By LESLEY MCLAM & ANDREW WILKINS
From the Mojo Crepes and Li Min Bakery at SE 85th Avenue to the Dutch Bros and Dairy Queen at 136th Avenue, to the Powell and Kelly Butte Nature Areas, there are plenty of sweet and little-known local nature spots, to check out in this neighborhood.
Powellhurst-Gilbert‘s northern boundary is defined by SE Division Street from 92nd Avenue to 142nd Avenue. There are many types of businesses along this stretch of Division.
Some include: Wong’s King Seafood Restaurant, the Portland Nursery, the Roman-Russian Food Store, the Bird Hut, Five Zero Trees, Whelan’s Irish Pub, All That Glitters pawn shop, Final Table Poker Club, Caye’s Aquarium, Cruiser’s Drive-in Diner, and a number of nail and beauty salons.
East Portland’s Jade District is a Asian Pacific-focused economic development district stewarded by APANO. At the corner of Division Street and 82nd Avenue, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon “has worked for social justice for over 15 years, and continues to evolve as Oregon’s leading Asian and Pacific Islander grassroots advocacy organization”.
Stay involved with APANO’s monthly “Cultural Work Roundup” by signing up here, or learn more about getting involved at their website. Orchards of 82nd, an affordable housing community and event space built through a partnership of non-profits has been an attractive addition to the area.
Just across Division Street, Portland Community College Southeast Campus offers a variety of course work to the community including GED coursework, small business development, and a variety of other skills development.
Tik-Tok Restaurant & Bar is a longtime late-night Portland staple. It is located at 112th Avenue and SE Division Street, just at the northwestern edge of the neighborhood.
It’s wide selection of American food options ranging from breakfast to steak and mashed potatoes, as well as it’s cozy atmosphere and late-night hours, begs for it to be included in this neighborhood tour. Fair warning, despite the good-sized menu selections, they unfortunately do not carry milkshakes; I checked.
More service opportunities
If you’ve made it this far in the story, you obviously care about Powellhurst-Gilbert. Why not get involved, and help your neighbors improve everyone’s community?
The Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association is a great way to stay in touch with what’s happening in the neighborhood. The meeting are a crossroads for the neighborhood’s organizations and a good way to meet people working hard to make the community a better place to live.
If you like to get your hands in the soil and improve a valuable natural resource, the Johnson Creek Watershed Council might be a good opportunity. They have frequent service events in Powellhurst-Gilbert and East Portland.
Unite Oregon (1390 SE 122nd Ave) is a non-profit that is:
“… digging in on the issues that our members have prioritized for us, including reducing disparities in public education, raising wages for workers; continuing racial justice work like ending police profiling; fighting for justice and dignity for immigrants and refugees; and addressing the affordable housing crisis.”
Become a volunteer or donate at their website.
The Syrian Lebanese American Club (11610 SE Holgate Blvd) is an organization that offers community to Americans from that part of the world, by service work and annual events. They also have a venue available for the community to rent.
Along with what we listed, there are numerous community organizations, schools, and houses of worship that could use a helping hand making the community a nicer place to live.
Nature in the city
The eastern side of the neighborhood shares the entire bordering edge of the Powell Butte Nature Park, until just shy of Foster Boulevard, before arcing over towards 122nd Avenue, south of the Powell Villa Plaza.
The Springwater Corridor Trail passes through some of the southern parts of this neighborhood, as well.
Kelly Butte was the home of the now-abandoned Kelly Butte Civil Defense Shelter, a facility built as an emergency headquarters for local leadership during the height of Cold War fears.
Now it serves as a little used park tucked away in the city. Watch indie creator Tigers on the Town‘s take on the butte and its history. It’s a lot of fun!
Nearby, Powell Butte is also an amazing green escape in the city of Portland. There are many access points to the butte, but this four-and-a-half mile hike lets you explore a lot of what makes the 23-acre park a East Portland favorite.
Leach Botanical Gardens, Zenger Farms, and Johnson Creek are other opportunities to enjoy nature in the neighborhood. Zenger Farms is a great community resource that educates neighbors about sustainable agriculture and healthy eating.
On 111th Avenue is the Beggars Tick Marsh, a deciduous shrubland wildlife refuge. Some of the plant varieties in this tiny wetland include Weeping Willow, European Hawthorne, Chicory, Himalayan Blackberry, Morning Glory, Oregon Ash and Waterpepper.
