At its January 14th, 2021 meeting the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association voted to endorse our own District 42 State Representative Rob Nosse’s call to City and County leaders to use emergency funding and powers to immediately site additional sanctioned camping areas throughout SE Portland and the city as a whole. Working directly with SEUL Executive Director Leroy Eadie, the following draft letter has been distributed to all of the Neighborhood Associations in the hope of SE Uplift voting to formally endorse it as soon as protocols allow.
Q&A with Vahid Brown
As one of the founders of Hazelnut Grove, the houseless village at N. Interstate and N. Greeley, Vahid Brown knows a thing or two about advocating for Portland’s houseless population. For the past five years, he has worked as the Housing Policy Coordinator for Clackamas County’s Department of Health, Housing & Human Services. Recently, he has transitioned into a role leading the Clackamas implementation team for funds raised by Metro Measure 26-210. The measure, which passed by a sizable margin in May, is expected to raise $250 million a year for homeless services in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties. “It’s the largest per capita investment in homeless services the U.S. has ever seen,” Brown says.
How long have you lived in Sunnyside? Since the beginning of the year. I was in Raleigh Hills before this and I did not like living in outer Southwest. There were no sidewalks where I lived! No coffee shops! If my partner and I wanted to eat a vegan brunch, we’d come to Southeast.
Do you rent or own? Rent. I have a friend who told me the other side of the duplex he lives in was vacating.
What do you love about Sunnyside—besides the vegan brunches? I love the walkability and the trees. It’s been a balm during COVID to walk so much.
What’s one thing you would love to see change about Sunnyside? I’m already seeing it: making the folks experiencing homelessness more welcome and having their needs better served. I was introduced to the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association’s Community Safety & Livability committee recently and I was happy to see they are working on this.
Many housed Portlanders think that all we need to solve the homeless “problem” are more shelters. Can you explain why this may be shortsighted? While it does make sense to invest in expanding access to shelters, it should be a place where they can be for more than one night and where they can keep their things—a shelter that will allow them to stabilize. While an emergency shelter that’s a night out of the cold is a necessary intervention to save lives, it’s not the be-all-end-all. We also need alternative outdoor shelters and accommodations with community, with friends, and with family. There are some people experiencing homelessness who are seriously traumatized and are choosing their community where they live—people who they trust and feel safe with. They may have a mistrust of government systems and homeless services. A shelter may not seem a safe option to them.
There’s something that we’re missing. If someone gets a long term rental assistance voucher and moves into an apartment, it’s not uncommon that their street community will come over, hang out, use the shower. These are communities. We have to grapple with ways to treat them as communities.
Save the date for the virtual SNA Board meeting on January 14, 2021, 7–8:30 p.m.
Part of this meeting will be dedicated to SNA Board members’ sharing their preparedness efforts. I will be moderating this meeting and I will ask board members to share where they are on the preparedness continuum. Also, other members of the Sunnyside NET (Neighborhood Emergency Team) will attend. If time allows, other Sunnyside residents may share their preparedness efforts. I hope that you will be there.
Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) crews work to keep city drains clear and prevent flooding. With over 58,000 drains in the city, we can’t get to them all. “Adopt” a storm drain near you and help keep them clear of debris. Tips on clearing drains and information about stormwater runoff.
Tips for clearing storm drains
- Use a rake, shovel, or broom. Don’t use your hands.
- Wear gloves. Be careful of sharp objects!
- Wear reflective clothing so people driving can see you. Watch out for traffic!
- Only clear drains you can reach from the sidewalk. Don’t stand in the street and don’t clear drains that are in the middle of a street.
- Clear drains before the rain, whenever possible.
- Clear 10 feet on both approaches to the drain.
- Watch for standing water to avoid slipping or stepping on sharp objects.
- Make sure adults are supervising if children are helping.
- Clear surface debris only. Call PBOT Maintenance Dispatch 24/7 at 503-823-1700 for any emergency hazards or if the drain is still clogged after removing surface debris.
- Never lift storm drain grates. They are very heavy.
- Don’t put leaves in the street. Place leaves in a yard debris roll cart for curbside pickup. If you have too many for the cart, simply bag them and place them next to the roll cart for pickup.
- If snow or ice is blocking the drain, clear a 10-12 inch path along the curb for melting snow and ice to reach the drain.
Thank you for helping keep Portland’s streets clear and safe!
Q&A with Gordon Lee
Pianist and composer Gordon Lee’s first musical gig was in a rock ’n’ roll band in Westchester County, New York. He was just 14. He went on to earn a bachelor’s in music from Indiana University, where he met Portlander Richard Burdell, a trumpet player and composer. “He painted Portland as the promised land for gigs!” Lee recalls. So in 1977, Lee moved to Portland. Sure enough, gigs were plentiful. He performed with saxophonist/singer/composer Jim Pepper and traveled all over the states and Europe with him. After a hiatus in Brooklyn, New York, where he had a regular gig at a glitzy Village restaurant, he returned to Portland where he played at Jimmy Mak’s, Clyde’s, The 1905, and Arrivederci in Milwaukie. This May, he launched “Front Porch Jazz” on his front porch at 32nd and Alder Street. These free concerts have been one of the bright spots of the pandemic for Sunnyside residents, most of whom found out about them via word of mouth or just by walking by.
How long have you lived in Sunnyside? I’ve lived here for 18 years now and in the same house! Amy Rose, my wife, bought the house before I moved in.
Do you rent or own? We own.
What do you love about Sunnyside? It is a diverse neighborhood—and it’s becoming more diverse, which is great. That’s been the goal of jazz music for 100 years—it pulls in people from all different ethnic backgrounds and countries. It’s the universal language.
What’s one thing you would love to see change about Sunnyside? There’s been a lot of homeless people and it’s difficult. If I’m giving a concert and less than a block away there’s a huge pile of garbage in the street from a homeless camp—that is not healthy. It’s personally not healthy, and it’s not healthy for the homeless people.
Tell me how Front Porch Jazz got started.
My wife Amy, who is a piano teacher — we’re a two piano family — was encouraging me to do house concerts for some time, even before the pandemic. Then my neighbors also started to say, “You should play a concert on your front porch!” When several different people tell you the same thing, you should listen to what they’re saying. I first had a duo with Renato Caranto on sax. Then I had a trio — adding Tim Gilson on bass. Then finally I added Carlton Jackson on drums. I also had James Powers — he’s a trombonist. And John Nastos plays alto sax. There’s a long tradition of summer jazz festivals. So we were able to attach to that kind of energy. There’s a bunch of seniors out there and they’re all having fun! They bring chairs, a bottle of wine.
I’ve had 7 concerts and look forward to having more next Spring 2021. I want to thank my neighbors and the community for being so supportive and encouraging. It’s been my only opportunity to perform during COVID. It’s given me so much focus and direction.