Help Your Community: Work for the U.S. Census Bureau!

By Scott P Moshier, Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau is currently hiring for the 2020 Census. The positions are temporary and flexible with varying pay ranges. For Census Takers in Multnomah and Clackamas counties, the pay starts at $18.00/hour.

By working for the Census Bureau, our community has a special opportunity to help make the 2020 Census an accurate and complete count. There are so many reasons our nation needs to be counted completely and accurately. The count happens every 10 years with the decennial census, which influences how more than $675 billion from more than 100 federal programs are distributed to states and localities each year. Here’s some of what the census numbers effect:

  • Medicaid.
  • School lunch programs.
  • Community development grants.
  • Road and school construction.
  • Medical services.
  • Business locations.

If you’re interested in a job, please visit the Census Bureau job site to apply. You’ll also be able to see descriptions and frequently asked questions at 2020census.gov/jobs.

We’re also encouraging everyone to self-respond to the 2020 Census Questionnaire at 2020census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020, or by mailing in the paper questionnaire they received in the mail.

Condensed version in Spanish:

¡Usted puede ayudar a su comunidad! Solicite un empleo temporal con el Censo del 2020. Los resultados del Censo ayudan a determinar el número de representantes de cada estado en el Congreso, así como la manera en la que se usan fondos para escuelas, hospitales y carret-eras. Complete una solicitud de empleo por Internet en 2020census.gov/jobs.

Oasis of Change- Response to Coronavirus

By Dov Judd

I hope everyone is staying safe and finding constructive ways to keep occupied and connect with those around you. We at Oasis of Change miss seeing everyone around especially as the spring is starting and the farm is coming to life. Eating meals on the farm with no community around is just not the same.

Some welcome relief from staying at home – planting starwberries at Oasis of Change. Photo credit Dov Judd

We have been thinking hard about how we can help the community in this time and so far we have come up with a couple special ideas. We have been so saddened to see how empty it has gotten and our mission is to create community so we are going to try to start inviting people back in safe ways. We are opening up our garden and farm space to the public as a community coffee and tea hangout. We have partnered with Karma Cup, a really amazing organization who is working to end homelessness.  We have so much beautiful outdoor space we might as well share it and the benefit of being outdoors is that the sun actually disinfects! 

We just finished re-doing the garden space to allow us to have all the distance we need. We can accommodate up to 6 people per group and we have 10 private outdoor seating spaces all separated by a beautiful farm. So, come relax and see everything coming to life and feel some normalcy in this time. It is recommended that you call ahead to reserve. We are also opening up our outdoor gym and trampoline to families and individuals who miss working out all you have to do is reach out and book a 30 minute to hour time slot. So if you’re feeling stuck and want a little breath of normalcy in your life come out and have a cup of coffee.

1. We launched Oasis of Change online which will hopefully give you something to laugh at and you might even learn some cooking tips.  The link is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp_2HabSRwCzlvnThpsKwzQ/ please feel free to share. 

2. Dr. Kat is opening up a covid-19 drive through no contact testing program here. The link to more information and to sign up is http://www.drkatlopez.com/covidtestpdx

3. We are keeping the farm space semi-open as we can all keep distance and get our hands in the dirt. Contact us directly if you would like to get dirty with us, 301-467-8441

Don’t Miss the Juneteenth Celebration

From Juneteenth website:

juneteenthor.com

Call: (503) 267-4686 
Email: info@juneteenthor.com

Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth “Independence Day” or “Freedom Day”, is a holiday that commemorates the June 19, 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of African American slaves.

On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation effectively ending slavery on January 1, 1863, however, the Proclamation had little effect in the State of Texas until two and half years later. It was on June 19, 1865, that Union General Gordon Granger read General Orders No. 3 to the people of Galveston, Texas:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaved are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

Juneteenth in Oregon

In Oregon, Juneteenth Oregon Celebration was founded 45 years ago by the late and beloved community leader Clara Peoples. The celebration of Juneteenth Oregon dates back to 1945 when Peoples introduced the tradition from Muskogee, Oklahoma, to her co-workers at the Kaiser Shipyards in Portland. Upon moving to Portland in 1945, Clara Peoples was surprised to learn that the Juneteenth holiday was unknown in this part of the country. She introduced the holiday to her co-workers at the Kaiser Shipyards during their break being the first Juneteenth Celebration in Oregon.

