21 September 2015

[pdx] People of the Eastside: The Division-Midway Festival of Nations

Sunday was the day of one of Portland's numerous other street fairs, this time, one quite close to home.

The Division Midway Alliance for Community Improvement … a business group centered along SE Division Street between SE 117th and SE 148th Avenues … is in our back yard. Hell, it's just as good as being our back yard. A few of our favorite merchants are within its demesne. And, each year, it celebrates the astoundingly awesome diversity that the David Douglas community has become with a little thing they call the Festival of Nations.

This year's 'do was held in the most welcoming and accessible spot yet … the western half of the parking lot of the Division Center shopping center, located at 122nd and Division. It happened from noon to 4:00 PM on Sunday, and it contained as much as it could in that small space of time. Nepalese and Karenni folk dancers (which we missed) and Grupo Latitudes (which we did not miss) provided the international flair; Latin and Somali food provided the spice. Here are some of the things we saw there …

An artist, masterful in the use of colored pencil:

Grupo Latitudes played music of the Andes.

We missed the Asian folk dancers performing … but we didn't miss seeing them in their gorgeous outfits, enjoying the food and the Andean music.

There were other crafts, too, such as the metalworker that was there, who had a most attentive student.

Some of the organization's volunteers, flush with the enthusiasm of a successful and interesting event:

We even imagine there were some "good guys" hanging around. Makes perfect sense to me.

The only real problem was that there wasn't enough of it, really. Four hours is a tough time to hold a really super street fair, and the location of it seems to hint at the challenges that our side of town has in creating community. Because of demographic shifts, the area around 122nd Avenue, the spine of the David Douglas school district and the increasingly vibrant David Douglas community.

It's a good place to be, but a place with its own challenges and obstacles that, perhaps, communities east of Mount Tabor don't share. When there are community positive organizations such as the Division-Midway Alliance and people-positive events such as the Festival of Nations that acknowledge the varied complexion of the community, though, how can one not love living out 122nd way? And how can one not have some sort of hope that a positive vision for the future of our neighborhood will prevail?

We had fun, and we hope it will get even better in the years to come. 


Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing. This, I was there too. You took great photos. Nice summary.
I have lived in Portland my whole life. (57 years) . As a kid I remember before NW 21st was swanky.
I remember before Hawthorne, Division, Belmont , Mississipi and Alberta got - Cool. They were just
"basic", before the artists moved in because of cheap rent. The rest was history. I invite inner city Portlanders to move shop and live here. IT IS PORTLAND TOO, and could be come the next cool place.I don't want gentrification in our area. But I would like respect, and a few great grocery stores, ( Trader Joes etc. We do have jobs and buy groceries here too.), and MORE sit down coffee shops where people can build community with their neighbors.
Language can be a challenge. I bought vegetables at the fair. I asked if they were beets( to make borscht soup). The family said yes, that they were beets ... .... they were radishes! It was a language prob. Thank you to those who are helping to grow and appreciate our beautiful area. Lots of trees, green spaces,yards

Samuel Klein said...

Our side of town is perfect just the way it is, as far as community goes, and your words about what we do need are spot-on.

What we love about 122nd and Division is: the Grocery Outlet, the Dollar Smart store (sweetest people you ever wanted to meet), the Papa Murphy's; across the street, Mingala for the amazing imported ramen soups and imported spices and ingredients that are hard to find elsewhere.

We got it all out here along 122nd. I have the intention to start documenting life along the best street in the world, and post it here.

We got some of these little tomatoes from one of the produce vendors there … delicious.