A New Narrative for Racial Equity in Oregon

A story with Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Racial Equity Agenda.

A child stands in a schoolyard, writing in a notebook.

Words are powerful. If you know how to be persuasive with language, you can get a lot done. However, your words can also work against you. If you don’t do the necessary preparation, your message could communicate something you never intended.

Racial Equity Agenda, a Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative, is busy doing that necessary preparation, creating an effective racial equity narrative for Oregon that will help community organizations begin important conversations about race with voters and policymakers, and move Oregon closer to racial equity.

Amanda Manjarrez presenting at the Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities gathering of Community Collaboratives in Salem, Oregon.

Amanda Manjarrez presenting at the Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities gathering of Community Collaboratives in Salem, Oregon.

On February 7th, 2017, Amanda Manjarrez, Coalition of Communities of Color’s Advocacy Director, stood at the front of a small, windowless conference room in the Salem Convention Center and introduced the idea of a cohesive racial equity narrative to community members and organizers from across the state. She presented examples of how effective narratives and values-based language can be at triggering emotions. For instance, words like “illegal,” “violent criminal” and “radical” have been selected purposefully by politicians to invoke fear about specific races and religions. These words, part of carefully constructed narratives about undocumented immigrants, black men and Muslims, have been used, successfully, to advance policies and candidates. If community organizations in Oregon want to push back against these narratives and have positive conversations about race, we need to construct our own narrative that will spark other emotions that lead to more inclusive communities and shared prosperity.

Unfortunately, people aren’t as logical as they like to think they are. In reality, humans make quick, emotional judgments, then use reasoning to justify those judgments. People also hold contradictory, competing ideas in their heads at the same time. It falls to communicators to choose the right story that will produce the desired emotions and lead an audience to take a specific action, whether that’s voting a certain way, donating to cause or something else.

It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear.
— Frank Luntz

Amanda invited EUVALCREE Executive Director Gustavo Morales and Southern Oregon Education Service District’s Migrant Education Program Parent Involvement Specialist Monserrat Alegria to share their experiences having conversations about race. Both Gustavo and Monse live in rural Oregon communities (Ontario and Medford, respectively). They’ve been part of meetings where participants will get up and leave if “race” or “equity” are mentioned. They’ve seen their community members homes vandalized, families afraid to go home. According to Gustavo and Monse, the best way to start a conversation about racial equity where they live isn’t by talking about racial equity; it’s by opening with shared values like opportunity, children and families, and community building. These are narratives that almost everyone can connect with.

Racial Equity Agenda’s goal is to find a narrative that will work for all Oregonians, a way to talk about racial equity that won’t cause people to shut down or leave the room, and will result in decision-making tables including more people of color. In order to accomplish this goal, Coalition of Communities of Color is partnering with several culturally-specific and mainstream organizations, including Native American Youth and Family Center, Latino Network, Unite Oregon, Urban League of Portland, KairosPDX, Causa Oregon, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Hacienda CDC, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization and Self Enhancement, Inc. By coordinating to use a unifying narrative for their work, their impact will be great.

Youth Unite for Social Justice

A spotlight on Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Youth Equity Collaborative.

The Youth Equity Collaborative at the Oregon Students of Color Conference.

The Youth Equity Collaborative at the Oregon Students of Color Conference.

Youth voices often go unnoticed and unrecognized in social justice movements. Youth leaders are undervalued due to their "lack of experience." But, when it comes to youth, people are measuring experience the wrong way. Youth have plenty of experience – their own lived experience. Youth are their own experts.

The Youth Equity Collaborative, made up of youth-led social justice organizations, including Multnomah Youth Commission, Latino Unidos Siempre, CAPACES Leadership Institute, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon's Youth Environmental Justice Alliance, Oregon Students of Color Coalition with Oregon Student Association and Momentum Alliance, values and prioritizes youth voices.

The Youth Equity Collaborative encourages collective youth action and including youth at decision making tables when the decisions will affect youth, because youth are capable of making change. 

Some of the challenges youth face are lack of affordable transportation, financial support and accommodations for their participation, as well as lack of opportunities. The Youth Equity Collaborative does its best to support our youth and aims to remove barriers by providing reimbursement for transportation, providing bust tickets and childcare as needed. They also provide opportunities for youth to explore, network and participate in leadership development by sending them to conferences, gatherings and lobby days.

Why did the organizations that are part of the Youth Equity Collaborative choose to join the Youth Equity Collaborative?

  • To build relationships and network across organizations.
  • To engage the community on a greater scale.
  • To create a coherent and unified youth voice across the state.
  • To learn and share effective organizational practices.
  • To foster a support network for youth involved in social justice movements.

What has the Youth Equity Collaborative been doing lately?

  • Building relationships, including meeting monthly, playing fun games and discussing what "our future looks like."
  • Participating in the Oregon Students of Color Conference and Communities Collaborate gatherings and traveling together.
  • Creating content for social media campaigns.
  • Creating a political agenda.

We Need Fewer Parents in Oregon Prisons

A mom and toddler, bundled up in winter hats and coats, rub their noses together.

Children should be surrounded by family, because children do better when their family is present. They do better in school, and they are healthier overall.

In the U.S., too many parents are torn away from their children by incarceration. In Oregon alone, over 14,500 parents are in prison. That means more than 20,000 Oregon children – more than 700 classrooms full of kids – are growing up without their mom or dad, and they're suffering for it.

Infographic showing 63% of men in Oregon prisons are fathers, 81% of women in Oregon prisons are mothers. 70% of dads in Oregon prisons don't have in-person visits with their children; 20% don't have any contact with their children. 50% of moms in Oregon prisons don't have in-person visits with their children; 8% don't have any contact with their children.

Children with a parent in prison are more likely to drop out of high school, abuse drugs and alcohol, become teenage parents, commit crimes, and become unemployed or homeless.

To make matters worse, due to the discrimination in our criminal justice system, children of color are affected at a much higher rate. Black children are seven times more likely to have a parent in prison.

Far too many families are being torn apart by the criminal justice system. This separation can be devastating for parents and their children. I know because I lived it. In 2001, I was separated from my son and sentenced to prison for a nonviolent offense. It was heartbreaking to see the trauma and harm that my incarceration caused him. Because I was a single parent, my son bounced from one family member to another and suffered the brunt of their negative reaction. Our financial situation was tight too, so during my entire prison term, my son could only afford the bus ride to visit me once. Not being there for my son was one of the most painful experiences of my life.
— Anne, formerly incarcerated mother

Fortunately, there are ways to fix this problem. One way is the Family Sentencing Alternative (FSA), which is currently being tested as a pilot program in Deschutes, Jackson, Marion, Multnomah and Washington counties. The Family Sentencing Alternative allows parents convicted of nonviolent offenses to be assessed for intense supervision and appropriate services while remaining united with their children in the community. In Washington state, a similar program saved the state $59 a day per parent, and only eight of 120 participants committed a new felony offense.

Partnership for Safety and Justice (PSJ), a nonprofit that works with people convicted of crime, survivors of crime, and the families of both to advocate for policies that make Oregon’s approach to public safety more effective and more just, is one of the main proponents of the Family Sentencing Alternative. PSJ is currently supporting successful implementation and refinement of the FSA pilot projects, as well as seeking to increase community understanding and support. They'd like to see this program expand to the whole state.

