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January, 2022 -- Vol. 116, No. 5
Scroll down to read this issue!

Memories of THE BEE's first 100 years!
In 2006, THE BEE celebrated its centennial of serving Southeast Portland!  A special four-page retrospective of Inner Southeast Portland's century, written by Eileen Fitzsimons, and drawn from the pages of THE BEE over the previous 100 years, appeared in our September, 2006, issue.
Click here to read the special centenary retrospective!


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Woodstock Elementary has long been part of PPS proposals for “re-balancing enrollment and programs” that could bring big changes to some Southeast Portland schools. However, it now starts to look that staying as it is may be a possibility for Woodstock School.
Woodstock Elementary has long been part of PPS proposals for “re-balancing enrollment and programs” that could bring big changes to some Southeast Portland schools. However, it now starts to look that staying as it is may be a possibility for Woodstock School. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)

Woodstock School: Option could end ‘change’ plans

By ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF
For THE BEE

Portland parents and students have a history of expressing support for their neighborhood schools. In early 2020, when the Portland Public School District began discussing making changes to Southeast Portland schools – in order to “balance enrollment and programs” – many parents were upset, because it meant that some students would be moved to different schools farther away.

In the December 2020 issue of THE BEE, correspondent David F. Ashton explained some of those changes. Woodstock, known for its internationally-renowned Mandarin Dual-language Immersion (MDLI) Program, would no longer have over half its students studying Mandarin during part of their school day. Those MDLI students would be transferred to Bridger Elementary School at SE 79th and Market Street, it seemed. In addition, all MDLI students from Harrison Park Elementary (K-8) would (if this plan materialized) also be moved to Bridger, which would then become an exclusively-MDLI school.

Under this 2020-proposed plan, the other students at Woodstock Elementary, who live in the Woodstock School neighborhood boundary area and follow a more traditional curriculum – called the Neighborhood Program – would remain at Woodstock. At that time, it was remarked by parents that in that scenario the school would become under-enrolled, and would decrease in diversity.

That was a year ago. Since then, PPS has put forth two other different plans, called Proposal A and Proposal B – with a Proposal C pending. So what do these mean for Woodstock School?

Proposal A would make Woodstock a Creative Science school -- with no MDLI program. 

Proposal B would make Woodstock an all-Mandarin DLI school, with current Neighborhood Program students moved on to other elementary schools.

As for Proposal C – read on, for some brand new details on that.

To bring you up to date, on Friday, November 19th, at 5 p.m., over one hundred Woodstock Elementary parents attended an online ZOOM meeting to discuss the latest PPS “re-balancing” plans. Yvonne Liao, a Language Access Specialist, provided interpretation from English to Chinese for those requiring it. 

Dr. Esther Omogbehen, PPS Regional Superintendent – also known as “Dr. O” – spoke about Proposals A and B. After that, there was time for parent comments.

One parent remarked that Plan A, making Woodstock a Creative Science school, would take away a much-loved MDLI program for which a quite a number of parents had specifically moved into the Woodstock neighborhood.

Parent Hans VanDerSchaaf, who has two children in the Neighborhood Program, commented that, “PPS claims that the rebalancing effort centers on equity, but the District has not articulated in detail how any of this work, including how the two [opposite]  proposals affecting Woodstock, would actually result in more equitable schools.”

Some parents of Chinese students said that Proposal B – making Woodstock all-Mandarin school – would actually make it segregated, and perhaps also a target for those who harbor hostility to China and Asian people in general.

Parent David Jellis shared an online survey that drew responses from 103 parents. He reported that 90% favored keeping the school “co-located”, and 73% opposed having the school be just MDLI.  60% said they think their voices, especially those of the Chinese parents, have not been heard.

Woodstock Principal Seth Johnson listened, and added information as necessary. At that November meeting. Woodstock’s two parent representatives to the “Southeast Guiding Coalition”, Eddie Wang and Alissa McMaken Roberts, were also present. (This is a group of parents and administrators created by PPS to provide input regarding proposed changes.)

During the hour-long meeting, parents were studiously respectful of Dr. O, the PPS administrator, and respectful of school staff and each other. At the same time, they made it very clear that they believe the school should be kept as it is now.

They would like Proposal C, when made public by PPS, to keep the “co-located” program – meaning both Mandarin and Neighborhood Programs housed at the school – just as it is now.  During the entire two-year process conducted by the school district, parents have consistently voiced a desire to maintain the richness of experience provided by Asian children and non-Asian children eating lunch together, playing together, and participating in after-school activities together.

