More stories from March's issue of THE BEE!

OMSI, Mazes, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Hall of Illusions, mirror maze
Guests find it’s easy to lose their way in this Hall of Mirrors, within the “Maze of Illusions”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Families find way out of mazes – and learn – in new OMSI exhibit


Visitors to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) are now being challenged to explore 13 interactive labyrinths – to walk through, balance on, and observe – in a new exhibit called “MAZES!”

For example, the adult-sized “Maze of Illusions” confronts explorers with a variety of optical illusions at every turn.

On opening night, February 13, guests found themselves coming up with new methods of problem-solving through improvisation, trial and error, observation and testing, and logic and reasoning, while they explored the exhibit.

“Puzzles and brainteasers are part of everyday life,” remarked OMSI President Nancy Stueber. “From navigating through a crowd, to working out a crossword puzzle – our brains are constantly problem-solving.

“In this new exhibit, both kids and adults can learn how our minds work to solve these challenges,” Stueber added. “And, in doing so, put their own skills to the test in a variety of fun and exciting ways.”

Solve puzzles and patterns, challenge the relationship between the mind and the eye, and nurture your inner musician. Just some of the mazes:

  • Music Maze
  • Puzzle Maze
  • Color Maze
  • Finger Marathon Maze
  • Web Maze

An example: On OMSI’s second floor, in the Earth Sciences Hall, visitors can find their way through “Water’s Extreme Journey”, an easy-to-navigate educational maze that combines physical activities with hands-on teaching experiences.

So, here’s your opportunity to “come and get lost”, at least temporarily, in “MAZES!” It’s in the OMSI Featured Exhibit Hall, now through May 6 – at no additional charge, after regular admission. OMSI is situated on S.E. Water Street, on the east bank of the Willamette River, just north of the Ross Island Bridge. Look for the big red tower under the Marquam Bridge. For hours, admission prices, and other information, go online:

Deconstruction, Farmhouse Antiques, Love Art Gallery, Mordant House, Vic Remmers, apartment house
Gone – but not forgotten. The cleared site on the northeast corner of S.E. 13th and Spokane Street in Sellwood was reduced to a pile of rubble from Farmhouse Antiques and a cellar hole from the Mordhorst Home, most recently “Love Art Gallery”. A new mixed-use apartment house with retail on the ground floor will now be built there. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Love Art and Farmhouse Antiques deconstructed in Sellwood


The deconstruction of two historic business properties along Sellwood’s Antique Row began in mid-January. The former sites of Farmhouse Antiques, at 8028 S.E. 13th Avenue, and Love Art Gallery, at 8036 S.E. 13th, were removed by crews from Deconstruction Services – a program of “The Rebuilding Center”.

The histories of both structures were previously reported in depth in THE BEE in an article by neighborhood historian Eileen G. Fitzsimons.

The project preceded the construction of a new four-story mixed-use apartment building by developer Vic Remmers, owner of Everett Custom Homes. 

Due to the historic nature of the buildings, deconstruction rather than outright demolition was deemed the best way to salvage as much as possible. Doug Bridge, owner of Portland Homestead Supply Co., just north of the site, said The Rebuilding Center is repurposing the material.

The smaller of the two Sellwood buildings, the wooden 22' x 25' Mordhorst House, built in 1908, was the first to go – reduced quickly to a stack of timbers in front of the truncated front porch stairs.

Farmhouse Antiques, originally built in 1926 for a meat market, a café, and a dry-cleaning business, took more time to dismantle. The structure was larger, with plate glass windows and some brick construction. In addition, there appeared to be much “blown-in” insulation in the walls, which requires special care in removal. A small storage unit at the back of the property was the last thing to go, at the end of January.

Plans for the forthcoming 30-unit apartment building were revealed at an October meeting of SMILE, the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League neighborhood association. Remmers and the designer, TVA Architects, Inc., have been accommodating of neighborhood concerns voiced at the meeting and later, and agreed to adjustments for mitigating access and noise.

Bridge, of Portland Homestead Supply next door, says, “We’ve been told we'll get weekly updates and notifications on progress, via e-mail, for the duration of the project.”

Bridge has talked to many people about the project. While most seem to have misgivings about the new building’s planned sleek styling in this historic district, the bigger concern has been about parking. The design developed by TVA Architects will include many bike racks, but no on-site parking.

Bridge reminds, "The City of Portland currently only requires any off-street parking if the design includes 31 or more apartments. This project is limited to 30 small studio and one-bedroom units, located above the street-level retail space.

“Consequently, we expect parking on side-streets to increase.”