Later Clara helped to initiate Portland’s annual citywide Juneteenth celebration in 1972. Juneteenth Oregon’s celebration starts with a parade, followed by the festivities which includes live music and entertainment, art, food, educational booths, cultural booths, community resources and a children’s play area.

Juneteenth OR has many opportunities to get involved. We’re looking for event sponsors, vendors, volunteers, and parade participants for our upcoming event. We count on supporters like you to help make our Juneteenth Oregon Celebration successful. Make a donation to show your support.

Juneteenth Celebration

June 20, 12-6 pm

Legacy Emanuel Field

N Williams and N Russell St

Parade start: Safeway  on NE MLK and Ainsworth—9:30 am

Juneteenthor.com

info@junteenthor.com

Land Use and Climate Change

Climate change has been top of mind a lot for me recently. I used to think that individual consumption choices could help make a change, but recently I’ve adapted more of the mindset that we need to advocate for systemic changes that enable people to lead more sustainable lives and help make sustainable choices the default. Luckily, the city has been pushing for some land use and transportation policies recently that will help achieve more sustainable outcomes.

I’m personally excited about the Residential Infill Project. I will admit that it has flaws, but I think the positives far outweigh the negatives. At a high level, it ends the ban of building 2, 3, and 4 plexes in single family zoned lots. By allowing for the construction of higher density living arrangements, heating will be more efficient (less energy usage!), and transit, walking, and bicycling for daily errands become more viable (less fossil fuel consumption!). Another benefit is that the requirement for off-street parking is removed which will hopefully lead to more tree coverage as there will be fewer driveways and more space for trees. The city’s own analysis also showed that this proposal would decrease displacement in Eliot which is a huge win for the neighborhood.

Another policy proposal the city has recently put forth is the Rose Lane Project. The aim with this proposal is to get busses out of car traffic on the most utilized routes. By helping the bus move more quickly, we’ll be helping move people more quickly and we’ll make taking the bus a more viable alternative to driving for more people. The more people who choose taking the bus over driving leads to less emissions. This project will also benefit Eliot as some of the busses to be prioritized are the 6 on MLK and the 4/44 on Vancouver/Williams.

It’s an exciting time to be involved right now as a lot is changing and there are some projects that make me feel optimistic which can be hard to come by right now. If this kind of thing sounds interesting to you, we’d love for you to come to our Eliot Neighborhood Land Use and Transportation Committee meetings on the second Monday of the month at 7pm at St Philip the Deacon.

Land Use and Climate Change

By Brad Baker, LUTC Chair

Climate change has been top of mind a lot for me recently. I used to think that individual consumption choices could help make a change, but recently I’ve adapted more of the mindset that we need to advocate for systemic changes that enable people to lead more sustainable lives and help make sustainable choices the default. Luckily, the city has been pushing for some land use and transportation policies recently that will help achieve more sustainable outcomes.

I’m personally excited about the Residential Infill Project. I will admit that it has flaws, but I think the positives far outweigh the negatives. At a high level, it ends the ban of building 2, 3, and 4 plexes in single family zoned lots. By allowing for the construction of higher density living arrangements, heating will be more efficient (less energy usage!), and transit, walking, and bicycling for daily errands become more viable (less fossil fuel consumption!). Another benefit is that the requirement for off-street parking is removed which will hopefully lead to more tree coverage as there will be fewer driveways and more space for trees. The city’s own analysis also showed that this proposal would decrease displacement in Eliot which is a huge win for the neighborhood.

Another policy proposal the city has recently put forth is the Rose Lane Project. The aim with this proposal is to get busses out of car traffic on the most utilized routes. By helping the bus move more quickly, we’ll be helping move people more quickly and we’ll make taking the bus a more viable alternative to driving for more people. The more people who choose taking the bus over driving leads to less emissions. This project will also benefit Eliot as some of the busses to be prioritized are the 6 on MLK and the 4/44 on Vancouver/Williams.