To that point, Xiao Feng stated, “The Chinese community wants to keep the school as-is. The balance works well, with my kids learning the two cultures.” Min Cai said “Chinese families were taken by surprise with the two options [Proposals A and B].  Chinese voices were not included.” And Alissa McMaken Roberts remarked, “My children are in the neighborhood program. How does disrupting our school make for more equity?” 

During the meeting many parents spoke of their love for Woodstock School, and of the wonderful community that has been built over the years. They do not want to have its students shuffled to different schools simply to meet PPS goals that they believe have been already been successfully achieved at Woodstock.

Principal Johnson held the meeting open after the PPS administrator left, so parents could share and de-brief.

Six days later, on December 2nd, a Southeast Guiding Coalition online meeting was held to announce Proposal C. Upon initial review, it appears that the suggestions, thoughts, and ideas from the Woodstock Community have indeed been heard – and, under Proposal C, Woodstock would remain as it is, having both the Chinese DLI and Neighborhood Program. However, there would be some changes made to the school’s southern boundary. 

It was also announced in this meeting that, due to staffing challenges, no changes would be made at Woodstock School until the fall of 2023 – instead of 2022, as PPS had previously stated.

Proposal C would also make some changes to boundaries of other Southeast Portland elementary schools, including Lewis Elementary and Lane Middle School. Those changes will be highlighted in a future BEE article. Meantime, to learn more immediately, go online – http://www.pps.net/enrollmentbalancing



Charlie Abrams, a Cleveland High senior, started nonprofit “Recycled Living” to build tiny homes for the homeless. He also built the machines to create the building materials out of recyclable plastic. Here, he shows off the form into which the warm recycled plastic is pressed to create sturdy bricks for construction.
Charlie Abrams, a Cleveland High senior, started nonprofit “Recycled Living” to build tiny homes for the homeless. He also built the machines to create the building materials out of recyclable plastic. Here, he shows off the form into which the warm recycled plastic is pressed to create sturdy bricks for construction. (Photo by Jaime Valdez)

Cleveland High senior offers own solutions for homelessness and recycling

By JOSEPH GALLIVAN
The Business Tribune
For THE BEE

Solve homelessness and the plastic trash problem in one go? It’s the kind of audacious intersectionality that people might get excited about.

Charlie Abrams is a Cleveland High senior who is already known for having been a climate advocate since fourth grade. Now he’s sunk his teeth into something less abstract.

Abrams started a nonprofit in 2020 called “Recycled Living”, with the aim of making 20-pound building bricks out of compressed waste plastic – and using them to build tiny homes for the homeless. While there are a lot of questions – Recycled Living currently has a GoFundMe webpage to take it to the next level – there are some fascinating details to Abrams’ story.

The 17-year-old is known in Salem and Portland as a climate activist. He and his schoolmate Jeremy Clark were the primary movers of the Climate Strike that saw thousands of kids ditch class to head downtown on September 20, 2019.

While working on climate action and carbon pricing policy, he has obtained an inside look at the contentious world of carbon credits, foresters, and politicians. But in 2020, he used the long days stuck at home during the pandemic to tackle an idea he had two years before: Why not build tiny houses out of waste plastic?

Abrams has had a side hustle for three years as a skilled animator, making music videos on Blendr. He won an honorable mention from the nonprofit organization “The River Starts Here” in July of 2020 for his 26-second video “Walking With Trash” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nR3yD5pYZc).

He taught himself architectural rendering on Blendr software, and designed a series of tiny homes that were more than just the shed-on-a-pallet model so often chosen by local authorities. He cites the City of Los Angeles’ building eight-by-eight-foot cabins with no amenities and just a bed and a chair as the exact opposite of what he wants to do.

“Do we want to create a project where the community looks like a set of boxes with 64 padlocks on them?” Abrams tells Pamplin Media, on a recent afternoon in the Pearl District. “We could create something beautiful within this community. They’re not 64-square-foot boxes. It’s creating something real that someone would want to live in.”

The Machines
Abrams also built the three machines needed to turn plastic into these bricks: The shredder, the heater, and the compressor. The shredder is laser-cut from steel, and assembled from a kit designed in Poland. The other two machines he designed himself. Again, he taught himself the engineering required to build all three. Rather than buy off the rack, they had to be custom-made to make the large bricks he wanted.

One day he will need a larger shredder, though, he says. “When this is a larger nonprofit, we will be buying industrial shredders, instead of building them from scratch. It will be a lot smoother of a process going forward when we have more established funding.”

