By: Kailla Coomes
In 1971, a young man, who has just moved to Eugene, Oregon to create a new life for himself hears a knock at the door. Standing at his doorstep is a woman asking if he would like to buy any food from their recently created Growers Market Co-Op.
“I’ll take a carton of bananas,” said the young man not knowing that one carton could probably last him his entire life.
The women intrigued by the young man asked if he would like to be apart of this Co-op and help it to grow into what it has become today. He jumped at the chance not knowing that it would be the start of something so much more.
Now in 2012, that young man, Ron Pike, is older and wiser and still remembers that day like it was yesterday. “I didn’t know how much a carton was,” he says, “I just knew that I liked bananas.”
When Pike moved to the Whiteaker Neighborhood from Lake Oswego he knew that he wanted to become apart of this community because he grew up in a place where everyone knew everybody.
When he became involved with Growers Market, an “all volunteer weekly food-buying club in Eugene, Oregon”, he knew that he had found a place where he belonged. Growers Market has helped provide locally grown food at a lower cost for over 40 years. Pike believes these organizations keep people involved and introduces others to new ways of thinking. Though he doesn’t directly work with Growers Market anymore he is still making a difference in the community any way that he can.
Vickie Nelson is someone who has known Pike for almost 40 years and has worked with him and helped create Growers Market. When asked to describe Pike, Nelson said “[He is] extremely social, friendly, funny, and loyal.” Nelson is also involved with the Occupy movement in Eugene, “We both think it’s all about [the] community.”
Ron Pike’s largest and most rewarding contribution to the Whiteaker neighborhood is helping create the Whiteaker Thanksgiving dinner. It started off with just a group of friends who didn’t want to have Thanksgiving dinner alone and has grown to become a yearly event that the whole community participates in.
“It’s very rewarding to work with your community,” says Pike who helped start this dinner in 1987. The first dinner was only served to 50 people but last year, with the help of volunteers served dinner to over 2,500 people. This year Pike is in charge of providing the music for this event, which now, not only serves dinner, but also gives back to the community by offering other services free of charge.
The event unifies the community, which is something that is important to Pike. “[The dinner] has introduced me to so many people,” says Pike, “it has also changed me and has put me on paths that I’m still walking today.”
By continually being involved with his community he has met people who have become his family. “I want to learn who my next door neighbor is and how I can relate [to them],” says Pike, “I want to know what we can accomplish if we work together.”
He believes that just siting in your house, ignoring your community is no way to live. “It is important not to cocoon yourself,” says Pike, “keep an open mind and embrace change.”
Pike has now been retired for about a year. He is spending his time on his home. With this free time he wants to eventually volunteer more with the community. The people that he has met along the way have been a contributing factor to who he has become today.
“People have kept me grounded and still excited to live in this community,” says Pike. Though he is not directly working for one specific place or organization he is still apart of a community that he has helped build.
“If something happens I’ll be standing next to those people [community] in the streets because we are all connected.”