More stories from November's issue of THE BEE!


Learning Center, student struck, Holgate Boulevard
An ambulance, fire rig, and the police come to the aid of a Mt. Scott Learning Center student struck by a vehicle on S.E. Holgate Boulevard. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Student struck by vehicle on Holgate Blvd

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

A student from the Mt. Scott Learning Center, in the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood, was struck by a passing vehicle on S.E. Holgate Boulevard at 62nd Avenue on Wednesday, October 15th, at about 12:30 pm.

Portland Fire & Rescue Firefighters/Paramedics and Portland Police Bureau East Precinct officers arrived simultaneously at the accident scene.

The female student at the alternative school was propped up against a wooden utility pole, as paramedics checked her condition, and then began preparing her for transport to a local hospital.

Witnesses said the student had stepped into the street in front of an oncoming vehicle. The driver stopped and was cooperative with the investigation. 

While injured, and transported to a local hospital for a medical evaluation and care, the girl’s injuries were said to be non-life threatening.

No citations were issued. “It this case, it appears to have been an unfortunate accident,” said a Portland Police Bureau East Precinct District Officer at the scene.



Pet blessing, All Saints Episcopal Church, Woodstock neighborhood
All Saints’ Episcopal Church Rector Rev. Laura Truby blesses Dinah at the annual pet blessing. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Woodstock ceremony again blesses pets 

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

It was a special day for people and their pets in Woodstock, when All Saints Episcopal Church held its annual “Blessing of the Animals” service on the front lawn, Saturday afternoon, October 4.

Remarking that St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the ecology, is still a compelling example for us, Rector Rev. Laura Truby said, “We offer this to our community, to our neighborhood, with love.”

“Anyone who owns a pet or has an animal in their life or in their family, recognizes that these are truly God’s creatures,” Truby told THE BEE.

“These pets have so much to teach us, in terms of humility, kindness, and faithfulness,” the Rector continued. “Attention to their needs helps us pay attention to the needs of our fellow human beings.”

The service included song, scripture, and the opportunity for those in attendance to share stories about their pets – present and past.

“In a world where there is so much strife, there is a great need for peace,” Truby said. “We’re looking for unity in peoples of all creation.”



Schiller Street, clutter, house fire
On the roof of the burning home on S.E. Schiller Street, firefighters check holes they cut, to make sure the vertical ventilation is allowing superheated gasses to escape. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Clutter hinders firefighters at Reed home

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE 

Neighbors called the 9-1-1 Dispatch Center just before 11 pm on Thursday, September 25, when they saw smoke – then flames – erupt from the eaves of a Reed neighborhood house at 3633 S.E. Schiller Street.

Woodstock Fire Station 25 Truck and Ladder crews arrived about the same time as those from Westmoreland’s Station 20. These were soon followed by firefighters from Station 4, located on the west side of the Willamette River – bringing the total to nine units responding to the blaze.

“Arriving firefighters found heavy fire in the 1-1/2 story home’s garage and in the first floor of the house itself,” reported PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Damon Simmons.

At the scene, a PF&R Battalion Chief cautioned THE BEE to beware of downed electrical power wires on the west side of the property. “Firefighters inside are encountering very cluttered conditions inside and around the house,” the Chief said.

The occupants weren't at home when the fire was reported, and no injuries were associated with this fire. A man, said to be a resident of the house, who arrived at the property after firefighters had knocked down the blaze, had no comment for THE BEE

After the fire was extinguished, a lieutenant at the scene said that the firefighters still had a major “overhaul” process ahead of them. “This means searching for and removing all burning material. [In this case,] it was very time and labor intensive due to the heavy clutter,” remarked Simmons.

As of this writing, the cause of this fire has not been disclosed, and damage estimates are not yet available.



Dougy Center, Terminal Illness Program
Dougy Center’s “Pathways” program director Rebecca Hobbs-Lawrence tells about their new emotional-support program for families dealing with a terminal illness. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Dougy Center starts new “terminal illness” support program

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

This fall, The Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families is starting a new peer support group program for families facing a life-shortening illness.

“Many children and adults who have participated in our bereavement support groups have experienced the death of a family member due to a terminal illness,” said their new “Pathways” program director, Rebecca Hobbs-Lawrence.

“These clients have wished they would have had support during the time their friend or family member was ill, before they passed away,” Hobbs-Lawrence explained. 

“In addition, we have received many calls from individuals searching for support for their family when a terminal diagnosis is given. We now have the space and ability to offer support to these families, during the last two years of a family member's illness.”

