Grateful for Our Growing Community

Gratitude. That is the purest expression we at Know Your City are experiencing right now. So much has changed with our organization in the past few months. This magnitude of change would be scary, if not for the grassroots support and leadership we’ve seen from the community. Thanks to people like you, November has been a month of growth—giving us new potential for us to do our creative justice work in the community.

So, how exactly have we grown?

First, I’d like to introduce you to the new Board of Directors leadership who will be guiding Know Your City to a stronger future in 2016.

 Jess Thompson, Board Chair


Jess Thompson was raised in Madison, Wisconsin and has spent the past eighteen years living and learning in inner North and Northeast Portland. She has a master’s degree in education from Portland State University. She worked as a secondary teacher leader and instructional coach in Hillsboro for eleven years. Currently, she is the Operations Director at Community Warehouse, Portland’s only non-profit furniture bank. In this capacity, she supervises twenty-three staff members, over 200 volunteers, and manages day-to-day operations for a nonprofit budget of over one million dollars. She lives in the Woodlawn neighborhood with her husband, Chris Luedtke, and her son, Akeke Thompson, who is an eighth grader at Chief Joseph Ockley Green K-8. When she is not at work, she enjoys spending time with her family, gardening in her “Backyard Habitat Gold-Certified” yard, and participating in the local resistance movements.


Luis Torres Barragan, Board Treasurer


Luis Torres Barragan grew up in Spain and Mexico, bringing a global view to our local community.  While in Mexico, Luis received a bachelor’s in economics from Universidad de Veracruzana and a bachelor’s of arts in International Trade from the Polytechnic National Institute.  Luis immigrated to the United States in 1996 to learn English at Lower Columbia College. Currently, Luis leads his own business management company translating strategies into profitable results for organizations throughout the Northwest. Married to his husband in May of 2014, Luis’ family resides in the Mill Park neighborhood of Southeast Portland. Luis’ passion for Know Your City can be found in the organization’s programs focused on social justice and uplifting voices.


     Mick Harris, Board Secretary

unnamedMick Harris is an associate with Hilltop Public Solutions. He is originally from New Mexico, where he earned a bachelor’s in government from New Mexico State University. His work involves offering political consulting and public relations services to clients on a local and national level. He worked previously as an intern for Senator Merkley’s re-election campaign and is an active Precinct Committee Person in the Multnomah County Democratic Party. A lifelong progressive, he is deeply dedicated to environmental protection, affordable housing advocacy, and the development of thoughtful economic policy. When he’s not working, he’s likely reading a book or preparing for the next opportunity to travel and see a different corner of the world.

Please join us at the Know Your City Welcome Party to meet and congratulate Jess, Luis, and Mick on November 30th! And don’t forget about our “old news” Executive Director Cameron Whitten! RSVP HERE.

We’ve also grown in financial support. We are currently 16.7% of the way to our $12,000 end of the year fundraising goal. We are grateful for the 9 Know Your City supporters who have signed up for annual membership this month. We are grateful for the additional 11 Know Your City supporters who have signed up to become monthly sustaining donors.

Give a $10, $25, or $50 gift to Know Your City today, so we can sustain this momentum.

2016 is going to be an amazing year for creative justice projects in the community. We will be launching the second Jade Journal at Harrison Park, and are organizing a number of new tours on local causes. In the meantime, you can RSVP to our December 16th dialogue, titled, “The Rent Crisis: A People’s Perspective.”
With your support of Know Your City, we are turning gratitude into amazing things. Thank you.

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Mark Your Calendars for Upcoming Community Events

Dear Know Your City Supporters,

The Know Your City office has been busy with lots of new activity! Here’s are a few opportunities to engage Know Your City in the upcoming months.

Community Lecture!

You are invited to a community dialogue hosted by Know Your City and Portland Tenant’s United on December 16th at Community Warehouse, titled: The Rent Crisis: A People’s Perspective. Check out this link for more information and to RSVP.

Tabling Opportunities!

Know Your City has many volunteer opportunities coming up.Email us if you’d like to be involved in these upcoming community events.

December 1st, from 11am ‒  5pm is Giving Tuesday at the Mercy Corps Action Center, a full day of festivities as we celebrate what we can achieve together in Portland and around the globe. Enjoy a coffee tasting, between meal snacks, or happy hour while you participate in advocacy opportunities or other volunteer projects that need your support.

December 13th, from noon ‒  6pm is the seventh annual Publications Fair, at the Cleaners at Ace Hotel. This fair will include publications from dozens of other local publishers, such as Couch Press and Reading Frenzy.

December 12th and December 13th, from 11am ‒ 6pm is Crafty Wonderland at the Oregon Convention Center. Crafty Wonderland features over 250 of the best and brightest handmade vendors from the Northwest, just in time for the holiday season.


