On Saturday, October 22 between 10am and 2pm, a Public Safety Fair will be held for the Eliot Neighborhood in Dawson Park. The fair will offer free catalytic converter etching kits, safety and theft prevention information and programs, job opportunities, and child-friendly food and activities.
The event is in partnership with the Portland Police Bureau, Mayor Ted Wheeler, Portland and Fire Rescue, the Bureau of Emergency Communications, PDX 311, Portland Parks and Recreation, the Rotary Club of Portland, the Eliot Neighborhood Association, Connected Inc., and Love is Stronger.
On Tuesday, August 2, the Eliot Neighborhood association, the Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church and Cascadia Behavioral Health held a resource and job fair in Dawson Park. The event was supported by a grant from the City of Portland Office of Civic Life. Eleven employers including Amazon, Dave’s Killer Bread and Legacy were there in addition to resources such as WorkSource, Voc Rehab and Free Geek, who were distributing free laptops. Cascadia provided hygiene kits and the church distrusted food boxes as well as fresh grilled sausages. It was a very successful event, bringing the community together to meet the needs of the people in the neighborhood. We also held a raffle for 10 $25 Fred Meyer gift cards.
We will have another fair on Tuesday September 6 from 10-12.
Come together with SOLVE and community members for a cleanup in the Boise- Elliot/Irvington Neighborhoods starting at Irvington Park! This event will be entirely outdoors and will comply with social distancing guidelines. After a safety talk and getting cleanup supplies, we will spend a couple of hours picking up litter in the neighborhood to improve our community and protect our ecosystem.www.solveoregon.org
There’s an upcoming cleanup happening at Irving Park this Wednesday, March 31 from 10 AM – Noon. Volunteers will be given cleanup supplies, instruction, and then will be sent out to clean the park and surrounding neighborhood. We’d love it if you could share this volunteer opportunity with your association’s network! https://www.solveoregon.org/opportunity/a0C1I00000QFQZp
Well, progress is happening at the Gladys McCoy Memorial Garden. Kate Thompson, the organizer of the garden restoration, says, “John Barker, the garden designer got the Hardy Plant Society to approve the memorial garden as a 501(c)3 under their umbrella and the society has approved some funds for plantings but we will need more.”
The Eliot adopt-a-block program is currently 26 members strong. A few folks have moved, and busy schedules have put others on hold (to resume later, they promised!) However, we’ve added several new members in the last couple months, and the solve bags and disposable gloves I have stacked on my porch have started to dwindle – a good thing! I’m committed to keeping those supplies stocked and am hoping other Eliot neighbors might wish to join our caring group of clean-street-defenders. Please contact me, Jody, at 503-331-1511 (land line) and I’ll get you set up, and tell you everything you need to know. (regarding trash, that is….) My email address is email@example.com.
For those wanting to join but not quite ready to commit, there is also a way for you to help out. Metro has a program called RID Patrol. All you need is a phone or computer, and a few minutes of your time to report any illegally dumped items in the public right of way. Their contact info is oregonmetro.gov and their phone number is 503-234-3000 option 6. If reporting online, go to the search bar and type in rid. There is a wealth of information for you there. See a dumped mattress, appliance, large bags of illegally dumped trash, etc., just contact RID and they will have someone out to pick it up. How cool is that?
Of course, we still need our feet-on-the-street citizens to tackle the cigarette butt’s, (no, they don’t degrade) fast food beverage cups and wrappers, and so many other bits of flotsam and jetsam swirling about our neighborhood streets. This is where a committed adopt-a-blocker (maybe you?) comes in. We’d love to have you join us. Oh, and there is a bonus. We have a quarterly drawing for one lucky member to receive a $100 New Season’s gift certificate compliments of our Eliot Neighborhood Association. I have picked 2 winners this time around as there had been some adjusting and uncertainty the past quarter. Congratulations to Jan Landis, and Cindy Irvine! Couldn’t have happened to two more committed members. Jan patrols the area around Boise Eliot school (and mentions she could use more help in that area!) and Cindy tackles Cook St between Rodney and MLK. She has also mentioned being overwhelmed on that street, especially closer to MLK. If anyone living in either of those areas would like to join/help I know both women would appreciate it.
