School Modernization and Equity for a Future Portland

by Kelley Schaefer-Levi

As the historic buildings of Portland and century-old public schools require repair, updating and expansion to accommodate a growing city and the needs of students, Portland Public Schools (PPS) is working with local designers, architects, contractors, school administrators, staff and alumni associations on creating schools that will accommodate the future of a changing Portland. The 2012 PPS School Building Improvement Bond is funding modernization projects around the city. The most recent of them is Grant High School in NE Portland.

Grant’s outdoor renovations, including new sports fields, landscaping and structure improvements are in bold color.


Construction on the new Grant High School has just begun, but the planning has been in the making for almost two years. The design and master planning of the high school renovation has been a community effort, progressive and collaborative in nature and has included an extensive engagement process over numerous public meetings.

Grant Magazine provides a voice for students in the planning and renovation stages of the project.

Beginning in the fall of 2015 through the spring of 2016 a series of public design workshops and open houses took place providing the Grant community a voice in the schematic design process where students, staff, alumni and the neighboring communities provided input on what they hoped to see in a modern Grant High School. The Grant Design Advisory Group held regular meetings throughout this time to provide feedback for the modernization process. From design to management and development, the project embodies innovation and equity. “The {Grant Modernization} project is one of the most progressive that I have worked on, from the women in leadership roles to the MWESB {Minority-owned, Women-owned, Small Business} joint venture with Colas Construction, to the inclusive culture of the school,” says Emi Day of Mahlum Architects.

The overall building design will maintain Grant’s historic exterior facade, including replicating the original 1923 windows, and the new additions will have a contemporary application of the same material palette, and follow the historic window rhythm. Housed in the new athletics wing will be brand new main and auxiliary gymnasiums, weight and locker room facilities, a new band room, and covered bike parking. The historic 1923 gymnasium building will become an Arts Complex containing ceramics, graphic design, printmaking and photography studios each with access to ample daylight from new windows and the historic skylight.

The library and science buildings will be demolished so that the lower level will become a light-filled space where students can convene in the commons and courtyards. The auditorium renovation was a major priority for the community, and will be updated with state-of-the-art theater equipment. The PPS Educational Specifications require 500 seats and the Grant Advisory Group decided to maintain the existing auditorium to keep as many seats as possible. Furthermore, the campus will be one of the first high schools nationally to achieve 100% gender-neutral toileting, a testament to the community’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity.

The campus will include additional outdoor areas that will be open to the public. The majority of classrooms will be located on the second floor, allowing views to nature from inside. One of the Design Advisory group’s main goals was to blend indoor and outdoor spaces to enhance the quality of the learning environment and deepen our connection to nature.

Mahlum’s rendering of Grant’s new courtyard.

Grant’s remodel focuses on daylight, accessibility, technology and modernization. In the public design workshops, the Grant community prioritized the need and desire for state-of-the-art facilities in all disciplines that meet Grant’s high-level leadership in curriculum and developing programs designed to prepare students with skills that will take them into future. Technology is at the center of the design where architects like Day of Mahlum has been advocating for digital displays in the public spaces where students will be able to connect to relevant content, whether it’s a custom welcome wall, digital playbill, details about an upcoming event, or a school-wide alert on monitors in the common areas.

These public spaces will also become an access point for students who may have hearing loss or different learning abilities. Historic team photos that once lined the halls of the high school have been digitized and could also be displayed as part of showcasing Grant’s long legacy. Grant Magazine articles and video could also be prioritized and could tell student and staff stories in the newly designed commons, lobbies, and gallery. Day explains, “There is so much digital content that Grant students create already. Grant has risen to the challenge of creating and curating authentic, meaningful content which is full of youthful, provocative questioning. Students are writing {and publishing} critically acclaimed stories that celebrate the voices of Gen Z. We want to take that culture of excellence and bring it to the forefront.  It must be part of the public experience of Grant High School.” While the budget doesn’t allow for the entire technology package, the community will likely see the value in becoming a truly digital campus.

The project will accommodate 1700 students. This number is specified by the district in the Educational Specifications for all new and modernized PPS high schools. The increase in student population is anticipated to grow and the new campus will add room for an additional 200-300 students.

Construction will begin in the summer of 2017 and the work will last for two years, with the modernized Grant scheduled to open in the fall of 2019. The spirit of inclusion and diversity along with public interest in creating a school that moves Portland into the future is at the heart of the project. At the groundbreaking ceremony the excitement was palpable. Says Day, “I am so inspired as a woman of color in architecture and construction to see women in top decision-making roles. The construction team was handing out t-shirts with EQUALITY across the chest, and I could really feel the momentum of change!”

