LBC – Petal: Beauty and Inspiration

LBC – Petal: Equity

LBC – Petal: Materials

LBC – Petal: Health and Happiness

LBC – Petal: Energy

LBC – Petal: Water

LBC – Petal: Place

Petal: Beauty & Inspiration | Beauty Narrative

A Neighborhood Housing Model

The Emerson Street House is a neighborhood model, build with ideas that can be copied and incorporated into Living Buildings anywhere in the world. For the Beauty Petal, a “replicable model” is original artwork, created, curated, installed, written, presented, performed and/or whatever by local artists.

The goal was to create a “replicable model” that would work well for “affordable housing” and high end housing. White walls, beige window trim, cement floors were selected to be background for art. Art Rails, to make hanging easy and nails in the wall unnecessary, installed by Patrick Zahn, Steel Door Gallery.

The Emerson Street House is 2,098 SF, including the Gallery (1,298 SF) and the ADU (800 SF), and is built on a substandard Portland lot (4,250 SF) – standard is 5,000 SF. The house is designed to easily adapt to different uses – live/work, studio, gallery, event space, elder(s) alone or with caregiver(s), families with children and often several uses at the same time.

Credit Jen Sotolongo, Photographer and Blogger, Long Haul Trekkers for photographs.

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The Vanport Flood, Memorial Day 1948


Vanport City, built in 110 days in 1942, was meant to be a temporary solution to Portland’s housing shortage during World War II. Vanport with a population of 40,000 during the war, Oregon’s second largest city. After the war, many families left Vanport and the population dropped to 18,500.

Renee Mitchell played the matriarch of an African-American family in Cottonwood in the Flood, a staged reading of a play about Vanport. The family came to Portland, Oregon from Selma, Alabama to work in the shipyards and found housing in the Cottonwood neighborhood of Vanport. The reading was at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in NE Portland on Memorial Day 2015. On Memorial Day 1948, one of the dikes surrounding Vanport broke, flooding the city and wiping it out in less than an hour.

Beatrice Gilmore, a former resident of Vanport, joined the actors for the talkback. Beatrice Gilmore was at the movies when a kid came in, ran up to the front and said the dike broke. Beatrice ran home. The family piled in the car and they drove up the hill, where Beatrice stood with a crowd of people looking at the flood wash away the housing units. Everybody was helping everybody. People knew each other from being in the shipyards and being in Vanport, living close together. People helped each other.

At the talkback, several folks who had lived in Portland for 20 or more years were flabbergasted that they knew nothing about Vanport before this reading. Somewhere between 16,000 and 18,500 people became homeless in an hour. How did the City of Portland cope with so many homeless people, including many children and babies? Beatrice Gilmore knows – People helping people.  Beatrice did not realize that her family was homeless until much later in life.

The Vanport story shows us that shoddy, hastily built buildings can create strong communities when people live and work closely together and help each other. A Living Building is much more than bricks and mortar. A Living Building is the people and relationships, past, present and future, that come together to form a Living Community like Vanport.

The Nikki Brown Clown Free Library For Children

Maria Maggi, Joanne Suell Green and I met weekly at Elevated Coffee to discuss hopes and dreams for the Emerson Street House. One day Joanne introduced us to Nicole McKinney. Nicole teaches literacy to children as her clown persona, Nikki Brown Clown.

Nikki was living in a small one bedroom at 13th and Emerson, a storage shed owned, renovated and rented to Nikki by Sabin CDC, at a rate that allowed Nikki to pay her bills as she embarked on her new career as Nikki Brown Clown.

Nikki was sad to be performing her last story time at Happy Cup Coffee Shop, the former Reflections Coffee House. Nikki’s husband-to-be, Guillermo Sandoval, had just accepted a new position at TriCo Bankshares. Nikki and Guillermo would be moving to Chico, California.

We met at Maria’s condo across the street for fellowship, tea and fat free vegan soup – Maria, Jill Leigh, Joanne and I, a sacred circle of women to breath life into our Intention for the Emerson Street House.

House Concerts

North/Northeast – Julie Keefe

We All Live on Tribal Lands

Cats of Mirikitani

Art For Everyone PDX – an introduction