The Slow Decline Into Anonymity

The Friendly neighborhood has lived up to its name for many years by containing residents who are helpful, open and outgoing, but recently neighbors are worried that their community is slowly becoming close-minded.  Men and women live next door to each other and never say hello, and hard-working neighbors are discriminated against for needing government help.

Local university student Joe Close complained that no one on his street near Amazon Park comes outside other than to leave for work or school.  “People need to be more open and willing to talk,” Joe said.  “I’ve lived here for 2 years and only know a handful of my neighbors.”  This sentiment was expressed time and time again, and local residents seem saddened that their homes have become secluded islands in a sea of anonymity.  “Whenever I move, I plan on introducing myself to all of my neighbors the day I move in,” Joe said.  “Otherwise, it’ll never happen.”

University of Oregon Student Joe Close

The problems have built up to the point that residents discriminate against those they do not know.  Robert Vibbert, a local man who works in the neighborhood, has seen this discrimination firsthand.  “People don’t get that there are people out there who need food stamps and government help,” Robert said.  “They are nothing to be ashamed of and should be seen as the great, helpful thing they are.”  He believes that the problem is that receiving government aid is often portrayed as something only the lazy take advantage of, and if you are on welfare or food stamps, you are a bad American.  “I think that the prejudice will disappear as more people get on food stamps and realize it’s not such a bad idea,” Robert said.

Friendly Neighborhood Worker Rober Vibbert

This does seem out of the ordinary for Eugene though as the city that has always been portrayed as open-minded and welcoming to all spices of life.  On a walk through Amazon Park, Taylor Redwine commented that, “Eugene-ians think they are really open-minded, but they really aren’t.  Everyone is actually surprisingly close-minded.”  She believes that the major problem is that many of the residents of Eugene, and the Friendly neighborhood where she lives, are never introduced to the many different lifestyles that occur all across the world.  “Everyone around here acts like they care about the problems of minorities and the downtrodden, but they never do anything about it because they never really see it happening,” Taylor said.  She wants to find a way to bring people together to talk and learn about each other, because the only way to become open with another person is to get to know them.

Local Resident Taylor Redwine

So a problem faces the Friendly neighborhood, but one that can be fixed.  The community is slowly becoming more sequestered, and the ability to empathize is being poisoned by the growing isolation. Neighbors need to introduce themselves, and residents need to take the time out to talk at the crosswalk and say hello at the coffee shop.  It’s difficult to walk up to a stranger and try to care what they say, but do it once and they aren’t a stranger anymore, but an acquaintance.  Next time it won’t be so hard to say hello.  Next time they’ll be a friend.

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