Our co-chairs Allan Rudwick and Jimmy Wilson recently sat down for a discussion about priorities for the coming year. We came away with a few things. Firstly, we are committed to being co-chairs because we want to work together. Working together means taking the shared experiences of our lives and using them to guide where we are going.
Co-chair Jimmy Wilson expressed a vision to help the homeless community. “As a city, we have been in a ‘housing emergency’ for 5 or so years and we don’t have much to show for it.” It was further discussed what it would mean for the Eliot NA to do something about it.
Co-Chair Allan Rudwick expressed concern about the desire to see vacant land in the neighborhood turned into useful places for people to thrive. This means a bunch of different pieces, working with the city and landholders to actually motivate building on vacant land. Some of that is just
reaching out to landowners, some of it is working with the city.
In addition, Co-Chair Allan Rudwick’s desire is to see something done about Diesel pollution. “We have a problem in Portland and in Eliot in particular with the number of unfiltered Diesel trucks rolling down I-5 in particular and other streets in the area. This is leading us to breathe more Diesel Particulate (aka Black Carbon) than other neighborhoods farther away from major truck routes. There are some solutions that seem obvious like requiring filters on trucks.” Cochair Jimmy Wilson mentioned that the problem of diesel particulates has been an issue for a long time and people have complained heavily in the past to no avail. This new effort may have legs but it should recognize those that came before and tried.
It is the sentiment of the co-chairs that “we are second to the community. We aren’t attending meetings just for fun, we’re doing it to try to make this a better place. Whether it is picking up trash, feeding people, or keeping a space for local residents to get help with their issues, we want the people of the neighbor to know that the Eliot NA Board is here for them. “We are trying to support the strong citizens in the neighborhood. Sometimes that is advice on how to get in touch with the city, sometimes it is financial grants but always it comes from a place of respect and understanding that everyone is trying their best.”
Further, we are out here trying to make the world better for the next generations.
Our time is now, but if we can’t clean up pollution and build a great place, what are we leaving for the young people? There is no personal glory in this job, but there is satisfaction with helping people make a difference.
Insurance Masters NW was started in 2005 by Corey Kaster, a North Portland resident who saw the need for an insurance agency that does things differently. Too often people do not secure proper insurance because it seems confusing, time-consuming, or they receive incorrect advice. He began his agency to fix these problems by simplifying and streamlining the process, offering expert advice, and keeping the best interests of their clients at the forefront.
In 2018 Insurance Masters NW became a Certified B Corporation as they have always been committed to social and environmental responsibility. They also became a 1% for the Planet Member, committing 1% of profits to environmental charities.
In early 2019 Corey switched the office from being a semi-captive agency with Farmers Insurance to an independent insurance brokerage. This allows them to offer more competitive pricing while still providing great coverage and quality customer service. They have grown rapidly since this change.
Many financial experts will tell you some unforeseen events and a lack of the right kind of insurance can spell trouble quickly. It can turn a bad day into a bad life! Call them today and they can analyze your insurance needs and get you covered easily at the right price. Everyone has different insurance needs. Connecting with them for a personalized business or individual assessment can show how help protect your hard-earned assets. They offer an easy side-by-side comparison to your current coverage/pricing so you can easily make the right choice.
Corey was born and raised in Portland and loves the variety Portland and the surrounding area offers. When not in the office you can find him out hiking, camping, wakeboarding, snowboarding, biking, doing crossfit, yoga, exploring the city and more. As you can see he stays quite active!
In the industry since 2004, Derek Ortega joined the team with a passion for the impact of insurance in people’s lives. An expert in both personal and commercial insurance, he asks the right questions to provide customized packages to meet each need.
Insurance Masters NW offers the following insurance products – Business/ Commercial, Home, Life, Auto, Fire, Flood, Theft, and more.
Contact them today to see how they can help. Call 503-419-6421 or drop by at 434 NE Knott St. Suite 210 directly behind the Nike Factory store.
This is the second article on current property tax issues, continuing the article in the Eliot Neighborhood News Spring issue. The first warned of potential changes to property taxes by the current state legislature. At the time, there were several legislators arguing inner N/NE properties were under-taxed and should be reassessed to increase tax payments. This was a consequence of Measure 50, a citizen initiative to cap the rate of property tax increases passed in 1997. It appears that won’t happen. More on that in a bit, but Eliot hasn’t dodged the tax increase bullet.
The other way Multnomah County can extract more taxes from a property in Eliot is selective reassessment. I stopped a County Assessor inspecting homes on my street about a month ago. He said the County was “updating its records.” While the Assessor has an obligation to keep accurate records, doing so on a selective basis — say focusing on Eliot because it is “under-assessed” — strikes me as inequitable. While Measure 50 caps the basis for real market value (RMV), it allows reassessment for new construction and other improvements. Generally, reassessment is triggered by building permits; however, self-constructed improvements are included. Adding a deck is an example and was one item of interest to this assessor (among others). He also volunteered that the County was implementing a “pilot” project to see how many improvements since 1997 were missing from their records. Of course, any improvements that were noted would result in reassessment and higher taxes. Geographically targeted reassessments are concerning enough, but I heard another story that was more disturbing. Several years ago a friend had a house built on her spare lot, like many others with their ADUs, It was permitted and assessed at the time. Recently she received a property tax bill for 5-years of under-assessment. She was told the County hadn’t adjusted her property value at the time and was collecting for the previous 5-years at the corrected rate, a bill over $25,000!
