Learn why families with young children who discover Brooklyn Bay’s “Play after Play” sessions return again and again ‚Ķ

Kri Schlafer, Marc Otto, and Melanya Helene perform the short play, “The Most Wonderful Gift” at the Brooklyn Bay Performance Space.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The theater’s name, “Brooklyn Bay Performance Space”, conjures up images of a playhouse on the waterfront. It isn’t. The “bay” refers to an industrial work space, not a body of water.

And, some say the location – due south of the SE 17th Avenue flyover Powell Boulevard, at the end of a dead-end street in the Inner Southeast Brooklyn neighborhood – is nearly impossible to find.

But, week after week, parents of young children make their way through the industrial area to participate in a delightful, one-of-a-kind form of family entertainment.

Founder and artistic director Melanya Helene and her crew have transformed an industrial storage unit into a warm, intimate theater space.

When we visited Brooklyn Bay Performance Space on December 2, families were coming in to experience a session of “Play after Play”, featuring the story, “The Most Wonderful Gift”.

First, the play
“We start with a 20-minute performance,” Helene told us, “usually based on a folk tale. Our story, throughout December, came to us from the Middle East. Our method is kelmanworks, a performance style based on mindfulness and engagement with the audience.”

The lights dimmed, and the costumed players took the stage. The actors immediately engaged their audience members, particularly the children. The story of “The Most Wonderful Gift” was expressively told, enhanced with music and movement.

“We keep the play simple so the children can use their imagination to enter into the story with us,” Helene later said.

Engaging in “Original Play” the Brooklyn Bay actors interact directly with their young audience members.

Then, playtime
After the performance, the actors changed out of their costumes and set up large, clean gym mats. The kids and parents were instructed to sit around the perimeter of the mats.

“We play with the kids in a form called ‘Original Play’. It is based on non-violence and non-competition.” Helene developed this form of play, based on what she said she learned from Fred Donaldson.

Original Play looks like lively, energetic fun. But it isn’t a free-for-all. Children are invited onto the mats by the actors. The “playing” is free-form, physical (to the abilities of the child), and active ‚Äì yet, at the same time, done with an unspoken sense of discipline. “Actually, it is partially based on some forms of martial arts. But it is play, not competition,” Helene explained. “In a global sense, everything we do is about–in a word–peace.”

“The ‘play’ after our performance is a practice for us,” related Helene. “It allows us to be directly involved with them. We’re not behind a TV screen. We’re right there, and they interact with us.”

Worth the effort to find
“Play after Play” at Brooklyn Bay starts at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings. We won’t attempt to give you directions! Call to make a reservation, and they’ll show you the way. Contact them at (503) 772-4005 or see www.brooklynbay.org.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See the massive pipe organ that got a real workout when this musical artist visited Hazelwood a few weeks ago …

Dame Gillian Weir played classical music on the concert pipe organ at the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist church with such skill, it sounded like an orchestra.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Dame Gillian Weir, visiting Portland from England, is hailed as one of the world’s foremost musical artists. Her career as an internationally-acclaimed concert organist, performing worldwide at the great festivals and with leading orchestras and conductors, has established her as a distinguished musician.

A few weeks ago, Weir demonstrated her virtuosity and outstanding musicianship – as well as her personal charisma – as she performed at the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church in Hazelwood.

Dame Weir, at the console.

“This organ,” she told us before presenting her program of ten selections, “is an absolute delight on which to perform.” Audience members showed their appreciation with their applause as Weir played works of Bonnet, Scarlatti, Bach and others.

The event, offered free to the public, was well attended. “Hosting concerts, like this one, is our way of connecting with the community,” a representative of the church said.

Watch our Community Calendar for other great concerts – often presented without charge – at various venues throughout East Portland!

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Many victims found it hard to believe their homes were ransacked by juveniles who were not yet old enough to drive …

Using simple hand tools, cops say young punks busted into NE homes to steal.

Story and photo illustration by David F. Ashton
While investigating a string of residential burglaries, Portland’s East Precinct police detectives started seeing a pattern. The burglars generally forced entry through a door and stole small items such as portable electronics, credit cards and cash.

Detectives told us that they saw similarities among more than 100 residential break-ins that occurred along NE Fremont St., between Northeast 39th Ave. and Northeast 82nd Ave.

Based on information they developed, East Precinct detectives and officers from the Neighborhood Response Team executed a search warrant on December 5. They raided a home in the 5800 block of NE Prescott St. in connection with an ongoing investigation of residential burglaries in three separate precincts.

