Community Features

The "Events and Activities" for the month are below these featured stories!

Westmoreland, 1936, Milwaukie Bybee intersection, Southeast Portland, Oregon
In this 1936 photo of the Bybee-Milwaukie intersection, we see the Westmoreland Drug Company where Starbucks stands now, at 7001 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, with a very early two-light sidewalk pedestal traffic signal – and, next to it, a white porcelain street water fountain, and not the brass replica fountain that sits on that corner today. (Courtesy of the City of Portland Archives)
poorcelain water fountain, 1968, Westmoreland, Southeast Portland, Oregon
And here’s a close-up of the same porcelain water fountain shown in the earlier wide photo. This photo was taken over 30 years later, in 1968; this fountain has since been replaced with a replica of a single-bowl “Benson Bubbler”. (Courtesy of SMILE History Committee)

The story of street water fountains in Southeast

Special to THE BEE

Writing an historical column is not an easy job. Besides selecting a topic that will be of interest to readers, a lot of time and research goes into gathering the information needed for an article. Sometimes we historians feel like detectives, trying to dig up clues on people and locations long gone.

There are libraries and museums to visit, conversations to have with local merchants and homeowners, and oral interviews with people who lived in the area for decades. The effort even requires calling and texting experts in their fields to find out more about the subject under study. Problems to solve include where to start, or who to contact that could answer questions – and the answers often lead to even more questions that need to be solved.

Not that historians complain about all this – it’s fun! And the answers, when we find them, often surprise us.

As a would-be historical detective in Inner Southeast Portland, I feel it’s time to include my readers in my latest quest, so come along and help me solve the next mystery, involving “The Inner Southeast Drinking Fountains”.

Recently I was reading an interesting article about the “Benson Bubblers of Portland” by respected historian Dan Haneckow, who runs a webpage entitled “Café Unknown” – which features numerous articles on Portland history. He’s an expert in his field, and goes to great lengths to research the articles he writes.

One of his essays centered on the drinking fountains of Portland. It explained how Simon Benson, the early local businessman and philanthropist, decided that the City of Portland needed drinking fountains on street corners to help thirsty Portlanders avoid the many taverns and saloons located around town. In 1912, he donated $10,000 to the city for the purchase and installation of twenty bronze drinking fountains to be positioned around the downtown area. These decorative four-bowled drinking fountains were designed by architect A. E. Doyle. Some of Doyle’s larger and more obvious architectural accomplishments have been the Multnomah County Library, and the majestic Multnomah Falls Lodge.

These public fountains were referred to as Benson Bubblers, in honor of Simons’ donation to the city (and dedication to sobriety). After the installation of his twenty bronze fountains, additional Benson Water Fountains were installed in the following years across the city by the Portland Water Bureau. These new additions were cast in bronze or copper, and were of the single-bowl variety.

This last point piqued my interest, as there are such water fountains in Inner Southeast – Sellwood, Westmoreland, Woodstock, Brooklyn, and Foster-Powell have bronze street water fountains, too. Were they ever a part Benson’s grand plan in the early 1900’s?

The public eventually took for granted these wonderful bronze fountains. In the ensuing decades, street fountains became neglected. Some were removed, as roadways were realigned during construction or widened, and not replaced. Others were vandalized or actually stolen.

Angered and appalled that some of these bronze beauties on city corners were missing parts or not working, in 1950 a tradesman and longshoreman – Francis J. Murnane – started a campaign to revitalize this part of Portland’s history. For the next six years, Murnane led a personal crusade, demanding as a taxpayer that the City of Portland repair damaged fountains and find new locations for fountains that had been removed for street repairs but not reinstalled.

The Portland City Council eventually conceded Murnane’s point and authorized repairs on the original twenty downtown Benson Bubblers. Additional single fountains, bronze replicas of the originals, were added along other downtown city blocks.  Documents from the City of Portland Archives revesal that, “Mayor Rushlight pledged to furnish free water and maintenance,” to existing water fountains.

Historian Haneckow added interesting information on his webpage on how readers can determine a replica from an original Benson Bubbler. He referred to a detailed map on the City of Portland’s website, showing where 80 Benson Bubblers are now located in the city. But, in identifying fountains installed on the east side of the Willamette River, that map appears incomplete. It seems to list only three bronze bubblers, and none are listed in the vicinity of Sellwood or Westmoreland.

This, my friends, was a crime – one that called for further investigation. My first train of thought was to get hold of a list of the drinking fountains from by the Portland Water Bureau, which after all is charged with maintaining all of them. On their website they boast that they maintain 52 of four-bowl Benson Bubblers, along with 74 single-bowl varieties, on a bi-weekly schedule – but their detailed map also seemed to be missing a few of the single-bronze fountains on the east side of the river. Have they forgotten some of them in Inner Southeast? Or have they stopped maintaining them?

Time to get out the Meerchaum Pipe and Deerstalker Hat, and do some detecting.