The lesson for all of us in Eliot is that the County apparently has targeted our area for selective increases in assessed value and higher taxes. I noted this as a “worst-case” for property tax collections, but one that is pressing because governments can’t increase taxes as much as they want because of Measure 50. To recap, property taxes are currently based on County assessment of the value of the land and improvements on it, typically a house. The tax rate for both is the same, so the total tax is based on the combination of land and improvements. Measure 50 fixed the local property tax rate to 0.015% of market value and limited annual increases to 3%. The assessed value was indexed to 90% of 1996-7 RMV. As a review of the book Survival Math on page 5 of this issue indicates, Albina in the 1990s was wracked with drugs, prostitution, and gang warfare resulting in reduced property values. Using a real-world example, in 1997 a small house in Eliot had an RMV of $50,000 and taxes set at $750 (other fees brought the total to $1,000). Thanks to Measure 50, that house is now assessed $94,000 and total taxes at $2,400. Without Measure 50, the RMV would be $430,000 and the taxes roughly four times higher!
The previous article noted that if the state legislature did void Measure 50, it would cause all properties to be revalued and the actual tax change somewhat less than four times, so long as the total amount of tax collections was the same as today. For example, if all properties were assessed at twice the current value, the actual tax would be the same as today – to prevent a windfall of tax payments to area governments. However, not all properties have increased at the same rate. Eliot’s values DID increase faster than some parts of the city, such as neighborhoods to the east and far south. As a result, Eliot tax payments would still increase more than many other neighborhoods.
The legislature did not void Measure 50, and it’s possible it can’t because it was a citizen initiative, which may require a public vote to change. What the legislature did instead, with the urging of many governments and social and environmental groups, was offer a proposal of a study of different ways of assessing taxes, one based only on land value; the value of improvements would not be reflected in the tax rate. In other words, a small, 1909 cottage in Eliot would be assessed at the same rate as the recently built McMansion next door. This tax scheme is called land value taxation. A bill (SB 702) to study it as a replacement for current property taxes has passed the Oregon Senate. It calls for a study next year, presumably to be used during the next Legislative session in 2021. The bill notes that the purpose of this study IS to find ways to increase revenues from property taxes, meaning higher property taxes regardless.
The Annual Bike ‘n’ Bite hosted by the Coalition of Black Men & Shellmire Unlimited P.C. on Saturday, August 3, 2019, was a huge success!
Encouraging community participation and health and wellness, this event’s community participation doubled from last year and it seems to be gaining more momentum each year.
This is a once-a-year bike ride for the community where folks meet in the morning, follow a planned bike route, and end with a community luncheon.
This year, community bikers began their bike ride at the Vanport Plaza located at 5257 NE Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard, in Portland, and rode across the Vancouver Bridge to the historic Esther Short Park in downtown Vancouver, Washington, where they enjoyed festivities such as live music, food, farmer’s markets, other activities, and ending the bike ride with delicious healthy food at the Horn of Africa, also located in the Vanport Plaza. This event is open to the public, including families with children.
The next annual bike ride will be held sometime in early August 2020, so mark your calendars and do not miss out on the fun! Contact Coalition of Black Men at 503-919-6804 or Shellmire Unlimited P.C. at 503-946-3484 for more details.
Legacy Health announced the appointment of Melissa Eckstein, MSSW, MBA, LCSW, as the new president of Unity Center for Behavioral Health effective September 30, 2019.
“We selected Melissa after a rigorous nationwide search with multiple highly qualified candidates,” said Trent Green, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Legacy Health. “Melissa brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in creating safe, caring environments for patients experiencing acute behavioral health crises and has a strong background in fostering relationships with staff, patients and the community.”
“Compassionate and respectful around-the-clock mental health services are needed for those facing a mental health crisis,” said Eckstein. “We can only do this with a highlytrained staff of professionals who feel supported and can focus on providing high-level care to patients. I look forward to working with Legacy Health leaders, staff and other partners to continue to improve the Unity Center model of care and to continue to build upon this greatly-needed service in the community.”
Eckstein has held leadership roles guiding the operations of behavioral health centers that offer crisis intervention. She most recently served as the chief executive officer of Palo Verde Behavioral Health, an inpatient and outpatient mental health and substance use treatment facility which offers programs for adults and adolescents. Prior to that, Eckstein held the position of chief operating officer for Spring Mountain Treatment Center and Spring Mountain Sahara in Las Vegas, Nevada. She served as CEO for Salt Lake Behavioral Health Hospital in Salt Lake, Utah, and COO for Ascend Health Corporation.
Eckstein holds an undergraduate degree from the University of North Texas; an MBA from Texas Women’s University; and a Master of Science in social work from the University of Texas at Arlington. She is a licensed clinical social worker.
Brand new to the neighborhood, Memoz Dessert Cafe opened this spring at 3494 N. Williams. Founded by husband and wife team Aaron and Julie Allina, this one-of-a-kind, build-your-own dessert cafe serves up incredible desserts, designed by you and baked in under two minutes, right in front of your eyes.
