Diaspora Project ~ Neil

By Chandlor Henderson

This series started as a photography project a few terms ago. I wrote up some questions and distributed them to a few people I thought might be interested. The area I live in is predominately white, and has been known for generations to have a lot of white nationalists in the community. Not only has this project given me an opportunity to raise the voices of minorities in my area, but it has also helped me meet new people and learn more about their wide range of experiences. This one features Neil, a local musician and good friend.

What brought you to Oregon?

My father moved to Eugene in ‘92/’93. I had been visiting him here for some time. At the time (2001), I was living in the south bay, in the heart of Silicon Valley, and it wasn’t really working for me. My dad offered to help me get set up here, and I took him up on it. I know a lot of people end up in Eugene because they came here for the University, and even though I did eventually enroll, it wasn’t what initially brought me here.

Do you plan on staying?

I’ve been here 18 years, and have family and long time friends here. There are very few situations I could imagine that would lead to me leaving.

Would you raise a family here? Why or why not?

As a general question, I think this is a good place to do so. The proximity to ecological diversity (coast and mountains are both about an hour away) lends access to a variety of options for outdoor activities and exploration. The people are interesting, and generally nice. It is growing, and therefore is beginning to acquire some of the things it previously lacked. From my experience, in that vein I do tend to find it lacking in culinary, and more importantly cultural, diversity at times.

What impact has Oregon had on you?

The main thing is a greater appreciation for the outdoors. Though I had some access while growing up, being so close here has led to things like camping, which I never did when I lived in California. Although this may also have something to do with my interaction with individuals that are more prone to do so. There’s more of a culture of “outdoorsiness” than there was in my circle back in the bay. Though that has also been buffered a bit by a plethora of allergies.

Photo Credit Chandlor Henderson

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