Friday afternoon Jodi, Ally, and I went to the Nest to meet up with Kenny, a local of the neighborhood for over 20 years. He has seen all the changes to the neighborhood and offered some very interesting insight.
When we first walked in the bar around 3 on Friday, there were a couple of people inside and the bartender said hello. We asked her if Kenny had been in yet and she said not yet, then asked, "is he mowing your lawn?" This is one of Kenny's many jobs- taking care of people's yards in the area. We then told her that we were students and explained what we were doing and she told us he should be in any time for his "shift beer." He also works at The Nest, cleaning it up 4 mornings a week and then shows up for his beer almost like clockwork right around three. And sure enough in he walked.
So we began talking to him and he told us that he was on a very tight schedule, as he was already late for some yard maintenance. He works on 17 yards in the neighborhood in addition to working at the Nest. He used to work for the Forest Service and traveled all over the region, but now it sounds like he doesn't venture out of NE Portland very often. He told us that he has a car but hasn't driven it in over a year as he would rather put gas in his lawn mower.
Regarding the current status of the neighborhood, he said it is just like it used to be. It was once a flourishing business front street as it is now. Then it became all run down and businesses were pushed out. Kenny explained that he saw this happening, and the cops highlighting drugs and shootings in the neighborhood to make it look like something it really wasn't. But they had this power. And then the neighborhood was re-established once again. Kenny seemed to see all this for what it is- just a part of life. His perspective was very interesting and real. He is just living his life.