Get the dirt on Portland’s environmental issues! Dirty Side of Portland tour Aug 2-3

dirty side of portland
Have you signed up for the Dirty Side of Portland bus tour, next Saturday and Sunday, August 2-3? This 3-hour tour will shed new light on health and equity issues in Portland. It’s essential for any recent transplant or long-time resident – we’re talking about the livability of our city!

Portland usually prides itself in being a city with thoughtful planning. We try to pay attention to neighborhood development projects that encourage local sustainability and promote environmentally conscious building and businesses. But not all neighborhoods are treated equally when it comes to cleaning up past environmental hazards. 

We started with a list of questions we’re hoping this tour will help answer (bring some of your own questions, too!):

  • How much attention do policy-makers pay to polluted properties in low-income areas and communities of color?
  • Portland’s identity has always included a healthy relationship to the Willamette River: Bridgetown, City of Bridges are a couple of our nicknames. But how healthy is our river?
  • What do we know about Superfund sites and Brownfield sites in our city?
dirty side of portland tour

Contractors at the Arkema cleanup site dig an underground wall meant to prevent contaminated groundwater from leaking into the Willamette River (courtesy Department of Environmental Quality)

Each tour, we’ll visit the same sites important to telling the story of Portland’s environmental history and have guest speakers along the way.*

  • Jeri Williams - Neighborhood Program Coordinator, Office of Neighborhood Involvement and long term Environmental Justice Advocate
  • Rich Muza – EPA Superfund Project Manager
  • Jim Robinson - Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group
  • Kevin Parret –  DEQ Clean up and leaking underground Storage Tanks Manger
  • Lore Wintergreen - East Portland Action plan Advocate with the Office of Neighborhood involvement
  • Lori Boisen/ Kem Marks - Division Midway Alliance
  • Rich Muza - EPA Superfund Project Manager
  • Keith Johnson - DEQ Clean and Site manager
  • Cassie Cohen - Executive Director of Groundwork Portland
  • Will Bennett - Emerson Garden Site Coordinator
  • Right 2 Survive Representative 
  • Groundwork Portland Green Team Representative 

*note: not all speakers are available both days.

Along the way, we’ll visit the Portland Harbor Superfund Site, a brownfield in East Portland and take a break and visit the Emerson Street Garden and learn about its previous life as a residence, an empty lot and finally a garden.

The Dirty Side of Portland tours happen only once – Saturday, August 2, 11am-2pm or Sunday, August 3, 1pm-4pm. Tickets are still available and offered at a sliding scale. Get your tickets now.

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know your city kiosk is complete! (video); join us for tours this weekend

BIG NEWS: construction on the Know Your City kiosk is complete!! Pending inspection from the City of Portland later this week, we should be good to go for opening the kiosk to the public this Thursday! Seeing as how this has been a few years in the making, we are so excited and thankful for everyone who has contributed to making this possible – especially our 150 Kickstarter backers!

The construction process ran into some delays given the kiosk’s weight and bulk. But Oscar Camarena from Simple Bicycle Company would not give up and persevered in coming up with a solution to the making the structure mobile. Watch a short video of Oscar test riding the kiosk below.

Our kiosk will be located in Ankeny Alley – between Voodoo Doughnuts and Saturday Market, and we’ll be open for business Thursday-Sundays 12PM-6PM, with tours departing daily at 3:30PM. At the kiosk, you’ll be able to purchase tour tickets, all Know Your City publications, plus a great collection of Portland-related gifts and books. You can view all our kiosk offerings and more over at our brand new Shopify Store – check it out!

Our tours have already started and been receiving great feedback from group tours we recently did for University of Oregon, David Douglas High School and a handful of out of towners. If you haven’t done so, please head on over to our slick new tours page – which has tons of great photos and information about our daily tour offerings. Visit our kiosk this weekend and sign up to take the following tours:

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Kyle Curtis, KYC tour guide for the DIY PDX tour, with a group of recent tour attendees

We’ve been out in Ankeny Alley the past couple weekends getting a jump start before our grand opening. In the process, we’ve been documenting the alley and some of the many colorful characters that frequent it through a steady Instagram feed. Check out some of the best of the often hilarious pics after the jump…

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Sing your heart out, Portland! Sing A Song of Portland tour this Sunday


In case you haven’t heard we’re doing 2 sing-along walking tours of Portland music history  THIS SUNDAY– July 20th!

This weekend, join Know Your City and Portland music historian and superfan Sam Murray as we learn about the musical history of the Rose City. We’re thrilled to have Sam, who created the Sing A Song of Portland tour last year, here in town – all the way from University of Cardiff, Wales! – leading the tours this weekend. We’ll pass out lyric sheets and at each stop we’ll sing some of the songs that helped shape Portland’s music scene – right on the street where the music and history was made. We will be accompanied on the tour and in song by our troubador, local musician Lukas Borsten. Read more about the details of the tour here on our Sing A Song of Portland page.

