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'Fall in Love with Lents' festival highlights positive side of the neighborhood

Organizers hoped to bring something positive to the Southeast Portland neighborhood with a community cleanup and art fair.

PORTLAND, Oregon — A neighborhood that's often in the spotlight for its own struggles celebrated what makes it unique Saturday with a festival called Fall in Love with Lents.

It was designed to bring something positive to the Southeast Portland neighborhood where the focus is often on its negatives.

“We just wanted to showcase all the positive things that are happening in Lents," said Sabina Urdes of the East Portland Collective, one of the event’s organizers.

Saturday began with a cleanup in the neighborhood, but the biggest event was the arts fest where people where able to show off and sell their creations. There were also music and games for kids.

Lents was originally a town founded in 1892 and became a part of Portland in 1912. It's one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city and has many challenges including issues with the housing crisis. It's the birthplace of the  Portland Street Response team, and often sees gun violence.

“A lot of times when you hear about Lents or East Portland, it seems like the focus tends to be on trash, abandoned vehicles or issues with substance abuse or crime. Those are very real issues, but it's a very diverse community," Urdes said.

People living here believe this is the kind of event that can begin to change the impression people have of the Lents neighborhood.

“It's great to have this in the neighborhood. Great neighborhood to be in,” one resident said.

Festival organizers hope this can be the start of something big. 

"A lot of folks are stepping up to make this the community they want it to be," Urdes said. "The future for Lents is bright." 


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