Here’s a reminder of our BIG Welcome Party for our new Executive Director Cameron Whitten on November 30th at Center for Intercultural Organizing. Food and drink sponsors include Missionary Chocolates, Voodoo Doughnuts, Townshend’s Kombucha, and Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider. Make sure to RSVP.


Know Your City is 10.4% on the way to our $12,000 end of the year fundraising goal. Know Your City is thankful for the support that makes all of our programs possible. Give $10, $25, or $50 to support Know Your City today.

Thank you!

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My First Day on the Job

Hello Know Your City supporters!

It’s my first day! It’s so funny that, now that I’ve been appointed Executive Director, so many things feel new—even though I have been on the board of the organization for the past two years and six months.

I appreciate the tremendous support I’ve received since the announcement last week, which was covered by the Oregonian, Portland Mercury, Portland Tribune, and Go Local PDX. I’m so overwhelmed by the support from my friends and colleges, that I haven’t had the chance to respond to all of the comments on my Facebook page.


kyc facebook


…hopefully I’ll take care of it by January.

I look forward to Know Your City going into 2016 strong: bringing together more Portlanders for community conversations and lectures, creating new publications that activate the voices of local residents, and aligning our passion for the arts into our moral commitment for justice. I’m excited for this vision of new and exciting projects, and I’m ready to work.

As I start my first day, I wanted to let you know how you can help Know Your City remain a vital resource for our community.

First, we have Board Membership opportunities!

We are seeking to expand our board to reflect the diverse perspectives of all Portlanders. We are a small, ragtag team that balances nonprofit governance with good food and fun. Check out our ad on Mac’s List.

Second, we are looking for volunteers for our Programs Committee!

The Programs Committee helps shape Know Your City’s four program areas: lectures, tours, publications and youth programs. As a member, your role is to advise and evaluate the organization on existing and current programs, publications, and other services. This is the perfect place for you to propose and discuss new programs, publications, and services opportunities that align with the mission of our work. Our current committee members are: Amanda Tillstrom, Dave Ellis, Avantika Bawa, Mose Berkowitz, Andrea McKeever, and Alison Pezanowski-Browne. Please email me if you’re interested in joining the Programs Committee!

Third, we are asking you to GIVE to support Know Your City!

Highlights of our work in 2015 include the Jade Journal, De-Gentriying Portland, and our 30 Flags Prison Art Program. Our dream is for 2016 to be our best year yet, expanding our programs to include thousands more Portlanders in creative placemaking. Our goal is to raise $12,000 by the end of the year so that we can make that dream happen.

Help us build this movement by committing to donate $100, $50, or $25 to Know Your City.

And, fourth—CELEBRATE. RSVP for the Welcome Party on November 30th at Center for Intercultural Organizing.


I believe we have a strong vision for a better Portland. Let’s create it together. I look forward to where this adventure together will take us.


In Solidarity,

Cameron Whitten

Executive Director, Know Your City

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Cameron Whitten

Cameron Whitten


Photo courtesy of Mark Colman Photography

Our entire community is invited to Cameron’s Executive Director welcome party from 5:30 to 8:30 at Center for Intercultural Organizing (700 N Killingsworth St, Portland, OR 97217) on Monday, November 30th.

The Know Your City Board has been hard at work over the past few months providing creative programs that encourage our community to take action in the fight for social justice. And now, we have exciting news to share with you.

This year, Know Your City has been reflecting on how we can leverage the arts, education, civics, and creative placemaking to address growing inequality that is changing Portland and our nation as a whole. We sought out a new permanent Executive Director with lived experience of racism and economic inequality in Portland—someone who understands why our mission of combining the arts and social justice is so vital. We believe we have found that leader.

The Board of Directors at Know Your City is excited to announce Cameron Whitten as our new Executive Director!

For anyone who knows Cameron, one thing we can probably agree on is that we all know Cameron. His background in nonprofit administration and political advocacy has leveraged his mission in life—civic empowerment and justice for all people. His work has included collaborations with many local civic organizations, including the Bus Project, the Urban League, and the City Club of Portland.

Cameron serves on the Board of Trustees for Pioneer Courthouse Square, the Multnomah County Oregon Historical Society Levy Oversight Committee, the Bureau Advisory Committee for the Portland Bureau of Transportation, and the Advocacy and Awareness Board for the City Club of Portland. He is in his final year of a Bachelor of Arts in Economics at Portland State University. Cameron previously served as a Know Your City Board Member from January 2013, and as our Board President since January of 2014. He is succeeding our Interim Executive Director Amanda Tillstrom, who also served the organization as Programming Coordinator for the last three years.

