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

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.

Getting to Know Your Neighbors

Q&A with Anis Mogjani

If you’ve ever walked by the Sunnyside playground and seen a crowd gathered in front of one of the buildings lining Yamhill, you might have wandered into “Poems at Sunset out a Window,” an impromptu event hosted by Anis Mojgani, the Poet Laureate of Oregon. Anis is also a visual artist, currently finishing the art for his forthcoming children’s book Lifespans of a Rock. He has been Poet Laureate since 2020, a gig that takes him from Medford to Enterprise to nurture poetry in our state.

Raised in New Orleans, Anis first moved to Portland in 2004. After a brief stint in Austin from 2011-2015, he came back because, as he puts it, Portland held “the largest contingent of people who I love, and people who love me.” For years he has lived in a house off Hawthorne called “The Pointy House” with a group of friends, and he runs into a friend wherever he goes in Sunnyside. We sat down at Stumptown on Belmont to talk poetry and Portland.

When did you get your studio on Yamhill?

Anis: I got that space in February of ‘22. At that time, I had an office in conjunction with the Poet Laureate appointment in Southwest over at the shipyard, which was really rad, but it wasn’t conducive to visual stuff, and I really wanted someplace close to the house.

My friend Lilith has a ceramic studio in that building [on Yamhill]. It’s basically three buildings connected, and she and somebody else were in one of the other buildings. The building that my studio is in was completely empty at the time. Kevin, the guy who had just bought it, was planning at that time to either knock it down or gut it. And so, I was like, ‘Hey, Kevin, can I use one of these empty rooms?’ And he’s like, ‘Here are the keys, I’ll probably have to kick you out in six months to gut it.’ But his plans changed, and so, after six, eight, 10 months, I just started paying rent, and other folks moved into the building.

And you do events there.

Anis: I started doing these readings where I just read poems out of the window. We started doing that in March of ‘22, and it has always been very loose—a little intentional looseness. I’ll make a poster to put up on my Instagram one to three days before the night of the reading. It’s pretty much always been at sunset, and most of them have  been on Fridays. Folks just show up.

This past year when we did it, there were 250 to 300 folks just sitting in the street. Cars can’t easily drive down the street because it’s between the back fence of Sunnyside [Environmental School] and the building. It’s people sitting there, standing, and we hang out for an hour, and then we go off into the night and that’s that. The first one came about as a result of my friend, Jenn coming by to hang out, and we ended up just hanging out via the window, just me in the window, and her on the street, and us talking. And it was just so nice. It felt very neighborhoody, and we were like, ‘This was super fun. We should do this with more people.’

It wasn’t anything that was like, right, let’s find a space and let’s do this thing. It was just sort of like, all right, hey, we did this thing, and this was fun, and folks enjoyed it, so we kept doing it. It’s something that started revealing its intent and purpose, which felt really in line with how to explore and expand what we all might envision as being a show, a performance. What’s the relationship between artists and audiences? What are the ways in which too much of our day-to-day world is one that requires us to engage in a transaction? What are the ways to build a space that doesn’t ask someone anything, just allows them to just be with others?

Cities are always changing, and I think whoever is sitting at the top of the ladder in cities, is usually moving those cities towards things that probably the majority of the people in the city aren’t asking for. It’s felt in these recent years that Portland is very much in a place like that. And so, the window I think, allows me as an individual to create something that leans toward a city that I want, and the city that I want to see. And hopefully by way of that it also invites other people to think about what a city means.

I think often we think about cities as being something that is constructed and legislated, and that’s part of it. But, cities are also a person saying poems out of a window, or putting a mural on this wall, or organizing a food drive, or setting up a food pantry, or whatever it might be. And so, what are the ways that any of us might be called to think, ‘I’ll build this little part of the city’? The poetry window allows me to engage with the political activism that is important to me but also fits with me.

Can you tell me about the Poet Laureate program?

Anis: I’m in the last chunk of my second term. The terms are generally two years with the possibility of being renewed for a second term. I started on May 4th of 2020. I’ll conclude in May of this year. In the fall, [the organizers] open it up to the Oregon-wide community to nominate someone who they feel would be good in the role. Then they contact nominees and ask them to send applications if they’re interested. They apply, and a committee of artists and organizations go through a committee selection process. They make a selection, send it to the governor, and the governor says yes (or no). The only really tangible tactile responsibility is to do 20 public engagements over the course of those two years. It comes with a $15,000 stipend each year, and each year there’s $10,000 allotted for budgetary expenses for travel and whatnot.

For me, it’s about having a position, having a support system to introduce, deliver, foster, allow, and support poetry to and for the people of Oregon, however that might look.

What do you hope to see in Portland in the coming year or years?

Anis: Oh, man. What I would love to see for Portland is a city that really seeks to take care of all of its residents. Yes, of course, the many folks that are living without anything, and also just all of us. I think that’s the thing that’s been really frustrating over these last several years. It almost feels as if the city doesn’t know how to take care of anyone.

In the last three years it feels like the city’s like, ‘What does the Portland Business Alliance want? Be quiet, everyone else. They’re the people who we’ve got to save first.’ I want to see steps towards a lot of inclusivity for the people who live here. And also just to see action taken. It’s my understanding that the level of money and resources specifically devoted towards houselessness services has just disappeared at the end of the year, and nothing has happened. I want action. Even if it’s like, ah, this reveals itself to not have been the right decision. It’s like, just try something.

I also think about different plans and ideas that have surfaced over the years I’ve been in Portland that just haven’t come to fruition. One idea was basically a very green, lush, shiny bike highway that was envisioned for connecting both sides of the river. Seeing something like that would be amazing. What are the ways in which development in the city can happen that serves the city not just five people’s bank accounts?

It’s a city that is, I think, rich in creativity, rich in the arts, rich in cultural events, and cultural affairs. What are the ways that we might capitalize on this, for lack of a better word, and support these things?

To learn about the next Poems at Sunset out a Window, follow Anis on Instagram at @Thepianofarm

Lydia Kiesling is a writer who lives in Sunnyside. Her latest novel, Mobility, came out in August.

Attend Climate Candidates’ Forum for U.S. House District 3 on April 18th

With the retirement of U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, voters in Oregon District 3 will elect a new Congressional Representative to send to Washington D.C. On April 18th, the Portland chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) will host a climate-themed candidates’ forum for this open seat at Taborspace (5441 SE Belmont St). At press time, both Susheela Jayapal and Maxine Dexter had confirmed their attendance. 

 Local volunteer climate advocates will host the forum which will be moderated by KGW meteorologist Matt Zaffino. Questions will be focused on climate change and climate-related issues at the Federal level. All candidates will answer the same questions and will be given equal time to do so. Members of the media are welcome to attend and space will be provided for them to set up audio and/or video recording of the event. 

There may be time for presubmitted audience questions after the prepared questions. 

Portland Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a nonpartisan organization which does not endorse or support individual candidates or political parties. All candidates running for District 3 were invited to attend. 

This will be a great opportunity for the public to learn about candidates’ climate positions and make sure that climate legislation will be a priority. Doors open at 6 pm with time to meet and greet local climate groups. The Forum will start at 7 pm. Registration is not required but encouraged. Registration: For questions contact: Dylan Hinson at [email protected]. To learn more about our work, visit