PSJ hopes to shift the public conversation about incarceration from a debate regarding criminal punishment as a perceived means of increasing public safety, to a discussion about the far-reaching and long-term harms of parental imprisonment.

Partnership for Safety and Justice is one of Northwest Health Foundation's Kaiser Permanente Community Fund funded partners.

 

Latina Parents in Southern Oregon Stand Up for Their Children

A story from Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Successful Transitions: Integrated Care for Children, Youth, and their Families.

A Latina mother sits beside her son in a classroom while he plays with Legos.

Yolanda Peña and Raquel Garay, two Latina mothers with children in Eagle Point School District in Southern Oregon, understand the barriers parents in their community face when trying to advocate for their children’s education. Such barriers include lack of understanding of the school system’s structure, language barriers, family responsibilities and disconnection from the community. 

Peña and Garay currently serve as the president and vice president of the Migrant Education Parent Advisory Council (PAC) in their district. Migrant Education Program of Southern Oregon is part of Successful Transitions, one of ten Collaborates that in Northwest Health Foundation's Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Cohort working to build power for kids and families. 

One of Successful Transitions’ goals is to empower Latino early learners, students and their families by providing parent leadership and advocacy opportunities. Through Successful Transitions, Garay and Peña had the opportunity to attend Northwest Health Foundation’s Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities gatherings in Astoria, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington in 2016. Participating in these leadership development activities encouraged them to take on various leadership roles in their community, but especially in their children’s school district. 

Learning about the issues other Collaboratives are dealing with has helped Peña realize that every community in our region experiences different barriers, and it’s crucial for Latino students and their families to share their personal experiences and to be represented in decision-making spaces. 

Garay and Peña know from personal experience that navigating the educational system can be intimidating for many parents. Being the president and vice president for their district’s PAC has allowed them to voice the concerns of many Latino and migrant parents, and to have a direct influence in the decisions made regarding their children’s education. Garay acknowledges that it can be intimidating for many parents to speak up and advocate for their children, but she urges them to advocate for their children and their community anyway. She motivates other parents to become involved in their children’s education by helping them see the impact it has in their children’s academic and social performance.

By becoming active participants and working closely with the school districts, parents are not only advocating for their families, but for the community as a whole.

Check Out Our Partners in Willamette Week's 2016 Give!Guide

An artist stands on a cherry picker painting a mural. The words "GIVE!GUIDE" are superimposed on top of it.

It's giving season again, folks! That means Willamette Week's Give!Guide is collecting donations now through midnight on December 31st, with a goal of raising $3,600,000 total for 141 deserving Portland nonprofits.

Several of those 141 nonprofits are Northwest Health Foundation's past and current funded partners. We've highlighted five below! These community organizations are doing amazing work for our region, and they have earned every bit of support you can offer them.

 

Black Parent Initiative

A man holds a toddler in a school hallway. The man, the toddler and a teen standing nearby all look down at a toy the toddler is holding.

What is Black Parent Initiative? Black Parent Initiative (BPI) is the only culturally specific organization in Portland focused solely on supporting parents as a vehicle for enhancing the lives of Black youth. It helps families achieve financial, educational and spiritual success.

How is NWHF supporting BPI? NWHF is currently funding BPI through the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund to engage low-income African American families in comprehensive home-visiting services.

Why should I give to them? Children are more likely to succeed in learning, life and realizing their dreams when supported by stable and engaged adults; and communities are more likely to succeed when they prepare their children to succeed. By supporting BPI, you support a vibrant, thriving Portland.

 

Community Alliance of Tenants

The words "#RenterStateofEmergency" and "#RenterSOS" in black text on a white ground. Above the text are icons representing a roof and megaphone.

What is Community Alliance of Tenants? Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT) builds tenant power through education, advocacy, building-based organizing, leadership development and membership engagement.

How is NWHF supporting CAT? Last year NWHF supported CAT's Renter State of Emergency campaign.

Why should I give to them? Portland is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, and renters are the people most impacted by it. CAT is on the front lines striving to protect renters through advocacy and legislation. In 2015, CAT's Renter State of Emergency prompted the City of Portland to declare a Housing State of Emergency. Now CAT is running a #JustCauseBecause campaign to protect tenants from no cause evictions. By giving to CAT, you contribute to all Oregonians having a stable place to live.

 

Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization

Three women with beaded headbands and necklaces press their faces close together and smile.

What is Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization? Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) promotes the integration of refugees, immigrants and the community at large into a self-sufficient, healthy and inclusive multi-ethnic society. Founded in 1976 by refugees for refugees, IRCO has nearly 40 years of history and experience working with Portland's refugee and immigrant communities.

How is NWHF supporting IRCO? IRCO is the lead organization for one of our Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaboratives: Immigrant and Refugee Engage Project. 

Why should I give to them? Immigrants and refugees are a boon to our communities and our economy. Unfortunately, many of them now face the likelihood of unjust legislation by the new federal administration that will try to force many of them to leave their homes and lives in the U.S. By donating to IRCO, you support immigrants and refugees to adjust to American society, find jobs and advocate for themselves.  

 

Partnership for Safety and Justice

A child stands next to a picket sign that reads "Justice for youth."

What is Partnership for Safety and Justice? Partnership for Safety and Justice (PSJ) works with people convicted of crime, survivors of crime, and the families of both to advocate for policies that make Oregon’s approach to public safety more effective and more just.

How is NWHF supporting PSJ? NWHF is funding PSJ, through the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund, to implement, refine and increase community understanding and support, evidence-based justification, and state-wide expansion of the Family Sentencing Alternative. (The Family Sentencing Alternative allows parents to stay with their children while serving their sentence under community supervision.)

Why should I give to them? Incarceration has a huge negative impact on a person's future, as well as on their family's. For example, children of prisoners are more likely to drop out of high school, abuse drugs and alcohol, become teenage parents, commit crimes, and become unemployed and/or homeless. By donating to PSJ, you help families overcome the obstacles of life after incarceration and prevent more kids from losing their parents to prison in the future.

 

Urban League of Portland

Kids crowd around a craft table.

What is Urban League of Portland? Urban League of Portland (ULPDX) is one of the oldest African American service, civil rights and advocacy organizations in the Portland metro area. ULPDX’s mission is to empower African Americans and others to achieve equality in education, employment, health, economic security and quality of life.

How is NWHF supporting ULPDX? NWHF last funded ULPDX to convene community members to discuss priorities related to improving children's health and education.

Why should I support them? Oregon has a deeply embedded history of discrimination against African Americans. By giving to ULPDX, you contribute to dismantling racist systems and support programs that uplift the African American community.

 

Six Years Later, Cully Park is Much More Than a Dream

Cully community members stand on a portion of Cully Park land that is ready for development.

Portland's Cully neighborhood is rich with racial and ethnic diversity. Unfortunately, the neighborhood itself is resource-poor. It has much less parkland, low access to transportation and few sidewalks compared to other parts of Portland. It also has an abundance of brownfields – contaminated, post-industrial land.

In 2002, Portland Parks Bureau bought one of those brownfields – a 25-acre landfill – with the intent of turning it into a park. After years of open houses and design meetings, the Portland City Council finally agreed on a master plan, featuring sports fields, walking trails and an estimated price tag of up to $18 million. Although the plans were approved, funding was not. 