Currently there are three drinking fountains in Sellwood and Westmoreland which look much like the originals around City Hall and along the commercial districts downtown. One can be found at the corner of Milwaukie Avenue and Bybee, in front of Starbuck’s; another is on 13th Avenue at Spokane Street, near the Leipzig Tavern.

A third one is front of the Oaks Pioneer Church, the very historic white church at Grand and Spokane Street, and is now rented out for events by SMILE. The Oaks Pioneer Church is one of three buildings in the neighborhood that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The fountain at the church was installed just a few years after the it was barged down the Willamette River from where it was built in Milwaukie in the mid-1800’s, and hauled up Spokane Street to place where it sits today – on PP&R property. That fountain is still cleaned and maintained by the Portland Water Bureau.

There’s no mystery behind that water fountain – it’s definitely not a part of the original street fountains we are looking for, but certainly it is a replica. As for the other two I mentioned – they both appear to be bronze type that were installed years ago, but many questions remained. What year were they installed, and how might they be related to the Benson Bubblers that first appeared on Portland streets in the early 1900’s?

My first stop was again at the City of Portland Water Bureau, and this time in person. It’s situated in a large brick building in North Portland. There is a replica of a four-bowl Benson Bubbler there.

I spoke with Jaymee Cuti, Public Information Officer for the Water Bureau. She confirmed that indeed the Water Bureau does service the three drinking fountains I was asking about, but said that the Water Bureau doesn’t have any definite installation dates for those. Most of the records they do have only go back as far as 1972. She added that, in the decades that followed, more fountains were locally produced – some by the students of Benson High School, where there is a four-bowl fountain. This is one of the three that Haneckow’s website locates on the east side of the river. In addition to Benson High, the other two are on the Vera Katz East Bank Esplanade, and at 41st and S.E. Sandy Boulevard.

Maybe I was wrong? Perhaps the public fountains in the Sellwood-Westmoreland neighborhood aren’t as old as I thought. If only I could find historical photos of buildings where these fountains now stand! Well, the Sellwood-Westmoreland neighborhood association – SMILE – has a collection of historic photos painstakingly collected over the years. I made that my next stop.

The collection is kept in the basement of SMILE Station – a building that was once a firehouse, built in 1926 as Station 20, a fire company which is now located on Bybee Boulevard north of Westmoreland Park. SMILE Station was bought by the SMILE from the Fire Bureau, and is now maintained and rented for community events and meetings.

Lorraine Frye is Manager of the building, as well as the historic church on Spokane Street, and she directed me to binders full of historical information about the community which could provide a clue.

I did come across an old photo of the Griessen Building (where the Leipzig Tavern now stands), showing the Star Theater back in the 1920’s. In the front of the stone block building stood a proprietor, a woman, and a little girl on a tricycle. And on the corner of the sidewalk there was…nothing! No drinking fountain there.

Undeterred, I continued through the files until I came across a photo of the Westmoreland Drugstore in the 1930’s – today’s Starbucks. In the picture: Yes, there was a drinking fountain on the corner. But – the fountain is white, and not bronze, like Benson Bubblers. It’s a white porcelain fountain, such as were once common in elementary school hallways. How did THAT come to be there, and when was it installed?

My best bet might be to go over the thousands of pages of THE BEE, dating back to the newspaper’s origin in 1906, which I have read on a micro-fiche machine at Sellwood Branch Library. While doing that, I have copied down and collected an assortment of historical information which I keep in a black notebook in my own library. It was there I hoped to find a clue.

Sellwood had brief period as an independent city from 1887 to 1893, and then was incorporated into Portland. Sellwood and Westmoreland have had very active Business Associations, and this white street fountain could have been one of their projects.

For years, local businesses lobbied for the building of the Sellwood Bridge – and they got their bridge in 1925. They and other business associations around the city petitioned for paved roads, clean Bull Run water, and sewers, and they got them all from the City of Portland. So why would local businesses not ask that Inner Southeast locations not be included on the Benson Bubbler list too?

THE BEE’s archives provided an answer. The newspaper reported a list of goals of the Sellwood Trade Commission in 1913, and on that list was a request to the Portland City Council for the installation of a drinking fountain. I found more in the Portland City Archives: Prior the Portland Water Bureau, any matters dealing with drinking water and maintenance of city streets were overseen by a special committee appointed by the Mayor. The Mayor then decided what action, if any, needed to be taken.

I journeyed downtown and requested any available information on a public fountain having being installed along Milwaukie Avenue at 17th Avenue. A woman named Mary Hansen, who is the Reference Archivist for the City of Portland Archives and Records Center, briskly brought to my table four manila folders, and here is what they contained.

In 1946 the Water Bureau had no funds to install water features – but interested individuals, clubs, or merchants could send money to the City of Portland and have one installed at their own expense and in their desired location.

Howard W. Raabe, a Physical Education teacher and leader of a local health club, paid $250.00 for a public drinking fountain on the southeast corner of Powell Boulevard and Milwaukie Avenue. You can still find the fountain there in the Brooklyn neighborhood.

