Socially-Distanced Queen’s Coronation a First for Rose Festival

Socially-Distanced Queen’s Coronation a First for Rose Festival

Portland, OR. Lincoln High school senior Anya Anand was elected 2020 Queen of Rosaria on July 30th, Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a special, socially-distanced Queen’s Coronation was held at the Queen’s Walk in the International Rose Test Garden at Washington Park. 

Traditionally, the Queen’s Coronation is an event that gathers a large ensemble of community volunteers who determine the year’s Queen; however, under this year’s unique circumstances, in the interest of keeping the event small, the Rose Festival had the Rose Princess’s vote to elect one of their peers to the Queendom—making it the just second time in the Rose Festival’s 112-year history that the Court elected their own Queen.

Asked what it was like to be the first Queen elected by the court since 1930, Anand said, “It’s an incredible experience […] it just means a lot that so many of my fellow Rose Court sisters believe in me so much and gave me the honor of being Queen.” 

As Queen, Anand is awarded a college scholarship provided by the Randall Group. Anand plans to attend the University of California at Davis to study psychology; from there, she plans to attend medical school to become a pediatrician. According to a press release, “[Anand] was very active at Lincoln: as a volunteer Co-President of the Associated Student Body and Asian Student Union, as well as Co-Chair of the Multnomah Youth Commission Committee. [Anand] has been passionate about education from an early age and is president of REAL (or Rural Education and Literacy), in India.”

Many who attended the event socially distanced themselves and wore masks, including the Princess’s and the Royal Rosarians, who wore intricate red masks as a part of their traditional Rose Festival garb. 

Rose Princesses at the Queen’s Walk in the International Rose Test Garden at Washington Park.

Speaking of some of the differences of this year’s Rose Festival, Anand said, “First of all, I know half of the Princesses didn’t get their in-person announcement. Some of them were announced over Zoom, and we all met for the first time over Zoom.” 

Anand said meeting the other Princesses in person for the first time was her favorite moments of the season so far, ”It was such a different experience to meet them in person because you could feel all of the energy—and you can feel it over Zoom, but it’s a totally different feeling when you’re all together: you’re all looking at each other’s outfits, dressing up, getting ready together. I love all of these women with my entire heart.” 

Many at the event spoke of the inspirational resilience of this year’s Court, and commended their fortitude in the face of many obstacles that made this year’s Rose Festival one of the most unique in its extensive history. 

“The inspiration that is this Court and Queen Mya [2019 Rose Festival Queen] is a lesson to us all,” said Royal Rosarian Prime Minister Kimberly Brown, “their optimism and resilience and attitude has been so mature. It’s been inspiring to watch them overcome those hurdles that came up.” 

At the laying of the Queen’s plaque along the Queen’s Walk, Anand had each of the Rose Princesses press their thumbs into the cement surrounding the plaque, a tradition started by 2019’s Queen Mya Brazile.

2020 Rose Festival Queen Anya Anand and Royal Rosarian Prime Minister Kimberly Brown getting ready to lay the Queen’s plaque along the Queen’s Walk.

“Just like Queen Mya did last year, I would like to invite my Rose sisters to place their thumbs in my plaque, because we did this together,” Anand said, “this year has been very tough, but we all made it together, and I love you all and I would love to share this moment with all of you.” 

In the end, despite the hurdles of the pandemic, the official Rose Festival crown—worn by every Queen since 1922—was ceremoniously placed upon Anand’s head. 

“I’m looking forward to representing my city and the Rose Festival,” Anand said, “I think it’s really important, especially because the Rose Festival has been around for so many years, and it’s another way to instill that tradition and sense of normalcy in such a changing and evolving time.”

About the Rose Festival Court: 

“The mission of the Rose Festival Court program presented by Unitus Community Credit Union, is to provide scholarships courtesy The Randall Group for higher education, to promote community outreach and volunteerism, and to offer networking and mentoring opportunities to outstanding young women in a program that perpetuates an appreciation for Rose Festival history and tradition.”

