Tag Archives: Street Roots

One veteran uses his experiences to connect with the next generation

robertbrittmug-copy_WEBBy Robert Britt

I met Brian Bland just before Veterans Day.

Brian, a former Marine Corps corporal who served two deployments in Iraq, had been invited to Reynolds High School in Troutdale, just east of Portland. The school was hosting a Living History Day, a day devoted to recognizing area veterans and inviting them to share their stories with the student body.

All our modern wars were represented: WWII, Korea, Vietnam — each veteran sharing their story with the students. Brian, at 30 years old this month, took his place that day as a representative of our new generation of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, his two tours to the Middle East earning him his seat.

In front of a class of about 15 students, Brian had at his flank three survivors of the war in Vietnam. And after one told his story of being at sea aboard the USS Oriskany the day a fire killed 44 of his shipmates in 1966, it was Brian’s turn to share his story.

BrianBlandMAIN-copy_WEBHe had joined the Marine Corps in mid-2001 and was in boot camp on 9/11. Trained as a combat engineer, he deployed to Kuwait in 2003 and his unit was among those to breach the Iraqi border for the invasion forces that March. Continue reading

A thank you to readers, from Street Roots vendors

TY-Vendors-copy_WEBThis holiday season, Street Roots vendors offer up some of their favorite memories with their customers. What follows is a sampling of the many experiences that happen daily between vendors and readers. From all of the vendors, thank you for your support and have a happy holiday!

One of my customers she goes out there and help others to help bolster their spirits. She’s so amazing. She has so many things happening with her and yet she’s making it her personal mission to help others. This is one person that makes me glad to be spiritual.

— Saul Cortes

When I was working at Rite Aid I met a Christian lady who really liked Street Roots. We were talking about God and we all prayed–it was me, Don and her–and afterwards she gave us a $20, and she also bought a paper from me and we exchanged numbers; now she’s my roommate! There was another time where I was on the bus mall over on sixth and this beautiful lady came by and I explained Street Roots to her and she handed me a 20 dollar bill. I thanked her, and she just looked at me and smiled and went on.

— Cynthia Foix Continue reading

Vendor profile: Making a pitch for new beginnings

darrylgoeascopy_webBy Erin Fenner, Contributing Writer

Darryl Goeas, 48, is homeless for the first time in his life.

“It’s been kind of scary,” he said.

In August, he moved from Reno, his home for 13 years, looking for work. When a job fell through, he was left in Portland’s city center, not knowing where to sleep or how to stay safe. He was alone for two days before he met “Raider” Dave. Goeas told him that he didn’t have a place to sleep, and Dave took him back to his own spot next to the Wonder Ballroom. He met people there who he become friends with, and now considers family. Continue reading

Philanthropy for the masses: Give!Guide engages community-minded donors


Photo by V. Kapoor

by Israel Bayer, Staff writer

The Give!Guide, created by the Willamette Week in 2004, started by raising $20,000 for a handful of local nonprofits. Nine years later, it helps raise more than $1.5 million dollars for more than 100 local organizations. The groups span the fields of animal services, the arts, community, education, environment health and wellness social action and youths.

The mission of the Give!Guide is to instill an annual giving habit in Portlanders under the age of 36. Equally important is the guide’s goal to raise as much money as possible for the nonprofits profiled online at wweek.com/giveguide.

Street Roots, which is among the nonprofits in the Give!Guide, sat down with Nick Johnson, the guide’s executive director, to talk about the project.

Israel Bayer: Tell us about the Give!Guide.

Nick Johnson: The goal of the Give!Guide is to create a platform to compel the Willamette Week’s readership to give back to the community and engage individuals in their civic duty.

It’s also meant to encourage people under 36 to give at a younger age. We know that if younger people give a donation, even if it’s only $10, they are more likely to give throughout their entire lifetime.  Continue reading

Right 2 Dream Too files suit against city

A rendering of Right 2 Dream Too created by a local architecture firm

A rendering of Right 2 Dream Too created by a local architecture firm

Right 2 Dream Too, which has operated a weigh station for the homeless for more than a year, filed a suit against the city of Portland today. The filing came as R2DToo members rallied with supporters outside City Hall.

The lawsuit, which also names Commissioner Dan Saltzman and Bureau of Development Services Director Paul Scarlett, disputes the city’s assessment of Right 2 Dreams Too’s operation at Fourth Avenue and Burnside and the validity of subsequent fines. Saltzman’s office oversees the Bureau of Development Services, which ruled on Right 2 Dream Too’s status last year.

