See why this outer East Portland company has developed a worldwide reputation for making a great product – as well as repute for being a great local employer …

Tim Leatherman, the acknowledged inventor of the “Multi-tool” and founder of Leatherman Tool Group, proudly shows one of his latest tools, the CHARGE®.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Even though there’s plenty of space still available in outer East Portland along the Airport Way corridor, there are few manufacturers in this part of town.

But, thriving Leatherman Tool Group – with a worldwide reputation for making great products – observed a milestone on July 11th.

“We’re celebrating 25 years of being born, bred, and thriving, here in outer East Portland,” said the firm’s marketing communications manager, Juli Warner.

Arising from the simple desire for a multipurpose easy-to-carry tool, an international company with more than 400 employees was born.

Starts with a bad knife spoiling a holiday
At the company’s anniversary party, Warner told us the business started in the early 1970s, when Tim Leatherman on a honeymoon trip Europe. “The car he was driving kept breaking down, and he was frustrated with his pocket knife. It wasn’t useful to fix things on the road. He started dreaming up and sketching out ideas for what he called a ‘multi-tool’.”

When Leatherman got back to this country, it took him about ten years to develop his idea into a product, Warner went on. “In 1983, he incorporated Leatherman Tool Group with his first sale to Cabelas, the largest outfitter of hunting, fishing, and outdoor gear in the world.”

Tim Leatherman custom-engraves tools for guests.

Proud of loyal employees and customers
Instead of “working” the birthday event by schmoozing visiting dignitaries and guests, Leatherman quietly sat at a table outside his 90,000 sq. ft. facility, where he graciously engraved tools – old or new, made by his company – for guests who came up to greet him.

“25 years is a long time to be in business,” Leatherman looked up and commented. “I’m really proud we’re still in business. I’m proud of the great employees we have, that enable us to stay in business. And, I’m really thankful for all the loyal customers we have.”

The company’s founder mentioned that these tools are available in 85 countries. “This now includes Mongolia.”

Speaking quietly, Leatherman continued, “We started a company just a few blocks away from here. My partner’s father’s business originally housed us. When we outgrew that space, we moved here to NE Ainsworth Circle, and we plan to stay here. The business started out small; we now have a little over 400 employees.”

Asked about the company’s future, Leatherman said simply, “I look for continued growth during the next 25 years. I look forward to seeing us continue to make good high quality products here in Portland, Oregon.”

Portland Mayor Tom Potter congratulates Tim Leatherman on the success of his company.

Mayor commends company
One of the dignitaries present at the firm’s celebration was Portland Mayor Tom Potter.

“I’m happy to be here; it’s a real honor that they have their headquarters and manufacturing facilities here in East Portland,” Potter said. “It’s the kind of manufacturing company we like to have here in Portland. They’re very conscious of the environment, and contribute to the community.”

In addition to providing family-wage jobs, Potter added, “they make a quality tool that is used all over the world. It says a lot about them, and their firm reflects positively on Portland.”

Constantly upgrading procedures
Warner confirmed the company does provide good family-wage jobs. “Leatherman Tool Group has one of the best compensation packages you’ll find. We’re constantly refining our manufacturing methods and procedures. For example, we use ‘lean manufacturing’ practices that allow us to keep jobs here, instead of sending work overseas.”

Guests at the anniversary celebration were treated to a full barbeque luncheon.

Leatherman’s “10 Rules for Success”
After those attending the celebration enjoyed a catered barbecue luncheon, Leatherman stepped up and retold a couple of “tool tales” – stories related to him about how his tools were used in unusual circumstances.

Then, the company founder gave his “10 Rules for Success”:

  1. Set goals.
  2. Persevere.
  3. Learn what you need to know as you go along.
  4. Pay attention to details.
  5. Delight your customers.
  6. Hire good people.
  7. Treat your employees well.
  8. Have fun.
  9. Make money.

At this point, Leatherman admitted he only listed nine rules and added, “I’m still looking for that 10th one to make us REALLY successful!”

These fans of Leatherman Tools, Hjalmar and Ninne Nielsen, say they planned their vacation in the USA so they could visit the factory, and are delighted to be part of the celebration.

Leatherman fans travel from Denmark
If a prize were given for celebrants who traveled the greatest distance to attend the company’s 25th Anniversary, it would be presented to Hjalmar and Ninne Nielsen.

“Yes, we are visiting here from Denmark,” Hjalmar told us. “A friend gave me a Leatherman tool five or six years ago. Today, I say ‘how is it possible to live 50 years without a Leatherman multi-tool?’  I have it in my pocket every day.”