About the Rose Festival: 

Part of Portland’s popular culture for more than a century, the Rose Festival has its roots in tradition while its programming is both contemporary and nostalgic. Foresighted city leaders started the festival during the first decade of the 20th Century in order to put Portland on the map and brand it the ‘summer capital of the world.’ Little did they know that more than a hundred summers later the Rose Festival would be world famous for its amazing, award-winning events, as well as serving as a community leader for celebrating values like volunteerism, patriotism and environmentalism. In 2010, the Rose Festival was finally acknowledged as Portland’s Official Festival by proclamation of the Council.

With dozens of events spotlighting the diverse interests and culture of the community, the Rose Festival makes a positive impact on hundreds of thousands of lives annually, bringing smiles to the faces of both locals and guests. Peruse this website to learn more about the festival’s three popular parades, its three-weekend urban fair packed with great entertainment, good food and fantastic features, and about the iconic Court made up of local high school women making goodwill visits all around the state. The Rose Festival makes Portland a better place to live and visit.

Kairos PDX Keeps Kids on Track During Chaotic Times

Kairos PDX Keeps Kids on Track During Chaotic Times

Portland, OR. The KairosPDX educational nonprofit is individualizing its programming to serve kids at home. The program serves over 170 students in grades K-5. The focus of the nonprofit is working to transform education into a system that sees and nurtures the whole child. Through policy advocacy and direct service, the organization works to change a structure that has historically disempowered black and brown communities.

The nonprofit’s holistic approach has helped it weather the COVID-19 pandemic. “We were able to retain the same attendance levels that we had pre-pandemic and it was largely because we centered care and connection in everything that we did,” Ladd said. “Multiple times a week there were check-ins with families, and it was really just a space for families to come together and vent and ask questions and be in a safe space to experience what we were experiencing as a collective.” 

Kairos focuses on the whole child and all their needs: academic, social, emotional, cultural, and more.

Similar check-ins were available to kids individually. Kairos was able to provide nutritional support, computers that had been donated, and Internet access so that each child could stay healthy and focused on learning. 

Kairos prioritizes the “whole child,” in the classroom, including social, emotional, cultural, and identity-affirming aspects of wellbeing. The organization has done training with educators as well as people outside the educational system to work on how to better support whole kids. 

“We talk a lot about the humanization of children being at the center of education,” Ladd said. “Seeing the humanity in each child means seeing all that they bring and seeing that as an asset. Schools have a tendency to dehumanize children and their value.” 

Kids need this type of support more than ever amidst the rapid social changes occurring right now. 

“With both the racial justice and COVID pandemics, for many it’s like a trauma in the sense that it’s thrown people’s lives into chaos and everything that they knew is no longer,” Ladd said. “That is a traumatic event that will have an impact on children’s mental health and wellbeing.” 

Creative projects support academic engagement

The executive director said that this turbulent time has provided some opportunity for the community to come together around important issues. Kairos partnered with some other black-run organizations and faith-based communities to do a food distribution. The organization also partnered to offer free COVID testing for the surrounding community. 

“I found in this time, while there were challenges, our community did what it often does, which is come together to support one another,” Ladd said. “It wasn’t about who runs what organization, it was about how we support the children and families that we serve and this greater community and how we utilize each other’s strength to better support them.”   

This is also an opportune time in terms of racial justice. Kairos is working with other black-run organizations across all sectors to lobby members of government for policy changes. Ladd said that with the awareness raised by protests in Portland, policymakers are more open to legislation advocating for racial equity. 

Kids need support in academics now more than ever.

“Obviously our work is very much in the heart of racial justice and economic justice … the work is not new work for us, but I think the new global and statewide attention has definitely created more work,” Ladd said. “I think this is a period of time to continue to lift up the voices of leaders in the black community and other communities of color. ” 

These leaders are working hard to lobby as a collective, run their individual organizations, and care for their own homes and families. Ladd said her biggest challenge right now is that there is not enough time in the day. 

