Join us Saturday, April 1

This Saturday, April 1, 2017, marks another opportunity for community members to learn and participate in the Rockwood Rising project.  In conjunction with our partners at the Rockwood Community Development Corporation (Rockwood CDC), Rockwood Rising staff are helping to host an International Food Fair and Tempeh Celebration.

Participants will be able to sample food from local vendors, several of whom hope to be tenants in the new development.  Many of these vendors will be sharing new recipes that revolve around tempeh, a fermented soy-based protein source that is common in many Indonesian dishes.  Enjoy the many different varieties of this superfood, and get a taste of what Rockwood restaurants might look like in the future.

Matt Brown of YBA Architects will also be onsite, to present and share about the most recent renderings of Rockwood Rising's design.  Come and learn about the evolution of the design, and about the next steps of the development process.

Most importantly, attendees of this event will be able to complete surveys and make comments on the design so far.  Community engagement is part of the foundation of this project, and has already been used to heavily influence the project's design and programming.  Let your voice be heard, and see how the community has already shaped the process.

Join us

Saturday, April 1, 2017 from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

At the Sunrise Center: 18901 E Burnside St. Portland, OR 97233

For more information, email

Rockwood DIY Launches Pilot Computer Class


MetroEast Community Media, our partner and future tenant of Rockwood Rising, has begun services to the Rockwood neighborhood just a few yards away from the development site. Their first class, a computer course in email, typing, internet basics, and beginning social media, launched this month with 16 participants.  The members of the class are from the Rockwood community, and will each receive a complimentary laptop computer from Free Geek upon completion of the five-week course.

To see MetroEast Community Media's summary of their first classes, click below:

MetroEast has served the East Multnomah County community for more than 30 years.  For more information on the wide variety of media services they provide, as well as the new opportunities they will offer, visit the MetroEast Website.

Community participates in Rockwood Rising design

On October 15th, 2016, members of the Rockwood community had the opportunity to share in the project's design, as part of an activity with Brown and YBA architects. Participants gave feedback on existing design elements, and provided examples of new designs they found essential to the Rockwood neighborhood.

Staff and partners in the Rockwood Rising Project place a high value placed on community ownership.   Architect Matt Brown, in presenting the schematic design, called the future development site "a real civic space. A space for everyone, that belongs to everyone, and is reserved for no one."

Watch the video summary of this activity below:

The design activity was part of the larger Walk, Talk & Eat event, in which community members gathered to sample and give feedback on the project's future food vendors.  These vendors are local entrepreneurs, many of whom will be tenants in the project's Catalyst Site. Over 100 guests enjoyed food from 12 different vendors and celebrated Rockwood's rich culture.  Watch the video recap below:

For upcoming events and more ways to take ownership in this project, be sure to sign up for the Rockwood Rising Newsletter by emailing


Unique factors may be driving real estate investment decisions in Portland's suburbs

Excerpt from The Portland Business Journal:

Guest columnist Alisa Pyszka on how a community's story and its walkability can help meet the needs of citizens, employers and investors.

Recently, the Urban Land Institute hosted a great webinar regarding national forecasts for the economy and real estate.

...When a community can define what it is, where it wants to go and how it will get there, a story emerges.

And for the real estate world, this story is important if you want to attract investments.

One of the best stories I have seen lately is by the city of Gresham. They are very focused on enhancing a challenging area: the Rockwood community, a diverse neighborhood within the city. After numerous plans and development concepts over the years, they have honed in on a compelling project by meeting the needs of the community through access to food and entrepreneurship ( Rockwood Rising ). In addition, their public investments appropriately focus on creating a walkable area that connects to the surrounding areas...

Read the full story here

Two properties added to Rockwood Catalyst Site

By Christopher Keizur

From The Gresham Outlook

The Gresham Redevelopment Commission unanimously approved a proposal at its Tuesday, Sept. 6, meeting to acquire two more locations to develop for the Rockwood Rising Catalyst Site, envisioned as a new commercial and cultural hub at 187th Avenue and Stark Street.

“This is wonderful, a part of our city that is upcoming,” Commissioner Mario Palmero said. “I’m sure the people of Rockwood and West Gresham are very excited about this.”

Read the full story:


Share Your Favorite Recipe

Rockwood has a food scene that is rich with tradition, culture, and flavor. In our neighborhood, cooking and eating create real opportunities to connect with people, and the recipes we use connect us to the stories that help shape who we are.

If you are one of the many Rockwood-West Gresham residents with a dish and a story to share, you are invited to participate in the Rockwood Food Stories Recipe Project. This compilation of recipes and the stories that surround them will be a way to share Rockwood's special, vibrant food culture with the world.  