Suspected crooks not old enough to drive
In the case so far, police have arrested suspects 15-year-old Noah Hanning, 13-year-old Leighton Hanning, and 14-year-old Kyle Francis, and charged each with one count of Burglary in the First Degree.

These youthful suspected criminals fancied themselves part of a loosely-knit street gang known by the acronym “FDP”, which they told detectives means “F*** Da Police”. Cops said they used proceeds from their crimes to buy pot.

If you live in this area, and your home was hit in the last couple of months, call the East Precinct Property Crimes detectives at (503) 823-4802 and give ’em a hand.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Officials say the driver that struck her wasn’t speeding nor intoxicated ‚Ķ

82nd Ave. was shut down most of the afternoon on December 5 while authorities investigate the tragic accident that took the life of a child.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Two girls, a three-year-old, being pushed in a stroller, and a five-year-old, walking with her 29-year-old mother, were crossing SE 82nd Ave. of Roses, heading east, across toward Boyer St. when the youngest girl was struck and killed on December 5.

On scene, Sgt. Walter Anderson, Oregon State Police told us, “The vehicle was traveling west on Boyer, making a left hand turn on 82nd Ave. It came into contact with the children. The three-year-old was deceased at the scene. The five-year-old was transported to the hospital with injuries. The mother was untouched.”

The stroller in which the 3-year-old was riding, and some of the family’s belongings remain behind the vehicle said to have struck the youngster.

Anderson said two nurses, in separate vehicles, stopped immediately after the accident. “They unsuccessfully attempted CPR on the 3-year-old. The 5-year old was taken to the hospital; a Spanish speaking trooper traveled with the girl and her mother.”

The Sergeant said it looked as if the five-year-old girl would recover; information later released said the girl was in serious condition.

Following up on the incident, we learned from OSP Sgt. Tom Worthy that Darrell Beffert, 54, of Clackamas, was the driver. “He stopped and cooperated with troopers and deputies.” According to witnesses, Worthy said, the mother and children were in the crosswalk and were crossing with the light. He added that Beffert was not intoxicated. No citations have been issued.

Clackamas County Sheriff’s accident investigators worked with Oregon State Police investigate this tragic accident.

“It all happened so fast,” said Marg Stewart, who said she saw the accident from inside the restaurant on the corner. “I don’t think I’ll ever get over seeing that little girl lying in the street. They tried to save her.”

The accident, a block south of SE King St., stopped all southbound traffic for the afternoon.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

We showed you the scene at which a man was murdered the night before Thanksgiving Day. Now, police think they know who committed the crime. If you help the cops find him, you could get a $1,000 reward …

Police looked for evidence on NE 148th Avenue after they found the body of a murdered man.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
As you may recall, we ventured out on that blustery evening before Thanksgiving to see why police shut down NE 148th Avenue near midnight.

We found East Precinct officers responded to a call reporting a violent fight that evening. Officers arrived and discovered the victim’s body in a common area of the apartment complex.

Police officials now say an investigation has identified 29-year-old Garcia Sanchez as a suspect in the homicide on November 22; a warrant issued charges Garcia Sanchez with one count of Murder.

Garcia Sanchez is associated with a maroon-colored small import 4-door vehicle with no plates. The vehicle may be a Nissan and was last seen with a DMV “temporary” sticker displaying the date 10/31/06.

Murder suspect’s description
Garcia Sanchez is described as a 5’8″ 160-pound Hispanic male with brown hair and eyes. Garcia Sanchez has tattoos with the name “Gloria” on his neck, chest and abdomen. Garcia Sanchez is considered armed and dangerous.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Ken Whattam at (503) 823-0696 or Detective Barry Renna at (503) 823-0255.

Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in this case, or any unsolved felony, and you remain anonymous. Call Crime Stoppers at (503) 823-HELP (4357).

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

A mid-day apartment house fire could have been worse, but see how the fast response from three fire stations limited the damage …

By cutting open the roof and quenching the fire from the attic, they kept the two-story unit from burning down.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Even though the apartment building was set far back on the property, making it difficult to reach, fire crews still made short work of a fire that broke out around noon on December 6.

Portland Fire & Rescue stations 29 and 45 – aided by a Gresham Fire unit – raced to the 15200 block of SE Division St.

“There was a good amount smoke showing on the second floor apartment when we arrived,” Battalion Chief Dave Disciascio told us on scene.

Firefighters had to run long lengths of hoses to reach the burning building.

“It’s deep set on a flag lot,” Disciascio explained. “This made access very difficult. Our companies had to lay their hose a long way from Division St.”

