UPDATE: As of April 5, 2013, Kesey Square Revival will no longer be taking place. Please read this post for the story and explanation behind this decision.
A vibrant commons is essential to a healthy city center, and Eugene lacks a functional and frequented public space. Despite the fact that Kesey Square is publicly owned and centrally located in downtown Eugene, it is a neglected and underutilized plaza. Originally furnished with balconies and then benches, all seating was removed by city staff a few years ago in order to discourage street youth and the general unhoused population from congregating in the square. Those populations have not left and are still the subject of constant complaints, and what remains is an empty plaza with nowhere to sit.
Kesey Square Revival was birthed from a vision of what a common space in downtown Eugene could look like, combined with a need for integrating those involved in activism and social service with those who are underserved and seek assistance and advocacy. After the Occupy Eugene camp closed in December of 2011, Eugene’s unhoused population experienced increased harassment by police and enforcement of “quality-of-life” crimes in the downtown area, as well as increased use of the DPSZ ordinance.
The need to both create community in public space and stand in solidarity with our unhoused neighbors came to fruition in February of 2012, when approximately fifty people spontaneously appeared in Kesey Square on a Friday afternoon, bringing with them tables, chairs, board games, free food, music, street theater, and chalk art. We created our vision of what downtown Eugene could look like, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. A friend of ours created a short video which documented the first Kesey Square Revival that can be seen here:
Since then, we’ve gathered at Kesey almost every Friday during the warm months. We are continually focused on integrating the downtown population as a whole and creating vibrant public space that focuses on community inclusion, positive energy, economic revitalization, and free expression. We currently meet at Kesey Square every Friday afternoon, weather permitting. For updates and specific events related to the Kesey Square Revival, “like” our Page at facebook.com/keseysquarerevival
More video footage of the Kesey Square Revival can be found by searching for “kesey square revival” on YouTube.