Autism Society of Oregon Holds In-Person Fundraising Walk

Autism Society of Oregon Holds In-Person Fundraising Walk

Portland, OR. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the Autism Society of Oregon (ASO) to shift towards a virtual walk fundraiser rather than their standard in-person event. This year the organization is back in full swing for its annual Autism Walk fundraiser at Oaks Park in SE Portland on August 15th. The event will include a wide variety of fun activities for individuals with autism and their supporters.

ASO says the event will be “a family-friendly, autism-friendly community event celebrating the people we love on the autism spectrum.” Some of these activities include the half-mile walk that gives the event its namesake, a photo booth, a water display courtesy of Portland Fire and Rescue, and sewing/needlecrafts with PDX Stitch. Additionally, the nonprofit has partnered with several local groups and organizations such as Cosplay Characters for Kindness and Portland Ghostbusters who dress up as fictional characters and attend charity events for photos and to make attendees smile. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 concerns, the event will not include face painting as it normally would in a non-pandemic year. Those interested in attending the Autism Walk can register for the event to help raise funds for it here.

A group of people dresses as Star Wars characters hold the ASO banner at a previous event.

All funds raised for the Autism Walk will go towards ASO’s various programs and resources designed to support people on the autism spectrum. ASO aims to maximize the quality of life of Oregonians on the autism spectrum, guiding them towards self-determination and working to end societal stigmas against autism. Money raised at this event will be used to create further educational materials on what autism is, and resources for those on the spectrum and their families such as a sensory booklet and cookbook which can be downloaded off the organization’s website. In addition to informational resources, funding for ASO will also go towards the organization’s initiatives to directly support those affected by autism and their families, including the “take a break” and “take a breather” programs which put vouchers or tickets for activities or monetary funds into the hands of autistic Oregonians and their caregivers.

In addition to these programs, ASO also hosts workshops, classes, and webinars to educate Oregon about autism and how to approach it. Further, the organization has supplied its supporters with a directory of support groups for those with autism as well as a comprehensive list of scholarships and financial aid for autistic individuals to apply to. All of these helpful and informative resources can be supported by registering for the Autism Walk fundraiser this Sunday, the 15th from 9:00 AM- 12:00 PM. Registering for the event will also make those interested in attending eligible for a discount coupon on ride bracelets at Oaks Park, to be used at noon once the rides open. Ride bracelets for the event at Oaks Amusement Park can be purchased here.

A large crowd in attendance at a previous Autism Walk event hosted by ASO. The organization expects lower attendance in 2021 than in previous years due to COVID-19 concerns.

For other ways to support ASO’s mission, the organization has have a donation page on its website. If readers would like to attend other upcoming events hosted or sponsored by the organization, all upcoming events can be found within the Autism Society of Oregon’s event calendar.




Forest Park Conservancy Works to Spread Awareness and Prevent Wildfires

Forest Park Conservancy Works to Spread Awareness and Prevent Wildfires

Portland, OR. Volunteers in Portland’s Forest Park are working to remove invasive species and reduce the possibility that a wildfire could spread quickly. The work also improves the forest ecology’s overall health. The risk of fire is higher this summer because of the hotter and drier weather City leaders have banned homeless people from camping in forested parks to both protect them from potential wildfires and prevent them from accidentally starting blazes during a summer of drought and record-breaking heat. At 5,200 acres, Portland’s Forest Park is one of the largest urban forests in the United States. The nonprofit that stewards Forest Park is announcing three events within the park, allowing visitors to safely engage with the park in new ways.

Forest Park stretches more than seven miles of Northwest Portland along the eastern slope of the Tualatin Mountains. The park is open every day of the year from 5am until 10pm.

Here’s a link to a map to help you find your way to some of Forest Park’s more accessible trailheads. Click on any of the blue pins on the map to view additional details or to generate custom driving, biking or public transit directions.

The first of these events is “80 for 80,” which challenges the visitors of Forest Park to cover 80 miles of its trails before the deadline of August 20th. To participate, park-goers can download the Momento app to record miles and begin their adventures through the largest forested park in the united states— whether it be running, hiking, biking, or any preferred recreational method. According to Kady Davis, the Director of Communications and Corporate Partnerships, the ultimate goal of the Summer Adventure Series is to “engage with folks already recreating in park, build community, and bring people into FPCC community” to raise awareness for the work the organization does. Davis hopes that the events will inspire park attendees to “care more about Forest Park,” as “the more people who use, steward, and care for forest park, the healthier it will be for future generations to enjoy.”