Diaper Guys, unwanted contact, SE 17th and Umatilla, Sellwood Middle School
The reported incident, which does not currently rise to the level of being a crime, took place a couple of blocks from Sellwood Middle School. Police are looking into it. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Sellwood girl reportedly flees “unwanted contact”


On her way to school, a 12-year-old girl did what police say was the right thing, when she ran away from an unknown man driving a delivery truck near S.E. 17th Avenue and Umatilla Street, at 8:45 am on February 12.

An officer assigned to the Portland Police Bureau Youth Services Division took her report, shortly after the incident occurred that morning.

“She said that a clean-cut white male drove up to her in a white van with ‘Diaper Guys’ written on the side, and asked her to come over,” said Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson. “The girl refused, and ran away.”

The girl told police that she thought there might have been a passenger in the vehicle, and that the van's right rear tire was missing a hubcap, Simpson added.

There are no listings THE BEE could locate for a company named “Diaper Guys” in the Portland area.

However a worker who answered the telephone at a company listed as “Diaper Guys” in Ontario, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, hung up when asked if they’d sold a delivery truck, or reported one stolen.

“While it is not clear what the man's intentions were in speaking with the girl,” Simpson said, “the incident is alarming enough for the Police Bureau to share this information publicly.” There is currently no evidence a crime was committed.

If any residents or businesses in the area of this incident have surveillance cameras, investigators are asking them to check recordings for any possible images of the suspect.

“Anyone seeing this suspect or encountering him, or seeing the truck, is asked to immediately call 9-1-1; anyone with non-emergency information should call 503/823-3333,” Simpson said – adding that information can also be e-mailed to

The Portland Police Bureau WomenStrength and GirlStrength programs provide free self-defense classes and personal safety workshops to people around the Portland area. To learn more, call 503/823-0260 or go online:

Jacob Sherman, Brentwood Darlington, Portland State University, letter of apology
After serving nearly three years in prison for “eco-terrorism”, Jacob Sherman returned to PSU to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees, and has since become a champion for the city’s four “ecodistricts”, as well as for his own Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Jacob Sherman: From radical activist to Brentwood-Darlington community leader

The Portland Tribune
Special to THE BEE

Jacob Sherman doesn’t have the long, shaggy locks he did fourteen years ago.

He isn’t vegan, and he doesn’t go barefoot as he did when following his former friend Tre Arrow, once described as the FBI’s “Most Wanted Environmental Terrorist”.

In fact, Sherman – today a cleancut, meat-eating, 32-year-old Southeast Portland husband, father, marathon runner, gardener, neighborhood advocate, and Portland State University employee – can hardly be described as “radical”, except in the ’80s sense.

Today, almost nine years since his release from federal prison – having served nearly three years for two firebombings on behalf of the Earth Liberation Front – Sherman is a change-maker of a different kind: Advocating within the system to affect change.

Since graduating from PSU he’s worked for the university’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions, helping to champion projects that strengthen neighborhoods across the city.

He’s helping to create a gathering space next to the PSU food carts, and a community orchard for Lents neighbors.

Separate from his PSU endeavors, he’s leading the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association to help his neighbors be able to sell the produce they grow in their community learning garden.

And he’s learning to navigate City Hall to find a stormwater solution for his neighbors in Errol Heights, who get flooded in big rains.

It’s not sexy stuff; there is no “direct action”, as the ecoterrorists used to call it.

There are just painfully wonky city policies to wade through, grants to apply for, zoning changes to fight for, neighborhood meetings to speak at, and cases to articulate in the form of perfectly worded e-mails, rather than Molotov cocktails.

From protester to peer mentor
In fact, since Sherman’s release from prison in 2006, he hasn’t been lured by any political movements of the day – environmental, race-related, Occupy Portland, or otherwise.

At Occupy, “I sat in on some meetings, was at one of the protests, and decided it wasn’t for me,” he says.

His first step back to activism was as a student back at PSU – the same place he met eco-terror leader Arrow – for the “Take back the tap” campaign, advocating for water-bottle filling stations on campus to reduce the purchase of disposable plastic bottles of water.

Sherman not only helped secure a $38,000 grant to help fund several such stations, but he convinced campus leaders to form a task force to institutionalize water conservation, so it would live on past his involvement.

Sherman has also been part of PSU’s Peer Mentorship program, helping to counsel students about academic and personal issues like college loans and resume-building. But he kept out of the trenches of the protest fray, even when it all but infiltrated downtown.

Which raises the question: In an activist hotbed like Portland, when you’re once an activist, are you always an activist? “Occupy ... has made student debt an issue that universities and politicians are paying attention to,” says Sherman, who has just turned 33.