It’s an exciting time to be involved right now as a lot is changing and there are some projects that make me feel optimistic which can be hard to come by right now. If this kind of thing sounds interesting to you, we’d love for you to come to our Eliot Neighborhood Land Use and Transportation Committee meetings on the second Monday of the month at 7pm at St Philip the Deacon.

Introducing the Eliot Business District!

By Corey Kaster

I am Corey Kaster, with Insurance Masters NW (directly behind the Nike Factory Store), and want to share with you an exciting transformation coming to the Eliot Neighborhood! 

The present state of the neighborhood with graffiti, crime, and litter doesn’t work. Business owners and residents have been taking the only action they know how and adding lighting, fencing, cameras, etc. While this may be somewhat effective, it also hasn’t made the neighborhood feel like a better place to live/work. 

Not only are things bad, but without action I foresee them getting worse resulting in more incidents, disconnection, fear, and reactionary actions. 

I envision a new future…. one where there is a vibrant, connected, and engaged business community that is a powerful force in transforming our neighborhood into something currently unimaginable. Imagine spotless streets, connected business owners that powerfully engage with the Neighborhood Association and Sustainable Eliot, and a neighborhood we are excited to live and work in with a sense pride! 

If you have a business in the neighborhood and are inspired by this future please email me to connect at corey@im-nw.com.


The new Eliot Business District Facebook Group that can be accessed here to build this community is at this link – eliot.im-nw.com

Don’t forget to be counted!

The 2020 Census is taking place right now. With all the disruption of the coronavirus it is easy to forget this important task. You should have gotten a document in the mail to fill out. Otherwise you can call 844-330-2020 or you go can go to the website to complete your participation in the census.  Either way don’t forget to be counted.  Your information has an impact that will be long lasting and important. https://2020census.gov/en.html

CLT in the City: Using Cross-Laminated Timber for Infill Housing

My wife and I have provided rental housing in Eliot ever since we moved here 40 plus years ago.  Our intent then, as now, was to preserve Eliot’s older buildings threatened with demolition by developers who were, at best, clueless about the neighborhood’s origins and history.  One of these homes was at 19 NE Morris that was graced with a mature walnut tree that spread its branches across four adjacent properties.  We bought that property to protect the tree as the lot was zoned for multi-family units and was about to be sold to a developer.  After almost 30 years the house finally got to the point that it wasn’t economic to repair it and replacement required multiple units by code, so the house couldn’t be saved.  To save the tree, we were able to reduce the zoning code required number of new units from 6 to 4, which also allowed for a design like the adjacent townhomes (instead of the typical flat-roof modern box design).

I was Chair or a member of the Eliot Land Use Committee for multiple years.  A common complaint we heard from neighbors was that new development typically resulted in contractors blocking parking and sidewalks for months on end, which is a great inconvenience in Eliot.  I vowed to reduce neighbor conflict like this to a minimum by using construction methods that were faster than conventional “stick framing” that requires large numbers of workers.  This led to the selection of cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels that are quickly erected with a crane.  Eliot has a couple of multi-story CLT buildings so the technique isn’t new, but the use of CLTs for a smaller building was new, mostly because it is more expensive than conventional stick framing.  I thought the trade-off between construction speed and cost was worth it to avoid the prolonged inconvenience of neighbors.   

Erecting CLT walls – end of day one at 19 NE Morris. Photo courtesy Mike Warwick

The process for our project was simple in concept.  Provide a concrete slab foundation for the CLT panels, erect the panels using a crane, and finish construction using conventional contractors for electrical, plumbing, finish, etc.  The concrete was poured at the end of October.  The panels came from Austria, which has decades of experience with CLTs; consequently, they are better quality and less expensive than locally made ones, even with the shipping.  Plus, they meet the higher European standards for chemicals in the glue and the sustainability of the wood.  They arrived in November.  Erection was scheduled for mid- to late-December but waiting until after Christmas was favored by the construction crews.  Unfortunately, that was just about the last dry period we had for construction!

