Getting to Know Your Neighbors

Q&A with Amy Jones and Roger Robinson

Something unusual and delightful began popping up around the Sunnyside neighborhood as winter set in last year.

As COVID-19 continued its spread I began seeing a new contagion, one marked by joy and vibrant colors, spreading from tree to tree. On our evening walks, my partner and I began seeing it take hold on new streets. At first, we thought only trees were harbingers of it. And then we saw that the neighborhood Little Free Library was also susceptible.

Yarn bombing isn’t new but it is to our neighborhood. And it’s been a welcome surprise of color and joy during what’s been a monumentally challenging moment for Portland and our nation. This type of street art is referred to by many names: yarn or wool bombing, guerrilla knitting, urban knitting, and kniffiti. Whatever you chose to call it, it employs colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fibre rather than paint or chalk.

We became enamored with these mystery yarn artists. So I began asking around until one day I found out who they were.

Spoiler alert: The yarn bomber was not Banksy. It was—and is—Amy Jones and Roger Robinson, neighbors of ours from down the street.

When did you begin the yarn bombing project, how did it start, what keeps you going, and what do you love about it most?

Roger Robinson: We began in October 2020. Amy mentioned to me that she didn’t know what to do with the knit squares she makes to keep her hands busy, which reminded me of an example of knit bombing I had seen in Cincinnati, Ohio a few years ago. I asked her to give some squares to me and said I’d show her how we could use them.

So knit bombing came to Sunnyside! She continues to knit them and I sew them together and we bomb them together. I enjoy seeing the excitement on the children’s faces when they see the bombs, and especially when they hug them.

Amy Jones: I keep doing it because I like to knit and to see my work enjoyed by others.

How long have you two lived in Sunnyside?

Amy: 22 years

Roger: 3 years

What’s your background?

Amy: I was a Head Start teacher in Pittsburgh and Portland. I was born in Bronxville, NY. I love to read, and earlier in life I loved bicycling and hiking.

Roger: My longest career has been as an architect. I’ve also been a database designer and business partner. I enjoy playing piano and painting, and I was born in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

What was the hardest part of the pandemic for you?

Amy: Not being able to work with the kids at Glencoe Elementary School and not being able to travel.

Roger: Separation from friends and family.

What’s one thing you would like to see change about Sunnyside?

Roger: Eliminate the 100+ degree days.

Amy: I’m pretty pleased with Sunnyside.

What’s a fun fact about each of you?

Roger: I hitchhiked across the country when I was a teenager.

Amy: When my daughter Anne, also a Sunnysider, was 8 years old, she was bitten by Norman Rockwell’s dog.

Survey Results: New public trash cans coming to Sunnyside and SE Portland

In Fall 2021, the City will be adding 182 new public trash cans throughout Southeast Portland. The city has been actively seeking feedback from people who live or work in Southeast Portland on where the new cans should (or shouldn’t) be located.

The Sunnyside Neighborhood Association conducted its own survey from May to July 2021. We collected feedback from 63 residents covering 31 intersections. The intersection with the most votes is SE Belmont St and SE 34th Ave with 10 votes. Second is SE Taylor St and SE Chavez Blvd with 5 votes. Detailed survey results are available on sunnysideportland.org under the Feedback section in the sidebar.

Sunnyside Piazza Update

We held a successful in-person and virtual voting event for the new piazza design on August 31st at SE Uplift. A big thank you to everyone who attended and participated in the process. We’ll do the grand unveiling of the design once the project wraps up at the end of September, and we will provide updates in the October newsletter. Another big thank you to everyone who has donated towards the project. Your support for keeping this 20+ year old landmark thriving is greatly appreciated!

You can still contribute towards the restoration for this project by donating to the campaign’s GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/sunnyside-piazza or via the SNA website homepage. We’re trying to raise $1,500 to cover our expenses and we’re almost there. Follow the Sunnyside Piazza Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/sunnysidepiazza) for up-to-date details and ways to get involved.

Emergency Preparedness and the SNA Board Meeting

How can Sunnysiders be prepared, not scared?

Each neighborhood in Portland has their unique challenges with regards to preparing for an emergency. This depends on the geography, the business communities and the willingness of neighbors to know each other and support each other BEFORE, DURING and AFTER an event.

How do you know where to begin?

A comprehensive resource guide is available on the Sunnyside Prepared!
website:
https://sunnysideportland.org/committees/emergency-preparedness/

Take a peek at the Sunnyside Neighborhood Map – an excellent overview of Sunnyside. Print a copy and walk around the neighborhood. Become familiar with the map legend. Though there might be new construction since this map was made, it will help you see how Neighborhood Emergency Team members size up the hazards, etc. in Sunnyside. All of the other resources on this page are updated and user friendly.

Want a bigger overview?

Go to the FEMA (Federal Emergency Preparedness Agency) website:
https://www.fema.gov/ and click on the top toolbar item “Prepare for Disasters.”

Not a computer person?

Now that the Belmont library has reopened, librarians can easily point you to books and other resources that can help, or you can print out pages from the Sunnyside Prepared! or FEMA websites. These resources will help you get prepared, not scared.

Shower Project Reaches 60+ People

Awesome shower volunteer Marisa Espinoza, who works at the Northwest Pilot Project, crunched the numbers for us. Since January, when we launched the shower program at the Groves, we have served 63 houseless individuals. Some shower weekly, some come less often, but all of them thank us repeatedly for offering them this opportunity to get and stay clean. I often get texts like this from our houseless neighbors: “Thank you a ton for everything, Hannah. It really means a lot what you do.” 

Thanks to the Groves for continuing to allow us to use their facilities for this program. I’m also so grateful to all 23 of our amazing volunteers—most from Sunnyside but some come from nearby neighborhoods to help out. We could still use two additional volunteers for an every-other-week shift this fall. If you’re interested, please reach out to me at hannahmwallace@gmail.com. Shower days are in the afternoons on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.