With an array of menu items from comfort classics like brownies and cookies to the almond tart and seasonal crisp, there’s something for everyone, including gluten-free and vegan options. Memoz offers an endless array of desserts to choose from, you can design your own or choose from a selection of seasonal signature combinations, and select fun toppings like Baked Alaska, caramel, ganache, or a la mode.
Memoz pastry chef Erica Stephensen and her team of dessert guides then bake your creation in under two minutes utilizing the cafe’s cutting edge and lightning-fast ovens for a first of its kind dessert experience.
Family friendly and built as a neighborhood retreat, Memoz offers coffee as well as beer and wine for those old enough to imbibe. For families, board games and a relaxed atmosphere invites you to come and stay awhile. Memoz is open all day, 12 to 9 pm Sunday through Thursday and is open late on Fridays and Saturdays, from 12 to 11 pm.
Cascadia’s Garlington Health Center unveiled a new portrait by Jeremy Okai Davis to honor the retirement of long-time community health advocate and activist, Sandra Ford, PA.C. Sandra has played an instrumental role in community health for over 40 years, beginning at the Fred Hampton Peoples Health Clinic on Vancouver and Russell Streets in North Portland. After becoming a physician assistant (PA) in 1981, Sandra started as a women’s health specialist, became a family practice clinician, and soon became one of the first psychiatric PAs in the country. Sandra has been a steadfast presence at our Garlington Health Center since 2004.
Sandra’s commitment to the community has also been steadfast. As a member of Portland’s Black Panther Party, Sandra’s work included welfare rights advocacy, justice issues, and supporting students of color. With other members of the Black Panthers she helped organize a Free Breakfast Program for children in inner-city Portland at Highland Church that fed 100 – 150 children a day, five days a week; worked to establish the Fred Hampton Memorial Peoples Free Health Clinic in Portland in 1969 which arranged sickle cell anemia testing at schools and community events, screening approximately 11,000 people in Portland; and set up the Free Dental Clinic that is now the Cleve Allen Dentist Clinic. And much more.
“I hope to be remembered as a listener, a person who cared, who was respectful and tried always to do my best for others,” said Sandra.
Community members can view this new portrait, as well as the other works by Jeremy Okai Davis, Arvie Smith, Hilary Pfeifer and Anne Crumpacker at the Garlington Health Center at 3036 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
I don’t believe the Eliot News has ever printed a book review; however, Mitchell Jackson is a product of the neighborhood (raised in King) and the book is a memoir about growing up in Albina.
The recently published book, Survival Math, reminded me of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Blue Highways, although was not well written. All three are male confessionals with significant philosophical, literary, and psychological digressions from the authors’ troubled, male perspective. Zen and Highways use interstate travel as a frame, while Math’s frame is Inner N/NE Portland and Vancouver and places of significance to the author and others in his circle of friends and relatives during the 1980-2000 era.
I am not drawn to memoirs, but Mitchell’s interview on OPB piqued my curiosity. I moved to Eliot in the late 1970s, about the time Mitchell was born. His recollections of life in Albina are consistent with my own. In contrast to a current myth being promoted, Albina in the 1960-2000 period was not Wakanda on the Willamette, but the locus for “prostitution”, drugs, and gang shootings and murders. This lawlessness was tolerated, perhaps even encouraged, to confine it to Albina and protect the rest of the (largely white) city. Mitchell describes his role in this mayhem. Although he was a bit player, he was imprisoned for multiple years. He talks about drug dealing, “pimping”, and “gangbanging” from the inside with as much honesty as he can without, I suspect, confessing to additional offenses. His digressions include history lessons on slavery, the origins of Portland gangs, and the night life of Portland’s Black underworld. He also explores the philosophical and psychological roots for his and his community’s behavior rooted in America’s systemic racism and paternalism. He takes responsibility for the disruption he caused, including about 60 pages of reflection on his abuse of women.
This book is an important contribution to the history of Albina and of Portland. The community he describes was one of struggling families and choices made to survive in the face of an establishment that either ignored or actively targeted it. It isn’t a complete history because it is a personal narrative. Although he comments on the contributions the Rose Quarter, I-5, Emanuel, and Blanchard projects made to dissolution of the Black community in Albina formed after the Vanport flood. It doesn’t cover the decline of Union/MLK in the 1960s and 70s and its subsequent home for prostitution and heroin dealing. He did not experience that history. The local narrative ends when Mitchell leaves for school and his career as a professor and author in New York.
Periodically Mitchell returns to Portland. During a recent book tour he visited his old neighborhood during his interview on OPB. He was asked about the obvious transformation since his life there. I was stuck by his response. Rather than bemoaning what was lost, he compared it to the transformation of the largely German/ Northern European community by the Black population that moved to Albina in the late 1940s and 50s. In other words, he described the change as a normal part of urban development. He also noted it was obviously much safer than in his day, and that was a positive development. He did recognize some of his neighbors but added many from his former life are likely dead or in jail, a sobering vision of Albina as it really was.
Four local artists join Open Signal Portland Community Media Center for the third year of its New Media Fellowship, a residency program that supports artists exploring the social implications of immersive technologies.