To participate, submit your recipe and a few sentences describing its significance to you.  Full details about the project, including online submission forms and a chance to win a $250 gift card, are available on the Rockwood Food Stories webpage, linked here.  You can also call the City of Gresham Communications Division with any questions or concerns at 503-618-2150. 

We look forward to hearing your story!

New Open School East Designed for College Preperation

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Principal Matt Ross explains how the new Open School East building reinforces the school's mission of preparing students to succeed in college. 

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Principal Matt Ross explains how the new Open School East building reinforces the school's mission of preparing students to succeed in college. 

From The Gresham Outlook

Written by Teresa Carson

Open School East, an alternative school in Gresham, just welcomed the first students into a shiny new building on a community campus that will also include a new Boys & Girls Club.

A college-prep school for students who have struggled to succeed in regular public school, Open School East has taken up residence in a new, warm, light-filled building that reinforces the school’s mission of inspiring students to overcome obstacles and succeed in higher education.

About 65 percent of Open School East students are children of color and about 85 percent live in poverty. East has a middle school partner in Open School North in North Portland. The school says students advance an average of 2.5 grade levels in math and reading in their first year at Open School East.

There is a new leader for the new building in Principal Matt Ross. He strolls though the building and calls out students by name, whether it’s to gently chide a student for running in the hall or compliment another on good work.

Open School East takes a different approach than a traditional, comprehensive high school.

“We have small class sizes, two adults in every class and focus on social justice and wrap around services,” Ross said, adding the school wants to prepare students not just to go to college, but be successful in the college environment.

Open School East has 135 students in grades seven through nine. It will eventually house about 270 students in grades seven through 12, with a grade scheduled to be added every year.

The new building is anchored by a two-story atrium with stadium seating crafted from warm, reclaimed wood. The seating faces a two-story white board wall that can be used as a blackboard, movie screen or backdrop for lectures.

Ross said the atrium seating “allows us to come together as a community.”

Dave Otte, principal with Holst Architecture, Portland, who designed Open School East and the Boys & Girls Club, said, “We wanted to make it open, simple and flexible and to last for years.”

The architecture reinforces the school’s mission. Inspirational quotes punctuate the building, such as one from the late actor, Christopher Reeve: “A hero is an ordinary person who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”

Ross noted, “We’re trying to counter the not-so-motivational messages kids get on social media and from society.”

A large black-and-white portrait of a hero of a social justice movement graces the doorway of each classroom. African-American author James Baldwin is at one doorway, Cesar Chavez adorns another. The school’s white walls and wood are accented with a bright, lime green throughout the building.

The four corners of the structure have study nooks with floor-to-ceiling windows and are furnished with soft, grey ottoman stools. Ross said these nooks can be used for small-group instruction, individual tutoring or small staff meetings.

“The nooks also create visual fissures between the classrooms,” architect Otte said.

Ross said the space is designed to look less like a traditional high school and more like a college, to further Open School’s mission to prepare students for higher education.

The snazzy new building is at 16519 S.E. Stark St. Last year, Open School East operated out of Oliver Elementary School, 15840 S.E. Taylor St., in the Centennial School District with only seventh and eighth grades. The new school has chemistry and biology labs, which are still being set up. Those classes won’t be taught until the students reach high school.

Open School has a long history in the Portland area dating back to the 1970s. It has had multiple iterations and was called Open Meadow School.

Otte said the Boys & Girls Club will look different, but complement Open School East. Both will use brick and warm woods. The single accent paint color at Boys & Girls Club will be an ocher or yellowish color.

The school will borrow the Boys & Girls Club kitchen and gym.

“There will be a symbiotic relationship” between the two buildings and organizations, Otte said.

Open School East draws students from Centennial, Gresham-Barlow, Reynolds, David Douglas, Parkrose and Portland Public school districts. It is organized as a state-designated alternative school and is not a charter school.

“We do school a little differently,” Ross said. 

Read more here:


New Rockwood Boys & Girls Club Breaks Ground

Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metro Breaks Ground at New Club in Rockwood

On July 21st, Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metro (BGCP) held a groundbreaking ceremony at its new site in the Rockwood neighborhood of Gresham. Community and business leaders, Club staff and families joined together to hear about the vision for the new facility and helped put the first shovels in the ground. Gresham’s Mayor Shane Bemis, Oregon State Senator Laurie Monnes-Anderson, Oregon State Representative Carla Piluso, and a representative from US Senator Ron Wyden’s office were on hand to speak to the value a Boys & Girls Club brings to the community and its youth.

Former Police Activities League Center (PAL) youth, Chelsey Francis, and former PAL staff member, Mathias Mauk, spoke about the void left in that community when the Center closed and the community’s excitement for the new Club. BGCP’s 2015 Youth of the Year, Bryan Gastelum Plata participated in the program and shared the positive role the Clubs have played in his and his family’s life.


