The national narrative was that Black families were among the most hesitant about a return to school buildings. One North Portland school bucked that trend last spring, by building trust among families.
Last February, as the push to fully reopen schools gained momentum, articles appeared in publications from New York to Baltimore to Mississippi—Black parents, by and large, were not going to send their kids back. The reasons were manifold: the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on Black communities, lack of access to health care, racism in schools, and, overwhelmingly, a lack of trust by parents that schools could keep their kids safe.
But some Black parents made a very different choice, buoyed by trust not of the system, but their own teachers and principals.
Case in point: North Portland’s Boise-Eliot/Humboldt Elementary, which until a couple of years ago was the state’s only remaining majority–African American school and still has a sizable Black population. There, 64 percent of Black children returned to school, roughly the same percentage as their white counterparts. (Among those who returned are this reporter’s children, who are white.)
In contrast, at Rosa Parks and César Chávez, other North Portland schools with well-above-district-average populations of children of color, fewer than 50 percent of all students chose hybrid learning.
“At first I was like, ‘We’re gonna stay home,’” says Nina Alexis, parent to four, three of whom attended Boise-Eliot/Humboldt in the 2020–2021 school year. “At the last minute I decided to go back, and I never would have done it had it not been for [the principal] Mr. Kaveh’s great communication.”
“As we all know, PPS doesn’t always have the best interests of our children in mind when making decisions,” says another BEH parent, Alshawnda Martin, who also works as the school’s PTA president.
Martin’s fifth grader had struggled with online learning initially but found her footing. Yet when it came to a decision about in-person learning, she begged to go back to finish out her time at BEH. Because Martin is active in the school, she says she witnessed firsthand the careful preparations being made for reopening the building, which helped build her own trust and arrive at the decision to let her daughter return.
Tina Turner, the school’s former assistant principal and herself a Black mother of three, understands Black parents’ reluctance to engage with a system that has historically failed to prioritize their children. “A lot of us don’t trust the system—the system isn’t set up for us,” says Turner. “And I think oftentimes if you are not able to access the information that’s going to make you feel comfortable, you just tend not to deal with that.”
She says Boise-Eliot/Humboldt reached out to parents individually and organized their in-school options to suit as many schedules as they could.
“We chose our hybrid option in the morning and in the afternoon because we knew that providing both opportunities would help more students be able to access school,” she says. “Ultimately, our families appreciated the fact that we were being transparent and saying, ‘Yeah, we don’t have all the answers, but what we do know we will share with you.’”
Turner sent her own children back to in-person learning at their Northeast neighborhood PPS school, Vernon. “It was a struggle being at home,” she admits. So, when the time came for her to make the call, she weighed her options. “Either I continue to be afraid, and keep my kids at home, or I go back to work and be a part of the community, and take my chances,” she says.
Though the spread of the Delta variant has changed the calculations about this fall for some, Martin said in June that she was glad she made the call she did at the time, despite the risks that existed then. “Sending my kids back was the best decision that I made,” she says. “Not for just me but for my children. They needed that.”
Here are five reasons why your business needs you to prioritize important tasks to grow.
What’s the most valuable thing in the world?
Now, if your answer was a materialistic one, you are wrong. Time is the one we are talking about. Ever wondered what the common difference between the business owners who succeed and those who fail is? The answer lies in successfully managing your time.
What is time management for business?
Believe me, feeling the pressure of running out of time on a deadline is a huge stress, especially when juggling several tasks in your business. That’s where time management comes in to save your business.
Time management for your business includes prioritizing important tasks, designating time to complete those tasks and then committing to complete those tasks within that time frame.
Successful people multitask a lot, but they make sure to spend the bulk of their time on important tasks that are much more conducive to their business’s success than dwindling on unimportant ones. Time management skills require discipline. They make you work smart instead of only working hard. You’ll get more things done in less time for your business. That’s the secret of success.
You may not have the motivation to change your routine or ways of working if you don’t yet have a clear picture of how crucial time management is for your business.
Let’s learn about five reasons why your business needs you to learn time management for its survival.
1. Accomplish more in less
The first and foremost reason why your business needs your time management skills is that time is always in a limited supply. There are only 24 hours in a day. You have to make do in whatever time you get in a day.
Whether you have a business meeting or any specific task completion, all you have is a set amount of hours. Understanding that time is finite helps you understand its value more clearly. With time management, you can accomplish more in lesser time.
That makes you focus on important business meetings and marketing presentations more than other lesser tasks you can designate. That focus translates into a higher level of productivity for your business.
2. Better decision making
Most of the time, your business needs you to prioritize your tasks according to importance. With good time management skills, all of that can be a lot easier to manage.
Easier management of tasks relieves you of any work-related stress and makes you think clearly. It makes you focus on the tasks at hand much more efficiently.
With good time management you can develop better ideas, make wiser decisions and find solutions quickly for any stumbling blocks in your business.
3. More time for business expansion
Time management isn’t only limited to handling your business more effectively and efficiently. It also gives you more time to learn something new and explore new ventures to help expand your business.
The extra time you will have at hand will give you opportunities to take your business forward, acquire new skills and look towards the horizon. The new endeavors will then provide you with even more prospects and potential growth.