We congratulate this fine outer East Portland company on their success – and, yes – we carry one of their tools in our camera bag every day!

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

We’re not sure of the cause of this smash-up – but the result was a startling accident. No one walked away from this one …

Portland Fire & Rescue’s Station 11 firefighters rush to cut open a car and remove the injured patient. As bad as it looks, authorities say the driver apparently wasn’t badly injured.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Imagine driving north on SE 82nd Ave. of Roses on a bright, sunny summer afternoon – then seeing the car in front of you cross over the lanes and collide, head-on, with oncoming traffic.

This experience occurred to motorist and witness Xavi Cortal on June 15 just after 1:30 p.m. Cortal told us the story began as he passed SE Flavel Street.

“We were in the car immediately behind him,” Cortal tells us, referring to a crumpled purple Dodge automobile, now blocking 82nd Avenue. “We were going northbound on SE 82nd Avenue, about 100 feet behind him. It looked like he was dozing off.”

SE 82nd Ave. of Roses was shut down while Portland Fire & Rescue crews pried victims out of their vehicles, mangled by the offset-head-on crash.

Cortal says he became concerned about the driver’s behavior. “He veered a little bit into the center lane, and then came back into his own lane.”

Between SE Knapp Street and SE Ogden Street, the unthinkable happened. “He did it again, but this time, veered all the way over into the other lane. There was a white car coming south; the [Dodge] car hit him head on.”

The accident wasn’t the fault of the driver being loaded into the ambulance – but officials discovered he was driving without a license or insurance.

Stays to help
While others called 9-1-1 on their cell phones, witnesses said Cortal – seeing that he couldn’t help the occupants of the cars, because the vehicles were so badly damaged – started directing traffic to keep others from running into now-mangled cars. “It was the best I could do,” he commented.

Firefighters had a big job on their hands prying the doors open and preparing to remove the driver who was said by officials to have caused the pile-up.

Reasons for crash remain unknown
Hoping to get a better idea of why the crash occurred, we contacted Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz to ask what was in the accident report.

“The collision occurred at 1:39 pm, when 86-year-old Ed Niemeyer, who was driving a Dodge northbound on S.E. 82nd Avenue, drifted into the oncoming lane, and collided with a Toyota driven by 31-year-old Labis Kragaris,” reported Schmautz.

“Niemeyer was transported but was not seriously injured. Niemeyer was cited for failing to maintain a lane of travel, and Kragaris was cited for driving without an operator’s license and driving without proof of insurance,” Schmautz added.

As bad as this wreck looks, officials say neither driver was seriously injured.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Portland residents are safer because of Chief Dave Sprando’s efforts; go with us, here, to his farewell event held at the Portland Fire & Rescue training station in Parkrose …

After 31 years of service, outgoing Portland Fire & Rescue Chief Dave Sprando is given a hearty sendoff by former firefighter – and Portland City Commissioner – Randy Leonard at the retirement event.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It’s no secret that we’re fans of the men and women who serve our city every day at Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R). Ask anyone whose home or life has been saved – they’ll agree that our firefighters are the best.

Chief Sprando’s contributions
We know what firefighters do – they rescue folks, and put out fires. We asked Lt. Allen Oswalt, PF&R spokesman, to tell us about how retiring Chief Dave Sprando contributed to the bureau at his retirement reception held at the Portland Fire & Rescue training station in Parkrose not long ago.

“Among other assignments, Dave Sprando was an officer here in outer East Portland, at Station 2, in Parkrose, where we do our training,” Oswalt began.

“He had a direct hand in improving our bureau when he was the Training Officer. Sprando was absolutely convinced that a better-trained firefighter is a safer firefighter. And, a safer firefighter is a better asset to the residents of the City of Portland.

“In addition to good training, we provide recruits a full 10 months of training – longer than any other department in the Pacific Northwest.”

Sprando also had a big role in acquiring new equipment, Oswalt added. “Our job is inherently dangerous. He made the case for better equipment – like new air tanks – to the Portland City Council, and gained their approval.”

Instead of handing over the “keys to the firehouse” – we catch outgoing Fire Chief Dave Sprando handing the official pager and cell phone to incoming Chief John Klum.

Welcoming Fire Chief John Klum
At the reception, we also met the incoming PF&R Chief, John Klum – a 30-year veteran of the force.

Klum was the captain at the HazMat Unit stationed at Station 7 SE 122nd Avenue for nine years, Oswalt told us.

