Peter EberhardtPhoto by Paul Neevel

Peter Eberhardt

The son of a U.S. Foreign Service consular officer, Peter Eberhardt spent four years of his childhood in Cuba, where he chased butterflies and heard gunfire on the streets during the Cuban Revolution, then another four years in Mexico. “I’m bilingual and bicultural,” he notes. “I take vacations to visit friends in Mexico.” When his father left the Foreign Service, the family moved to Corvallis, where he went to Corvallis High School and two years of college at Oregon State. “I paid my first month’s rent in Eugene with money earned in a food booth at the Oregon Country Fair,” says Eberhardt, who migrated 40 miles south to study geography at the University of Oregon, got interested in mapmaking, and started the cartography booth McKenzie Maps at the Country Fair the following summer, in 1978. “We worked every year through 2014, a very successful final year: best sales ever and best party ever!” A letterpress map, “Rivers of Oregon,” was the best seller. Aside from the Fair, Eberhardt also made maps for the U.S. Forest Service, in Eugene and at the McKenzie Ranger Station, for 13 years, plus five years for the Lane Council of Governments. “My most important work was a map of the Willamette National Forest for the 1990 Forest Plan,” he recalls. More recently, inspired by a presentation and musical performance by local NAACP leader Eric Richardson on the UO campus in January of 2020, Eberhardt invented the Oregon Blackberry Award to recognize people making a difference in the cultures and communities of Oregon. Modeled after the annual Nobel Prize, the OBA is scaled to a local level and presented more frequently. “Awardees are chosen by the Oregon Blackberry Trust,” Eberhardt explains, “a group of friends committed to progressive social change, good conversations and fun.” During the 11 months since the first award was presented to Richardson in May 2020, a total of 20 additional OBAs have been issued, 18 of them to individuals and two to news organizations: KLCC public radio and Eugene Weekly.