Press Release: Block Party Unites a NE Portland Neighborhood in Transition

August 08, 2017

Block party unites a NE Portland neighborhood in transition

NE Block Party: Bring That Beat Back
Saturday, August 26, 2017  |  2 – 10:00 p.m.
NE Graham Street between MLK Blvd & 7th Avenue
Free and open to the public
Register via Eventbrite 

PORTLAND, ORE. – August 8, 2017  – 
On August 26, Open Signal will band together with Eliot Neighborhood residents, businesses and artists to present a daylong multicultural block party, featuring live music on porches, family-friendly activities and immersive media installations that demonstrate the talent and culture of Northeast Portland. 

Historically a Black neighborhood, Eliot spans between NE Broadway and Fremont, from NE 7th Avenue west to the Willamette River. The area, which includes Emanuel Hospital and the N. Williams Avenue business district, has experienced some of Portland's most rapid gentrification and displacement of the past 50 years. 

In an effort to honor past and present NE Portland culture, this celebration blocks off NE Graham Street at MLK Jr. Blvd—adjacent to Open Signal—to feature the talents of Graham Street residents and those with deep ties to NE Portland neighborhoods. 

Justen Harn, Open Signal Executive Director says, "This organization has been part of the Eliot neighborhood since the early 1990s and our community has seen a tremendous amount of change in that time. We can't control the gentrification around us, but we can engage meaningfully with our neighbors, preserve our collective history and document our local culture as it evolves." 

 "In my opinion, NE Portland has always been the cultural hub of the city," said event organizer and Eliot resident Dante Graham-Preston, whose family has lived in NE Portland for more than 60 years. "Post-gentrification, that spirit has been significantly diminished. This block party event is my contribution to the neighborhood that nurtured me and gave me the tools to explore and embrace life." 

Graham-Preston continues: "My hope is that the event will bring natives and newcomers together to experience and enjoy the essence of the neighborhood." 

Featured musicians include: 

  • Kulululu (Indie Rock), member Denzel Mendoza lives on NE Graham St.
  • Destro of Oldominion/Boom Bap Project(Hip hop), MC/Lyricist Domion Oramas is a native NE Portland resident
  • Saeeda Wright (R&B/Funk/Soul/Vocalist), a NE Portland native
  • Grayskul (Hip hop), with MC Onry Ozzborn

Other activities include:

  • A food cart pod and a beer garden
  • The launch of a neighborhood story collection project hosted by StreamPDX, a podcast outfit located in an airstream trailer
  • Large-scale photographs of Eliot neighbors made by Ricardo Nagaoka
  • Interactive art installation by Taj Bourgeois and nationally recognized musician/artist and Eliot resident Erika Anderson/EMA
  • "What Connects Us," a display of photographs created by students at Open School North and Portland Police officers with Elijah Hasan, long-time Open Signal producer
  • Art making with RACC/Open Signal muralist Molly Mendoza
  • Family storytime by Black Hat Books

Attendees can also tour the facilities at Open Signal and learn more about the resources and community at this newly reinvented 35-year-old media arts center. 

This event is free and open to public. Attendees can gain a beverage ticket by registering in advance online.  

See the full schedule as it evolves on the Open Signal website.

Thank you to event sponsors Lagunitas Brewing Company, BridgePort Brewing and Guayaki, Yerba Mate and 2 Towns Ciderhouse.



Rebecca BurrellDirector of Strategy & Development 
rebecca [at] 
(503) 673-8709

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