News from the President

Greetings Sunnyside! I’m here, as usual, with the news from our April board meeting. As you might expect, much of the meeting focused on the elections on May 11th. There are numerous opportunities to serve your neighborhood on the board with four seats on the ballot and multiple incumbents leaving for new adventures and/or more pastoral settings (we will miss your tireless work Matt and Vincent!). As noted elsewhere in this newsletter, elections will be held in person on May 11th. You must be physically present at the meeting to vote. I apologize for the error in the last newsletter where I said that you could vote if present online. Unfortunately, some of our bylaws are still stuck in the pre-Zoom era, maybe something that the next board could look at modernizing?

In addition to elections, the board discussed and approved the new committee charter written by our Land Use and Transportation Committee. You can read the charter at and if you’re interested in joining in on the work this committee will be doing, please reach out to [email protected].

The last item we discussed was using our social media and website reach to do a better job at publicizing community events. Do you have an event the neighborhood might be interested in or you think would be beneficial to Sunnyside? Let us know and we will try to get it out to our subscribers on Facebook, NextDoor and on the calendar.

That’s it for now. We look forward to seeing you in May for a bit of hyper-local democracy!

Land Use and Transportation Committee Report

The Sunnyside Neighborhood Association Land Use and Transportation Committee (LUTC) meetings will be held on the fourth Thursday of the month at 8 p.m. at SE Uplift (3534 SE Main Street). We recently revised the committee’s charter which was approved by the SNA Board at its April meeting. We especially encourage Sunnyside renters to attend these meetings. The LUTC recognizes that most Sunnyside residents are renters and seeks to include their voices and needs in this committee. 

Historically, the Sunnyside LUTC has served as a point of contact between the neighborhood, city planning bureaus, and private developers looking to make changes or redevelop land in the neighborhood. This reformed committee will maintain this role, facilitate discussion between neighbors on issues relating to proposed and existing transportation, and aid in refining a vision for our neighborhood infrastructure in alignment with the interests of current and future Sunnyside residents.

Annual Meeting and Board Elections May 11th

We hope you will join us for our annual election and consider running for one of our open board positions. The meeting is going to be on May 11th at 7 p.m. at SE Uplift (3534 SE Main Street). No experience is required, and our fun and friendly board will help you figure things out right from the beginning. It’s a great way to get involved in your community and have a voice.

All residents within the Sunnyside neighborhood boundaries are eligible to run and vote (whether you rent or own is not relevant), as well as non-resident property owners. You can also run (and vote) if you are the sole designated representative of any businesses, nonprofit organization, school, or church in Sunnyside. This year we are looking to fill four two-year terms. Meetings are on the second Thursday of each month. Commitments vary depending on your interests and passions. 

Serving on the neighborhood association board can be rewarding and very educational. You will be among the first to know when things are changing in the neighborhood. If you would like to send in a brief candidate’s statement to post to our website and be made available at the election, please email us at [email protected].

Candidates’ Statements

Ignacio Simon
I moved to Portland from Boston in early 2022. My partner Eleanor and I initially picked Sunnyside because of its excellent location and accessibility to transit. We like to move around by foot, bike or bus and the neighborhood certainly makes this easy. The more time I spend here, the more I realize that I made the right choice. Sunnyside is friendly, safe, and, most importantly, filled with people that understand the need for all of us to work together to support and improve our neighborhood. 

Though I love living in Sunnyside, I also recognize that the neighborhood, like the city at-large, has its share of problems. As a renter, I am keenly aware of the housing/renting affordability crisis within our city. Many of us in Sunnyside feel precarious about our living situation and that’s more than the cause of a lot of stress; it threatens the very qualities that make Sunnyside a great place to live. The neighborhood’s sense of safety and community cannot survive if people are constantly priced out of settling down and building their lives here. Fundamentally, this is what the Sunnyside Land Use and Transportation Committee (which I now co-chair) believes and advocates for, and it is this message that I wish to amplify within the SNA as a board member.

Daniel Mandel
​My family and I have been in the Sunnyside neighborhood for about 7 years. There were no lack of draws. The neighborhood’s quirky sense of individuality, architecture, lush gardens, a diverse array of restaurants, bars, shopping, art and very friendly neighbors all cemented our love for the neighborhood and will likely keep us here for many years to come. Advocating for a community that is safe, resilient and welcoming to current and future residents is at the heart of what I do as Co-Chair of the Land Use & Transportation Committee. I intend to build on Sunnyside’s inclusive and independent spirit by encouraging more of our neighbors to have their voices heard so we can all get involved with the future of our awesome neighborhood. 

Mike Thelin
I fell in love with Sunnyside in the early 2000s when some friends and I rented a large flat across the street from the Triple Nickel, where we hosted open mics and music shows in our living room. That spirit of fun, creativity and collaboration has always been alive and well in this wonderful neighborhood, and I have always loved the diverse mix of people who call Sunnyside home—families, working artists, activists, and so many independent business owners. After living in North and Downtown Portland (and places further afield), my wife Winslett and I bought a house on SE 34th Avenue in 2018. Through my role as founder of Feast Portland, I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with many individuals in Portland’s food, beverage, and cultural communities. I believe that its unique spirit of individualism, heartfelt small businesses and nonprofits are what make Portland such a gem, and nowhere is that more apparent than in Sunnyside. 

