Hello everyone! It’s Andrew here, I just wanted to say hello and update you on what Village Portland has been up to.
We’ve added new neighborhoods, partnerships, and reporters— and we are stoked about some new moves in the works.
Cory Elia (Reflection: conducting the survey for the Portland Street Response) and Lesley McLam have been doing some awesome work around homelessness and homeless organizing, and are focusing in on more focused reporting on the areas of PSU and St Johns, respectively.
McLam has been reporting on Jason Barns Landing, a managed camp in North Portland that’s taking what I see as a civil disobedience approach to their camp. And their answering the question: what happens when homeless folk tire of being moved— tired of having their community scattered— keep coming back to the same place?
Both Elia and McLam are volunteers at community radio station KBOO, and use their equipment to publish a podcast called TRIP-P. Like KBOO, Open Signal, is a resource for community media creators that we’ve been collaborating with.
Another media non-profit that trains homeless youth in video storytelling we’re collaborating with, Outside the Frame, also uses Open Signal equipment.
Here’s the third episode of Village Portland Presents, a five-episode series we produced for Open Signal earlier this year. It’s a compilation of video stories, themed around community organizing and culture.
It’s been great to meet other organizations and folks passionate about independent media, and offering more folks a chance to tell their stories.
This spring, the ten-day Village Building Convergence (VBC) event played out across the streets of Portland. There was a wide variety of community-based projects to participate in, from painting large murals at intersections to constructing an urban duck pond.
Ticketed events were also scheduled in the evenings of the VBC, each with their own theme and unique set of speakers and activities.
The VBC is produced by City Repair, a nonprofit based in Portland with a focus on improving the community through street beautification and permaculture projects.
To gain a better understanding of the VBC and its community and goals, I signed up to volunteer for their “Justice, Humility, and Recovery” event on June 8th. The event featured two speakers, Shilo George and Starhawk, as well as musical performances by Flying Caravan and Blacque Butterfly.
The hours leading up to the official start of the night were a flurry of activity as chairs were laid out, food was prepared, spaces were spruced up, and ticketing was organized. I shuttled from one task to the next; first laying out rugs and pillows around the pickup truck tea lounge out front, to arranging chairs around tables, to chopping mushrooms and shredding rainbow chard in the kitchen.
I found myself at the ticketing booth for most of the evening though, checking people in and answering questions about the event. Within a few hours, the stage was set: chairs arranged around tables sporting centerpieces of fresh flowers in mason jars, dishes of roasted vegetables, stir-fried tempeh, and salad laid out, ticketing booth set and ready to go. Once enough guests trickled in, the evening kicked off.
Shilo George was the first to speak. A Southern Cheyenne-Arapahoe and Scottish woman, George spoke about the importance of land acknowledgement, the vocal recognition of the specific tribe’s land on which an event takes places before the proceedings of that event. This
displays respect, awareness, and an understanding that so many of us are guests on the land on which we stand.
She went on to speak about cultural humility, a state achieved through lifelong learning and recognition of both power imbalances and institutional discrimination. George encouraged audience members to— above all— educate themselves, demonstrate that knowledge, and be open to new ideas; a worthwhile goal on the path to achieving one of the themes of the event: recovery.
Starhawk took over the stage next. Dressed in flowing robes beneath a halo of long white hair, she looked very much like a kindly, woods-dwelling witch; which, in essence, she is. With a background in writing, activism, and permaculture design, Starhawk travels around the world giving workshops and lectures on “earth-based spirituality, the tools of ritual, and the skills of activism” (VBC).
Her talk centered around the acknowledgement of environmentalism as a balanced relationship with the earth and the “understanding that everything is interconnected.”
At the end of the lecture she led everyone in a spiral dance, a ritual meant to invoke positivity and healing for the self and the planet.
I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect going into this event. Grassroots, community-based events in Portland have a way of attracting the more free-thinking and bohemian side of the city. It is a crowd I will admit I feel lost in at times; a little too plain for: a pony in a herd of zebras.
As the evening wore on though, I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with much of what was being said, even if it was presented differently than I imagined.
I could feel a certain warmth and compassion hovering in the air of the warmly-lit room, tinged with something subtler: hope. I was surrounded by people who maybe didn’t look like me but saw, if nothing else, an opportunity to view the world in slightly better light, and in turn: themselves. And that is a desire I can certainly relate to.
For anyone interested in gaining new perspective on their community and their neighbors, I would recommend not only attending the Village Building Convergence but volunteering for it as well. The VBC is over for now but will roll back around next summer.
If you can’t wait that long City Repair hosts place-making project throughout Portland year-round (more info on their website), go check it out and see what you discover.
By LEAH BELL-JOHNSON
Beginning the 31st of May and lasting until the 9th of June, Portland’s neighborhoods will play host to the Village Building Convergence (VBC), a series of community-built projects held throughout the city.
The Village Building Convergence is the flagship event of City Repair, a non-profit that “fosters thriving, inclusive and sustainable communities through the creative reclamation of public space.”
According to their website, they encourage community involvement through a wide variety of “placemaking” projects, which range from creating street paintings at intersections to constructing urban gardens.
The Village Building Convergence will put City Repair’s placemaking projects on full display with 30 such projects scheduled throughout the city. Participants can choose from a wide variety of projects during the 10 days of the VBC as well as attend evening events.
