#supportkyc kickstarter video now online!

Thanks everyone who pledged their support to the #supportkyc Kickstarter campaign, helping us get to 28% of our fundraising goal in the first week. Special thanks goes out to Daniel Mateo Bevington and Josh Blount for their help with the campaign video. Check out the video above and share with your friends!

We need everyone’s help in getting to our goal of $10,000 by July 31st. We’ve introduced a range of new projects – which these funds will support – and this fundraising drive is critical to our future. Check out the great rewards and pledge your support now.

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Contribute to our Kickstarter and ensure our sustainability into 2016

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Dear Supporters,

Yesterday, Know Your City celebrated our six year anniversary. It’s been a great adventure, and has far surpassed any expectations we had when we began. One of the greatest joys about working here has been seeing so many bright, creative people come to us with their ideas: resulting in youth programs, tours, publications and so much more that have a great impact on our community in so many ways.

During our short history, we’ve produced hundreds of programs – including publishing a community newspaper with 5th graders in East Portland, creating an art installation by and for prisoners, teaching community members how to make documentaries about gentrification, leading walking, bike, and bus tours all over the city, making a free, interactive phone app – and so much more. We’ve worked with more than 90 nonprofit organizations, bringing together diverse audiences interested in the arts, history and social justice. We’ve done all this on the smallest shoestring of budgets, with just 1.5 FTE employees working out of our tiny office (and many, many volunteers!).

Despite these accomplishments, Know Your City stands at a critical juncture. Last year, with foundational support, we were able grow our programs and hire an additional staff person – but this year we need to sustain our growth through individual giving. You can help us in ensuring that this transition is sustainable. We need the support of our entire community to keep being a vital source for inspiration and social change, and your contribution will enable us to introduce a new crop of social justice projects so everyone can be valued in creating our place called Portland.

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Last Thursday, we officially launched our Kickstarter campaign at “The World’s Largest Louie, Louie Sing-A-Long” on the steps of City Hall. The event honored the song “Louie, Louie” and its unlikely connection to Portland, and featured surviving members of The Kingsmen, young women from Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls, a 50 person senior citizen marching band replete with cheerleaders, special doughnuts, an official city proclamation and so much more. In case you missed it, watch the nice video and write up on Oregon Live, and see photos on our Facebook page.

We’re off to a good start – already at 23% of our goal but the bottom line is we need to raise $10,000 in the next month in order to ensure our success and sustainability. In addition to supporting a range of new initiatives, the money raised from this drive will directly support our activities so that we can keep going strong into next year. By backing our newest projects, you’ll be helping us in this critical phase —and, of course, you’ll be getting some pretty amazing stuff from us and our generous community of artists and friends (check out awesome rewards such as original artwork, photo portraits, Portlandia posters signed by Fred and Carrie and much, much more).

Please contribute to our Kickstarter. Then, help spread the word, through social media, email, or by just telling your friends! This is what grassroots organizing is all about: it takes everyone pitching in to sustain a community-driven project. Join us in showing your support of Know Your City, and ensuring a bright future ahead for the organization.

Again, that link to pitch in is here. If you value Know Your City and the service we provide, please contribute generously so that we can continue providing our programs. We thank you in advance.

Sincerely yours,

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Marc Moscato
Executive Director, Know Your City

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(VIDEO): A People’s History of Portland Free Walking Tour

A special heartfelt thanks goes out to Jay Lee and Stanley Fonesca for their work on a new promo video for our A People’s History of Portland tour. Check out the video above and share with your friends!

Before Portland was known for Portlandia, bikes and brews, the foundations of the city were built by immigrant laborers. A People’s History of Portland introduces Portland’s immigrant and working class heroes, celebrating our city’s social activists and movements. This tour tells Portland’s story from the point of view of – and in the words of – the Chinese, Japanese, African American, Jewish, and LGBT communities that are often left out of mainstream conversations about Portland. Led by fun and engaging tour guides, A People’s History of Portland invites you to take a closer look at the city you’ve heard so much about.

Tours are free and leave every Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday at 10AM. More info about the tours on our tours page.

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30 Flags CRCI Update from Emily Squires

CRCI 30 Flags

Photo by James Colhoff, Jr., Dodge & Burn Studios | http://www.dodgeandburnstudios.com/

On Tuesday, May 26th, 2015 Columbia River Correctional Institution (CRCI) hosted a dedication ceremony for KYC’s newest creative placemaking project: 30 Flags, an art installation at a minimum-security prison made by inmates, in collaboration with artist Emily Squires. We asked Emily to share her thoughts looking back on the project.

It took three times as long as I thought it would to cut all the flags (roughly 2,000 of them) and sew them into sets before we could install. This was the most efficient installation I have ever experienced. It only took a few hours to create a tent-like feeling outside, hanging flags under the cement awning, in addition to stringing flags in between all the air vents inside.

To share the installation with the public, Reiko and Elizabeth and I had decided to have a ceremony honoring the participants and their work at CRCI. We invited people from the outside to come to CRCI to hear directly from the artists about their experience with the project (approximately ½ of the artists who worked on 30 Flags are still at CRCI). Cliff, Julian, Dakotah, Joe, and Jack elected to participate.

The logistics of having an “opening” at a prison are more precise than just telling people they can show up at this location during a window of time. The questions running through my brain included (but were not limited to): Did the workshop artists sign waivers to be photographed? Did my photographer send me a list of all the equipment he wanted to bring into the prison for the ceremony? Did everyone who was invited not only RSVP, but send me their Date of Birth and Driver’s License Number so that they can be cleared to enter? Will they remember to not wear blue shirts or blue jeans when coming to CRCI? Will they be on time?