In addition to challenging parkgoers to cover 80 miles of trail, 80 for 80 also intends to share the mission of Love Is King, a nonprofit whose mission Davis describes as “ensuring that people of all different colors, and values can feel safe in nature,” specifically targeting and encouraging the need of “freedom to roam safely” for BIPOC communities.

The other events of the Summer Adventure Series include a parkwide scavenger hunt which began July 9th and ends September 3rd, and a photography contest, which began on August 1st. Up until the end of the event on September 1st, photos of Forest Park’s gorgeous landscape can be submitted to FPC for entry in competition for a $500 prize package. These events all directly support forest park by signing up participants for the FPC newsletter and social media postings, raising awareness for what can be done to preserve Forest Park. Davis mentions that this spreads valuable information and educational resources, which promote visitors of the park to “learn more about what FPC is up to in their active stewardship work.”

Woman running on Forest Park’s Wildwood Trail. Photograph by Steven Mortinson.

Davis expressed that the largest and most significant undertaking in the organization’s current efforts to ensure the preservation of Forest Parks beauty is the Green Jobs Training & Internship Program. Started in 2020, the 12-month program intends to “train and recruit youth from BIPOC communities to get professional and personal development support to build a career in the conservation sector.”  The program introduces FPC interns to a wide variety of green job experiences, seeking to “build out Oregon’s environmental workforce” through exposure to the diverse array of possibilities included under the umbrella of green jobs. As of Sunday, August 1st, FPC’s four current interns in the Green Jobs Training & Internship Program were taken on a trip to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with Love is King as part of the program’s exploratory approach to learning about careers involved with protecting the environment.

One primary concern of the park this time of the year, as the effects of climate change continue to impact Oregon, is wildfire management. Davis remarked that “because of invasive species, prolonged drought conditions, and the steep slope” that the park rests on, Forest Park is highly conducive to the hazard of wildfires. To combat this threat, the FPC has released informational materials on how to keep the forest safe from fire, and has deployed programs to remove “flammable fuels and non-native species to protect the health of the forest.”

In an exciting development for FPC, the organization will receive additional funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through a donation to the city of Portland, specifically going towards wildfire prevention in Forest Park. “The funding will go towards “outreach and communications with neighborhoods adjacent to Forest Park,” Davis states, adding that “Many homes and businesses directly next to Forest Park harbor invasive species” which increase the park’s proneness to wildfires. The collaboration between FPC and the park’s neighbors to remove such species and raise awareness is crucial, as it not only reduces the chance of a destructive fire, but it prepares those nearby with a plan if one were to occur.

Those who wish to support  Forest Park can contribute to FPC’s preservation efforts in multiple ways. The organization can be donated to online, or fans of the forest can volunteer to participate in park maintenance and its trail program. Signing up for The Summer Adventure series is another way the park’s visitors can engage with Portland’s largest outdoor recreation area. Davis made sure to note that ultimately, the goal of the event series is to “ to have fun, enjoy forest park, hopefully make some friends” and gain a greater appreciation for Forest Park’s beauty, as well as awareness of the FPC’s conversation work and what can be done to protect the city’s own lush forest for future adventurers.

Feral Cat Coalition Holds Showcase of Kitty-Friendly Outdoor Play Enclosures

Feral Cat Coalition Holds Showcase of Kitty-Friendly Outdoor Play Enclosures

Portland, OR. The Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon (FCCO) is holding its ninth-annual “Catio” Tour in September. “Catio” is a portmanteau of “cat” and “patio,” which describes outdoor enclosures for pet cats to climb and play in safely, without risk of the animal escaping. To adjust to pandemic restrictions, FCCO has converted the tour to include both in-person observation and virtual self-guided tours of this year’s selections around the Portland metro area.

Catios come in all shapes and sizes, often containing ramps to climb, perches to rest on, and toys to play with. Following a year when many spent extensive time at home working on DIY projects, the trend of creating safe outdoor spaces for cat recreation has increased in popularity.

After many submissions, the nonprofit has selected all Portland-based catios to showcase. Registration for the event is now open here, for all interested in watching cats explore innovative constructions designed for their leisure. The 2021 Catio Tour event will take place on September 11th, 2021. The in-person self-guided tour is $10 and virtual tour access is $15.

The Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon has already announced that the event will be happening in 2022, and invites all catio creators to prepare for application. The FCCO has posted additional information online detailing what catios are and can be, as well as a list of resources for Portland residents interested in having their own catio. The list includes Portland-area construction businesses that design and build catios, as well as information and instructions for those who wish to build their catios independently, from scratch.

The 2021 Catio Tour event comes as part of a partnership with Portland Audobon society, as part of their Cats Safe At Home campaign, which aims to “reduce the number of cats living outdoors in the Portland metropolitan area in a humane and environmentally responsible manner.” Catios can assist with this initiative by providing outdoor time to pet cats, while ensuring safety from outdoor hazards, protecting wildlife from cat predation, and preventing cats from running away from their owners.