Artists Myles de Bastion, Laura Medina, Jessica Mehta and Sam Mendoza will each work in residence for four months to create new projects that incorporate virtual reality (VR), mixed reality, 360 video and immersive media art installations. Their work will use immersive media to address science fiction, poetry, decolonization and immigrant experiences. The residencies begin September 2019.
The fellowship is the only program of its kind in the state of Oregon, and a unique opportunity for Portland-based experimental media artists to receive professional support and to create new work. Each artist will receive a $2,000 stipend, a $500 material budget and studio production training with 3D and VR software and equipment from Open Signal’s new media inventory.
Artists will also have a one-on-one mentorship with Matt Henderson of Portland Immersive Media Group and 360 Labs, a Portland-based company specializing in 360-degree media. Each artist will present a final exhibition of their work on site at Open Signal.
With support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the fellows will also travel to New Mexico to exhibit their work at the CURRENTS Santa Fe International New Media Festival in June 2020. At the festival, they will show their work at the 360-degree Digital Dome at the Institute for American Indian Arts (IAIA).
“It is really exciting to be able to bring our fellows out-of-state for the first time,” said Taylor Neitzke, Director of Programs at Open Signal. “It is a huge honor to present the work of these artists at an international media festival in a truly one-of-akind space at the IAIA. We are excited about how this trip will help these artists take their careers to the next level and incite conversations with artists in other states.”
Past and current New Media Fellows have received grants, exhibitions, fellowships and residencies at locations around the country. Most recently, Fellow Sharita Towne received a 2019 Creative Capital award, Manuel Arturo Abreu was selected for a 2019 Emerging Artist Residency at the Centrum Foundation and May Cat for a 2020 residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute.
2019-20 New Media Fellows applied to the program through an open call for submissions. They were selected by a panel of local and national arts organizers.
The New Media Fellowship program is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Jackson Foundation.
Fellowship Bios September – December 2019 Fellows
Jessica Mehta is a multi-award-winning poet and artist who works at the intersections of mixed and digital media. She is currently a poetry editor at Bending Genres literary review, Airlie Press, and the peer-reviewed Exclamat!on journal. Jessica is also the founder of the Jessica Tyner Scholarship Fund, the only scholarship exclusively for Native Americans pursuing an advanced degree in writing.
Jessica’s exhibition opens at Open Signal March 10,2020.
Laura Camila Medina is an interdisciplinary artist born in Bogota, Colombia and raised in Orlando, Florida. She bases her practice around memory and identity as a response to personal, cultural and historical research. Her work has shown at the Center for Contemporary Art & Culture, PLANETA New York, Blackfish Gallery and with the Nat Turner Project. She earned her BFA at the Pacific Northwest College of Art.
Laura’s exhibition opens at Open Signal May 12, 2020.
February – May 2020 Fellows
Sam Mendoza is an educator at Portland Community College, as well as the Manager of the Virtual Reality Development Center at PCC’s Cascade Campus. They work as an independent artist and activist focusing largely on technology, indigenous futurism, decolonization, immigrant rights, trans rights, equity and environmentalism.
Sam’s exhibition opens at Open Signal August11, 2020.
Myles de Bastion is an artistic director, musician and creative-altruist who develops technology and art installations that enables sound to be experienced as light and vibration. A strong advocate for disability rights, Myles’ work centers upon themes of inclusion, diversity, equity and access for Deaf and disabled people. He is the founder of CymaSpace, a nonprofit that facilitates arts and cultural events that are inclusive of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing.
Myles’ exhibition opens at Open Signal October 13, 2020
“This town is about collaboration,” says Thad Fisco, owner of Portland Kettle Works and Portland’s craft beer lab, Labrewatory. In 2015, Labrewatory opened in Lower Albina with Thad purchasing the building at 670 N Russell Street, a few blocks north of Interstate, and it has been the definition of collaboration in every sense of the word. Brewers from around the city come together to create beers which are creative and delicious. For the first couple of years, beer was the headliner at this storage facility turned brewery. That is changing now.
In 2011, Portland Kettle Works designed a new brew system and brewers immediately started placing orders. Craft beer, it turns out, was the one part of the economy that was doing well during the recession. Sales have continued and their brewing systems are now in over 250 breweries worldwide and going strong. Now Portland Kettle Works was off and running and they had a building to house equipment. Thad says that “we decided to open a brewery of our own because we were very active in putting breweries into business but hadn’t started our own yet and so we kind of looked at it as a challenge and a learning experience so we could be more informed about what we were selling to people. What an experience it has been!”
“Now we get to start doing some new things down here!” says Rachel Wilson, owner of Dawn Patrol Coffee and brewery manager. “At the beginning of the year, we added the coffee shop and extended our hours.” Dawn Patrol operates at Labrewatory in the morning hours from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm. Tamale Boy started providing burritos in the morning starting at 8:30 am and beer can be sold any time of day. “We also have different beer and coffee cocktails and growlers to go,”
Rachel adds. Rachel has also taken on distribution selling kegs of Labrewatory’s beer to different restaurants and bars like Loyal Legion. Rachel continues, “We really started focusing on community events. We’re trying to bring in a different crowd of people and having the neighborhood have a place to meet. There are many different events and groups that meet at Labrewatory such as a moms club and the NoPo running club. There is even a $1 neighborhood discount for those customers who live or work in the neighborhood.”