4. Relieving stress
Being able to manage your time efficiently directly impacts your health and business. Imagine facing fewer surprises, reducing the number of tight deadlines and eliminating the need to rush from one task to another all day long.
You can only garner peace of mind when you can manage your time well enough in your business. Being constantly busy to feel a little accomplished, but still never completing the tasks will take its toll on your mental health and deteriorate your decision-making skills.
That’s why your business needs you to learn time management. You’ll improve your ability to meet tight deadlines while staying calm and composed.
5. Increasing the quality of work and services
Working on a tight schedule with strict deadlines can severely hinder the quality of your work in your business. Did you ever come across a situation where a deadline was near, but you could have provided much higher quality work had you been given a little more time?
Imagine giving a presentation to somebody about an important business proposition, but missing a few crucial points and questions due to mental stress and unavailability of time. That’s where your time management skills will help your business. If you are planning and managing the time constraints wisely, you will focus more on certain tasks without taking stress. That will, in turn, increase the quality of your output.
Your business needs you — not an ordinary you, but you at your best. To give it your best, start excelling at time management. Figure out where you are losing time. Ensure that you prioritize your tasks as per their importance, which will help you make the biggest progress toward your ultimate goal: expanding and growing your business.
Remember one thing, your time management skills won’t take your time. They will make time for you instead. They will allow you to do more in a shorter time.
You will start seeing the positive impact on your business in no time. Your work quality will improve. You will roam around stress-free and focus more on newer and bigger opportunities efficiently. You will feel that only now you have positioned yourself to succeed.
At Miami Nice, you may not immediately realize you’re eating vegan. The croquettas are fried up tightly, and the Cubanito is neatly pressed. Many menu items are versions of street/comfort food that owner Valerie Espinoza loves—with a vegan twist. The chop salad comes with marinated soy curls on top instead of chicken. The dish’s bright yellow sauce draws stares; it’s a mixture of curry, mustard and mayonnaise she worked on to get just right. Other menu items stand out for their Mami-specific flavor, like the Big Papi, which has green olives in the picadillo instead of raisins. The starchy food works well to stave off the high ABV in beers at Culmination Brewing, where Espinoza runs the kitchen.
For conventional ice cream, we’ve long loved Cool Moon best. The chocolate flavors are more Valrhona than Hershey’s, and there remains a solid core of unusual—but consistently creamy—naturally flavored and well-balanced offerings. Definitely order the kulfi, redolent of cardamom and rose water, Thai iced tea and Mexican-influenced horchata cookie.
At Anthony Brown’s relatively new brick and mortar—formerly a garishly teal-colored food truck—, Mexican favorites get hitched to Southern food and Cajun-Creole flavors. You can find “Mexicajun” food in both Louisiana and Southeast Texas, but it’s a rare concept in Portland, if not entirely unheard of. The “Nacheaux nachos” start with a big pile of fresh-fried chips and also feature carnitas that could just as easily be cochon au lait, while a cheesy “crunchwrap” comes stuffed with red beans, dirty rice and fried chicken.
Cully Central is something unique in Portland: a Lao beer bar with 20 handles, boasting favorites from Breakside and pFriem. It turns out dishes you can’t find anywhere else, in particular a subtle khao piek sen chicken noodle soup with thick and chewy rice noodles and a light cinnamon and pepper broth.
Cooperativa has a lot of what you need in a beautiful, air-conditioned environment—it’s a grocery store, a coffee shop, an ice cream place, a sandwich shop, a bar, a restaurant and a pizzeria, infused with the vibe and flavors of Bologna, Florence, Rome and the Italian “slow food” movement. Never go outside again!
YāYā PDX, Pure Spice, Happy Dragon and Chen’s Good Taste are our top picks for roasted duck, char siu pork and roasted pork belly.
Step away from the hamburger and ribs—this summer, it’s all about the Cantonese barbecue.
Pork and duck, marinated and roasted in ways that create crispy skin, and tender meat laced with the flavors of hoisin, soy and star anise. And of those Cantonese specialties, I present a holy trinity of sorts: roasted duck, chopped whole and bone-in, flush with flavor; roasted pork belly, rendered well and with a perfectly crisp layer of skin on the top; and char siu pork, sliced and infused with hoisin and soy. Sometimes there’s also steamed soya chicken, and that’s fine too, but those three are the supreme meats.
Newcomer YāYā PDX brings takeout Cantonese barbecue to a close-in neighborhood, with delicious results, which inspired me to take a li’l tour of all my favorite spots, just in case you too would like to subsist on leftover duck for the better part of a month. (Pro tip: It makes fantastic fried rice.)
Chef Steven Chin calls Cantonese barbecue his soul food, and you really feel that. The streamlined menu focuses on serving meat over rice with hot mustard, dipping sauce and pickled cucumber and carrot. It’s simple and it’s great.
Of the three in our meat triumvirate, YāYā particularly nails the duck and char siu pork. Of all the duck I’ve sampled (and it’s been many; sorry to my avian friends), Chin’s is the most five-spice forward. The ducks he selects also have more meat on the bones than many of the others, leading to luscious full bites of bird. As Cantonese duck is served chopped and bone-in, this means a bigger and better pay off as you nibble.