From The Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon:

The Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon is a Portland-based nonprofit that offers spay and neuter services to Oregon and SW Washington. Their services are free for feral, stray, and barn cats, but unfortunately due to the pandemic, The FCCO is unable to offer cheap services to pet cats as they usually would. In addition to spay/neuter services, the organization also coordinates a “kitten caboose” program which has successfully relocated over 1,300 feral kittens into adopted homes. You can support the Feral Cat Coalition in its mission of housing cats, and keeping them safely off the streets on its website.


Portland Center Stage Gets Back Into the Swing of Things

Portland Center Stage Gets Back Into the Swing of Things

Portland, OR. After a pandemic-induced shift to virtual and filmed performances, Portland Center Stage (PCS) aims for a major comeback to live theater with the new 2021-2022 season and JAW New Play Festival. One of the city’s most prominent theater groups, Portland Center Stage (PCS) has officially announced its first live theater events since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo credit, Joan Marcus) With the state reopening following a full lift on state pandemic restrictions by Gov. Kate Brown on June 30th, the doors to the historic theater, The Armory, will finally reopen to the public for the 2021 JAW New Play Festival. The festival is free to attend and takes place from July 23-25th, with both in-person and virtual attendance options being offered.

The 2021-2022 season is a seven-show lineup that will kick off in October. It features four plays that had been previously scheduled, including the return of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which was canceled a week after it opened because of the pandemic, along with the celebrated production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and August Wilson’s iconic story of freedom, justice, and salvation, Gem of the Ocean.

Three newly announced titles will provide audiences with the opportunity to revel together including Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Freestyle Love Supreme and Rent.

This year’s JAW features Inda Craig-Galván’s A Hit Dog Will Holler, Ty Defoe’s Trans World, Rinne Groff’s The Red Beads (based on The Singer of His Sorrows by Osip Dymov), and Kate Hamill’s Ms. Holmes & Ms. Watson – Apt. 2B. Five local teen playwrights have also been commissioned to develop short scripts that will be read as part of the festival: Natalia Bermudez, Moss Johnson, Aaron Leonard-Graham, Becca McCormick, and Nevaeh Warren.

A 2016 JAW Workshop

Directors say PCS 2021-2022 season is designed to lift and nourish spirits with energetic, imaginative worlds on stage. “This powerhouse lineup of plays and musicals resonates deeply for me as we create a space on stage to examine resilience within the framework of bright theatricality, sharp humor, and full-hearted connection,” Artistic Director Marissa Wolf said.

Freestyle Love Supreme
Anthony Veneziale, Aneesa Folds, Arthur Lewis, James Monroe Iglehart, and Chris Sullivan in “Freestyle Love Supreme” at The Booth Theatre. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Select cast members in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time from Portland Center Stage’s 2020 production.
Photo by Owen Carey/Courtesy of Portland Center Stage at The Armory

Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Maria Del Castillo, Jasmine Linée Wood, Nsayi Matingou, Delphon “DJ” Curtis Jr. and Ithica Tell in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” from Portland Center Stage’s 2019-2020 season.
Photo by Owen Carey/Courtesy of Portland Center Stage at The Armory

From PCS:

TICKETS AND INFORMATION The JAW New Play Festival events are FREE and can be attended in person at The Armory, or online. Audiences are encouraged to reserve their general admission tickets in advance for the JAW Play Readings; in-person walk-ups will be welcome based on availability. The Press Play performances surrounding the readings don’t require a ticket. Community Artist Labs are in-person only. Masks will be required in all areas, except for those at seated tables, enjoying a beer in the mezzanine bar.

Portland Center Stage is among the top 20 regional theaters in the country. Established in 1988 as a branch of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the company became independent in 1994. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Marissa Wolf and Managing Director Cynthia Fuhrman, the company produces a mix of classic, contemporary, and world premiere productions, along with a variety of high-quality education and community programs. As part of its dedication to new play development, the company has produced 28 world premieres, many of which were developed at its new works festival, JAW.

Portland Center Stage’s home is at The Armory, a historic building originally constructed in 1891. After a major renovation, The Armory opened in 2006 as the first building on the National Register of Historic Places, and the first performing arts venue in the country, to achieve a LEED Platinum rating. Portland Center Stage is committed to identifying and interrupting instances of racism and all forms of oppression, through the principles of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA).