The chief said they suspected the fire from the unit had spread to the attic. “Our firefighters quickly opened the roof and found fire. They got water on the fire and stopped it before it spread throughout the length of the building.”

We learned, unofficially, that the fire may have been caused by furniture or other flammables being placed too close to a heater. The fire remains under investigation.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

These death-peddlers thought they could hide their dope-for-sale in the battery of their vehicle. But, see what East Precincts Crime Reduction Unit cops found when they under their vehicle’s hood ‚Äì and in their motel room ‚Ķ

This wad of American cash, and dope, stashed in this car battery are sending two meth dealers to jail. (PPB CRU Photo)

Story by David F. Ashton
The night manager of the motel thought a couple of his lodgers looked and acted a bit sketchy. He did the right thing – and called the cops.

Not just any police came out. Portland Police’s crack East Precinct Crime Reduction Unit (CRU) showed up at the motel in the 9700 block of SE Stark St.

Based on the information from the manager, the CRU cops tapped on the door of the suspects in a motel room. CRU officers know how to legally coax crooks into conversation. While they chatted, the officers spotted a wad of cash ‚Äì $6,480 to be exact ‚Äì in the motel room. The suspects then gave officers permission to check out their vehicle.

Oh, so clever! These dope dealers rigged a batter to still give juice while it holds a big stash of drugs and cash. (PPB CRU Photo)

Battery turns out to drain dealers’ stash
CRU cops know all the tricks. They found the vehicle’s battery rigged with a hidden compartment. Inside the battery compartment, officers found approximately 2 pounds ‚Äì not ounces, but POUNDS ‚Äì of methamphetamine and $44,260 in cash.

They hooked up and arrested 25-year-old Cristobal Valencia-Santoyo and 24-year-old Juan Carlos Lopez-Valencia on one count each of Manufacturing of a Controlled Substance, Distribution of a Controlled Substance, and Possession of a Controlled Substance.

Both claimed to be Mexican National residents and were given a new room at the Hotel Graybar ‚Äì the Multnomah County Jail.  ICE has placed a hold on both suspects.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Look at this, and you’ll discover why a professional club disc jockey spent an afternoon sharing her love of spinning disks with kids ‚Ķ

Leonetti, a professional club DJ, starts by showing kids how she hooks up a basic music system.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In night clubs, at banquets ‚Äì and event wedding receptions ‚Äì almost everyone has “rocked out” to tunes played by a professional disc jockey.

But, how does one learn how “play the hits” like a pro?

Your Midland Library brought in professional DJ, Leonetti, to show kids the ropes – or perhaps we should say wires and disks.

“I love music. It’s all about bringing the music,” Leonetti told us, as she set up her gear.

“Working the kids is great. Today, I’m glad to see we have several gals who came out!”

Leonetti said most folks are pleased to learn they can bring any kind of music they love when they DJ. “It doesn’t have to be hip-hop or rock. You can find a place to play any kind of music you love.”

DJ Leonetti asks what kind of music each of the kids like to hear – and would like to play.

“Today I’m showing them the basics,” Leonetti continued.

She introduced them to several music styles, told them where they can buy their music. And yes, showed a basic set up for DJing. The gear she brought was two turntables and a special DJ mixer.

“You need turntables ‚Äì record players ‚Äì that allow you to adjust the playback speed,” she told the youngsters. “This allows you to beat match; an essential in being a good DJ.”

Leonetti rocks out! “Yes, it is unusual for a woman to be a DJ, but we’re accepted by men in the field.”

Leonetti said she’s been DJing for six years, professionally for four. “I started because I love ‘house’ music. I’m a big Beastie Boys fan and worked with their DJ on an event ‚Äì he helped me get started. There is real camaraderie among DJs. While most of them are guys, they accept women DJs, too.”

What is going on at your library today? Check out our Community Calendar for unique and interesting events taking place here in outer East Portland.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See how, from Wilkes in the north, to Powellhurst-Gilbert in the south, these two associations help neighbors “get the junk out” ‚Äì and raise some money, too ‚Ķ

This neighborhood cleanup, sponsored by the Wilkes Community Group, raised funds while ridding the neighborhood of refuse.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
More than just holding meetings, many neighborhood associations take action to improve the livability of their immediate area.

Last month, “Clean-Up Days” were sponsored by two outer East Portland neighborhoods.

In the Wilkes Community Group, November 4 was the day neighbors were invited to remove the trash, refuse, and debris from their yards at a morning- long event at Margaret Scott Elementary School, 14700 NE Sacramento St.

