National Night Out is Tomorrow, Which Means Party at Kern Park

For the neighborly of you…come visit with those you know, get to know those that you don’t.

Also, a challenge: invite someone that might not already know about this event. It could be the old lady across the street with no internet, the up-to-no-good kids who otherwise just need something to do, the yuppie couple who may be too hesitant to join in with the commoners, or the non-English speaking family around the corner. Shit, invite the scrap metal collectors, too.

Tomorrow, 6:30 – 8:30.

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Happy Weekend, Foster People!

Well, July is going out with a bang. I guess we could have seen this coming back in February, though, when it was abnormally dry and warm; again in May when it was already touching 90 degrees; and then in June when we probably should have just thrown up our hands and cried, “Uncle, we give up.” Hopefully you all find a way to stay cool this weekend.

Here are your weekend tidbits…

– Not only is it hot, hot, hot, but our little stretch of Foster tends to be a little warmer than the rest of the city. In a recent PSU study, it was found that certain pockets of the city retain and give off more heat than others. For example, shady areas (Forest Park, Laurelhurst, etc) versus low-rise neighborhoods with wide streets and little tree canopy. So it’s no surprise that Foster ranks up there. But a KPTV article yesterday pointed out that the intersection of Foster and 82nd is one of the hottest locations in the entire city. Sheesh, that intersection just can’t catch a break.

– Kern Park is the place to be this Tuesday (and every first Tuesday in August, for that matter). The annual National Night Out party starts at 6:30 with live music, vendors, and a gay ol’ time. It’s always nice to see the neighborhood rally around this event. And if you’re feeling down about the package thefts, tire slashings, and recent uptick in tweakers and scrappers scouring the neighborhood, this will be a refreshing reminder that we have a strong community with a lot of positive energy.

– Speaking of parties in the park, there will be no Fun on Foster this year. Not in Laurelwood Park, not on Foster. Not that expectations are very high for this event—little promotion went into last year’s event, and the year before saw heavy rains lead to its cancellation—but it is something that helps raise awareness for and promote the business district. Just last week, Lents put on a rad Street Fair that showed what such an event can do to bring a neighborhood together and promote the business district. By not having one to show off Foster, we’re missing an opportunity. With that being said, the Foster Area Business Association’s passing on the event this year isn’t out of lack of interest, or so we’re told. Rather, organizers want to make sure the event isn’t some ho-hum, loosely-knit gathering that doesn’t properly excite folks inside the neighborhood or out. In theory, holding off for a year gives the Business Association ample time to make the next Foster festival something worth getting excited over. In its place? We’re told that there will be a holiday tree-lighting in Laurelwood Park. We don’t know the extent of the lighting—whether one tree, multiple, or if there will be revelry involved—but illuminating that park could make for something really special. Cheers to that.

– World Famous Cannabis Café to celebrate its grand opening on Foster this afternoon.

– I imagine this next tidbit will be of particular interest to the parents of you. Pieper Café is now serving beer, with wine not far behind. With a lack of kid-friendly places to have a drink on Foster, this is good news. Not that we encourage drinking and parenting (actually, we embrace it), but you get the point.

– And speaking of drinking, Double Treble is supposed to open this weekend in the former Gemini Lounge space. Expect motorcycles.

– Apparently SE 62nd Avenue is too far east in the eyes of Car2Go. In a cost-cutting measure, the car sharing company will only be sharing if you live in the central core of the city. In other words, not in St. Johns, not east of 60th – 62nd. Talk about dividing a neighborhood—that about splits two-thirds of the neighborhood out of the market. Way to go, Car2Go.

– Instead of individually listing all the bars that have music (hint: O’Malley’s and Starday) and trivia and karaoke and grand openings, and all the rad shops that are deserving of your patronage, we’re just gonna say this: go support your Foster area businesses. Seriously, like, do it. Not all, just your favorites. And feel free to branch out a little. It’s not just good for the folks who’ve taken a gamble by opening businesses on Foster, but it makes our neighborhood and commercial corridor more vibrant and sustainable.

Enjoy the weekend, good people. Stay cool.

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Po’ Rising

IMG_1513Ok, we admit that some of our other boundary lines get a little overlooked at times. Well, most of the time. Nothing against Powell and 82nd; we just really, really like Foster.

