by Todd Struble
Jade District Manager
The mission of the Jade District is rooted in building power in our community and fighting displacement pressures on folks that live in the area around Southeast 82nd Avenue and Division Street. As part of that mission, we understand that the community which is most affected by investments and decisions in the area will have the best understanding of what the needs of the community are and what support is needed.
This is something that distinguishes the Jade International Night Market from other outdoor events held in Portland; we are proud to say that the idea, planning, design and implementation of the Jade International Night Market came predominantly from members in the community. The Jade District held a community visioning process in 2014 to identify what residents, neighbors, and workers in the area wanted to see happen in the neighborhood. You can see the visioning report here. One of the many ideas our community came up with included an outdoor event where neighbors could come together, share their experiences, culture, and food with their community and the rest of Portland.
From that idea a tiny group of resident volunteers recruited an event coordinator and worked tirelessly to recruit vendors and performers for the first Jade International Night Market in 2014. A vision to reality, the first Jade International Night Market took place in August of 2014. Where our committed group of volunteers was hoping for a few hundred participants in this pilot project, over 6,000 people attended the first night of the event, and by the end of the events, over 20,000 people visited the Jade International Night Market to celebrate and support the event.
We continued that success in 2015, bringing over 25,000 people to to the second annual Jade International Night Market. We also moved the space to accommodate the large crowds to Portland Community College Southeast Campus. PCC SE Campus is an anchor institution in our neighborhood and we were thrilled to build our relationship with them and collaborate on this event.
The Jade International Night Market also serves as a tool for organizing and uniting small businesses in the neighborhood. Many businesses in the Jade District did not participate in 2014 due to the event being unproven, but after seeing the crowds and success, many businesses, including Ocean City Restaurant, Thai Fresh, and Law Auto, took steps to get involved with the Jade District. Many of these businesses needed support to get the licenses needed to serve food at the Night Market. In 2015, we supported these businesses to be able to participate by helping them meet those requirements. The Jade District was thrilled to provide the avenue for an additional source of revenue, all while celebrating the culture and diversity that make the Jade District a unique place in Portland.
The Jade International Night Market also provided space for immigrant farmers to sell their produce. Through a collaboration with the Harrison Park Community Garden and Outgrowing Hunger, the event served as an avenue to generate income and get healthy food to their community. For some of these farmers, this produce came from their backyard or community gardens, and it was their first experience selling their produce.
We view the Jade International Night Market as a crucial tool to help support local small businesses in the neighborhood, provide a space to celebrate the diversity and culture of the residents who live and work in the Jade District. Our messaging will always include these principles. We look forward to building on the success of 2015 and will see you all at next year’s night markets on August 20 & 27, 2016!