The bicycle craze comes to Montavilla


“Cycle touring”, Harper’s Weekly, April 11, 1896 (artist, A. B. Frost):
Source: Library of Congress LC-USZ62-108253

Today, with the return of sunny weather and social distancing, it seems like more people than ever are riding bikes.

If you had been standing on Base Line Road (now SE Stark Street) on a summer weekend in 1900, you would probably have been amazed that the number of bicyclists. Multnomah County had just finished the Base Line Cycle Path, which was one of the most popular routes from Portland to the rural areas just beyond Montavilla.

This was the time of the bicycle craze that swept the nation from about 1895 to about 1900. In Portland, as elsewhere, the intensification of the fad is seen in bicycle sales. In 1897, 2,000 bicycles were purchased in Portland compared to the 14,000 to 18,000 in 1899 (Sunday Oregonian of September 17, 1899).

What accounts for the bicycle’s popularity? Partly the thrill of riding fast and far. But also the availability of the new Safety bicycle and lower costs made cycling less dangerous and more affordable to many. A new Vanguard, for instance, in 1896 cost $85, but by 1898 you could get a mail-order Acme for $39.50.

The Morning Oregonian of January 1, 1895 called the bicycle “the great leveler”, putting “the poor man on a footing with the rich”. That may be so, but with the average worker earning less than $800 a year— and women, minorities, and laborers at the lower end— event the cheapest bike would have been a sizable investment for many.

The bicycle faddists wanted to head out of the city and into the countryside for fresh air, exercise, and scenery. Initially, however, most roads were poorly maintained and crowded with horse-drawn vehicles, whose drivers did not yield kindly to cyclists.

To solve this problem, bicycle organizations, particularly the United Wheelmen’s Association, advocated cycle paths to be built, as in other United States cities, along existing roads. Who would pay for them? The bicyclists who used the paths. They would pay a 25-cent yearly tax per bike.

Base Line Road, then a major county thoroughfare, was one of the routes selected. Perhaps because it was already so heavily traveled, Multnomah County decided to construct four-foot wide paths on either side of the road. They were completed from the Morrison Bridge to Montavilla by March, 1900 and were soon finished all the way to Gresham.

What it was like to ride the new Base Line Road path, you may wonder? Here’s what one reporter wrote in the Morning Oregonian of March 26, 1900:

As the road is as level as any around Portland, and runs through a beautiful country, the route will no doubt be a favorite one. There is, to be sure, a stiff climb up the Mount Tabor hill, but there are no urgent reasons why the rider who is not inclined to exertion cannot get off and walk, and the view as the road swings around the north side of Mount Tabor is worth twice the climb. A dozen of the sinuous branches of Columbia Slough may be seen shining in the distance, the Peninsula country is spread before the rider, and closer at hand the cottages of Montavilla form a little city of themselves.

This article was accompanied by a map showing the entire system of bicycle paths east of the Willamette River.

“Routes to Bicycle Paths”, Morning Oregonian, March 26, 1900
Source: Historic Oregon Newspapers

Detail of Bicycle Path routes showing directions to the Base Line Path (on right)
Source: Historic Oregon Newspapers

The Morning Oregonian of October 16, 1900 called the Base Line Road cycle path “the most popular and attractive drive out of Portland”.

But what did Montavillans think of those throngs of weekend bikers whisking through their peaceful community? What did they think of those athletic wheelwomen, some undoubtedly wearing the new, shockingly “masculine” attire, such as bloomers, knickerbockers, and divided skirts? 

A woman wearing knickerbockers on a lady’s bike. Such “masculine” attire marked the beginning of more functional clothing for women.
Source: Maria E. Ward, Bicycling for Ladies, N. Y., Brentano’s, 1896 (Google book)

I can’t say what they thought of the controversial clothing, but some were definitely concerned about the dangers of bicycle traffic. In 1901, 80 residents signed a petition complaining about frequent accidents involving children. The County Court sided with the petitioners and ordered bicyclists to use the middle of Base Line, rather than pathways, for three blocks in Montavilla.

