Posted By Kate Washington on June 4, 2013
Seattle native Nancy Davis has lived in Portland since 1983, when her family moved here to Southwest. During high school and her time at Portland State University she grew to love downtown Portland, so when it came to choosing where to live, she wanted to be as near the action as possible, unencumbered by a car and free to walk and bike. The Pearl District fit the bill and in 2001 she bought a condo in the Gregory, then in 2005 moved to the Elizabeth.
“I’ve lived at 12th and Tillamook in Northeast, 15th and Hawthorne, and 21st and Irving, always trying to be as close in as possible. I didn’t want a yard and I wasn’t interested in a traditional home. Back in 2001, although the commercial side of the Pearl was still undeveloped, it seemed like it was going places. The City had made it clear it would be a multi-income neighborhood, which is important to me. I also wanted it to be an intergenerational neighborhood,
I remember in 2003 there was an unusual amount of snow and I wasn’t able to leave my block, I couldn’t get my stroller through it. Those early years after my son was born could be a bit isolating, there weren’t as many children down here as I thought. I went to prenatal yoga at Yoga in the Pearl and thought I’d meet more local moms. I did make one friend there. My son Jake, who is now 10, and her baby were born two days apart, but it wasn’t easy to find other parents.
I do consulting work for non profits and I worked on a project to create the Isobel’s Clubhouse program in the space next to where Cupcake Jones is now. We got a good reaction, we’d see a lot of strollers on the street, but very few of the people lived here.
It feels better now.
The developer of the Ramona, Ed MacNamara and I talked about early childhood education and family resources and toured some buildings in Vancouver BC. He was enthusiastic about leasing space to Zimmerman Community Center and Isobel’s Clubhouse, and has been incredibly supportive as a landlord and friend to the program.
Jake was in day care while I was working, but when we had time together we’d get creative: we went to the “pocket parks,” like the one between Everett and Davis on 10th with the waterfall. I knew where all the big water spouts s were that drain water off the buildings – we’d put on our boots and go splash around. We’d go to the playground in the park blocks, and Salmon Spring downtown, and more recently the water feature at Saturday Market. He was one of the first kids to ride the aerial tram up to OHSU.
And of course we spent a lot of time at Powell’s, and still go there about twice a week. Jake was also a regular at Jimmi Mak’s when it was where Life of Riley is now, they used to let kids in to watch the youth players jam with Mel Brown once a week.
We usually walk or bike to school at Childpeace Montessori. We have bikes but we don’t own a car, I use Zip Car, and for trips of about 10 blocks, say with groceries, I’ll take a Car2Go. I’m a good cook so I don’t got to a lot of restaurants, but I do like Oven and Shaker. And I love to sit outside Park Kitchen on a summer night when people are playing bocci ball and basketball.
I feel like the area has gotten younger, there are more people in their 20s and 30s, probably because there are more two bedroom units. I also notice people are getting more creative about using space after their kids are born, because they don’t want to move to the suburbs. Having people who only live here part time makes it a challenge to build community.
Jake is now one of the few 10 year olds in the neighborhood. It’s possible we will stick around when he is a teenager, but it’s hard to see out that far. One thing I do know is, his earliest memory will always be of Jamison Square. His favorite park is The Fields and his fave ice cream is Cool Moon.
– by Joseph Gallivan