“It is our hope that the lawsuit is a motivator to get responsible people to sit down and negotiate,” says Mark Kramer, the attorney representing R2DToo. Kramer is donating his work as a member of the National Lawyers Guild.

Read the complete R2DToo lawsuit.

The city claims the nonprofit is operating a “recreational park” campground on the lot, and as such is subject to city ordinance requirements. Right 2 Dream Too, however, says the site is not a campground at all, but rather a transitional housing accommodation for people experiencing homelessness, as allowed under state statute. Oregon law allows for two such sites, the first being Dignity Village in Northeast Portland.

The lawsuit also seeks relief from the $5,349 in fees, along with the interest and penalties that have mounted since  the BDS began assessing them early this year.

Kramer said he and his clients sat down twice with Saltzman and Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees the cities housing and homeless programs, to find a solution to the impasse.

“It was cordial and friendly, but they were unbending and ultimately unresponsive,” Kramer says. Kramer added that the members of R2DToo have been looking for another site, but they need the city’s help to negotiate something appropriate, and they have not received any. “It’s like assigning to David a Goliath task.”

Kramer said the process of the lawsuit could take several months, during which time R2DToo will likely remain on site, despite efforts by one local developer to rev up the complaint process and have the camp removed to appease investors.

You can read about the rally today on Street Roots Twitter.

Spend 24 hours on the streets with Street Roots #SR24

20.5jpgStreet Roots will be giving the public an extensive look inside the world of homelessness over a 24-hour period through Twitter.

Eight reporters and staff will be working around the clock to deliver interviews and imagery in the field with homeless and formerly homeless individuals, social service and health care providers, law enforcement and policy makers.

The organization will be reporting live from social service agencies to offer a closer look at local shelters, drop-in centers, tent cities and homeless camps. We will be visiting with formerly homeless individuals in their homes, spending time with the police, policy makers, health care providers, outreach workers, buskers and sleeping out on the streets.

You won’t want to miss it.

Street Roots will be reporting over Twitter using the hashtag #SR24.

We will also be encouraging others to take part in a lively conversation on the issue of homelessness and to share your thoughts and experiences on the subject matter.

Street Roots will then be publishing the 24-hour look on homelessness in the next edition of the newspaper coming out on Friday, December 21.

When: Thursday, December 13, starting at 6 a.m.

Where: Street Roots Twitter feed at @StreetRoots hashtag #SR24

Reporters and staff working on the project include: Joanne Zuhl, @jozuhl, Cole Merkel, @ColeMerkel, Robert Britt, @BobBrittPDX, Sue Zalokar @SueZalokar, Jake Thomas @jakethomas2009, Alex Zielinski, @alex_zee, Israel Bayer, @IsraelBayer, Sarah Beecroft, @skjalf

Developer David Gold responds to complaint process campaign against homeless camp’s ‘land use issue’

David Gold, one of the Portland developers behind the Grove Hostel project on Burnside, responds to Street Roots regarding the latest push to dissolve the Right 2 Dream Too encampment across the street from the project:

“I am deeply concerned about the plight of those without housing in Portland. I don’t pretend to have the “answer” on how to end homelessness, but I do not think that illegal campgrounds are the answer. Social service agencies, residents, property owners, and business owners have historically worked together in the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood. The violation of building codes, zoning laws, and design review requirements at this site threatens that fragile relationship and jeopardizes future projects that will require community consensus.

Also, to clarify, it was the Mayor and Commissioner Saltzman’s offices that suggested a complaint campaign to pressure the City to find a long term solution.”

S.R.: Have you been given basically an ultimatum, that if R2DToo is there, the investors will not invest?

“It is really a very simple concept: if we cannot rent the space across from the camp, we cannot pay our loan payments. Real estate brokers have advised us that no restaurateur will lease the space and invest the necessary funds on improvements and equipment with the illegal camp across the street.”
S.R.: If they don’t, what does that mean for project, and the money already invested, including the PDC?

“If the project will not have sufficient funds to make its loan payments, it would be irresponsible to move forward.  The investors and PDC would lose all the funds already invested, as well as the thousands of hours a multitude of people have invested over the past few years. But more importantly, the neighborhood will lose an incredible opportunity for a new, innovative business that would improve a full block of West Burnside and bring jobs, customers, and daytime street activation to the neighborhood. The Grove represents a larger vision for the neighborhood that will be lost if it does not come to fruition.”

Homelessness is a community issue that must be solved at the public policy level by the City. The Mayor and City Council need to show the leadership to humanely and equitably resolve the current situation.”