On the other hand, it seems likely that business owners who had food and drink to offer would welcome and benefit from the weekend bicyclists. We know from the September 17, 1899 Oregonian article on the bicycle trend that farmhouses and booths along Base Line Road were offering lunch and refreshments for bicyclists.

Several businesses located next to this bicycle path also stood to profit from the new traffic. 

Take Mrs. Winnie A. Burdett, for example. She owned a confectionery store, located about where the Academy Theater is today. Surely many bicyclists would like to stop there for a sweet treat. It hardly seems coincidental that, just as the bike path through Montavilla was completed, Mrs. Burdett announced plans to put up a summer garden and refreshment house on her property (Morning Oregonian, April 9, 1900).

Mrs. Winnie A. Burdett, Montavilla postmistress and shop owner on Base Line Road
Obituary, Oregon Journal, April 28, 1918
Source: Historic Oregon Newspapers

Mrs. Burdett’s neighbor, Captain Herman Schneider, who operated a saloon at the corner of Base Line and Hibbard Street (now SE 80th Avenue), probably also enjoyed an uptick in business.

This may have also prompted him to open a beer garden next to his tavern in 1902. In the grand opening announcement, he called it Schneider’s Family Garden

Diagonally across from Schneider’s saloon, was the Five-Mile Roadhouse, owned by William Grimes, Schneider’s arch-rival. He, too, may have benefited from the weekend bicyclists, although his tavern did have a certain reputation for rowdiness. (For more on the rivalry between Schneider and Grimes, see the Montavilla Memories story “How Montavilla went ‘dry’ or the tale of two saloons”).

Grocery store owners A. B. Horton and C. F. Weibusch on Base Line Road at that time also likely saw increased sales.

Since the Base Line Bicycle Path was built as the bicycle craze was fading, this boost to Montavilla business would have been short-lived. Fewer bicyclists meant fewer paying the bicycle tax, so maintenance began to slip.

In 1903, the Base Line path was still one of the most used, even though it had not been repaired for a year. By 1906, Portland cycle paths, in general, were disappearing. The Base Line Road path perhaps continued a little longer, but it is no longer mentioned in newspaper accounts after 1908. 

Many Montavillans were probably happy to see the weekend bicyclists go, but soon enough a new, even faster vehicle would appear.

In October, 1902, an auto traveling 35 miles per hour in Montavilla prompted locals to ask the Oregon legislature to impose speed limits on county roads. But that’s a story for another day.

Sunday Oregonian, September 16, 1906
Source: Historic Oregon Newspapers


Historical story ideas? Questions about Montavilla’s past? Also share a love for neighborhood history? 

Comment on the article at the link in the heading. Or you can reach out to Pat Sanders at

Read all of the “Montavilla Memories” articles by Pat Sanders here

The rise and fall of Portland’s “Elk”: 1900 – 2020


In 1900, the 3,000-pound bronze “Elk” statue was erected between the Plaza Blocks in downtown Portland.

On July 2nd, after standing for 120 years, the elk was removed.

The elk was erected atop a fountain, with the intent of providing a watering hole and gathering place by the former mayor David P. Thompson. Serving from 1879 – 1882, Thompson commissioned the fountain and statue for the city in 1900.

“Yesterday’s Tomorrow – A Portland Journey” by Uncage the Soul Productions

Located in what used to be a feeding ground for elk, it has served its intended purpose, being a focal point and gathering spot at several times during the last month as the Black Lives Matter movement has held demonstrations at the nearby Multnomah County Justice Center.

However, during the last week, Portlanders have gathered more and more around the statue. On July 1st a fire was set around the base of the fountain and was kept burning for hours, a welcome heat on that chilly night.

The elk was featured in a number of images and live streams over the course of the night.

The Elk of Chapman Square on its final night atop its fountain, surrounded by fire and smoke.