A walking path through the wildlife refuge allows the casual visitor to enjoy a small piece of undisturbed nature in the middle of such a big city.
Fun with cannabis
Head East (located at 13250 SE Division St.) is another longtime Portland staple. This store has been operating since 1972 and is towards the northeast corner of the Powellhurst-Gilbert area claims the honor of being “one of Portland’s oldest family-run head shops, established in the early 70’s by Bob Smalley“.
It has the feel of a classic head shop, complete with colorful shirts on racks, hemp products, a variety of gifts, kratom, tapestries, and a wide selection of ‘tobacco’ smoking devices and tools.
Artistic glass pipes in the shapes of dragons and elephants, colorful water-pipes (AKA bongs), hookahs, and dab tools with all the trimmings, fill the store. The staff is often extremely knowledgeable, patient, and helpful. Glass-blowing demonstrations have also been known to happen here from time to time.
And if you need something to put in your pipe, you have many options.
Cannabliss & Co. – The BLVD (8701 SE Powell Blvd) is the company’s fifth location and third in Portland Metro. Green Remedy (12507 SE Powell Blvd) is another option, and Oregon Bud Company (5515 SE 122nd Ave) even allows you to order online!
However, the biggest intersection with the most happening near it could easily be considered to be SE 122nd Avenue and SE Division Street, at the top-center of the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood.
The local Crunch Fitness, Petco, Grocery Outlet, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Whelan’s Irish Pub, and Dotty’s deli & video-lottery lounge are all located right there. Whelan’s often has live music on Thursday and Saturday nights and serves a whole host of adult beverages.
Division Plaza even has a large clock attached to one of the anchor buildings, making the intersection easily identifiable.
If you want a snack, there are plenty of choices right at, and within a couple blocks of this busy intersection.
Along with several fast food spots, there is a Taco Time, Thai2Go, the Vegas Chinese Restaurant, Pizzayaki, the SOMUS Boba & Cafe, Pizza Baron, the Golden Horse Bar, and Rachel’s Bar and Grill.
According to the bartender Ryan, Rachel’s Bar and Grill used to be the popular Mama-sans Restaurant.
When the former elderly owners chose to retire, the current property owner, Rachel, bought the business located at 11510 SE Division Street and put her own name on the place.
It has a decent selection of spirits, video slot machines and two pool tables, as well as a small, partially-covered outdoor patio out back. This laid-back local haunt likes to throw seasonal holiday parties for the regulars, such Halloween and New Year’s themed evening specials.
It’s obviously not everyone’s cup of tea, but nearby Scarlet Lounge (12646 SE Division St) is a friendly bar and one of Portland’s world-famous strip clubs.
Southward on 122nd, and further into the heart of the neighborhood, the Powell Villa Plaza hosts a few basic stops for the citizen on the go.
There is even a billiards hall, for those who enjoy playing pool, with an all-age arcade area.
Back up to Division Street, and just past the Dutch Bros and Dairy Queen at 136th Aveue, near Head East and the Cruiser’s Drive-In 50s style diner, the line encompassing this neighborhood turns south.
Foster Boulevard between 122nd & 111th Avenues is the southernmost boundary of this neighborhood.
The southeast Portland Pick-n-Pull location can be found at the intersection of 111th Avenue and Foster Road, along with a Plaid Pantry, 76 gas station and the Golden Dynasty Chinese Restaurant & Bar, which also does take-out.
Pick-n-Pull can be amazing for a DIY-inclined vehicle owner, only charging $2 for daily admission into the parts-yard. When trying to replace a simple part on your vehicle, it is often worth checking to see if they have a sale going on. They even sell used tires!
At Harold Street, north of the wetland, the neighborhood borderline snakes west until it hits 104th Avenue, then continues northwards to the intersection at Holgate Boulevard.
Slightly further north, up 104th Avenue, is the Ed Benedict Park and skatepark, on Powell Boulevard.
The Ed Benedict Skatepark is one of only five skateparks in the City of Portland and “is considered to be the first environmentally sensitive skate plaza ever constructed,” according to Portland Parks & Recreation.
This 12.75 acre park boasts an accessible play area and restroom, basketball court, paved and unpaved paths, picnic tables, skatepark, soccer field, public art, two designated parking spaces with street parking, and a reservable wedding site.
