Whiteaker: More Than Just a Neighborhood

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.

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Photo by Michaela Gilmer

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Mural in Whiteaker. Photo by Michaela Gilmer

About Michaela Gilmer

I am a full-time student majoring in Journalism at the University of Oregon. I am passionate about working in either sports or music. For my entire life, I have wanted to develop my career around helping others and I plan on doing just that through reporting journalism. I believe journalism is a literary art form, but is also rooted in social action because journalists create ideas and stories that generate numerous responses and actions. For example, if I write a story about a low-budget high school where men’s basketball could no longer be offered, anyone who reads my story could take action on the issue I presented. Individuals may contact the school board and demand a meeting about the budget and the severity of cutting men’s basketball. I want to cover this aspect of journalism because I want to expose these issues in order to lead to action in changing them. I want to work in sports because there are many complexities with both amateur and professional sports. I want to write about ethics and politics within sports, specifically baseball, basketball and football. There needs to more research about NBA/NFL/MLB fines and how these fines are not the answer to fixing problems. Ultimately, my goal is to write and work for ESPN the Magazine. I am seeking work and internship opportunities in writing, reporting, branding, digital media, marketing, business journalism and event planning/organizing.
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