This Week's Curator: Kip Kesgard, Timbers blogger and Wilkes resident
By day, Kip Kesgard is a business analyst for U.S. Bank of Oregon, working out of the Columbia Center Operations location just off 181st and NE Sandy. He has been employed with U.S. Bank for 29 years in various capacities, having moved to Portland back in October 1989. After living in Beaverton for many years, Kip also lived in the Raleigh Hills, Gabriel Park, and Northwest Portland areas until moving to East Portland in 2005. He commuted from Northwest Portland to Gresham for many years until he moved into his current residence with his wife, mother-in-law and pack of cats. When Kip isn’t working, he spends his time at the gym or playing soccer, and one of his other interests is the Portland Timbers. Kip has been writing a blog covering the team since 2007 for Oregonlive.com until he left the publication and started his own independent blog. Kip’s wife is his photographer, taking photos at each match, and they spend their weekends walking about their neighborhood, taking care of their cats, or simply enjoying Portland and all that it offers.
Tell us about your neighborhood. What are the ups and downs of it?
I live in the Wilkes East Neighborhood, which encompasses part of East Portland and the western part of Gresham. It’s a wonderful area full of walking trails, interesting businesses and sights, but being part Portland and part Gresham can be odd at points.
Our address is Portland, but we vote for and use Gresham city services for all our public needs. It makes for a unique experience, but I love the fact that our neighbors and the city employees that I’ve worked with have pride in the area. There are also a lot of hidden gems with the various businesses around the area, and there are several new restaurants moving into the area, too. My biggest wish of our area would be better grocery coverage, as there are only two major stores within the area: Albertson’s on 181st and Glisan, and Winco on 122nd and San Rafael.
What are your favorite East Portland things to do and places to go?
There are several walking trails about the area, from the Glendoveer trail around the golf course to Nadaka Nature Park on 178th and Glisan. My wife and I are always looking for great places to walk about, but we also spend time looking for great gluten free restaurants to eat at. We also make a point to visit all parts of the city, whether it’s watching Portland Timbers matches downtown, spending time in inner eastside at Groundbreaker Brewing, heading out to Edgefield for wine and a walk, or searching the bins at Everyday Music.
What do you think people don’t know about East Portland that they should know?
There are wonderful things to do out in East Portland, but many people I know think this area is way far from everything. Honestly, being minutes from the airport, minutes from trails, minutes from the freeway, or minutes from other attractions makes this incredibly convenient. There is also improving transit coverage as more bus lines have been added to get people about, so it’s more than just what you see riding on the MAX between Gateway and Gresham.
What do you think would be most helpful for people in East Portland?
As I mentioned, East Portland needs more grocery stores in the area. I’ve seen several Safeways close in the area, and right now, our area is severely underserved for markets. While there are several produce stands and mini-marts about, it’s tough to shop for food here without having to drive for several miles to get to a store. It would also be nice If the city provided more services and attention to our area - I know the city has invested in buses and infrastructure in other parts of town, but I feel our area is ignored in the grand scheme of development that is going on in other areas.
How do you think your Portland matches up with the Portland you’ve seen in media?
I have lived here for 30 years in various areas of town, and I’ve always found the city to be friendly, engaging and vibrant. I do think there are several big issues affecting the city - homelessness, housing costs, lack of housing, traffic concerns - but I also think the city is putting forth good ideas to try and address it. I do feel the city is still the city that works, but it’s a matter of making the city work for everyone.
What keeps you up at night worrying?
I want a bright future for our children, and I do worry that with the pressures going on right now, will there be an affordable future for them here in Portland? It seems like everything is more expensive, jobs can be more difficult to find and hold, and there’s not enough hours in the day to get everything done. As a male, I’m also concerned about being a good role model and being a contributing member of our neighborhood in the most thoughtful, forthright way.
What gives you hope?
I see hope in the young people that are becoming more engaged within helping others and learning more about their city and government. With our recent election seeing more young voters casting their votes and becoming engaged in the electoral process, I feel that we are getting representation for all groups and hearing more diverse voices.
There is still a lot of work to be done in this area, but I feel better that people are getting engaged.
Why did you agree to participate in this project?
I think I’m entertaining on social media, talking about soccer, cats, bus schedules, walking about, or just being about town. I’ve read many of the posts from previous curators and engaged in thoughtful conversation about the challenges and questions that came up about East Portland, and I wanted to be a bigger part of this conversation.
You can find Kip on his blog at kipkesgard.com where he talks mostly about soccer. He can also be found on Twitter at @kipkesgard.