The char siu is even better—tender and softly sweet, it’s a far cry from the red food coloring-spiked barbecue pork served at some establishments. In both cases, the juices from the meat make their way into the bed of rice, which is itself perfectly cooked and seasoned beyond standard steamed rice. The one downside to YāYā’s dishes is that all of the rich meats are accompanied by sweet sauces, and while the pickles have a bit of acid, they also are a bit sugary, meaning the whole meal tends a bit toward the saccharine. Bites of rice and throwing an order of the cool, crisp cabbage salad onto your order maintains balance.
Chin’s Cantonese approach, done in partnership with Portland restaurateur Micah Camden, is certainly geared more toward a crowd on Alberta than in the Jade District, but the cheffy turns he takes make for a great takeout meal.
EAT: YāYā PDX, 1451 NE Alberta St., 503-477-5555, yayapdx.com.
Chen’s Good Taste
Unless you’re a vegetarian, I can’t think of a tastier sight than the roasted meats hanging near the entrance to Chen’s Good Taste, a holdout in downtown’s Chinatown. To be perfectly honest, the finest way to have the meats at Good Taste are by ordering Super Bowl A, an absolute unit of soup that’s filled with noodles, wontons and bok choy and topped with roast duck and roast and barbecue pork. It is nigh on physically impossible to finish in one go.
But if you’re not in a soup mood, each of the trinity is sold by the pound or is available in all sorts of dishes. The roasted pork here is a true delicacy, perfectly salty and not too fatty. The contrasting crunchy skin hits just the right textural note in a blend of fat and umami that I crave regularly. Chen’s know this is its signature meat: You can order an entire pig, and it’s a bucket-list birthday plan of mine.
This Independence, Ore., restaurant is a central valley favorite for duck, and when the owners moved to Northeast 82nd, they immediately upped Portland’s duck game as well.
Happy Dragon is most famous for its super-crunchy and deeply seasoned Peking duck, but the roast duck is something a little more accessible for everyday eating. A little less crispy than Peking, the roast duck maintains its juiciness, with the meat absorbing the rendered fat, while the skin is a vehicle for the 18 ingredients used in the marinade. Here the barbecue Pork is a bit of an afterthought, and the roast pork belly is totally serviceable. You won’t go wrong ordering either of them, as long as you don’t skip that duck.
Known more for its fresh-from-the-kitchen dim sum, Pure Spice low key holds it down in the Cantonese barbecue category as well. Pure Spice doesn’t mess with a roast pork belly but makes up for it with its barbecue pork. It’s just a shade more tender and meatier than most, and lacks the overt sweetness that is often typical in a char siu situation.
Pick the menu option that lets you order the roast duck, steamed chicken (another Cantonese classic), and barbecue pork together for $22.50, and then spend some time with the rest of the menu: Grab some har gow shrimp dumplings, a scallion pancake and a rice noodle roll with XO sauce for maximum sampling satisfaction.
A city of Portland drive to spend $114 million in federal coronavirus aid to help struggling residents last year overwhelmingly assisted Black Portlanders as well as other communities of color, according to an analysis released Tuesday.
The sweeping set of initiatives approved by the Portland City Council included providing everything from Chromebooks to those with limited digital resources to food boxes and direct cash payments to families to grants to businesses and artists that had fallen on hard times.
City officials said it was essential that programs created with Portland’s share of federal CARES Act money prioritize historically marginalized groups such as communities of color, immigrants and people with disabilities.
An interim a report issued to Portland’s mayor and city commissioners by the city’s Office of Management and Finance on Tuesday shows the programs largely achieved that objective.
For example, among those who received laptops or internet cards from the city’s $5 million “digital divide” program, 33% identified as Black and another 56% identified as Indigenous or other people of color.
Black residents also comprised 33% of those who received aid from a $2.3 million food assistance program and 58% of a $1.6 million homeowner stabilization fund.
According to the most recent census estimates, from 2019, people who identify as Black make up 8% of the city’s population, while 10% identify as Latino and 70% identify solely as white. In addition, 2% identify as Indigenous, 11% as Asian American and 1% as Pacific Islander.
Those percentages add up to slightly more than 100% because some people identify as more than one of those categories, such as Black and Latino.
The spending analysis, which faced multiple delays, comes as the City Council plans to approve a new $64 million assistance program using funds the city received from the federal American Rescue Plan, which Congress passed in March.
Ultimately, the city says it wants to pull all demographic and geographic data about relief recipients together to evaluate and share with the public.
Below is a breakdown for three of Portland’s largest CARES Act programs.
The program launched last year and administered by the Oregon Community Foundation is finally realizing its full potential, adding more than 900 units of emergency shelter to state’s capacity in 19 projects across 13 counties.
A few months ago, Troy and Danette were living in the only home they could afford when they became houseless.
At $400 a month, they were renting two bedrooms in a decrepit old house in rural Yamhill County and sharing it with their elderly landlord.
When the aging property owner’s children decided to move him out of the home, they also boarded up the house, which had fallen into complete disrepair.
“That left us with no place to go,” said Troy, who spoke to OPB on the condition that he give only his first name.
“They really didn’t give us much notice. They pulled all the appliances out, there were opossums coming in at night, and they were going to totally turn the electricity and everything off by the first of April.”
