Every job is easier with the right tool. The nonprofit Southeast Portland Tool Library at Hinson Church (SE Salmon and 20th) keeps tools close at hand and needs a helping hand from you. Volunteers are needed to help track, lend and repair tools, so please consider making sure your neighbors always have access to the tools they need. No experience necessary. Email [email protected] or visit septl.org for more information.
We will have our fourth annual Winter Clothing Drive for our houseless neighbors on Saturday, December 9th in the basement of the Sunnyside Methodist Church at 35th and Yamhill. Volunteers will be on hand to collect donations from 10 a.m.–1 p.m.
We especially need clothing donations for all genders of pants, shirts, sweaters, coats, new underwear, socks, shoes, hats and gloves as well as sleeping bags, tents and other warm layers. We are not accepting children’s or formal clothing.
If you are not able to drop off your donations on December 9th, we can arrange a pickup. Please contact Diana Deumling at [email protected]. Thank you!
Q&A with Louis Pearl and Jetty Swart
How did an accomplished accordian player and singer from the Netherlands and “the Amazing Bubbleman” from San Francisco meet and find their way to Portland? Jetty Swart (her stage name is Jet Black Pearl) and Louis Pearl (who your kids may know simply as The Bubbleman) are a creative power couple who have lived in Sunnyside since 2014. We talked to them about how they met, what they love about Portland, and how one becomes a bubbleman.
Where did you meet?
Jetty: We met in 2009 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I had a friend who was performing there and I went to visit her.
Louis: I was performing there. I had lunch at a little terrace outside and I had just done two shows in a very hot theater. I was hungry and tired and there were no empty tables. There were three women sitting at a table for four, and I said, “Is anybody sitting in that seat?”
Jetty: I said, “I don’t see anybody, do you?” My friend started selling her show to Louis, but instead we all ended up going to his show the next day.
Louis: And I selected Jetty out of the audience and put her in a bubble…and now we’re married.
How did you choose Portland?
Louis: We got married and Jetty came to my house in Sebastopol. And I loved my house. I had two acres, a redwood forest in the backyard, and a hot tub in the forest. But Jetty was from the Netherlands. She’s a European city dweller.
Jetty: Yeah, I want to go on my bike to a store.
Louis: She said, I’ll move to America to live with you, but I’m not ready to retire. So we decided to sell my house and move closer to San Francisco. And here we are, because once you start looking in San Francisco, it’s crazy. We looked for 18 months and made 13 offers – all over the asking price. We finally got an offer accepted on a house in Oakland, but I found out there’d been two shootings there in the last year, so I just nixed it. And we came to Portland.
But why Portland?
Jetty: I had been to Portland a couple of times. Do you remember Myspace? One day, this accordion guy wrote me a message: Hey, if you’re ever in the United States, come to Portland and visit me. And so I did. Every time I’d visit Louis in San Francisco, I would come to Portland because I liked it. I thought: this is a good town—lots of music going on.
Louis: I love it. It’s taken me ten years, but I really love it here. Jetty got me into riding bikes a lot. I always rode a bike, but living with a Dutch person—I’d say I’m going to the gym and I’d get in the car and she’d go, “You’re driving to the gym?” It makes no sense. So now I ride my bike. During the pandemic, I couldn’t go to the gym, so I would just ride up to the top of Mount Tabor—it’s a haven. I love that park on top of the mountain.
Jetty: And the houses. I love the houses—all the Craftsmans with all the colors. And the Goodfoot. And then the neighbors we got to know during the pandemic, because we would do shows.
Louis: Jetty was doing little lawncerts here on our front lawn. People would close the street and we’d bring chairs and tables and bottles of wine. We have a neighbor who is a world-class jazz pianist (Gordon Lee, a Q&A subject in Nov. 2020), who was doing concerts on his front porch. The same people would come, so that’s how we got to know a lot of people… Normally, I’m touring all the time, but during the pandemic we were just here. We went back to our roots and started busking. We’d go out on 28th and Ankeny and she’d play music and I’d make bubbles and put the hat out.
How has the American audience received your music, Jetty?
Jetty: In the beginning, I’d mostly play the French standards. That’s not what I did in France, but I thought it would be more accessible for people here because my original songs were in French and there’s nothing as annoying as playing a funny song in front of people who don’t laugh. So I fell back on the repertoire that people imagine when they think of French music, and people liked it. Then I started writing in English and I got a whole new repertoire eventually.
Louis, how does one become a professional bubbleman? Did you apprentice with someone? Are you self-taught?
Louis: I was a toy inventor. I made this toy—I had this bubble pipe in 1980 that made bubbles like that [extends hands wide]. Back then there weren’t big bubbles. I couldn’t sell the toy to any shops, so I went to Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley and I just started blowing bubbles. And people loved them.
How many people in the world have your job?
Louis: At my level, there’s only a couple. But now there’s thousands of people doing bubble shows. When I first started, there were maybe three.
When you say at your level, you mean able to be fully self-supporting through bubble income?
Louis: Oh, there’s a lot of people who are self-supporting through bubble income. But doing theater shows…
Louis: Packing theaters, yeah. Only a couple.
Devin Boone is a writer and reporter living in Sunnyside. She recently launched her own Substack, The Portland Stack, which tells stories about housing, the homelessness crisis, public safety, and the social contract. Her first story, about why it’s taking so long to get people housed, has the feel of a Chutes and Ladders game (as the housing process sometimes feels like a Chutes and Ladders game)—with beautiful illustrations by artist Ian Patrick. You can find it at portlandstack.substack.com.
