As the realities of COVID began to take hold, businesses began to consider how to adapt. Once state and local guidelines were released, it became apparent that the restrictions on inside occupancy would make it difficult to sustain business operations profitably. Conversations began to drift to the streets as a possible solution.

Friends of Green Loop had already been working with the City of Portland to create a pilot for operating commerce (food carts) in the right of way for The Culinary Corridor. This work included developing permits, site design, operations, insurance and vendor services. Friends of Green Loop was tapped by an informal group of community leaders to assess how that work and possibly The Green Loop could play a role.

That group was dubbed, PDX in the Streets and included Renee Gorham from Toro Bravo, Michelle Reeves from CIVILIS Consultants, Sarah Shaoul from Bricks Need Mortar and PDX SOS, Kate Merrill from Central Eastside Industrial Council, Willie Levenson from Popina Swimwear, and Brad Nelson from Axiom Event Productions.

It was also clear that if this was going to be successful, it needed to be safe and not become a street festival. In order to address the safety issues, Friends of Green Loop looked to the Portland Farmers Market. The Portland Farmers Market at PSU was already operating an outdoor market and had already begun adopting COVID safety protocols as information became available.

Friends of Green Loop reached out to Portland Farmers Market and offered to volunteer at the market to learn best practices. Portland Farmers Market welcomed the opportunity to share any information that could be helpful. After several weeks, some of the best practices learned included:

  • Limiting entry points to the site
  • Coordinating queue lines and allowing entry based on site occupancy
  • Queued entry was recommended but not required – as this was public property
  • Local access was granted to students and residents without waiting
  • Clear signage with health guidelines and market rules located throughout site
  • Volunteers were educated on practices and policies and given clear instructions and support from management
  • Use of creative paint to indicate one way traffic direction and six feet markers
  • Social distance officers helped to maintain safety procedures and proper distancing
  • Hygiene stations were placed in abundance throughout the site
  • Best Practices at Portland Farmers Market

The experience and thoughtfulness of Portland Farmers Market was invaluable and to this day, they remain leaders in safe COVID operations.

Friends of Green Loop also worked with students from University of Portland to research COVID responses from other cities and to study how the Green Loop could be used as a delivery network for goods.

Based on the experience of volunteering at the market, working with community leaders in PDX in the Streets and studying other cities, Friends of Green Loop prepared a draft concept, “Streets for People” which was presented to Commissioner Eudaly’s office and PBOT by the PDX in the Streets team.

Ultimately, PBOT developed the Healthy Businesses program, which was an extension of the Safe Streets, Slow Streets program and the popular Street Seats program.

Friends of Green Loop decided to develop two potential sites based on the best practices developed:

  • NW 13th
  • SE 6th AKA “Industrial ROW”

Both installations will serve as pilot models for possible future activation of the Green Loop and how Friends of Green Loop can play a role in placemaking and event management.

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