That's when the Cully community took over. Living Cully, a collaboration made up of nonprofit partners Verde, Native American Youth and Family Center, Hacienda Community Development Corporation and Habitat for Humanity Portland Metro/East, led the community to seek funding and transform the former landfill into a welcoming and useful public space.

Two people in orange construction vests hang a tarp over a sign that reads "¡NUEVE PARQUE EN CAMINO!" with a map.

In 2010, a $150,000 Northwest Health Foundation/Convergence Partnership grant enabled Living Cully to develop the very first stages of Thomas Cully Park. Now, six years later, Living Cully has raised over $9.5 million, and only needs to raise $1 million more to meet the project's $10.6 million budget (down from the $18 million estimated by the City Council in 2002). Most recently, on Portland Parks Foundation's 15th Anniversary, Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz announced a $3 million allocation from the City.

Not only has Living Cully raised millions of dollars for the park. Since development began in 2012, Scott School students worked with an architect to design a community garden; Verde restored a section of the land too steep for park features to create a mixed deciduous-riparian habitat; Verde Nursery began growing plants in a 10,000 square foot staging area for distribution throughout the park; a group of Native and non-Native community members created an Inter-Tribal Gathering Garden; Cully neighborhood schools and students helped design a play area meeting the needs of young people in the neighborhood and youth with disabilities; and Living Cully transformed NE 72nd Avenue into a Greenstreet.

Thomas Cully Park is truly by and for the people, and we can't wait to see future transformations of the space!

This is an update on a past Partner Spotlight written a few years ago. Check out the original Partner Spotlight.

Two Stories from Eastern Oregon

Two stories from Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Eastern Oregon Latino Alliance for Children and Families, which is led by EUVALCREE.

Insights from a Latina Youth Leader

Ontario School District representative Benardina Navarrete and High School Student Genesis Romero stand on either side of an Ontario School District banner in the hallway of Alameda Elementary School.

Ontario School District representative Benardina Navarrete and High School Student Genesis Romero stand on either side of an Ontario School District banner in the hallway of Alameda Elementary School.

Genesis Romero is a EUVALCREE volunteer and a senior at Vale High School in Vale, OR. For her senior project she organized a resource fair to inform Latino families of existing resources and services in the community.

The event took place on October 8th from 10am to 2pm at Alameda Elementary School in Ontario, OR.

Later that evening, Genesis participated in a focus group hosted by EUVALCREE to discuss community needs with one of our major partners, Saint Alphonsus Medical Center - Ontario. She shared insights from her own experience, as well as her learnings from the event she organized. Genesis said: The best thing a student can have is the support of their teachers. Unfortunately, more often then not, students are not supported by their teachers and, furthermore, are frequently disregarded as someone who is not going to accomplish much in life.

Genesis is graduating from high school this year. She dreams of becoming a forensic scientist and, later, a medical examiner. 

 

EUVALCREE Assesses Hard-to-Reach Community Members' Needs

A EUVALCREE Community Organizer provides information on leadership and advocacy courses, and how to become a volunteer, at a table draped with a EUVALCREE banner. Three women and two kids crowd around the table.

A EUVALCREE Community Organizer provides information on leadership and advocacy courses, and how to become a volunteer, at a table draped with a EUVALCREE banner. Three women and two kids crowd around the table.

EUVALCREE recently conducted a different kind of community assessment. How was it different? They focused on reaching the community members that are hard to reach - the ones who have not accessed services or resources, or replied to a questionnaire asking what they could use to help them achieve their dreams for themselves and their families.

The collection period occurred over the course of four months. 17 trained volunteers went door to door in Malheur County, Oregon, and Payette and Washington Counties, Idaho. The average household visit was approximately 60 minutes. With almost 900 volunteer hours in data collection, 497 community assessments were collected. The data was transcribed over the course of two months, and the results are currently being analyzed.

From this information, EUVALCREE is developing a strategic plan to address the identified community needs and make the changes necessary to move the Eastern Oregon Latino community forward. Results will be made public once a strategic plan is adopted, and the strategic plan will be made public as well. 

 

Read more about EUVALCREE in The Ford Family Foundation's publication, Community Vitality

Immigrant and Refugee Communities in Oregon Agree on At Least Two Things

A story with Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Immigrant and Refugee Engage Project.

irco oregon state capital

[Image description: Members of the Multiethnic Advisory Group hold an "Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization" banner on the steps of the Oregon state capitol.]

The immigrant and refugee population in Oregon is made up of incredibly diverse communities with varied opinions, concerns and needs. And yet, for the most part, they can all agree on at least two things: their children and families’ health is of utmost importance, and immigrants and refugees can make a bigger impact working together.

In 2015, Africa House, Asian Family Center and the Slavic Network of Oregon were all working separately from one another on individual Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities community organizing projects. Africa House was focused on maternal health; Asian Family Center was interested in developing an early life task force; and the Slavic Network of Oregon was pursuing 501c3 status. They were all also working with Portland State University and Coalition of Communities of Color to collect data and conduct assessments of their communities. In the end they decided if the community assessments showed that their communities had concerns in common, they would join together.

It turned out they had three issues in common: The African, Asian Pacific Islander and Slavic communities all wanted to improve early childhood health. They all wanted to work on kindergarten readiness. And they all liked the Community Health Worker model.

The decision to partner led to the formation of the Multiethnic Advisory Group (MAG). The MAG includes representatives from, not just Africa House, Asian Family Center and the Slavic Network of Oregon, but also African Women’s Coalition, Cambodian-American Community of Oregon, Northwest Somali Community Organization, Oregon Bhutanese Community Organization, Slavic Community Center of NW, Togo Community Organization of Oregon and Zomi Association of U.S.

Despite having a vision of healthy childhoods in common, the members of the MAG all come from very different places with different customs and values. The most difficult obstacle for the MAG to overcome has been making sure everyone gets heard and feels included in decisions. For this reason, the group created community agreements, one of which is that all decisions must be made by consensus.

irco staff with tina kotek

[Image description: Four Multiethnic Advisory Group members stand and smile in an office with Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek.]

One of the first actions the MAG agreed on was to participate in a lobby day in Oregon’s state capitol. For most of the MAG members, the lobby day was their first experience participating in U.S. government. Many came from countries where they could not express their opinions about, or participate in, the government. So, to them, the idea of meeting with elected officials and voicing their concerns was both surprising and scary. However, after practicing ahead of time, dividing into smaller groups and spending time with at least two government officials each, the MAG members soon settled into sharing their stories.   

The MAG members left lobby day feeling empowered and excited. They quickly decided that they want to learn more about policy advocacy and are now planning a training for exactly that purpose. They’re also planning on participating in a lobby day during the 2017 legislative session. Together, they know they can voice their communities’ concerns and improve childhood health and kindergarten readiness for all immigrant and refugee children.

Washington County Latino Parents Organize to Break the Cycle of Childhood Poverty

adelante mujeres parents

[Image description: Latino parents gather around a conference table.]

In Washington County, 27% of children 0-6 are Latino. Yet Latino children account for more than half of children in poverty.

Here’s another shocking stat: Although 36% of youth and children in western Washington County are Latino, Hillsboro and Forest Grove school districts’ boards of directors are both 100% white.

Furthermore, out of six Forest Grove city councilors and six Hillsboro city councilors, only one is Hispanic or Latino.