“On Tuesdays, there is a new beer release. At 5:00 people come in and we’ll put a new beer on tap and Nick, our brewer, will take those (who have purchased a tour ticket) around and then they get their t-shirt. And there’s live music between 6 pm and 8 pm,” Rachel explains.
Labrewatory hosted a Smash festival celebrating the 100th brewed beer and tied in a nonprofit to work with, which was Special Olympics. In July they hosted a “Go Fund Me” for a friend of Rachel’s who had a climbing accident. On August 17th, there was an S’mores event, called Mighty Clementine, designed by a customer’s daughter, Clementine, who recently has recovered from an aneurysm. She chose the nonprofit, Randall Children’s Hospital Pediatric Development and Rehabilitation Fund, and also chose the flavors of the s’mores.
In addition, there are the classes that both Labrewatory and Tamale Boy offer. Classes are offered to all of the Portland Kettle Works clients. They get all of Labrewatory’s operating procedures for the front of the house, operating procedures for the brewery and get to see financial analysis. It gives the new brewery owners an idea on how to operate their business.
Jaime Soltero, Jr., owner of Tamale Boy, says, “Our philosophy is to always be training and always be evolving and getting people situated, getting their brains right and their work ethic right and let them go and explore themselves. We work with a couple of organizations that come and prep and train here so that they can get them back into the workforce. We have a person that actually went blind that used to work in the kitchen and we have gotten him back in the kitchen. That helps us also really think about what we’re doing and how we go about things. It’s a humbling experience for sure. That’s just one of the programs. We also support our community with gift certificates, fundraisers, and whatever we can do.”
The collaboration has been good for all three businesses. Thad says, “When Jaime came in with Tamale Boy our beer sales increased 30% when they opened their doors. That’s one thing we teach people. If you don’t have food you’re basically cutting yourself off at the knees. So you have to have some way to serve food and the better the food the better. So it’s been a great partnership.”
Jaime agrees, “It actually it worked out perfectly because at that time I was looking to expand to a commissary kitchen because where I started off at Dekum (first location of Tamale Boy) it was super small and we were already saturated. Summers we were packed to the gills and we needed more space. Thad got wind of me and we got started and it’s the perfect marriage. We don’t have to worry about anything in the dining room.”
“It’s really interesting,” Thad says, “that’s the part of overhead that a restaurant hates, is the dining room, but that’s the part that we want – for people to hang out and drink beer. We tell a lot of clients if you can lease the kitchen out and keep the people in the dining area drinking beer as long as you can…”
“And coffee!” Rachel chimes in. “It IS the perfect marriage!”
Rachel says, “The fun thing is that with this space we can have all these people that want to have an event and Labrewatory can offer the beer, Tamale Boy supplies the food and then there is a different kind of profit without having to rent an event space so more of the proceeds can go to the business holding the event.”
With any business and especially with this unique collaboration there are going to challenges and surprises. Jaime says, “We’re always adjusting we’re learning together. Everybody’s strengths we pull in together and learn from each other.” Thad says, thinking about the challenges, the important thing is, “Keeping Rachel! Plus, without this (Labrewatory) I wouldn’t have been able to grow my business and without Jaime, I wouldn’t have had food to offer. We push the edge to find new revenue streams and are backed by Portland Kettle Works so we can take risk.”
Lastly, Rachel says, “It’s fun!” She is learning about the financial side of a business, managing skills, and is challenged to find new businesses with items that are needing distribution to offer at the taproom, as well as trying to scale cold brew coffee which will be on one of the taps at the brewery.
The classes that are offered by Thad and Jaime help pop-ups which in turn are helping our community become stronger and offer diverse food and beverages to all of the Portland metro. So if you have an inkling to start a brewery or restaurant, check in with this successful team on North Russell. Collaboration is the name of the game and to sum it up, referring to the old television sit-com, Jaime says, “We’re very tight here. We’re very three’s company.”
For more information:
Labrewatory/Dawn Patrol Coffee
670 N Russell St 971-271-8151 http://www.labrewatory.com Hours: Monday –Thursday 7 am—10 pm Friday 7 am—11 pm Saturday 9 am—11 pm Sunday 9 am– 9 pm
668 N Russell St 503-477-6706 http://www.tamaleboy.com Hours Monday –Thursday 11 am—9 pm Friday –Saturday 11 am—10 pm Sunday 11 am– 8 pm
Vera Warren, an uprising young woman of color, has entered the Portland legal scene in pursuit of becoming an attorney, and it looks like she’s taking the legal profession by storm! Vera grew up in Beaverton, Oregon, and traveled between two homes, with her father living in NE Portland. Vera attended South Ridge High School, and then continued onto Willamette University College, in Salem (undergrad), accomplishing her Psychology major, and Environmental Science minor in four years. She then lived in New York for two years with her aunt. Vera says it was a good experience overall, and she misses it.