Ross Monn, chair of the Wilkes Community Group, here works with Gordon Scott to help “get the junk” out of the neighborhood.

“The first Saturday in November is a good time to get this done. It’s important to clean up the neighborhood,” community group chair Ross Monn told us.

“It keeps our yards from being filled with trash. And, it helps prevent illegal dumping by people who don’t know what to do with their refuse. We make it easy–and inexpensive–to keep the neighborhood clean. The neighbors feel good, and it is a good community outreach for us,” Monn added.

Helping neighbor David Parrish unload some rubbish is Wilkes Community Group’s Steven Johnson, chair of the Clean-Up event.

Event chair David Parrish reported that their four large dumpsters were filled as 63 people dumped their trashy loads. They were aided by eleven volunteers, and collected over $600 in donations. “No one is required to pay,” Parrish said, “but people are really happy to have a place to dump their junk.”

Because the Clean-Up Day was a joint effort with the Russell Neighborhood Association, their volunteers earned $200 of the total amount to support Russell’s budget.

Southern Clean-up efforts near 2 Million pound mark
On November 18, the Powellhurst-Gilbert and Pleasant Valley neighborhood associations joined forces to the clean out their areas, too.

Clean-up co-coordinators Glenn Taylor and Mary Wooley and her grandson Anthony help at one of ten sites spread among the neighborhoods.

“I did some calculating, and the numbers surprised me,” event coordinator and former PG chair, Glenn Taylor told us, “We’ve been doing two of these projects a year. Not counting today’s event, we’ve collected 1,880,000 pounds of trash, not including metal, over the years.”

On that day, the two neighborhood associations had twelve 40-yard dumpsters distributed among ten sites.

“This is a lower-income area,” Taylor reported. “It really helps people by giving them a way to get trash out of their yards. Actually, it helps the neighborhoods come together. They meet one another, and start to draw together.”

About forty volunteers pitched in to make this event, the largest in outer East Portland done by individual neighborhood associations, possible.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See why neighbors were giddy watching a home on their street being decorated with a flashing disco dance floor, acrobatic elves, sultry dancers, and enough lights to overheat a commercial generator …

Neighbors said the film crew worked for two days to turn this typical Reed home into an outlandishly decorated abode.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In the typically-quiet Reed neighborhood, most neighbors would frown on a home being decked out with over-the-top ornamentation, 40 robotic spot lights, and an amped-up sound system blaring hip-hop music to celebrate the holidays.

But, for two days several weeks ago, what might be considered to be the world’s most overly-decorated home amused neighbors to no end.

“You’ve got to see this,” Charlotte Kotchik, a neighbor across the street from the location, tells us on the phone. “Their house is, well, ‘gorgeous’, in a special sort of way,” she says.

We follow her directions, and find the residential street, a few blocks east of Reed College, crowded with motion picture production gear, including giant lights, huge sound system, and “snow” cloth being rolled out. On the front lawn we see two stages, a DJ booth, disco lighting, and a low-rider sleigh being set up.

It appears as if the shoot is hours away; Mrs. Kotchik agrees to alert us when they’re ready to roll film.

Lights, Camera, Oops
Night has fallen. We get the call signaling us that the production is about to start. We head back to the film set. Four Portland Trailblazers dancers are outfitted with sultry Santa suits, four acrobatic break dancers are attired as elves, and the production crew scurries around making final electrical connections.

Suddenly, the bright-as-day set goes dark. The production pulled so much electrical current that the giant, industrial-size generator overheats and shuts down.

Reed neighborhood homeowners Ric and Carol Zittenfield agreed to allow their house to be used as a set for an Oregon Lottery commercial.

Meet ‘the’ neighbors
While technicians work feverously to restore the power, we meet the owners of the wildly-decorated home, Ric and Carol Zittenfield.

“Welcome to our humble tar paper shack,” Ric says with a twinkle in his eye. “A location scout drove by and asked if they could use our house to make a commercial. It’s for the Oregon Lottery,” he explains.

He tells us the crew arrived the day before the shoot to install the lights on the roof. “They’ve been hard at it since 9:00 a.m. today.”

Carol tells us they might appear in the commercial as actors. “It’s real interesting. I liked the acting. We did lots of takes inside the house earlier today.”

According to Ric, here’s the commercial’s story line: “We’re new to the neighborhood, and people on our street come over to plan how our homes will be decorated for the holidays. Each neighbor describes what decorations they propose for their home. When they ask us how we’ll deck out our home, we shrug, look at each other ‚Äì and it cuts to this,” he says, pointing to their now-other-worldly-looking abode.