In 1968 the city requested an inventory of all city property – and the Office of Property Control was created, to document existing water fountains and other city real estate. One of the manila files revealed that a single white vitreous china water feature, mounted on a circular raised concrete foundation, was placed on the northwest corner of Milwaukie and Bybee Boulevard. Well, that was the wrong corner!

I interviewed local businessman Mr. Crantford, who for many years owned Crantford Flowers on that corner, where a yogurt shop is now located.  He thought there was a fountain in front of his store, donated by the Sellwood Moreland Lions Club sometime between 1948 and 1955. But, then, why did I find a photo of it in 1938 – and on the opposite corner to the south?

But back to those manila folders downtown. In another file I found out about another fountain. On March 27th, 1968, a bronze single-bowl drinking fountain was installed on the northeast corner of Umatilla and 13th in Sellwood. That would be where the Black Cat Tavern used to be located.

The files also included the mention of placing a fountain at that same location much earlier – when a petition by J. N. Roberts of Sellwood was presented to the City Council. The records stated that “the matter was referred to the Commissioner of Public Affairs, who recommended the petition be placed on file July 16th, 1913, and a fountain placed on the N.E. corner of Umatilla and 13th”. Nowaways there is no fountain on that corner.

About a fountain at S.E. 13th and Spokane – an inventory was taken on May 2nd, 1968, revealed that a single brass bubbler drinking fountain with a step (a standard water replacement fountains) was already installed on the northeast corner of Spokane and 13th Avenue. So that’s why I couldn’t find that one in front of the historical Star Theater photo from the History Committee; it apparently was really on the other side of the street. So in two cases in Sellwood and Westmorleand, city records conflict with local recollections – but the photos I found seem to provide evidence of where fountains actually were actually placed, if not always exactly when and why.

So, I would say, that case is more or less closed. The mystery of the missing Benson Bubblers has been solved, to the best of my ability and knowledge.

Westmorelanders and Sellwoodites should be proud that they had Portland’s first public Swimming pool; the first branch of the Multnomah County Library; the first local branch of the YMCA (today’s Sellwood Community House); the first Airplane Landing field (in Westmoreland – in what is now Westmoreland Park); and – at one time, just maybe – an original Benson Bubbler, on the neighborhood’s streets.

OMSI, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Maker Faire, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Adam Creighton, of ACE America, demonstrates a clean-burning fuel-flexible household cookstove – which also generates electricity! (Photo by David F. Ashton)

OMSI ‘Maker Faire’ fun not dampened by drizzle


Although it drizzled on Saturday and poured on Sunday – September 7 and 8 – that didn’t stop people from flocking to the “Mini Maker Faire”, an annual event at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI).

Set up on the north OMSI parking lot, the Portland Mini Maker Faire’s 100 exhibitors ran the gamut from low-tech – such as origami, knife forging, beekeeping, ice sculptures and blacksmithing – to high-tech, with demonstrations of a Tesla coil, 3D printing, and virtual reality.

“This is a celebration of do-it-yourself, learning, creating technology, and crafting,” grinned OMSI Events Manager Melony Beaird.

“It didn’t take long for our ‘Maker Faire’ to become a huge local event that embodies the true Portland spirit with its sheer variety of makers, from engineers to artists to scientists to crafters,” Beaird told THE BEE.

“The passion these ‘makers’ have for their hobbies, avocations, and businesses is obvious; and, they love sharing their know-how with guests – encouraging and inspiring visitors to try new things,” enthused Beaird.

Strolling over to an 800 gallon water tank set upon a 22-foot trailer, Beaird introduced us to a new feature this year – “Una the Mermaid” – who greeted us with a wave. “I’ve got to say, this is one of my favorite things this year,” she confided.

“It’s important for us to hold events like this, because this fair fosters OMSI’s mission of science, technology, math and arts education math,” explained Beaird. “Inspiring kids to get involved in science, especially through art projects, can be a way that makes technology feel more accessible to them.”

And, for adults, the Portland Mini Maker Fair is “the perfect place to let your ‘inner nerd’ come out to play and learn, no matter what your age.”

OMSI, as most know, is the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, on the east bank of the Willamette River, just north of the Ross Island Bridge and under the east end of the Marquam Bridge, on S.E. Water Street. See what’s happening at OMSI now, by going online –

Brooklyn Ice Cream Social, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Face painter Sophia Marie (at right) finished painting a customer under an umbrella, when midafternoon sprinkles appeared in Brooklyn Park. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Brooklyn celebrates 18th ‘Ice Cream Social in the Park’


The Brooklyn neighborhood wound up the summer on Sunday, September 8, with its 18th annual “Ice Cream Social in the Park”. The event is presented by the Brooklyn Action Corps neighborhood association, with help from volunteers. The dessert in question came in various flavors of ice cream bars were offered at 25 cents each, while Sara’s Tamales, billed as authentic Oxaca food, offered snacks that were a bit more substantial.