According to Troy, Danette has congestive heart failure and diabetes among other serious health conditions. Troy’s health is also strained, but mostly he feared for his wife.
“Being on the street like that would have killed my wife,” he said. “Just the stress alone of not knowing where we were gonna go was pretty hard.”
But luckily for Troy, that was right around the same time he met Sean Cavaghan, one of several outreach specialists for Yamhill Community Action Partnership, or YCAP, a houseless services provider based in McMinnville.
Over the past year, YCAP and other agencies across Oregon have seen success in a creative solution to emergency housing: using the state’s stock of empty motels as non-congregate shelter for people vulnerable to COVID-19 or people who have been victims of wildfire.
Cavaghan introduced Troy to a program YCAP had been running since around March 2020 that grew out of a partnership with Providence Newberg Medical Center to shelter unhoused people who were medically vulnerable.
Troy and Danette were able to be set up in their own motel room for a few months while they got back on their feet with the help of Cavaghan and other YCAP staff who came to check on them regularly to ensure medical and other needs were being met.
According to Cavaghan, a huge part of the outreach process includes just speaking to clients, learning their story and identifying what other services they could benefit from.
Eventually YCAP was able to find housing for Troy and Danette and help them apply for Section 8 vouchers.
Cavaghan said that one of the biggest challenges for unhoused people is having access to a phone or the internet, critical tools when you’re trying to find a place to live or navigate government systems.
With YCAP’s help and some federal assistance money, Troy and Danette are now living in their own home.
“That organization pretty much saved us,” Troy said. “I don’t want to sound like a cliche, but I was checking (Sean) for wings and a halo.”
A creative solution to a complex problem
Troy and Danette’s story is familiar to just about anyone in Oregon who works in homeless services. But this framework for helping vulnerable people get into stable housing where wrap-around services are made readily available has provided a breakthrough for Oregon in finding a new model of emergency shelter.
That new model took the form of Project Turnkey, a grant program administered by the Oregon Community Foundation that has allowed agencies like YCAP to purchase former motels across the state at the cost of $75 million to add more than 900 units of emergency shelter to the state’s portfolio.
This money allowed 13 Oregon counties to purchase 19 properties that account for a 20% increase in Oregon’s year-round emergency shelter capacity. Those counties are: Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill, Deschutes, Jackson, Lincoln, Lane, Douglas, Marion, Coos, Umatilla, Klamath and Benton.
Many properties purchased through Project Turnkey are currently being operated as emergency shelters, but others are requiring extensive upgrades to meet the needs of the agencies and communities using them.
Each project is at a different stage. For example, in Jackson County, a 47-unit motel in Medford is currently one-third occupied while the other two-thirds receives a major face lift. Another in Portland is receiving updates now and is expected to open in September. About 16 of the 19 properties are housing occupants in some capacity, according to the Oregon Community Foundation.
The program officially got off the ground in November 2020 when the state Legislature’s emergency board set aside $65 million for the Oregon Community Foundation to administer the grants. Counties and other groups soon began submitting applications.
Two separate funds were provided by the state in that initial cash infusion: one totaling $30 million to be awarded in counties and tribal communities impacted by the 2020 wildfires; and one totaling $44.7 million for the remaining 28 counties in the state.
The Oregon Legislature ended up setting aside an additional $9 million in late June to fill a gap and allow agencies in Bend and Portland to pursue three more opportunities.
To keep track of the program’s progress and vet projects along the way, the Oregon Community Foundation created an advisory committee that keeps tabs on how the properties are being used and what types of outcomes they’re seeing among the people they are helping.
Megan Loeb, Oregon Community Foundation program officer for economic vitality and health, said that her agency is focused on being good stewards of the funds to ensure that every dollar is a community asset that helps the state both in the short and long term.
“We believe this is a model public-private partnership to help address a very complex problem,” Loeb said.
Project Turnkey recently received some praise when the National Alliance to End Homelessness — a nonprofit that gathers data and produces research on best practices — featured the program in a July 20 case study on turning motels into housing.
One of the findings of that study commended the state and the Oregon Community Foundation’s ability to have strong oversight through the advisory committee. It also praised the program for ensuring that each project has a community-centered approach with strategies that take into account both the short and long-term goals of each project.
“The collective wisdom of many public and private sector partners helped this concept to gain traction within Oregon’s Legislature and at the local level within communities,” the study said. “Those partners informed the design and priorities of the grant program, and continue to engage as champions and technical assistance providers to ensure long-term success of the initiative.”
Quantifying success of Project Turnkey
Cavaghan says the great thing about the Project Turnkey model is that it provides people like Troy and Danette a sense of stability.
For people who come out of congregate housing settings, it allows them to rebuild the soft skills that come with living on your own and establish the type of headspace that allows unhoused individuals to move forward into more permanent housing situations.
“I think the best outcome is just being happy and healthy,” Cavaghan said. “Just being in their own space and being able to do things they wanted to do. The question that comes up all the time is, ‘What are you doing for fun or enjoyment?’ Usually the answer is nothing. Usually it’s just survival.”
In Multnomah County, the Project Turnkey model has done much of the same it has for Yamhill: it allows agencies to adapt on the fly and respond to emergencies.