The elk of downtown between Portland’s Plaza Blocks on its final night atop its fountain, surrounded by fire and smoke.
Photo by Donovan Farley, @DonovanFarley

As a result of the fire, the Portland Police Bureau launched an investigation, calling the damage left by the fire vandalism.

The Regional Arts and Culture Council, at the request of the City, also launched an investigation. After inspecting the fountain and the base upon which the statue sits, they decided that the damage to the stone fountain was severe enough that the statue could potentially topple and harm Portlanders in the process. 

So on July 2nd, after one hundred twenty years, the proud bronze elk statue was removed.

The City has stated that the elk is now in storage, with no plans so far for what will come next for the shiny four-legged icon.

Not to be deterred from their gathering, Portlanders have replaced the bronze elk statue with what is being called the tiny elk, pictured below, on the 4th of July. But protesters have refrained from lighting any more large fires at the base of the fountain.

A tiny elk placed atop a bundle of sticks taped together. There is a small fire nearby as a flag burns on what was the statues base. Photo by: @45thabsurdist

A tiny elk placed atop a bundle of sticks taped together. There is a small fire nearby as a flag burns on what was the statues base.
Photo by @45thabsurdist

The tiny elk has been present at the demonstrations every night since it was first placed, as a tribute to our fallen friend.


Rosie is a houseless trans activist and writer with a focus on tech and queer advocacy. Originally from California, it’s been a Portland resident for over a decade.

This weekend


It’s hard not to feel a sense of futility as we watch the Oregon Legislature weaken a raft of bills on police reform during its current special session.

It’s all been developing quickly over the past few days, and Oregon Public Broadcasting have updated the story the morning of Friday, June 26th.

OPB reports: Oregon Police Reform Package Sees Changes Headed Into Session’s Final Stretch


It’s also disheartening to see factions form among folks organizing rallies and protests, but again, here we are.

We took a deep dive into a division among folks protesting and hosting rallies during this recent re-newed commitment to police reform and Black Lives Matter.


So under this current twisted legal system, where can a brave raccoon find justice? Only in civil court, it seems.


Restaurants and bars are open, face masks are required inside… it all seems like a contradiction.

Especially when this morning, State health officials predict an “exponential growth” in infections based on new modeling.

So if you’re going to be around other people, please take precautions.


All day today, there’s an art auction for Don’t Shoot PDX.

Here’s the link to see what’s for sale and as of this morning they’ve already raised nearly $6,500. The sale ends July 4th.


East County Educators for BLM (event):

“We will be lining SE Stark St and holding signs to show our support for the Black Lives Matter movement. We will provide the signs or you can bring your own. We will be maintaining physical distancing and adults should wear face coverings.”

SE Stark & SE 185th * 5 pm


Ride against racism (event):

“Join your fellow classmates and community, as we bike, walk, and stroll together in a unified demonstration against the violence, death, and systematic, institutional racism against Black men, women, and children.”

From Boise-Elliot / Humboldt Elementary School to Sabin Elementary. Organizers are requiring social distancing and masks for adults.

Boise-Elliot / Humboldt Elementary School * 1 pm


Ride naked day (event):

“This year there will be no start location or start time due to Covid-19. Instead, riders are encouraged to celebrate World Naked Bike Ride DAY — riding wherever they’d like whenever they’d like on June 27th.”

various locations * all day


Standing at the gate:

Folks are asking for more turnout at the Multnomah County Justice Center downtown. There have been assaults multiple injuries so attend at your own risk. It’s not recommended for children or animals.

The gathering has happened every night since the protests began, and are expected to continue…

MC Justice Center, 1120 SW 3rd Ave * 9 pm


On Sunday is the Lents International Farmers Market!

Learn more about the market here, including how to “double up” your SNAP benefits.

SE 92nd & Reedway, between Foster Rd & Harold St * 9 am – 2 pm


The Montavilla Farmers Market is every Sunday, and a great way to link in with the creators and growers in the area.