Kids lined up for balloon sculptures and the Polar Bear bouncy castle, while adults visited the various booths hosted by the Brooklyn Historical Society, the Community Garden, artisans offering homemade crafts, and a presence by various businesses. Music was again provided by the Yamhillbillies, and raffle items were provided by the B.A.C. and local businesses.

Neighbors chatted about all the new construction in the araea, coyotes, traffic, air quality, the homeless population, and crime. Residents along S.E. Pershing Street between 12th and 14th reported themselves pleased that the roadway has finally been revamped, after about half a dozen go-’rounds.

New businesses in the neighborhood with a presence included a new pizza parlor, Third Generation Herbal, and Rose City Martial Arts. It was also revealed that the US Bank branch at 3230 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue would be closing on December 3rd.

At a booth manned by the Friends of Brooklyn Park Summer Program THE BEE learned that this year’s program had indeed eventually been completely financed. Chairman Ben Tarne noted that the successful returnable can and bottle program that helped finance it would continue throughout the year, to get a head start on funds for the summer of 2020. “The large blue collecting bags are being given out at both Rose City Coffee and the Brooklyn Pharmacy, if anyone needs them,” he said. “We appreciate continued support.”

Sophia Marie of Sacred Muse Face Painting was the face painter at the Social – but a midafternoon rain shower put a damper on her services, although she persisted for a while under an umbrella. Nearby, balloon sculptor Scott Davis created multicolored balloon figures for a steady stream of kids. The Polar Bear air bouncer was abandoned in the rain, but Portland Fire Bureau sent Fire Truck #21, commanded by Capt. Ryan Minto, to the edge of the Park for an educational “Public Park Visit”.

In spite of a summer social being dampened by early fall rain showers, attendees were pleased to have attended the 19th annual end-of-summer Brooklyn celebration.

Duniway Elementary School, Eastmoreland, back to school picnic, Southeast Portland, Oregon
In the shade of the Reed College Place linden trees, hundreds of families gathered for this year’s Duniway Back-to-School Picnic. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Duniway School families picnic under the trees in August


What started as a celebration of Duniway Elementary School’s 90th anniversary, a few years ago, has morphed into an annual tradition – now called the “Duniway Elementary ‘Welcome Back to School’ Picnic”. This year, it took place on Monday, August 26.

“It’s amazing how the idea of holding a picnic before school starts has really caught on,” mused Principal Matt Goldstein. “It’s great to have everyone back, as summer ends.”

Families brought picnic suppers, met and mingled with classmates and teachers, and enjoyed live music – all in the shade of the Reed College Place’s Linden Allée trees.

“When we started it, for the school’s anniversary several years ago, we were surprised that families came to the celebration on the playground, even though it was 106° that afternoon!” recalled Duniway PTA Board Member, and picnic organizer, Jeannine Walker. “That’s why we moved it to the front of the school, along S.E. Reed College Place – closing the street, making it more like a block party.

“Since it’s now held in the cool of the shade, we have 500+ kids and their families coming out, just to be together,” Walker observed. “It’s fun, because we’re more than a neighborhood, we’re really a community – one which understands the specialness that we have here at Duniway.”

Brooklyn Park, water slide, summer program, Brooklyn neighborhood, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Assistant Park Director Miranda Roso, in the chair, monitored kids from the top of the Brooklyn Park water slide. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Brooklyn Park’s water slide draws a crowd in hot weather


Portland’s summer weather this year did not compare to the record-breaking 100+-degree temperatures in Europe at the same time. However, when the Brooklyn Park Water Slide made its debut on Friday, July 26, residents of all ages flocked to the park on Milwaukie Avenue in bathing suits to make the refreshing trip down the watery plastic surface on Brooklyn Park hill.

Park Director Craig Montag, in his 41st year of leading the popular summer program (now financed by the residents who formed “Friends of Brooklyn Park”), recalled that the water slide made its first appearance the summer of 1978. “We set it up just once a week, and only when temperatures rise over 90 degrees,” he said. “Kids and adults enjoy the thrill and the cool-down. It's a great ride.”

Assistant Park Director Miranda Roso, who herself enjoyed the activity when she was a kid told THE BEE, “Today there were up to 25 people waiting in line at the busiest times. The water is provided free by a generous neighbor, and sliders get wet in a spray at the top of the slide.”

Roso sat in a chair monitoring the line, encouraging sliders to space themselves, and to do their best and have fun. “The goal is to try to reach the bottom edge of the slide, which ends just short of the baseball field,” she explained. “Boys ages 8-12 seem to compete for the best strategies to go the farthest. Many take off at a run – diving onto their stomachs or spinning side to side to take advantage of the wettest spots. Many kids assist the younger ones with their first rides, or team up with friends.”

Parents lounged on chairs and benches at the top of the hill, relaxing while their kids made repeat treks back up the hill, and then down the slide again – or tried out the many other activities set up on the playground. Later, visitors also enjoyed the shade and cool breezes as sunset approached.

The Brooklyn Park Water Slide is a unique treat during hot summer days, and former participants now bring their own kids to enjoy the special Brooklyn summer tradition.

