Earlier this year I wrote about some of the issues in wealth, housing, and the Portland music scene.
[half]I’m by no means an expert, nor do I consider myself a true journalist. I have access to the same tools as anyone reading this post. In all honesty, I don’t know how to solve these intersecting issues. Likely no one person does. We have to talk about these things together to find solutions. If you’re seriously interested in the broad ways Portland is changing, then do your own research. If anything, I’m part of the problem in Portland’s rising costs.
There is still great music being made in Portland. Recently, Unknown Mortal Orchestra released “Multi-Love” and and power-team Natasha Kmeto and Magic Mouth formed Chanti Darling. The Revolution Hall opening was fantastic. These are just a few examples of Portland’s wealth. I wasn’t born in this city. For those who say today’s music scene is better than that of the early 90s, you’re likely right. Yet for all the positives in Portland, there are a number of challenges facing the city, and the artistic community can do a better job of educating ourselves on a number of levels.[/half][half]
[half]Learn more about the housing inequality from The Oregonian. Read what’s coming out of City Hall. You can even go to public meetings. They let almost anyone in. Tell Commissioner Saltzman (firstname.lastname@example.org) that you support his leadership on inclusionary housing. Look at what types of projects being funded and planned by Oregon Metro as they will shape the future of the city’s boundaries. Review the Portland Plan, a broad-ranging outline for what the city wants to invest in over the next several years. Pay attention to news out of the capitol in Salem; Portland isn’t an island of laws unto itself. (Did you know our new governor Kate Brown let a Comcast lobbyist write a supporting position for the corporation’s merger with Time Warner with her name on it?) We have to pay attention, diligently. Better understand the economic impacts that the state will face as Portland is losing almost all of its shipping industry and companies like Amazon fight to pay less taxes for data centers. Make reading about what’s happening in your community a daily part of your routine, because there are people actively working everyday to shape what this region will look like and who it will benefit.[/half]
For all the very real problems facing Portland, there are also many avenues available to listen, organize, and take action. There are grassroots, community efforts and official avenues. To make an impact of any kind, a diverse number of avenues have to be pursued. If you can’t donate time, then donate money.
- You can get involved with organizations like the Welcome Home Coalition, if you want to work on achieving better housing policies.
- Learn about the work of the Albina Ministerial Alliance and Portland Cop Watch to better understand police reform.
- The issues of economic inequality extend to the fight to raise the minimum-wage. See what you can do.
- Portland has a tremendous need for better homeless resources, and places like New Avenues for Youth, Outside In, and Sisters of the Road always need help.
- Learn what training is being done at the Center for Intercultural Organizing and actions OPAL is directing to unite people of all backgrounds.
- If you’re concerned about the monopolistic tendencies of giant corporations, start buying more music at local shows or through efforts like Genero.us. Support local shops from bookstores to community supported agriculture programs.
All of these things intersect. This is by no means a comprehensive list of places that are working to make Portland a more equitable and substantial place. Seek out other avenues. Be inspired and empowered by your community, but don’t let it blind you to the myriad of issues affecting the city at large. And for fuck’s sake — vote.