The director and cinematographer get ready to “roll film” to capture what was said to be the final four seconds of their commercial.

Ready to roll
As the Hollywood-like lighting again illuminates the set, we meet Charlotte Kotchik, the neighbor who tipped us off about the shoot.

From their front porch across the street, she and her family have an ideal vantage point to see the production unfold. “This is wonderful. It has been fun to watch. The most fun is watching all the crew work.”

Lights! Roll camera! Action! With break-dancing elves, Blazer Dancers, a DJ and Santa’s helper in a low-rider sleigh, neighbors are treated to a brief ‚Äì yet intense ‚Äì holiday show.

The director calls for a rehearsal. The lighting flashes, the music blasts, and the dancers gyrate – perfect! Then, the camera rolls, capturing what should be a great ending to a very humorous TV commercial.

Now, when you see this Oregon Lottery commercial on TV, you’ll know it was shot right here in Southeast Portland, and laugh along with the good natured neighbors who helped to make it.

Hey, Ho, everybody!

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Throughout the year, the Portland Metro Performing Arts Center helps youngsters learn theater arts. See how their performance of the “Odalisque Variations from Le Corsaire” was enhanced by the new tutus ‚Ķ

Two dancers admire the new costume worn by Meng Paulson as she prepares for the November 17th performance of Le Corsaire at Portland Metro Performing Arts Center.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Nothing lifts the spirits of performers more than great costuming. Thanks to a generous donation, Metro Dancers’ ballerinas are now dancing pretty.

“We’re excited, you bet!” exclaimed Nancy Yeamans, director of Metro Dancers and executive director of  Portland Metro Performing Arts Center. “These tutus are designed and sewn by the same costumer who creates them for the San Francisco and New York ballet companies. It is like getting a ‘black belt’ in ballet, when you get to wear a costume like this.”

The young dancers agreed, as they primped and readied themselves for the performance on November 17. “I feel so professional wearing this costume,” said a ballerina, as she pinned on her small hat.

Performing the Odalisque Variations from Le Corsaire at Portland Metro Performing Center, in their new costumes, are (back row) Nadia De LaTorre, Lorianne Barclay, Krista Bennett; (front row) Meng Paulson and Emily Sevy.

“The ‘Odalisque Variations from Le Corsaire’,” Yeamans explained, “is a ballet that takes place in an Arabian pasha’s palace. It is an exotic dance. An Odalisque was a lady idolized for her beauty. The ballet is special because it has a rich variety of movement.”

Coming up in December, they’ll be holding their Nutcracker Workshop. The center’s director said, “We do the entire Nutcracker Suite in three days. The kids love it because they can learn all the wonderful parts and variations. Parents love it because it takes place on three consecutive days, December 19 through 21.”

To find out more, see www.pdxmetroarts.org or call (503) 408-0604.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

At their fall concert, the Sunnyside Symphony Orchestra brought proficiently played classical music to East Portland. Read and see who their guest artist was …

Travis Hatton conducts the Sunnyside Symphony Orchestra as it plays the Overture to “Music For The Royal Fireworks” by G. F. Handel.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Word about the world-class Sunnyside Symphony Orchestra ‚Äì a group that plays its concerts in Hazelwood ‚Äì has been spreading across the city. “They play wonderful concerts,” said Emma Blacklan as she arrived. “I drove here from Forest Grove.”

The orchestra, under the baton of conductor Travis Hatton, is a volunteer organization composed of musicians who “play for the love of music,” Hatton told us. “Many of their number are professional musicians who share their talent with us.”

The concerts are held in the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church on SE Market Street. But, these events aren’t religious meetings. “We love playing here because of the acoustics, and they support our work,” Hatton commented.

Wendy Edgar, the featured soloist, plays her viola at the Sunnyside Symphony Orchestra’s fall concert.

Violist featured
Wendy Edgar, both a professional performer and teacher, was the featured soloist at this concert. Edgar was accompanied by the orchestra, as they played “Lyric Movement for Viola and Small Orchestra” by Gustav Holst.

The major work presented at their November concert was “Symphony No. 4 in D minor, opus 120” by Robert Schumann.

As word has gotten around about Sunnyside Symphony Orchestra concerts, the group plays to full houses.

Look for their spring concert listing in our Community Calendar. By the way, the concerts ‚Äì and parking ‚Äì are free! A very, very good price to hear the world’s greatest music, played live.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

© 2005-2019 David F. Ashton East PDX News™. All Rights Reserved.