Established in 1972, the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association is one of 94 volunteer-led neighborhood associations in Portland, Oregon. It serves an area bounded by SE Stark St and SE Hawthorne Blvd, from SE 28th Ave up to SE 49th Ave.

All residents within its boundaries are welcome to join (free of charge!) as well as non-resident property owners and representatives of businesses or organizations. Although officially managed by a volunteer board of directors, in reality its activities are initiated, led, staffed and supported by many more Sunnyside volunteers and supporters.

Read some of our most recent news below, further explore our website and newsletter archives, attend our next meeting and get involved!  If you still have questions after reading this material, don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected].

Latest News

News from the President

Hi fellow Sunnysiders! June gloom is gone and summer is in full swing! It’s a fairly quiet time at the SNA – always tough with vacations and other goings on. In that spirit, I thought I’d offer a selected list of fun activities that will be coming up this July or soon thereafter in this part of town. I hope to see you at some of them!

Melao de Cuba Salsa Orchestra – Salsa dancing on top of Mt. Tabor! Thursday, July 11th, 6:30 p.m. at the Mt. Tabor Amphitheater

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – A classic. Thursday, July 18th, sundown at Colonel Summers Park

Montavilla Street Fair  – Kicking off street fair season! Sunday, July 28th
on Stark between 76th and 82nd, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Portland Mountain Boys – American Folk on the Ankeny Rainbow Road (by Crema). Thursday, August 1st, 4-6 p.m., 28th & Ankeny

That’s just a few of the multitude of things going on this month! Coming up, the SNA is excited to co-sponsor the Sewallcrest Movie Night on August 30th and meet folks at the Hawthorne and Belmont Street Fairs (Sunday, August 25th and Saturday, September 14, respectively).

We will also be looking for help repainting the Sunnyside Piazza at 32nd and Yamhill. More details in next month’s newsletter, but we hope to have it spiffed up in time for the Belmont Street Fair in early September.

Get out there and enjoy the summer!

Belmont Street Fair and Annual Dinner

The 2024 Belmont Street Fair, the Belmont Area Business Association’s (BABA’s) end-of-summer event, is currently accepting applications for vendors, sponsors and performers. Spots for the fair on Saturday, September 14th are filling up, so reserve your spot now!

BABA’s Annual Dinner is also coming up on July 20th. It will be held at PDX Commons (4262 SE Belmont); active and potential BABA members will eat free. Business owners in the district are invited to attend even if you’re not yet a BABA member. If you plan to come, please RSVP as seats are limited.

For Street Fair registration, membership info, and to RSVP for our Annual Dinner, please follow our Instagram account @belmontdistrict or visit our website

Getting to Know Your Neighbors

Q&A with Nathan Broden

One of the most iconic and lovely places in Sunnyside is the garden-filled grounds at the Sunnyside school. During school hours, the gardens are packed with students of all ages—digging, seeding, pulling weeds and harvesting all through the year. The garden was installed at the school’s inception in 1994, and is an integral part of Sunnyside’s curricular focus on environmental and place-based education. Nathan Broden has been the garden coordinator since 2022. His daughters, Iris and Jada, are both Sunnyside students. One of Farmer Nathan’s favorite things about the neighborhood are all the community connections—how neighbors can also be students, and how local businesses connect to one another and to the school community.   

What do you love most about your job and the garden?

The kids! I’ve owned three farms myself and I always wanted to have an educational farm, which is basically what our garden is. This is where it all starts. I want every kid to grow up feeling like they know where food comes from, what the food system is (like, food doesn’t just magically appear at the grocery store), as well as how hard and valuable growing food is. I want them to have the confidence that they can feed themselves and their neighbors if they want to. Having your hands in the soil with all those microbes counteracts some of what we have been seeing with kids and screen time, rising rates of depression and all that. Even if some kids don’t really participate and just dig up worms or daydream in the garden—that is actually great. You don’t have to be pulling weeds to experience the value of being in a garden.

For years we hoped to cook some of the harvest in our school kitchen, but we’ve never succeeded—the kids literally eat everything as soon as it’s ripe! In fact, that’s my favorite part. I just had a kindergartner come up to me who became obsessed with radishes after he tasted the ones we are growing, and now makes his mom buy them at New Seasons every week. This week I asked if he wanted to try kale, and he was like, “I hate kale from the grocery store, but WOW I love kale if it’s only two seconds old!” 

How does the garden get incorporated into school curricula?

Every student in Sunnyside gets pulled out of class once a week and gets a half an hour in the garden, year-round, every year—kindergarten through eighth grade. The kids learn about our food system and how food is grown, participating in mulching, composting, seeding, and harvesting.

Tell us a bit about the garden—what is growing there?