See more at:


The new Club will be located in the center of the Rockwood neighborhood at the corner of southeast 165th and Stark Street. Open School East is building on the site and will be complete this summer. Open School will share the Club’s gym and kitchen facilities. New Avenues for Youth will lease space in the Club. The ultimate vision will include a campus of youth services to provide a unique collaboration of much needed wrap-around services for kids and families’ ages zero to adult. 

“This campus of services,  including Friends of the Children just blocks away, will provide a valuable continuum of coordinated services so no child falls through the cracks,” said Erin Hubert, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metro.

BGCP’s Catalyst Campaign for Rockwood is an $11.6 million effort created with three intentional priorities to include $9.4m to construct the new Club facility, $1m to endow a maintenance reserve that will ensure the facility will continue to function optimally for years to come, and an additional $1.2m for operations, which is equal to three years of operational capacity for new the Club. Early supporters of the campaign include the State of Oregon, the Bill & Ann Swindells Charitable Trust, Precision Castparts, Nike, The Epping Family Foundation, The Johnson Charitable Trust, The Collins Foundation and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, the Oregon Community Foundation, the Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation, Fred Meyer, The Standard, and the Comcast Foundation.

If you’d like to support the project or learn more, please visit our Catalyst Campaign site.

Rockwood Rising Phase One Plans Approved

On July 13, the Gresham Redevelopment Commission Advisory Committee recommended that that Schematic Design move forward, and on July 19, the Gresham Redevelopment Commission directed the Executive Director to issue a notice to proceed into Design Development.

From the Gresham Outlook:

The design is as ambitious as it is unique, using the resources and space available to create a layout that will draw the community together.

They focused on using inviting materials and colors, and tried to keep as many sight lines from the roadways as possible into the interior of the site.

“We want people to have a natural desire to walk across the space,” Brown said, “drawing the flow of people through and into the area.”

The basic concept is a large public square, vibrant pedestrian streets, mixed-use buildings, parking spaces for visitors and a market hall that will serve as the crown jewel.

The market will be an iconic building that will become associated with the reclaimed idea of Rockwood as a neighborhood.

Friends of the Children grand opening

GRESHAM OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Ezra, 6, enjoys a chemistry experiment Thursday, Jan. 21, at the Friends of Children building open house.

GRESHAM OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Ezra, 6, enjoys a chemistry experiment Thursday, Jan. 21, at the Friends of Children building open house.

Friends of the Children held a grand opening for its donors and community leaders last week, showing off its new space in East Multnomah County.

Just a few months ago, the building was still a dusty construction site. But on Thursday, Jan. 21, it was filled with people milling about and taking part in many different activities.

"We are pleased to welcome Friends of the Children to the city of Gresham," said Mayor Shane Bemis. "The services of this highly respected organization will fill a crucial gap in services for children in our community, and we are thrilled to partner with them."

Read about it at the Gresham Outlook here

Open School expands in Rockwood

(left- Ben Abiles, middle- Principal Elizabeth Jensen, and former Open school board member Suzanne Nolan to the right)  Hundreds of students who are the most likely to drop out will soon have another option as Open School expands in Multnomah County. Open School, formerly known as Open Meadow, broke ground Thursday on its new Rockwood school. The new school will serve students who show signs of struggling as early as sixth grade, adding a new grade every year for the next four. By 2019, the school aims to enroll about 270 students in grades 7-12. 

(left- Ben Abiles, middle- Principal Elizabeth Jensen, and former Open school board member Suzanne Nolan to the right) 

Hundreds of students who are the most likely to drop out will soon have another option as Open School expands in Multnomah County.

Open School, formerly known as Open Meadow, broke ground Thursday on its new Rockwood school. The new school will serve students who show signs of struggling as early as sixth grade, adding a new grade every year for the next four. By 2019, the school aims to enroll about 270 students in grades 7-12. 

Read more on Oregon Live here

Watch the video on KOIN 6 here


New Futsal Court Opens In Rockwood

20141118 Gresham One.0357.jpg

Only 13 months after Ruiz first had his vision of a safe playing safe for Rockwood's youth, that vision become a reality. Now, thanks to Ruiz and Fields For All, the Portland Timbers collaboration with the Timbers Army's Operation Pitch Invasion (OPI) and generous community sponsors, residents of the Ruiz's Rockwood neighborhood celebrated on Tuesday at a special opening the opportunity to play on two brand-new futsal courts, called SNAKE Court at Vance Park, on a first-come, first-served basis.

SNAKE is an acronym for “Sports, Neighborhood, Action, Knowledge and Empowerment.”

Read about it at the Portland Timbers website here