Everyone's got an opinion on how this city is changing, but there's one demographic that perhaps gets heard the least: the children of families who have been displaced from their neighborhoods by Portland's rapid gentrification. Started over the summer, De-Gentrifying Portland is a program that's designed to give young people a way to process and present how the changes have affected them, and ultimately to empower them to join in the conversations around that change:
The project has been the result of the work of many working towards racial and economic equity in the city. Classes were designed Sharita Towne, Jackie Murphy from Self Enhancement Inc., Rachel Gilmer from PAALF, artist and educator Betty Marin, and Robin Johnson of the 2013 African American Leadership Academy. Through class, students met with community members such as former elected representative Avel Gordly and Vanport survivor Ed Washington, professionals such as PSU professor of Urban Studies Dr. Lisa Bates and local artists such as Mic Crenshaw, Erin Yanke, Jodi Darby, and more. Students participated in mapping projects, design projects and photography and video classes.
Next week there will be two screenings of films made by the program's students. One of them is in a neighborhood where some of these families now live: East Portland's The Rosewood Initiative (16126 SE Stark, Wed Dec 10, 7-9 pm), and the other is at the Sons of Haiti Lodge, which organizers point out as "the last remaining African American-owned business on Mississippi Ave." (3503 N. Mississippi, Sat Dec 13, 2-4 pm).
It remains to be seen what these filmmakers will have to say about all this other than: a lot. A September blog post on Know Your City, which is also one of the programs' organizers, written by Sharita Towne quoted Jefferson High School junior Kahedja Burley during her presentation: "You got more questions? Because I got a whole lot of answers!”
- Know Your City
- Kahedja Burley is just one of the youths with something to say about Portland gentrification.