I Dream of The Whit

Dwight Dickinson  Local musician and satirist

I dream for the punk/DIY music scene to grow and keep going. Whether it’s the Whit, downtown, your basement or Bingo Night with Grandma, we just need to perform, play and not care. The fact that a bar like Old Nick’s exists is proof there’s a thirst for punk rock. Prior to Old Nick’s, you had smaller bar venues for local acts and large venues for large touring acts, but there wasn’t a place that meshed both under the banner of creating a thriving music scene. Different is good. I played the Whiteaker Block Party years back and was sobered by the tie-dye, dreadlocks and patchouli stink on the streets. This was very foreign to the crowd I played to. I high-tailed it back to Lazarus Pit as quick as I could, where I was comforted by the punks, metal heads, rock ‘n’ rollers and weirdoes. Your music scene doesn’t have to be all B.O. and Fish. Diversity is good, and counterculture like the Punk/DIY scene promotes it. To keep the dream alive you must say no to hippies. This can be achieved by driving in the bike lane, supporting your punk scene and listening to Dwight Dickinson!

Val Hoyle  Representative, Oregon State Legislature

I dream that the creativity that has made the Whiteaker neighborhood a center for art, cuisine and entrepreneurship combined with a heart for social justice can become a model for the state on how to combat homelessness. I dream that affordable housing choices are available and that our local economy grows in a way that provides more jobs that pay a living wage, that no child goes hungry or is homeless in our city for the next year and that they have a safe and warm place to stay.

My dream is that our community can find more ways to bridge our socioeconomic and cultural differences in order to find the best solutions for a better Eugene.

Jeff Geiger  Author and co-founder  of No Shame Eugene

I dream of a Whiteaker that resists. A Whiteaker with some fight left. And restraint. The fight to sucker punch you with obscene art on a Last Friday Art Walk or burst your eardrums with a shock-rock performance for an audience of 12 at the Wandering Goat. Enough fight to shake the walls and rattle pint glasses like a passing train. And restraint. The restraint to avoid becoming adorable. I dream of a Whiteaker that never winks at the camera and never breaks the fourth wall. That does not wear a T-shirt bearing its own name. A Whiteaker that resists change at the semantic level. That says in a loud, drunken voice — Don’t call me the fucking Whit! — then hugs you. Because you are still here. Because the more things change, the more they stay the same. Because it’s late, and so much has happened, and you and this neighborhood are still in love.

Adam Jacques  Master grower/breeder at The Grower’s Guild Gardens

My thoughts always move toward what we can do to help the community and its ideas thrive. In the Whiteaker we have seen many businesses come and go. I love the homegrown businesses — people trying out their ideas and showing the community what they bring to the table. The best businesses in Eugene, in my humble opinion, are centered in the Whiteaker. My dream for Eugene is to keep on track with keeping chain establishments out of the area and showing everyone what Eugene is really all about. I would love to see more help and programs directed towards local small-business owners making their dreams come true and using the Whiteaker as a springboard to build unique brands that mirror the amazing community we have built. Ninkasi, Oakshire, Papa’s, Sandwich League, Izakaya Meiji, Tacovore, The Guild, Red Barn and many others have built amazing businesses and I would love to see the trend continue.

