Sunnyside Neighborhood Community Cares (SNACC) Committee Updates

At the last SNACC meeting on Thurs. Oct. 18th, we discussed conducting a needs assessment of the shower program to gather feedback from the people who use the showers to learn what is working well and what isn’t. The shower program is also organizing another clothing drive to provide requested winter gear for the houseless community. The date and location to be determined. There wasn’t much to report on trash removal, other than that the same areas continue to be a challenge. There was some talk about investing in longer term solutions, which the group agreed was important to revisit. The committee will also finish the work needed to launch the “Get On The Sunnyside” communication plan. Some members then signed onto (zoomed over to?) the South Tabor Neighborhood Association meeting. Tremaine Clayton and Britt Urban shared information about the work they’ve been doing with Portland Street Response (PSR). This program will be expanding starting November 1st to include East Precinct, which covers Sunnyside east of Cesar Chavez Blvd. Next Mireaya Medina and Babatunde Azubuike from “Black and Beyond the Binary Collective” facilitated a conversation about how their organization could collaborate with neighborhood associations to reimagine community safety. We encourage anyone who is interested in these efforts to attend our next SNACC meeting on Thursday, Nov. 18th at 6:30 p.m. Meeting details will be posted on the SNA website the week of Nov. 15th.

Sunnyside Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Committee Updates

The DEIA Committee reviewed the outreach templates which are still a work in progress. The committee will spend the next few meetings in an educational format reviewing DEIA materials to align on building a Culture Values Statement. Our next meeting will be Tuesday, Nov. 2nd at 6:30 p.m. Virtual meeting details will be posted on the SNA website on Monday Nov. 1st. We look forward to new attendees and welcome ideas on ways to build a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible community.

SNA Volunteer Webmaster Request

Sunnyside Neighborhood Association is looking for a volunteer to help manage our WordPress-powered website. You would be responsible for basic content and administration only; no hosting, domain management, code editing or server interaction is required. You will be asked to create a few posts and pages per month including meeting minutes, agendas and committee information, and manage a Google Calendar. Newsletter articles are NOT part of this job and will continue to be handled by the NL team. Training and support, as necessary, can be provided by an experienced professional. This is a good opportunity to dip your toe in the civic waters, learn a little about websites, and meet some fun and interesting neighbors. If interested email board@sunnysideportland.org to learn more.

SNA Newsletter Coordinator Request

Sunnyside Neighborhood Association is looking for a volunteer to take the reins as the Sunnyside Newsletter Coordinator. The role is a monthly project management opportunity to facilitate workflow processes of rounding up article submissions by the targeted deadline, draft a work-in-progress document for the copy editor to review, and sign off to the newsletter format coordinator who sends the monthly issue to the printers. This is done with Google Shared Drive and Google Docs. This is a great opportunity for someone looking to get involved on a local level, aspiring journalist and communications professional especially, or for an individual who would like to get involved and connect with awesome folks in the community.  All ages are encouraged (15 years+). If interested email board@sunnysideportland.org to learn more.

Getting to Know Your Neighbors

Q&A with YogaChefJess 

On a recent sunny autumn Friday, Leslie and I walked through our favorite food cart pod—The Bite on Belmont at 43rd and Belmont—to find that a new restaurant had arrived: YogaChefJess.

The food cart A-frame showed a variety of delicious-sounding meals. We became more excited the longer we reviewed the menu. The ingredients and creations sounded mouthwatering and—to Leslie’s delight—everything was plant-based.

Leslie and I, along with my parents—who joined us on the outing—ordered about half the menu which rotates weekly. After the first couple bites, we were sold. And I thought to myself, Sunnysiders have got to know about YogaChefJess.

I recently visited with Jess at her food cart, ordered the Potato Cakes (mashed tater cakes topped with bacon-jam, cilantro crema, cilantro and chez), and asked her some questions while I made my way through the delectable lunch she had just cooked up for me.

Jess, who lives in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood, is a deeply passionate professional chef and yoga instructor. Her mission for over 16 years has been to help people create healthy habits through quality eating and meditation.

In addition to her cart at The Bite on Belmont, YogaChefJess provides meal subscriptions, nutrition consulting, yoga and fitness instruction, cooking demos, and other holistic services. (Check out her website at yogachefjess.com.) Her meal subscriptions include lunches and dinners that are premade, plant-based, and free from gluten, soy, and refined sugar.

Alrighty, YogaChefJess. How long have you lived in Portland?

Jess: I’ve lived here for six years. I’m from North Carolina. I noticed that Portland was more catered to my lifestyle as a yoga instructor and plant-based foodie. 

Had you visited Portland before moving here?

Jess: No, I didn’t visit. My cousin lived out here, needed a nanny, and asked if I wanted to be a nanny for them. I thought, “Okay, but if I go out there, I’m probably not going to come back.” So I just sold everything and moved out here. Then a year later my cousin moved away! But I love it here.

You had a catering business before this. What led you to opening this physical restaurant? 

Jess: I do still have a catering business. I just needed more space. Even though this is still a small space, it’s a little more space than what I’m used to to create my meals and stuff. We built a kitchen for my business, and now we have this too.

How long have you been open? We noticed that you took the spot of Dinger’s Deli which we used to frequent. 

Jess: This is only my fourth week! So I’m really good friends with Brian, founder and owner of Dinger’s. He was like, “I want you to be here. I love what you do. I’m burning out. They need really good food and you’re the best replacement for me.”

What do you love about having your cart in Sunnyside?  

It’s alive. I really like the location here and the neighborhoods. I love how people are often walking by. There’s enough going on this side of the street [north side of Belmont] that people are passing by, walking their dogs and stuff.

Okay, so one month in, how does it feel?

Jess: It feels pretty good. Jumping into anything is a roller coaster. But it has been a good roller coaster. You know, I didn’t fall out of the ride. Nothing fell off. The wheels are still attached. We’re slowly going up. We’re in a hole, but we’re not sinking in the hole (laughs). I do have a couple of people that come and help me, but it’s mostly me.

What’s one fun fact about Yoga Chef Jess?

Jess: I did my yoga teacher training in Thailand. It’s a 500 hour certification. While the first was in Thailand, my second yoga teacher training was here in Portland. I’ve learned various styles such as Hatha, Bikram, Integral, Astana, Anusara.

* Go visit the restaurant YogaChefJess at 4255 SE Belmont Street or sign up for a meal plan and more at yogachefjess.com