In an effort to strengthen more positive community relations, Portland Police are stepping up their game for the security of package shipments via online shopping venues. Officer Schmerber of the Portland Police Bureau reports that during the holiday season there are higher rates of thefts. Portland Police are working with the United States Postal Services and Amazon to help mitigate the “Porch Pirate” thefts that occur more often during the holiday season, but also during the rest of the year as well. Shopping Centers are no exception to the higher risks of theft, and Portland Police are working with stores on the prevention of thefts there, as well.
The Portland Police Bureau is also working on camp abatement while offering services and resources to the homeless communities.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard is the spine that supports our inner Northeast neighborhoods. What happens on the street affects everyone nearby, and we can track the changes in our community by seeing what people make of the street. Its businesses and sidewalks, road surfaces and atmosphere – we can see who we are, and who we want to be, in what use we make of them.
Living near Alberta Street for some years, I found that as that street’s commercial uses changed rapidly, I was struggling to remember what it looked like before
gentrification swept through, tornado-like. With MLK Boulevard, I wanted to be able to remember what it looked like before its next wave of development made it into something new – so I decided I wanted to create a photo record of what the street looked like. When I learned the story of Erwin Grant – a gentleman who filled a warehouse near Fremont with toxic waste – I decided to dig deeper into the history of the boulevard. My website of photos and stories of the boulevard became a launching point for gaining a better understanding of how people have used the boulevard and its buildings throughout years past.
Strongly-debated aspects of American life have repeatedly filtered down to the boulevard, as people have again and again contested with one another on how their ideals should affect life on the street. Racial aspects of gentrification; a deliberately-set explosion in a building (still standing!) that was serving as a military recruiting center during the Vietnam War; protests in support of, and opposition to, abortion; numerous other issues have been contested on the street. One story, now little-heard, is a city police raid on a porn theater at MLK (then Union Avenue) and Alberta, in 1964. The city vigorously prosecuted this case, filing charges against both the producer and director of the movie being shown. This was a time when cries about the dangers of pornography were running high. Mayor Schrunk wrote a screed in 1962, warning parents that children were never safe in commercial spaces by themselves – porn might lurk behind any sales counter. The city pursued the film’s makers into the 1970s when a court in New York state declined to extradite the filmmakers.
With the World Arts Foundation, I organized a celebration for the 25th anniversary of the boulevard’s name change in 1989. While the conflict over the name change slowed the process, residents of the area led the move to name the street after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Success in place-making such as this is often citizen-led; city-directed place-making often leads to disappointment, as with a Gateway project that fell short of what was promised, and is now sequestered in a little-used concrete plaza.
While I’ve uploaded fewer pictures in the past couple of years to mlkinmotion.wordpress.com, I continue to collect stories of people’s experiences on the street. We create a world in miniature along Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.
In October the Eliot Neighborhood Association held elections for the new board directors which resulted in some board members being re-elected for another year as well as voting in some brand new members who have not been on our board before as well as a familiar face returning after stepping away for a few years. Then, in November our
executive officers were voted in by the new board. Below is the list of board directors and the executive officers. Congratulations and welcome to the new board who are excited to get started on a new year with new goals and events in store.
2019-2020 Eliot NA Board
Allan Rudwick – Co-Chair
Jimmy Wilson – Co-Chair
Jim Hlava – Treasurer
Jennifer Wilcox – Recorder
Sue Stringer- Newsletter Editor
Shireen Hasan – Community Outreach
On May 28, 1873, under the direction of Edwin Russell, the townsite plat of Albina was laid out and filed with Multnomah County by George H. Williams. Many of the street names have stayed the same such as Page, Russell and Williams. However, many street names have been changed, some even multiple times. Our current NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard is one such street.
The original name of the boulevard was Marguretta Avenue named after Albina founder Edwin Russell’s wife. In 1888 Portland & Vancouver Railway built tracks for a steam-powered line along Marguretta Avenue. The rail line stimulated business and residential and some commercial development. The name Marguretta didn’t last long. In June 1891 an election was held for all residents of Portland, Albina, and East Portland to consolidate the three cities. With this new city formation, the street name was changed to Union Avenue. The street was widened in the 1930s and streetcar tracks were laid.