Styrofoam recycling, New Seasons Market, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Here are the members of New Seasons’ Seven-Corners store “Styro Team”. In the back row from left: Jen Hudson (“store floater”) and Kendra Sierralupe (Customer Service and Safety Specialist). Bottom row, from left: Jeremy Gambill (Customer Advocate), Grace Morgan (Operations Manager), and Zack Meyers (“store floater”). (Courtesy of Grace Morgan)

Southeast Styrofoam recycling effort yields 80 bags of the stuff


On Thursday August 29th a steady stream of people dropped off armloads and bags of block Styrofoam at the New Seasons “Seven Corners” (7C) Market just north of Brooklyn at S.E. 21st and Division Street. The monthly event, from 1 to 4 pm, was a huge success. Over eighty bags were filled in just three hours.

At the end of the day, Seven Corners New Seasons Store Manager, Joe McCarthy commented: “Holy cow! The dozens of phone calls and all of the mentions in various publications [THE BEE among them] worked! Thanks to everyone involved for ‘dialing this event up to 11’ and tolerating the squeaky noises of hundreds of blocks of Styrofoam! Great Work, StyroTeam!”

Grace Morgan, New Seasons Operation Manager, wrote in an e-mail afterwards, “The staff members from ‘7C’ were all part of our operations department and Green Team, which focus on sustainability efforts on a store level. It was definitely the biggest collection event we’ve ever had.”

People from all over Southeast and the Portland Metro area came to drop off the clean unwanted packaging pieces – grateful for the chance to get rid of Styrofoam as well as #6 plastics (including garden trays, clam shells – check the number – and meat and fish blue or white trays) which they’d been stashing in their garages, apartments, or backyards.

We cannot thank the ‘7C’ team [six staff from 7C and six staff from the main office] enough for coming through in this event with us. The extra labor, the expertise and the smiles made it all happen. Grace and her team really shined strong to our communities,” said Justin Rossman, Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator, New Seasons Market.

Because other Portland recyclers are no longer accepting Styrofoam, after the collection the plastics were taken to Agilyx in Tigard, the only company in the Metro area processing this type of plastic.

Agilyx appears to be a recycling company on the cutting edge, both nationally and internationally, in recycling plastics. Agilyx CFO Bill Cooper states online: “We break down [with heat] a single-use plastic [like Styrofoam] to the molecular level, and turn it into a poly usable product.”

“We are [thus] creating a new product that generates up to 70% less green gases than virgin materials,” says John Desmarteau, Agilyx Director of Business Development.  “We use a process called ‘pryolisis’, which is the heating up of plastic in the absence of oxygen. And the great thing about our process is we can accept materials that are contaminated by food, dirt, or agricultural products.”

There will be another New Seasons recycling event for Styrofoam and #6 plastics in October. The date, when it is determined, will be posted online –

In addition to their monthly recycling events, Rossman informs THE BEE that New Seasons will be soon join other area supermarkets in having permanent drop off boxes for filmy plastic bags at all of their stores. He adds, “These plastics will be sent to a company that makes eco-friendly composite decking from a blend of recycled wood and plastic film. Exciting!”

Movie in the Park, Brentwood Darlington, Ready Player One, Portland Parks Department, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Families settled down in Brentwood Park in July for an outdoor big-screen showing of the recent movie “Ready Player One”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Brentwood-Darlington fears latest ‘Movie in the Park’ may be their last


Families gathered in Brentwood Park on Friday evening, July 19, to enjoy a live rock band and free popcorn – then at dusk, a Portland Parks & Recreation “Movie in the Park” on a big outdoor screen.

Behind the scenes, Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association (BDNA) leaders said they felt mixed emotions – elated at seeing their community members come together for the movie; but fearful this could be their last one.

“The way it looks, it’s quite possible. If neighborhood associations really are to be de-funded by the City of Portland, this will be our last major summertime event,” remarked BDNA Chair Chelsea Powers. [See the “code change” headline story in the August BEE.]

“Thanks to fundraising efforts, we do have some resources to put on events; but, without liability insurance and support services from the city, we just won’t have ability to put on any of our neighborhood events, including our Hallowe’en themed ‘Spook-tacular’, our Fourth of July celebration, or our National Night Out gathering,” Powers said.

These larger events bring together neighbors who live in their neighborhood, Powers observed. “Just look at who is here, and you’ll see our incredibly diverse community represented here. These events are a great way for everyone to connect, no matter what their culture or background is.”

As the band “Soul Progression” played a mix of pop, rock, and blues, Lacye Sparkle was getting everyone swirling around in hula hoops.

“One of the very first ‘Movie in the Parks’, ever, took place, here at Brentwood Park,” pointed out BDNA Board Member, and the event’s organizer, Gail Kiley. “I am very happy that we’ve kept this tradition going. For many of our neighbors, this IS their outdoor summer entertainment – because so many families are working multiple jobs to survive.”

But, at least this summer, hundreds of families were set to have a wonderful time in Brentwood Park, as they settled in to watch the movie “Ready Player One” on the big screen.