Regular recycling only handles a few kinds of plastic. Abrams’ aim is more about keeping plastics out of the landfill, and is almost omnivorous when it comes to plastic. His machine can take anything from hard plastic crates to thin plastic bags. (They avoid PVC, because of the harmful chemicals like hydrochloric acid, which PVC releases at high temperatures.)

So far, they have used mostly low-density polyethylene and some higher-density polyethylene (HDPE). Once shredded into flakes and mixed, they can be warmed to about 110 degrees in the heating chamber, softened, and pressed into a steel form. The result is a plastic brick with two holes to allow for rebar to hold them together when laid.

Abrams rented a warehouse in Northwest Portland – but he says the machines, and the test bricks he made, are in storage currently, awaiting funding for a larger warehouse.

The plastic being used is not coming from the recycle stream that Portlanders are familiar with. Rather than going after the mountains of single-use plastic that consumers sort through, such as the food containers with the Mobius loop or chasings arrow symbol on them, Recycled Living collects from a bigger and yet less well-known source. They are striking deals with businesses to take some of their surplus plastic. One company is the Traffic Safety Supply Company, which makes street signs. The ends of the steel poles come with a hard plastic plug, which is usually discarded at the landfill. Recycled Living takes them for the shredding pile.

Recycled Living also works with grocery stores, which are now receiving produce in plastic boxes. These boxes look like white cardboard, but can't be recycled. Abrams also mentions the pallets of food that arrive at grocery stores wrapped 20 or 30 times in a type of industrial-strength Saran Wrap. “This plastic that has an adhesive on it, that's super thin and elastic, can't be recycled by our traditional recycling system. And it is an absurd amount of plastic. We were able to take that.”

Recycled Living is also working with PacSun, a trendy clothing company. “Each T-shirt that they have is wrapped four times in different amounts of plastic bags," Abrams remarks. “That's unnecessary plastic that traditionally can't be recycled and is headed to the landfill.” The plastic quickly built up.

“It is hard to express how much plastic our society uses through large companies,” remarks the Cleveland High senior. “The idea is to recycle plastic that’s headed to the landfill. So, with our partnerships through companies who have no other option, we're creating a solution."

Engineering the bricks
Abrams did the CGI (computer-generated imagery) for the architecture, and says that the engineering for the bricks is not complicated. He hasn't sought official approval from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for his building materials, because the buildings are too small.

It takes a few hours to make a brick. According to Abrams, the project's next phase will be to create an autonomous system so that no manual labor is required for moving the mold to the separate machines. Abrams says the $20,000 they are trying to raise will be enough to get construction started on land donated by the City of Portland – a deal which he says is likely. He will get appliances donated, and will buy the other building materials.

“When you take out the cost of the actual structure of the home and you're left with things like drywall and insulation – all of that – the cost depreciates so quickly. Rebar, insulation: This stuff is insanely cheap, when you’re looking at it on a large scale, compared to what the actual home is made out of, which is now free."

He says thoughtfully, “I’ve grown up here my entire life. I’ve seen how homelessness, plastic pollution, how they’ve gone from issues in our city to crises. Those are things that I want to solve. My parents live here. I expect to continue living here. I don’t want to grow up in a city that has to deal with this. Our plan is to expand because of how revolutionary this idea is. It can work really well in other countries across the globe. But I do want to start it here in Portland. This is where I'm from, and it’s a city that really needs a solution like this.”

Just as tent camps move people around to little effect, so plastic is endlessly deferred. He wants to stop both.

“Plastic pollution is an extremely multifaceted issue. If we are cleaning up the ocean, and recycling that plastic, where’s that plastic going, if it can’t be recycled by a recycling system? As opposed to just shifting it from one location to another.”

If you are interested in supporting the Cleveland High senior’s vision, The “Recycled Living” crowdfunding site is – http://www.gofundme.com/f/recycled-living



Firefighter/Paramedics from Woodstock Fire Station 25 arrived check over those smashed into by the taunting hit-and-run driver, at Flavel Street and 52nd Avenue.
Firefighter/Paramedics from Woodstock Fire Station 25 arrived check over those smashed into by the taunting hit-and-run driver, at Flavel Street and 52nd Avenue. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

52nd Avenue hit-and-run driver returns to taunt victims, is arrested

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

If causing the accident wasn’t enough, the hit-and-run driver who smashed into two vehicles in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood on Sunday evening, November 14, came back to the scene of his crime to admire the mayhem before driving off again.

