Speaking from the stage in the auditorium of the East Portland Community Center last month, Commissioner Amanda Fritz told those gathered for the 2011 Spirit of Portland Awards, “It’s a coincidence that so many of our award winners are from this part of town, and yet it isn’t.” Locals were represented among the winners, including the winners of the Neighborhood of the Year and Business District of the Year awards.

Lents Association chair Nick Christensen wrote the nomination and mentioned the activities of his board members. At the ceremony, he thanked Richard Bixby, East Portland Neighborhood Office executive director, for being “always ready with a quick and easy solution,” and acknowledged the good work of “all Lentils.” (sic)

As part of the annual Spirit of Portland Awards, city commissioners choose their own recipient. Commissioner Nick Fish, right, chose Tom Lewis for his work to improve Parklane Park in outer east Portland. Photo courtesy BRIAN HOOP

The 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association was honored for sponsoring a Rose Festival parade since 2007; for their work in fighting crime and prostitution on the street; and for beautifying it with the planting of roses and trees

Commissioner Nick Fish selected, and gave an award to Tom Lewis for his work to improve Parklane Park. In receiving the award he said, “I had a lot of help. Thanks to the entire Council for coming to east Portland to see the great work that happens here on a daily basis.”

Ryan Cloutier and Alex Amen won Small Business of the Year for their Lents Commons Coffee Shop. In addition to being a business district anchor, and a neighborhood hangout, they were honored for support of such public projects as the Lents Master Plan and Ramona Street Fair. In accepting the award from Fish, Amen thanked his customers. “Without the community there’s not much of anything,” he said.

Erika Silver of Human Solutions was nominated by the non-profit’s chair, Jean DeMaster. She was cited not just for her work at this agency, but previous stints at the YWCA and Bradley-Angle House, most of it dealing with human shelters. In accepting the award she called her selection “very humbling. In my family, we were raised with values to treat people with respect. We help people to build real pathways out of poverty.”