September 6, 2011
So excited to be hosting the Second Annual North Portland Oktoberfest on Saturday, October 22, 2011. All proceeds will benefit Ockley Green’s Arts Magnet program.
See our awesome poster designed by Angelica James below. To get your tickets, visit http://northportlandoktoberfest.eventbrite.com If you are interested in sponsoring the Oktoberfest, you can learn more by downloading our Sponsor Packet.
April 25, 2011
Originally posted on BlueOregon.com.
The future for youths in foster care in Oregon is bleak. According to a 2006 study of former youths in foster care from Oregon and Washington cited by the Oregonian, one in five will become homeless, one in six received welfare and one in three lived at or near the poverty level. College graduates on the other hand, have lower unemployment and poverty rates, contribute more to tax revenues and are less likely to depend on social safety-net programs.
House Bill 3471, co-sponsored by Rep. Michael Dembrow (D) and Rep. Matt Wingard (R), would create tuition waivers at state and community colleges for young people who have aged out of the foster care system with no permanent family.
Representative Julie Parrish makes the case that in these tight budget times that we can’t afford HB 3471. Indeed we are struggling to set priorities this session with so many worthwhile and effective programs on the chopping block. But one thing is sure, we can’t afford more homeless, hopeless kids in our state. I don’t think Rep. Julie Parrish “hates kids” as she says people will say about her because of her opposition to the bill. She has an amazing story of self-sufficiency — pulling herself out of homelessness. And yet, why do we want a society that requires vulnerable people to be superheroes to make it out? I don’t believe in superheroes, but I do believe in the power of education.
What if these vulnerable kids had a promise that college was waiting for them? Granted there are about 300 kids in community college, university or post-secondary school this year (400 teens have aged out of the foster care system each year since 2006) under the current funding system which includes a number of grants available to foster care kids. But even so, do statistics tell us that the current system is working for this population? At some point, we will need to decide if we are going to invest in our kids or if we are simply going to manage the outcome of little investment. With outcomes already so dismal for this population, it might be time to follow what 16 other states have done — provide college tuition waivers for foster care kids with no permanent family.
We can subject kids in foster care to the same market forces which are forcing many college students today to gamble on loans to pay for a future that is not assured. Or we can say to foster care kids, your lives have been gambled with enough already. We want you to know that your state wants a future for you and we are so strong in our commitment to you that we are going to make it a sure thing. If a youth coming out of the foster care system in Oregon wants to work hard to earn a degree (something that statistics show is difficult for this population), I say we gamble on rewarding their ambition in the face of such great odds.
October 28, 2010
Originally posted on BlueOregon.com.
The first time I ever heard the words Multnomah County was in kindergarten when I went to the Albina Library on NE 15th down the street from my house on 13th and Prescott. I was so proud to have my very own card to check out my very own library books. That started my love affair with our County library system and little did I know how important that social safety net would be for me.
As a child I would often escape on my bike to the library from a home life that was chaotic. I found solace in the dreams and wonder that filled the shelves of the Hollywood, Belmont, Woodstock, even the Central Library. No matter how often I was uprooted, there was always a library there to help get me through rough times. I think many children’s first knowledge of the existence of Multnomah County is through their neighborhood library.
Unfortunately, I also saw another side of Multnomah County as a ward of the court from the age of 11. I was picked up weekly by a Multnomah County caseworker for supervised visits with my mom. That caseworker saw us through a difficult time and though I wanted more than anything not to leave school early each week for those visits, looking back it helped me stay connected to my mom, which despite her ultimate failings (she passed away at 46 of a drug overdose), was very important to me.
So, perhaps not unlike a lot of voters this year, my choices in this election are personal. And voters are blessed with two wonderful female public servants to choose between for Multnomah County’s District 2 seat. And no matter the outcome, our community is better served with their leadership. Because parity for women in elected office is important to me, it’s always hard to see two women have to go head-to-head when we so desperately need more women running for office.
There are many reasons Karol Collymore is my choice for Multnomah County District 2 Commissioner, but first and foremost, because she inspires me to be a better citizen. And in these difficult times, we need people with energy, enthusiasm and the creativity to work on our most challenging issues. When Karol moved to Oregon, she got involved immediately. She didn’t let being a newcomer keep her from immersing herself as a community advocate.
In her 3 years at the County in Jeff Cogen’s office (Jeff Cogen is one of her biggest supporters), she has worked collaboratively with community members on important community revitalization efforts like the new North Portland Library in Kenton and the Farmers Market in St. Johns among others. And courage, one of the most desired traits we look for in our public officials, is not something Karol strives for — it’s something innate in her. Evident in her long-time work for equality and support for gay marriage, it’s not enough for Karol to state her position — she’s going to be the one leading the march in the parade. We need more leaders with Karol’s courage fighting for vital services.