Learn more about the market and vendors here.

7700 block of SE Stark St * 10 am – 2 pm


Stay safe, and enjoy your weekend!

Activists question goals and leadership of prominent new Portland civil rights group


Rose City Justice, a civil rights collective that has hosted many prominent marches and rallies recently, has committed to a restructuring, equity and sensitivity training, more transparency with funds, and to work with long-standing Portland organizations.

This came in a statement today, June 25th, after criticism had been directed at the group.

Multiple daily protests have all risen out of the nation-wide outcry of Black Lives Matter and call for reform since the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Throughout the city, Portlanders have been vocal in their support of the movement, and the call for better policing.

Out of these protests, the RCJ was formed. After a month of protests, RCJ’s their nearly-nightly, family-friendly events and marches have drawn big crowds and attention from local mainstream media.

RCJ are calling for a series of police reforms including divestment of funding and reinvesting those funds into communities of color.

Read their goals here.

Despite their popularity, some long-time organizers, and some those protesting nightly at the Multnomah County Justice Center, are questioning the goals and leadership of the group.

Much of the criticism has been towards Darren Harold-Golden, one of the group’s leaders. On his Indeed profile, he lists that he worked as a United States Air Force military police officer from 2011 to 2018. He now works as a policy specialist for the Urban League of Portland and as an intern for the Oregon Legislature.

The group was established as a non-profit on June 11, 2020. Harold-Golden and Daniel Rosenburg, both from Portland, are listed as the principals.

RCJ responds to critics

Yesterday, Wednesday, June 24th, RCJ cancelled their planned march. On their Instagram page, a message apologized for the group’s lack of accountability based on unacceptable behavior including “silencing, neglecting feedback from our communities”, especially Black queer voices. In that message they called for questions and feedback from their supporters.

Also on Wednesday, several young Black activists on a Instagram account called jadex666 grilled Harold-Golden on several topics in a livestream: including sexually-suggestive comments he made about teenage women; privacy about data collection and privacy on RCJ’s website; his history in law enforcement; and other issues.

RCJ continued their activism Thursday morning, with a rally for Letha Wilson, mother of Patrick Kimmons, a Black man shot and killed by Portland Police in 2018.

According to Fox 12, Letha and the activists supporting her want the case re-opened and a change to Portland Police Bureau‘s use of force policy. Patrick, who was armed and engaged in a gun battle in downtown Portland, was shot nine times by police. A grand jury ruled the officers’ actions as legal self defense at the end of October of that year.

OPB reports: “2 Portland Officers Cleared In Fatal Shooting Of Patrick Kimmons”

Divergent groups

Parallel to RCJ events and marches, which have largely been violence-free, hundreds of people have been gathering at the Multnomah County Justice Center and nearby parks every night. These rallies and marches have been more tense, and unprovoked police violence (two of many examples 1, 2) against protesters and the media have attracted national and international news.

In the face of these threats from police, many who gather at the Justice Center seem to resent RCJ’s unwillingness to join them downtown. Many of the JC crew seem to believe that RCJ’s police-conflict-free gatherings and marches aren’t doing enough to confront the system and demand change.

In an interview with Village Portland Managing Editor Cory Elia near the Justice Center, the activist below also believes these new groups don’t understand the local history around reform, don’t know the local, long-term leaders, and don’t know that local white supremacist are attending— and menacing— their events.

Some protesters say that RCJ representatives are leading people away from the JC, making those remaining more vulnerable to police violence.

In this June 22nd Facebook livestream video from Kevin David Williams below, a conflict about an attempt to lead the crowd away from the JC led to an angry conflict and violence.


One month after the death of Floyd, along with actions in the streets, work also continues improve law and policies. In the current special session, six police oversight / reform bills were brought to the Oregon statehouse.

One, a bill to have the Oregon Department of Justice investigate police killings, has been scaled back to simply have a new committee formed.

