An abundance of history and personal stories are woven into the fabric of Portland. So, to make sure the stories are not lost as generations of our residents pass on and memories begin to fade, here is one family’s story and a bit of history with links at the end of this article to learn more.
For many of the Black residents of Eliot, the family stories begin outside of Oregon. The great migration from 1917-1970 brought both Black and white residents of the South to states in the North, Midwest, and West. Looking for an opportunity and a better life, many people landed in Oregon during the swell of migration during WWII because of the rise of shipbuilding and other war-related industries. With the influx of people moving to Portland, the city had to find a place for all these new residents to live.
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
The Eliot Neighborhood is a geographically unique neighborhood in Portland. Bounded geographically from the Willamette River to NE 7th Avenue and the Fremont Bridge/Fremont Street to N/NE Broadway Avenue, Eliot is shaped like a rectangle plus a triangle. While most current residents in Eliot live between N Vancouver and NE 7th, that was not always the case.
The most progressive and potentially transformative transportation program in the City of Portland this century is a sneaky transit efficiency-boosting project called the Rose Lane Project. The goal of this project is to improve the speed of transit across the City. Many of the places where buses get most stuck in traffic are in central Portland, so you may have noticed some small upgrades already. Bus-only lanes heading towards the Steel Bridge on NW Everett Street were an early project that affects the #44, #4, and #35 routes that run through Eliot by serving as a northern extension of the Transit Mall into the Rose Quarter Transit Center.
Recently, the Rose Lanes have been painted in Southern Eliot along NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The right lane of the road is now transit and right-turns only for several miles. I have been using this route a lot on my commute by bike and I have noticed that the road feels a bit tamer with a small portion of the street designated for transit instead of the entire road being for all vehicles. It does not appear that traffic has been slowed at all by this change. I look forward to more changes from this project. You can find out more information about this by looking up the Portland Rose Lane Project.
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.”
For the last year, St. Philip the Deacon has been a member of the Leaven Community Land & Housing Coalition. We have worked with other faith communities to change city code as a part of the Expanding Affordable Housing Opportunities grant. We successfully lobbied for changes to city code to allow faith communities to use their abundant land to build affordable housing.
Almost every day during Covid I have run past TwentySix Café, the local coffee shop near my house. I used to visit more frequently when I would walk my dog stopping to catch up with a couple of friends, chat with some acquaintances, grab a cup of tea and a dog treat. Then I’d carry on with my walk. I was always refreshed after those short visits but still, I felt like something was missing. It is hard to take the time and be present on most days of our life. Our busy schedules, thoughts of work, and worrying about far-away family and friends keep us from seeing what’s important and right under our noses.
Earlier this year Baileywick Properties pioneered the use of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) panels for small apartment construction. CLTs have been used in a handful of larger projects in Portland, but this is believed to be a first for a small project where construction costs are critical. In this case, they were used to speed the building process and reduce the disruption of neighbors. (see the picture of the first week’s construction).
There’s a new restaurant in Eliot! The owners are John-Fletcher “Fletch” Halyburton, a former operations director in the Toro Bravo restaurant group, and his sister, Emily Peterson, a North Carolina-based wine industry veteran and the name is an homage to John’s aunts. Lottie and Zula’s is serving up amazing breakfast sandwiches, tantalizing lunch options, and now Sunday dinners.
We are unquestionably in the middle of winter and experiencing shorter days and chillier weather. When the days get darker, I try to remember to treat myself to something nice. Luckily, there are lots of options to support your winter cheer without having to leave the neighborhood.
The efforts to restore and update the Gladys McCoy Memorial Garden continue with generous support from the NIKE Athlete volunteers, John Barker and others. The Athletes energetically maintain the garden with trash removal and leaf raking and debris removal on a regular basis. (We congratulate them on the reopening of their store, which was closed by the pandemic and vandalized after the murder of George Floyd.)
In our fall issue, we reported on the Knott Street Boxing Club that normally works out at the Matt Dishman Community Center. However, because of Covid, the center is closed and the boxing club had to relocate for its workouts and training sessions. Stanley Dunn, both trainer and mentor, has dedicated numerous hours to the kids that are part of the club. They are now training at the Vancouver Avenue side of Dawson Park in the covered area.
The Knott Street Boxing Club has been around for a long time. According to its Facebook page, “It was once a top boxing club in the nation and produced championship level fighters. It has remained a solid community club in a neighborhood that has gone through a lot of changes. Boxing gyms are often recognized for helping to keep kids out of trouble by giving them a place to go and teaching them the value of discipline and hard work.”