Sunnyside Neighborhood: Getting to Know Your Neighbors

Q&A with Gemma Whelan and Adam Liberman

When Gemma Whelan and Adam Liberman moved to town in 2007 Portland had no Irish theater company to speak of. But Whelan, who is from the Midlands of Ireland, soon discovered that Portlanders had a great appetite for contemporary Irish plays. In 2012, she founded and became the artistic director of Corrib Theatre ( and Liberman, a Portland native, became managing director. Though they recently passed the leadership of the theater company on to another couple, Whelan and Liberman remain busy with various pursuits. Whelan has recently published her second novel and Liberman, a technical writer and audio tester, is restoring their 1860s Sunnyside farmhouse. 

When did you move to Sunnyside?  

Gemma: In 2007 we bought our house. I was working in the Bay Area. 

Adam: We had to raise it up in the air and put in a new foundation.

Gemma: Adam is in the process of restoring it to 1903. It’s made out of two early farmhouses.

Adam: Between 1850 and 1870. I’ve collected parts on Ebay, from about 1903. I’ve learned how to do lime-plaster on the kitchen walls. 

Gemma: This is not minor. This is major. 

Adam: All the infrastructure is going to be modern—we’re not going back to a coal stove! But I’m installing original paneling from 1903. All the light fixtures are from that period.  I find them mostly on eBay, but also at Rejuvenation and Hippo Hardware. 

To my wife’s dismay, it’s been an ongoing project. 

Tell me about Corrib Theatre, which you founded ten years ago. 

Gemma: We did this for 10 years. I’ve done theater my whole life—as a director and an educator. I taught at conservatories and theaters. When I moved to Portland, someone asked me about Irish theater. And I said, “Does anybody care about Irish theater in Portland?”  It’s not like San Francisco, Boston or NYC, which have big Irish-American populations. 

Then in 2012, we did a one man show about Northern Ireland—One Night in November—for an invited audience. It was hugely successful. I thought, “There’s an appetite for Irish theater here.” It was set during the Troubles. People were really interested in the history. So one thing led to another. I was doing small shows at Kells. They gave us the banquet room for free. I started it literally with nothing! Then I learned about grants, structure. We founded a nonprofit and from there it grew. It was a small company—we would do three shows a year. We did a lot of readings, too. We were nomadic—some seasons we performed at a different place for each show. 

A new artistic director was hired last June, but I’m directing a show there now called Myra’s Story by Brian Foster, who is from Derry. It’s apropos of this moment. It’s about a woman who is homeless on the streets of Dublin. She’s in her 40s. It’s very funny and also very serious. She’s hilarious —she’s a real character. She ends up telling you the story of her life. It’s set in 2001. 

What do you like about Sunnyside?  

Gemma: I love Hawthorne. We’re really lucky—we are equidistant between Belmont and Hawthorne. The No. 1 thing I love is that I can walk to Powells and to the Bagdad. Also, I can walk to Buffalo Exchange. The convenience, the walkability. I love that. I cycle most places. I also love Laurelhurst Park. 

Adam: I’d say the same thing. 

Gemma: Another thing I love about Sunnyside is that I’m a few blocks from the library. That’s sort of a big deal.  

What would you like to see change about Sunnyside? 

Adam: I always had a dream that the streetcar would be restored to Hawthorne and Belmont. If I were mayor that’s what I would do.   

Gemma: I wish there was a YMCA with a swimming pool within walking distance. I used to swim at Buckman Pool and that’s gone. I love swimming and I haven’t done it in years. 

Tell me about your new novel, Painting Through the Dark, Gemma.

Gemma: It’s the story of a young Irish woman,  a 21-year old, who comes to this country with very few resources. She was training to be a nun in Ireland but left the convent when she found out about suspected sexual abuse by the priest. She’s fleeing her family, as well, who were very restrictive. She arrives in San Francisco. So, it’s how she finds herself being trapped in a menacing household and her art is what helps her to see her way forward.    

It’s inspired by some of my own experiences of coming to this country. I actually came to the East Coast. When you write fiction you draw on certain areas of your life. But it’s fiction. I’ve had a reading at Powell’s, one at Broadway Books, and one at Annie Bloom’s.

Dog or Cat? 

We don’t have a pet right now but we’re cat people. 

Myra’s Story opens on May 5th at 21Ten Theatre at 2110 SE 10th Ave. (formerly the Shoebox Theatre). 

You can learn more and buy tickets at

Hear Gemma read from her novel at these upcoming readings: Daedalus Books on May 2nd at 7 p.m., May 16th at the Garden Home public library at 6:30 p.m. and on May 21st at 21Ten Theatre at 4 p.m. There is more information on her website

You Can Help Oregon’s Foster Care Crisis

On any given day, there are about 6,000 children in Oregon’s foster care system. Many of these children come from situations of abuse and neglect only to find themselves facing uncertainty and instability once they enter foster care.  

Boys & Girls Aid, a nonprofit founded in Portland in 1885, wants to change that. We are looking for compassionate people to help improve the lives of children in foster care.  

A good foster home is often the first place a child in foster care has felt safe in a long time. Foster parents help children build trust in adults and provide a supportive environment where they can thrive.  

Boys & Girls Aid supports foster parents with responsive program staff available 24/7, ongoing free professional training, and generous monthly, tax-free stipends ranging from $1,200 to $3,500 per month. There are options to fit every family, from full-time placement to relief care a few days a month. 

Fostering children might bring life changes and challenges, but it’s a great opportunity to make a  difference in a child’s life — and in your own life, too. 

“It’s worth it to get to know these kids,” said experienced foster parents Jen and Chad. “It has enriched our lives a lot.” 

To learn more, visit our website: or contact Hallie Campbell at 503-544-7003 or [email protected].