Aimée Okotie-Oyekan

Visions of Eugene

We asked some creative folks in the Eugene area what they would like to see in their city in another 20 years

Halie Loren

Jazz singer-songwriter

By 2042, I would love for Eugene to once again have a well-established Eugene Celebration-esque city-wide festival celebrating local and regional music and arts. Our city has such a vibrant community of artists, as well as an arts-focused broader community culture, and is of a size that can really pull off the creation of a regionally known festival of this sort.

I also think it would be amazing to have our own annual jazz (or jazz and blues) festival in Eugene, like many other cities host.

On the non-musical side of things, in 2042 I’d love to see our city benefiting from concentrated efforts to plant drought-resistant native trees all around our city core and in residential areas. We are going to need all the help we can get from increased tree cover in order to mitigate against the immediate and near-future effects of changing climate, and I hope we will be able to collectively move to make high-impact positive changes in response to this reality.

Halie Loren. Photo by Todd Cooper.

Jasmine Darmadi

Senior at South Eugene High School and founder of Hygge Tutoring 

Appreciation for the unconventional and diversity are what create a connected community. Aside from lush hiking spots and cute eateries, I hope to see all parts of Eugene continue developing organizations that embrace folks of BIPOC and LBTQIA+ communities. I anticipate that my generation will build social justice organizations and cultural celebrations to help welcome diversity in all aspects of the Eugene community. 

In elementary school, my rainy-day field trips to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art were fundamental for understanding my Asian heritage. Seeing ancient Chinese handscrolls that were twice as big as me and handmade pottery being lit by small stage lights affected me more than words in a textbook.

Blending art and cultural richness, I hope to see locals painting vibrant murals that embrace cultural colorfulness in Eugene. The colorful murals are accompanied by the cool-toned pine trees that hug central Eugene. These trees make forests our backyards. They line hiking trails and dampen noise pollution, providing a refuge of visual, aromatic and sensational tranquility for our community. I imagine there will be harmony between our forests and architecture. I can picture trees towering over small businesses built to blend into the natural landscape.

I hope the shared appreciation for these unique features will cultivate a unified community in our future.

Jasmine Darmadi. Photo by Paul Neevel.

James Ralph

Executive director, The John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts

First and foremost, we need to eliminate homelessness, vagrancy, loitering, public drug use, public mental illness and uncivil behavior of all types from county and city public lands completely and uncompromisingly.

Second, I’d like to see Eugene city government focus much more on its core responsibility of ensuring a safe, healthy and welcoming social and business-friendly community environment.

It would be great to see businesses of all types thriving throughout our city and county from 6 am in the morning until 9 pm every night seven days a week.

Finally, nuts with focusing so much on downtown Eugene. Our focus should be on our entire community. For 60 years I’ve viewed myself less as living in Eugene than living in Lane County, Springfield, Coburg, Junction City, up the river, over to the coast and so on. That’s as it should be. 

Cynthia Wooten

Former city councilor, founder of the Eugene Celebration

2042 Eugene is a city where hate doesn’t drive divisions and violence.

2042 Eugene has adequate shelter, housing and services for the unhoused, mentally ill and addicted. It is safe to live in Eugene. There is excellent public education.

2042 Eugene is generally in good health, there is quality universal health care. The economic base is exciting, even more diversified from the diminished timber industry.

2042 Eugene is beautiful. The cherished natural resources, open spaces, parks and recreation areas are preserved, increased, expanded.

And all transportation is electric.

Cynthia Wooten. Photo by Matthew Locke Wong (

Otto Poticha


When I selected Eugene as a city to live after interviewing 30-plus cities in 1961, the community cared, there was imagination, there was discussion and the community listened and achieved. I thought it was a community where I could contribute, be a part of and make a difference by sharing my skills and experiences. Our city looked at more than one serious issue or problem at a time. Some ideas worked and some failed, but the citizens were involved and appeared to care. It now appears that we are only surviving and getting by. Civic Park may be the exception.

Eugene has a performing arts center but not a visual and cultural center. It is one of the largest cities in the country without a municipal museum. This is embarrassing, especially for a university town. The use of the abandoned EWEB property for this purpose and to remedy the missing parts of the housing property would be incredible. Sleeping Eugene, wake up. Eugene media, wake up! 

 We seem to want someone else to provide what we need or to solve problems and for someone else to pay for it. The Hult Center had some benefactors but was provided by a bond election so all of us could share in the costs. Today, given the same problem, we would not have a performing arts center, which is an important icon within the community and says who or what we are.

Aimée Okotie-Oyekan

Environmental consultant and freelance creative 

My vision is clear that this future is near

Eugene is place where I won’t live in fear

For being too Black, too nappy, too curvy, too queer.

In fact, every day I’ll be thrilled to be alive

In a place where Black people come, stay and thrive.

Where housing is provided across a spectrum of need

And I’m not being harassed by the men who come to feed

And sleep on my porch since there’s nowhere else to go,

Where my boundaries are respected and no always means no.

Where the city departments have Black leaders on their team

Where there’s plenty of clean air throughout all of west Eugene

Where cars aren’t still the dominant mode of the day

And there are Black roles written into all the local plays

Where my joy, laughter and peace are always given their space

Where I’m not a token solely for the color of my face

Where the climate is stable and fossil fuels are obsolete

And transit is the priority as Eugene electrifies its fleet

Where land is collectively owned, managed and run

And I’m not seen as weird because I think twerking is fun

My vision is clear that this future is near

But for the sake of my peace, I’ll live like it’s here. 

This is by no means a comprehensive list, and even just what makes someone a visionary is up for debate. Want to hear from other folks? Want to share your vision? Send us a letter for publication at or a note to Submissions were edited for length and clarity.