Currently, the club needs equipment like a heavy bag and is saving up for a van to transport equipment to the park and drive the boxers to tournaments when they are able to participate in those events again. There is a new Go Fund Me page to make donations and any amount is greatly appreciated.
One day this fall, the club, and also Stanley, got a big surprise. A film crew and reporter from KPTV were interviewing Stanley about the club and, unbeknownst to him, this was more than just an interview. The Les Schwab Surprise Squad arrived on the scene and presented the Knott Street Boxing Club with some much-needed equipment and a check for $2000. Stanley was so surprised and grateful. Check out the video here.
Hopefully, with the help of Portland residents, that van that they are saving up for will be acquired in the not too distant future.
You can help out now! On January 1st from 7 am – 1 pm TwentySix Cafe is holding a fundraiser for the Knott Street Boxing Club. Stop by, grab a coffee or tea and chip in to help out the club and the kids.
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.
Autumn is upon us! As the summer temperatures start falling and the days continue getting shorter, here is your friendly reminder to keep or start spending time outside. Especially with the limitations of Covid-19, being able to maintain social distancing while also running, walking, or bicycling can be helpful to mental and physical well-being. Although all of us might not have easy access to parks or gyms right now, we do have access to some innovative use of our city streets. Eliot holds at least two major greenways (Tillamook and Rodney) and is adjacent to at least two more (Siskiyou and Going).
The Portland Bureau of Transportation, PBOT, launched a new initiative, Safe Streets, during Covid-19 that encourages Portlanders who are not in an automobile to stop limiting their usage to the sidewalk on some of our local roads. The goals of this program are as follows:
1) Facilitate access to more outdoor space
2) Enable walkers, runners, and bicycles to maintain social distance while using city streets and sidewalks (Also called Slow Streets)
3) Provide more options for businesses to allow social distance
Here is a written response to a couple of questions from PBOT’s Communications, John Brady:
MG: How does the city see Safe Streets? Successful? Not?
JB: So far, the Slow Streets program is helping keep traffic volumes and speeds low on the neighborhood greenway network. In addition, nearly 800 calls and emails to the city’s 823-SAFE line have been overwhelmingly positive with many people requesting additional or specific locations for Slow Street installations.
MG: Are there any plans to improve Rodney, Going, or Tillamook Greenways in the near future?
JB: NE Tillamook just completed a capital improvement project that improved crossings and reduced speeds along the neighborhood greenway from N Flint to NE 28th. We are in the planning stages for the next phase of the project from NE 28th to NE 62nd. NE Rodney and NE Going are not in line for construction projects in the near future.
Within the Eliot neighborhood, Northeast Rodney Avenue and Northeast Tillamook Street both fall under the Slow Streets program. Since the initiative kicked off earlier this year, I’ve enjoyed more space to run and bicycle without worrying about being limited to the space of a sidewalk. So, consider this an open invitation to all of our neighbors: I hope to see you getting some fresh air on the neighborhood greenways!
There’s a new food cart in town located on MLK at Sacramento and it sits right next to Billy Ray’s Tavern at 2210 NE MLK.
Julie and Brandon Wilson have opened Thai MLK and the patrons of Billy Ray’s Tavern are, I’m sure, happy to have food that can be purchased at the cart and then consumed at the Tavern.
Julie Wilson moved here from Hawaii after working with her auntie who had a restaurant in Kauai, Hawaii. She learned how to make delicious Thai cuisine. Her sister owns a restaurant in Troutdale, Thai Carnation, so it’s no wonder that Julie would accept the offer to buy the food cart that used to be owned by her sister.
The menu at Thai MLK has a nice variety of appetizers, salads, stir fry, noodles, soups, and curries as well as beverages and desserts. Main dishes range from $9-10 and appetizers are $5-7.
At this point they accept cash but also accept credit cards. Conveniently, there is an ATM at Billy Ray’s Tavern that can be easily accessed during the bar’s business hours.
As a bonus, Thai MLK is giving away free masks so you won’t have to worry if you order your food and then decide to go next door to the tavern.
Soon the Wilsons plan to build a patio next to the food cart to protect customers from the rain which will definitely be appreciated.
Thai MLK is open Tuesday—Saturday from 1—10 pm. Be sure to try this food cart soon and welcome Julie and Brandon to the neighborhood. From personal experience, the food is delicious and I highly recommend the Pad Thai. It is so flavorful and you can increase the spice with the additional chili peppers included on the side.