Lents Commons has been honored with a 2011 Spirit of Portland Award for outstanding community partnership by a Small Business. Many of us visit Lents Commons daily, and this comes as no surprise! Ryan and Alex are outstanding community partners and have made fantastic contributions to the community the short time they’ve been business owners in Lents. These contributions are outlined in the nomination letter that earned them the award.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been less than two years since Lents Commons arrived on the intersection of SE 92nd and Foster Rd. Since they opened their doors, they’ve become a hub of the Lents Community. Lents Commons may not be Barista or a flagship Intelligentsia franchise – but Ryan and Alex make up for a lack of aesthetics and capital with community spirit and scrappiness. Lents Commons has become the place where the “townies” of Lents gather – young families, barflies, local musicians, retirees, local business folks working from “home”, people who’s “home” is down the road by Johnson Creek – as well as the place that new people get to know Lents – folks just hopping off the line 14, City Club and MPAC tour attendees, new residents, old residents just coming out of their shells, and people who spot the oasis of coffee in a desert of retail amenities. Ryan and Alex have fostered an environment that is welcoming and allows the very diverse populations in Lents to mix, interact and get to know each other in a place that truly feels like the commons.
Since opening their doors, they’ve developed what could have been a generic coffee shop into a venue that truly serves the community. They have hosted more community events, meetings and open houses than I can keep count of and done it graciously with enthusiasm. Lents Commons has become a place for field trips to convene, for truly open mic nights, and even for robust displays of civic participation by standing room only crowds.
One excellent example is their participation in the Lents Park Master Plan process. As a component of the community outreach, Ryan and Alex agreed to host open-house display boards at Lents Commons for 2 weeks and collect survey responses from the community. This allowed the community to casually participate, and drew a broader and more diverse range of responses.
Ryan and Alex both also serve their country as National Guard members. And, when Ramona Street Fair Volunteers needed help programming the music for this year’s event, Alex and Ryan not only found the bands – they called in the guard to bring an affordable sound equipment and stage set up to the Fair.
So, I am nominating Ryan Cloutier and Alex Amen for the Spirit of Portland Small Business of the year for 2011. Mostly, for them just being great people, but also because they took a chance on Lents and we all won.
Congratulations to Ryan and Alex for earning some well deserved recognition!