This is unacceptable. This means that the Latino community, which is by far the largest ethnic/racial minority community in Oregon, is not represented at these important decision-making tables and does not have a hand in creating the policies that impact Latino kids and families.

Enter Creciendo Juntos. Led by Vision Action Network and made up of collaborative partners from education and human services sectors, Creciendo Juntos engages Latino parents to become active in their kids’ education and involved in the community, with an end goal of breaking the cycle of childhood poverty. Latino parents who are currently active in this initiative live in high-poverty neighborhoods and attend areas within the six elementary schools with the greatest percentages of Latino children in the Forest Grove and Hillsboro School Districts; three in Forest Grove: Cornelius, Echo Shaw and Fern Hill; and three in Hillsboro: Lincoln Street, Reedville and W. L. Henry. In 2012-13, each of these elementary schools had an enrollment of 66-86% Hispanic students and a free and reduced lunch eligibility of 75-85%.

According to Creciendo Juntos staff, “There is a great hunger among Latinos to work together for a better life.”

Over the last couple years, Creciendo Juntos has strengthened Latino leadership through its Advocacy Team composed of one bilingual staff member and two Latino participants from each participating partner. Their meetings are focused on educating and empowering Latinos, and are all held in Spanish. Topics covered range from citizenship and immigration rights to navigating the school system and volunteering on boards and committees.

With the newfound knowledge gained in these gatherings, parents become more comfortable participating at their kids’ schools and advocating for their kids’ education. Some of the parents involved in Creciendo Juntos are also eager to join parent advisory committees at the district level, and possibly even run for city council positions.

Moving forward, the parents who started with Creciendo Juntos will become the teachers, helping new parents become familiar with school and community systems, sharing a vision of a thriving Western Washington county where Latino children and their families are healthy, successful in school, life and engaged in their community.

Creciendo Juntos was one of Northwest Health Foundation's partners during our Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Organizing Grant Year.

Oregon Active Schools: Green Acres Elementary School

This blog is the fifth in a series of posts written with staff and students at Oregon Active Schools elementary schools. Oregon Active Schools supports programs that inspire a lifelong love of physical activity and its many benefits for every child in Oregon through opportunities to be active before, during and after school.

Playworks

[Image description: Elementary school-aged kids jump rope on a playground blacktop.]

HERE'S WHAT GREEN ACRES STAFF HAD TO SAY ABOUT OREGON ACTIVE SCHOOLS:

Q. How did your school use its Oregon Active Schools grant?

A. We used Oregon Active Schools funding for a variety of things at our school! One-third of the funds were used to purchase new equipment for before school activities in the gym. Students enter the gym before school and now have equipment that is developmentally appropriate to help them start off their day with physical activity and movement. We also used some of the funds to purchase “Brain Break” books for all of the classrooms in our school. Teachers now have a book filled with ideas for quick brain breaks in order to promote more movement throughout the school day.

Q. What sort of changes have you seen in your school related to physical activity?

A. Students love to move, and by providing resources to encourage this they are able to move more. For example, now teachers don’t have to worry about coming up with a quick activity on their own. They can easily grab the Brain Break book, flip to a page, perform an activity to get the class moving, and then re-engage in the learning that needs to take place within three to five minutes. Also, with more equipment readily available more students can start their day with physical activity. Rather than having to stand in a long line to wait for a jump rope or basketball, we have enough equipment for students to work in small groups.

Q. How have these funds supported your students' cultural and regional identities?

A. We were able to purchase equipment that isn’t necessarily “traditional” in order to expose students to new physical activities that they may enjoy. Perhaps a student doesn’t like to be physically active because they don’t like traditional team sports. With funds we were able to purchase things students had never heard of, like Chinese jump ropes, omnikin balls and Velcro catch and throw sets.

Q. Why do you believe physical activity in schools is important?

A. Physical activity is vital for students. Our bodies were made to move, and when we expect students to sit in a desk all day with minimal movement they become disengaged. However, when incorporating movement into the learning process, students are able to learn while also being physically active. In addition I believe it is important to expose students to a variety of activities. If they find something they enjoy they are more likely to continue being physically active as they age, which leads to a healthy, productive life.

Green Acres Elementary School is one of Lebanon Community School District's eight schools.

 

Warm Springs Youth Build Power for Political Participation

Photo courtesy of the Warm Springs Youth Council Facebook page. Photo credit to Jayson Smith.

Photo courtesy of the Warm Springs Youth Council Facebook page. Photo credit to Jayson Smith.

[Image description: A candidate with a long braid and glasses speaks into a standing microphone. Three candidates sit behind.]

At the beginning of 2016, Let’s Talk Diversity Coalition and the Warm Springs Youth Council formed a partnership around voter education for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. Their first project was a candidate forum held in Warm Springs, Oregon on March 7th, 2016.

This forum gave local Tribal Council candidates running for the upcoming Warm Springs Tribal Council elections an opportunity to interact with the community and share their strengths, concerns and positions on issues the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs is facing. It also served to highlight the upcoming Bureau of Indian Affairs Secretarial Election and allowed tribal members, as well as the Warm Springs Youth Council, to raise and discuss thoughts about issues that would be on the Secretarial Election ballot. These included various proposed changes to the make-up of the Tribal Council and the process of electing Tribal Council members, as well as a proposed change to lower the voting age to 18.

Photo courtesy of Warm Springs Youth Council Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Warm Springs Youth Council Facebook page.

[Image description: Six Warm Springs Youth Council members, wearing black t-shirts that read "BUILD COMMUNITY," pose around a Warm Springs Youth Council banner.]

In preparation for the forum, the Warm Springs Youth Council developed questions that incorporated the Secretarial Election’s proposed changes, history of the tribe, education and youth concerns. The forum was organized and hosted by the Youth Council with support from Let's Talk Diversity Coalition, Warm Springs Prevention Team and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. It was the first candidate forum to be organized in the history of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

Twenty-four hours before the event, the Youth Council contacted Let's Talk Diversity Coalition, requesting us to provide a sign language interpreter for the event. Thanks to regional and local connections, we were able to locate an interpreter for the event and pay him for his services. It's definitely worthwhile to build those relationships before they're needed! The community expressed appreciation of the interpretation services, not to mention the opportunity to hear from Tribal Council candidates.

Let's Talk Diversity Coalition continues to partner with the Warm Springs Youth Council and looks forward to the upcoming voter education collaborations, and to building power with our young leaders!

Oregon Active Schools: Aiken Elementary

This blog is the fourth in a series of posts written with staff and students at Oregon Active Schools elementary schools. Oregon Active Schools supports programs that inspire a lifelong love of physical activity and its many benefits for every child in Oregon through opportunities to be active before, during and after school.

Kids play on a playground carousel.

[Image description: Five kids play on a playground carousel. One girl leans back over the edge, her braid flying. One sits and dangles her legs over the side.]

HERE'S WHAT AIKEN ELEMENTARY STAFF HAD TO SAY ABOUT OREGON ACTIVE SCHOOLS:

Q. How did your school use its Oregon Active Schools grant?

A. In 2014, Aiken Elementary applied for the $3,000 grant to construct a walking trail, but after calculating the cost we realized the expenses for the trail significantly outweighed the aid provided by the grant. Northwest Health Foundation allowed the school to repurpose the grant to help fund the building of a new playground. This funding allowed the Aiken PTO, Oregon Active Schools and Ontario School District to partner to add three new playground structures to the Aiken campus. The ribbon cutting event was well-attended and a healthy “create your own” snack-mix station was provided by OSU Extension staff.

