Tag Archives: Leah Nash

Special Report: Photo stories of Asperger’s Syndrome

Below you will find five feature stories produced by Street Roots, Leah Nash and the Regional Arts and Culture Council on understanding Asperger’s Syndrome.

The project was made possible in partnership with Street Roots and the Regional Arts & Culture Council in an effort to chronicle the diversity of this complex diagnosis of autism, illustrating the challenges and beauty of an unconventional life.

When you ask 11-year-old Willie Rates about life with Asperger’s, he seems comfortable with his place in the world, both figuratively and literally.

Part I: Catching the snowflake: A photo story of Asperger’s Syndrome

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Part II: The comfort of acceptance: A photo story of Asperger’s (Part two)

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Part III: Pretending to be normal: A photo story of Asperger’s Syndrome

Thomas Olrich, 35, was diagnosed with Asperger’s four years ago. He says he always knew he was different. “I knew something was up. I was always upset, always scared. Something was not clicking.”

Part IV: The man I am: A photo story of Asperger’s Syndrome 

Diagnosed with autism in fourth grade, Leska says, “I knew I was different but I didn’t know why and I had no idea how different I was. I realized that everything I wanted socially, to talk to other little kids and play with them, never happened. It did not happen.” Leska’s autism symptoms were not at the forefront until an unexpected divorce led to an autism regression and subsequent Asperger’s diagnosis almost 40 years later.

 Part V: New Found Aspigations: A photo story of Asperger’s Syndrome

About this series: Autism is the fastest growing disability in the U.S. with an economic impact of more than $90 billion. The Center for Disease Control reports that now one in 110 children are being classified with autism spectrum disorders, compared to one in 10,000 in the 1970s, and according to the Autism Society of Oregon, our state has one of the highest rates of autistic diagnosis in the country. Continue reading

New Found Aspirgations: A photo story of Asperger’s Syndrome

Leska Emerald Adams, 51, lives with friend, boss and domestic partner Lynn Szender and Leska’s Newfoundland service dog, Orka, in Oregon City.

This is the final of five installments from Street Roots and photographer Leah Nash on Asperger’s Syndrome. See the first four installments here.

The project was made possible in partnership with Street Roots and the Regional Arts & Culture Council in an effort to chronicle the diversity of this complex diagnosis of autism, illustrating the challenges and beauty of an unconventional life.

Diagnosed with autism in fourth grade, Leska says, “I knew I was different but I didn’t know why and I had no idea how different I was. I realized that everything I wanted socially, to talk to other little kids and play with them, never happened. It did not happen.” Leska’s autism symptoms were not at the forefront until an unexpected divorce led to an autism regression and subsequent Asperger’s diagnosis almost 40 years later.

In her own words: Leska Emerald Adams

The first time I read about another being having anything near the same experiences and consciousness as me was the vampire revelation, as a teenager reading Anne Rice’s first vampire book, “Interview with the Vampire.” It was a delicious lightning bolt recognition that let me know that somebody out there could relate, albeit a mythical character in fiction.  Continue reading

Catching the Snowflake: A photo story of Asperger’s Syndrome (Part one)

by Leah Nash

When you ask 11-year-old Willie Rates about life with Asperger’s, he seems comfortable with his place in the world, both figuratively and literally.

“Well, you’re indeed not usual, which I’m perfectly OK with,” he tells me. “It’s like I’m Portland unusual, or Los Angeles unusual.”

It was more than two years ago that Willie first donned his now trademark Nemes, a striped headcloth fashioned after the pharaohs in ancient Egypt. It is a reminder of his obsession with Ancient Egypt, though now Willie says he wears it more out of habit than anything else.

Willie working on a movie set.

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The Comfort of Acceptance: A photo story of Asperger’s Syndrome (Part Two)

The video and narrative below are the second in a special series on five individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome as told through the lens of photographer Leah Nash. The project was made possible in partnership with the Regional Arts & Culture Council in an effort to chronicle the diversity of this complex diagnosis of autism, illustrating the challenges and beauty of an unconventional life.

The first installment of this series appears in the current edition of Street Roots, “Catching a snowflake: A photo story of Asperger’s Syndrome.” Look for more of this five-part series in the newspaper and on-line from now through Jan. 6.

Click on the arrow icon on the right to maximize the video to full screen.

By Anna Bauer: The Comfort of Acceptance

Hello everyone, my name is Anna Bauer and I have done this project because I have Asperger’s Syndrome and I want people to understand Autistic people like me. Living with Asperger’s is not easy and I have mixed feelings about my Asperger’s. Continue reading

Extra! Extra!