When I think back to the vital role that Multnomah County services played in my childhood, I want to know that someone like Karol with in-depth knowledge of how the County works and the courage to take a stand is there advocating tirelessly to help today’s kids in need.
I understand it’s a hard choice between two experienced, hard-working community members who bring different strengths to this race, but with her energy, courage and track record at the County, I am proud to have sent in my vote for Karol Collymore. I hope you will too.
September 26, 2010
Originally posted on BlueOregon.com.
I have a confession to make. Up until last year, I didn’t wholeheartedly support gay marriage. Not because I didn’t think that gay and lesbian people should be able to marry, just that I thought it wasn’t the right strategy to making it happen. I thought word play could replace the damage of discrimination by making it easier for people who opposed gay marriage to accept a “civil union” which accomplished the same thing. It turns out that’s not the case.
Civil unions for gay couples only codifies discrimination. And the larger battle beyond legally recognizing the rights of same sex couples is the battle of the hearts and minds. We know that the tide is turning. America’s youth overwhelmingly support tolerance and equality toward gay and lesbian people and majorities say they should be able to legally marry. But as Honorable Judge Walker wrote in his decision overturning Proposition 8, “fundamental rights may not be submitted to [a] vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.” And I will take that a step further, fundamental rights should not be subject to a waiting period as public opinion catches up.
Personally, I would rather have the government only grant civil unions to all couples and have marriage be left to everyone’s respective religions. But that would be to deny the powerful cultural hold that marriage (whether secular or spiritual) has in our society. And it lets us all off the hook from, once and for all, confronting institutionalized discrimination of our citizens based on sexual orientation.
Knowing first-hand how marriage discrimination affects my friends and family members, it’s not enough for me to support a policy workaround. Marriage equality = civil rights issue. And it’s not good enough to say privately that you support gay marriage. It must be said in public. So, say it loud, say it often, say it with dignity. Marriage matters to me.
February 7, 2010
Yesterday, I spent 9 hours sitting across the table from 20 amazing women leaders. We all come from different backgrounds, different career tracks, and even have our own set of issues for which we advocate — but what we all have in common was a desire to be at the table. In this case, it was the willingness to take a risk to step up and say that more women like us need to seek leadership roles.
Being in the minority (in terms of representation in leadership), I forget how often I feel like the odd one out. The woman with the opinion. The woman who won’t just go along with the way things are always done. The woman who wants to lead. Being at the table with women who don’t make me feel like an odd ball, who don’t make me want to apologize for who I am is perhaps the most energizing aspect of Emerge Oregon. It’s nice to fit in, even if the goal is to step out!
September 11, 2009
This is a poem I wrote in the early days after September 11th.
Please speak out for peace today.
Resolve for Disintegration
Steel hearts and concrete veins
Shattered, torn from safety
Red, white and blue
The color of blood
That bleeds from a gaping wound
A symbol now a hole.
Beating the same drum
Of death and sorrow
Though tears fall
No one to prevent the flood
Question the truth
A lie now uncovered.
We answer without fear
A nation’s solidarity
Excuses the carnage
Waiting in the wings
Exacting almighty revenge
Horror now displaced.
November 14, 2008
This CNN iReporter rules. Why can’t the regular media do reports like this? Now, here’s a story with human interest and an easy way to understand the issues at stake. David J White is my new hero!
Whoa! @linuxaid on Twitter posted this video of my talk last night. I was talking fast and didn’t cover everything I was hoping to, but it was fun leading the entire Bagdad Theater in singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame.
June 26, 2008
Okay, so I spoke too soon! Mini is not sold. Guy backed out at the last minute — I was seriously brushing my teeth to go meet him! Whatever happened to your word is your bond? I guess I am old-fashioned. Seriously, someone we know fall in love with our Mini and buy it, so I can see it go to good people!
I guess I lamented too much and the gods (that I don’t believe in) sent “The Mini” back to us!
May 16, 2007
The City of Portland used to be the nation’s leader when it came to our recycling program. Though we are still far ahead of many places in the country, we can do better. There is a plan that the city is opening up to public comment online and at public meetings. Highlights of the plan include: rollcarts for recyclables (including plastic tubs now), rollcarts for yard debris and later, food scrap pickup at your curb. The goals of the plan are to have zero growth in the waste stream and increase recycling rates to 75% by 2010. These are the kinds of programs that municipal governments are good at! So, comment online or attend a public meeting to voice your opinion. I, for one, am all for it. Don’t say they never asked you!