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November Newsletter: Spotlighting St Johns Plaza

News Article
Portland's Public Street Plazas Banner featuring a cartoon scene of people enjoying a plaza.  People are running, biking, sitting, eating, socializing, dancing, and DJing.
PBOT Public Street Plaza Program's November newsletter. Featuring upcoming events and a spotlight on St Johns Plaza.
In this article

November already? Where has the year gone?

This month we want to take a special moment to highlight St Johns Plaza and our amazing partnership with the St Johns Boosters. Community partnerships are the secret ingredient that bring plazas to life!

Founded in 1978, St Johns Plaza offers the neighborhood a unique community space in the heart of its business district.  As the oldest PBOT Plaza, it provides a rich foundation for local business, neighborhood activities, and the PBOT Street Plaza program.  Over the years this site has hosted the neighborhood farmers market, plant sales, the community tree lighting, dance events, board game nights, and much more.

Read on to find out what's happening today in this special St Johns Plaza spotlight edition of our newsletter.

A black and white historical photo of St Johns Plaza.  A crowd of people pose in front of the plaza near the St Johns Clock to celebrate its opening.
St. Johns Plaza Opening, 1978 - Courtesy of the St Johns Boosters

Upcoming Plaza Partner Events

Friday, Nov. 17 - St Johns Plaza Tree Lighting- Join us at St Johns Plaza this month to witness the Holiday Tree Lighting.  This annual event hosted by the St Johns Boosters brings out hundreds of community members to celebrate the holiday spirit.  The event features the Roosevelt High School Choir, hot chocolate and cookies from Cookie Monsterz, free photos with Uniko Fotobus, and ugly sweater ornament kits from IQ Credit Union.

Saturday, Nov. 25 – Ugly Sweater Celebration and Shopping Event- Come celebrate Small Business Saturday in St. Johns! Join The St Johns Boosters in the plaza to visit neighborhood-based businesses, pet Small’s mini horses, listen to holiday favorites performed by Portland Standard Time band and watch for carolers singing throughout the district. Grab a passport and map at the booster’s info table for a chance to win gift baskets.  This plaza and business district wide event is a great way to support local businesses for all your holiday shopping.

If you love these events, The Boosters have a variety of events throughout the business district all month long.  Go check them out!

Have a plaza event or activation idea for winter?

Winter markets, hot chocolate socials, winter lighting, snowball fights?  we'd love to hear about it!  Keeping plazas lively throughout the year and providing a space for your community are big goals for us.  Email your ideas to or send in a free Small Plaza Activation Application. We've made our process easier than ever so that you can throw events in your community plazas.

Note:  to ensure your event is featured in our newsletter, please email us at least one week before the first of each month.

Event Spotlight: Fall Fling at St Johns Plaza

A crowd of people gather at St Johns Plaza on a beautiful fall day.

Last month, the St Johns Community celebrated the coming of Autumn with their second annual Fall Fling.  The event, hosted by the St Johns Boosters saw hundreds of residents flock to the plaza. 

Fall Fling featured activities for all ages. People danced along to tunes from Portland Standard Time Band, played games, pet mini horses, hula hooped, and participated in a variety of other fall themed activities. The event culminated with the plaza clock dedication.  Originally erected in 1978, the plaza clock had fallen into disrepair in recent years.  With the help of the St Johns Boosters, the clock has been restored and is ticking away!

A woman on the right, standing, sings into a microphone while a man on the left, sitting, plays on guitar at St Johns Plaza.
The Portland Standard Time Band put on a great performance

With the Support from Venture Portland and leadership from St John’s District Manager, Tanya Hartnett, The St Johns Boosters have been a stellar partner in stewarding this PBOT Plaza.  This summer alone, they hosted around 30 events, including a weekly game night in partnership with local businesses and a Wednesday knitting event with Weird Sisters Yarn Shop.

Tanya Harnett leans against the PBOT Public Plaza sign showing all the Plaza locations across Portland.
Venture Portland's St John's District Manager, Tanya Hartnett

The plaza has been and continues to be a cornerstone of the St Johns community.  David Carroll, a St Johns resident said during an interview, “Plazas are a fantastic community asset, continuing to support them through programming and events gives a sense of place, pride, and belonging for us in St Johns".

