Some background: the East Portland Newspaper Project is a collaboration between Know Your City, Tim Schulze’s fifth grade students at Harrison Park School and the surrounding SE 82nd Avenue community, a neighborhood known for its multicultural makeup. For the past seven weeks students have researched the history, sociology and changing demographics of the area, and are now currently working to produce 14,000 free newspapers informed by their study.
There is so much to report back since I started work on the program in August, where to begin…We’ve had an amazing set of professionals and community leaders visit the classroom to share their knowledge and expertise to help students prepare for the task of writing a newspaper.
In the first few weeks of the project students learned about interviewing and researching from Brad Schmidt, a journalist for the Oregonian. Brad worked with the students to prepare and guide them through an interview with Mychal Tettah from the Community Cycling Center. Watch excerpts of that interview below.
Brad’s visit was followed up by an amazing photography workshop facilitated by Intisar Abioto and Julie Keefe. The students were able to apply their newfound skills in interviewing and photography in the following weeks as they embarked on a research tour of community organizations.
Students began their research into the history, sociology and changing demographics of SE 82nd street by touring the neighborhood and interviewing community organizer Karn Saetang of APANO, Michael Liu, owner and CEO of Fubonn, and Rosalin Hiu, owner and editor of Portland Chinese Times.
At the same time, the students worked with their classroom teacher, Tim Schulze, to learn about the state and federal government and to prepare for a classroom visit by Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer. Alissa visited the class to talk about her role as an elected representative for the neighborhood and the legislative process. Students interviewed her and asked informed questions such as, “Why are you committed to investing in our youth?” followed up by “How are you going to do it – and be specific?” Alissa has some great ideas – look for the report in our newspaper!
We also had an inspired visit by Ronault LS Catalani (Tio Polo). Tio Polo gave a wonderful presentation about human migration and diversity. The students were mesmerized by his presentation and learned a bit about other things as well, like why we don’t get sick even though the Earth is spinning really fast through space. One of the more remarkable things was how much the students opened up about safety concerns in the neighborhood and their negative interactions with police, showing maturity well beyond their years.
Eight student groups are now at work writing articles for the paper, with profiles on APANO, Fubonn, the Portland Chinese Times and Alissa Keny-Guyer, as well as articles about safety, food deserts, diversity, an editorial about electronics, a column about being new to America and a profile on the Harrison Park Community Garden.
Students are deep in the writing process and are learning the nuts and bolts of writing informational articles (simple expository structure, creating an organized plan, writing topic and detail sentences). This week we’ve had volunteers, Harry Stein and Diana Kerman, visit the class to help students prepare an outline for their articles. We still need additional volunteers – if you’re free Wednesdays from 1pm-3pm please drop us a note!
The deadline for the paper is drawing near and the students are hard at work preparing their research. Look out for the published paper to appear sometime in early December.
Don’t forget: Know Your City is in the middle of our Fall Membership Drive and when you sign up to be member, you directly support our work like the East Portland Newspaper Project – plus you’ll get a copy of the paper mailed directly to your door! Your financial commitment enables us to bring critical programming like this into underserved schools. We have several more youth programs in development, but can only expand with your help. Make sure we can continue this work and get a copy of the final paper – sign up to be a member of Know Your City now.