Three weeks from start of construction. Photo courtesy Mike Warwick

Part of the street was closed to public parking as was the sidewalk for two weeks starting January 21st.  The first panels were lifted into place by a very large mobile crane on the 22nd.  Panels continued to be installed for two more days and the crew got a couple of workdays to play catch up.  The crane returned the 28th and the final panel was placed at 4 PM the 29th.  Five days to erect the building shell and only two weeks of parking restrictions.  Unfortunately, the Park Department’s required “tree protection zone” around the lone street tree will keep the sidewalk closed for the duration of construction.  The roof trusses were installed in the first week of February, so the building shell was essentially complete in three, very rainy, weeks!  The shell was ready for siding and roofing the first week of March.  Finishing construction will take a while longer to coordinate among the different building trades.  The result will be four, new 2-bedroom townhomes in place of the original 2-bedroom home. 

Day five – final day of panel erection. Photo courtesy Mike Warwick

Allen Flowers Houses – Lost to Development… Score Another Point for Cars

By Monique Gaskins

Until last summer, two Victorian houses, both built by a Black family, stood near the southern border of the Eliot neighborhood. Allen and Louisa Flowers built and owned these houses, which may have been the oldest standing houses built by Black people in Portland. The buildings had initially been part of a larger group of identical houses built by the Flowers family in 1885, but one of the other homes had been demolished in favor of a Ford owned parking lot in the 1970s. In an ironic example of history repeating itself, OB Portland Properties LLC – according to Portland Maps the same group that owns the land under the Broadway Toyota Dealership – bought and demolished the remaining houses in 2019. Presumably, these houses will also become a parking lot or some other car-focused infrastructure.

Although many of our cities’ streets and parks bear the name of previous residents, I hadn’t heard of the Flowers family until a neighbor mentioned that we were losing an important part of Portland history with these houses. Allen Flowers moved to Portland in 1865 after jumping ship from the Brother Jonathon where he’d been employed. Mr. Flowers became a porter for the Portland to Seattle route of the Northern Pacific Railroad and later married Louisa. Mrs. Flowers moved to Portland from Boston in 1882 after marrying Allen. At this time, Portland’s Black community numbered fewer than 500 members, which is not too surprising given contemporary politics. Oregon’s citizens included a Black exclusion law in their 1857 constitution, paving the way for Oregon to enter the Union in 1859 as a “whites-only” state. It wasn’t until 1959, that Oregon officially ratified the 15th amendment, allowing all people the right to vote, regardless of their race.

Ralph Flowers, son of Allen and Louisa Flowers, his wife Ruth Flowers and their son Clifford in front of the Flowers houses circa 1920. Photo courtesy of Oregon Historical Society

In this environment, the Flowers family built their version of the American dream. They maintained a farm near Mount Scott which became a hub for Black Portlanders and they were active members of their church. Allen Flowers developed NE Schuyler Street, supposedly to provide the only through street to the river for Louisa and their baby stroller. Louisa became a founding member of the Williams WMCA (now the Billy Elks Lodge) and active in the NAACP. The Flowers demonstrated leadership and compassion while living in a city that didn’t always welcome them. The Flowers family seemed like they would have been ideal neighbors.

The site of the former Flowers houses is designated as a Commercial Mixed-Use 3 zone. According to Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, land with this designation should have buildings that are six stories high and are intended to be pedestrian oriented. For a civic minded family with a history of pedestrian improvements, increasing walking accessible housing seems like a potential extension of the Flowers legacy. However, since the current buyer’s portfolio includes a car dealership on the neighboring property, it isn’t likely that these sites will provide homes for new neighbors or pedestrian focused infrastructure.

After some thoughtful research, Home Forward, Portland’s housing agency, named its newest site the Louisa Flowers. Financed by low-income housing tax-credits, the building provides 240 affordable apartments and honors the impact that Mrs. Flowers had on Portland. Although the Flowers houses no longer exist in Eliot, The Louisa Flowers building continues the family’s work towards building a more welcoming Portland.

