Willa BaumanPhoto by Paul Neevel

Willa Bauman

Born and raised in Eugene, Willa Bauman is the daughter of Dana and Colleen Bauman, who opened their Dana’s Cheesecake Bakery booth at the Eugene Saturday Market in the summer of 1980. They opened a booth at the Oregon Country Fair two years later, and Dana’s Cheesecake has been a treasured treat at both locations ever since. “I was a month and a half old at my first Country Fair,” says Bauman, who was home-schooled through high school and also took courses at Lane Community College. She spent four years in Portland to earn a degree in English literature from Reed College, where her graduating class was 300 students, then returned to Eugene and resumed seasonal work at Dana’s. She also worked with her dad to turn a 100-year-old barn on the family property into a house. “I moved in in 2014,” she says. “I was into power tools. I built chicken houses and raised pullets.” In 2018, she began a master’s degree program in nonprofit management at the University of Oregon and also responded to a job listing as operations manager of the Eugene ToolBox Project, a community tool library that was started in 2015. “I got the job,” she says. “It seemed like a good fit. I know how empowering it is to build something for the first time.” Toolbox Project membership is open to all residents of Lane County over the age of 18 and provides access to a library of more than 1,500 hand and power tools. Visit EugeneToolBoxProject.org to learn about membership, to view an illustrated catalog of available tools, and to reserve tools by email or phone. Bauman received her UO nonprofit management diploma in June, as the Toolbox Project began to reopen after two months of pandemic closure. “It feels great to be open again,” she says. “We’re growing so much and taking on new projects. It’s really a lot of fun.”