I attended a Eugene Chamber event a week ago called “Eugene Narrative.” I was there to make pictures and had a ton of other things to do that day, so I didn’t get to stay for the whole thing. I was there long enough to get the gist though. Basically the idea is: if someone stopped you on the street and asked “What is Eugene like?” what would you tell them?
That is an awesome question!
I am going to attempt to answer that question though pictures in my next series of posts, starting with this image. I made this portrait during a music festival at Pisgah Arboretum a few years back. This young man was in attendance and in so many ways epitomizes a piece of what I think about Eugene. When I tell people I am from Eugene they are almost always aware of the post Hippie character of the place. They want to know about the Country Fair, legalized marijuana and if the place is really as laid back as they have heard. There is a cartoon quality to this image that plays into that stereotype. Eugene is more nuanced than that of course, but remember, we are talking to someone on the street we just met. We might have to buy them a cup of coffee or a beer to dig deeper in the psyche of the place right?
I wasn’t a big hugger when I first moved to town. I was surprised at how quick people of both genders were ready to offer a hug and, most difficult for me, how long they seemed to want to hold the embrace, often accompanied by a moving of the hands across the back as if to prolong the agony. Initially I found the experience uncomfortable, but after being here for over 30 years I have been assimilated. Now, when the opportunity presents itself, I give as good as I get (with the consent of both parties of course) and admit that I enjoy the experience. Eugene does not have a monopoly on hugs of course, but I think the giving and receiving of a heartfelt hug is somehow part of what Eugene is all about.
Prove me wrong?