Breaking: Developer pushes for change at Right 2 Dream Too


By Staff Reports

A Portland developer is saying the homeless rest area at Fourth and Burnside is jeopardizing the financial stability of the long-awaited renovation of the Grove Hotel.

In a strongly worded letter to the Old Town Chinatown Neighborhood Association, Grove Hostel developer David Gold is urging the community to take advantage of the “complaint driven” process and urge the city to resolve the siting concerns of Right 2 Dream Too. The camp, which shelters between 60 and 80 homeless people each night, has been sited at Fourth Avenue and Burnside Street for more than a year. Continue reading

Olympian John Carlos reflects on his controversial stand for human rights

John Carlos, participant of the 1968 Olympics, stands in front of a mural made by students on the campus, at Palm Springs High SchoolBy Jules Boykoff, Contributing Writer

At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, John Carlos rocked the world. After winning the bronze medal in the 200-meter dash he—along with gold medalist Tommie Smith—thrust his black-glove-clad fist into the sky to reflect solidarity with the civil rights movement and the strength of the human spirit. They wore black socks and no shoes to represent impoverished people who had no shoes of their own. Meanwhile, Peter Norman, the Australian silver medalist, stood with them in solidarity, pinning an Olympic Project for Human Rights button on his sweat jacket. It was an iconic moment that placed them under the international spotlight. Following the controversial ceremony, they paid a price for their courageous gesture. Carlos and Smith were dismissed from the Olympic Village. The athletes were bombarded with death threats against them and their families. They were pilloried in the media as unpatriotic, with young reporter Brent Musberger writing in the Chicago American that Carlos and Smith were “unimaginative blokes” and, even worse, “black-skinned storm troopers” who had brought shame on their country. Carlos persevered, successfully navigating a career in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. He also represented Puma and carried the Olympic torch at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. He later worked with the city of Los Angeles to create possibilities for underserved communities. Carlos has continued to live true to his political beliefs, standing up for civil liberties and justice and against racism and greed. In 2011 he spoke at Occupy Wall Street in New York. Earlier this month, he was in Oregon to deliver the 2012-2013 Whiteley Distinguished Lecture at Pacific University in Forest Grove. Today he is a high school guidance counselor in Palm Springs, Calif.

Jules Boykoff: Why did you do your medal-stand protest at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City?

John Carlos: To set a standard. To have society show its best face. To bring attention to the plight of people who were less fortunate. To wake up the consciousness of those who had let their conscience go dormant. And to encourage people to stand for what’s right as opposed to standing for nothing.

J.B.: Your act generated a huge range of responses. For instance, one disgruntled person from Racine, Wisconsin, wrote in a letter to Avery Brundage, the International Olympic Committee president, “The colored men who disgraced our country should be shot for treason and nothing less!” On the other hand, numerous people from around the world wrote Brundage to say your act was dignified and that you didn’t deserve to be kicked out of the Olympic Village. What was it like being the focus of so much attention, both positive and negative?

J.C.: When all the negatives came in, that was something you endured prior to the Olympic Games. It wasn’t anything that I hadn’t heard or experienced before or that people of color hadn’t experienced before. They were just venting their feelings because we denounced them and stood against them and made a worldwide spectacle of them in terms of their approach to life. So, I wasn’t concerned about that. The positive things that came about were to see the fact that what we did united the people. It united the people of color and then at the same time it brought an openness to society, period. Continue reading

A long way from Haiti: Portland’s prince of kompa

eddycangeCOLOR copyBy Sue Zalokar, Contributing writer

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The environmental and political travesties there, coupled with the devastating natural phenomena that have pelted the country are documented over centuries. And with the recent landfall of Hurricane Sandy, it would seem that there is no end in sight for the struggling country.

Eddy Cange, a Portland-based musician and member of the all-Haitian band Balans, knows about the harsh realities of life in Haiti all too well. He grew up there, leaving when he was 24 years old to come to the United States after his parents disappeared and were presumably assassinated in the mid-1980s.

It has been a long road for Eddy Cange, one paved with grief, death, devastation and joy — experiences that fuel passionate and political songs. He has found a home in Portland, where he and his wife can raise their children without the constant, unsettling feeling that everything they have could be swept away with one horrific event. Now 46, the Haitian-American musician has found an outlet for the feelings he has about his homeland — making music. Cange’s band, Balans, will play in a lineup of bands at the Someday Lounge in Old Town, Saturday, Nov. 24.

Sue Zalokar: Tell me about your band, Balans.

