KYC/ La Bonita day, last walking tours of the year this weekend

Reiko walking

Dr. Reiko Hillyer leads a tour of Old Town/ Chinatown for Know Your City this Sunday (rain or shine!)

Know Your City’s calendar is full this weekend – no matter the weather! This Friday, La Bonita North hosts a benefit for Know Your City. Then, on Saturday and Sunday KYC will host its 2 final walking tours of the year – our popular Sing A Song of Portland! and Old Town/Chinatown.

Please join us this Friday, October 24 at La Bonita North (2710 N Killingsworth St), where all day long, 15% of sales will go to the organization – what a delicious way to fundraise! We’re honored and looking forward to sharing a meal (or 2 or 3!) with friends and family where you can show support for KYC as well as a beloved local restaurant. Giving to the community is a practice that this family-owned Mexican restaurant has done for years, whether by donating time, dollars or dinner, they believe in participating in their community by helping out in a meaningful way to them.  La Bonita was recently named “Little” Big Player, which recognizes unique arts-business partnerships from the Business for Culture in the Arts. They are a big player in our eyes – this partnership can make a huge impact to our budget, and it’s an easy way the community can help support 2 local treasures – Know Your City and La Bonita. More info on our Facebook event.

The very next day, Saturday, October 25, KYC hosts the first of its final two walking tours of the year: Sing A Song of Portland! The tour is a troubadour-led, free walking tour with local musician Lukas Borsten, that gives you music history, social history and song, all together.  For example, you are invited to stand in front of Portland institution, Powell’s Books and sing the Decemberists while you hear about the literary history of Portland. You’ll also learn the story of James Chasse, a local musician suffering from schizophrenia who died while in police custody, sparking a debate about police accountability and mental health issues in Portland. Alien Boy, by the Wipers, is sung where this event happened. It’s a song memorializing conversations Chasse had with the band earlier in his life. This active engagement with history is fundamental to the value of our programming and to the value you experience from our programming. Tickets are FREE with donation to troubador. RSVP by clicking “Get Tickets”.

Lastly, on Sunday, October 26th, KYC winds its tour season down with a walking tour of Old Town/ChinatownReiko Hilyer, pictured above, will lead a group on a tour she researched and wrote as a member and volunteer with Know Your City. She has since become an active board member and valuable contributor to our programs and fundraising efforts. Reiko’s interest in Portland’s working class and immigrant histories led her to Know Your City, and inspired her to become an involved partner, and create partnerships from her circles. When you sign up to be member, you are also becoming an involved partner – you are directly supporting our ability to create and produce programs. Tour tickets are $20 – purchase them at Eventbrite.

While this concludes our public tours for the year, we will continue offering private group tours of Multicultural Portland and DIY PDX. Tour groups need to have a minimum of 4 people to run. For more information about booking a group tour, call our office at (971) 717-7307.

Thanks for a great year of tours! See you next year!

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Fall Membership Drive: The Value of Membership

Photographers Intisar Abioto and Julie Keefe teach a photo workshops for kids in KYC's East Portland Newspaper Project at Harrison Park School

Photographers Intisar Abioto and Julie Keefe teach a photo workshop for kids in KYC’s East Portland Newspaper Project at Harrison Park School

This fall season of KYC programming, the impact of our work has become clear. For the last three weeks, we’ve been at Harrison Park School, working with 5th graders to educate them about the SE 82nd Ave community, discussing inequities in East Portland and leading media making workshops through our East Portland Newspaper Project.

The students get it. Last week, class discussed an article in the Oregonian about green spaces and parks in Portland. The article details that while 80% of people in West Portland can walk to a park within 15 minutes, that number is only 63% east of 82nd Avenue. ”It seems like they’re cheating…” said one student, “It’s not fair.”

The class provides the opportunity for these students to learn about and discuss issues affecting their immediate lives – while also providing the opportunity for artistic expression. These are things that a Portland Public School classroom would be hard pressed to offer. Each week, amazing community activists and artists such as Intiar Abioto (Black Portlanders), Julie Keefe (Hello Neighbor), Brad Schmidt (Oregonian) and Mychal Tetteh (Community Cycling Center) have visited the class. This will continue in subsequent weeks, with class culminating in the production and printing of 5,000 copies of a newspaper made by the students, that is informed by their study of SE 82nd Ave.