Eliot Neighborhood Association Board Meeting Agenda 5/18/2020 6:30pm

Chairs: Jimmy Wilson & Allan Rudwick

Monday, May 18th, 2020

6:30-8:00 pm

Zoom link


1 Welcome & Introductions (6:30pm)

2 Dawson Park – police update – reaching out now, tbd if they can make it.

3 COVID-19 – Updates on how everyone is doing / things we need right now. 

4 Old Business/Updates:  – The Freeway Fight 

The Loss of the Allen Flowers Houses: The Oldest Black-Built Known in Portland

The Allen Flowers Houses 1803, 1811 1815 NE 1st Avenue, circa 1885. Photo courtesy of Oregon Historical Society

There were three small old houses inside our wonderful Eliot neighborhood that were demolished quickly last fall in a peculiar quiet fashion and not to the notice of most of our residents.  Well, this rapid and hasty act appears to be deliberate and turns out to be a tragedy for our neighborhood and diverse cultural history.  At this time, the author is not clear on the details of what happened on the west side of the block of NE 1st Avenue between Broadway and Hancock Streets on that late fall day back in 2019.  What happened may not be the total blame to the developer and much of it rests on the City of Portland and their policies that severely lack an incentive for historic preservation.  What is a bigger travesty is that these houses may only be replaced by a parking lot to serve the Toyota dealership on this block. 

As of until recently, these 3 houses were owned by Pauline Bradford, a long-time resident of the Eliot neighborhood since 1945 who was very active for many years in the Eliot Neighborhood Association.  She was a critical force in trying to make our neighborhood a better place for residents and made an impact on thwarting much adverse development.  She was also one of the longest living African-American residents of our neighborhood and worked hard to help improve the living standards and rights of black residents.  She also was a strong force in helping put together an inventory of buildings significant in African-American history back in the 1990s that was backed by the Bosco-Milligan Foundation (now Architectural Heritage Center).  Known by the author for many years, she mentioned the many times that there were strong efforts by the property owners of the dealership (formerly Coliseum Ford) to pressure her and her husband in selling as far back as the 1970s.  Sadly, since the 1970s, adjacent houses all around them were gobbled up as the building and parking lots were expanded.  Now the entire block that goes west to N Victoria and north to Hancock may be completely in their ownership.  It is not known if Mrs. Bradford recently passed away or relocated for health or other reasons.  The last time the author made personal contact with her was in late 2017.  The destruction was swift, and apparently, no parts of the houses were even salvaged or recycled.  It is possible the owner(s) knew of the great historic significance of two of these houses as being associated with Allen Flowers, one of the first African-Americans who came to Portland and stayed.  It is also tragic that the small houses could have been relocated in the general proximity at not too high of a cost due to their smaller size.  Recent tax-break economic incentives by the Federal government to encourage rehabilitation of historic buildings would have made it sustainable and economically practical.  There are many young ambitious homeowners to-be in the community and investors that would have been interested to save these houses and taken it on in short order.  It could be that the new ownership acted on panic.

Now backing things up to the 1800s, Allen Flowers came to Portland in 1865 by jumping ship from a steamship where he was employed when it docked here.  He managed to get by with many service-oriented jobs including the Lincoln Hotel in lower NW Portland for a number of years.  Later, he became an operator for ships that delivered goods up and down the Columbia River and managed to secure a homestead in the Mount Scott vicinity.  In 1884 and 85, he had a wife Louisa M. and purchased 2 lots in Elizabeth Irving’s First Addition of East Portland, now the block with the dealership on it.  Interestingly at this early date, people of color were not excluded from purchasing at this location.  He commenced construction of 3 houses, for his own new family and other relatives. Flowers chose this location due to his new occupation as a porter-in-charge for the Northern Pacific Railroad between Portland and Seattle.  He remained in one of these houses for the remainder of his long life until 1934.  He had 4 sons who also lived in these 3 houses with their families.  One of his sons, Ervin M. Flowers remained and became the president of the NAACP during the 1920s.  The entire family was very instrumental in improving the lives of black residents of Portland and their success in business and careers was also a motivating factor for encouragement to others. 

At the present time, it is apparent that the two Flowers Houses that stood here were the oldest known in all of Portland that were black-built.  In the historic photo taken just before 1900, all three are clear and very similar.  Two of these remained until recently. It is a possibility that there could be a few other survivors of near the 1885 vintage in the general close-in North Portland proximity that are still unknown that could have been moved to other locations during the course of the 20th Century.  So far, research has not produced anything known.  It was discovered by the author back in the 1990s that the decorative Queen-Anne style cottage that stood at 1745 NE 1st Avenue was built in 1888 by James Curran in McMillens Addition to East Portland and moved to this spot in 1910 due to construction of an apartment building.  McMillens Addition also allowed people of color and Chinese to purchase and build. That replacement building was torn down in 1960 along with many adjacent structures, for construction of Memorial Coliseum. Pauline Bradford lived in this house since 1979 and the interior was adorned with gorgeous woodwork and very tall ceilings and was in excellent condition.  This was such a waste that we residents hope to never see happen again in our diverse neighborhood and a loss of a cultural resource that cannot be replaced. A tidbit from the book “The History of Albina”, available at Powell’s Books downtown and Broadway Books at NE 17th.

