Zumba, Sewing, Music and more!

Even though it might still look the same from the outside, Living Cully Plaza has been a hive of community activity since it was acquired by Living Cully partners in 2015. Most recently the Plaza has been home to free community classes including Zumba, free community Son Jarocho music classes, and sewing classes!

Since November of 2016, longtime neighbor Amelia Calderon has been teaching free Zumba classes in Living Cully Plaza. “I needed motivation to lose weight and be healthier since I had my son, my mom has diabetes, and I used to teach it at the La Clinica de Buena Salud, and many women asked me when I was going to start it again.” says Amelia.

Amelia reached out to Anna Gordon of Living Cully, and was able to start teaching the classes in Living Cully Plaza 5 days per week.

Among her reasons for starting the class, Amelia wants to give women in her neighborhood free classes to help reduce obesity, lose weight and help high cholesterol, while promoting general health.  “For me it’s the motivation, a lot of people are going through depression, a lot of people have low self esteem, I have little girls that attend too, doctors have told them they’re at risk for diabetes and they’ve been going to classes, it all depends on them, if they want to change, now is the time”

Amelia has started a facebook page about her class and now has folks from Vancouver and Gresham coming as well. Amelia is now an after school programs coordinator at Hacienda CDC in addition to teaching these wonderful community Zumba classes.
Another class happening in Cully is organized by our partner, Verde. Starting in January, there have been bi-monthly sewing classes in Living Cully Plaza. Twelve latina women meet twice per month to learn and practice sewing, with the help of Sara Moskovitz, a sewing teacher from PCC. The hope is to help these women gain the skills necessary to one day start their own business, for now referred to as Verde Sews.

Months ago, while the project was still in planning stages, a number of these women took a survey in order to get a feel for their sewing experience and hopes for the program. Almost all participants have at least some experience sewing, and all have high hopes for the classes, both as a source of future employment and in terms of community building. Many have hopes of getting the products into large stores, but almost all are in accordance about the need to start small. When asked what an ideal work situation would be like, Araceli, a Cully resident and mother of 2 answered, “To be a sewing professional and be a part of a community that is full of family well-being. I hope to better my sewing abilities and to learn more of the high tech machines.” This seems to be a common sentiment among the women and the classes have been going well.

Classes will continue for two more months, the women are planning to have bi weekly meet-ups to continue to practice sewing once the classes have finished. Verde also plans to help organize ESL classes for the women while they gain the skills needed to start their own business.

Interested in learning to play the jarana, sing and learn zapateado? The Colectivo Son Jarocho de Portland are dedicated to the learning, teaching and playing of traditional music from southern Veracruz, México and have been offering free music lessons on every other Thursday at Living Cully Plaza since the Fall of 2016. They hosted a community event called a Fandango, also at the Plaza on Sunday, March 26th. Check out the next class!

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