After returning to Portland, Vera worked at Portland General Electric (PGE). Fulfillment was not readily achieved in Vera’s life around this time, because clearly, she had another calling; she felt the urgency for social justice and wanted to be educated in areas to ‘make change’. Once consciously awakened to this idea and to bring it into manifestation, Vera decided to pursue the profession in law, to speak out and do something about the injustices that so many people are continually victimized by today. Hence, Vera began school at Lewis & Clark College to study law for four years, and eventually left her job at PGE.
In addition to school, Vera was blessed with, and had the privilege to intern alongside her father, Ernest Warren — a powerful, hotshot attorney (and handsome, I might add), who took his daughter under his wing, teaching her the ropes and exposing her to real-life hands on training, experiences, and opportunities working with clients, cases, judges, other attorneys, and in court-rooms of law that other law students could only dream of! Ernest owns and operates his own practice, located in downtown Portland, Oregon, and has practiced law since 1988. Vera describes working with her father as the best experience. Because he wanted better for her, he pushed her, gave her opportunities, and challenged her. They have a solid foundational relationship built on communication and a good understanding with each other. She admits there were times when Vera felt overwhelmed with school, study, the hands on training, and her dad’s expectations: there were a few snippy moments working together, but all out of love.
Ernest is a leader and has helped pave the way for his daughter, and certainly for other people of color, as well. Vera mentions that her father pulled things out of her that she was not aware that she had the ability to do. In addition, she also feels that she has learned some things about herself and discovering new things that she can do. This is powerful on so many levels, and it sounds like Vera has tapped into her own innate potential.
Recently, in preparation for the Oregon State Bar exam, Vera has stopped working. She studied for four to six hours a day, and took another smaller course to practice. Vera mentioned staying in isolation so that she could put in the time that she needed. Folks wanted Vera to take the time to go out and participate in activities, but she had no time to spend hanging out with family and friends. She found that she had to be really disciplined, and she says that if you do not pass the bar exam the first time, there is a really long wait period for the next opportunity to try it again. Vera has taken the bar exam and is expecting the results from it in the fall of 2019.
To begin with, Vera plans to work in public defense and criminal justice, and says she wants to advocate for the groups who are severely underrepresented. For example, prison inmates, folks with mental health and addiction issues, and people of color, specifically black people because of their higher representation in the inmate population. She wants to make small changes wherever she can as she moves through her journey, not allowing herself to become overwhelmed because the issues are so entrenched and expansive. Her goals are to be able to go into policy to make change, and says that she has to start with smaller goals in steps to help bring them about; maybe becoming a judge later on down the road.
In August 2020, she will start a clerkship in the Court of Appeals, working under a judge to explain laws. She’ll focus on clear communication, with some technical writing, which she enjoys. But working as a public defender before that time is at the top of her agenda.
Her continuing education is inevitable because it is required in order to continue practicing law. Vera feels that being ahead of the competition is amazing — she can share information with other attorneys, and furthermore learn from others.
Vera encourages youth who may be interested in professional law to ‘Go for It’! However, she cautions to be ready to feel uncomfortable because being in this field there may not be a lot of support for people of color, and you would need to find folks who are involved where you can receive the support that you need. This is a community, so even if you do not understand the work, just go for it anyway.
Vera encourages adults who are interested in pursuing a law profession to check out Lewis & Clark College’s evening program, because it even has allowed parents with kids to go through law classes . It’s possible if you can fit it in and can figure it out.
Vera was exposed to many aspects of law, for example, she learned taxes, mortgages, and other topics that she wished that she could spend more time on. Vera adds that you learn how to defend yourself and how to properly do things when you learn about the law, and this information is useful to her through her life.
After all of Vera’s hard work, time, energy, and determination that she has put into her education and doing her best to be the best, she is now able to take some time off and reconnect with friends and especially with family. Very says that spending time with family is very important to her. She is happy to see members of the family that she has not seen in a while. Vera is also happy to be back out in the community and connecting with everyone.
It is very exciting to see this strong, beautiful, intelligent, and down-to-earth young woman of color blazing in the direction of leadership and power. It will be interesting to follow how this unfolds for Vera. We need more young women of color taking their rightful place in society, working for the next generation of leaders at the forefront of justice, fighting for justice, and guiding our youth to do the same. We are cheering for you, Vera. You Go Girl!
Hidden in plain sight, only slightly off bustling Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, FISK, is a design studio and art gallery on the border of the Eliot Neighborhood. Your best chance of noticing FISK, their name emblazoned on the facade of their space, is if you plan on dropping by Kee’s #Loaded Kitchen or Mothership Music in the near future.
Founded by Iranian-American graphic designer, Bijan Berahimi, FISK evolved from a zine into a gallery and professional design practice in 2014. Its evolution coincided with Berahimi relocating from Los Angeles to Portland. Design-wise, FISK’s heart is in cultivating strong relationships with clients, focusing on typography, identities, and experiences. They have worked with Toro y Moi, Cult Classic Magazine, Nike, Akadi, and the University of Oregon.
On the gallery side, FISK hosts artists from all over the nation and world. In the last six years and at the time of this article, FISK has put on nearly 28 shows featuring artists trained in commercial practices such as graphics and set design, animation, and illustration.
Design and art are treated holistically. Seamlessly and architecturally interwoven, each discipline at FISK informs the other, and often, the intersection happens through products. Made in collaboration with other makers, Maak Lab and Cloudforest to name a couple, the shelves of the FISK store are lined with unique books, prints, and objects.