Many police discipline decisions at the City level are overturned by arbitrators. Another State bill to improve that process is moving forward, but its final form seems less-than-ideal too.

Nationally, in the United States Senate, gridlock fails to move police oversight legislation:

Politico reports: “Amid national crisis on police brutality and racism, Congress flails”

This weekend


2020 has been quite a ride— and it’s good to see police reform as the focus of American life right now.

Here in Portland, we’ve seen huge crowds marking to support better policing and Black Lives Matter. But late at night, after the majority of the crowds have gone home we’re seeing extreme police violence in the streets.

Local media have not been spared from that violence. Village Portland managing editor Cory Elia has been sent to the hospital twice, and he is one of many injured out there. Read more about it here.


It’s been stressful— I’ve been out there too— seeing friends and non-violent protesters pushed around by the police. This incident that I clipped from my livestream is one of the most inexplicable.

The police were leaving, re-deploying, and one of the officers fired off a few less-than-lethal rounds— striking a young man in the head.

And I can’t think of a reason why.

Was it just casual brutality? An accidental shooting? Were they trying to stop the march by injuring someone, knowing that medic and the crowd wouldn’t leave? We’ll probably never know for sure.

One development that could be making things worse: a federal prison riot squad was sent to Portland to assist Portland Police Bureau.


Beyond what’s happening in the streets, we have also seen Mayor Ted Wheeler promise to improve Portland’s police oversight system; a task force on police training, standards, and accountability from Governor Kate Brown; and a $15 million PPB budget cut passed by City Council.


When the world gets a little wild, sometimes I take comfort in the simple truths of cartoon animals… so with that: this latest edition of “Life in the Village”.

And in case you were wondering, yes, that is Comic Sans; added strategically as hater bait.


Happy Juneteenth!

There’s a lot of awesome events happening, and I hope it’s a time to reflect on the ending of slavery as we struggle for a further expansion of rights: the right to policing that actually does protect and serve.

Last weekend, thanks to a generous supporter, Cory and I were able to visit Seattle’s CHAZ / CHOP (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone / Capitol Hill Occupied Protest). Along with photos and livestreams (here), we were thankful to be there for the “Black is Beautiful: Femme” a speakers forum on Saturday. Below is a video from that experience:


There is a march today for Juneteenth here in Portland:

*** is also doing an all-day event, find that here.

Listen when you can, and even if you can’t— check out their lineup. It’s amazing all the Black excellence they’ve brought together.



Last year’s Juneteenth festival was awesome, we had a good time volunteering. This year, the same team is taking their show online… learn more about that here.



Also on Saturday, 82nd Avenue’s Trap Kitchen is offering free food to Black folks— sponsored by the Portland Trailblazer‘s CJ McCollum.

Though not officially invited to the cookout, Village Portland’s collaboration with a new youth Black media collective might bring us out to support early-career Black journalists doing their thing.

3137 NE 82nd Ave * 1 pm, until the food is gone * free


Sunday is the second Lents International Farmers Market of the season!

See what’s happening at the market here, including how to “double up” your SNAP benefits.

SE 92nd & Reedway, between Foster Rd & Harold St * 9 am – 2 pm


The Montavilla Farmers Market is every Sunday for the season.

Learn more about the market and vendors here.

7700 block of SE Stark St * 10 am – 2 pm


Have a great weekend!

This weekend


I’ve been referring to the quantine as the lost spring; and as we start summer we’re all working on how to establish a new sense of normal.

It’s hard to keep up with all that’s happening, but you can get help by checking out East PDX Newscalendar of what’s starting to open up.

A few notable examples are: Leach Botanical Garden and The Grotto (that opened yesterday, June 11th).


As the protests for better policing continue downtown and around the city, keep in touch with our photographs, livestreams, and observations on our Twitter page.

Keep track of daily Black Lives Matter events here.


The Green Lents Community Tool Library re-opened May 23rd. It’s a great resource for folks in East Portland who like to plant, build, and create.

