When I left for Harvard, I made a quiet promise that I would come back to Portland.
This is my home in so many ways, having grown up here (well, for the first part of my life in Lake Oswego), having gone to college in-state at Willamette, then Lane Community, then the University of Oregon, with some time off doing temp work in Portland and taking a class at PCC Sylvania, and having lived, bought a house, and worked in N/NE Portland since 1997.
Off to Harvard I went, and now I’m back, and am slowly reconnecting with community. There are the predictable changes, increased traffic, new faces in various organizations I’ve been affiliated with, and new babies and loved ones in the lives of friends and neighbors. And some things have stayed the same – concerns about gentrification, isolation of People of Color, a predominately White political leadership establishment, and a real struggle to build community across the growing diversity, particularly here in N/NE Portland.
I haven’t made any promises yet to community involvement, although look forward to participating more with my alma mater organization the Coalition for a Livable Future (particularly with their Equity Atlas Project), and the Environmental Justice Action Group (where I used to be on the Board). Speaking of environmental justice, I’m looking forward to seeing friend Yolanda from the Seattle-based Community Coalition for Environmental Justice who moved to P-town, along with Kevia who is living here again after some time out-of-state and even out-of-country. It turns out a number of us activist and neighborhood friends are moving back for work (see Western States Center new staff announcement).
It hasn’t been the easiest process to reconnect, the balancing act of parenting, ministry, and community activism have yet to reach a predictable equilibrium. I’d like to get more involved with the Sabin PTA where our oldest is.