When you sign up to be member, you directly support our work like the East Portland Newspaper Project. Your financial commitment enables us to bring critical programming like this into underserved schools. We have many more youth programs in development, but can only expand with your help.

There’s never been a better time to show your support and join as a member
. Know Your City is currently in the middle of its Fall Membership Drive. We’re off to a good start and have already been able to welcome 15 new members. A few weeks ago we announced new member incentives ranging from new publications, like the one produced by students at Harrison Park, mailed directly to your door to exclusive access to programs and members-only events.

Mychal Tetteh

Mychal Tetteh, Executive Director of Community Cycling Center, talks to students at Harrison Park about bicycling on National Bike To School Day

Want to join us and find out more? Our board has decided to implement a grassroots house-party strategy to meet our budget – and you’re invited! We’re currently at work planning parties where we can meet new people, invite old friends to re-join, as well as hear about new Fall Programs. Every KYC Board Member has graciously offered to host a party from now until December, but we still have a way to go to reach our goal of 85 new and returning members. Please email us if you’d like to attend one of our upcoming event and we’ll send you the details. Interested in hosting a member party with us? We’d love your help! Drop us a line and we’ll let you know how to become a host. We can provide instruction, food and spirits (thanks to Elk Cove, R. Stuart & Co. and Ninkasi). 

Know Your City has come a long way in the past 5 years – from organizing field trips for grown ups, to growing into an organization that produces engaging and critical programs, partnering with local artists, activists, community leaders and stakeholders and like-minded organizations. We wouldn’t be able to realize this growth without drawing attention to the equally increased need for member support, what amounts to a significant piece of our annual operating budget.

Becoming a KYC member is an easy way to support this important work that’s making a direct impact in the lives of our young people. Please consider signing up and showing your support – we appreciate it!

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Renter’s Rights report back #1


A sampling of storyboards from artist Becky Hawkins

Since January, the Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT) and Know Your City (KYC) have partnered on a new and exciting project, the Renter’s Rights: Evictions comic book. Due for publication in December, the book will include artistic illustrations, creative storytelling and important facts about different types of experiences and scary moments that tenants can face in an eviction.

With this project, we hope to engage and educate tenants and non-tenants alike. Tenants will be armed with information and helpful tips, so that they know how to respond if they ever receive a termination notice, get locked out by their landlord, or must go to evictions court. For many people, learning with words and pictures is a better way to understand and retain complex processes and information. Non-tenants will read fascinating stories with beautiful and thoughtful illustrations, both uplifting and heartbreaking, that they might share with friends and family who are renters. Hopefully, those who read these stories will come away with a sense that sometimes these evictions are not always fair or just, and can dramatically impact people’s lives and our communities, and that there are things we can do to to change it.

In May, we put out a Call to Artists, to invite artists to submit applications and bodies of work, so that we may select someone who is a good fit for the project. The response was great, and we enlisted some help from great volunteers and community leaders, to help us narrow down the field and ultimately select a winner. In the end, we selected Becky Hawkins, of French Toast Comix, due to her unique illustration style, creative storytelling abilities and personal background and story.

Becky was really excited to work with us, and we assembled an additional volunteer team to help us craft the narrative, and make sure that the publication is accessible, interesting and understandable to all different communities and audiences. We have been amazed at the thoughtfulness and creativity from Heather Morrill, Matt Kinshella, Susan Mund, Antonia Arciga and Dung Ho. Each brings a particular insight, expertise and personal experience to the project, and we are tremendously grateful for all their efforts.

The book is now in its first draft, and in the month of October, CAT and KYC will be checking in with different folks and groups for feedback and tips to make it better. If you are interested in participating, please contact Dung Ho at the Community Alliance of Tenants. Or you can join us at CAT’s member meeting (membership not required), on October 23rd, 6-8:30 pm at the Augustana Lutheran Church, 2710 NE 14th Ave. We will have posters of the comic book on display, so that participants can read it, talk about it and give feedback.

Interested in supporting this type of programming? Sign up to be a member of Know Your City! All members will be mailed a final copy of the Renter’s Rights comic. Your support ensures we’ll be able to provide these types of collaborative programs into the future – and helps us reach our goal of signing up 85 members by the end of the year.