Summer’s almost over and the fall rains will soon begin. (don’t think I’ve ever been so anxious for THAT to start happening). Going forward, please do your best to keep your leaves from blocking sewer drains. Those who live on corners where the leaves flow down to them will be appreciative of any efforts “upstream”. Be kind, and consider your neighbors. Other bits of trash also get strewn about in the mix and keeping things clear makes it so much easier for adopt-a blockers to do their jobs without having to pick through heavy, wet piles of leaves. Come on along….make keeping YOUR Eliot neighborhood clean a part of your good deeds. We look forward to having you join us.
How I-5 was planned and built through Eliot in the 1950s and why we should not widen it
At a recent meeting, my Co-chair, Jimmy Wilson, asked me a pertinent question: “Where were white folks standing when Interstate-5 (I-5) was run through North Portland in the 1950’s?” I decided to dig through archives to find out, visiting the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) website and then spending a significant amount of time on the Oregonian’s historical archive (found through Multnomah County Library). I also tried to find some other local news sources like the Northwest Clarion but unless I go find someone with an extensive microfilm archive and dig through it manually I don’t think I would find anything.
In Northeast Portland, the intersection of Urban Renewal policies and Freeway Construction Policies combined to remove the heart of the Black community’s housing stock (over 800 units from the Eliot area alone) between 1955 and 1970. The Eliot and Lower Albina neighborhoods were decimated to make room for I-5, but even larger pieces were removed to make Memorial Coliseum and its parking lots. Later, Emanuel Hospital’s expansion dreams and the I-405 off-ramps removed even more of the community’s buildings and dislocated its people.
I was struck by the sheer pace of highway planning and construction during the late 1950’s through the Portland region. Planning or construction of all of the highways we now know within 5 miles of Eliot happened within 5 years. The roadway engineers had a seemingly limitless budget during those days, and they had tremendous power to reshape the city as well. They knew that highways became clogged with cars a few years after they were constructed through a process we now call “induced demand.” The highway engineers knew that I-84 (“the Banfield Freeway”) would soon become congested and had plans for a “Fremont Expressway” taking an east-west route through Northeast Portland and another “Mount Hood Freeway” taking an east-west route through Southeast Portland. Those routes will never be built, and from what I can tell, many of the existing highways should not have either. Uprisings over the removal of so many housing units prevented the later highways from being built, but not before Eliot and North Portland received the scar of I-5. These routes have served to increase the geographic footprint of our region and helped make everything more quickly accessible by car. In doing so, these highways have also increased the dependence on the car for transportation throughout our region, increased the average distance of trips and increased the basic cost of living of citizens of the Portland Metropolitan Region.
The Interstate System was funded through the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 which authorized $25 Billion for the construction of 41,000 miles of the Interstate Highway system over a supposedly 10-year period. In the act, a Highway Trust Fund was created that paid for 90% of highway construction costs. This meant that state highway engineers could dream up huge plans and only needed a 10% match from local governments to build highways. This amazing subsidy may have helped highway builders of the time become desensitized to the value of the buildings they were destroying in the name of “progress.”
I found that there were other options considered for the “Minnesota Freeway” that we now know as I-5 from I-405 to the Washington border. However, the main other option was the “Delaware Freeway,” a route more along N Greeley and N Delaware Avenues, one which would have removed slightly more houses and been slightly more expensive to construct. This option would still have taken the same path through the Eliot Neighborhood. The opposition to the Minnesota option was disorganized and didn’t coalesce around one specific alternative, which contributed to it being ignored. There was a bridge built at N. Ainsworth across the highway to mollify the principal of Ockley Green School, which would have had its district separated by the highway had that bridge not been built. To this day N. Ainsworth is one of the calmest places to cross I-5 in north Portland.