Union Avenue held its name until 1989 when the Albina Community Plan was developed to revitalize distressed neighborhoods in and around the Albina community. After inquiries about why Portland didn’t have a street named after Martin Luther King, Jr, especially since the minister had visited the Vancouver Baptist Church back in 1961, Union Avenue eventually was renamed Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard after a long and tumultuous process.
Winter has arrived, and the streets of Eliot are looking mighty fine thanks, in part, to the on-going efforts of our super adopt-a-blockers. Not an easy a task in the colder months….so a big shout out and thank you to all our volunteers.
During the past several months we’ve added John and Cara who are applying their efforts to Thompson street between MLK and Rodney, and Jan Landis who’s been keeping the area behind Boise Elementary School trash-free. So happy to have them on board. Do feel free to contact me if interested in adopting near your area. Also know that you could sign up to adopt one of the newly planted bioswales. They tend to accumulate all manner of trash, cigarette butts, etc. Sadly, I’ve already fished quite a few items from one near my house. Contact me at email@example.com to sign on and be a bio-swale protector, or a block picker-upper, or both!
This has been an interesting fall for the Land Use and Transportation Committee. Lots of neighborhood developments have been presented to us along with some pretty dramatic policy changes on the horizon.
In the neighborhood, we’ve seen small scale housing developments being proposed on the southern part of Vancouver and on MLK, discussed doing a street vacancy in lower Albina where Earthquake Tech has a new property on a dead end street with room for some creative use of space, heard updates on the Emanuel hospital’s renovation plans, and followed the developments on the Lloyd-to-Woodlawn greenway. I’m excited to see much-needed housing coming to the neighborhood and start to see empty lots being developed. On the Lloyd-to-Woodlawn greenway, while the changes won’t be exactly what we hoped to see, they’ll be a step in the right direction for making it safer for everyone to get around.
The proposed housing changes coming before City Council soon will also be a great step forward for improving housing choices for Portlanders and would-be-Portlanders. Better Housing by Design, the Residential Infill Project, and the associated antidisplacement measures will help make it easier to build “Missing Middle” housing – often the most affordable type of housing – and help to minimize displacement. I’m thankful to be seeing the city pushing for policies that will help make housing in Portland more affordable for more people.
Our co-chairs Allan Rudwick and Jimmy Wilson recently sat down for a discussion about priorities for the coming year. We came away with a few things. Firstly, we are committed to being co-chairs because we want to work together. Working together means taking the shared experiences of our lives and using them to guide where we are going.
Co-chair Jimmy Wilson expressed a vision to help the homeless community. “As a city, we have been in a ‘housing emergency’ for 5 or so years and we don’t have much to show for it.” It was further discussed what it would mean for the Eliot NA to do something about it.
Co-Chair Allan Rudwick expressed concern about the desire to see vacant land in the neighborhood turned into useful places for people to thrive. This means a bunch of different pieces, working with the city and landholders to actually motivate building on vacant land. Some of that is just
reaching out to landowners, some of it is working with the city.
In addition, Co-Chair Allan Rudwick’s desire is to see something done about Diesel pollution. “We have a problem in Portland and in Eliot in particular with the number of unfiltered Diesel trucks rolling down I-5 in particular and other streets in the area. This is leading us to breathe more Diesel Particulate (aka Black Carbon) than other neighborhoods farther away from major truck routes. There are some solutions that seem obvious like requiring filters on trucks.” Cochair Jimmy Wilson mentioned that the problem of diesel particulates has been an issue for a long time and people have complained heavily in the past to no avail. This new effort may have legs but it should recognize those that came before and tried.
It is the sentiment of the co-chairs that “we are second to the community. We aren’t attending meetings just for fun, we’re doing it to try to make this a better place. Whether it is picking up trash, feeding people, or keeping a space for local residents to get help with their issues, we want the people of the neighbor to know that the Eliot NA Board is here for them. “We are trying to support the strong citizens in the neighborhood. Sometimes that is advice on how to get in touch with the city, sometimes it is financial grants but always it comes from a place of respect and understanding that everyone is trying their best.”
Further, we are out here trying to make the world better for the next generations.
Our time is now, but if we can’t clean up pollution and build a great place, what are we leaving for the young people? There is no personal glory in this job, but there is satisfaction with helping people make a difference.