“Back then, Portland Police and Multnomah County Sheriffs were taking down a lot of meth labs – cleaning up seven or eight of them a week.”

More recently, Klum has served as Fire Marshal for the City of Portland.

“Every firefighter, down the line, has the greatest confidence that Klum will continue the tradition of support for the men and women in the bureau – and excellence in fire and rescue services for the citizens of Portland,” Oswalt confided.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Are the aches and pains of getting older getting you down? See what this Adventist Medical Center professional prescribes – and it isn’t more pills …

Health educator Sherrie Evenson demonstrates how simple “resistance bands” can improve body tone – and overall health.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As most folks hit their 50s, they start noticing more aches and pains – and not paying attention to what your body is telling you can lead to a rapid decline in health, says Sherrie Evenson, MS, Exercise Science.

“The most important thing I can tell folks is that the only way to keep your parts moving is to move them,” Evenson tells us, as she prepares to give a talk at Adventist Medical Center based on her new book and DVD entitled “Moving Parts”.

The deconditioning downward spiral
Evenson, who works at the medical center as cardio-pulmonary rehabilitation specialist, says she too-often sees patients’ overall health decline rapidly as their physical activity decreases.

“When people age, they may start feeling chronic pain in their back and hips, shoulders and feet,” Evenson tells us. “The tendency is to avoid movement because it hurts. And when one avoids movement, one starts to experience de-conditioning. Your body adapts to the lack of movement.  Then, you feels even more pain from the reduction of movement.  This leads to a spiral of de-conditioning.”

A lot of the pain that people experience, Evenson explains, comes from activities of everyday life – how one stands, walks, and sits.

With the help of a seminar participant, Sherrie Evenson shows correct posture for a person while bending over.

The posture prescription
“Many problems are posture related,” asserts Evenson. “One approach is to help people become aware of their posture as they stand, sit, walk, and lift objects.”

In addition to that, Evenson says that simple exercises allow you to move in a way that won’t aggravate the pain. “The bottom line is that your joints have to keep moving to be functional. What we’re doing is helping people find ways to move that are not going to aggravate their pain.”

This health educator says that people – especially those who are 40 and above – need to learn how to use their muscles to carry themselves and lift objects, instead of putting pressure on their joints, and using their skeleton as a lever.

“A lot of people end up letting their muscles relax, and their joints take the hit. People don’t see the value of exercise and being aware of good posture and improper use of momentum and balance till they start having problems,” Evenson elucidates.

Evenson shows how simple exercises can help people become more aware of using their muscles – instead of using their joints – as levers.

“A lot of this doesn’t have anything to do with exercise – instead, it is making sure that we use the support system that we have: The over 600 muscles in our body.”

Outlines simple program
At the free seminar, Evenson illustrates her points by demonstrating how muscle groups work together, showing the principles of good posture, and revealing simple strength-training exercises.

If you missed her program, you can check it out – by getting both the “Moving Parts” book and DVD for $35. “It’s cheaper than a single medical office visit,” quips Evenson.

To learn more, visit her web site: CLICK HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

See why Lents area residents and their friends gathered for dinner at the New Copper Penny for this special event …

Roger Jones and Nancy Chapin are being checked in by Jess Laventall and Dewey Akers as the Annual Lents Summer Concert Series Benefit Dinner gets underway at the New Copper Penny restaurant.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When we saw folks streaming into the New Copper Penny Pantheon Ballroom on SE 92nd Avenue between SE Foster Road and SE Woodstock Boulevard a couple of weeks ago, we knew it was time, once again, for the annual benefit – confirmed by the greeting we received.

“Welcome to our Lents Summer Concert Series Benefit Dinner,” smiled Dewey Akers, Lents Neighborhood Association Chair.

“This is a fundraiser for our music series,” explained Akers. “It’s going to be fabulous this year – centered both on American folk music and world folk music.”

Judy Welch, former Lents Neighborhood Chair and community supporter, and John Tzantarmas manager of the New Copper Penny, pause for a moment.

Woody Guthrie commemorated
One weekend of the August music series will be devoted to Woody Guthrie. “A lot of people don’t know it, but he was a Lents resident when he wrote for the Bureau of Public Works Administration,” Akers explained. “Two other events will be presenting some tremendous folk artists. What we want to do is create a ‘folk festival’ – a music series in a park venue, unique in Portland.”

This annual benefit dinner is also a fundraiser for upcoming Lents Founders Day events. Additionally, some of the funds will support the neighborhood’s “Movies in the Park”, and support live entertainment at the Lents International Farmers Market.

