Say Nice Things 2024

Say Nice Things About Portland… Again!

It’s time to take Portland back from the buttholes. Here’s how.

Portland’s Cutest Creatures

Let’s say nice things about the city’s most adorable critters!

Why I (Still) Love Portland

A former Portlander returns to survey the city’s damage—and rebirth.

Say Nice Things FUN PAGE: Can You Find Time-othy the Chrono Goblin?

Time-othy the Chrono Goblin is causing trouble in Portland's past, present, and future... so find the little fucker, QUICK!!

Say Nice Things About… Biking in Portland

Things have changed since the early 2000s (not to mention 1896), but biking in Portland is still magical.

(Portland Chefs) Say Nice Things About… Portland Chefs

Portland’s premier restaurant and cart owners hype up the local food and chefs they love!

Say Nice Things About Local Drag Artists (Proudly Representing Portland All Year Long)

You might not know these performers (yet), but these drag artists consistently embody Portland’s strange and timeless beauty.

Say Nice Things About… Portland’s Themed Bookstores!

Whether you’re into sci-fi, romance, or weirdness, Portland has a bookstore for YOU!

The Evolution of Sleater-Kinney

Indie rockers reflect on 30 years as a band, and why they still call Portland home.

AfroVillage Does the Real Work on Portland’s Homeless Crisis

Founder LaQuida Landford shows up for Oregon’s most vulnerable ‘round the clock.

[Welcome to our second annual "SAY NICE THINGS ABOUT PORTLAND" issue! Read it online here, or if you like physical, paper-y things, you can find it in more than 50 locations all around the city!—eds]

Before I get started, (and piss people off), I should start by saying this: “house keys not handcuffs,” “care not jail,” and “stop the sweeps”—I breathe that. 

Now, once you get past mantras, there’s some real life outside that we all have to acknowledge about the mounds of policy failure that has become Portland, and now Oregon’s massive homeless problem: our streets are wild. 

The endless needles, pipes as common as the rain, the undiagnosed person throwing a chair into a grocery store window, the trash tumbleweeding every which way—it’s a lot. 

Even when we recognize the scourge on the streets has been created by decades of government terror and disinvestment, as well as over-fidelity to the most deep-pocketed by those in power—those failures have turned into a more materially unstable and unsafe place for all of us if we’re telling the truth. 

Which, speaking of disinvestment—did you know that in Oregon, which is just 2  percent Black, the most racially diverse county in the state, Multnomah, is just 7 percent Black? Despite that fact, we Black people make up almost a quarter of the growing thousands of homeless people in Multnomah County. 

And this ironically, is where the good stuff starts to happen—at least in this story. The good stuff is in the brain and heart of LaQuida “Q” Landford, a Portland-by-way of Belize activist who embodies “the work.” She’s the founder and Executive Director of AfroVillage PDX, a non-profit on the frontlines of tackling Black homelessness in Oregon. All the aforementioned issues with our homeless problem, be it the cause or the consequence, LaQuida is well aware of and more. 

Stomp around Old Town with her, and she can tell you exactly what’s up: the woman who just got out and needs a little love as she navigates getting back inside, the teenager that’s back on that shit, the dealer who dealt him that shit, and the addict that’s burned through all the social services. She knows the small business owners, the neighborhood associations, the nonprofits: the ones taking action, and the ones acting. And she’s got love for them all. 

Before she even incorporated AfroVillage PDX, she was busy trying to lift up the neighborhood with her “Old Town Fresh” initiative where she delivered mobile showers and hygiene products to people living outside from the patio of a small coffee shop — and she didn’t have a grant to do it, she just did it because she cares. 

Q cares, if don’t nobody else care *2Pac voice*.

Delivering hygiene products to those living outside. (Courtesy AfroVillage PDX)

Officially formed in 2020, AfroVillagePDX has grown into a full fledged vision of healing and hope for those without a home. 

Right now, they are partnered with Street Roots to create a free Wi-Fi hub throughout Old Town, because as anyone working in housing and homelessness can tell you, while high-speed connections may be as common as a nickel in a well for many, for those trying to get back on their feet, a strong and stable WiFi signal can mean the difference between getting a job, safe storage for your things, or just connecting with a loved one. 

Now, that may not “clean up the streets” in the way a sexy (read: not sexy at all) new task force tries to “figure” out” what’s happening in Portland’s central city, but it will do something more revolutionary: materially help people. 

Since returning to Portland from Belize after a near-decade year hiatus in 2014, LaQuida dreamed of a space for Black men and women that have been eaten up by the system, whether by the “justice” system, poverty, plain old racism, or whatever Frankenstein ushered them to the concrete. 

And now AfroVillage has identified an underutilized piece of land on the waterfront in lower Albina in collaboration with Portland Bureau of Transportation, sparking new conversations about how to activate it as a community resilience hub in the coming years. 

And when she’s not on her high-level systems thinking, she’s on the ground. When a winter storm hits, she’s making sure that when the warming stations have closed, and it’s still freezing outside, folks get into a safe place to be at night. 

She really does this. And while she may not get all the shiny accolades, she serves as a shining monument to the real in any room she stands in.

To that end, there’s no shortage of headlines about Portland’s housing crisis. But when the cameras cut, and the pens get put down and the ink dries, Portland can rest assured that someone is working to connect the dots, build the bridges, and give the care that money can’t buy—and that person is LaQuida Landford. 

So the next trash tumbleweed you see, along with the next task force that follows it, you may find it hard to say nice things about Portland—I certainly have at times. But I take solace that one thing I can say with confidence that is nice is AfroVillage PDX.

Side note: While it’s true she has and will do this work with no money, we are all trying to move mountains under capitalism—so if you like Q’s work, why don’t you donate now to AfroVillage PDX