After a quiescent period, the Sellwood-Westmoreland business association moves to rebuild after the pandemic

DAVID F. ASHTON - SMBA Interim President Tom Brown listened with concern as business owners told how the citywide spike in crime is impacting their businesses in Sellwood and Westmoreland. After meeting virtually for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic – and pausing its popular promotions for that reason – leaders of the Sellwood Moreland Business Alliance (SMBA) decided to hold a "live" meeting on Thursday morning, March 31st, in the Moreland Theater in Westmoreland.

With his eyes adjusting to the dim light of the movie house, SMBA Interim President Tom Brown wondered aloud if more than a handful of people would attend this 11 a.m. meeting. But, as it turned out this gathering drew 26 attendees.

"We've hired a marketing strategist, Jessica O'Rear of Pondering Mind Creative, to help us redo the SMBA website, and automate many of our online functions," Brown reported to the business members who were filtering in that morning. "Now we're ready to kick off the organization again. Hopefully, we will start arranging events again. we are looking forward to keeping the neighborhood thriving!"

As the meeting began, after self-introductions, Brown thanked SMBA former Executive Director Terra McGibbon and the Board of Directors for helping them weather the pandemic.

Sellwood Community House Director of Community Relations and Development Erin Fryer, along with Elizabeth Milner, took to the stage toannounce their upcoming programs, including starting up the popular "Thursday Market".

Then Brown put forward the idea of updating the SMBA's "Walking Map" of the Sellwood-Westmoreland business district. "Looking over the last map we put out, it is remarkable how many businesses are still here, after the pandemic."

More music this summer planned

Longtime SMILE concert planner Jim Friscia was there to recall the success they'd had with a dozen concerts last summer, held in three smaller venues, and supported by the business community.

"We are going to scale at back a little bit this year – tentatively, we're looking at eight concerts – and we are still discussing what we will be doing, and where," Friscia said.

Before the pandemic, SMILE presented weekly July Summer Concerts in cooperation with the Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) "Summer Free For All" program – most recently in upper Sellwood Park in 2019. Now, Friscia explained, this year, PP&R is revising their programming and scaling it down. "We're going to get just one such concert in Sellwood Park this year; it is scheduled for Friday, July 29. We're also thinking about the weekend of July 29th as an expanded celebration that would include the concert, and perhaps – just perhaps – we can feature a newly-revived Sundae in the Park."

Crime prevention committee considered

Turning to the upturn in burglaries and vandalism in the Sellwood-Moreland districts, Brown suggested that a developing a volunteer committee to address the issue might be helpful. Several of the business people present offered their own ideas to reduce crime in the area.

Finally, Brown pitched for SMBA memberships, and asked attendees to consider joining its Board of Directors.

Look for the next SMBA meetings to take place on May 26 and June 23 – with locations to be announced. Get on their email list, or get more information, by visiting their official website –

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