This full feature appears in our July issue of All Things Real Estate magazine. To learn more, email

Food Halls

We have all had this experience: You and a friend decide to grab some food and catch up, but you can’t agree on what sort of meal you should have. The food cart pods downtown, while varied and unquestionably delicious, get cold and wet in the winter. Neither of you have enough time to go to a sit down restaurant. The food court in the mall does not quite have the atmosphere that you are both looking for, either.

The idea of fast-casual dining, where quality food is served at a faster pace than traditional sit-down restaurants, is not a new one. This is especially true in a food-conscious city like Portland, which is likely why food halls have been gaining traction for the last year. Food hall vendors don’t tend to have large menus, focusing instead on perfecting one or two dishes; yet having all of these vendors under the same roof makes for a remarkably diverse menu overall. Additionally, food halls often carry a shared liquor license, so that any alcohol can be carried and consumed between micro restaurants in the common dining space.

Insofar as investments go, food halls are not nearly as expensive or risky as opening an entire standalone restaurant. This gives small businesses (food carts, for example) more and better opportunities for expansion and exposure. Each micro restaurant front is designed with the owner’s personal style and flair, something that makes for a multifaceted and exciting overall atmosphere that patrons enjoy being a part of.

Currently there are three food halls in Portland: Pine Street Market, Cart-Lab, and the Zipper. Soon there will also be the Portland Food Hall, and with the trend gaining so much momentum there will likely be more in the future. Having so many different cuisines accessible under the same roof means there is something for everyone in a food hall, which is probably the most genius thing about them.

Portland Traffic


Portland traffic, now ranked ninth in the nation (even worse than Boston, Chicago, and other large U.S. cities) has continued to grow over the last year- increasing by 6 percent according to state stats. Rush hour travel times are unpredictable, with frequent delays, and a single accident or spot of bad weather is capable of clogging up an entire area.

In order to avoid the rush hour commute, many Portland area companies are embracing alternative schedules, such as the compressed work week where employees work more daily hours than usual but fewer days a week, or flex time where employees work a set amount of hours per week but are given flexibility as to when they arrive and depart.

The opening of the MAX orange line has also cut down on congestion, especially downtown and in SE. Using public transport to and from work has the added benefit of avoiding difficult and expensive parking situations. Additionally, car-sharing websites like Drive Less Connect are growing in popularity, allowing users to carpool with other people going the same directions.

As the weather improves, many commuters switch to biking to work. Biking not only allows commuters to fly past slow-moving traffic jams, it’s also great exercise and reduces pollution. According to a study by the Portland Bureau of Transportation, over 7% of Portlanders bike to work, which is the highest percentage in the nation. Unlike our traffic ranking, that’s a statistic we can feel good about!

Crafty Costumes

Halloween is creeping up on us and here are some fun and crafty DIY costumes for you to try out. If you do end up making any of these costumes, don’t forget to share it on social media by tagging @mrealtyhomes. If you’re looking to move into a haunted house (or a regular house), you know who to call!

Gumball Machine
White t-shirt
Fabric glue
Multicolor pom-poms
Red skirt or pants.

Simply glue the pom-poms securely all over the white t-shirt, and tuck it into the red pants or skirt!




Solar System
Galaxy printed shirt or dress
Eight or nine foam balls (depending on whether or not you’d like to include pluto, which you should)
Craft sewing needle that is at least as long as your largest foam ball
Acrylic paint
Black string or fishing line

Paint the foam balls like the planets, allow them to dry completely, then use the craft sewing needle to thread them onto the fishing line or string. Tie the chain of planets into a loop, then wear as a sash over your galaxy printed shirt or dress.



Large cowboy hat
Sheet of cardboard
Bubble wrap
One yard of felt
One yard of shiny fabric
Duct tape

Cut the cardboard into a donut shape, large enough to fit around the hat. Staple felt to the bottom of the cardboard, then cut out the felt underneath where your head goes. Add bubble wrap to fill in the top of the hat, using the duct tape to keep it in place. Next, add your tentacles by stapling different lengths and types of ribbon around the brim. If you have battery powered LED lights, you can add them with the ribbon to make this costume light up. Finally, staple the shiny fabric over the bubble wrap.



Large purple balloons
Safety pins
Black headband
Green felt

Blow up the balloons, and tie them in clusters to the string, then safety pin the grapevines to a plain shirt. Cut out leaf shapes from the felt, then staple them to your headband. To make this costume a raspberry, just use red balloons.