Kari Johnson Whiteaker Artist and future bacchanalian celebrant

I dream of Whiteaker Past, wild and unruly, crawling with anarchists, forest defenders, artists, musicians, old storytellers, organizers, Latinos, the working poor, all sheltered and connected by webs of relationships spun for a hundred years in Eugene’s oldest neighborhood. Out of relationships comes art, poetry, social justice, creative extravaganzas by and for the people. Whiteaker — a creative destination, funneling the best off of I-5 … Riiiinnnnng! Wake up to Whiteaker Present: an alcohol destination. Aside from turning the whole neighborhood into the East Blair (low-income) Housing Co-op, there’s no saving it. But, unlike a bigger city where gentrification pushes the poor to find another village, Eugene has no other village. You need pedestrians, a center, a park … cheap rent. Whiteaker is dispersing to Portland, Springfield, Bethel. Whiteaker — “We Are Bethel!” Ooooo … getting sleepy … I see … Future Whiteaker becoming, in the moment before Starbucks, a drunken bacchanalia! Tourists pedal the drunk wagon past the mayor’s house to arenas where they pay to fight and wrestle in beer, spectators screaming. On platforms, drunk college students and middle-class suburbanites cavort in orgiastic public sex. Fucking and fighting! Realizing the full cultural potential of alcohol! Proceeds go to helping Whiteaker residents relocate.

Sam Hahn President of Whiteaker Community Council, co-owner Blairally

My dream for Eugene is that the general population of the city and city officials start to protect the Whiteaker like the treasure that it is. Sorta picturing Charlie Sheen protecting Corey Haim in Lucas. I dream that Eugene will be the one good-looking, popular athlete willing to stop the awkward nerd from getting bullied. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also because Lucas is special! Because the world needs Lucas just the way he is. Eugene needs the Whiteaker. And not just as a late-night hang out or a stop on the “Isn’t Eugene cool!?!” driving tour. We need it to inspire us. To remind many of us why we moved here or stayed here in the first place. Landlords, patrons of the businesses, city officials all have the opportunity to be (1980s) Charlie Sheen. Hopefully what is left of the neighborhood we love so much can get a slow clap before the credits roll!

Pete Sorenson  Lane County Commissioner

As the Lane County Commissioner for the Whiteaker neighborhood, it’s my privilege to represent this vibrant and exciting area of Eugene. This was Eugene’s neighborhood and had its very beginning when Eugene and Mary Skinner located their log cabin on the banks of the Willamette River. Later in 1890, Oregon’s first governor, John Whiteaker, bought 10 blocks in the neighborhood.

Whiteaker, also known increasingly as “the Whit,” is the home of a vibrant group of people, kids, elders and businesses. My hope for the future is that there will be a range of housing types, so that the poor aren’t pushed out of the neighborhood, and that local businesses can stay local.

The Whit is home of Eugene’s mayor, Kitty Piercy, home of Ninkasi Brewing Company, home of Arcimoto and literally thousands of creative artists and businesses. Some of the most famous places and things in Eugene are found in the Whit.

In my work, I’ve enjoyed the unique celebrations in the neighborhood, spoken to the Whiteaker Community Council (WCC is Eugene’s first neighborhood organization), toured businesses small and large and knocked on hundreds of doors as a part of my campaign. Whiteaker is a neighborhood with promise.

One specific problem I’ve learned about is parking. There are more people coming down to the neighborhood in the evenings and nights, and the public transportation is lacking. Working with the WCC, I’m hoping for improved transportation options  — so that other Eugeneans and tourists can enjoy the neighborhood without the complications and problems of cars being illegally parked in the neighbor’s front lawns.

Whiteaker also needs social services because the homeless there need a better place to live. Many people in Eugene have heard of the Egan Warming Centers. These centers are named for Major Thomas Egan, a homeless veteran who died on Blair Avenue near the railroad tracks. It’s my hope that we will be able to make a dent in the homeless problem over the coming year.

Oprah Winfrey said, about the concept of a “New Year” that she’d send “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” On housing and transportation, it’s my hope that that thought applies to the Whit.

Trudy Bauchery Burlesque producer, performer

My creativity was nurtured as a child in the Midwest, but it has come into its own in the Whiteaker. The Whiteaker is a safe haven for the freaks and misfits. And I’m proud and honored to be one of them. There are many fine establishments in the neighborhood that keep this mojo pumping, but I want to see more spaces that focus energy towards communal artistic expression. Get it out into the streets, onto the stages and under the lights.