“It’s been a lot of extra work, a lot of late-night zooms,” she said. “There’s so many important things to do. And it’s a marathon, not a sprint, but still, you gotta keep running.” 

From KairosPDX: KairosPDX is an education nonprofit focused on transforming education through a model built on love and inclusion that elevates the voices of historically underserved children, their families, and their communities. ‘Kairos’ is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment), or a moment of indeterminate time in which something special happens. 

NW Dance Project Begins Socially Distanced In-Person Classes

NW Dance Project Begins Socially Distanced In-Person Classes

Portland, OR. The NW Dance Project, a Portland-based contemporary dance company, had to make significant COVID-19 adjustments since it went fully virtual on March 13th. The nonprofit’s phased reopening began on August 3rd, with the renewal of some in-person classes and continued reliance on video communication platforms. Jeff George (pictured above) is one of the instructors for the limited in-person classes that take place with strict safety protocols.

The initial shutdown of NW Dance Project meant all events, classes, and training programs were canceled, as well as the furloughing of all company dancers and some staff. Like many arts organizations, NW Dance Project is currently unable to generate income with performances, so outreach to supporters has become vital. 

NW Dance Project members pose for a fundraising promo shot

Social distancing guidelines have posed a challenge for everyone, but perhaps no one is more affected than dancers. Executive Director Scott Lewis points out how, unlike other performing arts such as theater or music, maintaining social distance removes a core element of what constitutes this art form. For example, the pas de deux, which Lewis describes as an intense duet, is now entirely off the table.

“There’s so much in dance that relies on the electricity in the air when humans are experiencing something simultaneously,” says Lewis. “At some point, it just hit me that everything we do is not bringing people together.”

NW Dance Project – Social disDANCING from NW Dance Project on Vimeo (seen below) is a playful approach to the COVID shutdown from NWDP dancers.

NW Dance Project – Social disDANCING from NW Dance Project on Vimeo.

The dancers’ response to these challenges highlights their pragmatism and flexibility. “They quickly saw the dance world embracing technology and accepted that this is the reality,” Scott Lewis explains. Company members have shifted their focus toward individual projects and sharing their skills over social media. In addition to individual enterprises, dancers now attend classes via video call — streamed either from NWDP’s studio or from the instructors’ homes — and students served by North Portland’s Aspire Project (closed as of June 7th, 2020) were invited to join NWDP’s virtual summer session.

These virtual classes will continue even as NWDP’s studios have reopened for limited in-person classes. Safety protocols are strictly enforced: for example, tape outlines on the studio floor mark out 100 square feet of space per person. In September, youth classes are scheduled to begin in-person with similar restrictions. Next month also brings an outdoor performance and a film-based project that unites NW Dance Project company dancers and special guest choreographers.

Lewis encourages readers to keep an eye on these upcoming projects or even attend a few classes if they are so inclined. Those with skills they are willing to share can seek out volunteer opportunities with the company or even serve as board members if they are willing to accept the time commitment. 

“Any support possible will be helpful,” says Lewis. “It doesn’t need to be said how destabilizing the confluence of events has been for artists. We’re still in the first act, stay with us, stay in touch, stay supportive. This is going to be a long crawl.”

From NW Dance Project’s website:

NW Dance Project was founded in Portland in 2004 by acclaimed dancer, mentor, and choreographer Sarah Slipper. NW Dance Project is dedicated to the creation and performance of innovative, new contemporary dance works from established and emerging dance makers created in an open and artistically stimulating environment.

NW Dance Project has fostered the creation and Portland premiere of nearly 300 original contemporary dance works to date. Our dedication to providing dancers and dance-makers the resources and creative room needed to realize new inspired dance works led Dance International Magazine to proclaim that we are “changing the way dance is created” and that NW Dance Project has become “a laboratory, factory, and repository for risk-taking new works from the next generation of choreographers from Europe and North America.”