In 2015, Aiken Elementary applied for an additional $3,000 grant to fund a walking program at the school. Aiken partnered with OSU Extension staff Barbara Brody and Jill Hoshaw to outline a plan to increase the amount of physical activity opportunities students receive in the school day. Included in this project will be a spring kick-off assembly, jog-a-thon, walking club, and recognition of students who are making health conscious choices when it comes to exercise and nutrition.

Q. What sort of changes have you seen in your school related to physical activity?

A. Through the additional funding and a partnership with OSU Extension, students are given far more opportunities to get out of their desks, learn healthy life skills, and move. The new playground equipment has been very popular with students and it is the busiest place on the playground. If you drive by Aiken Elementary on evenings or weekends you can see students and other community members enjoying use of these new installations.

This year, OSU staff trained teachers at Aiken to implement the use of Balanced Energy Physical Activity Toolkits. Through the use of this resource from October to December, students have increased their physical activity by 2,298 minutes, or over 38 hours. Since obtaining grant funding, Aiken has made physical education and nutrition a focus of family and community events.

Q. Why do you believe physical activity in schools is important?

A. Physical activity in schools is important because we are teaching children skills to be successful in life. Health plays a major part in overall success. We know from data gathered that students who receive adequate physical activity opportunities have better behavior and academic performance. We want to provide students with the best education possible, and providing them physical education plays a crucial role.

 

HERE'S WHAT AIKEN ELEMENTARY STUDENTS HAD TO SAY ABOUT OREGON ACTIVE SCHOOLS:

Q. How has recess changed since Oregon Active Schools started at your school?

Alina, 3rd grade: “We get to play more fun things in PE. We had a contest on how many bean bags each person could throw into a bucket. The spinny thing is my favorite part of the new playground. I sometimes come play at Aiken on the weekends.”

J.J., 3rd grade: “We get to play more activities in PE. The slide is my favorite thing on the playground. I like to play indoor soccer.”

Q. What is your favorite part about recess or PE?

Will, 1st grade: “My favorite part of PE is when we start to play with bean bags and buckets. We go in groups and then we start to play. We go run to the other buckets and try to put the bean bags in the other buckets. We try to empty our bucket and fill someone else’s bucket. My favorite game is soccer when I get to practice and play games.”

Q. Why do you think physicial activity in schools is important?

Brooke, 5th grade: “It’s important because every kid needs exercise. Playing outside makes me happy. Fresh air is good for kids. It helps my mind focus. It’s free to play at school, but for city sports you have to pay money.”

Aiken Elementary is one of Ontario School District's five elementary schools.

Get out the Latinx Vote!

A story from Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Healthy CAPACES.

Acción Política PCUNista, PCUN's electoral organizing arm and a partner in the Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Healthy CAPACES, was formed in 1998 when a group of Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noreste (PCUN) members joined together to campaign for naming Woodburn's new high school after César Chávez. Although the school board voted against the name, they did agree to observe March 31st, César E. Chávez Day, throughout the school district. After seeing the impact their involvement had, the PCUN members decided to create Voz Hispana Causa Chavista, which was rebranded as Acción Política PCUNista in 2014. Since rebranding, APP has supported driver cards in Oregon and was instrumental in helping pass the 2015 Woodburn School Bond.

As Oregon's only operating Latino 501(c)(4) organization, APP works to engage the Latinx community in the voting process. APP's work includes hosting candidate forums, Latinx voter education, voter ID and registration, canvassing, endorsing candidates, political mailing, phone banking and community organizing.

Teresa Alonso Leon

Teresa Alonso Leon

[Image description: A Latina woman wearing a black blazer and red lipstick poses in front of a tree trunk and ground covered with yellow leaves.]

This year APP endorsed and is supporting Teresa Alonso Leon's campaign for State Representative of House District 22. Teresa Alonso Leon was raised in Woodburn, so she's experienced the needs of the community. She comes from a working family and knows firsthand what it is like to confront and overcome barriers. Teresa is also the GED administrator for the state of Oregon and has served on the Woodburn City Council for four years. She's committed to improving the education system for children and adults, advocating for a more transparent government, and creating better paying jobs.

If elected, Teresa will be the first Latinx and immigrant woman to represent one of Oregon's most diverse counties. Marion County is 25% Latino/Hispanic. Woodburn is 56% Latino/Hispanic. But this large Latinx community is not reflected on school boards, city councils or at the state level. By campaigning for Teresa, APP campaigns for an incredible leader who represents the Latinx community and acts as a role model for children with similar backgrounds and experiences.

Acción Política PCUNista

Acción Política PCUNista

[Image description: A group of young Latinxs pose and smile in front of a colorful mural depicting Latinx farmworkers rallying for justice.]

To support Teresa's campaign, APP hosted her canvas kickoff on July 2nd at PCUN. We spent hours on the phone inviting community members to this event. On the day of the event, we knocked on over 1,000 doors to spread the news about Teresa. Since the event, we've spent our time canvassing and talking to community members about their vision for Marion county. We've given presentations to diverse groups at college and high schools about the work APP is doing and Teresa's campaign. You'll also find us at most local events getting out the Latinx vote!

Upcoming Events:

La Fiesta Mexicana, Woodburn, August 5th-8th

Urban Art Fest, Salem, August 6th

Get Involved:

Remember, voting is power and we should all have a say in the decisions that affect our communities. Let's stand up and unite for the people!

If you are interested in participating or volunteering with APP, please contact appinfo@pcun.org

Like us on Facebook.

Oregon Active Schools: Parklane Elementary School

This blog is the third in a series of posts written with staff and students at Oregon Active Schools elementary schools. Oregon Active Schools supports programs that inspire a lifelong love of physical activity and its many benefits for every child in Oregon through opportunities to be active before, during and after school.

[Image description: Kids in navy, white and khaki school uniforms stand in line at an orange cone. A girl in the foreground, walking away from the camera, wears bright blue and orange sneakers and green pony beads in her hair.]

HERE'S WHAT PARKLANE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PE TEACHER JASON BRENNAN HAD TO SAY ABOUT OREGON ACTIVE SCHOOLS:

Q. How did your school use its Oregon Active Schools grant?

A. At Parklane Elementary, our students LOVE to be active and play. We used the Oregon Active Schools funding to improve the quantity and quality of physically active experiences in our Physical Education classes, at recess, in our after school SUN program and during physical activity breaks. We upgraded and successfully organized our recess equipment by purchasing a playground storage bin, mobile hula hoop & jump rope rack, new soccer goals, and pinnies and cones for our Game of the Week activities. We are currently installing a new basketball backboard and hoop, as well as a volleyball court on our blacktop, which will be awesome. Maybe the most exciting addition is our new cross-country exercise Treadmarks program, which challenges our students to to run-walk-jog their way around a 1/4 path throughout our playground. Students keep track of their progress and earn rewards on their way to achieving the goal of 125 miles!