Eddy Cange: We have seven players.  All of us come from Haiti.  I’m a singer and a drummer. I play conga, cowbell and drum set. At first we started like a gospel band. We made two CDs. After that, all the players went to school because they are young people.  They all went to college and the band kind of broke down. And then we re group again, so we make the band we have now. We play Reggae, American music and Haitian music – but mostly Haitian music. Continue reading

What better time of year for us to list our ‘grateful

melissafavaralogoweb by Melissa Favara, Contributing Columnist

So, we had a spontaneous deep bedroom cleaning today. We sorted clothes for Goodwill and hand-me-downs for little Maret down the street; we excavated year-old New Yorkers and dust cattle from beneath our bed; we even found a dusty pacifier down there — as our Ramona, the owner of the pacifier is now six, that’s evidence that we were in sore need of a clean. We got so enthusiastic that we skipped lunch, and then Ramona turned into the Tasmanian Devil and tried my patience by hurling clean laundry all over her bedroom floor and I almost wanted to strangle her.

I am grateful that I have a partner in this project who tagged me out, stepped in, and made the kid a waffle while I turned down my internal temperature enough to prevail over my temper. In fact, this Thanksgiving week, I am mightily grateful that Marshall — Number One Dad — and I have each other to compensate for our deficits. Continue reading

Harm reduction for the 21st century

Needles collected for dispersal at the Syringe Exchange Program at Outside In. Photo by Kristina Wright

Needles collected for dispersal at the Syringe Exchange Program at Outside In. Photo by Kristina Wright

By Alex Zielinski, Staff Writer

On Nov. 15, the Harm Reduction Coalition’s national conference came to Portland for the first time. Covering topics from political shifts in drug treatment to overcoming drug user stigma, the conference touched on a variety of issues related to national drug use. To get a better grasp on the breadth of harm reduction and its current role in the local and national spheres, Street Roots spoke with Allan Clear, who has been the director of HRC since 1995.

Alex Zielinski: Can you define harm reduction? It seems to encompass a wide variety of areas, from health care to legal policy.

Allan Clear: Harm reduction, or at least what we’ve done with it, is looking not at drug prevention or treatment, but focusing on people who are currently dealing with drug-related effects.

A.Z.: How does Portland play into harm reduction practices from a national perspective?

A.C.: While this is the first time our national conference has come to Portland, this city is ahead of the rest of the country in a lot of ways. Specifically, the Syringe Exchange Program, the easiest example of harm reduction. It’s so exciting to be here, the birthplace of the program in the country.

A.Z.: And how is harm reduction treated at the national level?

A.C.: We’ve seen a big and national change in the federal government’s take on harm reduction in the last four years. Primarily in drug, public health and law enforcement efforts. Under President Obama, we’ve begun to see this change, and we’re hoping it will continue now that he’s re-elected. He’s put a big focus on overdose prevention programs, which most leaders won’t touch. Continue reading

Vendor profile: Volunteering keeps vendor connected


By Cole Merkel, Staff Writer

Every Thursday, Street Roots vendor William Adams helps make bologna and cheese sandwiches for Operation Nightwatch, a hospitality center he has been a community member of for more than three years. He began making the sandwiches five months ago. “I walked into it,” William says. One afternoon there was a need for someone to help make sandwiches; William was in the church and he stepped up to the plate, so to speak, to help. Continue reading

A room with a view: One year on in housing


By Leo Rhodes, Contributing Columnist

Dec. 7, 1941, is a day that will live infamy, as President Roosevelt put it. Coming from Arizona, this day was and still is a big date as the USS Arizona became the first ship to sink into Pearl Harbor that December morning. In the Northeast corner of Arizona is the Navajo reservation where most of the Navajo code talkers came from. My hero, Ira Hayes — one of the men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima — came from my reservation. Also on my reservation were two internment camps. Years later, I was asked to write poems for the 20th anniversary of the memorial for the camps. What I was going to write was a comparison of how they treated the Japanese-Americans to how they treat the homeless today.

Change of plans. Continue reading

Fiscal cliff debate is about political priorities, not economics

By Robin Hahnel, Contributing Columnist

We just had an election which repudiated the Republican economic agenda for America. So what begins the morning after? The only economic subject talked about is “the fiscal cliff” — the Republican economic agenda!

The fiscal cliff is the latest version of the same trap the wealthy, the military industrial complex, and the Republican Party have been setting over and over again since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. The interesting question is why anyone still falls for it.

If the federal government cuts taxes for the wealthy, and if the federal government insists on growing a military industrial complex even after the cold war has ended, then, eventually, there is no alternative in the long run but to either cut federal spending on domestic programs that actually help people and make the economy more productive or to increase taxes on the middle class or to let the national debt continue to grow. That is simple arithmetic. Continue reading