East Precinct officers responded at 6:43 p.m. to the intersection of S.E. Flavel Street and 52nd Avenue on an “accident – hit and run – priority” call. Also dispatched was Portland Fire & Rescue Woodstock Station 25’s Engine Company; but arriving firefighter/paramedics found no substantial injuries.

Witnesses told THE BEE that a “large, jacked up” Chevy Silverado truck was southbound on S.E. 52nd Avenue when it rammed into a Subaru Outback, facing southbound and stopped for the red light at Flavel.

“The truck hits it; pushes it across the intersection into the utility pole, and then south for half a block, until the Subaru rear-ends a parked car,” a witness described.

The impact to the utility pole put the traffic lights at the intersection out of commission.

A female passenger in a second vehicle, one which was just turning left from S.E. Flavel to southbound 52d, said her car tried “blockade the Chevy truck”, so it would not leave the scene. “But the truck rammed us, and spun our car 180 degrees, and took off (southbound) down the hill [on S.E. 52nd],” she told us.

“Moments later, the truck roars up, north on 52nd, slows down, rolls down his window and laughs, cuts through the convenience store parking lot, and ‘peels rubber’ heading east on Flavel Street and disappears in the distance,” the first witness said.

Yet another individual said he was shopping in the convenience store when the smashup took place. “It sounded like an explosion,” he said. “After I went out to look I nearly got run over by the truck in the parking lot as it flew through.”

“East Precinct officers located 74-year-old Michael Prinkki Sr. after the accident,” informed Portland Police spokesperson Lt. Nathan Sheppard. “He was arrested and charged with Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver (Hit & Run), Reckless Driving, and Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants.”

PPB Traffic Investigators would still like to receive more information about this incident; if you can provide it, email: crimetips@portlandoregon.gov – and reference Case No. 21-319266.



Lisa Danlli, Program Director for Refugee Community Services at Lutheran Community Services, told Southeast Portland Rotary in a November virtual meeting about various ways that Southeast Portland is helping to welcome and resettle Afghan refugees.
Lisa Danlli, Program Director for Refugee Community Services at Lutheran Community Services, told Southeast Portland Rotary in a November virtual meeting about various ways that Southeast Portland is helping to welcome and resettle Afghan refugees. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)

Southeast Portland among Oregon locations welcoming Afghan refugees

By ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF
For THE BEE

The chaotic August airlift exit of Americans, and Afghan citizens who worked with the U.S., has left many Afghan families destitute and traumatized.

One of several nonprofit organizations helping these families to restart their lives in Portland is Lutheran Community Services.

The Southeast Portland Rotary Club’s weekly Monday noon meetings often have presenters addressing timely topics; and, in November, one such talk was by Lisa Danlli, of the Refugee Community Services Program Director at Lutheran Community Services.

In a 40-minute virtual talk to the club using ZOOM, she shared information about what the organization is doing, and how people in Portland can help. Danlli informed the Rotary group that Lutheran Community Services is scheduled to welcome 180 Afghans into Portland before the end of 2021. Approximately 60% of those are children under twelve years of age.  Some families have six or seven children, and finding long-term affordable housing for large families has proven very challenging.

Because many of these families left Afghanistan with none of their possessions, one Rotary meeting attendee disclosed that Catholic Charities is organizing Portlanders to donate “restart kits” for Afghan families. The categories of these kits are: Personal care; welcome; kitchen; baby; bedding; bathroom; and cleaning. The kits, in portable plastic tubs, are taken to the Refugee Care Collective in Tigard for distribution.

The Afghans entering Portland are varied in their English language capabilities. Those who enter with SIVs (“Special Immigrant Visas”) have worked with the U.S. Government while in Afghanistan, or were interpreters – and they, who are most often men, usually do not need language services. When Rotary member Judy Tester asked if there are English classes for the refugees, Danlli said that they, along with their nonprofit partners, do provide ESL classes.

Together, the participating organizations – Lutheran Community Services, IRCO (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization), Catholic Charities, the Refugee Care Collective, and EMO’s (Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon) program “SOAR” (Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees) are doing all they can to provide support. But decreased staff and funding during the pandemic, and the growing numbers of refugees, create larger challenges.

The  Oregon Department of Human Services’ Emergency Management program, which provides shelter and food for Oregon wildfire victims, is also providing temporary housing and access to food for Afghan families as they arrive to Oregon. And resettlement agencies continue seek permanent housing options.

