As a parent, Earth Day is a chance to bring out the environmentalist in my kids. I love all the people caring for the earth, improving their individual habits, and drawing special attention to the interconnectedness of humankind and the world we live in. This is also a day that perpetuates the misconception that communities of color aren’t engaged in environmental issues. For the record, folks of color do care about the environment, and are critical spokespeople on climate change and the health impacts precisely because as a community we are disproportionately affected here in the US and globally.
Check out my full post on BlueOregon.com
UPDATE 1: It’s Rev. Bill Sinkford! Read the Announcement here.
This morning the Search Committee at First Unitarian Portland, Oregon, will announce a major update in the Senior Minister transition. Rev. Tom Disrud has served as Acting Senior Minister for the last year since Rev. Marilyn Sewell retired. More news in a few minutes.
Update 3/27/2010 – I met face-to-face with Roberta Phillip last week, comments below.
A quick political observation and a few racial justice related comments.
The race for Multnomah County Seat #2 covering most of N/NE Portland is going to be hot, multicultural, and will almost certainly result in a run-off. For folks of color, immigrants and refugees, this represents one of the few elected seats where our communities have enough political power to elect someone in relationship with our growing diverse populations. The seat has been held by a progressive white guy Jeff Cogen who gets rave reviews for everything from his policy making to his hiring of Karol Collymore. Previously Serena Cruz held the seat, who won it through serious grassroots organizing (remember Cruz Points anyone?) in a significant community development for the Latino Community. Serena left the commission to go into building contracting with her husband, scion of megabuilder Walsh Construction.
The political dominoes that fell when Governor Kulongoski appointed Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler to the State Treasurer post upon Ben Westlunds’ death has been intense. Jeff Cogen is now running for Multnomah County Chair, with hefty support from former Chair Bev Stein and former US Senate candidate Steve Novik. With Cogen’s commission seat #2 now open, the list of folks who are running is impressive. Here are a few quick hits on a few candidates:
- Karol Collymore is highly praised for her work as a Cogen aide, and her Democratic party and women’s organizing in New Mexico and Oregon. She was a finalist for the House 43 and Senate 22 appointments. She is African-American, involved in lots of cool GOTV activities, and is a regular contributor to BlueOregon.com and even talks about racial justice issues.
- Chuck Currie is a legendary housing and homeless activist, who worked closely with City Commissioner Gretchen Kafoury. He is now a UCC minister (same year as me!), family man with twins, and moved from Westside to Eastside to settle down around Parkrose. Currie has a fairly famous civic and religious blog. He is a white guy who has addressed racial justice concerns and whiteness.
- Gary Hansen is a former commissioner running again for office. Older white guy who I have no idea of his racial politics, but I’m sure is really nice and formidable because of his past experience.
- Roberta Phillip who recently left the Crittendon Foundation and serves as Board Chair of Pangea Project, became more widely known when a group of African American civic leaders endorsed her over Joann Bowman and Chip Shields for the open Senate 22 seat last year. Seems relatively unknown within communities of color and no idea about her racial justice perspective. UPDATE 3/27/2010: Had a really nice tea with Roberta, learned more of her background and work here in Portland, including: 1) Creating Mentor Program at POIC that lives on with over 70 youth; 2) Community relations and interest in increasing accountability with communities of color with Chair Wheeler; 3) Long-term commitment to the future of Oregon. She is an immigrant from Trinidad, grew up in NYC, and really just a thoughtful focused person.
- Irma Linda Castillo I’ve never heard of, at least I don’t think, is a 14 year Multnomah County worker who cites diversity training in her filing statement. Educated in California. Would love to hear from her!
- Maria Rubio used to work for Mayor Tom Potter on public safety issues among other things. Is mother to new Latino Network Executive Director Carmen Rubio, and I think was even in the Emerge Oregon program for women candidates, although I could be wrong. I saw her at a recent Office of Multicultural Health legislative forum, and she indicated she has been doing consulting since Sam Adams took office. I imagine her analysis is sharp given what I know and love of Carmen’s vision and work.
There are several other candidates who I don’t know who may be amazing, although I think the general election will be two folks from this list.
[disclaimer - I speak only for myself. I work for an organization that has written a letter of support for the Community Crossroads concept. These are my observations in part fueled from 15 years of community organizing in N/NE Portland.]