Joseph M. Manning Cottage: Historic Home on the Move… Hopefully

Another historic home may be on the move in Eliot soon.  The property at 2316 N Vancouver has been sold and the Joseph M. Manning Cottage is slated for demolition unless it can be moved soon. The developer is open to the idea of moving the house and a few people who have an interest in the house’s future are working to make that happen.  More in our summer issue on this, but for now, a little history about the home, built in 1892, from The History of Albina by Roy Roos.

Joseph M Manning cottage which is slated for demolition or relocation prior to development of a five story multi-family residential building. Photo credit Sue Stringer

“This Queen Anne cottage was moved to this location in 1949 and was previously located at 2307 N Flint, where now Harriet Tubman Middle School and Albina-Lillis Park is. Joseph M. Manning, the original owner and builder, was a street grading contractor. By 1898, he formed a partnership with William Lind as general contractors that lasted until about 1904. Manning independently returned to street grading which he continued until retirement. After this house was moved it was owned and occupied by Perry and Della Coleman. Mr. Coleman was employed by Union Pacific and African- American. After his death, Della remarried to Reverand Otha W. Warren, pastor of Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church in 1962.”

T.U.R.N – Together Uniting Reaching Neighborhoods

By Jimmy Wilson, Co-Chair of Eliot Neighborhood Association

Having lived in this community all my life, which is 60 plus years, serving as co-chair of the Eliot Neighborhood Association, and being one of only three members of color in the association, it has become increasingly clear that my voice and presence is critically necessary as we seek to preserve our sense of community in an environment of gentrification and social change. 

Jimmy Wilson, Co-Chair of the Eliot Neighborhood Association and longtime Northeast Portland resident

From my early years, as a kid living and walking the streets of my neighborhood, I have fond memories of the streets, parks, schools, churches, community centers, the families, the neighbors, the local grocery stores, the black-owned gas stations and auto repair shops that represented my community.  At that time, over 250 black-owned businesses occupied North Portland from Mississippi, Vancouver, and Williams to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.  Looking back, I see how we took for granted the sense of a village and community we enjoyed. 

Gentrification has brought about enormous changes some good and some not so good.  Recognizing that change is inevitable in a community, the question becomes how is the change managed in such a way as to provide a balance between those who are new to the community and those who have been longtime members?  Extremes in either direction are harmful to a healthy, harmonious community.

For many of us who have been longtime members, we fail to see the value in high-rise structures, traffic congestion, garbage on the streets, and an increased homeless population that we must address because it is a safety and health issue.  We ask ourselves, what happened to the 250 black-owned businesses? What happened to the institutions, the cultural centers, the local hangouts, and other places where the community would meet?  They are all gone! All except Dawson Park. What’s more, it is the failure to recognize the harmful effects of the forced displacement when gentrification occurs.  For example:

· 10,000 black residents of the inner N/NE core have been removed over the last 15 years

· In 1970, 50-84% of N/NE neighborhoods were African American

· In 2010, only 18-30% of N/NE neighborhoods were African American

· In 1960, 4 out of 5 African Americans lived in the Albina area, and since 2000, less than 1 out of 3 African Americans live in the Albina area.

· The vast majority of our residents were uprooted by no choice of their own; but were systemically, forcibly displaced via an intentional, multi public sector plan to divest in the inner core while simultaneously making plans to reinvest and turn our neighborhoods into bastions of greater wealth for White Americans. 

With this in mind, as Co-Chair of the Eliot Neighborhood Association, I have identified three primary goals as my priority in the association. 

1) Create an environment of mutual respect and inclusiveness.  This association must resist tribalism and understand that it represents the broad constituents in our community. 