According to Denis Theriault — a Multnomah County communications coordinator who works closely with the joint office of homeless services — using motels to house vulnerable unhoused populations was an easy way to help limit the spread of COVID-19. As the pandemic worsened, Multnomah County was increasingly challenged by the prospect of keeping unhoused people taking shelter in spaces like the Oregon Convention Center socially distanced.
“Even in those places, even when you got six feet around you, you’re still in a congregate space,” Theriault said. “A lot of people in shelters are older, 65 and up, and have health conditions.”
The county began putting people up in several motels across Portland, and when the Oregon Community Foundation announced Project Turnkey would provide the county and its partners the ability to permanently purchase motel property, they jumped at the opportunity.
Theriault says the county operates approximately 1,400 shelter beds on any given day. Through Project Turnkey, they’ve been able to partner with organizations like Do Good Multnomah, Central City Concern and the Rockwood Community Development Corporation to add 188 beds, getting the county closer to its goal of adding 400 permanent beds.
Housing crises not just a ‘Portland issue’
Theriault said that Project Turnkey is able to address housing issues on a statewide level because Oregon’s housing crisis isn’t an issue exclusive to the metro area. He said that when other counties add shelter or transitional housing capacity, it alleviates strain across the entire state.
“The housing crisis, it’s not a Multnomah County issue,” Theriault said. “People who see Portland and Multnomah County as sort of this example of what went wrong, … it’s going wrong in their communities too. And Project Turnkey, smartly, is helping them get some resources in recognition that there’s things they can do to help their folks too.”
Affordability is another big issue that plays into Oregon’s housing and homeless crisis.
If you ask around the state, you might hear a few different answers as to where the most unaffordable community in Oregon truly is.
One of those places is Benton County, and Corvallis specifically, where — according to Corvallis Housing First Director Andrea Myhre — rent-to-income ratios are on the extreme end of unaffordability.
“We’re right up there with Portland,” Myhre said.
Myhre said that Benton County also lacks a diversity in different styles and levels of housing, similar to many other parts of the state struggling with housing instability and homelessness.
According to Myhre, having the ability to purchase a 25-unit property just outside of downtown Corvallis not only addressed issues around congregate sheltering while the pandemic remains, but also adding stock to their market for people who are experiencing chronic homelessness.
“It is so hard to find land or any development sites here,” Myhre said. “The exciting thing is we have a half acre of land in the back of the property, so we were like, ‘Great, let’s build more’”.
Planning for the future
At its beginning, Project Turnkey was laser focused on sheltering individuals who were vulnerable to COVID-19 or were victims of wildfire. As the pandemic lingers and wildfire returns to Oregon’s landscape, the properties continue to serve a primary function in the rapid rehousing of vulnerable populations.
But many of the service providers that have purchased motels as shelters have big ideas for what might come next. They’re also planning how to fund these operations on an ongoing basis after receiving a one-time allocation to acquire them.
For Myhre, being able to offer supportive services is as important as the physical roof over people’s heads, so ensuring they are able to continue staffing the shelter has been a big issue.
That’s also true for many of the organizations and counties that have participated in Project Turnkey.
According to Theriault, programs in Washington and Multnomah counties have been able to staff the shelter with money made available through the supportive housing services ballot measure passed by Portland-area voters last year.
Other counties are not as fortunate, so many of them had to go out for other grants or partnerships that will allow them to continue staffing these new shelters at a high level.
Mary-Rain O’Meara, Central City Concern’s director of real estate, said that in the near term her organization is focusing on the permanent housing aspect of Project Turnkey — helping those experiencing homelessness and substance use disorders stabilize and transition on their way to more permanent housing.
But in the long term, Central City Concern plans to expand use of the property it purchased — the former Comfort Inn and Suites located near 102nd Avenue near the Portland Airport — by adding it to its list of Federally Qualified Health Centers in partnership with the Oregon Community Foundation, Oregon Health Authority and Legacy Health.
Central City Concern is billing it as a “recovery hotel,” where clients can receive the medical and behavioral healthcare they need to move forward. They expect to begin renovations on that property in October.
“It has been a unique challenge to take on this ‘patchwork’ approach to fundraising for operations of the building, but we are committed … to put the building to work housing those most in need of these services,” O’Meara said.
In Benton County, Corvallis Housing First is relying on funds from emergency solutions grants through the Department of Housing and Community Services and the “Rural Oregon Continuum of Care,’’ which disperses federal housing and urban development dollars to the 28 counties that aren’t considered Orgon’s metropolitan cores.
“We’re (now) able to pay for operational expenses and some facilities renovations through the first 12 months,” Myhre said. “We do have questions about what we are going to do after that.”
Myhre said that her organization was able to garner help from their state and federal representatives — State Rep. Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis; and Congressman Peter DeFazio — to add an additional $8 million so they can build more transitional apartments on the half-acre lot behind their Project Turnkey property.
In Jackson County, Chad McComas, the executive director of Rogue Retreat, has taken a somewhat different approach than what Project Turnkey has typically seen throughout the state.
The 47-unit motel his organization purchased in the heart of Medford will operate more as transitional housing. They’ll focus on rapid rehousing of wildfire victims — a continued issue following the Almeda Fire that swept through the region at the end of last summer — particularly those within the local Latino community.