Q. What sort of changes have you seen in your school related to physical activity?

A. The Oregon Active School funds have allowed Parklane to provide the students of our school with a wide variety of choices and opportunities for physical activity. In our Physical Education and physical activity-related SUN classes, our instructors are able to use some of the new equipment to enable more students to engage in vigorous physical activity for a larger percentage of the class time. At recess, students can instantly participate in our Treadmarks program for the entirety of the recess or for a lap or two before quickly moving onto another physical activity on the playground. Hula hoops and jump ropes are always in use on the playground, and our soccer and Game of the Week activities are easily organized with the addition of our new pinnies and cones, allowing for large numbers of students to join and participate with high levels of physical activity.

Q. How did these funds help support your students' cultural and regional identities?

A. The students at Parklane Elementary enjoy engaging in all types of play and movement experiences and these funds have allowed our diverse student body, who together speak 20 different languages, more quality opportunities to socialize and build relationships and friendships through the exciting participation in sport and physical activity.

Q. Why do you believe physical activity in schools is important?

A. Schools are full of kids, and what do kids love to do........PLAY!!! It is no secret that students who regularly participate in physical activity have high levels of academic achievement, impulse control, positive behaviors and self-esteem. By providing our students at Parklane with more diverse opportunities to be physically active throughout the school day, we are providing them with safe, organized, socially engaging experiences in physical education and physical activities that can positively influence our children throughout their lifetime.

 

HERE'S WHAT PARKLANE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS HAD TO SAY ABOUT OREGON ACTIVE SCHOOLS:

Q. How has recess changed since Oregon Active Schools started at your school?

Jazleen: The treadmarks help me walk more.
Kavonte: A lot of people are doing treadmarks instead of four-square or basketball.
Lilli: We now have more choices on the playground. Some start at treadmarks and then go to a game, or the other way around.
Daniel: The treadmarks help me run faster.

Q. What is your favorite part about recess or PE?

Darius: My favorite part about recess is playing soccer and basketball with my friends.
Alex: I play with my friends at PE and have adventures.
Abdiaziz: My favorite part about PE is soccer, because it is my favorite sport.
Josh: Treadmarks!
Laila: Treadmarks. They help me be energized.
Allison: Star Wars dodgeball.
Kavonte: Kickball.
Alex: Playing volleyball.

Q. Why do you think physicial activity in schools is important?

Lyndsey: You get stronger.
Bridget: You get energy.
Nevaeh: So you can be healthy.
Lilli: So that you can release energy from your body. It's good for you.
Holly: Because it is healthy for you. IT'S FUN! And it feels good!
 

Parklane Elementary School is one of Centennial School District's seven elementary schools.

 

Keeping Vancouver Housed

Oregon and Southwest Washington are in the midst of a housing crisis. Over the last few years, the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro metro area has been flooded with out-of-state movers. Market forces, including limited housing supply and stagnant wages, are making it hard for people to secure safe and affordable homes. Demand is so high, at the end of 2015 only 2.4% of rentals were vacant, and many people struggling to make ends meet were pushed out of their homes. Cities and community organizations endeavor to enact solutions to this problem. In Vancouver, a community has come together to build power and take concrete steps toward keeping people housed.

SUPPORTERS OF AN AFFORDABLE HOUSING LEVY TESTIFY IN FRONT OF VANCOUVER CITY COUNCIL ON JUNE 20, 2016.

SUPPORTERS OF AN AFFORDABLE HOUSING LEVY TESTIFY IN FRONT OF VANCOUVER CITY COUNCIL ON JUNE 20, 2016.

[Image description: Three people dressed in red sit at a table facing Vancouver's City Council. The city councilors are seated at a long, semicircular desk, with each person's name on a plaque mounted in front of them.]

At the end of 2014, Courtyard Village, an apartment complex in Vancouver’s Rose Village neighborhood, which is known for housing people from vulnerable communities, was sold to a new owner. Tenants in the 151-unit complex began receiving 20-day notices to vacate. Families, singles, couples and seniors found themselves facing a housing crisis during the holiday season.

Also at the end of 2014, twenty-six Southwest Washington residents participated in Healthy Living Collaborative of Southwest Washington’s first Community Health Worker training program. Before even graduating the program, these community leaders made a huge impact in the lives of the people evicted from Rose Village, and they’ve continued to make an impact on the entire community through their advocacy for affordable housing.

When the 20-day notices to vacate were issued, many of Courtyard Village’s tenants didn’t even know the apartment complex had been sold. The Community Health Workers in training, some of whom lived in the Rose Village neighborhood, pulled together with Washington Elementary School and the Council for the Homeless to educate tenants about what was happening and connect them to resources. This included a community meeting where they learned about assistance finding housing, paying moving costs and support being offered by a neighboring church (Vancouver First United Methodist). It also included Community Health Workers going door to door to make sure every tenant, including those who had chronic conditions and no means of transportation, received the information they needed. Thanks to these efforts, 101 of the 151 Courtyard Village households contacted partners for assistance. The community stepped up with fundraising, too. The Vancouver community raised $102,000 to help households pay expenses associated with moving. There was a “fun run” and donations from individuals and businesses. In addition, many congregations held special offerings. This community-driven assistance helped 76 of the 101 households, including 89 children, secure new homes.

After responding to the Courtyard Village crisis and graduating from their training program in February 2015, the Community Health Workers were determined to prevent similar situations from happening again in the future. That meant policy change.

On September 14, 2015, Community Health Workers, Rose Village residents and others testified at a City of Vancouver hearing about a proposal for renter protections. Community Health Worker Dominique Horn testified as a Rose Village community member and Courtyard Village neighbor: “It doesn’t just affect them. It affects the whole community. It affects the school. It affects my children. It affects everyone. And there is nowhere for them to go.”

COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKER DOMINIQUE HORN TESTIFYING AT THE SEPTEMBER 14TH, 2015 VANCOUVER CITY COUNCIL MEETING. CLICK ON THE IMAGE AND FAST FORWARD TO 2:05 TO LISTEN TO DOMINIQUE'S POWERFUL TESTIMONY.

COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKER DOMINIQUE HORN TESTIFYING AT THE SEPTEMBER 14TH, 2015 VANCOUVER CITY COUNCIL MEETING. CLICK ON THE IMAGE AND FAST FORWARD TO 2:05 TO LISTEN TO DOMINIQUE'S POWERFUL TESTIMONY.

[Image description: Screenshot of a woman speaking into a microphone, people seated behind her. A caption at the bottom of the screen reads "Vancouver City Council, 9/14/15."]

After the hearing, Vancouver’s City Council approved three ordinances protecting vulnerable renters: one requiring landlords who wish to raise a tenant’s rent by ten percent or more to give a 45-day written notice of rent increase, one requiring landlords who own five or more rental units to give at least 60-days notice to vacate, and one preventing landlords from refusing to rent to a tenant based on a tenant’s source of income. This was a huge win for Community Health Workers, Rose Village tenants and the Vancouver community as a whole, but it still didn’t solve the problem of the lack of affordable housing.

That brings us to this week. Once again, on June 20, 2016, Vancouver residents packed the City Council Chambers, many of them wearing red. They wore red to show their support for an affordable housing levy. At a rate of 36 cents per $1,000 assessed property value, the levy would generate $6 million annually for seven years to be put toward low-income rental housing and homelessness prevention. Thanks to the turnout and testimony, City Council voted to add the levy to the November ballot.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF HEALTHY LIVING COLLABORATIVE OF SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON KACHINA INMAN PRESENTS A CHECK TO THE BRING VANCOUVER HOME CAMPAIGN.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF HEALTHY LIVING COLLABORATIVE OF SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON KACHINA INMAN PRESENTS A CHECK TO THE BRING VANCOUVER HOME CAMPAIGN.

