Vibrant Eugeneans

Real Eugeneans. Real thoughts.

Downtown Eugene is full of fascinating people, each with a story to tell, a memory to share or a piece of advice to give. We know you don’t have time to meet them all, so we’re bringing some of them to you. Read what people who live, work and play downtown think about their community, as told to photographer Athena Delene.

Downtown Faces

  1. Michael Crespino

    Michael Crespino

    "Honestly, I moved to Eugene from Portland in 2008 to get sober. Luckily for me there is a vibrant and active recovery community established here and I found the Eugene vibe very conducive. I have found Eugene to be a really supportive community and I've stayed in Eugene ever since. My partner and many others are very active in service of a recovery program called Refuge Recovery, a Buddhist inspired approach of recovery from substance addiction and process behavior addictions. When I first began to practice meditation and Buddhist principles 2.5 years ago, there was only one meeting in town, it was very small and it was obvious there could be a need for more offered. We hold meetings at Buddha Eye Zen Temple and the Unitarian Universalist Church. We have since grown to offer Refuge Recovery five nights a week in Eugene and connected ourselves with the global Sangha"

  2. Ariana August

    Ariana August

    "I love Eugene! As a native Oregonian, I feel so lucky to be part of our local agricultural community. I'm an organic farmer, and I'm also on the board of the Lane County Farmers Market - I'm all about SLO farms and food! The most rewarding aspect of my work with the Farmers Market this year was being Committee Chair for the Annual Event; a gathering that brings together local farmers and the people of Eugene. It is one of my deepest joys in life to see your local farmers being celebrated by you, their community. Eugene is, and always will be, an incredibly unique, special place to live. Much love to all of you who make it so."

  3. Jessica Bobrowski

    Jessica Bobrowski

    "I remember playing on the fountains at Willamette and Broadway as a kid. We would shop for toys at Jabberwocky and get ice cream at Prince Pucklers. There was also a playground with swings. Downtown Eugene was a really exciting place to visit and play. That feeling of play and fun is definitely back. There are all sorts of things that I come Downtown for these days. I love doing community work with EugeneTech at CodeChops once a week and bringing my kids to hangout at the Library. Playing giant Jenga outside the Hult Center last summer with a DJ backdrop is a favorite memory. Meeting friends for dinner and drinks on Broadway is never boring and it’s always exciting to see who might join us unexpectedly. This new incarnation of Downtown Eugene is vibrant and totally hitting its stride."

  4. Joey Thunder and Paige Crawford  (1)

    Joey Thunder

    (With Paige Crawford)
    "I have been fortunate enough to travel the world doing what I love. Along those travels, I ran into two major factors that would be the foundation of the rest of my creative life. Paige Crawford and Eugene Oregon. My little corner of the earth is fully saturated with beauty and inspiration. There isn't a day that passes without Paige Crawford making me fall in love with her all over again. There isn't a night that goes by without Eugene inspiring me in some way, from the food, the people, the gorgeous amounts of trees and wildlife. This is the most beautiful life I have ever known."

  5. Mija Marie

    Mija Marie

    "I've lived in Eugene 23 years now and while it wasn't my first choice (I wanted to move to Ashland) I have since fallen in love with it. Eugene is not only my home it's become a large part of who I am. I have discovered many aspects of myself here; mother, mixed media artist, healer, arts advocate, cultural ambassador, non-profit steward, SLUG Queen. It's been a fantastic place to raise my daughter and build our community. I always find something fun and inspiring happening around town. There is never a dull moment. And as much as I love to travel, I also love coming home to sweet Eugene."

  6.  Ratie Dangarembwa

    Ratie Dangarembwa

    "Ink and melodies make me."

  7. Saeed Gatson (2)

    Saeed Gatson

    "Deciding to move was a big decision. But with a growing family, I knew it was time for a change. Finding a place to settle down and grow roots is important. I'm happy to have chosen Eugene. It's not only a great place to raise a family, but also has a growing tech community. Which is something I'm interested in. Eugene also has a local vibe that I enjoy. Good things are happening Downtown and I hope to keep making great memories here."

  8. Jesse Fittipaldi

    Jesse Fittipaldi

    Arcimoto Business Development Executive
    "Seriously, to find happiness in Eugene quick like, I prescribe volunteering or donating to some of the great organizations in Eugene providing solutions to make life better for our community. Check out McKenzie River Trust, Food for Lane County, Square One Villages and Bridgeway House."

  9. Louise Thomas and Ronnie Vails

    Louise Thomas

    (Featured in photo, Thomas' husband, Ronnie Vails)
    "I love my job.  I get to create wonderful experiences for people as the Front of House and Hospitality Manager at the Hult Center. And occasionally I get to hug my wonderful husband, ex- bull rider, motorcycle and bicycle racing champion and overall badass, Ronnie Vails.  We met in the 80s when he was a regular customer at the Bijou (I worked there for many years, managed and then was co-owner briefly.)  Our paths rarely crossed until the last couple of years, and we celebrated our first anniversary this June. Serendipity is sweet that way."

