By: Michaela Gilmer
EUGENE, Ore.- While walking through the Whiteaker neighborhood, it is evident that it is not just a regular neighborhood, but rather of a flourishing community. “People are always walking around and our neighbors actually talk to each other,” Whiteaker residents Melissa and Reilly Ferrell said.
It is difficult to miss the beautiful art that covers many walls and shops throughout the Whiteaker neighborhood. “Every single person is representing the arts in some way, whether it’s fashion or just being kookie,” Olive DelSoul said. DelSoul lives and works in the Whiteaker and could only think of positive things about the neighborhood. Whether you enjoy walking through the streets hearing the sounds of live music or relaxing on a park bench, there is an electric feeling that fills this neighborhood. “This is a neighborhood with identity. Where else in Eugene has something like this,” DelSoul said.
A neighborhood with identity can attribute both negatives and positives. Recently residents voted to allow people to publicly camp in the neighborhood. This vote symbolizes a lot about the people of the community. Unlike the circumstances of Whoville, a homeless camping area that was recently shut down by police in the West University/Downtown area in Eugene, the residents of Whiteaker demonstrate that they are there to help one another. “I would not want to have to call the police of these people so I just try and talk to them myself. Surprisingly, people have been nice and willing to accommodate,” Reilly Ferrell said.
The disadvantage of allowing people to camp in the area is that people often park their cars and vans outside of residents’ homes. Although a unique aspect to the neighborhood, there have been occurrences where some individuals have taken advantage of the new rule. “It’s fine that people are staying in our area but when you find used needles in your own backyard, you see the downside of allowing people to camp,” said the Ferrell’s.
The close proximity of restaurants, parks and shops is one of the ways the neighborhood feels more intimate than others. Joshua Hosaka, manager of Papa Soul Food Kitchen, a popular restaurant in the neighborhood, hopes to see more people spend more in Whiteaker. “Whiteaker is a one of a kind place and it is growing every day. I wish there was more diversity. I don’t just mean race, I mean people from around the Eugene Community,” Hosaka said.
The genuine friendliness of residents and employees makes Whiteaker a true neighborhood. “This is the most neighborhood type of place in Eugene. The roots of a rebellion are here in Whiteaker,” DelSoul said.