By Ruth Eddie
Imagine public parks, affordable housing and local business tucked between the large concrete buildings in the Rose Quarter. Imagine a public waterfront park on the east side of the Willamette and a cap over I-5. This is the vision of Albina Vision Trust. The vision looks 50 years into the future, but the work has already begun.
The outline for the project began in 2015 with a group of community and business leaders discussing development in the area. However, what continues to this day isn’t a typical development project. Along with building remarkable infrastructure the vision aspires to “honor what was, what happened and what could be.”
What was, was a thriving black neighborhood. In the early 1900s because of racist housing policies, many African American families were forced to live in Albina. As more families moved into the area they opened business, restaurants and the neighborhood became a hub of the larger community.
What happened was this community center was broken and bulldozed mostly by the city, in the name of urban renewal. Starting in the ’60s the city expanded the highway, built the Veterans Memorial Coliseum and Emanuel Hospital.
What could be is still to be determined. There have been several other attempts to develop in the neighborhood, mostly driven by developer interest. The Albina Vision is not affiliated with a developer or the city government, although it has partners in a number of areas working toward its broad vision.
Speaking at an Eliot neighborhood meeting, the group of mostly volunteers stressed the power of community-driven community change. As a community, we must believe that ethical development is possible. We can watch our neighborhood change or we can be a part of it.
To learn more and get involved you can visit www.albinavisioninc.com.