As renters in Portland, we had the luxury of living in whatever neighborhood we wanted to plant ourselves in. The burning desire to buy a house and plant a permanent garden finally took over about a year ago and we began the house-hunt. Housing prices in Portland can be challenging, but we found our great little 1927 bungalow in SE with a great big yard.

Our neighborhood is technically Brentwood-Darlington, but no one in Portland really knows where that is. We are nestled in between Mt Scott and Lents. Mt Scott is a cute little area with the Arleta Library Cafe, Space Monkey Coffee, the Mt Scott Park, and a community center. Lents on the other hand has a seedier reputation, commonly referred to as “Felony Flats”.

There are tons of urban renewal projects currently being planned for the Lents area and I recently took their survey on Shopping & Services that I would like to see become available in the area. Taking the survey brought up some interesting ideas. What is it about this area that I love and what do I want to see change? How does the city make improvements here without gentrification?

I’m still forming my opinion on this issue. I would love to see a New Seasons, a Stumptown, more locally-owned, organic dining options. But I also love the diversity in my neighborhood. I love that on our little street we have Korean, Russian, and Mexican neighbors. Some we are closer with than others, but I have enjoyed getting to know their families and swapping neighborly favors with each other. One of the kids helping us a couple weeks ago is from South Korea, and it was so much fun to swap stories with him about my trip there this summer. One of our neighbors didn’t bat an eye when I told him about our chickens because he had some back in Russia.

On the other side, I would prefer to live on a street without a drug-dealer and cars parked on the lawns. It would be great to have our side streets be paved instead of gravel roads. I wouldn’t mind seeing a pawn shop here and there be replaced with something that fit my needs more.

I’m proud of this neighborhood for adding in some great brunch places, a good dining option here and there, and a budding International farmer’s market. But after watching the Mississippi, Alberta, and the Pearl District transform over the last 10 years… it worries me that we will lose the great things that make this area special. Can the neighborhood change without the good, existing neighbors moving away?

In celebration of our fabulous neighborhood, we’re banding together with some friends to embark on a “Felony Flats Pub Crawl” this Saturday. It’s kind of an ironic pub crawl, if there is such a thing. I am expecting some record-scratching moments, but I am also hopeful we will discover a new place in the neighborhood we want to come back to. Biker bars, strip clubs, indoor-outdoor carpeting, but hopefully a gem in there somewhere.

If I disappear off the face of the earth though, at least you know where to start looking for me…

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Written by Renee Wilkinson