Montavilla neighbors host ‘International Festival’

See what happens when a neighborhood and business association team up to host their first joint neighborhood party …

Raydene Taylor, volunteer with the Montavilla Neighborhood Association, serves up delicious, freshly baked-from-scratch pie, donated to the event by the Bipartisan Café on SE Stark Street in Montavilla.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
One of the fun community activities we do is being the master of ceremonies for outer East Portland Events. The first annual Montavilla International Festival held in September was a truly delightful and colorful event.

The event’s coordinator, Natalie Ullman, an intern with Southeast Uplift, was supported by volunteers from the Montavilla Neighborhood and Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association. Together, they produced a great event at Portland Community College SE Center.

Community groups, and representatives from city and county agencies, provide a wealth of information to attendees.

Young dancers from the Society for Haitian Arts and Culture provide rhythmic entertainment.

Ullman told us there were two ideas behind this event: Building a stronger network among residents, businesses, and cultural centers; and, through dialogue, finding ways the Montavilla Neighborhood Association can better serve the community.

The Montavilla International Festival’s aim was to provide a networking event for residents, churches, businesses, cultural centers, and other organizations; as well as a celebration of the growing cultural diversity of the Montavilla neighborhood.

The class of Master Brown from Kim’s Taekwon-do – offering instruction at the Montavilla Community center for 14 years – demonstrate their skills.

Tateyanna Parente (seated) and Natalia Hougen play and sing Russian, folk, and Gypsy romantic compositions during their lively program.

The hundreds of folks who came to the festivities enjoyed international-themed foods, live music, and information from fifteen organizations.

The Montavilla Community Center provided activities at a kids’ table; and we ourselves were treated to a high-energy martial-arts demonstration.

Dan Bechtold, serving up special “red hots” from Edelweiss Sausage & Deli.

Jared Oaks, Flying Pie Pizzeria in Montavilla, gives pizza-dough-tossing lessons.

Bringing eclectic music that ranges from folk rock to indie soul to jazz-influenced blues is Acoustic Minds, with Jenni and Amanda Price on vocals; Jeremy Serwer on vocals and acoustic/electric guitar; Chris Chard on bass; Rod Nightingale on drums; and Dave Jorgenson on the keyboard.

The community event was funded by a grant from SE Uplift, a non-profit organization that provides support and technical assistance to 20 southeast neighborhoods, to increase public outreach.

Was the event a success? Our guess is yes; they’re already planning for their next International Festival in September, 2008.

Retiring owner of “the” neighborhood market in Montavilla, Errol Carlson, is presented with an “award for service and dedication to the community” – including hosting numerous parades, by Alema McCray, President of the Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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