A man and his son are writing plaza event ideas on a large post-it board at St Johns Plaza.
David and his son share ideas for future plaza events

Scenes from the Plazas: Dance United

DJ Prashant is pictured, DJing with his hands up in celebration, facing a crowd of dancers in St Johns Plaza
DJ Prashant Pumps up the crowd at St Johns Plaza-Photo Credit: Dance United

Speaking of St Johns' amazing events, did you catch one of the Dance United block parties?

Dance United’s mission is to celebrate the lives of immigrants, the BIPOC community and all people by spreading the electrifying energy of love, unity, happiness and diversity across cultures through music and dance. DJ Prashant Kakad founded Dance United to create a safe space to experience joy for refugees, immigrants, and BIPOC communities.

A crowd of smiling people dance after dark at St Johns Plaza
It was lovely to see so many people dancing and smiling-Photo Credit: Dance United

Their Summer block parties have been supported through a Metro Grant and other donors.

If you missed them this summer, that's ok!  Dance United is hosting a Free all ages Cultural Fusion Festival celebrating Diwali and Dia De Los Muertos on Saturday, November 4th. Join them at the TEAM Center at 115 SE 9th Ave., Portland, OR from 5p.m.-7p.m. 

A large crowd of people in the background watch a man breakdancing in the foreground at St Johns Plaza
Break dancing at the plaza! Photo Credit: Dance United

Do you have a great Public Street Plaza Photo?

We'd love to feature it!  Share your best PBOT Street Plaza photo with the world by tagging @PBOTinfo on InstagramFacebook, or X (formally Twitter).  You can also email your photo to our team at

Grant Opportunities

The Small Grants & Sponsorship Program funds events, activities, and projects that strengthen community, build inclusion, and support engagement with City government. Funding is available for small organizations and groups that have a yearly operating budget under $300,000 and who are doing community-based work in the East, North, and Southwest district coalition areas. Applications close Nov. 7, 2023

The Regional Travel Options Program creates safe, vibrant and livable communities by providing grants and supporting efforts that increase walking, biking, ride sharing, telecommuting and public transit use.  The next RTO General Grant cycle application opens on Jan. 3, 2024

Where can you find PBOT's Street Plazas?

PBOT has numerous active plazas that are ready for you, your friends, and family to enjoy! They are great places to grab a bite to eat, relax in the shade, enjoy live music, meet up with friends, and so much more. Check out our directory to find out more about plazas near you!

A map of Portland featuring the 17 street plazas across the city

What is the Portland Public Street Plaza Program?

Originally started during the Covid-19 pandemic to assist businesses and Portlanders, PBOTs Public Street Plaza program-built partnerships with community and local businesses to transform select streets into public spaces for cultural events, street fairs, pop-up markets, and more. The program uses PBOT's Livable Streets Strategy, adopted by Portland City Council in 2017 as its policy foundation to turn streets into inclusive public spaces that foster public life. In 2022 PBOT’s Planning team started work to turn the temporary, pandemic-era program into a permanent Street Plaza program. This program continues to allow PBOT to act on its values around climate action, mobility for all, and building community by creating public spaces that all Portlander should be able to use and enjoy.

Portland Public Street Plazas Funded by the American Rescue Plan

This project is funded by the American Rescue Plan, a federal economic stimulus bill designed to help communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession. The City of Portland is receiving $208 million of local recovery funds. Investments focus on three key priorities: houselessness response and household stabilization, business and commercial district stabilization, and community health and safety.

The City of Portland's America Rescue Plan Logo.  The subtitle reads Investing in Portland

The City of Portland ensures meaningful access to city programs, services, and activities to comply with Civil Rights Title VI and ADA Title II laws and reasonably provides: translation, interpretation, modifications, accommodations, alternative formats, auxiliary aids and services. To request these services, contact the Portland Bureau of Transportation at 311 (503-823-4000), for Relay Service & TTY: 711.