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Oaks Woods

About 1 in 4 Fairview residents live in two apartment complexes, Fairview Oaks and Fairview Woods, which sit off Halsey at the far eastern edge of town near Wood Village.

Fairview Oaks is most painted blue. Fairview Woods is mostly painted green. The sister complexes are mashed up as a whole, Fairview Oaks Woods Apartments, and together this community includes a pool, a basketball court, a community center, a community garden, a business center with computer lab, three playgrounds, and a Head Start classroom, which offers preschool services to low-income families and is run by Mt. Hood Community College. Like all local Head Start classrooms, this one is closed due to COVID-19.

At Fairview Oaks and Fairview Woods, there are 40 units of subsidized housing sprinkled among the 328 units, 1- to 4-bedroom affairs that run from $735 to $1,714 a month, depending on size, number of bathrooms, and extras like fireplaces. The website touts the walk-in closets, the park-like setting, the on-site management and the 24-hour emergency maintenance team. It’s pet friendly, and after spending a good chunk of Saturday there, I can tell you there are lots of cats and dogs in Fairview Oaks Woods. My favorite was Cuban, a gorgeous pit bull.

This community is chock full of kids, many who attend Fairview Elementary, Reynolds Middle School, and Reynolds High School. Elementary and middle school kids were out in droves - skateboarding, riding bikes, taking out the trash, hanging out with family, and mostly walking around in small packs. The kids I talked to like where they live – especially the playgrounds and especially Fairview Woods Park, an eight-acre forested park run by the city. I learned from the city public works director, Allan Berry, that trials for the park were cleared by a pack of 50 goats, all named for Biblical characters. Now this park that goats built is home, the kids say, to lots of ravens, squirrels, and rabbits. No one has seen a coyote or a deer or anything like that, but, well, you can’t be sure that big animals aren’t in there. So the kids say.

I spoke with one Fairview Oaks resident, Rasheeda, for a long time late Saturday morning while dropping my fliers. A single mom that works the night shift at a local hotel, Rasheeda loves being out of Northeast Portland and in a place where she can walk to Fred Meyer, get to church and work fast, and let her kids go outside to play without worrying too much. She’s not crazy about all the kids in the complex – some can be bullies and some just act up and talk tough – but she blames any misbehaving on moms and dads who aren’t looking out for their children the way they should.

Rasheeda doesn’t have much in the way of complaints. She likes Fairview, and Fairview Oaks. Management is cool, she said, but the best part is the quiet. She can be having a really bad day and then walk outside her door and hear the hummingbirds chirping up in the tree during the day and walk outside and hear the frogs singing in the creek at night. All the stress goes away.

I understood. Even though Rasheeda and I live on opposite sides of the city, we like where we live for the exact same reasons. I hear hummingbirds. I hear frogs. Every day. I am grateful to live close to a little bit of nature. Most people in Fairview, I bet, feel the same way. We all want peace and beauty in our lives. Nature delivers both, and we’ve got a lot of nature in Fairview.

As I was leaving, dragging the wagon back to the car, I saw a group of chairs dragged out from kitchens and set in a circle at the entrance to Fairview Woods Park. My first thought: Eyesore. My second thought: Genius. Residents were making the park their own, creating a circle to gather outside and be in nature together. Maybe they could use some benches or chairs from the city. Or maybe they want to keep their DIY circle, some community by their own design.

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