Karen Young, executive director of Leach Botanical Garden, and Metro Counselor Robert Liberty come to lend their support for this “I Love Lents” community event.

Event strengthens community bonds
The host of the event, John Tzantarmas – who, along with his father, owns the venerated New Copper Penny Restaurant – said he enjoys putting on the event.

“I think it’s great,” Tzantarmas beamed. “Every time we get the neighborhood together, it’s a good thing. Events like this bring neighbors together to talk with one another. Neighbors can talk with business people, and mingle with our community partners as well.”

We asked why business owners host community events like this. Tzantarmas replied, “In our business, we are part of the community; we’ve been here for 35 years and seen it grow and change. We’re in the hospitality business, and we like helping out the community that has supported us for so long.”

Ready to feast on a great three-course dinner, prepared for the benefit by the New Copper Penny Restaurant, is Leslie Hildula and Erika Miller.

Dinner and a show
After being served a three-course dinner, attendees were serenaded by folk musicians, and were awarded raffle prizes provided by local business people.

Metro Counselor Robert Liberty commented at the benefit, “I’m delighted to attend; I haven’t been an event quite like this before. This is a good sign of a healthy community. Having events like this shows real support by and for the community. Plus it’s just fun.”

Look for information regarding the Lents concerts, movies, and Founder’s Day activities in our August, 2008, Community calendar. Or, for more information online, CLICK HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

If your vehicle is still in your driveway tomorrow morning, it could be because these two hard-working officers put away the crooks that were stealing cars in your area last year …

Flanking Portland Police Bureau Chief Rosie Sizer are East Precinct Achievement Medal winners Officer Phillip Ken and Officer Scott McCollister.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
In early 2007, auto theft was at an all time high in outer East Portland.

Portland Police East Precinct Officers Scott McCollister and Phillip Kent decided to put a stop to the thieving. And, just a few days ago, in a ceremony at the David Douglas High School Horner Performing Arts Center – they were awarded for doing just that.

Catching car crooks – part time
Between their calls for service, McCollister and Kent started working on vehicle theft cases. They ran down leads and talked to victims and witnesses.

Attempting follow-up and surveillance in their “downtime” proved to be a difficult task, so the officers developed a plan to work a “mini-auto-theft detail” within the precinct.

Detail puts breaks on thefts
In May 2007, the two began working the East Precinct Auto Theft Detail full time. Their work to combat auto theft made a significant impact. At the time, auto theft in East Precinct was 41% higher than the corresponding period in the previous year. By December of 2007, the auto theft rate for East Precinct had dropped by 8%.

During their time in the detail, Officers McCollister and Kent recovered 153 stolen vehicles, and made 41 arrests for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle/Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle. They also arrested 51 other people on warrants or other charges, and recovered two guns.

In recognition of their leadership, and commitment to reducing auto theft crimes, Officer Scott McCollister and Officer Phillip Kent were awarded the Portland Police Bureau Achievement Medal at the ceremony.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

If you haven’t discovered this public park in outer East Portland, learn why it’s unique in the region …

Friends of Portland Memory Garden board members LuAnn Cook, Edie Polson, Julie Brown, Patty Cassidy (president), Nancy Chapman, and Eunice Noell-Waggoner pause for this photo during their recent open house event.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
It’s not easy to spot the Portland Memory Garden, located on the east end of Ed Benedict Park, as one drives eastbound on SE Powell Boulevard past SE 104th Avenue. But, this park is unique in the greater Portland area – both in its design and its purpose.

“This garden is a very special place,” explained Patty Cassidy, President of Friends of Portland Memory Garden, “in that it was specifically designed to be a place where Alzheimer’s patients and people under memory care – and their caregivers – can come and get some respite.”

Cassidy said this public garden is a Portland Parks & Recreation facility, built with special design features to accommodate people with memory issues. “For example, the garden is designed in a circular pattern, so people can’t get lost. The Gateway building, when you walk in, is a way-finding point that can be easily seen from anywhere within the garden.”

This sign marks the entrance of the Portland Memory Garden, located on SE 104th Avenue, just south of SE Powell Boulevard.

A four-season garden
The garden, Cassidy told us, was started it in 1998, and was completed in 2001.

“This is a four-season garden,” Cassidy continued. “Every season, every day of the year, there are wonderful botanical features here to be experienced. Even in the darkest days of January, you can see twigs budding, greens sprouting, and even see some plants that are in bloom. We made this a garden that has rich and lush horticultural features.”