Hopefully, you have a little extra leisure time for the holiday weekend, which is a good thing, because Friday’s edition of Street Roots will be one to savor. Here’s a rundown of what’s rolling on the press right now:

Catching a snowflake: A photo story of Asperger’s Syndrome by photographer Leah Nash. This is the first in a five-part series in partnership with the Regional Arts & Culture Council to chronicle the lives of people living with the often misunderstood and extraordinary diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. Look for the print edition features, along with online shows starting next week.

Eileen Brady: The grocery executive talks big bridges, urban renewal and creating jobs in her bid to become Portland’s next mayor. The latest in our series of interviews with local candidates.

Psychology in warfare, for better or worse: A Portland filmmaker looks at the military’s foray into mental health treatment in the field.

Federal cuts continue downward spiral on housing assistance: A report by the Western Regional Advocacy Project outlining the cuts in the works to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. More tough times lie ahead.

Plus, another insightful column from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, a review of the book EcoMind and the potential in being a “possibilist,” plus poetry and artwork from the streets. The paper will be on the streets early Friday, so don’t forget to tuck a buck in your back pocket before you head out and save a smile for your friendly neighborhood vendor. Thank you!

SR receives three first place awards from Society of Professional Journalists

Street Roots received three first place, and one, second place award this weekend from Oregon/Southwest Washington Society of Professional Journalists.

Amanda Waldroupe took first place for “Social Issues” reporting for her story, “Return of the Dragon.” The story details the increase of heroin use in Portland. During the reporting of the story, Waldroupe met with a heroin addict named “Joe,” who told her and photographer Ken Hawkins his story, and also allowed them to observe and document him during a disturbing time of day in any drug addict’s life–the moments when he shoots up.

Esteemed photographer Leah Nash took first place in the “Photo Essay” category with “Look at me. I am not invisible.” Nash documented the lives of two Street Roots vendors (Sean and Melissa Walsh) for nearly three months— highlighting the trials and tribulations of experiencing poverty and mental health in the Portland region.

Managing Editor Joanne Zuhl took first place for her story on City Commissioner Nick Fish for the “Personalities” category with “Man of the Hour.”  Zuhl highlighted Fish’s turbulent appearance into Portland politics, and what’s behind the man leading Portland’s Housing Bureau during one of the worst recessions in our history.

Rebecca Robinson took second place in “Social Issues” with “Motel limbo.” This story profiles one family’s struggle to exit motel life and secure permanent housing, and places their story in the larger framework of Oregon’s ever-growing homeless population.

Congrats to everyone who took awards, and many thanks to our vendors and readers!

Posted by Israel Bayer

Best SR photos of 2009

Street Roots  has some of the best photographers in the city. The newspaper is lucky to have an all volunteer, all-star tandem of  award winning shooters, like Leah Nash, Ken Hawkins, John Ryan Brubaker, and Elizabeth Schwartz. They have dedicated their knowledge, skills and compassion to accompany some of the most hard hitting news stories in the city this year. Here, we look at some of the best shots of 2009, in no particular order. Enjoy.

Mult. County Commissioner Ted Wheeler talks with Managing Editor Joanne Zuhl in July about Urban Renewal Areas in an article titled Balancing Act. Photo by Leah Nash.

Street Roots highlights African immigrants who face cultural isolation in Portland. Mara Grunbaum reports. In this photo a family from Somalia pray together. Photo by Ken Hawkins.

Street Roots writes an in-depth piece on the return of heroin on Portland’s streets in Return of the Dragon. Here a 27-year old man shoots heroin near I-5 in SW Portland. Amanda Waldroupe reports. Photo by Ken Hawkins. Continue reading

Miracle on Portland’s streets

Street Roots and Leah Nash recently highlighted  Melissa and Sean’s lives and their struggles with mental health and homelessness. Through the stability of Street Roots and working with JOIN, we have a success story. Melissa and Sean recently signed a new lease for an apartment and we are happy to report they will be safe and warm for the holidays.

Melissa in her new apartment. (Photos by Leah Nash.)

Also, if you read Melissa’s personal account, you’ll know her and Sean’s love for knitting. A reader and Street Roots supporter brought yarn down to the office for the couple to enjoy. (Thanks Sheila!)

The people behind the paper

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Street Roots, the Albina Community Bank in the Pearl and some of Portland’s best photographers are teaming up to present a month long exhibit titled “The people behind the paper.”