Not to mention the non-logistical questions having an opening in a prison fundamentally grapples with: Have any of the guests ever been to a prison before? Will Cliff and Julian and Dakotah and Joe and Jack feel comfortable talking about their experiences? How do Reiko and I work to make a publicly-engaged space for honest questions and discussion inside of a prison, where the power dynamics are not only tangible, but literally in your face and unavoidable? When we all enter the prison to view the work – hosted by the artists – what does it feel like for the other men who are incarcerated at CRCI to see a group of outsiders walking their hallways, looking at an art installation? How do the people who didn’t participate in this project feel about this art hanging up in their place, changing the environment?

I am grateful that folks made time in the middle of the day on a Tuesday to come to CRCI to look at the work and listen to artists who made it. For me (and most other artists I ask, for that matter), there is an emotional cliff one topples off of during the process of finishing an artwork. It’s hard to let go, to figure out what the next work looks like. After the event, I still had to mail the packages of the flags to the folks that people had designated. I went to the post office and feeling both excited and reluctant. The inside of the post office falls under some type of federal protection law, so I can’t take photos, documenting the action of mailing. Because the post-production of this project took so long, a number of men who worked on the project are now free, living outside. I wonder where they have hung their flags.

CRCI 30 Flags

Photo by James Colhoff, Jr., Dodge & Burn Studios | http://www.dodgeandburnstudios.com/

CRCI 30 Flags

Photo by James Colhoff, Jr., Dodge & Burn Studios | http://www.dodgeandburnstudios.com/

30 Flags

Photo by James Colhoff, Jr., Dodge & Burn Studios | http://www.dodgeandburnstudios.com/

Know Your City is currently considering building on the success of this program and designing another program at CRCI. To do so, we need your support. These programs are made possible only with the contributions of individual members and donors. Support Know Your City and the expansion of programs like 30 Flags, click here. For more on the project and its impact, watch the short video with Dakotah, one of the participants, below.

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30 Flags art installation now complete, updates coming

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Artist Emily Squires, Educator Reiko Hillyer and some of the participants at the dedication ceremony for 30 Flags at CRCI

On Tuesday, May 26th, Columbia River Correctional Institution (CRCI) hosted a dedication ceremony for KYC’s newest creative placemaking project: 30 Flags, an art installation at a minimum-security prison made by inmates, in collaboration with artist Emily Squires. We took some photos from the ceremony – and wanted to share them!

In case you missed it, Megan Burbank authored a nice piece in the Portland Mercury, where she says “I must say [Know Your City] seem to be killing it lately with social justice-inspired art projects.” Thanks for the nice words!

The program was a resounding success, and we’re already planning on repeating a version of the program again next year. Dakotah, one of the participants, had this to say about its impact at the prison.

Missed the opening? You’re in luck – several extra sets were made to travel to spaces outside of the prison, in the community, and we’re working on confirmed an opening in the coming weeks.

In order to make this program possible in the future, we rely on the support of individuals like you. These programs are made possible only with the contributions of individual members and donors. For more information on supporting Know Your City and the expansion of programs like 30 Flags, click here.

View more photos of the opening and installation after the jump…

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30 Flags KYC creative placemaking project opens at CRCI prison

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On Tuesday, May 26th, Columbia River Correctional Institution (CRCI) will host a dedication ceremony for KYC’s newest creative placemaking project: 30 Flags, an art installation at a minimum-security prison made by inmates, in collaboration with artist Emily Squires.

Since October, Squires has been an artist-in-residence at CRCI. In partnership with KYC and scholar-activist Reiko Hillyer, Squires collaborated with adults in custody to design, screenprint, and install a series of handmade flags throughout the institution. The flags will be installed at the entryway into CRCI, throughout the main hallway of CRCI, and every artist mailed a set to some one of their choosing on the outside.

During weekly art workshops – bookmaking, drawing, and collage – the group discussed the concept of place. Through thinking about the specificity and regulations of inside (CRCI as an institution, the interior rooms and exterior yard, the bunk) versus the physical and emotional dislocation from outside (Portland, home, location prior to incarceration), the group identified different audiences: fellow adults in custody, people that can come and go (volunteers, staff, or family) and external communities. They designed flags using both image and text to carry messages of their choosing based on their lived experiences. Approximately twelve artists created thirty unique designs, each 7″x9.” Squires burned silkscreens in her studio, and the group screenprinted hundreds of flags in CRCI. Squires sewed the flags into long strands that can be hung as a complete set (picture flags flying above a car lot or Tibetan prayer flags).

While the event is not open to the general public due to the security requirements of the prison, we’ll have photos and extensive documentation on our site in the coming weeks. In addition, an extra set of the flags will be made to travel to spaces outside of the prison, in the community. Stay tuned to our site for more info about public showings, or sign up on our e-mail list for the latest (do so in the top right corner of our site).

30 Flags is made possible through the generous support of the Vital Projects Fund. The program is also made possible, in part, by individual members and donors. For more information on supporting Know Your City and the expansion of programs like 30 Flags, click here.

For more on 30 Flags, see our previous blog posts documenting the program:
http://knowyourcity.org/2015/01/20/reflections-dispatch-crci-3/
http://knowyourcity.org/2014/12/08/dispatch-2-crci/
http://knowyourcity.org/2014/11/18/dispatch-1-crci/

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