City Repair has made sorting through and selecting projects of interest simple with an interactive map on their website. The map features three different types of pins corresponding to the different types of projects (intersection repair, ecological landscaping, and natural building) as well as a brief description of each project and its location. More in depth info on certain projects can be found on the “Project Sites List.”
Many of the projects are closer in, but in Lents, you can help the Lents Bridge Project paint the footbridge over I-205 (it connects SE 93rd with SE 96th at Steele Street). There will be food, music, and Portland Pickles players attending).
In Montavilla, a community house called The Booty House, is inviting is building a raised swamp to capture rainwater: “This will create ecosystem for our two ducks while also saving the water it takes to refill their pond daily, provide water to cool our brews without using new water, and water our garden”
No reservations or tickets are required, except for the VBC’s Village Building Design Course (more info on the website).
So this May 31st through June 9th join your neighbors in lending a hand to make Portland a better and stronger community!
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By LEAH BELL-JOHNSON
Nestled in the heart of SE Portland lies the lively yet quaint neighborhood of Richmond. Richmond’s borders extend north to Hawthorne Blvd, south to Powell Blvd, west to 29th St, and east to 52nd Ave. It sits just a few blocks shy of Mount Tabor and is the geographic epicenter of Southeast Portland.
My brother and I moved to Richmond almost a year ago and could not be more pleased with it. The area is a welcome change from the steady rumble of downtown Portland where we had previously lived. The quiet streets and ample outdoor spaces have become a refuge from the bustle of the rest of the city.
SE Division St runs through the heart of Richmond— and being the street I live closest to— is the focus of my neighborhood tour. As a major hub for tourism, shopping, and eating out in SE Portland it produces a steady hum of activity and often draws a crowd. It’s not all hustle and bustle though, there are plenty of opportunities for respite and many chances to explore the smaller pockets of Portland.
Coffee is always a reliable place to start, and Richmond, like any good Portland neighborhood, is not short of them. My personal favorite is Good Coffee, whose name, while somewhat presumptuous, does not disappoint. Good Coffee has a wide selection of coffee drinks and teas as well as pastries.
Tall windows comprise two of the shop’s walls, letting in ample light even in the dreary months while a wall of trailing philodendron plants make it feel like a human-sized terrarium. It’s a lovely spot to take a beat, sip a chai, and watch the scenes of the neighborhood drift by.
Those looking for something a little heartier in the morning have a myriad of options at their disposal. For breakfast I highly recommend Petite Province, a little French-style bakery and cafe a stone’s throw from Good Coffee. Having shamelessly tried a significant variety of the pastries they offer, I personally endorse the spinach and feta croissant, the almond croissant, or the blueberry and cheese danish. They also offer a sit down menu with many great choices.
Nothing follows eating a good portion of your body weight in butter quite like a good walk. Luckily the southeast edge of Richmond is very close to Mt. Tabor Park, a 190-acre park surrounding Portland’s very own dormant volcano. Many trails traverse the sides of Mt. Tabor, leading to the cinder cone’s summit which offers a lovely view of the city. Most frequent Mt. Tabor during the daytime but I prefer visiting the park around dusk, especially in the spring and summer.
Once the crowds have ebbed but the air is still warm and you can watch the lights of the city glitter under a burnt orange sky as the sun sets. An entertaining side activity for your outing is to see how many dogs you can pet from the base of the park to the summit (those diligent enough will easily make it into the teens).
As day eases into night, you’ll likely be getting hungry and luckily the great neighborhood of Richmond is there to accomodate you. There are many crowd favorites located along Division street, including Pok-Pok, Bollywood Theater, and Salt and Straw. However, there are many alternatives that won’t have you rubbing elbows with every citizen / visitor of Portland.
Some include Whisky Soda Lounge: an extension of Pok-Pok (same chicken wings, shorter wait times), Kim Jong Grillin: a food chart serving Korean fusion (get the Bibim Box, no question), and Yataimura Maru: a Japanese style pub food joint (if you bang on the drum at the entrance the employees are obligated to shout the customary Japanese store greeting, “Irasshaimase!”).
In addition to many wonderful shops, restaurants, parks, and coffee shops, Richmond offers many ways to get involved and help out your neighbors. Vibe Studio is a community-based art space that offers classes for both kids and adults, striving to “connect local teaching artists who are passionate about bringing their love of music and visual arts to the students they work with.”
You don’t have to be an art teacher to help out though, Vibe seeks out people of all artistic backgrounds to assist in classes, volunteer at workshops, or help out in the studio garden and at special events. You can apply for positions online or visit the studio space on 55th Ave and Division St.
Another great volunteer organization near the Richmond neighborhood is Friends of Mt. Tabor Park. They offer multiple volunteer opportunities within Mt. Tabor Park, such as Weed Warriors: held on the last Saturday of every month from 9 am to noon, March through October. Volunteers of all ages (those under 16 require an adult chaperone) gather at the visitor center and are dispatched to remove invasive plant species and help restore native ones. Those less willing to get down and dirty have the option of working the visitor center or keeping an eye on park activities as a foot patrol volunteer.
Regardless of your preferences, Friends of Mt. Tabor Park offer the chance to get out, take advantage of the nice weather, and help maintain one of Portland’s prime outdoor spaces.
So that’s my tour, hopefully it has piqued your interest and inspired you to come check out some of the many wonderful things Richmond has to offer. I look forward to seeing you around the neighborhood!