Know Your City recognizes our community is in a flashpoint. Rents are skyrocketing, and  of tenants in the region are receiving no cause evictions as the housing state of emergency grows worse. Portland experienced the hottest summer in a century while local policies fail to demand urgent solutions to climate change. And #BlackLivesMatter has brought a magnifying glass to the systemic racism that continues undermine the vitality of communities of color. Sometimes the daily injustices feel overwhelming, but we know that our community deserves better.

We believe that the only way to stem this tide is by using our creative faculties to shift the culture of business, government, and society towards justice.

In 2015, Know Your City proudly launched collaborative projects such as DeGentrifying Portland, our Renters Rights Comic, our Jade Journal, and our People’s History of Portland Tours. We aim to enter 2016 strongly with new partnerships that make a critical impact in our community.

We look forward to working with Cameron Whitten as Executive Director as we continue our struggle for a more just and vibrant community. Please join Know Your City and welcome Cameron Whitten to his new role!

Our entire community is invited to Cameron’s Executive Director welcome party from 5:30 to 8:30 at Center for Intercultural Organizing (700 N Killingsworth St, Portland, OR 97217) on Monday,  November 30th.

Benjamin Gerritz

Board Chair, Know Your City




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KYC Summer Walking Tours End

Executive Director Marc Moscato, leading a tour group. After 6 years, he will step down from his position.

It’s officially Fall and that marks the end of daily KYC Summer Walking Tours, leaving from Ankeny Alley.

Thanks to everyone who came on one of our daily walking tours, A People’s History of Portland or Sing-A-Song of Portland. We know you were entertained and educated by our guides, Stanley Fonesca, Daniela Jimenez and Sam Cooper.

It was a great summer for us: a mix of locals and visitors, learning about Portland’s independent musical history and the working-class and immigrant heroes who built Portland. This was only our second year offering daily walking tours, and it’s been really gratifying to experience so much interest that has developed in Portland’s past and how we relate to present issues like social justice and equity, new immigrant communities to Portland, civic responsibilities, homeless and houseless individuals, LGBTQ communities, and more.

Please note that our two tours, A People’s History of Portland and Sing-A-Song of Portland are both available as private tours for groups of 6 or more – throughout the year! You may inquire by sending an email to or calling our office: (971) 717-7307.

We’ll return in summer 2016! See you then!

Daniela Tour




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Wage/Working Jukebox Opens at ADX This Friday!

The Wage/Working jukebox is on the move again!

After a wonderful reception and month-long stay at Portland Mercado, on Friday, August 28th the jukebox will be traveling west to ADX (417 SE 11th Ave), a makerspace and collaborative hub located in the Buckman neighborhood.

Artists Tennessee Watson and Laura Hadden with communtiy producers Sam Mattingly and Sara Sevcech and hair stylist/storyteller Nadege Martino at the Portland Mercado opening of the project. Photo credit: Julie Keefe

The jukebox features stories and sounds from workers in Portland, each edited to the length of time it takes it takes that worker to earn $1. The stories are collected and produced by Tennessee Watson and myself along with a group of 9 producers (Ender Black, Julie Keefe, John Poelstra, Sarah Sevcech, Samuel Mattingly, and Laura Vanderlyn) trained through a workshop we held in July at KBOO Community Radio. The jukebox currently features stories from a sign painter, a castor store owner, a midwife, a gym owner, two members of a band, a food cart chef/co-owner, a police officer, an assistant manager at a thrift store, a hair stylist, an ice cream scooper, a call center representative, and an activist, with more to come throughout the year.

Please join us for the jukebox opening event this Friday, August 28th, 6:30 –8:30PM to check out the jukebox, reflect on income inequality, and celebrate the labor of the people who make Portland possible. Beer will be available via donation thanks to Burnside Brewing. The jukebox will be on-site in a publicly accessible part of ADX through late September.

I am personally excited about having the jukebox at ADX because, like Portland Mercado, it is a community center that incubates and accelerates Portland talent and businesses as well as a site for recreation and community engagement. Instead of the enticing aroma of pupusas you might enjoy the faint scent of wood chips, but these are both places where Portlanders turn passion to profit and perfect their crafts. I couldn’t imagine a better background for this project.

Thanks to our friends at Portland Mercado (Jamie and Jesus, to name just a few) who made sure things ran smoothly for us over there and for all of you who came out to celebrate the project and/or eat some of the best food in Portland. We were thrilled to meet you and very grateful for your insights about wage, labor, and value in our community. We asked visitors for their responses to three questions, posted below.

We hope that you will continue exploring the working lives of Portland with us as we grow and migrate around the city.

Wage/Working is made possible through a partnership with Know Your City and a small grant from SE Uplift’s Neighborhood Small Grant Program. If you’d like more information about the project, visit our website at or email us at You can also RSVP to our event and help us spread the word on Facebook.

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