You are invited to the opening on First Thursday, Nov.5 at 6 p.m. at 430 NW 10th Ave. in the Pearl. (You are also invited to stop by during normal business hours anytime in November to see the show.

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The exhibit features the work of photographers Leah Nash, Ken Hawkins, John Ryan Brubaker, Elizabeth Schwatrz and Mary Edmeades, shot exclusively for Street Roots.

Street Roots talks preserving minority affordable housing

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From the March 20 edition of Street Roots.

The housing economic forces that affect North and Northeast Portland today are rooted in changes that began decades ago. In the late 1980s, the neighborhoods suffered from economic neglect, despite having one of the most concentrated and attractive housing stocks in the city for families of all sizes. Property values languished, and one such company, Dominion Capital, seized an opportunity – illegally.

In a community that had been living with the economic abuse of redlining, Dominion took advantage of homeowners on the brink and purchased homes in what was later revealed as a fraudulent scheme that treated their customers with deception, foreclosures and evictions. The company filed for bankruptcy and its representatives were convicted of multiple charges of racketeering and fraud, leaving 354 properties swinging in the breeze of a bankruptcy court seeking assets.

But the neighborhood and civic leaders rallied to preserve the properties and their families, and Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives Inc., or PCRI, assumed control of the units. The nonprofit organization, which operates as a community development corporation to preserve, maintain and develop affordable housing, set about helping families remain in their homes, and securing the rest of the properties as permanently affordable housing.

Today, residents of North and Northeast Portland are not living under economic neglect, but rather the opposite: economic attention that has fortified gentrification and sent housing prices soaring, along with tax obligations and a widening gap between those who can and cannot continue to afford living there. The result has been an economic exodus from the area by what Maxine Fitzpatrick calls the indigenous population – the people of color who have lived in Northeast Portland for generations.

Fitzpatrick is the executive director of PCRI and has served on the Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Advisory Committee since its inception in 2000. When the urban renewal district was established, it was expected that people would flock to the area for the benefits and then indigenous residents would be displaced – and that’s what happened, Fitzpatrick says.

In response, PCRI joined with Hacienda CDC and the Native American Youth and Family Center to address the loss of minority families and culture in the community and help families not only live, but also thrive in their neighborhood.

Joanne Zuhl: With the migration out of the neighborhood, what did this community lose?

Maxine Fitzpatrick: We lost indigenous Northeast Portland, African-Americans, Native Americans, and even lower income white Americans as well as Latino-Americans. It transitioned – in one year, the median family income in Northeast Portland went up 16 percent. But the residents we serve, their income went down significantly. Northeast Portland had a lower home ownership rate than any other section of the city. So you had fewer homeowners in this neighborhood, and you had the lowest income, and people come in and median income rises.

And many of them at the same time lost their jobs, because this was at the time when we were transitioning from a manufacturing base to more of a service base, where people lived.

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One building owner’s journey to preserve affordable housing

From the Dec. 12 special affordable housing edition, “In need of a new deal.”

In the 22 years he’s lived in downtown Portland’s Admiral Apartments, Michael Mulvey has amassed 300 CDs, 200 albums on vinyl and a formidable collection of coffee mugs.

His dragon boat paddle graces one side of his one-bedroom apartment, for which he pays $161 a month. On another wall hangs an abacus, which Mulvey, who is blind, uses to take down telephone numbers.

“It’s a long time to live in one location,” said Mulvey, 63. “I just didn’t realize how comfortable I was until we learned we were going to be moving.”

Mulvey is one of the longest-term residents of the Admiral, a former hotel on Southwest Park Avenue and Taylor Street that is nearly 100 years old. The building’s 36 other tenants, who pay a third of their income in rent, are mostly elderly, mentally or physically disabled, or dealing with substance abuse.

The Admiral’s 30-year Section 8 subsidy, which keeps rent affordable for its low-income residents, is set to expire at the end of 2010. On Nov. 7, the building’s longtime owner sold the property to a developer, which means Mulvey and the others will have to pack up and relocate by next spring. For the increasingly upscale city center, it’s an unsurprising story so far.

In this case, however, the tenants’ displacement is only temporary. Though he could not afford to renew the Section 8 contract himself, owner Mike Purcell sold the building to the nonprofit REACH Community Development. REACH plans to relocate tenants, renovate the aging building, renew the subsidy for 20 more years, then move the same tenants – if the tenants so choose – back to their former rooms.

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(Michael Mulvey sits on the stoop of The Admiral Apartments – photo by Leah Nash)

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