Popular Portland Book Festival Turns Page and Plans to Go Online

Popular Portland Book Festival Turns Page and Plans to Go Online

Portland, OR. The Portland Book Festival will look different than the picture above this year. Book Lovers won’t be crowding in to hear from noted authors as in the past. The literary staple of the Pacific Northwest since 2005 is changing its long-standing event from in-person to entirely online. This news comes in the wake of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic that has essentially curbed all social events and gatherings for the foreseeable future. Rather than canceling the annual festival scheduled for November, event organizers at Literary Arts say they want to continue community outreach during a time when people need it the most.

In years past, Portland Book Festival focuses on bringing families and the community together by offering their events for free and across many platforms.

Perhaps the most important change that Literary Arts has offered is to make the festival almost entirely free this year. This change comes during a time when many individuals may be uncertain about their financial stability and may not have been able to afford the previous cover charge for the event. Andrew Proctor, Executive Director of Literary Arts, says that this decision was made in order to better support the community during a national pandemic

Author readings will be viewable both live and backlogged for the attendee’s convenience.

Alongside the change in format, the festival will also be held across a fifteen-day span (Nov. 5-21) rather than staying as a single-day event. For this year’s attendees, that means that every seminar, class, and author reading can be accessed over the two week period, and often at their own leisure. It also means that the event becomes more accessible to everyone living here in Portland or anywhere else in the world. With formats ranging from podcasts, online blogs, and live streaming events, participants will have a range of options to suit their needs and limitations during these unprecedented times.

While things like book signings may not be available this year, online formats will still allow for attendees to interact with the festival’s many artists.

From Literary Arts:

To find out more about the upcoming 2020 Portland Book Festival, check out the Literary Arts website page on the event here. If you’d like to support a great organization, you can donate here.

 

CASA for Children’s COVID-19 Pivot Draws Younger Volunteers

CASA for Children’s COVID-19 Pivot Draws Younger Volunteers

Portland, OR. The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children has faced challenges moving its services online but continues to advocate for foster children in the courtroom. One silver lining is that online orientations due to the pandemic have unexpectedly helped the organization recruit younger volunteers. CASA Executive Director Betsy Stark Miller explains that there was some initial concern that recruiting CASA volunteers online, instead of in-person, would be an issue, but it has had unforeseen benefits. “I have watched the age demographic drop,” she said. “This is great because having a young CASA advocate is very beneficial if you are working with teenage or preteen youth.” 

Before this change, most volunteers were 50 to 60-year-old women. Now, they are seeing volunteers in their 20’s. 

Anyone can be a CASA volunteer. They train for 35 hours before taking on their first case. Then, work under a supervisor.

Along with diversifying the age range, CASA for Children has been working to be more culturally responsive. Many kids in foster care are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC), while the vast majority of CASAs are white and may have a socioeconomic situation that enables them to do highly time-intensive volunteer work. Miller and her associate Laura Collins (Major Gifts, Development & Communications Director) said that CASA’s “Knowing Who We Are” training helps volunteers recognize their own social positioning in order to help them better assist kids who come from different backgrounds. “I think the community needs to know that we are doing everything we can by training our CASAs and our staff to be culturally sensitive and responsive to the kids that disproportionately come into foster care who are children of color,” Collins said.  

CASA for Children’s social awareness training helps mitigate the racial divide that often occurs between advocates and clients.

CASA for Children already had a remote plan prepared when the pandemic hit, and fortunately has been able to keep all staff supervisors employed. However, Major Gifts, Development & Communications Director Laura Collins said that virtual interaction is not ideal for CASA volunteers and their clients. One CASA said that it’s challenging to not be more physically present with the kids. “It really speaks to the commitment these CASAs have to this program,” Collins said. “We are still able to successfully provide really high-quality advocacy to the kids who have CASAs right now.” 

Many volunteers are even taking on a second case. “The thing that’s been really powerful is our team is experiencing that emotional commitment,” Miller said. “What’s been really impressive to me, and overwhelmingly uplifting, is that our CASAs have stuck through this really difficult time. Our CASAs would not stay if our team was not doing a wonderful job, because it’s not easy.” 

