This weekend

SATURDAY

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It’s the first annual seed swap from  Grow Portland. “Share extra seed you have saved in your garden with others and discover new varieties. Local gardeners and farmers will have the opportunity to learn about seed saving and take home free seed.” 

Midland Library, 805 SE 122nd Ave * 1 pm * free

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“The Aarun & Jonathan Country Band play traditional, original & more featuring a national fiddle champion!”

O’Neill Public House, 6000 NE Glisan * 9:30 pm * free

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Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley invites his constituents to a town hall meeting (invitation) in East Portland. “Senator Merkley will update constituents on his work in Washington, D.C. and answer their questions and invite their suggestions about how to tackle the challenges facing Oregon and America. Also, if you are running into red tape accessing veterans’ benefits or dealing with Social Security or Medicare, or having trouble getting what you need from other federal agencies, I will have a constituent services worker on hand who may be able to help.”

Franklin High School Cafeteria, 3905 SE 91st Ave * 2:30 pm * free

SUNDAY

There’s another awesome presentation at the Midland Library this weekend. To honor Black History Month is a presentation called The Underground Railroad:From Tragedy to Triumph. Register here. Presented by Dr. William Thierfelder.

Midland Library, 805 SE 122nd Ave * 2 pm – 3:30 pm * free

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I’d love to promote your awesome organization’s events as much as I promote the happenings at Milepost 5 Theater (where I live and serve on the board). Sunday evening is a free double feature brought to you by Psychedelic Psynema (FB event) featuring sci-fi classics The Empire Strikes back (6 pm) and Flash Gordon (8 pm). It’s a casual, family-friendly event, that should be a lot of fun.

8155 NE Oregon St * free

Homeless activists offer training for shelter volunteers, call for neighborhood-based shelters

East Portland needs more emergency shelter space and volunteers staff, said Pastor Steve Kimes, who helps organize an emergency warming shelter at Anawim Christian Community, located at 196th and Glisan.

Kimes is offering a two-hour training for volunteers to staff warming shelters on Thursday 1/26 (FB event) at East County Church of Christ. He organized the training after the City of Portland offered to open community centers as warming shelters during the recent cold weather snap if neighborhoods could staff them.

Due to the sub-freezing temperatures and foot of snow Portland was hit with earlier this month, five people have died on Portland’s streets this winter— and there are many months until the potential for dangerously cold weather passes.

The city opens warming shelters when the temperature drops below freezing, but you’ll notice on the map below that most are located in downtown, closer-in Portland or in far East County and Gresham. (Taken from 211 data, the interactive map where the image below was sourced is regularly updated during severe weather.)

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Jennie Shaver, who heads Montavilla Neighborhood Association‘s committee on Housing and Homelessness, said the City expected a lot from neighbors on short notice. Along with providing volunteers, neighbors had to have a security guard and a manager with paid experience working with the homeless. Shaver said she has lots of experience working with the homeless, but none of it paid.

When she realized the community center wasn’t an option, Shaver reached out to Saints Peter and Paul Episcopal Church, where she volunteers with Rahab Sisters, a women’s support organization. The church deacon made an emergency decision to host the shelter.

Only Mt. Scott Community Center met the City’s criteria and opened as a warming shelter, she said, and American Legion Post 134 on Alberta Street hosted a shelter as well.

Peter and Paul’s has been wanting to offer more services to the community, but Mak Kastelic, director of music ministry and church building curator, said they just didn’t have the resources. “But to have the neighborhood come in with its own energy, organization, and people, it was perfect,” he said. “At least we have the building.”

The entire shelter was organized in 36 hours, Shaver said. When the call for help was put out, 60 volunteers stepped up at the end of the first day, the schedule organized with a Google doc. At the end of the fourth night of having the shelter open, 80 blankets had been donated, along with supplies and every bite of food to feed about 40 guests a night.

Organizers tried to have three volunteers on site throughout the night, and each started their shift with a ten minute orientation. Homeless folks were dropped off by the police and fire department, and the shelter was listed on 211. Generally, everything ran pretty smooth, Shaver said, crediting community volunteers.

Shaver sounded disappointed with the City of Portland’s efforts. She said they didn’t help with community outreach, they just made demands. And when the volunteers asked for bus tickets to help their guests the next day, they were denied.

In the four years he’s been living in the neighborhood, Kastelic said he’s been impressed with what the Montavilla neighborhood can accomplish, and he points to the organizing of the warming shelter is another example of that.