Rogue Retreat is currently putting approximately $30,000 into renovations on each unit, 15-16 of which will have small kitchens and basically be studio apartments. The total cost of the project, funded through the Oregon Community Foundation grant, will come in around $2.5 million.
Rogue Retreat is doing the renovations in phases, so currently two-thirds of its units are open for business while one-third of units undergo renovations. They’ll also have recuperative rooms dedicated to outpatient care for unhoused individuals who need to recover after receiving medical care through a partnership with their local Providence Health system.
Beyond those units, the rest of the property will operate much like an apartment complex, with tenants paying a modest rent to fund ongoing wraparound services and case management at the property in order to move residents upward on what McComas describes as the “staircase of housing.”
That rent also helps cover the cost of utilities, building upkeep and an on-site manager. Operating the motel like an apartment complex will also help people rebuild their sense of self sufficiency so they can continue to move forward.
“Whenever they start getting jobs, they start getting income, and they start putting the pieces of their lives back together,” McComas said. “Maybe they get help to get their addiction to start dropping off, maybe their mental health improves, now they can afford a small apartment. So we just keep moving them up the staircase.”
McComas said that the opportunity that Project Turnkey has provided for Rogue Retreat is a “game changer,” one that allows them to take ownership of a strategic property without a massive mortgage hanging over their head.
He said Project Turnkey is a chance for the state to save money. Instead of unhoused Oregonians languishing on the streets, the program has provided another 900-plus beds across the state for people to begin the journey of rebuilding their lives in healthier, more stable environments.
“The cost of having somebody on the street is huge,” he said. “If we get a person housed there’s a better chance that they will now be able to turn their life around and start giving back to society. It’s just a smart thing to do, if not the moral thing to do.”
For Troy and Danette, that’s exactly what the model of Project Turnkey has provided, and they’re grateful to both the state and its partners in identifying a thoughtful solution to support thousands of people like themselves who fall on hard times.
“It’s genius. I mean, It’s just common sense,” Troy said. “In a country as affluent as we are, there’s no reason anybody should not have a roof over their head.”
Better still, Collin Hegna of spaghetti Western worshippers Federale has curated a lineup local bands and DJs to perform before each screening.
Movie theaters are back open, but the drive-in renaissance continues.
Of course, the Portland Expo Center’s annual Drive-In Movie Spectacular was a tradition for five years before the pandemic made watching movies through your windshield cool again, but it’s upped its game the past two summers via a partnership with Hollywood Theater.
This year’s slate features selections inspired by the Hollywood’s signature series, like the Portland Black Film Festival, Queer Horror and OregonMade. Better still, Collin Hegna of spaghetti Western worshippers Federale has curated a lineup local bands and DJs to perform before each screening.
Federale itself will play prior to cult classic Repo Man on July 30, while folk-punk vets the Builders and the Butchers perform before The Goonies on Aug. 6. Freddy Trujillo opens for La Bamba on Aug. 21, and the Portland Cello Project introduces The Empire Strikes Back on Aug. 19.
Other movies include series opener Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Craft, Blade, Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
The Drive-In Spectacular runs July 29-Aug. 28. Go here for the full schedule and ticket info.
For some, the pandemic’s restrictions have come as an opportunity to lean in to the needs of your inner introvert. Whether that’s leaving a grocery store when it’s too crowded or sitting alone in the middle of an empty park for fun, these little gifts will be harder to give yourself as society returns to a post-vaccine pace. Even if you’re excited to attend your first post-COVID concert or counting the days to your first house party, finding time to be alone should remain on your to-do list. Fortunately, Portland is home to many great places that offer solace from humanity. Need to get away from it all? Look no further than these free and low-cost options:
I grew up a ten minute drive from the Pacific Ocean, which made the beach my go-to escape if I needed some alone time. With ocean beaches now more than an hours’ drive away, I’ve relied on a local stand-in to obtain that dramatic feeling that comes with standing at the oceans’ shore. I’ve found that at Kelley Point Park, the far North Portland city park at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Sure, it’s no ocean, but the sandy banks, small waves, and seagulls help set the mood. Kelley Point doesn’t just offer a quasi-beach experience, but it’s home to a few lovely meadows for picnics and sun lounging. If you’re feeling adventurous, bring a bike and explore the park’s paved bike trails, or hop on the nearby Marine Drive bike trail for some Columbia River views.
Among the hustle and bustle of Portland’s Old Town/Chinatown sits Lan Su Chinese Garden, an serene oasis of native Chinese plants representing the relationship between Portland and its sister city of Suzhou, China. The walled-off garden and tea house, which occupies an entire city block, was built to be a place of meditation and reflection. This goal is captured in a poem inscribed on a garden pavilion by Suzhou poet Wen Zhengming: “Most cherished in this mundane world is a place without traffic; Truly in the midst of the city there can be mountain and forest.” To ensure this feeling is captured in Lan Su during COVID-19, the garden currently requires guests to reserve a time slot for a visit before showing up.