COVID-19 has made some things more difficult. In many cases, hearings have been postponed due to technical difficulties. This takes a major toll on the kids and their families. Courts are backlogged in Washington and Multnomah counties. “With COVID in place I am really concerned that we’re gonna see cases last longer than they should,” Miller said. Miller and Collins also said that going into the future, they expect to see an increase in the number of kids who need their services. During pandemic restrictions, domestic abuse is still happening, but kids aren’t leaving home as much, which allows it to stay hidden. 

“Children aren’t going out and getting their voices heard,” Miller said. “They’re showing up in emergency rooms with more severe abuse markers than doctors have seen in recent history.” As abused kids return to school and life outside the home, mandatory reporting will expose these cases and the kids will turn to services like CASA as they go through the foster care system. 

Children in the foster care system without permanent living arrangements need community support during the pandemic more than ever.

CASA for Children was able to move its annual auction online to maintain some revenue, but the nonprofit still needs support from the community during this time. 

“We really need the support of our community to still step up and help us,” Collins said. “Sure we are in the foster care sector, but really were about healing and resiliency. We’ve always been about that, it’s at the core of our mission, helping kids who have gone through profound trauma heal and hopefully have a better chance of a life that has potential.”

Here’s a video about the organization:

From CASA for Children:

A CASA is the tireless and passionate protector of a child who has been abused or neglected and is experiencing the trauma of involvement in the system. They are granted tremendous authority by the court and are able to do what it takes to see that a child is not ignored, their best interests and critical needs are addressed, and that the presiding judge is able to understand the true facts of a child’s condition in an over-burdened child welfare system.CASAs are in a unique position to work in the system without being of the system. Throughout the process, CASAs have permission to visit the children regularly, talk to a child’s parents, teachers, caseworkers, doctors and therapists in order to hear all perspectives and give an unbiased portrayal of the case to the judge. CASA advocates help kids through the system safely, quickly, and more effectively.

Compassion Connect Innovates to Attract Volunteers and Raise Funds During Pandemic

Compassion Connect Innovates to Attract Volunteers and Raise Funds During Pandemic

Portland, OR. Despite the challenges that have ensued in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Compassion Connect has continued to provide resource connections and unite some churches that serve Portland neighborhoods. Thanks to the continued support of donors, the nonprofit was able to raise over $10,000 for COVID-19 relief programs this spring.

The Portland-based nonprofit (which also has chapters in Washington and Arizona) has had to put its main outreach programs on hold until further notice due to health and safety concerns as well as state mandates. These programs include free health clinics and after school groups for vulnerable youth who face a higher risk for sexual exploitation.

Setbacks, have not stopped the small staff from brainstorming ways to invest critically in the communities they serve. Communications director Anna Johnson offers some insight: “During this time of hiatus, our team hasn’t ceased tackling the challenging question of how to resume operations safely so we can continue helping churches serve their neighbors in a time when they need the support more than ever.”

At the beginning of the outbreak, the company held area-specific Zoom meetings with church leadership from eight local neighborhoods to provide a platform for prayer and collaboration on how to meet the needs of the community. According to Ana, the “meetings culminated in a webinar in late May, where we shared ways for the church to make the ‘new normal’ look more like the Kingdom of God by providing a framework and tools for churches to build relationships, work together in unity, and transform the neighborhoods.”

While working from home, staff have rallied volunteers and churches to collect care package items for youth, many of whom now find themselves immersed in unstable home environments. The kits include essential hygiene items like masks and hand sanitizer along with games, treats, and encouraging notes.

Compassion Connect Health Clinics saw patients before the pandemic (above). The nonprofit is offering a community support form for clinic guests in need of medical services while the organization’s clinics are closed.

For those who have been without healthcare or have lost job-based insurance due to layoffs, Compassion Connect hopes to resume clinic services in late August with additional safety features in place, configured by staff, volunteers, board members, and outside experts. With additional precautions, the nonprofit has also been working on gradually relaunching its after school program, as well as its Adorned In Grace bridal shops, which offer new and gently used wedding gowns, formal wear, and accessories to support its work in anti-trafficking.

