A Lesson on Community from my Cat Tabor

taborpics-001Nothing reminds me of spring more than Cricket doing her best pogo stick impression as she hops up and down, paws grasping at the door handle she so desperately wishes she could open.  For a mostly indoor cat, little Cricket is fearless outdoors, ambushing her large and savvy feline foes.  Her brother Tabor, on the other hand, is a strong muscular boy who communicates in high pitched soft chirps and holds a permanently alarmed look in his big round eyes.  Tabor is a true innocent; a sweetheart of a cat that loves to hug. (more…)

Cider tasting, costume contests, and more…

Get an early start on your Halloween celebrations this Friday at Mt. Scott Community Center’s Halloween Carnival.  The evening promises a haunted house, crafts, facepainting, creative costume prizes, bounce houses, bingo, indoor park & family swim.  The carnival is from 6-8 p.m. and it’s $3 per person or 4 canned food goods per person. Or tap yourself into an IPA pint while listening to Crooked Toad over at N.W.I.P.A. or singing karaoke at Dusty’s Bar and Grill.

 

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Foster Road’s Eight Most Dangerous Hotspots: Freddy’s @ 80th

The area around Fred Meyer, specifically the crossing near 80th Avenue, has been a concern for a lot of people for a long time. But those concerns were brought home for many on the night of November 1 2009, when Lindsay Leonard and Jessica Finlay were killed crossing Foster here. (more…)

Moon Cakes, Lanterns, and Lovers…

Each year, the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar marks the over 3000 year old Mid-Autumn festival. Families and friends reunite under a harvest moon, at its largest and brightest, and celebrate with moon cakes and tea.  It’s also a night for romance and wine under the moonlight.  If the stars have crossed and lovers are separated, they are connected in spirit by gazing at the moon in unison.  Children make colorful lanterns, setting them afloat on rivers.

This multicultural Asian celebration is full of folklore and interpretations.  It is told that messages were passed in moon cakes during the Chinese Rebellion of 1368, leading to the overthrow of their Mongol oppressors.  Another tale with many versions is of the lovely Chang’e, who sacrificially drank an immortality elixer, a gift from the queen of heaven to her hero husband, Hou Yi, for shooting down the suns that were burning the earth. Not wanting to be separated from Chang’e, her husband instead left the elixer in her safe keeping.  She drank it to keep it from being stolen and then floated away, becoming the goddess of moon where she landed to stay forever in the company of the Jade Rabbit.  It is the face of the Jade Rabbit’s that some see in the shadows of the moon.

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Upcycle Fair and Cartlandia Help Raise Over $300 for Green Lents Community Tool Library

Green Lents’ Upcycle Fair, hosted at Cartlandia on September 15, helped raise over $300 in an effort to benefit the community tool library in Lents.  Thanks to the artists that took part:  Midnight Pretty, Revolution Jewelry, Reconstructed Home, Staged by Page, and Island Inspired.

Rezone Project for SE 122nd Avenue up for Public Hearing

Borrowed from the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

While improvements to Foster Road continue to take center stage for many area residents, it certainly isn’t the only corridor in need of attention.  SE 122nd Avenue, from Powell to Foster, has long been identified as an underserved part of outer Southeast Portland, and one that is vital for the connectedness and sustainability of area neighborhoods.  A plan to rezonethis stretch of 122nd to promote more neighborhood-serving, commercial development goes to City Council this Wednesday, September 19.

Running the length of the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood, SE 122nd Avenue has been designated as a “main street” in Metro’s 2040 Concept Plan, and is envisioned as a “20-minute neighborhood” in the Portland Plan.  However, it is currently characterized by a mix of older, suburban style housing and newer, high-density residential complexes.  At this point, commercial development has stalled and not met the needs of the neighborhood, and many seek improved services, community health and sustainability, as outlined in the SE 122nd Pilot Project, which was endorsed in February, 2011.  Portions of this pilot will be implemented in the SE 122nd Avenue Rezone Project.  It is the recommended draft of this plan that will go to public hearing on Wednesday and seek amending to include safety improvements at the intersection of SE 122nd and Powell Blvd.

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Foster Streetscape Diary #1

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This is the first of a series of “Streetscape Diaries” that we hope will bring more people into the process of implementing the Foster Road Transportation and Streetscape Plan.

The streetscape plan is a comprehensive strategy for Foster Road from 50th to 90th Avenues. Street safety, lighting, biking, walking, and beautification are all covered. Although the plan was completed and approved by the City Council in 2003, it has taken the hard work of many neighborhood activists to move the plan toward implementation.

Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.
– Louis Brandeis

One of the things that led us to create Foster United was a desire to spread useful information to interested Fosterites. As Nick Falbo’s recent post demonstrates, understanding the processes that impact our area is not always easy, but we think that by sharing what we know, and encouraging our readers to do the same, we’ll all be better equipped to make positive change.

Foster United wants to crack open the secrecy that can sometimes surround public processes in Portland. As Justice Brandeis recognized almost a hundred years ago, for democracy to work, the public needs to know what the government is doing. Often, here on Foster Road, that knowledge has been sorely lacking.

A case in point: Over the last couple of weeks, rumors have been circulating about a new committee that the City’s Bureau of Transportation is assembling. As the group that will recommend a new Streetscape plan to the City Council, this committee will exert a powerful influence over what becomes of our street.

Sadly, no direct appeal for members has been issued to the community.

I recently discussed this issue with Tracy Gratto, former Chair of the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association and member of the original committee that drafted the now-discarded 2003 plan. No one in this area has been more active in advocating for the plan’s implementation over the last 10 years than Tracy.

She told me that not only had she not been approached about the committee, but that she and the rest of the Fo-po board had explicitly requested to be involved in the new plan. She also said that she signed up for the project mailing list at the PDC Open House in June but has heard nothing since.

After having a similar experience myself, I inquired directly to the City’s Project Manager Mauricio Leclerc and was told that I would not be considered for membership because of the “fairly large number of people already signed up.” Leclerc didn’t give any details about when and where these applicants signed up for the committee or why some citizens were given the opportunity and others not.

The City’s approach to membership on this committee is baffling to say the least.

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Street Seats: Could They Work on Foster?

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) recently unveiled a pilot program that will allow businesses to add outdoor seating in adjacent parking lanes, essentially replacing street parking with platformed “street seats.”  PBOT’s announcement of the program a couple weeks ago lacked splash, but the concept created intrigue and opened the door for new ideas and innovative uses for our city streets.

Although the idea has already been popularized in San Francisco, the pilot by PBOT marked a bold step in thinking outside of the box and maximizing the potential of our commercial districts.  And while kinks still need to be worked out, and only 15 businesses will be granted permits during the pilot, it could create a new wave in how we enjoy our urban environment. (more…)

Foster Crosswalk Action Recap

This gallery contains 6 photos.

On August 14th I spent a few hours after work crossing Foster Road back and forth from one side to the other. I did this again, and again, and again. It was part of a “Crosswalk Action” organized by the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition (WPC) in response to the unsafe conditions … Continue reading