We’re offering the tour twice, 11am and 3pm both tours leaving from SW 2nd Ankeny. After the tour you can head over to the east side and enjoy PDX Pop Now! music fest.  Check out their Sunday schedule on their website.

Don’t forget, tickets are FREE! But, we need you to RSVP at Eventbrite. Here’s a playlist we made of all the songs so you can practice at home.

And  check out Lukas in our short video teaser for this weekend’s tour created by Adam Willumsen and Brighthouse Films for last year’s tour:

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Renter’s Rights publication winner announced: Becky Hawkins

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Know Your City and Community Alliance of Tenants announce the recipient of our Renter’s Rights comic: illustrator Becky Hawkins. The publication will be a 20-page comic book, printed in both English and Spanish. Renters will be able to use the book as a reference to understand the process of eviction, how some evictions are unfair, and what to do if it happens to them.

Our jury was overwhelmed with the quality and talent in our submissions. Unfortunately, we could only choose one candidate for the job. We thank everyone for their interest!

We’re excited to work with Becky, a longtime cartoonist whose comics depict real-life situations, usually drawn from her own life. “This project brings together several different topics that I’m passionate about, and requires artistic strengths that I have been honing for a decade…” said Hawkins, “…If you give me the chance, I would very much enjoy collaborating with KYC and CAT”.

We are now looking for volunteers to help in drafting the script of the comic. If you are interested in volunteering, please send a note to Justin Buri at He’d love to hear from you. The comic is slated for an October release.

More info on Renter’s Rights in the video below. View more samples from Becky after the jump…

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Parklandia: bike tour this saturday! 6/28

tuileries graphic

On Saturday, June 28, from 10:30AM-12:30PM Know Your City and Portland Art Museum team up for Parklandia: A Portland Bike Tour. Departing from the Museum, the ride in held in conjunction with Pedalpalooza and The Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden Exhibition.

Who gave Portland the nickname, “City of Roses?” Why don’t the South Park Blocks connect with the North Park Blocks? You’ll find the answers to these questions and more when you join us for a leisurely ride around the city, visiting city parks in a 10-mile loop. From the Museum, we’ll uncover some of our city’s rich park system, from the South Park Blocks to Laurelhurst Park. This ride is one day only, June 28th and there’s still tickets left!  To sweeten the deal, your Parklandia tour ticket includes admission to Portland Art Museum – all weekend!


Peninsula Park Rose Garden

Portland is a city well-known for its commitment to publicly accessible green spaces. There was a time, however, when the city was more of an urban jungle than the checker board of parks we enjoy today. On this tours we’ll visit well-known parks around the city and learn how they came to be, from the first clearing of the forests to create parks in “Stumptown,” to our reputation for tearing down parking lots to put up parks.

For instance, did you know that pioneer Daniel Lownsdale saw that the city was expanding and had the idea to encourage land developers to set aside land for the north and south Park Blocks? He was happy to donate his own land, but some of his fellow pioneers we less inclined to do so, even suggesting the city pay prices well in excess of what their land was worth. One man in particular wouldn’t sell, and his legacy was to disrupt the line of park blocks running from PSU in SW Portland to NW Glisan.

We’ll visit with the Friends of the Peninsula Park Rose Garden, the earliest city park dedicated to roses. We’ll walk around the park and learn why Portland is called the City of Roses, the history of Rose Festival, and how this park came to be tucked away in a residential corner of North Portland.

Don’t ride a bike? Then join us July 19th for Parklandia: A Walking Tour of Portland, when we’ll learn about similar themes…this time by foot!

Remember: the Parklandia bike tour happens only once – Saturday, June 28th. Full details here.

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free food cart bike tour with author kelly rodgers– this saturday

(Kelley Roy and Kelly Rodgers, authors of Cartopia: Portland’s Food Cart Revolution.)

(Kelley Roy and Kelly Rodgers, authors of Cartopia: Portland’s Food Cart Revolution.)

This Saturday, June 21st Know Your City hosts Food Cart Revolution – by bike! in conjunction with Pedalpalooza. The one-time-only tour is led by Cartopia author Kelly Rodgers, who will lead us (on bikes!) to learn about why Portland has so many food carts and to meet some of the entrepreneurs who are leading the craft economy of small scale food vending. It looks like beautiful weather as this weekend – perfect for getting out on your bike and sampling some sweet treats around town. Best yet? The event is free, but RSVP required through EventBrite.  

Meet Kelly Rodgers. She literally wrote the bible on Portland’s food carts, Cartopia: Portland’s Food Cart Revolution. She’ll be leading Saturday’s tour that visits some of our city’s best food carts for samples and discussions on the growth and popularity of the food cart phenomenon, as well as the economics behind the food cart revolution. Check out Kelly’s TEDx talk with Cartopia co-author Kelley Roy below.

There are still tickets available - we don’t want you to miss out on this one-time only, free tour. RSVP now and bring your appetite!

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