The church plans on being available as a warming shelter regularly, and is also considering hosting a cooling shelter in the summer. Kastelic credits neighborhood leaders Ben Kerensa and Shaver for doing the heavy lifting to make the shelter happen, and says the church needs do more planning to be prepared for next time.

Kastelic also said it blows his mind that there isn’t more shelter capacity in Montavilla. Now that their shelter is closed, people have to go all the way across town to  find a bed.

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Back before the call to staff warming shelters went out from the City and there was still a foot of snow on the ground, I called the churches hosting warming shelters, hoping to learn what they did to be approved to host one. I didn’t get reach anyone immediately at Anawin or Imago Dei Community, but when I called American Legion Post 134 the phone was answered on the second ring.

I asked Seth Grant, who served as a medic when he was enlisted and volunteers at the post, if there were any issues with insurance or government permits that they had to work through before opening their doors.

“Nah, we just did it,” Grant said casually.

They opened the shelter Wednesday, 1/4 with volunteers from the neighborhood as well as veterans. He said there were some problems expected when you put people with drugs and psycho-social issues in a cramped space, but he said the military mindset worked in their favor.

“You have to address it directly. You’re in our house,” Grant said about stopping an argument between two guests. He told them: “You can tame your shit or hit the bricks.”

A few city and fire department officials came by to inspect their building, and Grant said the fire marshal installed the required smoke alarms herself. A mental health care provider gave the shelter’s volunteers, who were mostly veterans, a crash course on how to identify and manage people with mental illnesses. He said they hadn’t reached out to learn how the shelter impacts their insurance, but would at some point.

Along with the warming shelter, Grant said they’ve pushed out several pickup trucks full of clothes for residents of Bud Clark Commons. With movies playing and a bar, the environment is unlike most shelters, he said.

The service work has been therapeutic for the veterans as well as the guests. After combat, it’s hard for veterans to recreate their tribe and purpose that was once so clear in a war zone. Service work gives them that, Grant said.

“We took a vow to serve country. Just because the [military] unit is gone, it doesn’t take the desire to serve,” Grant said. “Why aren’t others [legion halls] doing this, and churches, whose base tenant take care of fellow man, why aren’t they doing this? We are one of few non-city resources doing this… it’s unacceptable.”

Somewhere between inspiring and shaming, Grant said we can get more groups stepping up to serve the community.

Post 134’s mission statement, and home to this amazing image:

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Mike Pullen, communications coordinator for Multnomah County, wrote that no one is turned away from shelters in severe weather— even if they have to be transported to another shelter with available space. On the night of Sunday 1/15, he said they had a record 807 people in warming shelters overnight, and that’s over and above the 1,200 beds in our year round and winter shelters.
He wrote: “We prefer to use spaces that have already been approved as shelters, because it is faster and more efficient to bring them on line. These include churches and fraternal halls and public buildings. Basically, they need to be safe for large groups to overnight in, so the fire marshal needs to do a walk through to check fire exits and our staff make sure that bathrooms are sufficient and in working order.”
The training Kimes is hosting will give volunteers what they need to know to volunteer a shelter, and it will also go through the basics on how an organization can host a emergency shelter. Kimes has been hosting a emergency shelter in Gresham for five years. He said it took them about a year to work through the process to get opened.
From conversations with other organizations, he said that Gresham’s permitting is more involved, but with Portland, it’s less clear what’s expected. Kimes said organizations need to be persistent, and that he thinks both Gresham and Portland are willing to work with those wanting to host a emergency shelter.
If neighbors can’t make the training Thursday, Kimes said he’d be willing to host another if the interest is there. The best advice he’d give to volunteers of a shelter: keep a positive attitude and show the guest respect. On the church’s web page is a four-part series called Intro to Help the Homeless, presented by Kimes, who has been working with the homeless for 22 years.

This weekend

What an amazing display of neighborliness and organization last weekend!

I don’t know what it took to overcome all the barriers to making the warming shelter at St. Peter and Paul Episcopal Church, but I know compassion and coordination won the day.

These are the stories that need telling. These are the stories I want to tell. Thanks to all who made it work, I look forward to learning how it got done soon.

FRIDAY

Where’s the live music in East Portland neighbors? I must admit I haven’t explored too far beyond Montavilla, but there are still some awesome venues nearby: Montavilla Station (their show listing’s aren’t online), The O’Neill Public House, and Duff’s Garage. They each have their own flavor, with blues, rock, and Americana a common find.