  10. Kris Rene

    Kris Rene

    "Being an activist and an artist in Eugene is both an adventure and a challenge. The ability to showcase my art and music in such a vibrant city has brought me so much joy and has given me access to a creative community that encourages me to push my artistic abilities. Being an activist, on the other hand, has put me at risk. To speak out against the very racist history of Eugene that continues to play out in today's modern society definitely rubs some people the wrong way but, this work is important and necessary. We cannot move forward with creating a safer and more vibrant Eugene if we do not address the influences of the past on our future."

  11. Oliver Neill

    Oliver Neill

    "I love my life in Eugene because I have a hammock in my front yard, best friends as neighbors and a job that lets me be creative and engage with my community."

  1. Craig Wiroll

    Craig Wiroll

    "Being a young professional in Eugene is amazing. I consider myself to be a socially-active high-achieving weirdo. Eugene allows me to be all of these things without apology. I moved from Wisconsin to Oregon in 2010 for AmeriCorps but didn’t end up in Eugene until 2014 for graduate school. I always admired Eugene from afar. It combines the strong social activism of Portland, but the ease and livability of a smaller community like Corvallis (my prior Oregon homes) to make it the perfect hybrid for a young professional looking to do impactful work and make a difference.”

  2. Anna Kaplan

    Anna Leah Kaplan

    "A lifelong artist, I moved to Eugene from the East Coast two years ago, leaving a vibrant art community behind. When I came downtown to the Park Blocks to work on a painting for the inaugural ArtCity Studios Without Walls event in June, it was the first time I felt like an artist here, rather than a business owner. Eugene sparkled that night with creativity and community. My goal is to keep the momentum going and help create a space for artists to work, grow and share."

  3. Linda Jean and Oj Soam Somori

    Linda Jean

    (Featured in photo, Oj Soam Somori owner of Chaiyo Thai Food Truck on the left)
    "Two months ago, I had two jobs and went to culinary school full time. I was working at one of the top restaurants in town and working at a chain restaurant to make ends meet. I was contemplating getting a third job to add on to my co-op hours. I always wanted a food truck and when I stumbled upon this one with my brother, that was it. I quit my other two jobs and came straight here. (Oj Soam Somori) took me under her wing and showed me how the food truck business works. It's not about the hours or the money; it's not even considered working because we're having fun all the time. I have the world's best boss and she deserves the world to know it."

  4. Randy Nishimura

    Randy Nishimura

    “I’ve lived in much bigger urban areas but for me Eugene offers everything I could ask for of a city. Like Goldilocks’ preferred bowl of porridge (neither too hot nor too cold but just right), my adopted home is neither too big nor too small. I work downtown and wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m joined by others who likewise flock to the city center to work, play, shop, dine or soak in a little culture (including the occasional Eugene Taiko performance!). Increasingly, it’s a place to live as well. Downtown Eugene is coming into its own, growing more vibrant, diverse and people-friendly every day!”

  5. Jessie Moyer

    Jessie Moyer

    "I was born and raised right here in Eugene. Living here has given me a constant openness to others as well as a feeling of people caring about one another. This town is vibrant, full of art, and holds so many beautifully kept secrets.  These attributes are what keep me living a wonderful life here in downtown Eugene. To be a part of a community that is so open and progressive is forever inspirational, and it is truly makes this town what it is today."

  6. Parkpoom Aempoo

    Parkpem Aempoo

    "On a nice day there's nothing better than going downtown and playing some tunes with your friends. Sharing the appreciation of swing music with a passerby is a fulfilling and sometimes could turn into a full blown sidewalk dance party."

  7. Olive Delsol

    Olive Delsol

    "Fresh fruit and colorful crafts, sounds of tinkling chimes accompanied me when I started playing my accordion downtown at the Saturday Market when was a new arrival to Eugene. What I found was that a small spark of art can blaze brightly in this creative community that we Eugeneans are a part of. The connections within the art scene have inspired and encouraged me to emerge as an artist. … How could I have known that day when I was playing street-side accordion tunes that I would meet so many inspiring arts advocates? Bob Sarkisian of Oak Hill School met me after an accordion gig, which turned into a rich opportunity to lead Electronic Music Creation summer camp. I see a spark in these campers. This is the same spark which makes Eugene the glowing creative brilliance that it is becoming. So may it ever be."

  8. Kelly Keiler

    Kelly Keiler

    "Nothing like a trip to the library to make a person feel wealthy and in love with the world again. It's the original search engine, in concrete, tangible form. Anything you want to know, and then some ... a title you were not looking for, may speak to you like a message from the universe. Classes, art galleries, internet, music, movies, First Fridays, the maker labs — it's our municipal gem and the heart and soul of downtown Eugene. Plus, Novella Cafe has the best $1 black coffee downtown!"

  9. Ada Lee

    Ada Lee

    "My favorite memory is when we first started our business in town. That was the beginning of continued generosity, support and acceptance from the community of Eugene."

  10. Angela Norman

    Angela Norman

    "Eugene is my home no matter where I am in the world, and there is no other place like it that I have found. Eugene has provided me with a very strong sense place — I know who I am in the world because of who I have had the freedom to become here. Being the Market Director at the Lane County Farmers Market is one of my greatest joys. Each week, the Markets infuse our downtown with what our community holds dear — food, farms, art, creativity and ingenuity — and gives folks a way to tap into Eugene's culture in a very real way. Being downtown on Market days is a way to experience the heartbeat of our town. It is strong, healthy and vibrant!"