“It’s just that I personally think that I can have a greater impact by working with and within organizations and institutions to create change. In a way, both are needed, but I know the latter is where my skill sets and strengths lie.”

Transcendental journey
How did Sherman transform from a 19-year-old convicted felon to a pillar of the community – not just a student, but a scholar who delivered his 2012 PSU commencement speech, telling his graduating class to “Dare to fail”? (He had those words tattooed on his right forearm after prison.)

When he thinks about his former life now, Sherman says, it’s like watching himself in a movie: Surreal. His perspective didn’t come just after serving his time, but during it. One of the first packages he received in prison was a copy of Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden Pond” – a tale of transcendentalist solitude – from his uncle, a literature professor.

“He said, ‘Jake, you have the opportunity for this to be your Walden Pond; the choice is yours,’ ” Sherman says. “I spent a lot of that time thinking about myself, who I was, how I’d gotten to be that way – trying to use it as an opportunity for growth.”

The first thing on his list when he got out was to further his education, knowing that he’d had a leg up in prison by previously having had a private high school education, at La Salle High in Milwaukie – while many of the men he served with weren’t as fortunate, and had much longer prison sentences.

While his undergraduate and graduate studies at PSU led him down the path of sustainability work, he says, “It’s very much about people, the type of future we want to live in.”

As a fifth-generation Portlander, Sherman says the work he’s doing holds special meaning, and he feels a deep sense of place. He lives with his wife, 11-year-old son, and nine-month-old daughter, in a 900-square-foot house with no TV, and with a garden nearly as big as the house.

It’s not far from where he grew up, the oldest of three kids, with a loving mother who’d divorced Sherman’s dad when he was in middle school.

When he’s not working, Sherman is planning his next hiking or backpacking trip, or trying to run some twenty-five miles per week, training for his first ultra-marathon, after completing his first marathon last year.

Recently, he ran home down McLoughlin Boulevard, past Ross Island Sand and Gravel – one of the two sites he firebombed in 2001, causing $50,000 in damage to three cement trucks.

For that, Sherman has written a public apology to Dr. Robert Pamplin Jr. (also the owner of Community Newspapers, and THE BEE), asking that he be judged on his actions during the past fourteen years, as they’ve demonstrated his life lessons. And he asks for forgiveness.

Two months after the Ross Island arson, Sherman damaged three trucks at a logging company in Estacada with two other activists who were arrested and convicted.

Arrow, meanwhile, evaded authorities for years before he was caught and convicted of two counts of arson for both incidents. Arrow served his time, made a bid for Portland Mayor, participated in the Occupy protests, and was arrested on domestic violence charges in 2012.

Not looking for the same kind of media attention (even delaying our request for an interview by four months), Sherman is quick to play down his history, saying it’s part of who he is, but it doesn’t define him. And that he by no means has done it alone.

“We all in some regards stand on the shoulders of giants,” he says, quoting Sir Isaac Newton. “Maybe those would be people who helped us out, seemingly unimportant people. ’Most anybody can look at their own story and recognize we are who we are today because of those people behind us.”

Burglars, Woodstock laundry, change machine, theft
A large window at the Woodstock Laundry is boarded up – after burglars smashed it, to grab the change machine. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Burglars bash Woodstock launderette for small change


From the looks of the damage, the burglars didn’t care how much destruction they caused when they backed a truck through a plate glass window, early on Monday morning, February 2 – all to steal a mere handful of change from the Woodstock Laundry, at 4740 SE Woodstock Boulevard.

When East Precinct officers arrived at 2:50 am to investigate, witnesses told them a vehicle had backed through the laundry’s window, and two men had put a chain around the change machine and used the truck to drag it out. They then threw it in the back of the vehicle and made their escape.

“The truck was described as a silver or gray smaller SUV,” reported Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson. “Several officers arrived in the area and searched for the suspect vehicle, but did not locate anything matching the description.”

Simpson added that the suspects were reported as two white males wearing dark clothing.

The crime is, as yet, unsolved. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Police Non-Emergency Line at 503/823-3333; or reach Burglary detectives by e-mail:

Brooklyn neighborhood, plans, NET, Neighborhood Emergency Teams, disaster planning
At the January 28th planning meeting of the Brooklyn Action Corps neighborhood association, Kathy Orton described the new “Adopt-A-Block” neighborhood-care program. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Brooklyn neighborhood makes plans for disaster – and fun


A meeting of Brooklyn neighbors on Wednesday, January 28, at the Thelma Skelton Meals On Wheels Center, focused on identifying issues of concern for the Brooklyn Action Corps neighborhood association.