Johnny Cash tribute band Counterfeit Cash plays O’Neill Friday. 6000 NE Glisan * 9:30 pm * free 

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Dr. Strange is a Marvel Comics romp into the mystic. One Rotten Tomato reviewer calls it Harry Potter for adults, and it stars Benedict Cumberbatch, an actor who seems to pick projects well. Six other second run films are on at Academy Theater (movie times), and also classic horror film The Blob (1958).

7818 SE Stark * adults $4; seniors, kids $3

SATURDAY

East Portland Neighborhood Office is hosting a Earthquake / Severe Weather Preparedness Forum. “The panel members will include the American Red Cross,  Portland Fire and Rescue, and Portland Bureau of Emergency Preparedness.  There will be information sharing and questions/comments from the audience will be received and discussed.”

Savage Memorial Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, SE 139th and SE Mill St * 10 am – 2 pm * free

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This looks fantastic: Fox and Rabbit, an original mini-musical by Penny’s Puppet Productions at Midland Library.

805 SE 122nd Ave * 2 pm * free

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SUNDAY

Planting a Terrarium at Portland Nursery: “Create your own arrangement from our glass vessels and plant selection in this hands-on workshop. Get guidance from Portland Nursery staff member, Cait, on how to select a combination based on plant needs and aesthetics, and learn how to plant them together in a vessel. Go home with tips on keeping your creation healthy and happy.” Register here.

9000 SE Division * 11 am – 12:30 pm  * $30

This weekend

Announced Thursday 1/12, the city is offering community centers (like the one at 82nd & Glisan) to be used as warming shelters if neighbors can volunteer to staff them. As you can see from the map below, there aren’t places to go anywhere near Montavilla. If you’d like to sign up for a shift, register here.

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If you see someone who looks unprepared for the cold, county officials encourage you to call 503-823-3333, or 911 if the situation looks dire.

Last night at about 11:30 pm, beds was still available in East County shelters, according to a regularly-updated map pulled from 211 data. All the west side shelters were full.

As I warmed up after the commute home it was a relief knowing warm beds were available, but it would be nice to have opportunities closer to the neighborhood.

FRIDAY

All original Americana with Radio Giants @ 9 pm; Warthog Stew 6 pm – 8 pm.

Duff’s Garage, 2530 NE 82nd Ave * ???

SATURDAY

There were several days of service planned to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. around town, including an event planned for the Columbia Children’s Aboretum, but they’ve been cancelled due to the winter weather.

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I’ve never seen this, or even stepped foot inside Mall 205 actually, but it looks pretty cool. All American Magic and Ventriloquist Show.

9994 SE Washington St * 1:30 pm doors, 2 pm show * $14 GA, $48 for 5

SUNDAY

Sunday is a Montavilla Farmers Market Winter Stock-Up market. MFM offers Double Up Food Bucks for all EBT shoppers. Spend $10 in EBT funds at the market and you’ll get an extra $10 to spend. 

Sunday is also the last day to submit a resume for MFM’s part-time Financial & Volunteer Coordinator position.

7700 block of SE Stark St, in the gravel lot across the street from Mr. Plywood * 11 am – 1 pm 

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“Love Chinese dim sum? Then you will love mantou! Come and learn how to make mantou (Chinese steamed buns) with Ashley Xu. Samples and instructions will be provided.” Register here, it’s required.

Holgate Library, 7905 SE Holgate Blvd * 3:30 4:30 pm * free 

This weekend

My body is warm, but my spirit is still chilled by the cold-related death of 51-year-old Mark Elliot Johnson earlier this week. He died on a sidewalk in front of a business near 99th and East Burnside, not far from the eastern boundary of our Montavilla neighborhood.

It seems like it would be so simple to just open the doors of churches and community centers, but, for whatever reason, we don’t have warming options in or near Montavilla right now. I’ve been reaching out to churches and non-profits to learn more about their community service, and the cold temperatures and tragic death of Mark Johnson definitely highlights the need for a closer look at what’s available— and what it takes to provide more.

