Community event gives taste of Rockwood's future -

OUTLOOK PHOTO - Jerald Doswell fills out a feedback card during the walk, talk and eat event. Cecilia Negret’s station had rainbow fruits to try. She served skewers of watermelon and pineapple, strawberries with cream, honeydew melon, and plenty of whip cream.

“I am trying to start a small business serving dessert fruit,” Negret said. “I heard about this event from a friend and decided to do something different and get some feedback.”

Negret was one of several burgeoning entrepreneurs from the Rockwood neighborhood hoping to get exposure Oct. 15 at the city of Gresham’s walk, talk, and eat interactive event at the Sunrise Center, 18901 E. Burnside St.

The day started with a 2.2 mile walk to the center from Gresham City Hall. Along the way guides stopped at stations to spur discussion about walking and biking in Gresham, as part of the Active Transportation Plan.

“This is a great opportunity to hear from the community about how we can best serve them,” said Brian Martin, senior comprehensive planner with the city.

Then community members tasted food prepared by local vendors like Negret. There were baked goods, macaroni and cheese, tempeh, hot sauce, tamales and teriyaki chicken. After trying the food, they were encouraged to provide feedback using comment cards to help the would-be-entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

OUTLOOK PHOTO - Cecilia Negret served rainbow fruit during the walk, talk, eat event. She hopes to open a small business serving dessert fruits.Jerald Doswell lives only a few minutes away from the Sunrise Center, and when he heard about the event from a church friend, he decided to check it out.

“Developing the Rockwood area is important, so I wanted to see what was planned for myself,” he said. “Rain or shine, I was going to be here.”

Doswell’s favorite dish he tried was a lemon bar, and he liked being able to give feedback on both the food and potential developments to the community.

“I want to be a part of it all as a clothing designer,” Doswell said. “If the city could help make things easier for starting up small businesses, we would be able to give something back to the community.”

Using a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 community liaisons were hired from a wide range of backgrounds. They help engage with the communities where they live and work, planning for transportation and neighborhood revitalization. The liaisons were integral in creating the walk, talk and eat event.

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