Troy Doss of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability reviewed the Southeast Quadrant Development Program, and Jeremy Van Keuren from Portland’s Bureau of Emergency Management, invited volunteers to “Neighborhood Emergency Team” [N.E.T.] training.

Van Keuren cautioned, “About 315 years ago we had a severe Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake. These often occur every 300-350 years, and we need to develop neighborhood preparedness plans. In the event of a major earthquake, you probably wouldn’t get city response for about two weeks.

“Our free N.E.T. training is more comprehensive and useful than simply the BEECN [Basic Earthquake Emergency Communications Node] cache at Brooklyn Park, which is more of a radio-based communication system. We’re looking for N.E.T. training volunteers who can assist neighbors in a disaster. Call me at 503/823-4421 if you are interested.” The same would apply to residents with interest in the N.E.T. program in other Inner Southeast neighborhoods.

BAC neighborhood association regulars next introduced new committees. Kathy Orton presented plans for an Adopt-A-Block neighborhood care program. Katie Light announced the first training meeting for the reorganized Brooklyn Foot Patrol.

Jennifer Koozer, TriMet's Community Affairs Representative for the forthcoming Portland Milwaukie Light Rail line, said that TriMet's Transit Police would look toward allocating more officers after evaluating local crime patterns. She also announced implementation of a new “Quiet Zone” for Union Pacific Railroad passage starting on March 1.

Finally, BAC Chairman Eric Wieland welcomed new residents, and solicited ideas for the BAC to pursue during the coming year. As always, street parking remains a big issue, especially with new housing development and the coming of the Orange MAX light rail line. Graffiti management, transient camping and bikeway issues had their spokesmen, as well as recurrent agenda items concerning developing a Brooklyn Historic District, inviting city representatives to BAC meetings, and planning more social events, such as block parties.

The neighborhood has enjoyed much success with Brooklyn Cleanup Day, Movie Nights in the Park, and the annual Ice Cream Social in the Park. However, in an effort to spread neighborhood social events over more of the year, meeting attendees discussed possibilities for another Easter Egg Hunt at Brooklyn Park, and perhaps a fall Oktoberfest.

Finally, former BAC Chairman Mike O'Connor revealed plans by the Gideon’s Orchard Planning Committee. “The Orchard will happen this year,” he said. “It will be located on the triangle between S.E. 16th and 17th Avenues and Pershing Street, after the Portland Milwaukie Light Rail project vacates its equipment staging area there.”

52nd Avenue, utility pole, accident
A utility repair truck temporarily holds up telephone and cable lines, while a new utility pole is installed to replace the one snapped off at the base near 52nd and S.E. Ramona by a collision involving a minivan, on February 19. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Minivan wreck snaps Woodstock utility pole


No one saw it happen – except the driver, of course – but neighbors near the intersection of S.E. 52nd Avenue and Ramona Street were awakened by the sound of a loud crash at 3:30 am on Thursday, February 19.

“The big crashing, smashing sound woke us up,” remarked neighbor Jack Babcock to THE BEE. “The minivan must have been going pretty fast; the crash destroyed the whole front end of her car.”

Emergency first responders found that a red Dodge Caravan hit it with such force, the wooden utility pole was sheared off at its base.

The following morning, S.E. 52nd Avenue was intermittently closed as utility crews propped up the sagging telephone and fiber cable lines, removed the damaged pole, and then dug a new hole and installed a new pole.

According to police records, no citations were issued.

Woodstoch neighborhood, kiosk
Woodstock Librarian Carol Uhte, and Nicole Craigmiles with son Oliver, hold the ceremonial ribbon – as Woodstock Neighborhood Association Chair Becky Luening, with scissors, snips and dedicates the Woodstock Community Information Kiosk. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

“Woodstock Community Kiosk” dedicated


It took longer than volunteers originally planned, but a new “Woodstock Community Information Kiosk” now stands in front of the Woodstock Community Center just north of Woodstock Boulevard on S.E. 43rd.

“The reason we wanted to put a kiosk here is because a lot of people pass by this location every day,” explained the project’s manager, Woodstock Neighborhood Association (WNA) Chair Becky Luening.

“Some people may walk by and not even realize the there is a community center here, behind the trees,” Luening told THE BEE. “Now there is a place to post community center classes and activities, and neighborhood association meeting notices. And, easily accessible on the back side, we now have a bulletin board for people to publicize Woodstock community events.”

The idea was proposed as a project in an application for the City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Small Grant Program, for fiscal year 2013-2014.

After securing the grant, WNA volunteers held a design charette to involve members of the community in the process that resulted in two designs, created by Woodstock neighbors – architect Jeff Lusin and landscape architect Dan Chin.