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Also the Montavilla Farmers Market is hiring a part-time financial & volunteer coordinator!
SATURDAY 

We’ll be opening the doors to the cafe / workspace at Milepost 5 today from 8 am – 1 pm. There’ll be $1 coffee and tea, and space to work on art. It’s mainly for residents, but part of MP5’s mission is outreach (I’m on the board), so feel free to come by and say hello. I’ll be hosting… cafe entrance on Oregon St. just west of 82nd

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At The O’Neil Public House from 6 pm – 8 pm: “If Florence & The Machine and Alabama Shakes had a baby, Kaiya On The Mountain would be their love child. This youthful band has the music, the energy and the looks to back up their passion to put on an unforgettable show and they’re all no older than 21. So if you like alternative folk music with a southern flare, stick around. You might just fall in love.”  From 9:30 pm – 1 am: gritty roots rock with Gravel6000 NE Glisan St * 6 pm – 8 pm * free

SUNDAY

The Montavilla Neighborhood Association Housing & Homelessness committee met Tuesday, and it’s good to see neighbors getting organized to help. The Hot Meal + Cold Weather Supply Share is an opportunity to help in the neighborhood. west side of NE 82nd, just north of the overpass, across from the 82nd Ave Max stop * noon – 3 pm 

This weekend!

FRIDAY

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Roscoe’s is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this weekend! There will be special beers on tap (FB invitation with beer list)), and they will be giving away new 10th anniversary t-shirts. The party kicks off Friday @ 2 pm and runs through 1/1/17.

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Copper & Crow are at O’Neill Public House. Their first single “Love Wins in the End” is a nice sentiment to carry into the new year. 6000 NE Glisan St * 9:30 pm * free

SATURDAY

I thought it would be fun to do a lap around downtown Montavilla to see if any of the businesses has anything special planned for NYE It was fun: I bought a sticker from Montavilla Brew Works, had some kung pow tofu from Chinese Village, got to see the disco room on a short tour of Portland Tub & Tan, and sang some Bill Withers at Montavilla Station.

It’s business as usual at most restaurants and bars in the area, but Montavilla Station will have a champagne toast, party hats, and noise makers for their guests. Oh yeah. Bolt Upright, a rockin’ blues band, will be playing live. 417 SE 80th Ave * 9 pm? * free

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At Duff’s Garage for NYE: Ben Rice Colossal Group and Sister Mercy featuring April Brown. 2530 NE 82nd Ave *7 pm doors, 9 pm show *$12 w/ reserved table, $10 general admission

The new website is compete, so look forward to some new happenings early in the new year. Happy 2017!

This weekend

In this season of giving, it was nice to see the Montavilla Neighborhood Association approve $800 for two of the neighborhood’s struggling families this week.

With two free stores in East Portland Saturday, and a Friday food pantry at Highland Church (on Glisan, from 76th – 78th), and word that MNA board member serves at a local shelter… I’m grateful for the generosity of our neighbors and wonder what else is available.

Are you part of, or know of, a church or organization offering assistance to those in need? I’ll be reaching out to churches this week to see what’s available, and it’s be good to get a head start from readers.

FRIDAY 

In these days of winter weather and frozen streets, it’s a good time to explore your neighborhood venues.

It’s always a rowdy good time at Monavilla Station. On Friday Frankie West is on the stage, underneath the dangling musical instruments and 45 records. 417 SE 80th Ave * 9 pm? * free 

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St. Peter and Paul Church is hosting the Occupy PDX free store. *** because of the weather, the free store has been moved to Tuesday, 1 pm – 3 pm *** They’ll have free gift wrapping and are serving a free lunch the flyer says: “Occupy PDX Free Store: Bring / take home gifts / clothes / gloves / books / CDs DVDs / vinyl / gift soaps / games / toys / housewares / stuffed animals / coats. No $$ No Barter.” 247 SE 82nd Ave * 1 – 3 pm * free

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Lents Free Store, recently celebrating its first anniversary, is open Saturday. They’ve been open nearly every month and have distributed about 16,000 articles of clothing, according to this nice story in East PDX News. Pilgrim Lutheran Church, 4244 SE 91st Ave * noon – 2 pm * free

SUNDAY 

Montavilla “Winter Stock Up” Farmers Market “Winter is on its way here but it doesn’t mean Montavilla’s farmers market is on its way out! The two hour stock-up markets are here for you and the vendors you love with an extended season for shopping farm direct and local throughout the winter” 7600 block of SE Stark Street in the gravel lot across from Mr. Plywood * 11 am – 1 pm 

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There’s a free showing of Elf at Academy Theater! It’s the last event of Frosty Fest and also the last day to vote for your Favorite Window Display on the Montavilla East Tabor Business Association Facebook page. METBA is also collecting winter clothes for JOIN. 7818 SE Stark * 5 pm * free