2)  Be a proponent of equity.  Our association must seek fairness, evenhandedness, impartiality, and justice. 3) Diversity.  Our association board must vigilantly pursue the cultural variety and mixture of our community if we are to have legitimacy.

Building Skills for Resiliency during Times of Crisis

By Mira Mohisni

Now more than ever we need to find ways to be resilient. All of us are experiencing tremendous levels of stress and anxiety as we navigate this public health crisis. 


We know that during an infectious disease outbreak, stress levels are heightened from fear and anxiety about the disease, as well as from the uncertainty an outbreak creates in terms of job security, health care, child care, etc. Stress-related effects include: 


• Worsening of chronic health problems
• Worsening of mental health conditions
• Decreased ability to concentrate/focus


We can feel these effects immediately in our bodies and, for some, they can be debilitating. However, there are resources available that can help mitigate the effects of stress, overwhelm, and trauma. A local nonprofit that I work with, Living Yoga, provides one such resource that can help build skills for resiliency. 


Living Yoga has been providing mind-body classes and training for populations in locked facilities, reentry programs, and in recovery for over 20 years in the Portland-metro area. Clinical research has shown that practices associated with down-regulating the nervous system, such as yoga and meditation, can reduce levels of stress and anxiety. Before our in-person classes were suspended due to COVID-19, Living Yoga’s 200+ volunteers were bringing trauma-informed yoga and mind-body practices to 600 individuals per month. And the impact was profound. An independent study of our classes conducted by researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University and the National University of Natural Medicine found that students reported broad positive changes in physical and emotional well-being after participating in trauma-informed yoga.


Living Yoga is now committed to making our training and tools for building resiliency accessible to a broader audience. We are looking to partner with organizations in Portland and beyond to provide our online Body-Based Resiliency training to support staff working remotely from home or on the front lines as essential workers. 


The 90-minute online training is part “lecture,” where we discuss the impact of stress and trauma on the body, and part “practice” where our experienced trainers lead folks through simple and accessible exercises that help build resiliency skills to mitigate stress on the body. These are skills that can be practiced anywhere; no props are required and no prior experience with yoga or mind-body techniques is needed.
We are also offering this training to individuals who feel they might benefit from learning skills for resiliency. We are facilitating two online Body-Based Resiliency sessions in May 2020, and anyone can register. There is a suggested donation, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
Open session dates are:

Thursday, May 14th, 5:00pm-6:30pm (PST)
Saturday, May 30th, 10:00am-11:30am (PST)

Please complete the registration form so that we can send you all the information you need to join via Zoom.

During these difficult times, our community of supporters plays an invaluable role in ensuring that Living Yoga can continue its important mission of fostering healing and resilience through trauma-informed classes. I look forward to continuing to do this work in-person in the not too distant future.

Mira Mohisni, Ph.D. is the Training and Equity Facilitator for Living Yoga.

Open Signal Fellow: Jessica Mehta and “emBODY Poetry”

By Thursday Bram

Jessica Mehta, one of this year’s Open Signal fellows, is currently showing her work “emBODY poetry” at Open Signal. The show, which opened March 10, combines Mehta’s poetry with performance to examine body image and eating disorders.

Jessica Mehta reading some of her poetry for her emBODY exhibition

Since Open Signal is currently closed due to coronavirus, check out this virtual tour of Jessica Mehta’s current exhibition.

The first iteration of the show opened in Washington D.C. last spring. In it, Mehta led attendees in painting words on the body of a nude model. Mehta chose a human body as a canvass as a conscious break from stereotypical sexualization in poetry.

For Mehta, “emBODY poetry” is just one work out of many that give audiences more ways to experience poetry. Her work, “Red/Act” uses virtual reality to create an immersive encounter with indigenous poetry. Mehta is the author of more than a dozen books. More information about her writing and art is available at jessicamehta.com.

Her fellowship with Open Signal isn’t the first time Mehta’s worked in Eliot. Her first job was with the African-American Health Coalition then located in the neighborhood. “The majority of my hours were spent in Eliot at one point.” Mehta, who is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and was born in southern Oregon, draws deeply on her own experiences in her work. She says, “Space and place play a huge role in my work.”

Learn More: opensignalpdx.org/embodypoetry