The Eliot neighborhood has long longed for more retail on commercial streets such as Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, to see activity and commercial services instead of empty lots and buildings. Things have improved since our low point in the late 1970s, but more is needed.
In May, 2010, the Volunteers of America Men’s Residential (MRC) awarded their Al Forthan Memorial Recovery Scholarship. This scholarship has been awarded annually since 2006 in honor of Al Forthan. Al was a heroin addict and crime lord in inner northeast Portland for almost 30 years. He entered treatment at the MRC, took his recovery seriously, and changed everything about his life. He continued on to Portland Community College and entered their program to become a Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor. After he graduated, he was hired by the MRC: the first client to come back and be a staff member. Al was a phenomenal, life-changing counselor for ten years before passing away in 2006. He epitomized that anyone, no matter what his or her past, could have a healthy and happy life and change the world for the better.
During the early years of rapid development in the town of Albina, which most of is now inside the Eliot neighborhood, many well-known businessmen were involved with the process. When Albina was incorporated in 1887, it saw phenomenal growth through 1892. Much money was spent and made on real estate investments and industrial expansions tied into the railroad industry. Businesses during these years thrived on healthy profits in part due to an abundant supply of immigrant workers willing to work at working-class wages. The real estate market was exceptionally healthy due to soaring lot prices. After Albina merged with Portland in 1891, the value of property skyrocketed. Most Albina businessmen and property speculators though lived in today’s NW and SW Portland, which was generally where most of the “well-to-do” lived. Robert E. Menefee and his brothers were an exception to this rule as they resided in Albina during most of their lives. Some of the homes they lived in are still standing in the neighborhood today.
Foodshare Fund Northeast, a project of the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (NECN), is in full swing. For the second year they are providing matching funds for neighbors using food stamps to buy fresh, local food at the King Farmers Market. This year, in response to a growing and urgent need, they’ve expanded the program. Nearly one in five Oregonians are now receiving food stamps, 39% of them children. Foodshare Fund NE provides funds from the community — businesses, community groups, neighbors — to match food stamps spent dollar for dollar, up to $10 per week. Last year, the average match was $234 per Sunday. This year it has been $896.
In late March we contacted Solarize Northeast to see whether it was feasible to put solar panels on our roof. SolarCity was the contractor selected by Solarize Northeast to do the installation and technical support. The company started in Australia, but is currently the leading residential installer in the U.S. The competition in solar installation is strong and you do get the sense as a residential customer that you are being wooed, but I was given the information I needed from SolarCity without too much sales pressure.
At the first signs of spring when the crocuses and daffodils poke their heads up, my husband gets excited about starting to plant his “farm” as we like to call it. He scours seed catalogs reading all about the new varieties of heirlooms available. We make the first of many quick trips to Livingscape Nursery, just north of NE Freemont on N Vancouver Ave. They carry our favorite brand of seeds, Territorial Seed Company, lots of plants, flowers, fruit trees, and baby chickens which are always fun to see.
Fetch Doggie Daycare is located at 2021 NE MLK and has been a part of the community since 2004. New owners, Britt and Adam took the business over in 2009 and just celebrated their one year anniversary. Fetch provides a safe, fun and loving environment for dogs to stay – whether it be just for the day or overnight. They have 3,200 square feet of play space equipped with cushy furniture, play structures, toys, and a lot of love.