Here I am in 1989 at my art studio in the Whiteaker, on Blair. I knew the man who built the park in the photo below. He worked for the Parks Dept. I was in charge of the community garden at the back of this park.
My friend, Jeff Pasternak, talked with Marilyn Chambers about doing a live music show out of his big garage not a hundred yards from my studio. Jeff and Shannon moved from LA. I wrote a musical around Belle and her Wiccan Candle folks. Today is the Whiteaker Block Party that Victoria and Starfish will attend – in Symmetry Style!
Belle and I made an agreement she would be my Muse. When that agreement ends, is anybody’s guess. But, I must, and I will, go wherever my Muse leads me, even into the darkness of Hades. These are the rules of the Muse. She is – forgivable! She showed me hell. Dante is jealous!
Many sources inside of the Whiteaker neighborhood have agreed to a surfacing problem, involving the aspects of homelessness and drug abuse. Newfound worker and resident, Kristie Munro, calmly voiced her opinion in saying that “this neighborhood has been here a long time, and there are a fair amount of drug users and homeless people.”
In regards to homelessness, Munro claimed that the previous owner of her new shop, which she asked to be remained anonymous, “tried to stick up for [the homeless people]” that were “getting harassed.” The drug users of the area, however, remained to be another story. Munro stated that “Whiteaker is a vibrant community with a diverse and original population,” but also has been given reason to believe that there have been many background drug dealings in her new town. Munro even went on to say that when the previous owners of her shop left, one of the reasons for the abrupt cause was for the multiple break-ins and smashed windows, all of which potentially pertained to these neighboring dealings.
Throughout Whiteaker’s recent livelihood, parks have become a potential “hang out spot” for locals who feel the need to splurge in their drug of choice. Marcus Baker, a bartender at Tiny Tavern, brought emphasis to this point. “I have seen and witnessed some drug abuse, some heroin and what not. It’s just, kind of, everywhere. I have found needles and stuff like that, in and around the park, and in our parking lot.”
The park across the street from Tiny Tavern’s is sometimes called Heroin Park “from all the druggies looking for their 15-minute high and all the junkies hanging out, trying to score.”
It seems as if Whiteaker has changed quite a bit since it first became a known area in Eugene. Baker added, “All of Eugene has drugs, but this area is the worst; probably because it’s least patrolled and has the most people out and about on foot and the Mission is right down the street.” However, Baker’s opinions stand challenged by a few of his neighbors. Some locals are still staying on the positive spectrum of the Whiteaker neighborhood.
Whiteaker’s own local, Audra McCabe, used to live in Whiteaker not too long ago, and has returned to the neighborhood recently. McCabe has a different perspective. “As far as people, I don’t really look [for drug abusers]… I’ve only seen one needle.” In her opinion, people just insinuate a drug problem, and because of this, “there’s been a lot of tension to come over here.” To McCabe, a resident of this wondrous neighborhood, “[Whiteaker] is Eugene’s favorite scapegoat.”
Tod Schneider, a Crime Prevention Specialist for the Whiteaker neighborhood, speaks a lot about Whiteaker as a whole. However, by far, the drug problem sees to be a reigning issue. “We are still seeing plenty of heroin, other opiates, and meth comes and goes. But it’s not so much specific drugs as policies and issues as how to deal with people. These types of people are not going to stop using drugs because one category goes away.”
From many perspectives, Whiteaker seems to be an area of wild and varied opinions; and for now, that assumption will not fade, as long as the potential drug and homelessness problems remain.