We just built a “bean cave,” which is a fort made out of scarlet runner beans. They aren’t the best for eating but they’re really cool for making jewelry out of, so that will be a winter art project. We have a big strawberry patch, plus raspberries, salad greens, turnips, onions, green beans, sweet corn, potatoes, kale, collards, sprouting cauliflower, broccolini, blueberries, tons of cucumbers, zucchini, thornless blackberries, as well as three pumpkin patches, a beneficial insect garden, a native plant garden, a huge potato patch. We also have lots of fruit trees – a cherry tree, an apple tree, a plum tree, a kumquat tree, a pomegranate tree and five fig trees.

There are also some lovely historical parts of the garden. There is a giant pine tree in the front yard that the school’s original principal planted in 1994 – on the school’s first Earth Day. Now it’s the biggest tree ever! Our rose garden by the front entrance is a memorial garden honoring community members we have lost over the years.

What happened to the chickens?!

Yeah, the kids were devastated about the chickens being removed. PPS has been after our livestock projects for a long time—they have a rule that no livestock is allowed on public school property. We eventually lost that battle. But we actually used to have other animals too! About 10 years ago we had a pig and turkeys.

What future plans are you excited about?

I am working on a proposal to get a de-paving project approved by the district. The goal is to remove a section of the blacktop in the back of the school where we currently have a lot of drainage issues; it’s also a bit of a heat dome. We want to put in a miniature learning forest based on a Japanese design. It would have different canopy levels and an understory. It would be an awesome addition to the garden and would especially be used by middle schoolers during their “Year of the Forest” curriculum.

What happens to the garden in the summer when school isn’t in session?

Obviously, a lot of the harvest comes when kids aren’t there. I’m super excited because we are planning to open a produce stand in the Belmont Market (at the corner of 34th and Belmont), hopefully this summer when their renovations are finished, but next summer if they’re not. The owner, Nick, has been super supportive. The goal is that we can harvest and put some of the produce up for sale all summer long. The income would go back into the garden program.*  We might also propagate and sell houseplants. Once the produce stand opens, we would be so excited to have neighbors support the garden by buying some of the food the kids got started during the school year.

Can neighbors help out during the summer months?

We absolutely want neighbors to be involved, even if you don’t have kids at the school. You can find me in the garden two hours a day, three days a week during the summer. We have middle school students come help out and earn service hours. It’s also an opportunity for the community to come and be a part of the garden! Neighbors can sign up to help with watering, weeding, harvesting, etc.

Anyone who is interested can email me: [email protected]. We will have a booth at the Belmont Street Fair in September so people can stop by to meet me and some kids and find out how to get involved.

* Sunnyside’s garden program relies on parent and community fundraising; it is not funded by PPS. To make a donation, go to

News from the President

Hi Sunnyside! The SNA held its annual meeting in May to review what we worked on this year and to elect new Board members for 2024-25.

This past year saw a lot of action on pressing issues for the neighborhood and the city. We had a number of meetings focusing on environmental issues and voted to sign on to many letters regarding efforts to fight diesel emissions and the dangers of the CEI fuel storage facility on the banks of the Willamette. We learned about the upcoming rebuild of the Belmont Library. We also learned about a proposal to allow for increased density within the neighborhood. We continued to serve the less fortunate members of the community through the ongoing Sunnyside Shower Project and our annual Winter Gear Drive. We focused on public safety through re-engagement with our local police precincts and renewed advocacy for improved traffic safety on Cesar Chavez, following the tragic death of librarian Jeannie Diaz last summer. We had a couple of small victories on SE César Chávez, with PBOT installing a new diverter to prevent left hand turns at SE Taylor and changes to the pedestrian cross signals at Taylor and Main to allow increased time for pedestrians to cross. These were small improvements that will hopefully lead to bigger changes as the city embarks on a new initiative to improve safety on our high-crash corridors.

The main business of the annual meeting was our Board elections. I’m excited to welcome three new Board members to the team. Thank you Crystal, Tim and Dresden for stepping up to serve your community! There are so many ways to help the SNA and Sunnyside, whether on the Board, volunteering at an event, or participating in our committees and General meetings. Come on out and join us however you can!

We will be back in September for our next General meeting, but the Board will continue to work through the summer, including keeping our eyes on the revisions to the city’s Housing Production Master Plan, which is set to be released for public comment soon. In the fall, we look forward to the first elections under the new charter. It’s going to be a big change for everyone and the SNA will be here to help educate everyone not only on the issues, but also on how the process will work.

Until then, we will see you around the neighborhood. Have a great summer!

Getting to Know Your Neighbors

Q&A with Dr. Bill Toepper

Together with a team of volunteers, Sunnyside resident Dr. Bill Toepper is making a difference on our streets. As a retired emergency physician and founder of Portland Street Medicine, Dr. Bill provides our houseless neighbors with basic medical care and tries to connect them to the complicated and difficult-to-navigate U.S. healthcare system.

