Love, Grassroots, Local, Inspiration, Community

Our Southeast Division Weekend Quest 25-27, April 2014

By John O. Andersen, 27 April 2014

Love, Grassroots, Local, Inspiration, Community

That’s what we sought, and to a great degree found.

It was a staycation. We boarded a bus for a 44 minute ride. We got off in a downpour, but soon found our clean, warm, dry, and deliciously relaxing suite at the Clinton Street Guesthouse. It was the perfect lodging, and we really appreciated the breakfasts that always feature homemade dishes, and produce from local farms including the backyard.

The Southeast Division Corridor is in the midst of a great transformation. While on our day long neighborhood walking exploration, I found the following:

Over the next 20 years, Division Street between 11th and 60th will become a more pedestrian-friendly, economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable corridor. The street will evolve into a series of bustling commercial nodes–connected by tree-lined walkways, multifamily residences and thematic water features. The whole corridor will showcase energy efficient building design, innovative rainwater facilities and a vibrant local business spirit– while providing easy movement by all modes of transportation to, from, across, and along Division.—City of Portland Planning and Sustainability, February 2006, pg 7

The plan is to create 8 nodes of commercial activity along the corridor. These nodes are like villages that provide services to enable people in the neighborhood to get many if not all of their daily errands done by walking, cycling, or taking transit. We love that not because we are likely to move there, but rather the model it will be for other neighborhoods around Portland, and around the country.

Four inspirational findings:

  • Richmond Elementary School Garden and playground. One of the mothers told us about the garden, and the phenomenal Japanese immersion program. We were struck by the number of children playing in the school playground. They were doing unorganized sports, like I recall as a child. No adults directing, nor motivating. The adults I saw were all on bicycles; some with trailers towing toddlers. People were out enjoying the weather, and socializing. We found the recently completed Nature Walk on the north side of the parking lot a superb way to transform a space.
  • The Southeast Portland Tool Library had lots of people coming and going. Their website reads: >>We are a community resource that provides home owners and tenants with the tools they need to perform simple home maintenance, tend their yards and gardens, build furniture and projects – while along the way meeting and sharing with neighbors in this community sustainability project. We now have more than 2000 members, 1200 tools, and make about 8,000 loans each year. Really!<<
  • Lauretta Jeans Handmade pie. Very good.” Loved their chalkboard that lists the farms they source their ingredients from. Loved the fresh biscuit, the kale caesar salad, the herbed tomato soup, and the strawberry and rhubarb pie with homemade ice cream.
  • Peoples Food Co-op always makes me feel good inside. It’s about empowerment. It’s about food awareness in action. We enjoyed sitting in there for most of an hour. I anticipate soon getting involved in a local movement to start a food co-op in one of the neediest neighborhoods in the Portland metro area. People’s is my inspiration.


We walked slowly throughout the day. By the time we got back to the B&B, we’d gone probably 3-4 miles. Mandy took a couple hundred photos. So yes, we walked verrrry slowly.

But it was excellent. The weather mostly cooperated, and we gained a great deal of depth in our understanding of the neighborhood.

Next hyperlocal staycation neighborhood? Probably Northeast Alberta in July.



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