See if you live in an area they serve on the map below. View the tools they have here.



Multnomah County was supposed to begin opening today— but Governor Kate Brown put that plan on pause, due to lack of progress in tamping down the COVID-19 pandemic. The “yellow light” will remain for seven days, she said.

The Montavilla Neighborhood Association has started a post that includes some of how businesses are adjusting to quarantine. See that by clicking on the link below their new-ish logo (the heart forms an M & V, clever, right?) below: (copy & paste the link in your browser)


In Village Portland news: thanks to a generous sponsor, Cory Elia is able to continue his work covering protests in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ). He’s going up Saturday.

It’s not necessarily Village Portland’s focus or formally an assignment, but a big part of our mission is helping indie journalist do their thing and Cory’s work is cherished by many communities here.

Coverage is not an endorsement, but a grassroots, mutual-aid driven gathering of folks is at the very least interesting, and I’m sure there’s plenty to learn up there.


Sunday is the second Lents International Farmers Market of the season!

Learn more about the market here, including how to “double up” your SNAP benefits.

SE 92nd & Reedway, between Foster Rd & Harold St * 9 am – 2 pm


The Montavilla Farmers Market is every Sunday these days, and a great way to link in with the creators and growers in the area.

Learn more about the market and vendors here.

7700 block of SE Stark St * 10 am – 2 pm


On better policing


Among volleys of flash-bang grenades and tear gas Tuesday night, Cory Elia, our managing editor, was assaulted by a police officer in downtown Portland.

Cory documenting a protest in August of 2018. Photo by Samuel Gehrke

He’s been covering the protests about police violence and the killing of George Floyd and black folk since their beginning, and protests in Portland for two years. It’s his independent work, partly because I’m not comfortable sending a reporter into often-dangerous Portland protests. Despite it not fitting into Village Portland‘s standard coverage, it’s very important work.

It’s important work because if the police are willing to abuse folks in front of a crowd… what are they willing to do when no one is watching?


Every group has its values and culture, and police officers in the United States are being called to transform how they interact with the public, and we must transform how they’re held accountable.

Let’s not forget how difficult it is to be a police officer— being the person expected to parachute into an unknown, chaotic situation with a goal of restoring the peace— but reform has to acknowledge that for many the public’s trust in police to act responsibly has been lost.


Cory Elia

Cory described the interaction that took place near SW Yamhill and SW 3rd Avenue on SW 4th Ave between Taylor and Yamhill Streets:

In the cloud of tear gas that was filtering through downtown, Cory said he wasn’t able to see or breathe very well, but was moving in the direction indicated by police as they moved to disperse the crowd.

Even though he identified himself as a journalist, he said a female police officer grabbed him and started shoving him forward. During this, he said he told them that he was a journalist— and they responded that they didn’t care.

After that, he recalled that another officer, a larger male, struck him in his back, sending him crashing head-first into a nearby wall. Tangled in his bike, he said he fell to the ground. As he laid there, he said the male officer kicked him away from their line.

Afterwards, another indie journalist helped him up, and they left together.

Video of the encounter:

You can see Cory on camera with his bike early in the video above, and then him being accosted by police officers on the left side of the screen.

There’s video evidence of many examples, but I still have to wonder how many times across this nation that a violent interaction like this has been perpetrated by the police over the course of these protests. It’s casual brutality towards citizens; a doubling down of the attitude and actions that have moved so many Americans to take to the streets in defiance.

We’re gathering more evidence— and a lawsuit is planned— but I can say now with confidence that Portland Police Bureau and all police in the United States should allow and encourage the scrutiny of the free press, and work to ensure a safe environment for all Americans to gather and protest.

The American Civil Liberties Union is also gearing up for legal action due to police targeting the media.

All this seems like common sense, but apparently it needs to be said. 

