Friday, June 13, 2008

ode to Alberta Street

Brought together in 1978.

Each had something to give . . .

Space, growth , locality and shelter.

From the other beauty, pride and appreciation.

Small gardens were grown. Replaced by larger ones.

And brick by brick the home grew.

Its original structure became altered. A kitchen. A den.

It reached out towards the east.

And later, the tower towards the sky.

Open brick work now graces the street.

And the Goddess of the grapes protects the north.

What one doesn’t see crawling amongst the garden


One can only imagine nestled in the spaces 


And brought together by basic needs

Now completes beauties desires.

The home of Muir and David.

One cornerstone in a neighborhood warm.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Its a living enity

      The cache of deliberate community describes the Alberta Street Neighborhood. Its has become a place where one wants to be seen. People want to become associated with it and be part of it. Like a college campus. But then all of Portland has these niches. There is the Hawthorne area and Belmont. Once these places became to expensive for home buyers and shopkeepers, the growth went to Irvington and Piedmont. Then Alberta and now into St. Johns. People have the tendency to purchase where they can afford. The rest just falls into place.    

      As the bemused grandparent of the ASN, Muir Price still feels like a kid. However she can't help but allow pride and yes smugness to ensue as she presides over her estate. Especially when younger people look at her home with envy. But it wasn't always like this the street filled with 30 somethings, baby strollers, and business opened into the night. There was a time when she felt that there was a more violent and threating element to the area. Her home was broken into several times and the neighborhood boys burnt down an unattached garage. Luckily no one was home during these instances. As her friend Gail mentioned earlier, ASN was the "Wild West". 
     Muir moved into the area while she was in her early twenties. David and she were a young couple. He had family about one mile south while she was from the east coast. Working as a mail carrier this was an area that she could afford to buy into. With the house and the ability to purchase the empty lot next to it, there were great possibilities. When associates at work ask where she was planning to buy, she was asked "isn't it kinda dark out there?" Being a bit naive she didn't quite get what they were getting at. Once she understood what they were implying, she would request that they "spell it out to her". That of course made them feel uncomfortable. Her response to them would then be "yes, and I like lots of variety. Besides it keeps the bigots out."
 Additions have been made to their home, both out towards the back of the lot and a second story–complete with a tower. 
The garden space is in a constant flux. 

      As fun items are found or made they become incorporated into the landscape as the Goddess of the grapevine was. And with Portland' s downtown bus mall renovation a legally acquired Portland Street lamp will be wired into place. 
     When I asked Muir what her denifiation of home is she said that it entailed beauty. She cares what her home looks like and enjoys being there to appreciate the work that both she and David have accomplished.
   She hopes that the ASN can hold itself together and fend off the national chains. She feels that the "Arts" definition of the street has become a nonentity and that the area should become known for its restaurants. Above all the Alberta Street Neighborhood has become a very pleasant community. One where hopefully you can leave your car behind.   

Monday, June 2, 2008

the art of conversation

     Is it lost? Has the use of the cell phone and your choice of favorites on your speed dial isolated you from the ability to converse with those on the outskirts of your realm? David Price poses this question to you. Look around–down the street, in the supermarket. How many people are connected to their personal device and by doing so exclude the possibilty of interacting with those surrounding them. With you. How often have you missed an opportunity to exchange brief and perhaps interesting dialogue with the clerk at check out? Ever think about asking how they are. A chance to brighten up their day perhaps. Learn any juicy tidbits from the corner coffee house this morning? Or better yet, met a new person that was extremly interesting? Missed a chance because you were plugged into your device that delivered the same five people day in and day out.  Pity. You could become part of something really big. Community.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fink Shui

     "My yard is my yard," states Gail Booker, to whom the title "Queen of the neighborhood" was graciously bestowed upon her by her cohorts across the alley. Not so much that she "reins" over Alberta street, but that she has lived in the same home for 37 years. That is what Alberta street is. Home. A place that one wants to keep until one dies. Gail is still very attached to the area despite the changes that she has both experienced and seen. She knows that this is a solid place to be. A  place that one can root themselves to. A foundation. 
     Prior to 1996 Gail taught ceramics.Her business was located in the block where the Guardino Gallery now resides. She kept her doors locked. Students and visitors would knock to gain access during business hours. During one of her classes two young men gained access. Using a fire extinguisher, they emptied its contents and demanded the cash box. Gail remembers what a mess it was to clean up. She laughs since she hadn't collected any monies. The cash box was empty. 
     Gone are the gun shots. Only the bullet hole remains. As does the revelry that comes with after hours. A drunk is a drunk though she feels that with more venues for drinking the ratio is higher. Gone to is the ability to find a restaurant that has "home cooking"; let alone the ability to navigate down the busy sidewalks to try and find one. Pedestrian right of way has been lost to the eateries sidewalk tables and shops displaying their wares outside. Customers lounge about with their dogs. Feet and legs are everywhere. Now when a pie is desired, Gail picks up a Marie Callendars and bakes it in the oven at home. 
     Pedestrians aren't the only ones feeling the congestion. Driving down Alberta Street has become a bit of a nuisance. Tri-Met has incorporated the bus stops with the shoulder of the roadway diminishing the separation of automobile and sidewalk. Bicyclist are abundant. There is no clear path for the cyclist. On a busy weekend–or any for that matter–the two lane roadway becomes a maze of pedestrians, dogs, bikes and autos. All vying for their portion of the path. Gail is afraid that someone is going to be hit and hurt. A lot of the bicyclist she sees are without proper visibility devices–reflectors, headlamps. The riders should be licensed.  She avoids Alberta Street proper. 
     Her involvement with Alberta Street is non–stop. Currently she is the Chair on the Green Team. The group is working on a project to get a canvas bag to each of the homes that make up the neighborhood.