[Image description: Two women stand in front of a room full of people seated at tables covered with purple tablecloths. One of the women holds a large check. More people stand in front of a wall draped in purple and red.]

Policy measure by policy measure, Healthy Living Collaborative of Southwest Washington and its many partners work toward keeping community members in their homes. With 501(c)4 funding from Northwest Health Foundation's Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities initiative, Healthy Living Collaborative and its partners will be able to contribute dollars to a political campaign for the first time this year: the non-partisan campaign Bring Vancouver Home. They will continue to advocate for families and children in Southwest Washington to keep them housed and healthy.

Healthy Living Collaborative of Southwest Washington is the lead organization for Healthy Communities, Healthy Futures, a Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative.

Oregon Active Schools: Barnes Elementary School

This blog is the second in a series of posts written with staff and students at Oregon Active Schools elementary schools. Read the first post here. Oregon Active Schools supports programs that inspire a lifelong love of physical activity and its many benefits for every child in Oregon through opportunities to be active before, during and after school.

Photo courtesy of Mrs. Cavaletto's We Love PE Blog.

Photo courtesy of Mrs. Cavaletto's We Love PE Blog.

[Image description: Five kids run or walk on a vibrant green field. The kid in front has his mouth wide open and one of his arms punched forward.]

This blog is reposted from Mrs. Cavaletto's Barnes PE blog.

January and February 2016

January was a fast and furious month.  We missed a day and a little due to snow and ice and then it was time to get everything ready for Marathon Kids.  Now, we have over fifty 3rd-5th grade runners meeting every Tuesday and Thursday after school to run laps.  Their goal is to add up all of their miles in the hope of reaching 104.8 by the end of the school year.  It will be tough, but hopefully it will get done.

All of that is possible because of a grant through Let's Move Active Schools, a parent who wanted to volunteer, and a few Nike employees who wanted to volunteer.  Without them we never would have been able to get off the ground.  I hope that I can continue the program each year.  This year Marathon Kids is free for the students via a grant from Let's Move Active Schools and I hope to apply again next year.  If we can get more volunteers we'll be able to support more runners.

In PE we were in our Fit Lab this month where we played "activity pictionary", practiced juggling, and learned about a million dances.  The forth and fifth grade students are now creating their own dance routines in the gym and will then get to play basketball.  The younger students are already working on various basketball skills (dribbling, passing, and shooting).  All classes have done race track fitness.  This is an activity where students work on muscular endurance and balance in the center of the "track" and cardiovascular endurance around the "track".

I have been very impressed with the choreography of the older students.  They have done really well in the short amount of time we've had.  I was out a few days being sick myself and with a sick 2 year old.  I am VERY glad to be back.

As the weather gets nicer I will start a recess running club.  I'm just waiting for the field to be dry enough to run on.  If we run the entire perimeter, it is a quarter mile.  I have different prizes based on the number of miles the students complete.  This will be for all students when I have time during their recess.  For each mile, students receive a toe token.  The five mile prize is a koosh ball, the 10 mile prize is a reaction ball, and the 15 mile prize is a giant frisbee. I'm still working on a 20 mile prize, but the final prize is a water bottle with Barnes Marathoner printed on it.  These prizes are all possible from a grant via the Northwest Health Organization and Oregon Active Schools.  Happy Valentine's Day to all and here's hoping for a dry field soon!

Barnes Elementary is one of Beaverton School District's 33 elementary schools.

 

The Real Lost Boys of Portlandia

On June 7th at Revolution Hall, Outside the Frame will premiere The Lost Boys of Portlandia, a documentary featuring the real lost children of Portland – homeless youth.

[Image description: A group of six costumed youth pose in a patch of sun with trees in the background. One of the youth carries a guitar. Another wears fairy wings. Another wears a Peter Pan costume. One has on striped pajamas and a Daniel Boone hat, and one flexes both of his arms. There is a Jolly Roger pirate flag affixed to his wheelchair.] 

The Lost Boys of Portlandia is a riff on Peter Pan, as well as a documentary about filmmaking, in which homeless youth debate if and how to return to mainstream society. According to KGW-TV, "on its surface, it’s a film about the making of a film, but the backdrop is flooded with one of Portland’s most pressing social issues.”

lost boys bench

[Image description: Three youth sit on a bench. A boy on the left sits with his back to the camera. He is dressed like Peter Pan and holds a cup. His right leg is crossed over his left. Two boys on the right sit facing the camera. They are not wearing costumes. One of them is leaning over a presentation folder with a red marker in hand.]

Outside the Frame, originally a program of Outside In, is a nonprofit that offers homeless youth paid internships and film workshops that provide hands on technological training and relevant job experience. The youth involved produce original films depicting issues pertaining to and determined by homeless youth. A number of these short, youth-made films will also screen at the premiere of The Lost Boys. Claim your ticket here.

Outside the Frame aims to change the way homeless and marginalized youth see and are seen by film. By making films, youth are able to speak and advocate for themselves and issues they care about, as well contribute to changing the systemic barriers homeless youth face.

lost boys flyer

[Image description: A flyer for The Lost Boys of Portlandia, a premiere of films by and with youth who have experienced homelessness. The flyer advertises the show on Tuesday, June 7th, doors at 6 pm, show at 7 pm; Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark St., Portland, OR; Free, all ages; Tickets at otfpdx.bpt.me. The bulk of the flyer is an illustration of Peter Pan, camera in hand, flying away from three crocodiles, one of which is dressed as a police officer. Tinkerbell flies next to him with a clapboard.] 

The Lost Boys of Portlandia premiere is sponsored in part by Northwest Health Foundation. 

 

Disability Art and Culture Project Presents Portland ReelAbilities

What is problematic about representations of disability in film? A lot. More than we have time or space to discuss here. People with disabilities are hugely underrepresented both in front of the camera, as actors, and behind the camera, as filmmakers. Too often actors without disabilities play characters with disabilities, and characters with disabilities fill flat, stereotypical roles. These are just a few of the problems, and local nonprofit Disability Art and Culture Project (DACP) is challenging all of these and more with Portland ReelAbilities Film Festival.

[Image description: A man sits in front of a blank canvas, smiling. Behind him a woman, also smiling, prepares a table full of paints.]

May 27-29 at Alberta Rose Theatre, DACP will present a wide range of films all made by, starring and/or about people with disabilities. They include everything from Imber's Left Hand, a feature-length documentary about an artist with ALS whose painting process and style change dramatically as his body degenerates, to a three-minute comedy about a woman whose prosthetic hand falls off during a dance audition. View the full schedule here.

We're most looking forward to two showings during the festival. The first is Saturday Social Justice Night. DACP will show three films, all dealing with disability and social justice issues, followed by comments and discussion. This is exciting because disability is rarely considered in the context of social justice; more often it is considered as a health or medical issue. The second showing we are looking forward to is on Sunday night when DACP will screen films submitted by local filmmakers. Many of the local filmmakers will be at the theater, and we can't wait to meet them and hear what they have to say!

