Diversity in Downton

By Adam Fernandez

Simply mentioning the downtown area may bring up specific images of large buses entering and leaving their stations, or nomadic troupes of passersby and their dog against a cool grey background. Others may picture the very pink Voodoo Doughnut, a staple of the Eugene food culture.

The undeniable truth is that for everyone who has experienced the downtown area, either briefly exploring it or living in it, knows that its diverse cultural atmosphere makes for lasting impressions.

For some, it’s the environment and location about downtown that affect them most.

“I like the library. I also like that they hang plants from the posts in the springtime,” said Jeremy Cook, who was filming a movie about animal rights just outside of the Eugene Public Library. “It’s nice that the library and bus system are so close in the middle of downtown.”

Barbara Smith, an elderly employee at the library, echoed Jeremy’s thoughts.

“There’s a lot going on downtown,” she said. “I live across from the Shedd, next to a grocery store and it’s close to the library—it’s a convenient place to live.”

After a recent increase in local businesses opening up in the area, it’s clear that there really is a lot going on, and that those who are contributing to the ruckus are an increasingly younger crowd.

“Downtown Eugene is traditionally a dead space, said barista Mark Sheppard of The Barn Light café. “I’m happy that there are hipper new businesses coming in—businesses that attract hip people…[businesses] like this place, the Bijou, Voodoo, that kind of thing.”

However, it’s possible that the larger, younger crowd may be a part of the increasing homeless population. More and more Eugene residents are becoming out of work or homeless in the area.

“I hope that they’ll someday find a way to help the homeless people,” said Smith. “It’s just a shame. I feel really bad for them.”

Perhaps if Sheppard’s suggestion of “encouraging small businesses, like [with] business incentives” and helping “vibrancy” grow, the downtown area can be a wonderfully diverse area that both the financially fortunate and unfortunate can enjoy.

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