At FISK, there is never a dull moment and it is that energy that Berahimi says FISK thrives on.
“Diversity is essential to what we do. We want to offer Portland a glimpse into what the world has to offer and we’re doing that by bringing innovative, exciting artists to the community. No two days are the same, no two projects or products identical. We are always trying to bend the rules or make up our own. We like to have fun and we’re good at it,” Berahimi explains.
It is this mentality of “let’s make cool stuff and have fun” that has allowed FISK to flourish in many ways, especially through free, community events. This summer will be no different. Berahimi along with co-curator Michael Spoljaric, will kick off summer 2019 with a show by British artist, Sophy Hollington. Opening on June 14th, Hollington’s relief prints explore themes and symbolism in folklore.
Type designers and font fans alike, mark your calendars for August 2nd as local type foundry Future Fonts will celebrate their one year anniversary. Their site allows typography designers to upload work in progress type specimens for peer review and purchase.
FISK plans to offer a couple small pop-ups and get-togethers throughout the rest of summer, with dates announced via their newsletter and social media. If you’re curious about what is to come, drop by or email hey at fiskgallery dot com to join their newsletter –both the gallery and store are open to the public.
Wednesday-Friday 12-6, Saturday and Sunday 12-4
Follow FISK on Instagram @fiskprojects @fiskgallery
FISK at 3613 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. Portland, OR 97212
Heart & Bones Kitchen was started on the principal of food transparency and inclusivity. I know, personally, the distress of eating out with dietary requirements. For a lot of us, food has the potential to either harm or heal and often people with restrictive diets and allergies opt to eat at home instead of going out to eat because we’re treated like an inconvenience to our server at best, and at worst our restrictions are not taken seriously. I wanted to create a safe space for people to feel like their needs and concerns are valid, a place that’s already free of most common allergies, where they know exactly what’s in their food and can enjoy a unique flavorful meal without having to worry about getting sick.
I firmly believe that healthy food needs to be more accessible. It shouldn’t be a choice between eating well and paying your bills on time. Heart & Bones specializes in Paleo and Vegan organic, local meals all liberated from dairy, grains, soy, nuts, legumes, refined sugars, and made completely from scratch with love and care.
It’s been an honor of to work with Oasis of Change, the new business on Williams at Tillamook (see the article on page 10), doing pop up breakfasts and farm to table dinners and being able to show others the value and importance of eating whole, nutritious foods. On June 15th Oasis of Change hosted a benefit dinner at their urban farm for Cupcake Girl’s, a nonprofit organization that provides resources for those involved in human trafficking. It’s a perfect example of how food can connect an entire community and the healing power it can have.
Check out Hearts & Bones website for recipes, prepacked products to purchase, events, catering and information on cooking lessons and private chef services.
The earlier column “Taxed to Death? – Part 1 of 2” provided some history for how Eliot finds itself at the center of a policy debate about inequitable property tax payments by residents in newly “gentrified” areas and potential risks to us/them presented by some Legislative discussions. There was fear at the time the Legislature would make changes that would radically increase taxes in Eliot. That is not likely in this legislative session, but there is a proposal to revise how property taxes are levied that may have that result. The proposal hasn’t passed and just calls for a study to set the stage for that change. Because it hasn’t passed, Part 2 of “Taxed to Death” is postponed for now. Instead, this column provides a summary of the current assessment process. It also responds to a number of questions that have been asked about the prior column.
The State Department of Revenue is responsible for ensuring uniform taxation of properties in the state, although actual taxes are levied and collected at the county level. The guidelines for all counties are similar. Properties are assessed at “real market value” (RMV) using a common set of guidelines for property assessment; however, these are subject to adjustments by each county to reflect actual market conditions. That includes applying different criteria in different neighborhoods and in rural versus urban areas to capture market price trends. Property assessments are to be complete by September 25th each year and bills sent a month later. The tax year runs from July to July. The tax bill you receive in October is based on the Assessor’s estimate of RMV as of January 1st. So, if the Assessor calculated RMV for your neighborhood and your house in April, they adjust that value to what they believe it would have been on January 1. That establishes the RMV and for the tax bill in October. For structures without any modifications, “improvements” in tax language, this method is used for all comparable properties. A different method is used if improvements have been made after the previous tax year. As noted in the prior column, the property taxes that are due are subject to a tax cap established by Measure 50 in 1997, which was a Constitutional amendment and can’t be changed without a public vote. Measure 50 essentially froze the “tax assessed value” at the RMV in 1997, plus an allowed inflation adjustment. Properties that pre-date 1997 have their value (but not their taxes) capped as of 1997. The county is still required to reassess the RMV every year, it just can’t use the current RMV to calculate the tax bill, with one exception; if there are newly constructed “improvements.” New construction IS assessed at RMV; however, Measure 50 limits the “tax assessed value” to a fraction of that, roughly 60%.