The nonprofit is currently exploring completely virtual or small group options for its largest fundraising event in October, which typically sees an attendance of around 300 guests.

About Compassion Connect:

Interested in volunteering with the Compassion Connect team? The nonprofit is looking for a technology coordinator to help plan virtual events, as well as other virtual volunteers, donors, and interns to make a difference in the community during this challenging season. For more information, go to  www.compassionconnect.com  or Compassion PDX on Facebook or @compassionconnect on Instagram.

We believe in the volunteer leaders, in those who are yet to rise up and in the potential of any community in the world to make a difference by uniting in Jesus-like service to its most hurting members. You have the heart to make a difference. We have the tools to make it a reality.

Literary Arts Responds to Time of Change With New Offerings

Literary Arts Responds to Time of Change With New Offerings

Portland, OR. With quarantine keeping people at homeLiterary Arts was forced to rethink how to best support the literary community of Oregon. A month ago, the organization released the winners of its annual Oregon Book Awards. Unlike previous years, where writers like Samiya Bashir (pictured above) accepted their awards in person, for the 2020 event, writers stayed home and tuned into a radio broadcast. After being rescheduled because of the COVID-19 pandemic from April to JuneLiterary Arts partnered with Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) to make the event happen. The winners of this year’s Oregon Book Awards were Beth Alvarado, Cathy Camper, Kesha Ajọsẹ Fisher, Deborah Hopkinson, Greg Means, MK Reed, Julian Smith, Ashley Toliver, and David Wolman. Winners would typically tour Oregon later in the yearreading from their works at various schools, bookstores, workshops, and libraries, but plans for this are yet to be determined due to the pandemic. Such tours help promote public knowledge of the authors and their diverse works, creating a significant influence on the success of their career.  

The works of the Oregon Book Awards winners

With the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn, Literary Arts decided to grant funds to writers and artists in need. The Board of Directors unanimously agreed on turning a portion of the Brian Booth Writers’ Fund into the Literary Arts Booth Emergency Fund for Writers. Literary Arts received applications for the firsts round of grants beginning at the end of AprilOne-hundred lucky applicants received grant of $1,000. The second rounof grant applications is currently underway.  

In giving to the community, Literary Arts put special focus on providing for people of color. Surveys found that 45% of first-round grant winners identified as people of color. Literary Art’s website states: COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting communities of color. Literary Arts is prioritizing funding for writers identifying as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color who meet the eligibility criteria.” 

Associate Director of Communications Jyoti Roy expressed the organization’s intentions to work with the community to create space for people of color, whether through specialized workshops, funds, or other means. 

Literary Arts also works to inspire youth and help them develop their own voices. Back in April, Literary Arts adapted their slam poetry competition for teens known as Verselandia! Youth Poetry SlamAlthough the competition itself did not occur, Literary Arts created an alternative event geared toward the same audience 

Authors Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Rion Amilcar Scott, and Lesley Nneka Arimah discussed the art of short-form on a virtual panel moderated by Dantiel Moniz.

Roy described their thought process as: “How do we serve the students who benefit from this event in a different way?” 

Local poets led a virtual slam poetry workshop at the time the event was to occur. Participants were then invited to share their creations with Literary Arts, which are still being collected, to create a video featuring the youth’s talent. 

From Literary Arts:
Literary Arts is a community-based nonprofit with a mission to engage readers, support writers, and inspire the next generation with great literature. For the past 35 years, Literary Arts has built community around literature, books, and storytelling, and the essential ideas and issues they raise. Literary Arts is committed to remaining a dynamic and responsive organization that will continue to evolve with our community’s needs and deepen our equity work across all our programs. 