Cascadia Action, a Portland-based nonprofit that advocates for clean air, reached out to the SNA to ask us to join their efforts to fight industrial pollution in Portland. They, along with a large group of neighborhood associations and other stakeholders, are fighting companies in North and Northeast Portland to install new pollution-control devices and stop new developments. Cascadia Action has asked the SNA to endorse 12 letters written by the neighborhoods most affected by the most dangerous industrial polluters in the city. Members of Cascadia Action will be giving a presentation at our November meeting and will ask the membership for an endorsement. You can read the letters at tinyurl.com/45a29dnj. For more information visit: portlandcleanair.org
Q&A with Jeremy FiveCrows
Jeremy FiveCrows is the Communications Director for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and an enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe. He moved to Sunnyside in 1999, and now lives here with his wife and two kids. He spoke to us about the history of the local tribes’ fishing rights, the health of the salmon fisheries, and the importance of native peoples’ “First Foods.”
What do you love about Sunnyside?
Jeremy: I love that it feels like a real neighborhood – the walkability of it. We have so many independent shops. My favorite place is probably The Bagdad. I love the décor, the themed cocktails, the community feeling it has; it’s such a little treasure. I also love that you can go to this big grocery store, Fred Meyer, and yet it feels more like a local store. You recognize all the staff, because they have been there for years.
You are a science communicator, helping tell stories about salmon and river science for the Columbia Intertribal Fish Commission. What do you love about that work?
Jeremy: I love telling stories. I want everyone to feel at home here, and that feeling requires making deeper connections to this place, including emotional and spiritual connections. Tribal people have made a home here for thousands of years; part of my work is helping explain how they have done it. We can take their example of how to put down deeper roots in this place. We can all put our roots down a little deeper.
Can you talk more about the work of the Inter-Tribal Fish Commission?
Jeremy: The Commission is made up of four member tribes: the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs, and Yakama, each with treaty fishing rights. Our broad scope is restoring watersheds, especially for the benefit of salmon, Pacific lamprey, and sturgeon. The Commission was formed in 1977 at a time when salmon were highly threatened with extinction. The tribes saw this decline and knew that their right to fish is meaningless if there is no salmon to catch. They came together to unify their voice in the management and coordination of the fishery.
Can you share more about the history of treaty rights and salmon?
Jeremy: All four tribes signed treaties with the U.S. government in 1855. Importantly, in the treaties fishing rights were “reserved”—they were not part of the negotiation, and therefore can never be taken away. The four member tribes have a specific treaty right to fish not only on their reservations, but in all their “usual and accustomed places.” For example, the Nez Perce, who live primarily in Idaho, can fish at Willamette Falls as we traditionally did. Subsequent court cases also determined that the fishing right includes the right to co-manage the fisheries in partnership with the states and federal government. Today, of all the areas the salmon are physically able to return to, most are located in lands that used to belong to these tribes but were ceded to the U.S. government when the 1855 treaties were signed. These lands are the salmon’s last interior stronghold.
What is the health of salmon fisheries today?
Jeremy: At the time of treaty (1855), estimates were that between 17-30 million salmon would return upriver annually. Today those numbers have been reduced by over 90%. It’s a common misconception that dams are the main cause. Even before the first dam (Bonneville) was built on the Columbia in 1938, the number had already dropped to 2 million a year due to clearcutting, gold mining, fish wheels and overharvesting. As more and more dams went in, it really kicked the salmon while they were down. One year in the late 1970s had fewer than 1 million salmon returning – across all species. But, that low point led to many things coming together to help salmon: the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the tribal self-determination push. These all combined to bring awareness and political will to change.
But now, with climate change, we are very alarmed. In 2018/2019, the Nez Perce completed a run count in Idaho and they predict that by 2025—in just two years—77% of the spring Chinook salmon streams in Idaho will reach the quasi-extinction threshold. [A quasi-extinction threshold reflects the fact that a population may be doomed to extinction, even if there are still individuals alive, because it is so small it is unable to sustain itself.]
That’s terrifying. What can be done?
Jeremy: We need to pull out all the stops. It is especially important to focus on habitat restoration covering the entire lifecycle of the salmon—from the estuary to the rivers and creeks. Salmon habitats touch every facet of life in the NW—our hydrosystem, our energy system and our agriculture. We are doing more policy work in the Columbia Basin than we used to. We just completed a Tribal Energy Vision—how to prepare to make sure that the energy transition to wind and solar isn’t built on the backs of salmon. It would be a disaster to power our energy grid using the river as a reserve battery, turning the river on and off when needed.
Tribes have done really good work but the reservations are small and most of the areas salmon return to are not on reservation land. Our organization works together with local landowners, local governments, and states. We work with so many people you might think of as adversaries—power companies, ranchers, farmers, county governments. We have to find our common priorities. Most ranchers love their land, and love to see salmon in their creeks again.
How does the Fish Commission marry indigenous knowledge with Western science?
Jeremy: We can use the tools of Western science to look at salmon and the ecosystem in granular ways, such as through genetic research. For example, previously it was thought that Pacific lamprey spent 3-4 years in rivers before migrating to the ocean. Now, because of genetic testing, we know it can be a decade or more. But to learn that, we also needed traditional ecological knowledge, such as where to look for the lamprey, historical areas of abundance, etc. Coupling the two perspectives broadens our view.
How can individuals support the local salmon economy?
Jeremy: At various times from spring through fall, tribal fishers sell fresh salmon at many Portland farmers’ markets. You can also stop at the Bridge of the Gods exit on I-84 and buy from tribes who have stands and sell fish directly.
What do salmon mean to you?
Jeremy: Tribes talk about First Foods— salmon, deer, camas roots, huckleberries. They are the foods of this place. When you eat these foods, your body becomes literally made of this place. Eating salmon from the Columbia carries on a thousands-of-years-long tradition of participating in the salmon economy. I’m not a fan of farmed salmon—it turns salmon into a crop instead of allowing us to see it as the gift it is.