There are two situations where a tax reassessment may occur. The first is when improvements are made to an existing structure, such as a new deck. The other is when a wholly new structure is added to an existing property. In the case of the new deck, the assessor estimates how much the new deck adds to the RMV and increases the value of the existing building by that amount. For example, assume your house has an RMV at $200,000 and the deck is estimated to add $50,000 to that. You will be taxed for an improvement of $50,000. Where this gets tricky is when the “assessed value” for tax purposed is wildly different than the RMV; namely, homes built prior to Measure 50. In that case, the “tax assessed value” of the existing home may be $50,000, in which case the new deck would increase it. Assuming a Measure 50 cap of 60%, to $80,000 and nearly double the amount of taxes owed. The same is true for a wholly new structure, such as an ADU.
For new construction, the assessor will probably use a “cost” method to calculate the RMV. In other words, how much it cost to build the structure rather than its market value. The state provides cost guidance so this estimate is uniform across all new structures (with local cost adjustments). Returning to the example above, if a new ADU valued at $200,000 is added to the property instead of the $50,000 deck, the new assessed value will be $170,000 ($50,000 for the Measure 50 assessed value of the existing building plus 60% of the new $200,000 ADU; another $120,000). The new tax bill will be over 3 times the previous bill.
New construction presents a taxation challenge to both the assessor and the taxpayer; you. Recall that assessed values are based on the situation on January 1st. If construction began in June, there would be no improvements as of January 1, since construction hadn’t begun. So your October tax bill wouldn’t reflect the new addition. If the ADU is completed within the calendar year, its value would be added in the next year, and show up in the tax bill in the next October, over a year after construction began. If construction takes 12-months or is spread across two years, this process also extends two years. In that case, the assessed value during first July-to-July tax year is based on the value of the structure as it was on January 1 of the next calendar year. For a project started in June, that would be what was completed over the 6 previous months; an amount less than the value of the finished project. Assuming it is only 50% complete, the new assessed value would be half the value of the completed project. In our example, that would be $100,000 (of the $200,000 total cost) and would be reflected in the October tax bill the year after construction started. Once the project is finished, the value the would be assessed at the full $200,000, but that wouldn’t show up until the next calendar year’s tax bill, because it won’t be until that tax year that the project will be complete as of January 1st. This lag in tax billing surprises many taxpayers as the see jumps in their taxes over multiple years; nothing in the year construction begins, a jump in the next year when construction is complete, and then yet another jump a year after the project finished. This last adjustment usually catches people by surprise.
Assessors monitor improvements to existing structures and land through building permits, site visits, record checks, and notices from the population, say a neighbor. Untaxed improvements, called “omitted records,” result when discrepancies are found between the assessor’s records and field inspections. This can happen when construction was done without permits; however, all construction doesn’t require permits. It can also happen through errors in communication of construction activity between permit authorities and the county and mistakes in the assessment. In those cases, the assessor has the right to reassess RMV for the 5 prior tax years. When that occurs, the taxpayer is sent a notice that provides 20-days to correct an erroneous record. A corrected assessment, including a bill for the 5-years owed, will follow. The taxpayer has a limited time to appeal the assessment, as it can for any tax bill. One problem with property taxation is that it is unlike income or sales taxes. We are used to the income tax process where we self-report our income and taxes and the IRS is responsible for any audits and tax adjustments after the fact. In the case of property taxes, the Assessor sets the tax amount and the property owner is responsible for verifying it is correct, and appealing if they feel it is not. In other words, property owners play the role of “tax auditor” to the assessor, which is just the reverse of what we know from income taxes.
Gold, silver, blue, purple plastic pillars, and crystal bowls glisten in large corner windows on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, and Brazee Street. The Bardy Trophy showroom is hard to miss, but the business’s production goes mostly unseen and it’s legacy goes back 95 years.
Walter Bardy, Sr. began the business in the niche market of hand engraving silver and metal awards. The current owner, Greg Gruszczynski, knew nothing about the trophy industry when he answered a help wanted sign at Bardy, then located at 15th and Broadway. “I sandblasted glass, built trophies, put plaques together, and magnets of the back of name tags. I did it all,” said Gruszcynski. He liked working with his hands, living close to his job, and the sense of completion that came with each order. When the Bardy brothers were ready to retire, they sold the business to Greg and two other employees. For the past 15 years, he has been the sole owner.
When people ask what he does, Greg says he “makes people happy.” Clients want to show their appreciation with a variety of products, not just trophies. The business includes custom apparel, keychains, clocks, thermoses, and chairs. Offices’ walls have transformed into cubicles and company logo jackets have replaced walnut plaques, but the message is the same. Greg knows that “It’s this mutual respect and admiration that you don’t always use words for. It’s a way of substituting words – to give somebody something and hope that translates into ‘I mean something to you’.”
As a business owner, Greg opts to bring donuts to show his employees he appreciates them rather than plaques. As a business, Bardy Trophy has a few trophies of its own, celebrating its contributions to its community both locally and in the trophy industry. A framed Trail Blazers jersey with the name Bardy on its back hangs their showroom, a gift from a repeat customer within the Trail Blazers organization. 95% of all orders come from Portland.
Trophies are symbols of the values people have and a way to reinforce those values. Bardy Trophy is about making literal trophies as much as it is about helping customers celebrating milestones, recognizing accomplishments and making people feel worthwhile. Sometimes a handwritten card can send the message, but Bardy Trophy is for when you need something shiny to do the trick.