Boys & Girls Aid Foster Parents Learn from Kids During Lockdown

Boys & Girls Aid Foster Parents Learn from Kids During Lockdown

Portland, OR. Boys & Girls Aid (B&G Aid) has been helping struggling youth find foster families and support for over 135 years. According to CEO Suzan Huntington, foster parents have stepped during the pandemic more than ever. B&G Aid’s day programs are temporarily closed for public health concerns. Without the day program and without school, parents have their foster kids 24/7. But they are taking extra responsibility in stride. 

“I can’t say enough about how grateful I am to their generosity of continuing to open their homes and hearts,” Huntington said. “These kids have had abuse and neglect since they were born, and that does something to our brains, and it’s hard. And not one foster parent said I won’t do that. Not one.”

Caring for the kids full time is extra work for foster families, but they say their kids are actually helping them to weather this tough time. “Foster children were born to live through a pandemic … I never thought about it like that until one of the foster parents said that these kids are actually helping us because they are used to total uncertainty and chaos,” Huntington said. “It isn’t a place where anyone thrives, but they have the skill set.”

Although the current COVID-19 situation challenging, this isn’t the first time the organization has had to face a flu pandemic.

Boys & Girls Aid has faced many challenges of its 135 years.

The Boys & Girls Aid day program is reopening because many foster parents are returning to work. Residential programs continue to be open as well. B&G Aid is proud to say it hasn’t had to lay off or furlough any of its staff during the lockdown, even though it has lost significant revenue from seven major fundraisers that were canceled. 

“It is because our staff are diligent and committed to the work and the kids that we serve,” Huntington said. “Our foster parents are angels walking this earth, as are foster parents across the nation. We’re not gonna come through totally unscathed, but we’ve been able to keep everyone employed during the height of absolute chaos.”

The staff has been working hard to keep programs operating amidst limited funding.

Kids leave B & G Aid with the support they need to exit the foster care system.

In the last 7 years, B&G Aid has been relying on a trauma-informed care model, which sets it apart from other similar organizations. Huntington said this switch made the organization’s work and her job much more meaningful. 

“Before [switching to this care model], we were a stop along the way. Now, we’re really meeting the kids where they’re at,” Huntington said. “We’re really diving deep into mental health, we’re making sure they have those lifelong connections, and really starting to see the trajectory of those relationships change with kids and how their growth is.” 

Alongside coordination with foster families and guardians, B&G Aid works in family counseling to rebuild broken relationships to the best outcome for each client. Furthermore, they connect kids with stable figures, like an uncle or a teacher, to act as a point of guidance and support. 

B&G Aid works to get kids into stable guardianships and loving homes.

“Kids do better when they have someone in their corner,” Huntington said. “We all do better when someone’s got our back.” 

Huntington said she would like to see B&G Aid as a more visible part of the community. Historically, the stigma around adoption has limited the publicity for this long-standing organization.  

“I would like to see in the future that Boys & Girls Aid is a more prominent figure in the community,” she said. “We could be a tremendous resource to a lot of community organizations.”

From Boys & Girls Aid:

Boys & Girls Aid is committed to ensuring children exit the foster care system to loving, stable families.

Friends of Trees Plants Hope for Community

Friends of Trees Plants Hope for Community

Portland, OR. Despite shelter-in-place, Friends of Trees (FOT) managed to finish its planting season in neighborhoods and urban green spaces in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
Staffers like Tyler Rise (pictured above) are keeping things moving, but o
perations are quite different than usual because the typical neighborhood volunteers are not allowed to work.  

A pod from the Northwest Youth Corp, a roving group that does summer maintenance, helped plant trees in Forest Park. The planting season lasts from November to April, so thankfully the COVID-19 pandemic did not hit until near the end of the season.

Friends of Trees relied heavily on staff and trained crew-lead volunteers to finish projects by themselves. Trained individuals are continuing typical summer operations by surveying trees that were planted earlier in the year. These volunteers mulch and prune the trees as needed.