Check out the promo video for Renter’s Rights below, and view some of Becky Hawkin’s sample storyboards on the book after the jump…

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De-Gentrifying Portland – report back #1

group shot

Avel Gordly with youth in the De-Gentrifying Portland program

I’ve spent this past summer working closely with Know Your City and educators and youth from Portland African American Leadership Forum (PAALF)  Self Enhancement Inc. (SEI), and Portland State University, on a project called De-Gentrifying Portland. The program is a series of workshops and public presentations for local youth of color to address the topic of gentrification and changing neighborhoods.

Gentrification is when a neighborhood changes because wealthier people move in, and housing becomes too expensive for the people and families that had been living there. In Portland, gentrification in neighborhoods in Northeast has pushed out people of color, especially Black and African-American families, who now are more likely to live in East Portland or mid-county.

During the month of July about a dozen students, many whose families were directly affected by the first waves of displacement of Black and African-American families in Portland, took part in the first phase of the De-Gentrifying Portland project. The class was designed by myself, Sharita Towne, Jackie Murphy from SEI, Rachel Gilmer from PAALF, artist and educator Betty Marin, and Robin Johnson of the 2013 African American Leadership Academy. Robin collaborated with Zakaria Mohamed and Darryl Kelley, also AALA cohort members, to create a youth engagement curriculum designed to empower students around issues of gentrification and being their own change agents. The class drew from this curriculum at different points. Students engaged in a number of activities; family interviews, workshops on systems of oppression, adultism, youth empowerment, intersectionality of social movements, and links between African-American history and urban renewal in Portland. We invited Dr. Lisa Bates, a PSU professor in Urban Studies, community members like Lakeitha Elliot, Tony Hopson Sr.,  Irene Schwoeffermann, Ed Washington, Avel Gordly, and artists like Mic Crenshaw, Gemma Rose Turnbull, and Intisar Abioto, to work with students.

Perhaps the most exciting part is not what this group of diverse professionals had to offer the students, but what they had to offer us, and the city at large. De-Gentrifying Portland gives young people a voice to share their perspectives on how gentrification affects them, their families and their communities. Over the summer, youth at Jefferson High created maps, photo and video to explain to adults what youth go through in their neighborhoods, on city buses and being excluded from local businesses. “I want to make my community a more open place…make things better for everyone,” said Jefferson High junior Kahedja Burley. She said this class is a first step. “You got more questions? Because I got a whole lot of answers!”

Kahedja Burley

Kahedja Burley, one of the participants in the De-Gentrifying Portland program

And that’s what Portland – the community and policymakers – need to hear. The youth have answers, all we have to do is ask.

Now in it’s second phase, through the upcoming class, youth will learn video skills at Portland Community Media and become certified to use public access A/V equipment in the future. Participants will also learn radio skills at KBOO Community Radio, and gain print and publishing experience at Independent Publishing Resource Center. Once participants have learned these skills, they will use the multimedia tools to share their perspectives on displacement issues in Portland through public events. These events aim to spur conversation and action around issues of gentrification and affordable housing.

Stay tuned for more dispatches about De-Gentrifying Portland over the coming months. If you find yourself on Mississippi Ave, check out some of the photos the youth took, which became part of a Public Art project by Spreading Rumours.

This project is made possible with support from a RACC special opportunity grant using funds from the City of Portland’s Arts Education and Access Fund (AEAF), and a Northeast Coaltion of Neighborhoods Community Grant.

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Fall Membership Drive: 85 Members to Go!

membership graphic

Have you enjoyed one (or maybe more!) of Know Your City’s recent programs? Have you been a member in the past but have lost touch recently? Are you keeping tabs on us from afar with Facebook and Twitter?

We want to invite you to more great programs this Fall, and also to support our work by becoming a member. Joining as a member is a way to become part of the Know Your City community – and meet other people who care similarly about arts and social justice.

There has never been a better time to sign up. This fall, we’re looking forward to presenting some terrific new programs from publications, youth programs and tours, including: East Portland Newspaper ProjectRenter’s RightsOff The MapCRCI Prison Art ProgramPDX Social History Guide and De-Gentrifying Portland. For each of these programs, we’ve created great new incentives to become a member – on top of what members already currently receive.  