Our north and eastern borders deserve some love, too. And since we brought up some future transportation changes on Powell yesterday, we thought we’d give another shout out to FoPo’s “Po” today. (82nd is next.)

There are a lot of things that Powell isn’t: pedestrian friendly, calm, pretty to look at, conducive to building  a community. There are, however, a lot of things that Powell has going for it, most of which probably gets overlooked because of the above.

screen-shot-2014-09-11-at-3-58-06-pmIn the 30+ blocks that Powell makes FoPo home, we have a diverse offering of restaurants, a garden nursery, office buildings, a community garden, a tree-lined thoroughfare, coffee (and comic) shop, multi-unit housing, and a bus line that gets people downtown in easy order. There’s also shopping (at the 82nd Avenue shopping center, and the various retail spots along the stretch), dental facilities, insurance, a tienda, and a fish monger. If it weren’t for the constant flow of fast-moving cars, very few opportunities for safe pedestrian crossings (and lighting for those walking at night), and little design in place to engage people IMG_1516beyond just driving through, you’d almost think Powell has everything you need. In many ways it does, though; it just doesn’t feel accessible or particularly alluring. Powell almost does a better job separating Foster-Powell from South Tabor than it does to draw the respective neighborhoods together.

So here we are, straying from our Foster love affair, encouraging you to give Powell a shot. And if you already are, let us know your favorite ways to enjoy it.

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Potential Development to be Spurred by Powell/Division Transit Project

Powell-Division Transit and Development Project:

Powell-Division Transit and Development Project:

Maybe you’ve heard by now, or maybe you haven’t—there will someday soon be improved transit infrastructure along SE Powell and Division. What those improvements look like are still being hashed out by much smarter and higher paid people than us. But one thing does seem pretty likely: a faster, nicer, and more rider-friendly bus system could be running down Powell in the next five years.

We know Foster gets most (all) of our attention, and with that comes a heavy focus (obsession, deep yearning and impatience) on the future Foster Streetscape Plan. But our northern border is in line for some cool improvements, too. Of which, there should be faster bus service, an attempt to make travel conditions safer for all, and, likely, some level of development interest as a result.

Powell-Division Transit and Development Project:

Powell-Division Transit and Development Project:

Without digging too much into potential plans on the table (you can read about them here), we thought we’d skip right to what caught our attention during our evening reading: potential development along specific nodes. Now, to be sure, this is not a Foster-Powell project. In theory, it is an East Portland project meant to provide better access to folks more cut-off from services and amenities that are more abundant west of I-205. (About time, right?) Realistically, though, inner-Portland is getting just as much out of this project. For example, another tool to lure developers; pretty-fication of Powell Boulevard; another way to rally around PCC and the Jade District. There are several nodes along the route that the project will focus on, with future development being part of the plan. With this in mind, we took a look at what one of the nodes in our neighborhood looked like. That node is where Foster splits off of Powell, and Metro’s action plan document has a cool rendering of it.

Powell-Division Transit and Development Project:

Powell-Division Transit and Development Project:

The following image shows what this particular node will look like if the new rapid transit (if constructed) leads to basic investment, as well as what a greater investment scenario would look like. The basic investment scenario takes advantage of the wide and curving sidewalk where Foster splits from Powell. By adding trees and sidewalk seating, Foster, at the least, gets a nicer entryway. In the scenario where the project lures greater investment, that corner would see mixed-use development and the addition of bike racks, too. Now scroll to the top of this post. The first image we posted is a close-up of what the latter investment scenario would look like.

Not too shabby. A little hard to picture under current conditions, but a definite shift from the car-centered node that does little to promote walking, biking, and interaction with the environment.

Again, this is all theoretical. The planning for the Powell-Division Transit & Development Project is ongoing. For more information on the project, go to this website:

* All images were taken from the Steering Committee Review Draft of the Powell-Division Transit and Development Project.

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Happy Weekend, Foster People!

We only have a week left in July. Madness. And we know August will zoom by just as quickly, so make sure you’re getting your fill of summer activities. The weather turns gray and wet by tomorrow, but only in time to cool things down before another stretch of mid-90’s heat.