She pointed out “old-fashioned” perennials and annuals like roses and hydrangeas, carefully planted and tended in the park. “Many of these plants bring back pleasant memories for the patients who visit.”

Provides positive sensory experiences
More that just being a pretty place to visit, Cassidy added that the garden provides therapeutic value for people experiencing memory loss.

“It seems that most people have a ‘hired-wired connection’ to nature,” said the association president. “People do better when they’re in nature, and when they’re around natural things in the world. It gives people who were gardeners a space where they can enjoy the greenery, even if they can no longer handle the actual gardening work. It provides people with that kind of emotional and psychological support and comfort.”

Cassidy should know – she’s a professional horticultural therapy specialist, who got her required practicum clinical hours by helping to develop the garden!  Now, in addition to being the president of the Garden’s Friends group, she continues to help with events.

The Portland Memory Garden is designed as an enclosed circle, with features enabling people of all physical abilities to enjoy the safe, non-toxic greenery planted there.

Unique design welcomes all
Showing us how the raised flower beds gradually slope up, Cassidy said that this design allows people of all physical abilities to sit on the edge and admire the natural setting, or to do a little gardening.

“This has been designed to be a place that is ‘sensory’. We want people to be able to touch the plants and earth. We want visitors easily to see and smell the garden. The seating is such that you can sit anywhere and be close to the plants.”

Sandy Morehouse, with Rosewood Specialty Care in Hillsboro, talks with Helaine Gross, a horticultural therapy expert, at a “nature station” in the garden.

Caregivers laud park
Visiting the Garden when we toured the facility was Sandy Morehouse, who is with Rosewood Specialty Care in Hillsboro. For the patients with whom she works, she said, a visit to the park is well worth the drive.

“Being outside in the beauty of nature is calming and peaceful – especially for the residents with whom I work,” Morehouse said. “You can sit, and do absolutely nothing, and have an absolutely wonderful experience here.”

Kathy Schwabe, activity director at Pacific Gardens, talks with Lynn Wagner, a horticultural therapy student at Good Samaritan Hospital.

Pacific Gardens, the facility at which Kathy Schwabe is the activity director, is much closer – out on NE 172nd Avenue – and she also appreciates this garden.

“I’m glad it’s close by,” exclaimed Schwabe. “We’re an Alzheimers and dementia care community, and this is a safe place for us, because we can shut the gate and our residents are protected, as they stroll through the garden. Our residents can’t get lost or wander off.”

Enjoys putting feet in the grass
Schwabe was talking with Lynn Wagner, a horticultural therapy student at Good Samaritan Hospital, when we met them. Wagner added, “Another reason it’s safe is that none of the plants or materials in the garden are toxic. It’s a safe wonderful environment.”

In the center of the circular park is a large, round area of well-tended lawn. “We’ve had many residents who just lie down in the grass and enjoy the sunshine,” Schwabe reminisced. “Sometimes, we all take our shoes off. And, we’ve found that patients in wheelchairs enjoy being taken over into the grass, so they can dangle their feet in the soft, lush green grass of summer.”

One of the garden’s volunteers, Elaine Hesselman, fills the air with beautiful music, as she plays the harp for visitors.

Labor of love for many volunteers
After soaking up the bucolic atmosphere, the Friends group president told us that the garden is maintained with 95% volunteer effort. “There’re only eight hours a month of paid gardening by Portland Parks – they help us with heavy hauling and lawn mowing,” observed Cassidy. “We maintain the beds, and do all the pruning and padding and deadheading. This is a very hands-on groomed facility. I’d say there are about 50 volunteer-hours spent here every month, among all of our garden teams.”

Volunteers also help stage events and enrichment activities – for free – on an on-call basis, Cassidy mentioned. “All the facilities need to do is just transport their patients here.”

Learn more here
If you’d like to learn more – or perhaps volunteer – at the Portland Memory Garden, call the organization at (503) 239-9174.

Or, see a map and learn more. Visit the Portland Parks & Recreation web site, CLICK HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

It’s genuine slice of Americana!
See why this community chooses to hold a parade
on Independence Day – and why …

Dillon “Spiderman” McCarthy is revving up his car, while Princess Kaylien Knecht gets ready to walk, in the City of Maywood Park’s July 4th Parade.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For the tenth consecutive year, folks in the City of Maywood Park – located just northeast of the intersection of I-205 and I-84 – chose to celebrate Independence Day with a city-wide parade.

As the parade throng was forming, we spoke with the small city’s Mayor, Mark Hardie, who told us, “We enjoy celebrating freedom and the greatness of America here in our community.”

