There were 177 National Night Outs around the Portland area on or around Tuesday, Aug. 6. But how many had a giant steel beam that the community could sign and forever immortalize their signature?
The answer is: one.
That one was Portland Community College and the Humboldt Neighborhood Association’s National Night Out event – the sixth consecutive year that they have hosted it on the Cascade Campus in North Portland. About 400 people enjoyed musical performers Melao de Cuba, Conroy-DeBrie and The Suspects, which is a jazz band led by Professional Music Program chair Allen Jones. In addition, there were Zumba dance sessions, dragon dancers, fire protection demonstrations, soccer games, food carts, construction learning center tours and, yes, an opportunity to sign that steel beam.
Thanks to the college’s Bond Program, representatives from Hoffman Construction and THA Architecture enticed attendees to sign their names to the beam, which will be one of the last things erected on the new student center building being constructed on the Cascade Campus. Hoffman’s project manager Derek Beneville said it’s an old ironworker tradition that the very last piece of steel be signed and placed on a building being completed. He said the beam and its signatures will be visible on the facility for a long time before its entombed with drywall. His company is constructing the new three-story academic building and student center on top of a single-level, 210-space underground parking structure along North Albina Avenue. They’ll both open for classes in fall of 2014.
“For national night out we wanted to make sure we got the community involved, the students involved and because, ultimately, that’s what this building is for – the students,” Beneville said of the student center. “Neighbors need to get to know each other. We can really tell how proud the neighbors are around here about this campus. It’s part of them.”
Cascade Fire Protection Program student Lauren Allen helped man the fire hose demonstration near the Student Services Building. Alongside one of the fire engines, Allen and her fellow PCC students set up a prop house with wood flame targets for attendees to shoot out. The demo was a good example of how PCC was connecting with its neighbors.
“If you have always dreamed of being a firefighter here is your chance; use the hose, spray at some fire and have a good time while you’re learning,” said Allen as she oversaw a woman spraying the prop. “We are out here doing some community education and public service to educate not only the students here at the school, but the surrounding community about programs, safety awareness and just bringing people together for a wonderful event.”
National Night Out, “America’s Night Out Against Crime,” is a nationwide event that started in 1984 to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back. This ties in with Cascade’s recent push to reduce crime around it’s neighborhoods. In 2006, campus leaders helped to form the Albina-Killingsworth Safe Neighborhood Commission that has worked to solve crime and livability issues. Its work has been honored by the Portland Police Bureau and the City of Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement.
This award-winning work combined with the view of the rising beams and concrete of the new bond-funded buildings in the background made the National Night Out scene an inspiring party for all.
“It’s awesome,” said Isa Dean, a community neighbor and former Cascade bond planning committee member. “I think they hired a great architect crew that really tried to meet the needs of the community and PCC and the budget. They came up with great ideas and solutions for activating the open areas. I think they did a much better job with this bond go-around by listening to the community.”
2013 Cascade National Night Out