Within a few blocks to the east of the skatepark, on Powell Boulevard, is a Memorial Garden, the Hop Sing Bar & Food, Ukrainian Credit Union, VIP Flowers, and Jenni’s Sacred Grounds coffee shop.
The Portland Parks & Recreation Department describe the Portland Memorial Garden as “one of eight memory gardens in the U.S., and one of only two built on public land. The garden is a national demonstration garden project, created as part of the 100 Parks, 100 Years centennial celebration of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).”
Whether running errands, grabbing dessert, or riding your skateboard while enjoying the beautiful natural areas that Southeast Portland has to offer, this neighborhood has a lot going on.
By CORY ELIA
editor’s note: After a lot of research and conversations, we found out that Grocery Outlet was within their legal rights to charge EBT users for bags.
As a college student and journalist I’m not the most financially well off. Luckily, a new program started late in 2019 that allows low-income college students the ability to get food stamps and provide a bit of financial relief.
I had EBT benefits years ago but after enrolling in college lost them. When I heard about the new program I instantly applied. It’s helped me immensely to be able to keep a couple of hundred dollars in my budget monthly.
The other day I went into my local Grocery Outlet on 122nd and Division to make a few purchases for my evening’s meal on my EBT card. When it came to the new paper bag tax I had been told that EBT card purchases were exempt from it.
Even though I had been told this I usually have my backpack with me and never really purchase more than a few items. I just put the few items I have in my bag after purchase and head home. I do this to completely avoid using any paper bags altogether.
However, on this night I needed more than a few items and had over ten blocks to skateboard home. So I inevitably needed a bag to get my stuff home. After being rung up by the cashier she asked me if I need a bag quite politely. When I answered yes she proceeded to state “We charge ten cents cash per paper bag, is that okay?”
This piqued my interest because I was told about the exemption. I replied to her “it would be if that wasn’t against the new law”. Confused, she paused and asked her night manager to come over. He proceeded to explain to me that it’s what the owner of the store set as a rule. I told to him “the law says EBT purchases are exempt from the paper bag tax”.
He asked what I wanted to do.
Because I had no cash on me at the time, my solution was to load my backpack to the brim and carry the last few items home home by hand. Yes, I looked like that popular meme going around with the people holding all their groceries which says “Portland grocery shoppers be like”.
Prior to doing this though I had handed the night managers one of my business cards and asked him to have the owner call me. I have also since found the name and email address of the owner and emailed him.
I’ve gone in several mornings and directly asked for the owner and always get told: “he’s not here and we can’t just call him”.
Well, that’s where being a journalist and researcher comes in handy. After this, I decided to go digging and see what I could find out on the new paper bag tax.
HB 2509 was passed by Oregon’s legislator in 2019 and prohibits stores and restaurants from providing single-use checkout bags to customers. However, there is an exemptions section for HB 2509. Provided below is the exemption section of that bill. There are in fact a number of different exceptions where the paper bag tax is not applicable.
Out of interest I went to all the other major stores in the area and made similar purchases which I needed and asked for a bag. Every time I put it on my EBT card they never charged me for the bag. Neither WinCo, Fred Meyers, or Walmart charge EBT users for bags.
Village Portland reached out via email to the management of Grocery Outlet about the law, below is their response.
The management’s response, “moving forward if you feel this to be an issue you are free to request an empty box at time of check out” is insulting and the fact of how much paper is used in the box compared to the bag is also confusing because Portland is striving to use less paper products. They also seem to be misinterpreting the bill. Their attachments were the same as the exception section from above.
I responded: “Okay, obviously you are not legally understand the tax bill and its exceptions. I have had a lawyer look at this all and indeed they say that you are in violation of the law. So at this juncture I have to ask exactly what you are using the $0.10 cash for.”
In the hopes of having a full understanding of the exceptions for the bill and if this local grocery store was actually in compliance, Village Portland reached out to the Oregon Attorney General’s office via email but has yet to get a reply.
After talking to our attorney, it appears Grocery Outlet is correct in this matter. It also appears that the exception is by choice of the grocery store. If a store feels the extra bag charge is an undo burden on already low-income individuals they can forgo charging them. My takeaway from this is to not shop at Grocery Outlet— I’m not going to shop there anymore— because they don’t appreciate their customers.