And for your furry friends, Ghost Dog
White sheet large enough to cover your dog
Black marker

Cut three round holes in the middle of the sheet, two for your dog’s eyes, and one large enough for your dog’s nose and mouth to fit through. Draw a circle around the holes. For added cuteness, give your dog a pumpkin candy basket to hold.

PNW’s Best Museums

From rose gardens to aviation museums, and historical societies that bring light to years past through photos, postcards and articles, the Pacific Northwest boasts fantastic museums where we can learn more about our region or simply enjoy art. Check out the map for a list of museums near and far.

For more information, head over to!

Picnic Perfect

For whatever you do outside this summer– be it a hike in the gorge, a day at the beach, or a movie in the park– you and your companions will want to take a break from the action. So roll out a blanket, break out that basket, and tuck in to a wonderful, portable dining experience!

Here are four must-haves for the perfect picnic:

1. Fruit
It simply wouldn’t be summer without stone fruit, which practically begs to be included in your salads, side dishes, or beverages. Throw peach slices into sweet tea, or add cherries to your salsas to add sweetness and complexity. Watermelon, too, is one of summer’s delights– chop into cubes, add cilantro, feta, and lime for a wonderful, light side dish. Stop by your local farmer’s market and take home whatever is at the peak of the its season!

2. Seating
You and your guests are sure to appreciate the right seat when attending a movie in the park or a day at the river, so a sturdy blanket is a must. When it comes to seating, more is always better– speciality cushioned picnic blankets are ideal for practically any situation, but a normal blanket or towel with a shower liner underneath will keep everyone dry and comfortable.

3. Drinks
It’s hot out, you’re in the sun, and you’re thirsty. Experiment with juicing at home to make your own tasty beverages and cocktails! Confer with friends and neighbors to swap or glean harvests of plums, cherries, tomatoes, kale, lavender, and more! Make simple syrups to add to your favorite summertime drinks, or use the summer’s bounty as garnish for elegant cocktails.

4. The Basket
A picnic does not necessarily require a basket, per se, but the portable element of the picnic equation may sometimes seem daunting or troublesome. Not to worry however: there is no need to spend lavishly on specialty picnic sets. In whatever bag you find best suits your needs, pack cold foods at the bottom and hot foods at the top to control their temperatures. Wrap wine bottles in a dish towel, twist up the length of the bottle, and tie at the top for easy transportation. Make mason jars and napkins work double time as transportation for food, cutlery, and ultimately left-overs.

Check out the events map to learn about movies at the park in and around Portland this summer!

Driving Destinations

Rolling pastures, quaint towns, world class wines and cheeses: sometimes the Willamette Valley can look a lot like France. To take your very own distinctly Oregon voyage, check out these fantastic Continental-inspired food and drink destinations.

  • Nestled in pastoral Carlton, the Carlton Bakery features artisanally made pastries and delicious breads. Start your day with a fresh, buttery croissant or pick up a baguette to take out on a picnic lunch. Price Varies. 305 W Main St, Carlton, OR 97111
  • In the gorgeous country outside the town of Newberg, the Bergstrom Winery is a must-visit. Look out over the gently rolling hills of this family-run vineyard, whose premium vines produce some of Oregon’s finest Pinot Noirs. Tastings are only $20, featuring a view that’s priceless. 18215 NE Calkins Ln, Newberg, OR 97132
  • Hungry? Let Red Hills Market introduce you to the exceptional quality and diversity of the Willamette Valley’s bounty. Sample local cheeses and charcuterie, or kick back on the patio with a wood-fired pizza. Entrees $9-15. 155 SW 7th St, Dundee, OR, 97115
  • Evening Land Vineyards of Dundee claims the best-rated wine ever produced in Oregon (98 Points by Wine Spectator). Try it at their tasting room in town, or venture out to the Vineyard itself to take a tour and see how world-class wines are created. Tasting Room, $20. 1326 N Hwy 99W Ste. 100, Dundee, OR 97115
  • April is a banner month for mushroom lovers–and Joel Palmer House has a menu to match your morel craving. This family-owned business resides within a historical home in Dayton- the perfect place to feast after tasting all the Willamette Valley has to offer. Three courses, Prix Fixe, $59. 600 Ferry St, Dayton, OR 97114

Understanding Urban Infill

Even with all the attention urban infill has been getting lately, it’s surprisingly difficult to get a clear and concise explanation of it. Here’s Portland’s urban infill issue painted in broad strokes:

  • We have a regional government council called Oregon Metro that protects Portland’s surrounding farmland, forests and municipal boundaries with an Urban Growth Boundary.
  • This Urban Growth Boundary prevents urban sprawl into protected areas.
  • Builders can’t level land and construct endless concrete commuter communities out toward the horizon.
  • Despite the  Urban Growth Boundary’s gentle expansion , there are more Portlanders arriving every day and they need places to live.
  • So builders are buying where they can, tearing down homes, repurposing other buildings and sub-dividing lots into multiple properties.