The parade, Hardie said, helps bring the community together. “Our neighborhood and city is all about families, and the parade is a family event. In it you’ll see kids, grandparents, dogs, and a World War II veteran who’s lived here for 55 years. The whole purpose of this is to get together and get to know our neighbors.”

Residents of the City of Maywood Park gather for their traditional annual community photograph, taken by resident and professional photographer Patrick Smith.

And they’re off! Marching to “Stars and Stripes Forever” – played over the PA system of a Multnomah County Sheriff’s patrol car – the celebrants take to the streets. On the right side of the photo, photog Smith is still up on the ladder!

“It looks like we’ll have about 150 folks in the parade today – we’ll probably have more watching from their front yards than we have marching,” Hardie observed.

The entire parade route took the revelers on a 12-block stroll through the wooded streets of their community. The parade ended up where it started, in the northwest corner of the city.

By the time the marching (actually, strolling) group returned, the order of the participants has scrambled – and no one seems to mind. Some participants dropped out along the route; others joined in, and finished the parade.

Byron Perry provides the motive force for the only float in this year’s parade …

… and we see Francesca Perry walking along side as Aidan Perry and Stella the Dog have the seats of honor as the stars-and-stripes decorated float — that their dad, Bryan is powering — cruises down the street.

The city’s Mayor, Mark Hardie, marches in the annual parade.

Says they’ll maintain their independence
After the parade, neighbors gathered at the park along side their main street – and about 250 folks tucked into a hosted barbeque. “It’s a fun, safe-and-sane way of celebrating the holiday,” noted Hardie.

We asked the mayor if there was any talk in Maywood Park City Council meetings about giving up cityhood and joining the City of Portland.

Hardie thought for a moment, smiled, and replied, “Not as long as I’m alive! Part of the independence we’re celebrating today is having our own city here in East Multnomah County. We’re very happy to be our own little city.”

Arnold Mutz, a World War II veteran – and 50-year resident of the City of Maywood Park – rides in the parade in full dress uniform.

In the parade, we are greeted by Jann Churchill and her four-legged friends, Winston and Yolsi.

Bringing up the rear are Portland Fire & Rescue’s Truck 2 and Engine 12.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Find out why ROSE Community Development is getting ready to pitch a plan to the PDC for developing the Lents Little League baseball field – and what neighbors say they really want built there …

Joseph Readdy, of SERA architects, listens, while ROSE Community Development Corp. executive director Nick Sauvie sets the stage for the workshop at Wattles Boys & Girls Club.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
City officials have talked about the redevelopment of the Lents Neighborhood area for years. Yet, the large parcel of land at the corner of SE 92nd Avenue at SE Harold Street – currently home to the Lents Little League – remains undeveloped.

This Spring, ROSE Community Development Corporation (ROSE) held two workshops regarding the potential development of this property.

Using drawings like these, neighbors shared their ideas regarding how best the Lents Little League field can be developed. The red block is the area to be developed.

Not PDC meetings
First and foremost, stressed ROSE’s executive director Nick Sauvie, when we talked with him at their “Field of Dreams” workshops held at the Wattles Boys & Girls Club, was that:

  • The “Field of Dreams” Workshops were not Portland Development Commission (PDC)-sponsored events; and,
  • ROSE has not been selected as the development team.

Preparing to present
After the workshops, we asked Sauvie to explain what ROSE was doing, regarding this site.

“The PDC intends to begin a process to select a developer for the site later this year,” Sauvie began. “The first workshop was used to get general input from community members about the site, neighborhood context, and urban design issues. The second workshop took that input and started to incorporate it into design ideas.”

Their organization, Sauvie explained, was created out of the efforts of Southeast Portland people who take the needs and desires for improving the community seriously. “That’s why were went the extra mile and held these workshops early in our process.”

Curt Schultz, principal, SERA architects, leads a group discussion about ideas already gathered regarding the site’s potential development.

New to commercial development
Because ROSE has a solid track record with Lents-area residential development projects, we asked Sauvie if he sees potential challenges.

“One thing that will be new for us,” Sauvie responded, “if we do this project, is that it will have significant commercial component to it. Our mission is building the neighborhood and strengthening its economy. The commercial development is part of the project, and will be our first large venture in economic development.”

Ideas and comments
We asked Sauvie to “boil down” all of the comments and suggestions they heard during the workshops and share ideas he thought were significant. He shared six of them with us.