Here are your weekend tidbits…

– So the Portland Mercado is finding their first stumbling block. Within a couple-day span, two of the businesses inside the market hall have announced their departure. Revolucion Coffee has already packed up and ended their operation; El Carnicero will be next, as this weekend will be their last serving up tasty meets in the butcher shop. Why is this a stumbling block for the Mercado? Not enough business is being directed inside. Sure, we’ve all seen the lines for food outside. But inside? Foot traffic has mostly been represented by people perusing, not buying. Kaah Market seems to be doing ok, but Revolucion Coffee and El Carnicero did not get the business their products warranted. Some of that blame falls on us, though…we need to be supporting the businesses we want in the neighborhood. Ditto for the rest of the businesses on Foster. Support local, y’all.

– Don’t forget that the first Tuesday of August (this year it’s the 4th) is National Night Out, which also means it’s the neighborhood’s big party night in Kern Park. This year will bring the band When We Met, who will play live on the blacktop; vendors; face-painting; and fun for the whole family. Tuesday, August 4, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

– Fun / Fuck

– Ok, we won’t just leave it at that. If you’re curious what Fun/Fuck is, check out Performance Works NW tonight at 8 and/or 9 pm. Linda Austin is doing some pretty amazing things over there, and she’ll soon be celebrating 15 years of running Performance Works NW…right here in the neighborhood. 15 years! So that means if you haven’t checked them out yet, you’re about 15 years behind.

– Neighborhood food news:
* Bar Maven has a new rotating “special menu” that should entice the foodies of you. (Or the drinkers of you who like good food. Either one.) Every other Thursday and Friday will bring a new menu that surely should appeal to those who secretly or loudly yearn for more food variety on Foster. For example: fried crab and risotto cakes, pistachio encrusted lamb and Israeli couscous, and grilled mushroom sliders.
* Also, An Xuyen landed the number one spot on Eater PDX’s list of Top Ten Cheap Eats in the city.
* Midpoint Food and Drink doesn’t get nearly enough hype in the neighborhood. If you haven’t been and need a reason, they have 2-fo-1 vouchers via Portland Mercury’s Merc Perks.

– Other weekend entertainment:
FoPo Tavern- standup comedy, Friday night; live DJ dance party, Saturday night
O’Malley’s- big show Saturday night: Dwight Dickinson, Delaney and Paris, The Latter Day Skanks, and Mr. Plow. Show starts at 9 pm, $5 cover
Starday Tavern- Airport and After the Festival, Saturday at 8:30; Kickass Karaoke, Sunday at 8pm

– Speaking of Starday, check out the profile we did on new owners, Justin and Shannon Amrine.

Alright, good people…enjoy the weekend.

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Foster as Cannery Row

When John Steinbeck wrote about a gritty and hardscrabble stretch of waterfront in Monterey, CA, he captured the essence of its character. He portrayed a rough-around-the-edges waterfront dominated by sardine canneries, industry, and all the characters and lifestyles that it attracted. Amidst the grit and grime, though, he portrayed a landscape that was so real and true to human character and experience that it became somewhat of a sociological snapshot. In that snapshot, he found a beauty and genuineness in its people and setting—all at the same time: on the fringes, above the fringes, bustling, rusting to its core, declining, and full of life.

IMG_4266Something there reminded me of Foster. At any given point, it could be a gem in need of some polishing; something so piled high with dust and dirt that polishing wasn’t possible; or something that was actually polished perfectly if you looked a little closer. Foster is and has been all of those things.

Here’s how Steinbeck summarized Cannery Row, and perhaps how I’ll leave you all with a loose description of Foster:

“Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and scattered, IMG_2149tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants and whore houses, and little croweded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses. Its inhabitants are, as the man once said, “whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches,” by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, “Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men,” and he would have meant the same thing.”

IMG_2219Substitute whorehouses with strip clubs; flophouses with squats and dilapidated buildings; sardine canneries with auto shops and Rolaway. Sure, the chipped pavement will give way to a tree-lined road active with bikers and pedestrians, but the rust and weedy lots still prevail in stretches. Steinbeck’s hobos and schemers and gamblers aren’t here, but the drunk and stumbling and the new, monied neighbors are. Along with the biker gangs and SUV’s. And the hip and young and old and out-of-luck are, as of now, coexisting. Or, “Everybody,” as he said above. There’s a magic and beauty on Foster, full of snobbery and grime and up-and-coming and down-and-out. And somehow Steinbeck caught it all on Cannery Row.

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