After this research, I thought to myself, okay, what about the section of highway that actually runs through Eliot? It turns out that this was a bit challenging to find out about because it was actually considered a part of the “East Bank Freeway” even though this stretch between I-84 and N. Russell Street was not along the river. This route may have been chosen by planners at the City of Portland signing off on plans prepared by the Oregon Department of Transportation. From the news of the day, it appears that the people living and working on the east side of the river were not substantially consulted in the process, even though hundreds of families would be displaced for the highway project. The first mention of this highway running through Eliot in The Oregonian was from January 1959, and in February and March there were some articles talking about the number of buildings to be torn down. At one point they were referred to as “Ancient Buildings.” By December, the right of way had been cleared. This is unbelievable to me: Less than 6 months from the first timely public mention of the highway going through this area to the mayor approving the demolition, and 12 months from the first mention of the highway to complete demolition. A cursory note of the design of the Broadway, Williams, Weidler, Flint and Vancouver overpasses was made, as was a note that 29 other streets would be “terminated” or turned into dead ends.
During the demolition process, salvagers would pay prices as low as $5 for the right to salvage parts out of houses that would be demolished for the East Bank Freeway Route. One hundred and eighty households with 400 people were displaced by one count; another count I read included 250 households. Is it possible that those with the power to demolish buildings might not have been particularly concerned with those they were displacing? To me, this is obviously the case. One article I read talked about the shocking record of non-litigation by homeowners on the route. Either property owners thought they were getting a fair deal by the Oregon Department of Transportation, or they had no leverage in the courts to make it worth the legal troubles.
With the power of hindsight, we do not have to repeat the mistakes of the past. ODOT is planning to widen I-5 underneath the 5-bridge intersection we now have around Broadway, Weidler, Vancouver, Williams and Flint Avenues. During the 1960s, there were a series of highway revolts across the country, resulting in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1959 governing roadway construction. As a result of this, the current proposal by ODOT to widen I-5 around the Broadway/Weidler Interchange, rebuild all of the roads that cross the highway, and provide some minor and questionably valuable “ community benefits” has been in the planning and engineering process for the past 10 years. During the time since the planning process started, the process of “approving” this project has been orchestrated in a way that no elected body has had a simple vote on whether they wanted to build this project or not. There have been several votes about what type of environmental review process to do, about whether we want to pass a huge transportation funding bill including this project, and about whether to approve buying land for the right of way of the project. However, no politicians have ever been asked to vote on whether to actually build this project.
The project is not particularly popular. Roughly 90% of the public comments about the project have been in opposition to building it, including the Eliot Neighborhood Association’s comments at every step of the way. The effects of highway construction are generally worst for those that live and spend their lives closest to the freeway. The local residents are subjected to detours, construction noise and pollution during the construction process. In addition, after project completion, the increased traffic on local streets and the highway will make quality of life for those living around the project worse. That increased traffic is all but guaranteed while widening highways. There is a nearly 1-to-1 relationship between the number of highway lane miles and traffic, whatever name you give to the lanes that you are building. If we look closer at what “local benefits” the project would have, we can see that just tweaking the street grid above the highway will have minor impacts at best. A new pedestrian crossing between Winning Way and NE Clackamas street was intended to be an asset, but highway planners have put such a curve in it that it will not shorten any journeys with its meandering path above a noisy highway. The Hancock-Dixon overpass will not substantially connect streets that are not served with the current Flint overpass we have now. Even the new “public spaces” created by the project will be small and triangular, possibly the site of camping since no accommodation for productive buildings on them is being made.