We all have our favorite Portland ex-volcanoes. For many, that’s Mount Tabor, and for good reason. But for those who find themselves often overwhelmed by Tabor’s crowds, might I suggest: Powell Butte! With numerous trails winding through dense cedar forests and airy grasslands, it’s easy to forget that Powell Butte is located in the middle of busy Southeast Portland, nestled between SE Powell and SE Foster, at SE 162nd. Visit the free city park on a clear day for stunning views of Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens, which can be enjoyed from the parking lot as well as a hiking trail.
If you’re like me, you’ve passed that sprawling, bucolic dog park on the north side of Interstate 84 as you cross the Sandy River and thought, “this is why I need to get a dog.” If this is the case, I have some excellent news for you: Dog ownership is not required to enjoy the 1,500-acre Sandy River Delta park! Sure, it’s a perfect place to let your urban pup run wild, but the park has offerings for anyone trying to temporarily disengage from humanity. The vast expanse of forest, beach, and meadows allows for horseback riding, hiking, biking, wading, fishing, birdwatching, and other solo activities. Avoid a ticket (and support the preservation of natural areas, you jerk) by paying the $5 parking fee before you start exploring.
Arboretums are notoriously excellent places to escape from the world. Located in Washington Park, Portland’s Hoyt Arboretum boasts 12 miles of hiking trails winding across 189 acres through more than 2,000 species of trees. Hoyt truly has something for everyone: If you’re looking for an evergreen escape, take the Redwood Trail; seeking springtime blooms, saunter down the Magnolia Trail, hoping for some fall color, peep the Maple Trail. Hiking isn’t mandatory in the arboretum, I also recommend bringing a blanket and a book to sit under a tree of your choosing on a warm day.
If there’s one thing consistently and earnestly keeping Portland weird, it’s the Grotto. Technically called the “National Sanctuary of our Sorrowful Mother,” the Grotto is an mostly-outdoor Catholic shrine centered around a 110-foot cliff in Northeast Portland. But just like you don’t need a dog to go to the Sandy River delta, you don’t need to be Catholic to visit the Grotto. Visitors can sit peacefully and gaze into the abyss of a giant cave-shrine (featuring a replica of the Pietà) for free, or pay $8 to ride the cliff elevator up to the manicured gardens, a collection of small shrines dedicated to different countries that practice Catholicsm, a labyrinth for guests to walk “in contemplation,” and a “meditation chapel,” that, despite looking like the headquarters of a dystopian religious cult, is actually a peaceful space with great views of Washington. If you’re seeking solitude with a side of wacky, pick the Grotto.
If cemeteries give you the willies, I urge you to take a chance on Lone Fir, the majestic historic cemetery in Southeast Portland. According to its caretaker, Metro Regional Government, the cemetery’s 700 beautiful flowering and evergreen trees (including the original lone fir—look for the plaque) make it Portland’s second-largest arboretum. Like any old cemetery, Lone Fir is full of stories. Whether it’s the the story of James and Elizabeth Stephens, the adorable pioneer couple chiseled in rock in the cemetery’s northwest corner, or the story of Block 14, the gravely southwest patch that holds the unmarked graves of more than 1,000 Chinese immigrants and former patients of the Hawthorne Asylum (the state’s first psychiatric hospital), a wander through Lone Fir Cemetery can turn into an ad-hoc history lesson. You’ll find familiar Portland names on the headstones—Pettygrove, Pittock, Cully, Tibbets, Hawthorne—and find sun-dappled benches for deep breaths and contemplation.
Whether or not a mask is required in Oregon businesses should be an easy question to answer. As of May 17th, Oregon’s rules do require people to wear masks indoors.
But after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) announcement on May 13th, which said fully vaccinated people can ditch the mask for most indoor environments, and Gov. Kate Brown’s statement that Oregon would follow CDC guidance, it’s hard to blame anyone who thinks the mask mandate is gone in Oregon.
It is not gone.
In fact, when it comes to indoor retail businesses, nothing has changed. Masks are still required everywhere in Oregon inside businesses.
Oregon Health Authority (OHA) leaders are working on their own rules to go along with the CDC, but it’s not ready yet.
Last week, state epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said he expected the new rules will include a requirement that customers show vaccination cards before they enter businesses without a mask.
Many business owners are against the idea, including Dan Afrasiabi who owns several Planet Fitness gyms in Oregon.
“We think some sort of honor system consistent with what president Biden and the CDC have said, as they’ve outlined, are sufficient to achieve the right balance for businesses and Oregon citizens,” Afrasiabi said.
He added that his gyms will follow whatever guidance the OHA comes up with, but he does not like the idea of his staff checking for vaccination proof.
“Standard retail teams are just not trained to be able to review things like vaccination cards or photos of vaccination cards – so it just needs to be well thought out,” Afrasiabi said.
In the meantime, mask mandates are all over the board in both Oregon and Washington. Washington allowed businesses to drop the mask rule for those who are fully vaccinated and is not requiring proof.
During phone calls to find out how stores handled the rules, we began in Vancouver with a Target store. We were told they were not requiring masks for those who are vaccinated.
A Vancouver area Walmart was requiring masks, which seemed to go against its national corporate policy.
A Vancouver Starbucks said masks were still required, even though the corporate office issued a statement, which said masks for those fully vaccinated were not needed unless mandated by local law.
In the Portland area, the Hillsboro Costco reported customers did not need a mask if fully vaccinated.