This week, the Rose Quarter Advisory Committee, a 22 member group appointed by Mayor Sam Adams, vetted finalists for a major redevelopment of the inner Northeast Portland district. Dozens of proposals were narrowed to 7, and on Tuesday Feb 23 the committee narrowed to 3, with 1 alternate. Despite this being a public process, three things happened that really demonstrate how conservative and disempowering Portland is:
- Secret balloting of the committee in their selection voting. These citizen representatives need to be held accountable like everyone else when our taxpayer funds are at stake. There is no hiding and ducking accountability. The committee itself voted only 17% on the question of whether the Community Crossroads proposal met all the criteria. This is really the truest sign of how disconnected even our citizen leaders are from the community.
- PDC staff member(s) UPDATE: I have now watched the video and it turns out it was a Mayor’s aide(?) publicly criticizing, minimizing and manipulating the process in order to lobby the committee to advance the developer-backed proposals their pet projects. This unethical behavior in my opinion specifically targeted Community Crossroads proposal, generated by a coalition of non-profits, multicultural organizations, and local architects
- In the best contradiction of the night, the non-profit Community Crossroads proposal was criticized for not having enough cash on hand to conduct more in-depth proposal work leading to their failure to advance to the final 3 proposals. The final 3 proposals are all led by private developers/corporations, and were all given funding to conduct their final in-depth proposals. Corporate welfare at its best/worst!
Learn more for yourself at http://www.rqdev.org/
Portland Public Schools hired an excellent staffer in Fall of 2008 to address deep systemic disparities in workforce diversity, cultural competency, and lay the foundation for improving academic achievement of students of color. Kurt spoke to APANO’s general membership in June 2009. Here is the press release:
Superintendent names workforce diversity director
In announcing the hire of Kurt Jun, Superintendent Carole Smith said: “All of our employees must be able to build strong relationships with our students and families, no matter who they are or where they come from. Kurt is skilled and experienced in helping large, public organizations become more diverse and culturally competent, and I look forward to working with him to achieve those goals here at Portland Public Schools.”
Jun comes to PPS from Salem Hospital and Regional Health Services, where he directed its diversity program. In that role, he worked closely with the hospital’s human resources department to promote the hiring and retention of a more diverse workforce. He also built strong ties to the local community and served as a member of the Salem Human Rights Commission.
Previously, Jun managed diversity, affirmative action and civil rights compliance programs for the Oregon Department of Transportation. In these positions, he monitored agency compliance with federal civil rights provisions and worked with state, local and community partners to promote affirmative action and environmental justice on major transportation-related projects.
IRCO has officially launched a new $1.3 million dollar capital campaign for the IRCO Family Center. Continue reading
There has been an ongoing policy advocacy struggle in the Portland-Vancouver metro area over replacing the aging Interstate Bridge that crosses the Columbia River. I’m a resident who lives blocks from both the Interstate Freeway, and a mile from the river. The current plans are terrible, calling for an expansion to a 12 lane freeway, without quality mass-transit and other congestion tools.
A colleague at the Coalition for the Livable Future shared this Letter to the Editor:
Anna Griffin’s Saturday column dismisses the thousands of hours that citizens have dedicated to thoughtfully shaping the Columbia River Crossing by likening their work to keying a Hummer. Car keying is vandalism. Healthy civic debate is democracy.
“Try leaving a Prius brochure on the window instead” concludes Griffin. Many of us have been doing this very thing for over four years. Coalition for a Livable Future is calling for a Climate Smart CRC, one that will stabilize the amount we drive at or below today’s levels so that we can avoid consequences from global warming pollution. Smarter Bridge, a group of concerned citizens, has proposed another idea. Both are suggesting that we fix the problems in the crossing, while also recognizing that every investment we make with our limited resources must prepare us for a sustainable future. Unfortunately, no matter how you spin it, a twelve lane CRC is not a healthy choice for our region.
Coalition for a Livable Future
107 SE Washington, Ste. 239
Portland, OR 97214
Are you a CLF member? Join now and help connect people, organizations and issues for a sustainable and healthy Portland-Vancouver region.
I got an invite to be a “face in the crowd” for an upcoming DNC ad that is being filmed in Portland. I’m a Democratic Precinct Person in District 43. You can check out the script and storyboard in this brief 2 minute YouTube video. The text is quite UU, collectivist, but some nice, probably wise and fairly accurate placements of guns, security, and free market symbolism.
You too can be in the closing crowd scene: 2223 NE Oregon Ave on Sunday July 27 at 3:00 pm. Don’t wear white or horizontal line shirts.