The only real change the project would make to the surrounding area would be widening the highway, a car-capacity increase that will barely change travel times through the area. It would also serve to put more cars into our local street network, which has led to renderings showing even wider streets through the area than we have now. This would increase road noise and reduce the value of land around the project area. Although trumpeted as a “traffic and safety project” it serves neither. Safety on other ODOT-managed streets is a much higher priority than in this corridor, which has not seen any deaths in a decade. Only congestion pricing has proved to improve traffic in urban environments, and we should be pursuing that sort of system instead of putting down more concrete.
Before this project started, drawings of how to reconstruct I-5 in a wider configuration with “minimal” impacts to traffic above were generated. This project has always been about a wider I-5 through the Broadway interchange, and everything else is just window dressing. It is not too late. Any benefits this project might have could be achieved at a much lower cost through other means. We can still stop this $800 million boondoggle, which is clearly a continuation of the shameful history of highway construction in Portland’s inner neighborhoods. It is not too late.
While the corona virus has kept the majority of us homebound – other than for essential services – I’ve found that the streets have reflected this slowdown of activity. Less activity does equate to less trash but several adopt-a-blockers I’ve spoken to have been equally less motivated, myself included. Less people on the streets to collect garbage equates to certain areas not receiving “the love” a thorough trash pick-up will provide.
Almost as an answer to that reality, I noticed a lone soul picking up trash along MLK Jr. Blvd the other day on my way to the store. Pulling over to the curb and rolling down my window I asked the good Samaritan if he lived in Eliot, did he wish to join the Eliot Adopt-a-block program, and what was his name! Fortunately he answered “yes” to the first two questions, and I happily added Michael Schwern as the newest member of our team.
Michael lives on the corner of Rodney and Tillamook. He’s been living there for three years and lived for another number of years not far from his current home. He told me he was motivated to help pick up based on his affiliation with Burning Man and their ethos of “leave no trace”. He felt compelled to do so along MLK as a way to give back as he supports the peaceful protests and vigils that make their way through Eliot. I thought it a wonderful way of supporting our neighborhood and the surrounding streets. Michael would like to adopt Sacramento Ave between Rodney and MLK plus other areas of need during his daily walks. Thanks, Michael, and welcome.
In addition to Michael, I met another Eliot neighbor, Julie Cushing, who was picking up garbage along Rodney Ave. Julie also felt compelled to give back and make a difference. She said she hated seeing trash in the streets and wanted to do her part. When I asked Julie if she wanted to join the adopt-a-blockers as well, she was happy to join and becomes the latest member of our little group. Julie lives on the corner of Rodney and Thompson, and has been in the neighborhood for 20 years. She would like to help out on Tillamook from Rodney to MLK, parts of Russell, and Williams. Wow…thanks, Julie!
Both she and Michael will be entered into the drawing coming up in a few days for those in the Adopt-a-Block family. They and/or you could be the lucky recipient of the $100.00 gift certificate to your local New Season grocery store, who we randomly pick each quarter. My trusty pal, Adrian, will draw the name from a current list of 28 trash-eliminators, and I’ll notify the winner. The odds are pretty sweet.
I encourage anyone with a desire to lend a hand to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to join. (If you prefer phone its 503-331-1511 which is a LAND line, so no texts). I’ll get you stocked up with gloves, garbage-picker-uppers, and bags for trash. The trash can be left for pickup by the city on the corner or address of your choice. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll get you set up with numbers, and everything you need to help keep Eliot lookin’ good.
Being co-Chairs of the Eliot Neighborhood Association (ENA) has not been what we expected this year. We started out the year wanting to work on vacant land, diesel pollution and wanting to see the city pushed on houselessness. This year has seen the City put up people in the Convention Center for months. It has seen a dramatic reduction in pollution due to the pandemic. And it has seen neighborhood meetings move to the internet. One last thing we wanted to do was to keep space for neighbors to local residents to get help with their issues.