Thus, urban areas are being filled-in with new construction. This often causes uproar due to the loss of familiar neighborhood landmarks, its added stress on urban services and an increase in traffic congestion.

In Portland, the most recent and loudest outcries have come when builders tear down something old and familiar to hammer together a structure that some neighbors perceive as out of place.

But not all builders are mustache-twirling profiteering villains. Some take great care to design homes that share the aesthetic of the neighborhood, offering modern amenities in a style meant to preserve the community’s charm. Others strive to design and build modern structures to reflect today’s tastes and energy-efficient systems.

The bottom line is there will always be a degree of public outcry whenever something new replaces the long familiar. In an ideal world, we would be able to increase density without controversy. As it is now, with Portland’s regional governance calling the shots via the Urban Growth Boundary, we’ve quite literally elected for urban infill over urban sprawl.

In the absence of a perfect population density solution, you’re unlikely to hear the last of urban infill outcry anytime soon. Headlines aside, when it comes time to purchase a home, you can either support the traditional, embrace the new or seek out a hybrid of the two.

Donation Guide

Getting a fresh start in the New Year can mean finding a new home for some of the items that clutter our lives. Also, donation receipts are always a plus while preparing your taxes. Make your living rooms, kitchens, closets and garages more accessible and do a good deed in the process!

Community Warehouse
Accepts: furniture, kitchenware, basic household items, durable medical equipment
Drop-off Sites: NE Portland and Tualatin

William Temple House
Accepts: furniture, clothing, shoes, antiques, books, small appliances, clean bedding and linens, area rugs, holiday items
Drop-off Site: NW Portland (Tues, Wed, Thurs from 10am-3pm)

Portland Rescue Mission
Accepts: clothing, blankets, backpacks
Drop-off Sites: West Burnside and NE Portland

Give Thanks and Live Longer

This is the time of year when many of us feast with our loved ones and focus on thankfulness while we digest. Yes, giving thanks is a widespread annual tradition, but did you know it also has scientifically-proven positive side effects? Knowing that we’re happier and actually healthier when we express gratitude, it makes sense to actively pursue this more than once a year. And there’s an easy trick to doing it: building habits.

It is impossible for your brain to feel anger at the same time as gratitude. So if you catch yourself in a particularly resentful or stressed state, make that your trigger to list three things you’re thankful for, despite what you might be currently feeling. And nothing reinforces positivity like spreading it around. Getting into the routine of sharing three things you’re grateful for every day at a collective meal or on social media will prompt others to do the same (even if it’s just subconsciously).

If you’re ever having trouble finding something to be grateful for, look around for the simplest things we take for granted. For one, if you’re reading this, you’re alive. That’s a good start. Is the temperature controlled where you are? Can you flip a switch for instant light? Do you have virtually limitless access to clean drinking water? Once you take the time to appreciate the little things, you can build up to more complex expressions of gratitude. And every time you do this, you’re erasing stress–so it’s always beneficial. Jotting this thankfulness down in a journal before bed is proven to promote deeper sleep and even relieve chronic pain. It’s good for your heart, both figuratively and literally.

For a more extreme exercise in gratitude, check out the video below to see the kind people over at Soul Pancake conducting a fun experiment about gratitude’s effect on the happiness of some unsuspecting test subjects:

Hopefully this blog post prompts you add a little more gratitude into your life. Thank you so much for reading!

Spring Sun and Fun


Farmer’s Markets Abound

No matter where you call home in the Greater Portland Metro Area, there’s a farmer’s market not far off. Find one conveniently close and meet the people who grow this delicious organic food. It’s not just carrots and cauliflower, enjoy everything from hand-crafted ginger ales to local bee pollen.




Arbor Day Festival

Speaking of farmer’s markets, the Portland Arbor Day festival will be kicking off Saturday, April 26th at the Portland State University farmer’s market from 8:30am to 2:00pm. Plant a tree and come celebrate our urban forest as Portland receives its 37th annual Tree City USA banner!




Food Cart Festival

Willamette Week’s Seventh Annual “Eat Mobile” pits more than 30 of their favorite food carts against one another, as they compete for the much-coveted Carty Award. With more than 400 food carts operating in Portland, this is a great way for newcomers to get a taste and for foodies to get their fix. Join the mouthwatering fun Sunday, April 27th at OMSI.