Perhaps you could start with telling us about a success story regarding your work with Portland Street Medicine.

Let me share my “The day I knew I might be a good street doc” moment. To provide perspective, the reader should know that our work is measured in baby steps. It can take years to make a difference. Examples include the healing of a chronic infection or the partnering with an elderly man in accessing cataract surgery after

years of near blindness. Houseless folks and healthcare have had a complicated relationship. One cold January day in 2019, a distraught person approached us for help. They had spent the morning in an emergency department, trying to get help for an embarrassing medical emergency. It didn’t go well and they left. They agreed to try again if we could accompany them. Our team took turns sitting with this person in the lobby but despite this, they started to escalate. When asked why, they said, “Every time I go to the ER I go to jail.” We listened. We held their hand. They fell asleep. We departed feeling comfortable that the staff would take good care of them. Fast forward five days to the Hard Times Supper at the Sunnyside Community Center. We’re doing outreach when I look up and see this patient. They looked good. Not certain of how the hospital encounter went, I sheepishly approached the patient. They stood up with a big grin and said from across the room, “Dr. Bill…I didn’t go to jail!”     

What do you wish more people understood about our homeless population?

Stories vary. No youth wakes up and says, “I want to live in a tent and get high all day for the rest of my life.” Many folks are victims of generational poverty, the foster care system or untreated mental illness.. But the stories are like a fingerprint, each is unique. When asked, houseless people state they feel invisible. We strive to rewrite that narrative using a stethoscope, a gauze pad and trust.

What part of your life most influenced who you are today?

I grew up in a loving family with teachers, social workers and nurses. Being limited to three hours of screen time (TV) per week, we were forced to play with our friends outside. Lessons learned included the importance of socialization, a reverence for the outdoors, and resourcefulness. I use these skills nearly every day of my adult life. 

What made you decide to study medicine?

“What will you major in at college, Billy?” I hated that question. I had no clue. I read at a snail’s pace; English was out. I’m all thumbs; engineering was out. I couldn’t do the splits; professional gymnastics was out. While TV viewing at our house was limited, patterns emerged. My family loved two genres: sitcom and medical shows. Emergency! with Julie London as Dixie McCall was the best. In the end, pre-med prevailed. And besides, incorporating humor into medicine makes more sense than incorporating CPR into a comedy show. 

How did Portland Street Medicine come about?

I was 58 when I did my last ER shift. I was done. It’s a challenging profession. Most of us stop seeing patients before the age of 60. But I knew I wasn’t done professionally. I had heard of an emerging medical discipline called street medicine. After attending my first Street Medicine Symposium in 2017, I returned to Portland ready to join Portland’s street medicine community. But there was none. Impassioned, I recruited a team and we made our first rounds from my Subaru in February 2018, armed with Dollar Store supplies and a bag of tangerines. PSM was born.   

Where is home?

I grew up in Chicago but realized something was missing: mountains, ocean, forests and desert. I moved to Portland in 2009. Portland was both urban and rural, and I’m aligned with the politics of the Pacific Northwest. After brief stints in the Alphabet District and Multnomah Village, I landed in Sunnyside. Simply stated, this neighborhood is reminiscent of Madison, Wisconsin, my favorite Midwest escape. 

How does the Sunnyside neighborhood fit into your story?

Sunnyside has everything. It’s walkable. It’s weird. It’s central. And it’s, well…sunny. But it wasn’t until the folks at the Sunnyside Community Center welcomed me into their community, that I was able to appreciate the joy and the power of caring for one’s neighbor. It’s my kind of ‘hood.

What do you like about Sunnyside? What are your favorite haunts here?

As a foodie, I can walk to what I think is one of the most exciting food scenes in the world – Division Street. Division Wines will always make you feel at home. Closer to home, you may find me at Baby Doll, Puff, or Taqueria Los Puñales. Finally, how can you go wrong with an H Mart picnic in Laurelhurst Park? Studies have demonstrated that congregation is essential for a happy life. Have you ever frowned when in Laurelhurst Park?

What are your hopes for the Portland of the future?

Every great city has had troubling times: New York in the ‘70s, LA in the ‘80s, San Francisco in recent times. I remember the Chicago riots of the ‘60s. Cities are like organisms. We experiment. We slip up. We learn. We grow. Portland is not unique. Our weirdness isn’t going anywhere. 

How can someone help your cause?

Take baby steps – they work! Make eye contact. Say hello. Listen to a story. Share your story. If you see someone with a medical need, call us at (503) 501-1231. We can’t offer emergency or crisis services, but we can guide you on how to access these services. If you’re in healthcare, consider volunteering with us. We are non-denominational and rely on government contracts, grants and Portland citizens. So far, people have been extremely generous. It’s making a difference. To read more about Portland Street Medicine, go to