This column features businesses or people in Eliot and just beyond our neighborhood’s borders to help our residents learn what exciting businesses and opportunities are located in and around our amazing neighborhood. This issue we focus on welcoming our new board members and what they will be able to contribute to the neighborhood and our board. Here is a little bit of interesting information about each of them.
Allan Rudwick has lived in Eliot for 11 years and has previously been a board member holding the offices of Chair and also Newsletter Editor. Allan joined the board again because of a couple of key issues he hopes to make progress on: reducing diesel pollution and building on vacant land.
Allan loves how close Eliot is to all that makes our city great, specifically, Dishman Community Center, good bus lines to get everywhere you need to go and a few good parks. He likes how people use the sidewalks and that we really have a common space on our streets. It isn’t just into the car for every trip. He loves that we see as many bikes and people on foot as cars, even on our relatively busy streets. People outside their metal boxes are much more relatable and approachable as human beings.
He would also like to share that there are people with great visions of what our neighborhood will be like in the future. He hopes that some of these visions come to pass (like the Albina Vision) and some plans are canned, like the I-5 widening monstrosity. We need Eliot to be a place where people are most important, and those living here have priority over those driving through.
When not working on neighborhood issues Allan helps design computer chips for a start-up called Ampere Computing across the river.
Sherry Staggs is a first-time board member and new to Eliot. Upon retiring and moving to Portland in March 2018, Sherry has discovered how friendly and walkable Eliot is.
She is enjoying the walkable distance to the grocery store and amenities with easy access to public transport and downtown Portland.
She loves spending time with friends she has made while here walking around different neighborhoods and the wonderful park trails in the Portland area. She is very grateful for the opportunity to live in Eliot.
Now, since being retired and having the time, she wanted to contribute to the neighborhood by working on the board and with the E-ACT committee in the on-going effort for cleaner air now and for future generations.
When not walking and working on neighborhood issues, Sherry likes curling up with a book. Since childhood ,she has been an avid reader and it is a big part of who she is.
Jennifer Wilcox is a first-time board member and, though she doesn’t live in the neighborhood, she works with Cascadia Behavioral Center specifically the Garlington Health Center’s Wellness Program. She has worked at The Garlington Center since 2014 and worked with Cascadia previously from 2004- 2008. Jennifer is really excited to bring wellness activities to this neighborhood and to learn more about the needs and goals of the residents and how the Wellness Center can help support those goals. She looks forward to meeting more neighbors and hearing how we can work together.
Jennifer leads a walking group on Thursdays which starts at the Garlington Health Center. She is always impressed with the beauty of the Eliot neighborhood, the parks, people’s gardens, and houses. Also, everyone she meets when walking is so friendly.
In her spare time, Jennifer loves to knit. You can usually find her with a project in her hands.
Your Name Here
The Eliot Neighborhood Association is always looking for more board members, committee members, volunteers and event planners. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact one of the Co-Chairs Allan Rudwick or Jimmy Wilson.
We have a neighborhood livability team, a clean air team, newsletter team events like neighborhood clean-ups, and are always looking to add more events for the neighborhood to participate in.
Anyone who lives in or is employed by a company within the Eliot neighborhood boundaries is welcome to join us in making Eliot a wonderful place to live and work.
We want you to share your talents, new ideas and enthusiasm with us. Stop by a meeting on the third Monday of each month at 120 NE Knott St at St Philip the Deacon Church from 6:30-8:30 pm or contact Allan or Jimmy or any of the other board members. Hope to see you soon!
Have you gotten your New Year’s resolutions set for 2020? Hopefully, the first year of the decade will be filled with interesting activities and events.
There are a lot of good ideas in this issue if you still haven’t honed in on your goals for this year. From getting healthy in a new exercise class, making new friends, and trying some new restaurants or taking a class, we have it all in the Eliot neighborhood.
Still lacking ideas? Stop by a neighborhood association meeting and listen to what we have in store this year. We are in the midst of goal planning for the year so if you have any events you’d like to suggest or want to volunteer for one of our committees or to help out with an event we’d love to talk to you.
Also we are always looking for additional reporters to write articles for our newspaper as well as businesses who want to advertise in a super local platform.
And if it’s history you’re looking for, in honor of Martin Luther King, Junior’s birthday we have a couple of article and a photo montage of then and now of our bustling street, MLK Jr. Boulevard.
So buckle up and get ready for an exciting year. I know, I am looking forward starting a new decade and all it will bring.