This city's proved in recent weeks that—against all odds—it hasn't yet reached its upper limit for angst over homeless camping. And while social service workers, neighbors, and the homeless themselves prepare for whatever's going to come of the city sweeping the Springwater Corridor next month, one of Portland's more established organized camps is inviting the public inside.
Hazelnut Grove wants you to come party.
For weeks, the encampment at N Greeley and Interstate has been planning a "Groove at the Grove" celebration, which it's billing as part concert, part potluck, part art fair. If you can find another example of a homeless camp in this country putting together a music/art festival, I'd love to see it.
"It is being put together by people who want to bring things and make this happen," says Jose Serrica, who's been a lead organizer at Hazelnut Grove since its early days, in a video posted to Facebook July 9. "Bring your neighborhood. See what possibly might be popping up in a lot of your neighborhoods. You'll get an idea of what to expect."
Whether Serrica's right about that is anyone's guess. Mayor Charlie Hales' office has been advocating more organized camps for months, but has been stymied again and again when it came to finding suitable land. With a sweep of the Springwater's hundreds of campers likely to scatter them around the city, advocates are pushing these so-called "intentional communities" with renewed vigor.
Hazelnut Grove has been an example of what such organization can achieve, but it's also supposedly on its way out. The city has added the camp's residents to the list of people it's hoping to find a new place for, and has pulled back on an earlier announcement it would formally permit the encampment. Even so, Hazelnut Grove is fenced off with chainlink provided by the city, has access to portable toilets and dumpsters provided by the city, and continues to build structures for its residents.
If you're interested in checking it out, the camp is opening its gates from noon to 8 on Saturday. It's built a stage, according to Serrica's Facebook post, and activist Jessie Sponberg is apparently corralling hip hop acts (he knows a few). Paul Van Orden, who enforces noise regulations for the city, says no one's applied for a noise variance for the event.