Along the way, the Eliot Neighborhood has been dragged into multiple other issues that we didn’t foresee. Interstate 5 widening near the Broadway Interchange seems to be moving ahead despite a high volume of comments in opposition to the project. The ENA has been vocally opposed to the project from the beginning and we may be getting our toes wet again. We have been contacted regarding rezoning land in the name of providing more affordable housing. We also have been approached by neighbors about crime around Dawson Park and the surrounding blocks. This issue is attracting neighbors to reach out to each other and rally around a common cause.
We are still here, we are still supporting people in Eliot even though we are not always doing it in person. Thank you for continuing to be neighborly through these challenging times. It is not easy but we will get through this. Together
I hope everyone is staying safe and finding constructive ways to keep occupied and connect with those around you. We at Oasis of Change miss seeing everyone around especially as the spring is starting and the farm is coming to life. Eating meals on the farm with no community around is just not the same.
We have been thinking hard about how we can help the community in this time and so far we have come up with a couple special ideas. We have been so saddened to see how empty it has gotten and our mission is to create community so we are going to try to start inviting people back in safe ways. We are opening up our garden and farm space to the public as a community coffee and tea hangout. We have partnered with Karma Cup, a really amazing organization who is working to end homelessness. We have so much beautiful outdoor space we might as well share it and the benefit of being outdoors is that the sun actually disinfects!
We just finished re-doing the garden space to allow us to have all the distance we need. We can accommodate up to 6 people per group and we have 10 private outdoor seating spaces all separated by a beautiful farm. So, come relax and see everything coming to life and feel some normalcy in this time. It is recommended that you call ahead to reserve. We are also opening up our outdoor gym and trampoline to families and individuals who miss working out all you have to do is reach out and book a 30 minute to hour time slot. So if you’re feeling stuck and want a little breath of normalcy in your life come out and have a cup of coffee.
Climate change has been top of mind a lot for me recently. I used to think that individual consumption choices could help make a change, but recently I’ve adapted more of the mindset that we need to advocate for systemic changes that enable people to lead more sustainable lives and help make sustainable choices the default. Luckily, the city has been pushing for some land use and transportation policies recently that will help achieve more sustainable outcomes.
I’m personally excited about the Residential Infill Project. I will admit that it has flaws, but I think the positives far outweigh the negatives. At a high level, it ends the ban of building 2, 3, and 4 plexes in single family zoned lots. By allowing for the construction of higher density living arrangements, heating will be more efficient (less energy usage!), and transit, walking, and bicycling for daily errands become more viable (less fossil fuel consumption!). Another benefit is that the requirement for off-street parking is removed which will hopefully lead to more tree coverage as there will be fewer driveways and more space for trees. The city’s own analysis also showed that this proposal would decrease displacement in Eliot which is a huge win for the neighborhood.
Another policy proposal the city has recently put forth is the Rose Lane Project. The aim with this proposal is to get busses out of car traffic on the most utilized routes. By helping the bus move more quickly, we’ll be helping move people more quickly and we’ll make taking the bus a more viable alternative to driving for more people. The more people who choose taking the bus over driving leads to less emissions. This project will also benefit Eliot as some of the busses to be prioritized are the 6 on MLK and the 4/44 on Vancouver/Williams.
It’s an exciting time to be involved right now as a lot is changing and there are some projects that make me feel optimistic which can be hard to come by right now. If this kind of thing sounds interesting to you, we’d love for you to come to our Eliot Neighborhood Land Use and Transportation Committee meetings on the second Monday of the month at 7pm at St Philip the Deacon.
I am Corey Kaster, with Insurance Masters NW (directly behind the Nike Factory Store), and want to share with you an exciting transformation coming to the Eliot Neighborhood!
The present state of the neighborhood with graffiti, crime, and litter doesn’t work. Business owners and residents have been taking the only action they know how and adding lighting, fencing, cameras, etc. While this may be somewhat effective, it also hasn’t made the neighborhood feel like a better place to live/work.
