People wielded colorful paint, brushes and rollers all over the middle of the residential street intersection. For the 19th year, neighbors and friends were repainting the street in the oldest “intersection repair” in the world. In this year’s design, they were freshening up designs honoring four beloved nearby trees. In the middle, the four corner houses were sprouting wings and flying above the clouds. (top photo).
We were at the intersection of Portland Oregon’s SE 9th Ave and SE Sherrett Street (get the pun in their name, Share-It Square?). The yearly repainting was one of dozens of various projects around the city of Portland during 14th Village Building Convergence. People from all over were joining in the fun, building cob structures, painting alleyway walls, and making gardens.
We videoed a tour of the four corners with permaculture educator and nearby resident Mighk (pronounced Mike) Simpson. One corner sports the first free library case−an idea that has gone viral in communities worldwide. Two corners have covered cob benches made of hand-shaped clay and straw (bottom right photo).
Another corner is the Share-It Communication Station complete with chalkboard and places for flyers and handouts (bottom left photo). Near it is the Bee, a a beehive-shaped cob structure which holds the neighborhood newsletter, The Bee (center oval photo).
Kids have their own play space built of tree branches, outfitted with colorful toys and books. On this day, it was the site of peanut butter sandwich makings for the hungry painters (middle right photo).
The 24-7 Tea Table has hot water, tea packets and mugs, and uses a tiny solar-power panel on the roof to keep the water warm (middle left photo).
Mighk told us that this square was foundational to the formation of City Repair, which aims to apply permaculture principles in the urban setting−including reclaiming the commons, like the streets you see here. (See City Repair – Permaculture for Urban Spaces (episode 76, 2006) with co-founder Mark Lakeman).
We met a new resident who bought a house on this street just because of the wonderful community spirit. We get it! With events like this, and other connections and projects fostered from it, this is an alive neighborhood to live in.