REACH, help for seniors, yard cleanup, Southeast Portland, Oregon
The day started out with this yard looking like an “urban jungle”, too dense to penetrate – but volunteers shortly cleared the property of tall weeds and blackberry bushes. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘REACH Day’ helps Southeast Portland low-income seniors


As they have for a number of years, volunteers from REACH Community Development Corporation fanned out to assist four Inner Southeast Portland seniors or disabled homeowners with various free home repairs and yard maintenance services on a day in September, to help them remain safe in their homes.

This year’s “REACH Day” was Friday, September 13, and that day some 30 volunteers came together to assist four homeowners whose properties were facing current or pending property citations.

“We do this to help create housing stability, and to allow these individuals to ‘age in place’,” explained REACH Fundraising & Public Relations Manager Lauren Schmidt, as volunteers cleared vegetation from the back yard of a home on S.E. Lambert Street in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood.

“Volunteers tell us this is a great teambuilding opportunity for their own businesses, while making a real positive impact for a neighbor in the community,” Schmidt told THE BEE. “And, it’s rewarding to hear neighbors tell us how much it means to them for our help in clearing their yards, and making accessibility improvement.”

With the diligent work of the volunteers, work at the four selected sites was done before noon; these helpers then all adjourned to a local park to celebrate over lunch.

Learn more about the work of REACH by going online –

Nia exercise, new class, Woodstock Community Center, Woodstock neighborhood, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Emily Rome (in back), the Nia fitness instructor at the Woodstock Community Center, says, “Finding joy in movement is the secret to fitness.” (Courtesy of Emily Rome)

‘Nia’ – new fitness approach – debuts in Woodstock Community Center


“Nia” is a form of dance created in the 1980’s as a health and fitness alternative. Nia is a word probably suggested by the phrase, “Non-Impact Aerobics”, but is pronounced as if it were a person’s name.

Woodstock Community Center has seen many classes in fitness – from Tae Kwon Do to Zumba and Hula, all of them detailed in previous articles in THE BEE. But this one really is something new.

Nia features free movement and mind/body physical conditioning, accompanied by World Music.

On the first day of the new class – Tuesday, September 10th – Woodstock residents Misty Post and Becca Cooper emerged smiling after participating. “I have done a lot of modern and belly dancing, and I was looking for a chance to express myself more freely,” remarked Cooper. Both women agreed that Nia proved to be an energizing and exhilarating experience.

The Nia teacher at the Woodstock Community Center, Emily Rome (called “Em”), says “You don’t have to be a great dancer to enjoy Nia. Nia derives from forms such as modern dance, Tai Chi, and yoga.”

She says the physical benefits of Nia are many: “Nia will pump your heart, lubricate your joints, release your tension, enhance your balance, and tone your muscles. It will condition and enhance your mobility, agility, flexibility, strength, and stability.”

Besides the physical benefits, Rome emphasizes, “With Nia, you can dance away the stresses of the day. It helps to alleviate anxiety and balance the autonomic nervous system. It offers both a form and freedom.” She says dancers can add their personal style to movements, and follow what feels right for their bodies. 

The NIA Technique was created in 1983 in San Francisco by Debbie Rosas and Carlos AyaRosas. Nia Technique headquarters moved north to Portland in 1991, and is currently overseen by Debbie Rosas, CEO.

Woodstock instructor Rome, a Brentwood Darlington resident, tells THE BEE she loves to travel and experience different cultures and music, which informs her use of world music in the Nia class. And just last year she organized a “Wordly Travel Festival” that “encourages people who have never traveled to overcome their perceived barriers to travel and become inspired about international travel.”

This year that festival is on Saturday, November 16th, 2-10 p.m., in Northwest Portland at the Lucky Labrador Beer Hall NW, 1945 N.W. Quimby Street, and is open to the public. 

As for those new Nia classes at the Woodstock Community Center – they are Tuesdays at 9 a.m., and there is a $30/month charge (or $8 drop-in). Call the WCC at 503/823-3633 Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., to register, or to leave a message.

Maqrcus Whitman Elementary School, school cleanup, parents and volunteers, Southeast Potland, Oregon
In front of Marcus Whitman Elementary School, volunteers pulled weeds and cleaned the sidewalks. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Local schools groomed by volunteers for start of fall term


At many Inner Southeast Portland schools, on Saturday, August 24, parents and neighbors pitched in with PPS staff to spruce up their local schools for the new academic year.

At Woodstock Elementary School, more than two dozen volueers worked around the school’s grounds, pulling weeds and spreading mulch while others built new raised flower beds behind the building.

“Seeing people from our school family, and neighbors, coming out here to help this morning, is really rewarding,” grinned Woodstock Elementary School Principal Seth Johnson, speaking for all Principals experiencing the project. “It’s really powerful to see these families come out and giving up a beautiful Saturday morning is all about school and neighborhood pride.

“Their volunteer spirit really supports our teachers and students, making it possible for them to return to a neat and tidy school.”