Not only are things bad, but without action I foresee them getting worse resulting in more incidents, disconnection, fear, and reactionary actions.
I envision a new future…. one where there is a vibrant, connected, and engaged business community that is a powerful force in transforming our neighborhood into something currently unimaginable. Imagine spotless streets, connected business owners that powerfully engage with the Neighborhood Association and Sustainable Eliot, and a neighborhood we are excited to live and work in with a sense pride!
If you have a business in the neighborhood and are inspired by this future please email me to connect at email@example.com.
The new Eliot Business District Facebook Group that can be accessed here to build this community is at this link – eliot.im-nw.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to sign on and be a bio-swale protector, or a block picker-upper, or both!
Alas, the dog days of summer are behind us, and the cool, refreshing showers of autumn will soon be upon us. Along with that change comes the shedding of mature Linden, Maple, and Oak trees lining our streets, plus the many more, newly planted trees. A big shout out to Friends of Trees and the great work they do to improve Eliot’s green spaces!
Please remember to do your part and help to keep those leaves from clogging the sewers when the rain starts falling more heavily in the coming months. It also really helps those hard-working adopt-a-block folks who volunteer to keep the blocks you live on free of trash. When mixed with wet leaves, retrieving that debris and the tossed cigarette butts can be a particular challenge. In fact, the challenge is so great I hereby personally invite everyone reading this, now, to put down the paper, go to your phone and call me, Jody, at 503-331-1511 (ok, finish your coffee, first…) I’ll get you set up with all the bags, gloves, and info you need. I know, I know….it doesn’t really seem like the best way to spend a few minutes of your day, but trust me, you’ll feel great when people pass you by and thank you for your efforts. You’ll swoon when looking down the block you just toiled over and, in your own little corner of Eliot, along with 23 other toilers, you’ve managed to improve the appearance and sustainability of this one little street. Also, you’ll be thrilled to know that you are then entered into a drawing (1 out of 24 chances is pretty sweet) for a $100.00 gift certificate to New Seasons. Our next drawing is coming up shortly, and your name will be entered if you claim your block soon.
Of course it’s great to win prizes, but hopefully, your decision to join with other adopters is also one of simply caring for your community and a desire to give a little back. Our last two adopters, Cindy, who has adopted Cook Street between Rodney and MLK, and Laura, who decided to give some attention to Williams between Tillamook and San Rafael have gladdened those areas with their trusty Solve bags in tow. You might also be a hero like Brian who discovered some lost papers on his clean-up and is trying to connect them to their owners. Nice save, Brian.
I look forward to adding your name to our fine roster of dedicated Eliot Adopt-ablockers. So finish that coffee and call, already, ‘k?
Who expected that weaving 72 native willow saplings into a dome in the middle of Boise Eliot Native Grove might invoke such magic? But in early August a geyser gushed forth from the center of the Willow Dome, flooded the Fremont Bridge ramp and created a sinkhole that appeared beneath the leafy structure.
City crews were called to investigate and immediately opened nearby hydrants to stem the tide. Turns out it was a broken water main under the Grove. Crews isolated the pipe under the Willow Dome and stopped the flow. The sinkhole that formed inside the Dome was cordoned off with warning tape. Pipe repair was scheduled but threatened to destroy some of the plantings.
Fortunately, Grove volunteers from Bureau of Environmental Services, Xerces Society, Ivy School, and friends of the Boise Eliot Native Grove leaped into action, digging up dozens of Willow and Ninebark plantings to preserve them from the backhoe. Plants were stored in 20 buckets until the repair was completed, and another crew of hearty volunteers worked to replant them at the end of the month. Hurrah for Community! Also, a huge thank you to all our Watering Heroes and Willow Guardians this summer for keeping the Grove enchanting.
Stay tuned at the Boise Eliot Native Grove website, Facebook, and Instagram about upcoming willow weaving and other marvelous events! http://www.nativegrovepdx.org