But, the project then hit a snag when permission to construct the sign board on Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) property was not given. The Woodstock Community Center is operated by the Parks Department.

“It is on their property,” Luening said. “By the time we asked for their permission, the Parks Bureau had put a six to nine month moratorium in place, and so were not considering any new proposals. We just had to wait – but we finally got approval, and built it.”

Lusin’s design was the one selected, but the committee modified it to include a rustic bench suggested by Chin, who also became the new kiosk’s lead builder.

PP&R told the committee for that building a kiosk like the one they envisioned could cost as much as $3,500. But, thanks to $5,594 in in-kind donations, the project was completed for about $1,000.

“We thank all of the people and businesses who contributed to this project,” Luening said before she cut a ceremonial ribbon, just prior to the monthly WNA meeting on February 4. “We look forward to people in our community using this for many years to come.”

Steve Overton, Marty Richmond, The Great Race, Into the Woods, Stephen Sondheim
Steve Overton and Marty Richmond show off characters from their show, “The Great Race”, the show that apparently inspired Stephen Sondheim to write “Into the Woods”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Sellwood puppeteers an inspiration to major movie musical


They lay no claim to the Broadway musical “Into the Woods” that premiered in 1987, or to the 2014 Disney movie version, but it’s a matter of record that a puppet show by Sellwood-based puppeteers Steve Overton and Marty Richmond helped spark the imagination of Stephen Sondheim in creating that show in the first place.

Now on display at Ping-Pong's Pint-sized Puppet Museum, on S.E. Umatilla Street, are marionettes from that same 1983 show, which they wrote and performed for Macy’s Department Stores in Southern California, and called “The Great Race”.

“It’s been at least twenty years since we last performed ‘The Great Race’,” Overton reflected while looking over their puppets. “We’re looking forward to reviving this 30-minute play in the spring.”

The story is a mashup of the Aesop's “The Tortoise and the Hare” fable, and Mother Goose, Overton told THE BEE.

“As the Tortoise and the Hare go racing through the land of Mother Goose, they encounter Little Boy Blue, Miss Muffet, and Simple Simon – cast here as a German psychiatrist who analyzes the characters along the way!”

Years later, Overton said, he was amazed to see Stephen Sondheim on a television talk show. “He revealed that he was inspired to create ‘Into the Woods’ – but using Brothers Grimm stories – after seeing a puppet show at Macy’s that combined Mother Goose and Aesop's Fables!

“He certainly didn't ‘steal’ our story or show, so we’re just tickled that he said he was inspired by our presentation.”

Also this spring the Sellwood magical shoe-box-sized museum is reprising their featured attraction from last year, “Ventriloquism – A New Dawn”, featuring 25 new ventriloquist figures, and new entertainers.

The duo continues to offer puppet-making workshops, and will be bringing back “Adult Night Out at the Museum” in April.

Ping Pong’s Pint-Size Puppet Museum is at S.E. 9th Avenue and Umailla Street. See more at their website:

Foster Road, murals, empty businesses, Window Project
The eastern panels of the Phoenix Pharmacy mural address community entertainment – and offer an image of the original business owner, pharmacist John Leach. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Foster-Powell “Window Project” completes first mural


A new mural, entitled “Twinkle”, now graces the south and east windows of the historic Phoenix Pharmacy building, at 6615 S.E. Foster Road.

Painted mostly in shades of blue, the mural depicts silhouettes of diners and dancers enjoying a night out under twinkling lights. This is the first of four murals planned by the Foster-Powell Window Project, envisioned by neighborhood artists Vicki Wilson and John Larsen to create community pride, and to spruce up underused business storefronts along S.E. Foster Road, create community pride, and develop interest in local businesses.

Friends and neighbors gathered on January 15th and 16th to complete the panels, brainstormed with local input and designed by the husband and wife team of Larsen and Wilson. The project is financed by a Creative Engagement Grant from the neighborhood coalition Southeast Uplift, and by donations from neighborhood businesses.

Dance studio “Performance Works NW” offered space for the painters, and Miller Paint donated eleven gallons of paint. Twenty-five volunteers met to complete “Twinkle”, and are now gearing up for the next installation artwork – a three-dimensional mural planned for the Habibi Building.

A January newsletter from Southeast Uplift reported, “The ‘Twinkle’ design also includes nods to [pharmacist] John and Lilla Leach, the original owners of the building, and to Jackson Powell and Phillip Foster, for whom the neighborhood’s main streets were named.”

Design ideas and community suggestions are being solicited for the remaining art installations, under the auspices of the SEUL grant. For more information, go online:

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