Cory Elia is a journalist, photographer, videographer, documentary director & producer, radio personality & podcaster. His journalistic focus is on politics, protest, and poverty.
Facebook: Cory Elia
Journalist and educator Lisa Loving and I definitely share a passion for community reporting and the need to help shape how media and reporting is evolving.
She asked me to speak about my work at a signing for her new book: “Street Journalist: Understand and Report the News in Your Community” this week.
I am thankful for her input on the work we’re doing, the opportunity to speak, and the entire evening’s discussion.
Ask for Loving’s book at your local bookstore, or purchase it online at Powell’s.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28TH
Learn more about the Johnson Creek Floodplain (event):
“Join us for a free, family-friendly event to learn more about the Johnson Creek floodplain and how to protect your family from flooding. Enjoy games, crafts, and raffle prizes. Grab a donut, coffee, or hot chocolate on us!
Representatives from Reed College, the Wharton School of Risk Management, Hagan Hamilton Insurance, and City of Portland Environmental Services will be available… “
Zenger Farm, 11741 SE Foster Rd * 9 am – 11 am
Lents Community Harvest Festival:
At this, the 16th annual festival, there’s be crafts, games, door prizes, and a quilt raffle!
Pilgrim Lutheran Church, 4244 SE 91st Ave * 1 pm – 4 pm
Portland neighbors put a lot of work into their neighborhood associations, but after a considerable time with a front-row seat at several, the institution always seems to attract conflict. Is this just the nature of humanity, or trying around geography? You’d think common ground was a good place to start.
While the conversation has been around how to bring new groups to the table, I’ve been wondering how we could fix the current system. Reform to the grievance system and more support and training to help board members encourage engagement are my first ideas…
If you have ideas, I’d like to hear them, and will be starting a story soon to bring more ideas forward. Thanks for reading and being involved as we work together to improve civic engagement.
This is the second of a five-episode series that played on Open Signal earlier this year. The series is a compilation of Village Portland videos that feature Portlanders organizing events and serving their community.
In this episode, we feature the annual Halloween party at Burnside Skatepark; the Portland Krampus Walk; a performance at a MLK celebration; a visit to the Grotto for their Christmas choir concerts; an interview with the designer of the Cascadian flag; and a look at the City of Portland’s Sunday Parkways.
Haunted Ghost Town (event):
This weekend and next weekend as well…
‘“Where History Won’t Die’, Portland’s newest haunted attraction!”
Rossi Farms, 3839 NE 122nd Ave * adult $12, youth $8 * 7 pm – 9:30 pm
Hello everyone! It’s Andrew here, I just wanted to say hello and update you on what Village Portland has been up to.
We’ve added new neighborhoods, partnerships, and reporters— and we are stoked about some new moves in the works.
Cory Elia (Reflection: conducting the survey for the Portland Street Response) and Lesley McLam have been doing some awesome work around homelessness and homeless organizing, and are focusing in on more focused reporting on the areas of PSU and St Johns, respectively.
McLam has been reporting on Jason Barns Landing, a managed camp in North Portland that’s taking what I see as a civil disobedience approach to their camp. And their answering the question: what happens when homeless folk tire of being moved— tired of having their community scattered— keep coming back to the same place?
Both Elia and McLam are volunteers at community radio station KBOO, and use their equipment to publish a podcast called TRIP-P. Like KBOO, Open Signal, is a resource for community media creators that we’ve been collaborating with.
Another media non-profit that trains homeless youth in video storytelling we’re collaborating with, Outside the Frame, also uses Open Signal equipment.
Here’s the third episode of Village Portland Presents, a five-episode series we produced for Open Signal earlier this year. It’s a compilation of video stories, themed around community organizing and culture.
It’s been great to meet other organizations and folks passionate about independent media, and offering more folks a chance to tell their stories.
It rained really hard earlier that morning, but when it was time for the parade to roll, the 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade was blessed with dry and sometimes sunny weather… typical spring in the Willamette Valley.
82nd Avenue is the highway that binds together multiple neighborhoods in East Portland— including Powellhurst-Gilbert. And the groups that march proudly are just a tiny fraction of those that make East Portland a great place to live.
I hope you enjoy all the people and smiles that made the parade so enjoyable (and tolerate our zany commentary). We hope it encourages you to find your own way to get involved.