  • There is support for a mixed-use development that will make the Lents Town Center a livelier place, and provide more destinations, such as restaurants and cafes.
  • The residential component should include both homeownership and rental, for a mix of incomes and household types.
  • Provide a permanent home for the Lents International Farmers Market.
  • Many people would like to see a grocery store somewhere in the Town Center.
  • He would like to see local businesses and services emphasized, not chain stores.

He added that public spaces should be well conceived and maintained.

At another table, Joseph Readdy, SERA architects, makes sure he understands a neighbor’s idea for the site.

Next steps
“It’s very early really in the process,” stated Sauvie. “The PDC has not yet issued their Request for Proposal. Hopefully that’ll happen sometime this summer. As a best guess, the PDC might receive proposals and make decisions sometime before the end of the year.”

We later learned that the PDC officials say they will issue a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to solicit proposals from development teams no earlier than summer 2008. The RFQ process is intended to generate interest from many development teams, all of whom will be rated competitively. Any questions about the RFQ process should be directed to Justin Douglas, (503) 823-4579, or douglasj@pdc.us.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Want to see how outer East Portland neighbors are planning to turn 35 acres of freeway-locked land into a nature park? We’ll tell you about it here and show you where to see their presentation for yourself …

Gill Williams, landscape architect, David Evans and Associates, shows the supporters of the Gateway Green Initiative slides of a document the firm hopes will persuade several governmental entities to be favorably inclined toward this project.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Hopefully, when you’re driving along the freeway in outer East Portland, you been watching traffic – and not ogling the strip of land running along side Interstate 205 from the Gateway Transit Center north to Rocky Butte.

But, if neighbors and parks supporters have their way, this hidden property might become an accessible, 35-acre nature area called “Gateway Green”.

A couple of weeks ago, we met with supporters of the initiative, as they prepared to unveil their proposal in a presentation at Adventist Medical Center.

“We’re presenting the final vision for Gateway Green Initiative,” reported Gill Williams, landscape architect, David Evans and Associates. “This is more of a ‘vision document’ than a promotional piece. It portrays the idea behind the vision, and the rationale for it as well.”

Ted Gilbert, Karla Keller and Linda Robinson look at the draft plan for the Gateway Green.

The presentation, made into a 27-page report, states the purpose of the initiative succinctly: “To transform an underutilized property into a regional asset that provides open space and recreational opportunities, while demonstrating Portland’s and Oregon’s commitment to sustainability.”

The document will help the initiative’s advocacy groups share their vision, and garner support among officials in the Portland Development Commission, Portland Parks & Recreation, and especially the Oregon Department of Transportation – they own the property.

Many folks on board
“There are a lot of biking and recreational groups that are interested in seeing this developed,” Williams noted. “There are individuals like Linda Robinson, a good advocate for open space and parks.” He added that developer Ted Gilbert – a noted Gateway booster – is also enthusiastic about the project’s potential.”

Moving into Phase II
“We’re in the initial phase of preparing this initiative,” Gilbert commented. “We’re looking at a five to 10 year – or beyond – timeline for implementation of some of the bigger elements. There are some pretty substantial monetary commitments required.  Within the first two to five years, there’s real potential for actually seeing some development.”

Take a look:
The Gateway Green Initiative appears to be a well thought-out plan. If you’re interested, take a look. Just CLICK HERE to see a PDF of the document they’ve created.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Members of this fifth-grade class wrote it, acted in it – and even took their show downtown. Find out why …

Kevin Muir, the director of the “Hot Dog Musical Theater Company” – and a Lent School fifth grade teacher – welcomes guests to a performance of his class’s play, “EarthAlerth!”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Fifth-graders aren’t known for having long attention spans. But, Kevin Muir, a Lent School fifth grade teacher, said “pre-production” for the musical play we were about to see began on “the first day of school”.

Muir, himself, is a product of Portland-area education. He graduated from Woodstock Elementary, Meriwether Lewis Middle, and Cleveland High School. “I was a lot of theatrical productions at school.”

Thinking they won a trip to Bermuda, Melani Norell, Betsy Rivera, Miguel Navarro and Alfredo Galindo-Lopez wonder why the resort to which they’ve been invited is just a poorly-painted set. Their host (from Pluto), Alan Morales (far right), tells the students of their impending fate.

Providing ‘meaningful experiences’
Throughout the year, in addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic lessons, the 24 members of his class came up with the storyline, wrote the play and songs, and choreographed the staging, Muir told us.

“The work is extremely meaningful and engaging,” Muir said. “We have five main characters, but also involved are set designers, electricians, custom designers, stage managers, public relations, historians, lighting designers, and the band.”

