A coffee fueled quest; thats the best way to explain it. The morning headlines are assembled, multiple stories waiting to be edited, tech headlines read, seemed like the perfect time to do a little surfing. Today’s quest was to get an outsiders view of our area; there is no conclusion within, only a look out a rainy car window at passing billboards. The opinions expressed belong to those individuals who decided they really needed to say something, these are some snapshots from the trip. Eventually landing at complainer world Yelp, an abundance of interesting opinions presented themselves:
It seems that my research on this “unique city” misled me into believing that Eugene and Oregon was a spectacular place to live, work, and play. It turns out that I find this place too small, dull, too rural, lacking in culture and diversity, and overall a huge let down. Eugene seems so disorganized and the people all seem sad and depressed.
Where is the creativity?
Where is the commerce and why can’t Eugene attract businesses?
Why do all the children seem under educated?
What’s the deal with having crack heads pump your gas and take their time doing it?
Why does Oregon seem more honky than Texas?
Why are Eugene people polarized as either hippy dippy or meth heads?
Where’s the diversity?
Why does it seem a dog and pony show could run this town better?
Why do the pigs here seem dumber and fatter then my chickens?
Why is everyone overweight?
What’s the deal with one way streets everywhere, what civil engineer designed this “city” anyways?
Why do the hiking trails seem so mediocre?
Raise my children here…yeah right, they’d go mad from boredom!
Whoa. Now some of those are certainly not foreign thoughts to a Eugenian, but one has to wonder what they were expecting, and what exactly they did to participate in the local community. Then this one crawled by:
The biggest irk I have with Eugene is the cost of goods. I moved here from NYC, which is something like the 8th most expensive metropolitan area -in the world-, and I’m still continually shocked at how much people charge for crap here in Eugene. Mainly, it’s food prices that bother me. There’s a galling dearth of fresh and affordable seafood relative to Eugene’s geographical setting. The produce is of fair quality and I do love that it’s incredibly easy to buy local, but it’s too expensive. I regularly stay in Portland with friends for a few days and have been grocery shopping many times in Portland. Groceries are cheaper in Portland. Agggghhhh. It makes sense. It has to get on a truck and come from somewhere to get to little-ole-isolated Eugene and that costs money. But I have to wonder why anyone would choose to live here when paying $2 a pound more than Portland peers for single-origin coffee, with the payoff being a city with very little cultural, ethnic or racial diversity*, a thriving market for petty crime, massive unemployment and a prevailing sheen of governmental dereliction.
*No, passive-aggressive, middle-aged hippie types interested in the abuse and misappropriation of Eastern philosophies and religions do not constitute diversity.
Other random beefs with Eugene:
-people riding bikes on the sidewalk (this is illegal in most cities, for good reason)
-very few good restaurants
-how much everyone talks about the weather
-as above, abuse and misappropriation of Eastern philosophies and religions
-the government here seems a bit ramshackle
Spoken like a New Yorker. Seems he never made it to the farmers market in Eugene, or Springfield, or Creswell; to the Kiva, Sundance or Capella markets. Our diversity and quality of organic local crops is becoming legendary, but the prices, well, he may be on to something there. One has to also wonder if Eugene’s foodie community remained uncovered for this poor wanderer.
This isn’t to say the defenders of Eugene’s virtue weren’t out in force too, but oddly nearly each one agreed at least in part with the critics. The “don’t like it leave” group was well represented as were the apologists, but this one, while not terribly articulate, did sum up the attitude of the bulk of the defenders pretty well:
While I do admit there are fat, ignorant, dull, and basically walking zombie sputum roaming the corporate byways, the real thing is found in the not so flaccid kinda hub zones. For example: while the Whitaker is still considered a place of mild ill repute it is the most lively area of the city, you’ll find Sam Bonds garage a wonderful music and social venue, a real workers bar called Tinys tavern across the street & many fine small family and small businesses. In the downtown only the nite life is worth commenting on but if you have kids you probably don’t have time for that.
As for why commerce is stiffled in the city & downtown mainly is that only three entities control most of the properties in the city and they are the opus group that bought up downtown and then sat on the holdings for the last decade and discouraged any business because they wanted to tear the city core down since as developers that is the most profitable for them and to hell with everyone else…so to the quick then, welcome to our incestuous little land, it is what you’ll make of it personally the old Eugene adage is spoken thus.
People move to Eugene because of the people.
People leave Eugene because of the people.
Really, thats the best we can do? Concerted efforts to populate the social media byways with todays equivalent of “wish you were here’s” and “vision of the future” signs seem to be nearly absent. Reaching the bottom of the cup, a question persists: do outsiders just not get it, or do we just not get it? Somewhere it seems the PR machine that sets expectations for the incoming resident is missing the mark. This may be a striving, forward looking community, but it takes time to get to know Eugene; the outsider is easily accepted, but slowly embraced. Of all the various diatribes, rants and soliloquies out there, the best assembled description of Eugene seemed to be this:
“All can be forgiven when you realize Eugene is the comfortable bed to come back to, rather than the happening place to be.”
Time for more coffee.