Specifically, the Pathways program will offer free bi-monthly peer-support groups, designed respectively for children, teens, young adults, parents or adult caregivers, and adults with terminal illnesses, as well as to provide a quarterly family activity day.

“The group meetings mirror many of the reasons we hear that our bereavement groups are so helpful,” Hobbs-Lawrence said. “It helps children to not feel alone, and assures them that there is someone who understands, and is having a similar experience. It gives a safe place where they can all ask questions and talk freely about their experience.”

For more than 30 years, nonprofit The Dougy Center has been providing this unique service in the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood at 3909 S.E. 52nd Avenue, just south of Foster Road.

Find out more by visiting their website: http://www.dougy.org



Katherine Anderson
Katherine Anderson accepts a memento from Crime Prevention Program Manager Stephanie Reynolds. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Southeast Portland crime-prevention superstar retires

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

Over seventy-five people crowded into the Portland Police East Precinct Community Room on the afternoon of October 8, to attend the retirement celebration of the City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI) Crime Prevention Coordinator – Katherine Anderson.

“I’m so happy that all the people came here today, because it’s my opportunity to thank them for letting me work with them all these years – to help improve their businesses, services, and neighborhoods,” Anderson told THE BEE.

Her career in crime prevention started at the Southeast Uplift coalition in 1992, and continued until 1999. Anderson was then transferred to outer East Portland until 2006, and then served Inner Southeast Portland’s neighborhood areas.

“There are so many incidents and projects that we’ve worked on over the years, it’s hard to pick it one out,” Anderson said. “But, one that stands out, now that I think about it, is the ‘Weed and Seed’ program partnership of the Brentwood-Darlington and Lents neighborhoods.

“Programs like these had a tremendously good positive impact because they got people involved,” Anderson continued. “And, even more, it got these neighbors to believe that they really could do something that would make a positive change.” 

PPB East Precinct Officer Gary Manougian stepped up to speak about Anderson.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Katherine for a number of years,” Manougian reflected. “Everyone recognizes that Katherine has been the go-to person for Crime Convention; that is understood. [People in the community] have a high level of confidence in you, Katherine.”

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, former Office of Neighborhood Involvement Commissioner, also commended Anderson. “Thank you so much, Katherine, for all that you’ve done. Your work has been such a blessing for the entire communities you’ve served.”

As her family stepped forward for a photo opportunity, Anderson said, “I can’t imagine that I’d enjoy anything more than doing what I’ve done, working with you people.”

The incoming Crime Prevention Coordinator – serving Ardenwald, Sellwood, Eastmoreland, Westmoreland, Reed, and Brooklyn neighborhoods – is Teri Poppino. 

“After working with Outer East Portland for more than twelve years,” Poppino said, “moving to Inner Southeast Portland is going to be a big change. But, the work is pretty much the same. I will be bringing all of the experience that I’ve gathered in other neighborhoods with me.”

The most important thing she’s learned, Poppino said, “Is that it is my job is to empower neighbors to take care of themselves. We will be working together – the neighbors, the police, and Crime Prevention – to address neighborhood problems. Everyone will bring their strengths to the table, and together, we’ll solve the problems.

“What makes me enthusiastic about coming to work every day,” Poppino said, “is that I really enjoy working with our neighbors, businesses, and police officers; the ‘relationship’ aspect of the work. 

Crime Prevention Coordinator Teri Poppino can be reached at 503/823-0540.

The Woodstock, Mt. Scott-Arleta, and Brentwood-Darlington neighborhoods are now being served by Crime Prevention Coordinator Marianna Lomanto, at 503/823-3432

For more information regarding the City of Portland’s Crime Prevention Program, see their official website: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/oni/28395



Bicycle struck, SE 28th Avenue
Police reports indicate the woman riding this mangled bicycle turned in front of a car on S.E. 28th Avenue, and was injured in the accident. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

28th Avenue bicyclist hurt when she turns into car’s path 

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

A bicyclist and a car smashed together in the Reed neighborhood at about 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, October 15.

Both police and fire units responded to the scene on S.E. 28th Avenue, just south of Holgate Boulevard.

While a PPB Central District officers provided traffic control and investigated the incident, PF&R Firefighter/Paramedics riding Woodstock Station’s Engine 25 rendered medical aid to the female bicyclist.

“The bicycle rider taken to hospital with a head injury,” PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson later told THE BEE.