Friends of Trees’ impact in 2019

The benefits of trees

Future operations will look much different than normal. Interim Executive Director Whitney Dorer predicts that more plantings with fewer people will take place in order to prevent larger groups from congregating. The attendance of past planting events has reached over 250 people. Unfortunately, the traditional post-planting potlucks will be put on hold. Friends of Trees focuses not just on the environment but also on the community. 

“It will take a lot of creativity on the part of our team of our supports and volunteers to find new ways to engage community while we are still planting trees throughout the city and in natural areas,” said Dorer. “We are just going to have to work with whatever is given in terms of social distancing guidelines.” 

A volunteer shows her love for nature during a winter planting session pre-COVID

Friends of Trees is remaining active on social media. Short, educational videos on different trees have been put together by various FOT staff. In the spirit of community, every Thursday, a staff member is introduced on the FOT Instagram. Introductions include name, pronouns, position, favorite tree(s), favorite potluck food, and hobbies. Corporate and Business Relations Specialist Sam Erman even included his favorite hummus recipe. 

In this time of isolation, Friends of Trees recognizes the growing importance of community building while remaining safe.  

From Friends of Trees:
We bring people together. Inspiring our community members to plant, care for, and learn about trees is key to our mission. We welcome individuals, families, and businesses throughout western Oregon and SW Washington to help restore and beautify our region. Friends of Trees recognizes that not everyone has equal access to the benefits of trees. As we work to remedy that, we strive to be a welcoming and safe place for everyone, regardless of age, ability, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, political views, or economic status. Without our volunteers, we are nothing. But together, we do amazing things. 

Architectural Heritage Center to Reopen With New Exhibit: “Darcelle XV at Home”

Architectural Heritage Center to Reopen With New Exhibit: “Darcelle XV at Home”

Portland, OR. The Architectural Heritage Center will be reopening on July 24th with an new exhibit called, “Darcelle XV at Home.”

Many Portlander’s know Darcelle XV as the beloved “world’s oldest working drag queen,” who has been a staple of the Portland LGBTQ+ and nightlife scene for five decades. But what many may not know about Walter Cole—Darcelle XV when he is in drag—is that he lives in the historic “Elmer and Linnie Miller” Residence in Northeast Portland. The home was recently listed in the National Register of Historic Places. 

Walter Cole in his home, the Elmer and Linnie Miller Residence.

The new exhibit will feature the work of Portland photographer Tom Cook, and showcases Darcelle XV in the historic residence. 

According to a press release: “Cook’s portrait series captures the unique character of the 1896 Queen Anne style house and its longtime owner, Walter Cole, best known as the female impersonator and performer Darcelle XV. The home’s décor has taken on the lavish style of Darcelle XV while still maintaining its original layout and details. Among the house’s features are stained glass windows created by Jerry Bosco and Ben Milligan, glass artists, work and life partners, and founders of the Bosco-Milligan Foundation, under which the Architectural Heritage Center operates.”

On top of being an example of historic architecture, the home has been a gathering place for political activists and gay rights events over the years. The residence also shows the indelible mark that Darcelle has left on the home. 

Elmer and Linnie Miller House, Portland, Oregon.

The exhibit will be open to Architectural Heritage Members July 24–25, and will open to the public after that on Thursdays–Sunday’s from 11am–5pm. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, safety protocols will be in place for those who visit the exhibit, and masks will be required. 

“My home is overdone, over-decorated and over jeweled, just like Darcelle, but it reflects me,” Cole recently told The Oregonian. “If someone gave me a framed photo, I wouldn’t have one spot on the wall to hang it.”

Darcelle XV sitting in the Elmer and Linnie Miller Residence.

Also on exhibit at the Architectural Heritage Center is “East Portland: A Changing Landscape, A Forgotten City,” which focuses on East Portland in the 1840’s–1910’s. 

About the Architectural Heritage Center: 

Owned and operated by the non-profit Bosco-Milligan Foundation, we empower people in the Portland region to preserve both landmark buildings and the regular “vernacular” vintage homes and storefronts that collectively define our neighborhoods, traditional downtowns, culture, history, and quality of life.

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