A Portland area Target said they were not enforcing mask use by customers.
A Portland area Walmart also did not require masks for those who said they were fully vaccinated.
A Starbucks store in NW Portland said masks were still being required and customers could not sit inside to sip coffee.
‘Portland is not over. It takes every single one of us’
It’s easy to say “Don’t worry, we’ll recover quickly.” But it’s hard to ignore the destruction and vandalism that continues to eat away at Portland and its reputation. It’s hard to see a once-vibrant downtown wounded, still boarded up and vacant.
And it’s difficult to be optimistic when it seems everywhere you look your eyes land on graffiti, trash, garbage, filth. How does Portland recover when it’s this bad?
“Well, we are dying,” said former Mayor Sam Adams. “We will cut through the red tape or die trying.”
Adams is now the Trash Czar, the man in charge of digging Portland out from under the tons of garbage choking the city.
“We’ve got an enormous task ahead of us so we cannot afford to have disconnected department and governmental efforts to clean up the city or red tape standing in the way,” Adams said.
There’s a lot of red tape to cut through.
Unlike almost every other major city, Portland has no city-wide sanitation service. More than a dozen departments and agencies are involved. It is a governmental garbage mess that wasn’t a priority before the pandemic.
Now it’s a disaster.
Trash in one spot is PBOT’s problem. Filth and debris in another spot is TriMet’s job. The garbage and human waste next to the homeless camp is Metro’s responsibility.
Asked about the graffiti and filth along the roadways leading into the city, Mayor Ted Wheeler said, “That’s not the city. That is the state. Those are ODOT right-of-ways and that’s their responsibility.”
When you’re trying to clean up Portland, it’s easy to pass the buck.
Adams is already cutting through the bureaucratic mess. He’s working with ODOT and other agencies, organizing business groups, volunteers, community leaders to come together to just get the job done.
The phenomena of trash
“I have never seen the trash problem this bad,” said Chris Carico, the head of SOLVE. “I’m a native Oregonian. I was born at Good Sam and in all my years here I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Carico has mobilized hundreds of volunteers and groups to meet the challenge and working with Adams as a key part of the solution.
It’s overwhelming. Once trash piles up it attracts more trash.
“There’s another phenomena happening right now with people dumping their household trash in encampments of the homeless,” she said. “So once again you see where people are littering because there’s already trash.”
A company contracted by Metro to cleanup garbage sites is required to sift through every pile, every bag, checking for used needles and biohazards. It’s not the kind of work well-meaning volunteers are equipped to do without training and precautions.
“It’s got to be a staff-led event because we are the ones that know what we are doing,” Carico said. “We are discouraging volunteers from going out on their own for some of these areas that are a little bit rough.”
Trash can be picked up and the results are instantly seen. But the long-term damage to Portland’s downtown can’t be undone quickly. It’s difficult to bring boarded up businesses back and make people feel safe again.
Portland’s tarnished reputation
How do you restore a city’s heart, its reputation?
“Some people think the solution to a bad reputation is a public relations campaign,” said economist Bill Conerly.
“The solution to a bad reputation is to stop doing the things that gave you a bad reputation,” he said. “Portland needs to address these really significant issues.”
The issues include ongoing vandalism from repeat offenders. Wheeler recently took a firmer stand on arrests and put pressure on Multnomah County DA Mike Schmidt to follow through with prosecutions.
Adams agrees with Mayor Wheeler’s tougher stance.
“This is about stopping self-described anarchists who just last week said, ‘Maybe we should, you know, start another fire inside the Multnomah County Courthouse,’” Adams said. “This group of self-described anarchists with their quote-unquote direct action is a code word for ‘destroy property.’ That’s a crime. And our job is to stop that crime and to prosecute, to arrest and get the DA to prosecute those that are guilty of it.”
Time to re-think downtown Portland
Jim Mark heads up Melvin Mark properties. His family has been in business 75 years owning, operating and managing buildings, many in the downtown core. His buildings have been damaged. They’ve been boarded up. He’s waived rent for the last year for many of his tenants.
But he continues to invest in downtown Portland and remains optimistic.
“Protests and violence over the past year has put us in a very difficult spot and it’s going to take some time to get it back,” Mark said. “I think leadership comes from all of us. So we’re all responsible for where our future is in Portland.
“I’m not quite on the ‘Let’s blame the mayor or let’s blame the council.’”
If Portland wants a last recovery, Mark said it may be time to re-think the downtown like the city did in the 1970s and 1980s — a time when downtown Portland was a model other cities admired and copied.
“Portland did have to reinvent itself. It had to give people a reason to come down, whether it was retail or just the urban environment,” Mark said. “We’ve got to re-think the way that works again.”
Can Portland work again? Can the city did out from the current mess? Can it recapture the spirit and drive that made Portland such a special place to live, to raise families, to grow businesses, to dream?
Or is Portland over?
“Absolutely not! Portland is not over,” Carrico said. “We’re still a wonderful community. Everytime I’m out at an event and I see my community members, my neighbors, it gives me hope everyday.”
Sam Adams, former mayor and currently part of Mayor Wheeler’s team, also believes things will turn.
“Portland is not over if people lean in to helping to recover. It takes every single one of us.”