Moderator Kathy Coleman and panelists Cheryl Green, Courtney Hermann and Bryony Nesbitt spoke about disability representation in film and tv.

Moderator Kathy Coleman and panelists Cheryl Green, Courtney Hermann and Bryony Nesbitt spoke about disability representation in film and tv.

[Image description: Four adults seated in a row in front of a dark blue curtain. Electrical cables are visible on the floor beneath their chairs.]

Beyond showing audiences more nuanced representations of the disability community, DACP also wanted to equip more social justice-minded folks with the tools to make films, as well as amplify the voices of media makers from marginalized communities. What does this mean? Last week, one of DACP's board members, Cheryl Green, taught two free filmmaking classes. Participants storyboarded, filmed and edited one-minute movies on their personal devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.). These will be posted on the Portland ReelAbilities Facebook page. In addition, DACP filmed a panel about disability representation in film and tv with media makers from marginalized communities in front of a live audience, which will be available to watch online in June.

Portland Reelabilities Film Festival is Portland's first disability-themed film festival, one of fourteen ReelAbilities Film Festivals presented across the U.S. Buy tickets for the festival here.

Disability Art and Culture Project was one of Northwest Health Foundation's Learning Together, Connecting Communities partners. We've also sponsored several of their events.

Stronger When We Are Together: APANO's VOTE Network

A story from Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative APANO Voter Organizing, Training & Empowerment (VOTE) Network.

January 2016 - on one of the first Saturday’s of the new year, a nondescript corner office building on 82nd Ave in Southeast Portland was filled with activity and livelihood. Walking or driving along 82nd Ave, one does not easily notice the brick and mortar building where the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) is based. It’s tucked away inside the Wing Ming Plaza, across from Wing Ming Herbs and above Yan Zi Lou Chinese restaurant. The space begins to fill as community leaders from Eugene, Salem, Beaverton, Corvallis and neighborhoods around Portland gather around a U-shaped table for the APANO’s VOTE Network meeting. It's not often that Asian and Pacific Islander (API) leaders and organizations come together in this fashion to discuss how our communities are going to become more civically involved, not only in this critical election year, but for a longterm movement.

Several adults sit around a circle of tables. A tablecloth reads "APANO." Red lanterns hang from the ceiling. There are banners, flags, signs, etc. with Chinese characters along the back wall.

[Image description: Several adults sit around a circle of tables. A tablecloth reads "APANO." Red lanterns hang from the ceiling. There are banners, flags, signs, etc. with Chinese characters along the back wall.]

On this day, 16 leaders from 13 different organizations shared their thoughts and ideas. From the long established Chinese American Citizen’s Alliance (CACA) that is one of the nation’s oldest civil rights organizations, to the Micronesian Islander Community (MIC) that was founded to serve the needs of Oregon’s Micronesians, these groups have a common vision: to promote justice and civil rights and raise the visibility of APIs in Oregon. Our state’s 250,000 individuals who identify as API share a common fate. Our communities have made rich contributions to the economy, business, labor, culture and the fabric of this state. However, our accomplishments have not been met without hardship, discrimination, exclusion and imprisonment. From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to Japanese internment camps during World War 2, to present day examples where anti-immigrant sentiments and values live on, we continue to fight for justice and recognition. On that Saturday morning, we talked about our rich and powerful histories, but also real barriers to our participation due to language, cultural barriers and restrictions. Leaders discussed the importance of civic engagement and the value it brings to our communities.

A large GROUP OF ADULTS POSE IN FRONT OF A DISPLAY OF FLAGS, RED LANTERNS, BANNERS WITH CHINESE CHARACTERS, A framed ILLUSTRATION OF A MAN WITH A LONG WHITE BEARD.

[Image description: A large group of adults pose in front of a display of flags, red lanterns, banners with Chinese characters, a framed illustration of a man with a long white beard.]

The VOTE Network, which stands for Voter Organizing, Training and Empowerment, is newly formed in 2016, with thanks to Northwest Health Foundation’s Healthy Beginnings + Healthy Communities Initiative. The Network brings leaders from diverse Asian American, immigrant and Pacific Islander communities to increase participation in civic engagement and help build the capacity of organizations. APANO’s civic engagement program recognizes that voting builds awareness about our communities concerns and their power to make positive changes. Meaningful civic engagement means making voting relevant by supporting voter registration, voter education and Get Out The Vote in ways that connect the issues to the concerns in our communities. APANO does this by creating spaces to dialogue with candidates in selected races, by analyzing and endorsing priority ballot measures we believe have the biggest impact on Asian and Pacific Islanders, and building the power of our communities to impact political decisions through voter education and turnout.

Our growing list of VOTE Network Organizations:

  • Chinese American Citizen’s Alliance

  • Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Associations

  • Philippine American Chamber of Commerce  

  • Japanese American Citizen’s Alliance

  • Bhutanese Community

  • Korean American Community of Oregon

  • Living Islands

  • Micronesian Islander Community

  • COFA Alliance National Network

  • Portland Lee’s Association

  • Zomi Association US

  • DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon

  • Asian Council of Springfield and Eugene

  • PAC Alliance

  • Oregon Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs

  • Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce

  • Oregon Minority Lawyers Association

Oregon Islamic Academy Students Build Bridges

Photos of Oregon Islamic Academy alumni on a bright blue background.

Muslim Educational Trust (MET)'s Oregon Islamic Academy is much more than a school. It's a launching pad for healthy futures, a sanctuary for Muslim students of all races and socioeconomic classes, a community of people who value learning in many different ways. It's also an excellent example of how culturally-specific education can support a child to succeed.

"I left MET a stronger person in my faith than I think I otherwise would have been. It's hard being a Muslim in today's society, but they helped build our confidence in that aspect of our identities by providing outreach, interfaith, and presentation opportunities for the students," said Mariam Said, an Oregon Islamic Academy class of 2012 alumna who is currently a teaching intern at Milwaukie High School.

Mariam says she has so many good memories of her time at MET, "it has all sort of melded into one warm feeling." She fondly remembers working with everyone in her high school to make a short film for their Islamic Studies project and celebrating graduation on the Portland Spirit.

Oregon Islamic Academy students take Islamic Studies and Arabic classes and pray together in the afternoon. They also take science and art, math and English, participate in service learning days and collaborate with other schools and community organizations. For example, Oregon Islamic Academy has partnered with Oregon Episcopal School on a class called American Story, in which students share and respond to immigrant stories. 

Students who are members of the Youth Ambassadors Club at Oregon Islamic Academy travel to schools throughout the area to give presentations and answer questions about being a Muslim student in Oregon. They've found students and staff at these schools to be very curious and welcoming. Oregon Islamic Academy staff see their students as reversing misconceptions about what an Islamic school is and who graduates from one. They also see their students as bridge builders, from their community to other communities.

When Oregon Islamic Academy was founded, it had 12 students. Today, it has grown to 160 K-12 students, some driving to Tigard every day from as far away as Vancouver, WA, plus a waiting list. Oregon Islamic Academy graduated its first high school class of two students in 2011; this year, it will have graduated 21 seniors since the inception of its high school program in 2007. So far, 100 percent of students have gone on to four-year colleges and have continued to put their faith into action by excelling in all that they do and by being committed, well-engaged citizens of the world.

Muslim Educational Trust is a Kaiser Permanente Community Fund funded partner.