot of people angry,” said Gadsby.

Gadsby explained that companies like Ninkasi are being wrongfully blamed for gentrification in the Whiteaker neighborhood.

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Ninkasi Brewing Company. Photo credit: Colette Levesque

“Ninkasi is constantly giving back to the community,” said Gadsby. “I don’t like ignorant people in the neighborhood who don’t actually know what’s going on.”

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