“Reports show the car driver was southbound on S.E. 28th Avenue, crossing Holgate Boulevard, when the bicyclist, riding northbound, suddenly turned left in front of the car and was struck.” 

The condition of the bicycle rider, reportedly taken to OHSU, is unknown.

“It’s a good idea for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians, all to look out for one another, to avoid accidents like these,” remarked an officer at the scene.



Eagle Scouts, Westmoreland
Just before the investiture service, Eagle Scout Mentor Jim Sharp, assistant scoutmaster Ken LeGros, Eagle Scout David Mair, Eagle Scout Benjamin Rosen, Eagle Scout Caleb Walcott, new Eagle Scouts Daniel Gibson and Carter Krevanko, Eagle Scout Zach Armstrong, and Troop Committee Chair Tom Gustafson all gathered for a photo. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Sellwood-Moreland Boy Scouts produce two more Eagle Scouts

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

As readers of THE BEE might by now be aware – the leaders, supporters, and participants of the Sellwood/Moreland area Boy Scout Troop 64 have celebrated a surprising number of young men becoming invested as Eagle Scouts in the past year or so.

“This is not something for which I can take personal credit,” remarked Troop 64 Eagle Scout Mentor Jim Sharp. “These young men have become Eagle Scouts as a result the efforts of more than a dozen adults and new Eagle Scouts in our organization.”

Years ago, Sharp said, the Troop was smaller and “not functioning as well as it might have. Then, more parents got involved; and some key people stepped up and took over the volunteer positions – with passion.

“You can’t ‘fake’ passion and enthusiasm; kids know whether or not it’s genuine,” Sharp observed.

As a result, he’s lost count of how many Eagle Scouts Troop 64 has invested, Sharp said. “We’re not focusing on quantity. Instead, we’re dedicated to helping lot of young men find their way to being on a better path, and making good decisions.” 

So it was, on an evening of shortly before the fall start of school, that Cleveland High School 2014 graduate Daniel Gibson, who said he had joined the organization as a Cub Scout, talked of his experiences leading up to becoming an Eagle Scout that evening.

“Scouting is important to me, because of the lessons I've learned,” Gibson commented. “I feel like I’m so much more prepared for life beyond high school, and even beyond college, because of my scouting experience.”

One such lesson is self-reliance, he said. “When you’re camping, you’re responsible for your own stuff; if you don’t do it, nobody else is going to do it for you. For example, if you don’t pack enough food, you realize you’ll go hungry for that weekend!”

And, from performing his Eagle Scout project – rebuilding wheelchair-acceptable picnic benches in the Hoyt Arboretum – Gibson said he learned how to find the balance between giving instruction and “micromanaging”: “It’s letting people do things the way they think it should be done, versus the way that they want to do it – but still reaching the end goal that you have in mind.”

Joining Gibson as a new Eagle Scout was Carter Krevanko, also a 2014 CHS grad, with a 3.9 GPA. “Yes, my twin sister, Calli Rose [Krevanko], was our school’s Festival Princess extraordinaire!” 

“In school, you learn things like English, math, and science,” Krevanko said. “But you don’t learn things like cooking, how to swim, how to tie knots, and how to give first aid. These are important ‘real-life skills’ that we learn in Scouting.”

Krevanko said his Eagle Scout project was doing native stream restoration, also at Hoyt Arboretum. “We pulled out invasive ivy, and planted about 1,000 new plants – and put in a fence, also.”

He had to use leadership skills he learned in Scouting, Krevanko observed. “It was great to have fifty volunteers show up. But, that day, it was pouring-down rain.  I learned a lot about motivating people when the weather is awful; keeping them happy and motivated.”

Beyond learning the skills, what he takes with him on his journey through life, from his Scouting experiences Krevanko said, “Is the friendships and connections I’ve made with people. And outdoor life, and the people skills, are also very important to me.”



Reed neighborhood, death investigation, impaled on fence spike, Nathan Rene Davis
What started off as the casual report of a passed-out person, ended up as a death investigation – when a Reed neighborhood man was discovered impaled on an iron fence spike. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Mystery surrounds Reed resident’s strange death

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

After noticing a man slumped over a fence, a passerby called Portland Fire & Rescue to his aid, in the 4600 block of S.E. 28th Avenue. It was about 6:30 pm on the evening of Saturday, September 20. 

Not long after, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) was also summoned to the short block, between S.E. Holgate Boulevard and Pardee Street.

