As the Eugene City Council’s winter break progresses, Whoville campers are focusing on their relationships with businesses around the camp to show that giving homeless people a place to rest can improve things for everyone. Whoville is one of several protest camps seeking a legal place for homeless people to sleep.
“Communities like this can live in harmony and peace with communities like theirs,” says Tzedakah Bat Eliyah, a Whoville camper who has been checking in with local businesses. She says that seven of nine nearby businesses she’s checked with report no negative effects from Whoville.
“7-11 respects us for evicting the criminal who stole from them,” Eliyah says. “Café Yumm says their business has increased.” She says that since Whoville opened, Manola’s Thai no longer has problems with late-night loiterers. Pizza Hut invites the campers to come by after close to pick up any leftovers.
Whoville campers ask that Eugeneans support businesses in the area, who they praise for working with the homeless campers: Pancake House, Café Yumm, 7-11, Burrito Boy, Pizza Hut, 66 Motel, McDonald’s, Daniel’s Mexican Restaurant, The Mission and Manola’s Thai.
Eliyah says that over the Dec. 21-22 weekend, a protester who was disruptive to the camp and made many phone calls to the police was evicted with the help of EPD. “EPD was respectful and professional,” she says, adding that police allowed Whoville to pack the camper’s belongings with a videotaped record so that Whoville could make sure the camper didn’t lose her few belongings.
City Council will reconvene on Jan. 13, and Eliyah says visiting the camp is an important precursor to any votes or discussions about it. “City Council, please come visit before Jan. 13,” Eliyah pleads. “I think they’ll be speechless at what they see when they come down. They’ll see that we really can do this.”
[Update, 12/30: Our holiday feel-good story of the week will have other side of the tale in our issue to be published Jan. 9.]