Tag Archives: Cole Merkel

Vendor profile: “I’ve got something to contribute to this community”

By Cole Merkel, Staff Writer

Art is Nathan Roper’s outlet to channel his energy. “It gives me a perspective,” says Nathan. At times tumultuous, Nathan’s life has taken him through addiction, prison and now, recovery. “That’s what art is supposed to do — pull an emotion out of you. It may not be good, it might be disgust. It might be revulsion, but at least it’s pulling something out of you.”

“I always had an artist’s soul,” says Roper. “I never had the medium through which to express it. Because you’re more sensitive and you’ve got to have an outlet to channel that sensitivity, that hurt, that anguish, that rejection that you feel more than most people. Because you see the world differently.” Continue reading

Early morning walk highlights homelessness awareness

By Cole Merkel
Staff Writer

Interfaith leaders, local politicians and community members walked this morning from St. Andre Bessette Roman Catholic Parish (formerly the Downtown Chapel) to First Unitarian Church in the second annual Walk for Homelessness Awareness.

Paul Schroeder of JOIN and the New City Initiative, and co-organizer of the walk said the event was important as an opportunity for leaders from faith-based organizations, non-profits and civic leaders interested in ending homelessness to come together around a common concern.

Schroeder said and his co-facilitator Barbara Willer organized to walk to highlight three demographics of homelessness in the city, adult, youths and children.

“What we wanted to do was broaden peoples’ mental map,” said Schroeder, explaining the route the group took as it walked. “We wanted to highlight some of the good work that is being done.”

The group made stops at the Bud Clark Commons and O’Bryant Square (home of Potluck on the Park) where it heard statements from City Commissioner Nick Fish and representatives from the homeless youth continuum.

“Thanks to the people here today, we the people of Portland invested $29.5 million of our tax dollars to make sure that everybody has a safe and decent place to call home,” said Fish of the recently completed Bud Clark Commons.

“In the first five years of our 10-year plan to end homelessness, we have moved 7,000 people from the streets to home. No other city can say that… And that is because we have a unique coalition here in Portland and it’s reflected here today. It’s our faith community linking arms with non-profits, business and government and we’ve got a pretty good thing going. We know how to get results and we have been consistently investing in long term cost-effective strategies to get people to a better place,” said Fish.

On the first leg of the walk from St. Andre Bessette to Bud Clark Commons, the group passed Sisters of the Road Café and p:ear. Here, individuals were asked to remain silent, in order to listen the sounds of Old Town early in the morning. On the second part of the walk, from Bud Clark Commons to O’Bryant Square, the group passed Central City Concern’s Old Town Clinic and New Avenues for Youth. During this time, individuals were asked to share their story with a person they had never met before.

On the final movement from O’Bryant Square to 13 Salmon Family Day Center at First Unitarian Church the group passed the location of Communion in the Park and Outside In. Here, the group was asked to reflect on what it had seen, heard and learned from the experience.

“The faith community is already providing a tremendous amount of support to the county. All the emergency shelter beds for families  in Multnomah County are housed by the faith community,” Schroeder said. “I think that supportive relationships are one of the most important ways that the faith community can work with the county and the city to help people transitioning back to housing.”

Vendor Profile: J.Neal Carr

By Cole Merkel, Staff Writer

Neal Carr is a philosopher at heart. He has always been philosophically minded, he says, and the existential question, along with Eastern religion keeps him optimistic and hopeful, “I know,” Neal says, “this life is just a temporary part of our soul’s existence.”

Carr has lived in Portland for 16 years. Having grown up in the Bay Area, Neal moved northward because he needed a change of environment, which he found.

“It was a good place to start over. It was an easy place to get a leg back up on the horse, so to speak.” Shortly after arriving he began to study philosophy at Portland State University.

In the time he has lived in Portland, Neal has witnessed a large influx of individuals and a shift in consciousness, with the city becoming less tolerant in the last few years toward homelessness in the downtown core, sweeping it instead to the Eastside. The city, too, has become less friendly than it used to be. “I don’t know if it’s with the economic depression or what it is, but it seems people have become a little more jaded in regards to how they treat people.” Continue reading

Curbside: A collection of views from people on the streets about R2D2

While Occupy Portland simmers in front of the Justice Center in Southwest Portland, a smaller, quieter residential occupation organized by Right to Survive and Right to Dream Too has set up on a vacant lot on the corner of NW Fourth Avenue and Burnside. The group has a one-year, donated lease on the lot and plans to use it as a safe space for people to sleep. Street Roots asked the individuals in that space: What personally drew you to be here today?

“I’ve been homeless for the past three weeks, and I kind of stumbled across this and inquired what was going on here. I thought what a great, wonderful idea for this area that they opened it up for the homeless. I’m going to access the facilities here, the resources they have available here, which I think is a wonderful spot, very conveniently located, just a great idea.”

— M.J. Continue reading

Vendor profile: A world traveler lands in the Northwest

By Cole Merkel, staff Writer

Don Grubb commands few pretensions. His quiet, friendly smile and shaved head don’t easily lead on to the fact that, in a few short years, he has seen more places outside the United States than most people see in a lifetime.

“I try to live life peaceful and do the right thing,” says Grubb, whose year and a half in the Navy took him to Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Portugal, Turkey, Sicily and the United Arab Emirates. Of them Italy was his favorite country.

Beyond his time in the military, Don has lived in a half-dozen cities across the United States. He was born in Baltimore, Md., but grew up in Wilkes-Barre, Penn. He lived in Lansing, Mich. for a while and also Great Lakes, Ill. He has seen the East Coast, the West Coast and a smattering of states in between. Continue reading

Vendor profile: A vendor with presence, and presentation

By Cole Merkel, Staff Writer

Marlon Crump is a self-described Renaissance Man, in that he is able to undertake many challenges and multi-task in order to help others solve their problems.

“If they made a movie about my life it would be a mini-series,” says Marlon, whose life’s work has spanned stage acting to volunteering and political activism. His true passion, though, is writing. Continue reading

Vendor profile: Getting to know people, in a small town way

By Cole Merkel, Staff Writer

Rhonda Radowski prefers the small-town familiarity and smiling faces of St. Johns and Sauvie Island to the hustle and bustle of downtown Portland. That’s in part because it reminds her of where she grew up. Radowski’s parents were cattle farmers in Glasgow, Montana, a state where she lived for many years of her life. “Because I came from a small town, it’s easy to get to know people,” says Rhonda. “Three people even now say ‘hi’ to me because they know my name,” Radowski says, laughing. She enjoys that type of small town community because growing up, she knew everyone from birth — and their brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles.

After two years in Houston, Rhonda is back in Portland and has been selling Street Roots for the past month. The industry of Montana, she says has radically changed, making it nearly impossible to have a family farm. She left the state when her youngest of two daughters turned eighteen and has since spent time in every state west of the Mississippi trying to get a foothold for herself. “It was a Catch-22 wherever you went,” she says. As a single-income earner she could barely make enough money to pay her rent; sometimes she would have to choose between rent and food. Continue reading