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 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? What is one thing you would change about Sunnyside, if you could?

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, Huff, 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 www.portlandstreetmedicine.org

SNA Annual Meeting & Board Elections – THIS THURSDAY!

The SNA  will hold its annual meeting and elections for the board of directors this Thursday, May 9th at 7 PM at SE Uplift (3534 SE Main St.). As our bylaws require voting by paper ballot, this will be an in-person only meeting.  We will be electing 5 board members during this election for 2 year terms. Nominees need not be present in order to run, but we hope you can join us.

This is a wonderful opportunity to serve  your neighborhood while meeting new people and having some fun too! If you would like to learn more, please reach out to [email protected] or [email protected].

Light refreshments will be provided and it should be a beautiful evening for a stroll over to SE Uplift. The meeting will last about an hour. Find a draft agenda at https://sunnysideportland.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/2024-Annual-Meeting-Agenda.pdf.

News from the President

Hi Sunnyside! Hope you all are doing well and getting outside when you can to enjoy all the beautiful weather, spring flowers and neighborly cheer around in the springtime!

In April, the SNA Board voted to support efforts to fight the CEI Hub, which stores volatile chemicals and fuels along the Willamette River. This energy storage facility presents so many dangers to all of Portland. The trains that bring these chemicals here travel right through the Columbia River Gorge and through many Portland neighborhoods and present the risk of disaster in the event of a derailment, like the incident that occurred last year in tiny East Palestine, Ohio and is still causing hazards to residents’ health. Second, by now you’ve heard about the coming Cascadia earthquake and the other potentially active faults that Portland sits on. Well, the CEI Hub sits on soil along the river that will basically turn to liquid in the event of a major earthquake – a process called liquefaction. Imagine all of those tanks coming crashing down and releasing their contents into our river and our air. Finally, one of the operators in the storage facility, Zenith Energy, has proved an unreliable partner, promising to improve their practices, but never following through to the spirit of the agreement. For all of these reasons, the SNA is proud to partner with the CEI Hub Task Force to fight against the unnecessary and unconscionable risks that the facility holds.

In other news, have you walked by the Sunnyside Piazza at 33rd and Yamhill? If so, you’ve probably thought to yourself that this beloved space could use a little attention. Good news. The SNA, in partnership with nearby residents and area businesses, is planning to repaint the piazza, hopefully later this summer prior to the Belmont Street Fair. We are just gearing up for  this project. If you are interested in helping with planning, please email [email protected].

Interested in meeting the candidates for District 3 council seats? SE Uplift will be holding a candidate mixer on Thursday, May 23rd from 6-8 p.m. Find more info and RSVP at shorturl.at/kqA17.

Finally,  Thursday, May 9th at 7 p.m. at SE Uplift, we will hold our annual Board elections. If you are interested in joining the Board and would like to learn more, please send an email to me at [email protected]. Everyone is invited to come out and help us vote for new Board members to serve two-year terms. It’s always a fun meeting. It’s pretty short and there are refreshments!

That’s it, I’ll be back next month with a “year” end review of what the SNA has been working on for Sunnyside and Portland!

Critic’s Corner: Review of Geekerella By Ashley Poston

Elle Wittimer loves Starfield, a sci-fi show that she grew up watching with her father. Years after his passing, she hears of a Starfield convention called ExcelsiCon with a Cosplay contest. The prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Ball and a chance to meet Darien Freeman, the actor who plays the Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot of Starfield. With savings from her job working at a food cart called the Magic Pumpkin and her dad’s old Carmindor costume, Elle is going to win, but her evil step-sisters are competing too. Can Elle win the Cosplay contest and survive her challenging life at home?

Darien Freeman loved going to ExcelsiCon. That was before he became famous, of course. Now it is just autographs, photos, and crazy fans. Playing the Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted to do but now people see him as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon nears, Darien feels more and more like a fake, until he meets a girl who proves him otherwise.

The first in a series of three books, this fractured fairytale with a geeky twist is based on the popular children’s book Cinderella.

I would give this book 4.6 stars out of 5
for the amazing plot, character development as well as the page-turning suspense that each chapter leaves you with.

Geekerella and the other books in the series can be found at the Sunnyside Environmental School library in the Young Adult section.