Learn more at Portland Center Stage’s 2021-2022 season is funded in part by Season Superstars the Regional Arts and Culture Council and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation; Supporting Sponsors the Oregon Arts Commission, a state agency funded by the state of Oregon and the National Endowment for the Arts, and US Bank; and Producing Sponsors Ellyn Bye, Ray and Bobbi Davis, and Ronni LaCroute

The Green Light for In-Person Concerts is Music to the Ears of Local Nonprofit

The Green Light for In-Person Concerts is Music to the Ears of Local Nonprofit

Portland, OR. As Oregon reopens, one activity Oregonians are eagerly anticipating is the return of concerts and live music. The Portland nonprofit, Friends of Noise is a local organization making a  return of live music possible, and accessible for anybody who wants to get involved. It provides sound equipment to performers, hosting free age-inclusive shows, and helping creative youth navigate the local music scene. Now starting its summer 2021 season, the nonprofit has a fresh slate of performances and events to bring the joy of communal music experiences back to Portland youth, including a dance battle, hip hop cypher performance, and multiple outdoor concert events for youth artists.

Friends of Noise provides programs, workshops, and other professional development opportunities for teens and young adults to gain experience with sound equipment, and performing so they are more prepared to navigate the music industry.

An integral core foundation to Friends of Noise is the belief that getting young performers and audience members involved in music is essential to the growth of the local and global music community. 

The nonprofit offers a variety of services to support Portland’s musically-oriented youth, including professional development workshops providing skills for involvement in the music industry, paid opportunities for youth musicians to perform, and offering sound equipment services for independent, youth-organized concerts, teaching those interested how to operate such equipment and offering youth paid opportunities for work with sound technology. According to Friends of Noise executive director André Middleton, the nonprofit’s mission is to “facilitate healing and growth in the community” for Portland youth artists, with a focus on BIPOC individuals.

Middleton admits that the COVID-19 pandemic was difficult for Friends Of Noise, with the nonprofit completely halting operations like most other businesses at its start. However, the organization still found ways to utilize its services mid-pandemic to further its commitment to justice by providing sound equipment to local Black Lives Matter protests and marches to “lift up the voices of the unheard.” Friends of Noise even helped host a BLM protest event on labor day 2020 in Portland’s Cathedral Park, providing and setting up sound equipment for speakers.

Middleton says that his organization’s greatest challenge of the pandemic has been the recruitment of new youth performers and sound technicians to work with, stating that reconnecting with the musical youth of Portland is the current “highest priority” for Friends of Noise. Thankfully, they were still able to support independent young musicians of Portland through the pandemic by recording isolated performances in various Portland music venues from a wide range of talented youth, editing them, and uploading these performances to the Friends of Noise Youtube channel as part of their “Friends of Noise TV” series.

Here’s a video from ‘Friends of Noise TV’:

A woman of color performs music on a stage outlined in orange lights and backdropped by blue curtains in a small music venue with red curtains hanging from the walls. She stands next to a banner with the "Friends of Noise" logo on it, and in front of her there is a camera mounted on a tripod filming her performance. in the foreground of the image, we see the back of a male sound technician wearing headphones to the left, and a computer screen showing the different camera angles recording her performance to his right.

Behind the scenes photo depicting the filming of a live performance by Arietta Ward/”Mz. Etta” at Jack London Revue for the Friends of Noise TV YouTube concert series.

Middleton says what he was most excited for about the return of live music, but for Friends of Noise, concerts have been back for a while as they have done sound equipment for and hosted a series of concerts for youth artists in parks around Portland, following COVID safety procedures such that youth could still gather, connecting to both music and one another, safely. He is most eagerly anticipating the Friends of Noise Summer Jam being held for free at Oregon Contemporary on July 11th from 6-10pm, where the organization will be hosting a variety of talented young performers. Middleton also noted that he is currently working with a youth graphic designer in a paid opportunity to create a poster for the event, highlighting his organization’s commitment to uplifting creative youth and getting them involved in as many ways as possible.

Middleton hopes support for Friends of Noise will take off this summer in comparison to last year, as the organization has its eyes set on a large, yet important project— the creation of a free, youth-led, all-ages, all-inclusive space for performances, music, workshops. and creativity as part of public housing in Northeast Portland. He expressed disappointment in the fact that Portland currently has no all-ages, youth-inclusive concert spaces, and hopes to change that by saving the organization’s funds and donations to establish the community center.

More information about Friends of Noise can be found at the nonprofit’s website, Here, supporters of FON’s mission can find times and locations for all of the organization’s upcoming events mentioned in this article and many more. Further, readers can donate funds through the website via posted PayPal, Venmo, and Cashapp to help make André Middleton’s dream of an youth led and focused, all-inclusive community concert center a reality— one which places the importance of creative expression above alcohol sales.