By Katie Cracchiolo
The Whiteaker neighborhood is well known for being chilled out and expressive. From the vibrant colors painted on the sides of buildings and homes to the people who meander about the streets on a Saturday night, this neighborhood is a bustling hub of some of Eugene’s most interesting characters.
It’s no secret that the Whiteaker has a reputation for being “hippie.” With that stigma comes a sense of family and belonging that most people take for being too far out there and not necessarily normal. The people who spend time in this neighborhood would have to disagree. Andrew Lathorp, a bartender at Sam Bond’s Garage, feels that many people don’t venture into the neighborhood because they consider it to be a more run-down part of the city, “I’m not saying people would be scared, but some people might be like, ‘oh I don’t want to go over there.’”
Lathorp enjoys the way the neighborhood functions as a family saying, “It’s just the community itself. I mean, I’ve never lived in or been in a neighborhood that comes together for more things and is more active in things, they have annual clean up where people get together and walk around and clean up trash. I think that’s the best thing about it.” He isn’t the only one who enjoys the community being so close. “It embodies Eugene’s culture more than any other neighborhood I’ve been in and it’s funky, so that is a big part of it, but I think that it’s got a really strong sense of neighborliness,” said Whiteaker resident, Valarie Cooley. “the first day we moved in for example all of the neighbors around us said ‘hey’ and we’ve never experienced that in any other neighborhood that we’ve lived in.”
While the friendliness is overpowering in this neighborhood, many people feel that one of it’s biggest problems is cleanliness. “One thing that I think is a huge problem is we were walking down by the railroad tracks and the place is covered with human waste,” said Cooley. “That was really shocking to me.” Megan Trelfa, a clerk at Red Barn Grocery, loves the way the community comes together for clean ups. She also feels that it’s something the community could do more often.
It’s clear that the Whiteaker provides a great support system for its residents and visitors. It may not be Eugene’s cleanest neighborhood, but it’s businesses are thriving and more people are starting to spend time in the area.