To find out how to help, or to make a monetary donation, contact Lutheran Community Services at 503/231-7480. More information is online – https://lcsnw.org/office/portland   

And, for more information on those restart kits – https://refugeecarecollective.org/restart-kits


At the Bybee Boulevard entrance to Moreland Presbyterian Church in Westmoreland.
At the Bybee Boulevard entrance to Moreland Presbyterian Church in Westmoreland. (Photo by Eric Norberg)

Moreland Presbyterian Church commits to sponsor an Afghan family

By REBECCA MOWE
Special to THE BEE

Of the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have been dislocated by war, thousands of them are now in the United States at military bases, awaiting permanent placement.  All are seeking safety and stability as they rebuild their lives. Oregon will receive 180 of these refugees, most of whom will be resettled in the Portland and Salem areas.

Moreland Presbyterian Church, on S.E. Bybee Boulevard in Westmoreland, is working with Lutheran Community Services Northwest, as well as with other local non-church partners, to sponsor an Afghan refugee family. The group has a core of passionate organizers, and early financial commitment, and will be matched with a family once affordable housing is located.

Affordable housing is the critical need, and the group is actively searching for options in close-in Southeast Portland. The affordability factor is especially challenging, but the group hopes to find something close to the church.

Once the family is designated, and housing for them is found, volunteers and material resources will be needed for immediate and long-term assistance. There will be opportunities to provide support in areas of employment, language, transportation, education, shopping, legal issues and general acculturation.

For donations, and for information about volunteering – or if you know of appropriate local housing available to rent – contact Moreland Presbyterian Church via email:   afghanfamily@morelandpres.org



Showing us the brand new sturdy – but light – aluminum star to top the tree this year, here’s volunteer John Fyre – former SMILE President, and a blacksmith on the side.
Showing us the brand new sturdy – but light – aluminum star to top the tree this year, here’s volunteer John Fyre – former SMILE President, and a blacksmith on the side. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Although it’s a long way to the top of the tree, perennial volunteer, Matt Hainley (inset) wrangles another string of lights to the top of the “SMILE Christmas Tree”.
Although it’s a long way to the top of the tree, perennial volunteer, Matt Hainley (inset) wrangles another string of lights to the top of the “SMILE Christmas Tree”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

New star tops ‘SMILE Christmas Tree’ on Oaks Bottom Bluff

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Along S.E. 13th Avenue, overlooking Oaks Bottom, a crew of families and neighborhood volunteers once again put to use their 30 years of experience to decorate the “SMILE Christmas Tree”, named after the neighborhood association for Sellwood and Westmoreland, which originated and helps finance the lighting of the tall fir tree each year.

Securely perched inside the top of the towering tree, on the sunny Saturday morning of November 20, was Reed Schrosk of “Treecology Tree Service” who secured each of the 30 strands of LED lights handed off to him by Matt Hainley from the basket of a massive personnel lift, maneuvered by Don Bolton.

“After all these years, we have a new shining star to top the tree,” grinned Matt Hainley. “This one is much lighter, and was made of aluminum welded in the Heiberg Garbage & Recycling shop by Rich Heiberg, with the help John Fyre, who affixed the lights and helped with the fabrication.

“And big thanks to Pape Rents for helping mitigate the biggest cost of this effort: The equipment rental,” Hainley remarked to THE BEE, after all 850 of the recently updated LED lights had been tested and strung up.

“Again, we’re again grateful to the property owners on which the tree stands, Emily and Isaac Edwards! Their son, Maverick Edwards, will ‘throw the switch’ to light the tree for the first time of the season, on Monday evening, November 29.

“And, thanks to the donations of our community in the previous two years, to buy the new LED lamps. All of the power comes from just one 15 amp circuit, generously donated by the tree’s ‘next door neighbor’ Dr. Daniel Beeson, D.C.,” said Hainley.

Heading the tree-lighting effort is an annual tradition of the Heiberg and Hainley families, both of which are deeply involved with SMILE. “We started this in 1989, when Bruce and I had kids about the age of both our grandkids. And seeing them help doing the lights, eating donuts, and having a good time is what it’s all about,” Hainley observed.

Then, a little before 6:30 p.m. on November 29, some 100 neighbors gathered to greet one another and sing carols before “SMILE’s Christmas Tree” was lit for the first time this season, to the delight of all.

This year, because of the pandemic, SMILE isn’t able to provide all the money that typically pays for this tree-trimming project. Although the Beeson, Heiberg, and Hainley families are continuing their generous support, they ask the neighbors to help cover the $3,000 deficit this year, in the cost of hanging and maintaining the lights. 

If you’d like to donate to this very prominent Inner Southeast tradition, you can do so online and securely, via GoFundMe – https://gofund.me/e9069dc9

And share in the tree-lighting celebration in this brief BEE video:





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