Emily Nyman  Whiteaker Community Council, co-owner of Old Nick’s

My dream for the Whiteaker neighborhood is that we have a communal, all-ages, drug-and-alcohol free space for artists and musicians. Our neighborhood is made unique by all the artwork on display. From the hostel to the g-spot, The Porch of Distinction to the Whiteaker Tattoo Collective, murals and art installations are on display in the yards and on the homes of residents. Many of these artists live on an extremely low income, and as the Whiteaker gains popularity as a Eugene nightlife destination, there is growing concern they will be gentrified and priced out of the very places they have helped turn into unique and special art installations. We need a gathering space for these artists, a housing project where artists can live in-residence and display art, promote live music and share ideas or visions for our neighborhood. This kind of space is already somewhat in place with The Boreal. It’s a financial struggle, however, to find the right support to keep this kind of project going. We need a better location for The Boreal in the Whit, where artists can support a space by paying rent, with a large communal area to also serve as a spot for music, art classes, art display and meetings. With donations, hard work and city-wide support, this kind of artists’ town hall will be the springboard to keep the groovy art vibe alive and thriving in our community!

Melissa Mankins  Photographer, artist, wannabe writer

I dream of a Eugene where our community values art and artistic expression. Art is undervalued in our community and it’s absolutely not OK. When I first moved here 12 years ago there were tons of art galleries and it was amazing to see. Now there is a distinct artistic void in our community and it’s pretty pathetic. I stopped showing work here a couple years ago because people refuse to pay for art. They want to trade. If I am offered cupcakes or doughnuts in exchange for art one more time I will scream. I cannot pay my mortgage with doughnuts. Sorry not sorry. How about I take your picture with my doughnut camera. It takes great pics and it’s delicious. I love you Eugene but please support local artists and crafts people. We are starving for much more than doughnuts. We want to make art for you. That is what feeds us.

Father Daniel Mackay  Priest, St. John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church

Beauty walks Whiteaker. Beauty talks in Whiteaker. All that’s best that can be read or writ meets in each aspect and each person of the Whit. That is the dream I dream when I am asked to dream.

We want a home for each person; we want demonic addiction exorcised from each soul; we want the all-too-convenient desire to exploit reigned in and replaced with a desire to help the traveler roughed up on the side of the road; we want people to speak beautifully instead of cursing intoxicatedly. Rather than dream beauty I would rather that we awake and live it … dreaming necessitates sleeping and it is too late now to sleep through what little day remains. We should awake to the beauty that is.

Down here in Whiteaker we are inundated with beauty that is covered up, overlaid, forgotten, denounced, trounced and pounced upon. Beauty inspires. It has inspired and will inspire. How can one set aside the needle for the final time unless one feels the beautiful tide of the natural pulse more acutely than the vile rush of ephedrine? We need to see, be and celebrate the beautiful through seeing and celebrating the Creator of all.

Mira Fannin  Sweet Skins owner
and designer

Imagine if Eugene could make the map as one of the country’s most colorful cities, by way of insane street art everywhere. Strolling through the Whiteaker now, you’ll see that we are not so far behind big art cities like LA, New York and Atlanta in terms of awesome graffiti art per block. Would it be too much to ask that every plain building and boring wall become a source of light and inspiration expressing the inner yearning of some crazy citizen who lives or works there? I dream that every dreamer in Whiteaker with a wall to spare share their deepest hearts’ desires in living color! We could even make the 10 best graffiti art cities in the U.S. by the year 2020. Wouldn’t that be cool? As is, we are making art on the inside of our warehouse (Sweet Skins Organic Apparel Warehouse, 850 W. 2nd) and suddenly I feel like I’ve been a bit stingy, giving you nothing but gray walls when you walk by. I am making my commitment, here and now, to create really cool and inspiring art to spark the dreams of every passerby by this summer 2016. Hopefully the rest of you creatives will join me!

I Dream of North Eugene

I Dream of Glenwood

I Dream of the City

I Dream of Kesey Square

I Dream of Staff Picks