Won’t You Be My Neighbor


I have fond memories of the neighborhood I grew up in. The people were friendly, the streets quiet and everyone (kids included), helped out a neighbor in need. Neighborhoods have changed a lot since I was a kid, and the meaning of neighbor with it. Neighbor is used to describe proximity more than anything else these days. As a result, most neighborhoods have lost that feeling of community and security. Three Eugene neighborhoods are redefining the meaning of neighbor yet again, and are earning praise and recognition for it.

Jefferson Westside Neighbors (JWN) is a neighborhood association, chartered by the Eugene City Council in 2002 as the result of two smaller neighborhood associations mutually agreeing to merge. Approximately 6,600 people live in JWN within about 270 acres. The South University Neighborhood Association (SUNA) neighborhood association was chartered by Eugene City Council in 1974. SUNA lies within walking distance to the downtown as well as the UO. The population is roughly 4,500, at least 60% of whom are student renters. West University Neighbors (WUN) was chartered as a neighborhood association by Eugene City Council in 1974. Approximately 5,500 people live in West University. WUN is the most densely populated neighborhood in Eugene.

JWN,  SUNA and WUN associations have been selected as a joint entry finalist in the 2011 Neighborhood of the Year competition. The neighborhoods involved worked together closely on the “Heritage Crescent Neighborhood Livability Project.” This was a three-year effort to ensure infill and redevelopment would be compatible with each neighborhood’s character and would contribute positively to the surrounding neighborhood’s livability. Which ultimately culminated with development standards adopted into city code.

The Neighborhood of the Year Award is given out by Neighborhoods, USA, a national non-profit organization committed to building and strengthening neighborhood organizations. NUSA encourages networking and information sharing as a way to facilitate the development of partnerships between neighborhood organizations, government and the private sector. The award recognizes exceptional accomplishments by neighborhood organizations.

Awards are given in three categories:

  • Physical Revitalization/Beautification in a Single Neighborhood
  • Social Revitalization/Neighborliness in a Single Neighborhood
  • Multi-Neighborhood Project Partnerships

The three-neighborhood collaboration has been invited to send representatives to present their project at NUSA’s annual convention in Anchorage on May 25-28. Judges will select winners in three categories and then pick a Grand Prize neighborhood. Our local representatives will be competing against Long Beach, CA and Columbia, SC in the Multi-Neighborhood Partnership Projects category.

Good luck to our local neighborhood(s), we know you will represent Eugene well!

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