Moon Festival, Woodstock Branch Library, Woodstock neighborhood, Southeast Portland, Oregon
During the first part of the traditional “Moon Festival” at the Woodstock Library, kids were decorating Chinese lanterns. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Chinese ‘Moon Fest’ again celebrated at Woodstock Library


Although the Chinese “Moon Festival” – also known as the “Mid-Autumn Festival” – traditionally falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, before autumn actually begins, and is celebrated on September 13 – for convenience in attending it was celebrated with both crafts and music on Saturday, September 14th, this year at the Woodstock Branch Library.

“We have two programs today,” announced library assistant Sally Li. “The first one is a craft program, in which children are making paper lanterns. These are very common, when we celebrate the Moon Festival – these are decorated with a fish, which represents prosperity in the Chinese culture.

“Another program will be a musical performance by the Orchid Trio, which will play both classical music and Chinese music, to celebrate,” Li told THE BEE.

We should report that the library also celebrated by serving slices of “Moon Cake”, traditionally made with bean flour dough, and filled with a variety of ingredients – including sesame, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and raisins.

“It’s an entire afternoon of celebration for the Chinese families,” Li smiled. “But, we welcome everyone to come to this – so people can come and learn about the Chinese culture. That is our intention in all we do, today.”

Southeast Events and Activities
Crafting Delicious Teas at Woodstock Library:
This free class for adults, 3 to 4:30 p.m. this afternoon, will help you craft teas and tisanes with fresh herbs from your garden, or with dried herbs to meet your own tastes and needs. You will taste a variety of teas and herbs, and discuss complementary tastes and a few common herbs. Participants will go home with a tea blend inspired by what they have learned in class. It’s free, but registration is required; register in the library or by calling 503/988-5123.

In Reed neighborhood this afternoon – “Fall Festivus”: Reedwood Friends Church starts what it hopes will become a new tradition this afternoon, 4-7 p.m., open to all on its front lawn at 2910 S.E. Steele Street, across from Reed College. Rain or shine, it’s “Fall Festivus” – featuring a chili cookoff, pumpkin carving for all ages, a bounce house, and a candy giveaway. Fun for all. For more information, call new pastor Mark Condo at 503/234-5017, or e-mail him –

Watch the Portland Marathon this morning in Inner Southeast:
The Portland Marathon enters Southeast over the Sellwood Bridge, and runs through Sellwood, Westmoreland, Eastmoreland, and Brooklyn this morning. It passes both upper Sellwood Park and Westmoreland Park – with one route then moving east on Bybee to Eastmoreland, while the other route directs runners through Westmoreland and Brooklyn on their way north across Powell Boulevard. Many competitors have their own campaign to raise funds for Special Olympics Oregon, as part of the day. The organizers have put out a call for neighborhoods to get involved, and cheer the participants along the route. Both the Marathon and Half Marathon will be mostly over by noon. More information is online –

“Blessing of the Animals” in Woodstock: The annual “Blessing of the Animals” takes place three different times this morning, for your convenience, at All Saints Episcopal Church, 4033 S.E. Woodstock Boulevard. Bring your pets to the 8:00 or 10:15 a.m. services for a special blessing – or, for a blessing on the lawn at noon. Treats for pets and humans. Children may bring stuffed animals if they wish. “All are welcome!”

“Salmon Celebration” today in Sellwood’s Johnson Creek Park: As the runners are traversing the Portland Marathon route through Westmoreland Park this year, be just south, where Crystal Springs Creek and Johnson Creek merge, to celebrate the salmon running their annual return through the only undammed, unpiped, salmon-bearing watershed in Portland. The 6th annual “Salmon Celebration will be hosted by the Native American Community Advisory Council, alongside a variety of participants who work to protect and enhance the health of this watershed, and its location this year is at Johnson Creek Park, in Sellwood at S.E. 21st Avenue and Clatsop Street. The day's events include a traditional Salmon Bake, Native American cultural sharing, and family-friendly activities.

For kids – “Legos @ the Woodstock Library”:
Kids age 5 to 11, bring your mad Lego skills to the Woodstock Branch Library, and let your imagination flow. You’ll help build a new structure to put on display. Bricks and supplies provided. Free. It’s 3:30-4:30 p.m. this afternoon; the library is on the corner of S.E. 49th and Woodstock Boulevard.

St. Anthony Church Fall Luncheon this morning:
St. Anthony Church, on S.E. 79th two blocks south of Powell, invites everyone to its 11:30 a.m. Fall Luncheon; the cost of lunch includes bingo, with “great prizes” to be awarded. The official address is 3720 S.E. 79th. For more information, call 503/504-1204.