The best way they can think of to face being conscripted to perform in an off-planet circus is – a song and dance number!

It’s show time … on Pluto!

About the story …
“EARTHALERTH!” is a fanciful story about a handful of Earth kids who are tricked into traveling to the planet Pluto to be Cirque du Pluto Theater Company show named … “EARTHALERTH!”.

On Pluto, kids rehearse their roles in this show that “showcases” all that is wonderful and weird about their home planet, Earth. But, the evil villain, The Bananjelar (he looks remarkably like an adult-human sized banana), attacks the troupe – before leaving to destroy Earth.

Images of Earth are featured in the Cirque du Pluto Theater Company show called “EARTHALERTH!”.

The kids race back to Earth, and in a mighty (funny) battle with The Bananjelar, they save their planet – and learn that Bananjelar is really a misunderstood fruit.

The greater themes of common sense and courage and strength are woven through the play; all these are qualities that Muir said he hopes to instill in his students.

The Earth kids confront The Bananjelar.

Before we saw the show, on May 28, the production company headed downtown to perform their outer-space adventure at the Winningstad Theater. We took in a later presentation at Lent School.

Serving diverse students
After the hour-long energetic and fast-paced show, Muir said he enjoys teaching at Lent School, located in one of the oldest and most diverse neighborhoods in the city.

“I’m determined not to let the children’s demographics inhibit their ability to learn,” stated Muir. “This hands-on model of learning is both engaging and stimulating to students. Too often, education lacks a connection with the community; through this play, my students are able to work with individuals and groups from beyond the school, and then take their product out to the world. To me, that is the essence of a meaningful education.”

What play will be created by his next fifth-grade class?

“We’ll all find out in September,” Muir said. “Check in with us next school year.”

Back on Earth, The Bananjelar chills out, and the kids decide he’s not so bad after all!

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams hasn’t missed a Midway Business Association open house. See what he had to say at the latest one …

“Mmmm, good pizza,” says Mayor-elect and Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams, at the Midway Business Association open house.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A hearty band of business people in the southern portion of outer East Portland created the Midway Business Association with a mission: to encourage folks to buy locally, and improve the livability of their neighborhoods.

Every year, the organization hosts an open house and pizza luncheon at Bill Dayton’s Pizza Baron restaurant, as an outreach to business people and neighborhood leaders. And, every year, first a candidate, then a Portland City Commissioner, and now Mayor-elect Sam Adams has attended the event.

Working the room, Sam Adams meets new member Kyle Ziegler, owner of Carrie B’s Dance Shop, located in the Midway Shopping Center, as East Portland Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs chair Ken Turner looks on.

“I’m pleased to say I’ve been every event since the inception of the organization,” Adams said as he talked briefly to the forty business people in attendance. “I look forward to coming back in the coming months and having a substantive discussion about how city government can be a partner with you.”

Adams congratulated the association for “doing a fantastic job here. The results are noticeable.  I know that folks are going through tough times with this recession; I know people don’t have as much money to spend. Hang in there, and together we’ll pull ourselves out of this and enjoy better days ahead.”

Recognizing the current downturn in business, Sam Adams urges business people to work together toward better days.

Adams added that he was glad that the City government finally “came to its senses” and provided the umbrella organization for business groups, the Alliance of Neighborhood Business Associations (APNBA) with funding and full time staff members. Pointing out the APNBA’s Executive Director, Jon Turino, Adams added, “We’re making sure Jon has the resources necessary to help business associations grow.”

Heading off to another meeting, Adams took a couple of slices with him and promised, “I’ll be back to visit with you again.”

Midway Business Association president Bill Dayton reminded those present that, by working together, outer East Portland business people and neighbors can have a greater voice in local, regional and event state-level government.

“If we keep working together, we can improve the lives of everyone here in outer East Portland,” Dayton said.

Association President Bill Dayton, talks informally about the benefits of mutual association.

Next meeting is July 8
If you have business interests in this part of town, come learn all about this new business group dedicated to helping neighbors and businesses improve the southern end of Outer East Portland.

This month: David Edwards, speaking about keeping your business safe in troubled times. Remember, visitors ARE welcome, and the presentation is free (but you pay for your own lunch). The meeting runs from 11:45 AM until 1 PM at Bill Dayton’s PIZZA BARON Restaurant on SE 122nd Avenue, just south of Division Street. For more information, go to www.midwayba.com.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

© 2005-2020 David F. Ashton East PDX News™. All Rights Reserved.