Here’s some great reasons why you should join at the following levels…

Basic/ Individual ($50) + Basic/ Household ($85)

All of the regular benefits found on this page, plus:

  • East Portland Newspaper Project: a community newspaper about SE 82nd Ave produced by fifth grade students at Harrison Park School and artist Travis Neel – receive a copy of the final paper mailed to your door
  • Renter’s Rights: a comic/ resource guide on how to avoid evictions produced in conjunction with artist Becky Hawkins and Community Alliance of Tenants – receive a copy of the comic mailed to your door
  • Off The Map: a map of alternative cultural spaces produced in association with Travel Portland and illustrated by Kate Bingaman-Burt – receive a free copy of the map mailed to your door
  • CRCI Prison Art Program: a 12-week mural-making workshop with inmates at Columbia River Correctional Institution, produced under the direction of artist Emily Squires – get exclusive access into the prison to see the exhibition
  • PDX Social History Guide: the second version of our free history app featuring 4 new themes – get early access to the app before it is released to the general public, with opportunity for feedback

Ambassador and above ($100 and up)

All of the benefits listed above, as well as all of the regular benefits found on this page, plus:

  • Invitation to quarterly members-only events including:
    • De-Gentrifying Portland: A reception/ talk back with artist Sharita Towne on her project with youth in Portland African American Leadership Forum, in which youth with create short videos about displacement issues in N/NE Portland
    • CRCI Prison Art Program: A reception/ talk back with artist Emily Squires and program participants, including previewing the mural before it seen by the general public
    • Two more quarterly members-only events TBD
  • A limited-edition new Know Your City Stumptown T-shirt, printed on American Apparel shirts, designed by artist Justin Scrappers Morrison

We are currently well below our annual projections and we need your help in order to sustain us. By becoming a member, you show your support while receiving these incentives. The goal of the drive is to enroll 85 new members by the end of the year. That may sound like a large goal, but we believe we can do so through a steady campaign that includes hosting a series of house parties. Interested in hearing more? Send us a note and we’ll send you the details!

Together, we can do this. In the meantime, we’ll be giving periodic updates on the blog between now and the end of the year as to the status of membership campaign. Join now and help us reach our goal. We thank you for your support. We can’t continue to do our work without you!

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East Portland Newspaper Project – report back #1

Left to right row: Polo Catalani, Tim Schulze, Travis Neel; Left to right bottom row: Julie Keefe, Intisar Abioto

Front row left to right: Julie Keefe and Intisar Abioto. Back row from left to right: Ronault LS Catalani, Tim Schulze,and Travis Neel.

With fall approaching, Know Your City has been hard at work gearing up for the East Portland Newspaper Project (EPNP) at Harrison Park School. As Lead Educator for the program, I’ve spent the past few weeks writing the curriculum and meeting with amazing artists and civic leaders to discuss and get feedback on the project. We’re really excited about the EPNP and can’t wait to meet the students!

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. Over ten weeks students will study the history, sociology and changing demographics of the area, then produce 5,000 free newspapers that are informed by their study. To gain an understanding of the complex issues addressed by their study students will research and interview civic leaders and tour neighborhood organizations and businesses.

In the first few weeks of the course, students will participate in a series of workshops and activities to prepare them for their investigation. Classroom visits by photographers Intisar Abioto and Julie Keefe will teach students the skills of photo journalism and Brad Schmidt of the Oregonian will visit to the class to share his practice as a journalist covering the stories of SE 82nd Ave.

After learning interviewing skills, students will lead interviews with community members and civic leaders. In this way, students will become community historians and will be selecting interview questions and topics that resonate with their own lives. To prepare for each interview, students will research their classroom guest and develop a series of open ended questions for the visitor. All interviews and tours will be documented by the students using digital cameras and Zoom audio recorders.

This project is a great way to take learning outside of the classroom, investigate community, and honor the knowledge and expertise that students. We can’t wait until the start of the program in September. Keep an eye out for program updates throughout the fall.

To receive a final copy of the paper, simply sign up as a supporter and become a member of Know Your City. All members will be mailed a final copy of the paper as a benefit of membership! Membership starts at just $50/ year – for full info, click here.

East Portland Newspaper Project is made possible with the generous support of Black United Fund of Oregon and Oregon Arts Commission.

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