Soon that block of S.E. 28th Avenue was closed to traffic with yellow police tape – as well as being swathed with red police “CRIME SCENE” tape. 

“At first, the call came in as an inebriated individual, needing to be taken to Detox,” PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson said.

“However, it soon turned into a death investigation,” Simpson told THE BEE. “Officers arrived, and found a man slumped over a spike on a wrought iron fence; he was pronounced dead at the scene.”

Simpson said that the man, later identified as 58-year-old Nathan Rene Davis, reportedly lived in a duplex about two blocks south, near S.E. Schiller Street.

“At first, the deceased was reported to have been intoxicated,” Simpson said. “But, he may have had a medical issue, passed out, or fell onto the fence, and died.” Police are exploring the possibilities. However, with no apparent witnesses to the death, the specifics of this tragic situation currently remain unknown.



Juggling, Reed College, convention, San Luis Obispo
Hailing from San Luis Obispo, California, is the juggling team called “Something Ridiculous”, whose members are “passing clubs” with Mark Wilder on a high unicycle – and Jonathan Nowaczyk, balancing on a ladder. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Jugglers again converge on Reed College

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

Colorful balls, clubs that looked like bowling pins, as well as rings and scarves, were all flying through the air from morning until late in the evening during the three-day international gathering of jugglers at Reed College, on the weekend of September 27.

“This is our 22nd annual Portland Juggling Festival,” grinned Portland Juggling Festival Director Michael Klinglesmith. 

“It’s like a big ‘juggling party’ that starts on Friday evening, is all day Saturday with a public show that night, and on Sunday,” Klinglesmith told THE BEE. “We hold it here, because there’s been weekly juggling sessions at Reed College continuously for 35 years.”

This year’s festival drew more than 200 registrants – and again, the public show in the 750-seat Kaul Auditorium sold out, he said.

Many members of the Portland Jugglers’ Club volunteer to produce the annual event, Klinglesmith reported, admitting that the event requires a bit of work. “It’s totally worth the effort, to be able to come here and hang out all weekend. It’s great to have all of these amazing jugglers here from around the country practicing, and doing amazing stunts.

“Plus, professionals and highly-skilled jugglers share tips on how to ‘get from where you are to where they are’,” Klinglesmith said. “So, we do this because it’s really fun. These are the best three days of the year for all of us.” 

The “No Problem, Easy Pickup” (Klinglesmith says they don’t actively use the phrase, but it’s been long associated with their club) Portland Jugglers Club meets on Wednesdays, 7 until 9 pm at the Reed College Sports Center, Gym 1. They’re online at: http://www.portlandjugglers.org



Doughnut thief, Peter Leon Johansen
34-year-old Peter Leon Johansen was caught, police allege, sticky-handed – at the end of a brief pursuit of the stolen doughnut delivery truck. (MCDC booking photo)

Cops bust doughnut thief on Powell Boulevard

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE 

Every now and again, someone swipes a pastry from a donut shop. This time, a thief made off with a lot of doughnuts – and the truck they were in.

The big pastry caper began at about 2 am in the early morning hours of Tuesday, September 30, when Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Central Precinct officers responded the report of a stolen delivery vehicle in Downtown Portland.

A driver told officers that he’d left his donut-laden vehicle unlocked, with the keys inside, as he took a few moments to deliver some doughnuts. A few moments was all it took for him to be left behind by his truck, as it turned out.

“As the officer was taking the initial report, another Central Precinct officer spotted the stolen van traveling eastbound on Powell Boulevard near S.E. 21st Avenue,” reported Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

“The officer got behind the van, and activated his overhead lights, but the driver of the stolen doughnut van did not stop, and the officer engaged in a traffic pursuit.” 

The fleeing driver cut eastbound onto S.E. Foster Road at 50th Avenue, then doubled back westbound on Holgate Boulevard. Perhaps because he didn’t know the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood very well, the suspect made the mistake of turning south on S.E. 59th Avenue – which dead-ends into Mall Street.

An officer began commanding the suspect to put his now powdered-sugar and glaze-coated hands out the window of the truck.

“The suspect complied, and the officer observed a pastry fall from the suspect’s hands,” Simpson said. “The suspect was taken into custody without incident; but officers reported that donuts and pastries were strewn about the inside of the vehicle.”

Later that afternoon, the manager of Tualatin based “Donut Land”, George Wardini, told reporters that thieves had broken into his delivery vans and stolen a few donuts before. “But they’ve never stolen the van, itself, before,” he said.