Tulip Fest

Experience the dog-friendly fun of Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, evolving every year in a beautiful new arrangement of patterns and colors. All are welcome (including photographers) to bask in the breathtaking, vibrant hues of Woodburn’s tulips. Open March 28th thru May 4th, open daily from 9am to 6 pm.

Got books? Share with our Little Free Library

Outside of a dog a book is man’s best friend. Inside a dog it’s too dark to read. –Groucho Marx

Have you seen a Little Free Library in your neighborhood? Neighbors walk by, and who can resist checking to see what is new in their own neighborhood library?

This one is in Sunnyside, not far from Sunnyside Environmental School. My friend who started it is really enjoying watching the books come and go. She loves knowing that she has contributed something very positive to her neighborhood. Some people leave a book, others browse and then take a book. The contents changes all the time. It gets neighbors talking to each other, too.

My friend started with a big load of books collected by a voracious reader, my late husband Jim Andrews. The supply is now dwindling. To keep the library going, she needs more books. All kinds of books are welcome, as long as they are in good condition. If you have books to share, please contact me, or 503-750-1630.

The mission of Little Free Library: 

To promote Literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide. To build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations. To build 2,510 Libraries–as many as Andrew Carnegie–and keep going!


Progressive in Portland, December Events.

Warming December Events:

Friday, December 7, 2012: 15th annual Portland Clowns Without Borders Benefit Show!

Clowns Without Borders Benefit Dec 7

Hilarious comedy-circus variety show. Clowns Without Borders strives to relieve trauma through laughter in areas of crisis around the world. 7:30 pm, Da Vinci Middle School Theater, 2508 NE Everett, Portland 97232

Tuesday, December 11, Friends of Family Farmers

At their next InFarmation & Beer, Friends of Family Farmers is presenting a screening of the latest rough-cut of Gaining Ground, a documentary film about food justice by Elaine Velazquez and KBOO talk show host, Barbara Bernstein. 5:30 to 8:30 pm at Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison.

The feature length documentary shows how growing healthy food can be a catalyst for igniting hope and empowerment in rural and urban communities. Here’s a clip: 28554508

Saturday December 8, OCCUPY Portland Holiday Free Store! 1-5 pm.

Contribute and/or attend the Occupy Holiday Free Store at St. Francis Church, 1131 SE Oak just north of Stark Street (in the basement room). Bring/get anything that would make a nice holiday gift – tins of cookies, fruit cakes, knitted mittens, crocheted throws, books, DVDs, CDs, flower vases, games, puzzles, toys, stuffed animals, earrings, necklaces, frisbees.
Write a personal gift certificate for: skills, hours of work, consultation, empathy, concert tickets, whatever you want to offer for a gift. Email for more information or if you want to volunteer or have things to donate. Thanks!

MORE on FaceBook:

Portland’s Most Haunted Properties

With the cold crisp in the morning air, the snap of autumn leaves under your feet, and the Pumpkin Spice latte in your hand, fall is finally here. And that means it’s almost time for Halloween. Most Portlanders are aware of our city’s strange and eerie past with places like the Shanghai Tunnels and the famously haunted Pittock Mansion, so take a look at a few more interesting Portland properties with some disturbing histories.

The Willamette Mansion

This forgotten home site sits across the river from the Waverly Club. The foundation was originally part of Oregon’s old water pump house. Legend says the builder and owner’s spirit still wanders the halls—especially in the elevator shaft where it is rumored he took his own life. Visitors have experienced doors mysteriously locking and lights randomly turning on and off.

Photo by Rick Ernst, click photo for link to Flickr.


Witch’s Castle

The stone ruins of a 1950s park ranger station are rumored to sit above what was once an old trading post from the 1600s. The land was originally owned by the Balch family in the mid 1800s—creating the start of an eerie past with the father Danford Balch who claimed his wife bewitched him into committing murder. The land was eventually divided up and given to the City of Portland in 1897 to be used as a park. Today, visitors who seek out the shack claim seeing strange orbs and apparitions.


White Eagle Saloon and Hotel

The White Eagle Saloon originally had a less than ideal reputation on Mississippi Avenue in Northeast Portland. It was once considered the saloon and brothel of choice for Portland’s roughest crowd where bar fights got out of hand on a daily basis—resulting in the nickname “Bucket of Blood.” The old brick building, which was built in the early 1900s, is rumored to be haunted by a working girl named Rose, who met an untimely death by the hand of a jealous lover. McMenamins eventually bought the building and now it functions as a popular neighborhood haunt known for its live music.

Above, the saloon today. Below, the saloon shortly after it opened in 1906.