Southeast bulky waste Cleanup Day, midday today:
The Creston-Kenilworth Neighborhood Assn. sponsors a bulky waste Cleanup Day 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today – open to all residents of Southeast Portland – at Tucker Maxon School, S.E. 28th Place at Holgate Boulevard. Bring all your bulky, hard-to-dispose-of household waste – scrap wood, yard debris, tires, unwanted furniture, small appliances, metal, paper, plastic, and glass. #6 plastics and #6 Styrofoam accepted, but must be separated out for recycling. There will also be a donation area to recycle reusable household items like furniture, kitchen tools, linens, clothes, and children’s toys, which will be donated to the Community Warehouse. PLEASE – NO FOOD WASTE, NO CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS, NO HAZARDOUS WASTE (aerosol cans, chemicals, batteries, toxins, herbicides, asbestos, fluorescent lights, etc.), AND NO LARGE APPLIANCES. Disposal fees: $20 for a load in a car or sedan; $30 for a medium load in a pickup; $40 for a large load in a van or large truck; larger loads negotiable on-site.

At Sellwood Library – Take Better Portraits:
Everyone wants to have great pictures of their loved ones, but it’s not possible to always have a professional photographer around. This free evening program is for adults, or anyone who wants to take better photos of people. In this class, Katelyn Patterson will show you how to improve your photography by looking for the best light, even in the most difficult situations; as well as how to make your subjects (or yourself) look their best. 6:30 to 7:15 this evening. Free, but registration is required; register in the library, or by calling 503/988-5123. The Sellwood Branch Library is on the corner of S.E. 13th and Bidwell Street.

Annual Fall Bazaar at Our Lady of Sorrows:
This annual fun fundraiser takes place at S.E. 52nd and Woodstock Boulevard, in the Our Lady of Sorrows gym, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, and tomorrow 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. See what great items the vendors are offering! And grab a bite to eat while you're at it.

Community Workshop on Vaccines, for adults: Do you have questions or concerns about your child’s vaccines?  Come to this workshop with “Boost Oregon”, and get answers without fear or judgment. “We do not tell parents what to do; we simply provide evidence-based information.” It’s in the Woodstock Branch Library, S.E. 49th and Woodstock Boulevard, 2-4 p.m., and it’s free.  

St. Anthony Church Bazaar, Bake Sale, and Raffle:
Today and tomorrow, starting at 9 a.m. each day, the annual St. Anthony Church Bazaar, Bake Sale, and Raffle takes place, with refreshments available. Vendors wanted! The address is 3720 S.E. 70th, two blocks south of Powell Boulevard. Runs through 5 p.m. today and 3 p.m. tomorrow. For more information, call 503/504-1204.

Woodstock Farmers Market's Hallowe’en Carnival:
The nonprofit Woodstock Farmers Market presents its 8th annual Hallowe’en Carnival during market hours today – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine. Bring your little superheroes, spiders, witches, and dragons! Free activities include costume parades at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. There will also be trick-or-treating with participating vendors, trick-or-treat bag decorating, face painting, photo booth, crafts, and live music. It all happens on the parking lot behind to Woodstock KeyBank on S.E. Woodstock Boulevard.

“Moreland Monster March” starts at 3 p.m.: Once again it’s time for the Hallowe’en “Moreland Monster March”, originated by two mothers eighteen years ago, first supported by SMILE, and now run every October by SMBA – the Sellwood Moreland Business Alliance. It’s free to all – kids and adults alike – either parading in Hallowe’en costumes or watching it all pass by. It starts at 3 p.m. sharp at Llweyllyn Elementary School at 6301 S.E. 14th Avenue at Tolman, and after marching east to Milwaukie, south to Bybee, and west to 14th, it returns north to the starting point at Llewellyn, for free snacks on the school playground, provided by SMBA merchants.
Portland Chamber Orchestra concert at Reed College: In Kaul Auditorium on the campus of Reed College, 3-5:30 p.m. this afternoon, the nonprofit Portland Chamber Orchestra begins its season with a “Classical Meets Jazz” concert, featuring Ken Peplowski, hailed by some as the greatest living jazz clarinetist. Two works by Aaron Copeland are among the highlights. For more information, and to buy tickets, go online –

Silent auction this afternoon to benefit preschool:
Nonprofit “Roots and Wings Preschool”, based at Moreland Presbyterian Church in Westmoreland, benefits from a silent auction to be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Pacific Dance Academy, 8050 S.E. 13th Avenue, Suite 101, in Sellwood. Proceeds are directed to scholarships and classroom enrichment. “Join school teachers, parents, and neighborhood supporters for a fun evening of dinner, drinks, free giveaways, and a silent auction just in time to pick up discounted treats and gifts for the Holiday Season. Roots and Wings is currently enrolling 3-5 year olds. More details online at –

Nonprofit “Taborspace” celebrates 3rd annual Gala: “Taborspace”, a widely used venue in Southeast Portland, is a community gathering place in the big stone church that anchors S.E. 55th and Belmont. During each week, more than 4,000 adults and children walk through its doors – for classes, meetings, and conversation. It’s partly funded by its annual “Gala”, which this year takes place 6-9 p.m. It’s described as “a delightful evening of conversation, music, and refreshments. And don’t forget the live and silent auctions, with more than 100 amazing items to consider.” Visit this website for tickets –


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