The suspect, 34-year-old Peter Leon Johansen, was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 3:39 am that morning. In Multnomah County Court later that day, he was arraigned on charges of Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle, and Attempt to Elude by Vehicle. A doughnut-based charge of Theft in the First Degree was dropped.

Johansen remains in custody at MCDC in lieu of $10,000 combined bail.



Powell Boulevard garden
The new huge cistern delivered to the Foster Powell Community Garden, to aggregate rainwater to keep the raised garden beds wet, was rolled into place by a crew of four. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

“Community garden over pavement” ready for winter

By RITA A. LEONARD
for THE BEE

THE BEE has kept you abreast of progress on a unique community garden on S.E. Powell Boulevard – one created without removing the existing pavement on the site. As you might imagine, this Foster-Powell Community Garden as a result has a problem keeping the garden wet.

In September, Vicki Wilson, founder of this unique garden, announced that a cistern had arrived at the site. That’s part of the solution to the garden’s chronic lack of water.

The cistern came courtesy of a SPACE grant from the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, and it will collect 2,500 gallons of rainwater from the shed roof during the upcoming winter – to provide summer hydration for the ten soil-filled garden beds on-site that were financed by an anonymous donor.

The final work parties for the summer were followed by celebrations to mark the looming arrival of autumn. During the work party attended by THE BEE, the cistern was installed next to the shed so it could begin storing water with the first rains.

Work was also begun on the ADA-accessible covered meeting area, planned with sliding beds along the walls for strawberries and other low-growing plants.

It was a day for construction, and other garden projects. Wilson commented, “The covered meeting area is being made possible through a generous donation of lumber from the Rebuilding Center, with design and labor from neighbor Garrett Milojevich.

In October, the first annual “Foster-Powell Fall Festival” was held there – intended to become a pre-Hallowe’en tradition, with pumpkin-carving, costumes, food, music, and games.

Looking ahead, on Saturday, November 2nd, “Dennis’ 7 Dees” S.E. Powell Garden Center will hold its fifth Annual Craft Bazaar, with proceeds donated to the Foster-Powell Community Garden.

Garden beds should be available around February. For more information, go online to: http://www.62ndgarden.com

OMSI, Mini Maker Faire, The Kingfisher
Steve Van Bergen took Mini-Maker Faire riders out for a spin on a “kinetic sculpture” he calls “The Kingfisher”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

“Mini Maker Faire” again hosted by OMSI

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

It’s not part of the “World Maker Faire” held in New York in late September, but people attending Portland’s smaller, community-driven version of this event – the independently organized “Mini Maker Faire”, held at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) – again made it a major success.

The two-day event, in the north OMSI parking lot, drew crafters of all kinds to “show and tell” – and to observe, learn, and be inspired. 

For some, the notion of a “Maker Faire” conjures up images of people building robots, machines, and other hardware and electronic devices. While indeed there were many displays of technology, other creators showed more down-to-earth crafting skills. 

“In addition to showing how we make fire, by actually rubbing two stick together, we’re showing other crafts,” said Trackers Earth Founder and Company Director Tony Deis.

“For example, we’re showing how to make spoons, using a relatively recent piece of technology – a steel knife,” Deis told THE BEE. “Although, we do wood crafting using stones, which is perhaps a two million-year-old technology. We show it doesn't have to be high-tech, to be ‘making’.”

OMSI Events Director Andrea Edgecombe agreed. “It’s not just ‘steam punk’ and high-tech. Here at our third annual Portland Mini-Maker Faire, we have a gal who is doing a giant friendship bracelet. We have gliders. And, Intel is making a giant duck.”

110 different projects were shown, from building a “tiny house” for people to live in, to 3-D printing, kinetic sculptures, and sparking Tesla coils. “People make stuff, they bring it, and they show it off. We have a huge variety here, which makes this a lot of fun.” 

The Faire is important to the mission of OMSI, Edgecombe said, because the organization focuses on areas of engineering, innovating, inventing – as well as designing and making things.

“In fact, we’ve opened our own OMSI exhibit design shop – showing our process, going through the process of ideation, on through to execution and prototyping,” Edgecombe said. “These are all important parts of science and research.”

The crazy sound produced by a Theremin, an early electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact, often heard on the soundtracks of old science fiction movies, attracted a steady stream of people to interact with the device brought by Mark Keppinger. 

“I’m both a collector and maker,” Keppinger said. “I worked at OMSI for 15 years, but now I have private workshop is an Inner Southeast Portland. My Theremin is more popular than I am; it’s loaned out all the time.” 

