This Week's Curator: Jenya Andreev, of PedPDX CAC and Hazelwood
Jenya Andreev was born in the former Soviet Union, grew up in California, studied architecture at UC Berkeley and moved to Portland in 2011. She designs interiors, environments and brand experiences, commuting from East Portland to central Portland every day.
Tell us about your neighborhood. What are the ups and downs of it?
My neighborhood is in Hazelwood, near David Douglas High School. I love all the parks and giant trees growing everywhere. The diversity of cultures makes this place feel like home. I live walking distance to a Russian store, which was such a rarity growing up, and I truly appreciate the variety of people that make up this neighborhood. The downside to living out here is having to live in the sprawl, with big roads that are like freeways, empty parking lots lined with unused street parking, and shut down big box stores that can make this part of town feel like a wasteland.
What are your favorite East Portland things to do and places to go?
The many parks, large and small, provide such wonderful access to nature for young and old. I love bringing my whole family, from 5 to 80 years old, to explore the new and beautiful Luuwit Park, hike at Powell Butte or just a neighborhood walk to Lincoln Park. It’s a quick drive to Thousand Acres or Dodge Park to access the river too.
What do you think people don’t know about East Portland that they should know?
That it’s not as far away as people think. I remember thinking that anything east of 60th Ave. was far away and now I live off of 135th with a 20 minute commute to work! It’s a great place to live and not enough people know that.
What do you think would be most helpful for people in East Portland?
Basic urban services like sidewalks, paved roads, more visible and protected street crossings, bike lanes and safe infrastructure, would go a long way to allow people to exist and thrive here. There are too many gaps in the system, making it especially difficult for people who are elderly or disabled or even just pushing a stroller. Missing sections of sidewalk, unpaved roads with potholes and standing water, sidewalks that are too narrow and have light posts or mailboxes right in the middle of them, a lack of ramps, cracked concrete, and so on really affect the quality of life in this area.
How do you think your Portland matches up with the Portland you’ve seen in media?
East Portland has so many children, multi-generational families, people of color and immigrants like myself living here. Hardly the white, millennial yuppie crowd with expendable income that the media likes to focus on.
What keeps you up at night worrying?
I worry about people in this neighborhood being overlooked. As a member of the PedPDX CAC working on developing the next 30-year pedestrian planning strategy for Portland, I know firsthand how hard it is to participate in the system coming all the way from East Portland. It’s hard to advocate for our needs, and complicated to learn how to communicate and work with more privileged folks. It can feel like the system asks a lot and but doesn’t always give in return. I look at projects like the 130s greenway, or the 4M bike way, funded but delayed for years, and wonder how long it will take to get basic infrastructure and better design out here. These don’t seem like impossible problems to solve, and there are plans and proposals in place but not enough action taken quickly enough to create change. I want to find ways for the community to mobilize and provide solutions for the problems we all see.
What gives you hope?
Talking to people always gives me hope. Finding out that people care as much as you do is powerful medicine.
Why did you agree to participate in this project?
I’ve been enjoying all the posts and people I have found through @eastpdx and wanted to take the opportunity to share my own experiences.
You can find Jenya as @andjenya on Twitter and Instagram. PedPDX CAC meetings are generally held on the last Wednesday of every month and are always open to the public - keep up to date on meetings and the project in general at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/74442