A group of low tech makers, from east Portland-based Oregon Agate and Mineral Society, demonstrated their lapidary kills. 

“I’m making a ‘cabochon’,” said member Dan Petersen. “They’re usually inlayed, as artistic touches, in other things made of metal or wood. When completely polished, it looks really cool.” 

From the ancient art of paper-making, to high-flying electronics, this year’s Mini-Maker Faire once again demonstrated crafts for all and drew a big crowd.



Truck pruning
Perhaps due to the then-dry weather, this limb easily failed when a delivery truck brushed against it in early autumn, bringing it down hard on the passenger car just behind, on S.E. 17th in Westmoreland. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Car a victim of Westmoreland “delivery truck tree pruning”

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

For years, people who live and work on tree-lined streets of Inner Southeast Portland have complained that the City of Portland neglects to trim the trees that overhang streets and roads. 

Low-hanging branches consequently are pruned by what wags refer to as “Delivery Truck Pruning” – wherein the high truck frames clip off any tree limbs they hit.

Just after noon on a day at the start of autumn, the driver of a car was the victim of such impromptu “Delivery Truck Pruning” – while driving north on S.E. 17th Avenue, just south of Knight Street, in Westmoreland. A delivery truck just ahead of her knocked loose a large limb from a tree, as it drove past.

The limb came down on her car just behind – heavy enough to cause damage; the driver didn’t even see it coming since the truck ahead was big enough to block her view of the impact, and its result.

The driver of the blue Honda told THE BEE that she wasn’t injured in the accident. But, her car suffered from a shattered windshield, dents, and scrapes. No citations were issued.



Trackers Earth School
The main meeting room at the new Trackers facility offers plenty of space and fresh water. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

“Trackers Earth School” holds housewarming near Holgate

By RITA A. LEONARD
for THE BEE

Ten years after setting up a unique outdoor survival skills school in a former Portland Public Schools vocational building on Milwaukie Avenue just south of McLoughlin Boulevard, Trackers Earth has found a new home – just a few hundred feet north, at 4617 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue. The building was formerly home to Barbo Machinery.

The housewarming celebration on September 27th marked the opening of the new 18,000-square-foot meeting facility. Purchased by founder Tony Deis earlier this year, the building includes an indoor archery range, a camp gear and clothing store, and forty parking spaces.

Some two hundred people attended the potluck, enjoying free sausages and drinks as well as lively accordion music played by Steve Knapke. Visitors tried out Trackers' cider press and archery range, while kids participated in organized games. There were also several costumed pirates: “We’re friends with the pirates of ‘PDX Yar’,” explained Deis. “They came to play ‘Dice’ and add flavor to the event.”

The folk school offers classes in a range of outdoor survival skills, both on-site and at an eighty-acre campsite out near Sandy. “We hold our classes following regular school hours, and on school breaks,” explains Trackers’ Oregon Regional Director, Kelsey Reed. “We have a year-’round staff of about thirty, but during summer, our busy season, the staff increases to about a hundred seventy five.”

Trackers Earth students are divided into four “guilds”: Rangers, Wilders, Mariners, and Artisans. Each guild practices specific skills, learning to respect the earth and the rhythms of life in all seasons. “We have after-school camps, summer and one-day camps, and also offer after-school programs and home-school programs,” remarks Reed.

Classes include wild plant identification, blacksmithing, hide-tanning and leather work, fiber arts, archery, bow and boat-making, story-telling, wilderness living, wood-working, knife-making, and primitive skills – encouraging a heightened respect for nature and land restoration.

Travis Newmeyer, Trackers’ Chief Operating Officer, advises that the archery range is open to the public Thursday evenings and Saturday daytimes. “We can also rent out the building for day or evening events, or even weekends, depending on our schedule. Recently we rented the space out to Nike for a company event.”

Deis is currently at work editing the first book of a series of instruction manuals focused on outdoor skills. “The working title is ‘Woodcarving and Knives’, and we expect to have it out by Christmas,” he says. The book includes information on making bows and longbows, and adapting wood found in nature to useful purposes for outdoor living and folk arts. 

Trackers’ stated aim is to reconnect children with the land and nature, establishing confidence with hands-on village-building skills. The lessons learned are both practical and sustaining.

Trackers has been recognized with several awards for creative programing, but their greatest reward, they say, is seeing students instilled with a deeper understanding of the world and their place within it. 




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