Earlier in the night of June 2nd, thousands gather peacefully at Pioneer Square in downtown Portland. Photo by Cory Elia

Tens of thousands of people have been able to peacefully demand better policing and mourn black Americans lost to police violence— but what happens at the end of the night? We should be able to trust that police can distinguish between bad actors and the rest of the crowd.

I believe we should expect civility from all involved, but a well-armed, and well-funded should be held to a much higher standard. And I, and many other Portlanders, believe the Portland Police Bureau have failed to meet that mark. 

Many reported that Portland Police were more restrained on the next night, Wednesday, June 2nd. But the night Cory was assaulted, as you can see in the first video and the one below, Portland Police went wild with the tear gas and rubber bullets.


If used at all, violence and shock-and-awe weaponry should be an absolute last resort for police— because they are dangerous, frighten many people from even attempting to come out and express their constitutional rights, and violate what should be essential values of police officers: de-escalation and peacekeeping. 

It’s going to take a lot of work for Portland police to rebuild the community’s trust in them. Many think that’s not even possible, and want to start over from scratch. 

But when I see the calm concern and determination on the faces of the tens of thousand of folks marching peacefully, I know that they want better— and believe that better policing is possible. “Protect and serve”, or PPB’s more lavishly-phrased version, seems like such a simple mission, but also so far from where we are now.

Here in Portland, we have a huge opportunity to improve police oversight with the negotiation of a new police union contract, but it seems Portland City Council are pushing back that timeline due to the pandemic

I think we’re missing an opportunity to turn the current outpouring of support for improved police oversight. The time for change is now; people have adjusted to virtual participation and want change now.

Differences in the approach to better policing aside, it’s probably not be within the skillset of folks horrified by the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Brianna Taylor— and countless others who have been wronged by failures of policing— to fix the problem. But the marchers instinctively know that something is wrong and they deserve better.


Cory visited the emergency room yesterday, the day after the incident, and the doctor said he’s going to be okay. The x-ray showed that his ribs aren’t broken. And after one night of rest, he’ll be back out reporting again tonight on Thursday, June 4th.


I wish I could watch all the speakers from the nights of gatherings, to absorb all the wisdom and experience gleaned from decades of engagement and advocacy by Portland’s black community… but the revolution won’t likely be on social media.

Not everyone can attend a protest, and real change will come in people’s hearts and the wonky details of law and policy. So within that range of opportunities, I encourage you to find your own way to get help make change happen.

Shared by KBOO, here are a few minutes from the speakers at Wednesday, June 4th’s gathering in Portland.

Why I believe we are already a failed nation

A short treatise on why I believe its time to secede from the failed nation of America


America is broken.

Not broken down, needing repair. Broken, we need to call a scrapper to tow this and figure out where the exit is and what services we will need once there.


ONLY the internet is still working properly, and only for those who can afford it.

The rich are holed up in second homes to wait out the danger.

The middle classes are stuck in their homes trying to educate their own children.

The working class have been forced out to the front lines or become homeless. The poverty stricken can’t even get money panhandling right now. Store shelves are empty.

Plants and factories are unable to nimbly shift production needs because they are modernized to create one piece of a larger monopoly on that product. Meat packing plants are closing down. Food is rotting in fields while people wait in miles-long lines for food boxes.

And the government supposed to be helping those people are instead crafting laws to protect those corporations from lawsuits from sick workers forced back to work.

The same government stealing purchased PPE to hoard in stockpiles they say is not meant for the states who bought those stockpiles.

The same government ginning up support from their bases by politicizing both public health and freedoms without responsibilities. 

The same government using the Justice Department to gerrymandering maps and steal votes.

Unemployment rates so high that they have not been seen since the Great Depression but the stock market is soaring. The rich aren’t feeling any of this in any meaningful way.

Everybody thinks America is on the side of the road with a flat tire.

If you crawl under it and swish the smoke away… you will see that the axles have fallen off a completely corroded and rotten chassis.

America has spent the last 40 years on its social vehicle; shining up the body, on paint jobs, graphics, spoilers and turn signals on a car that hasn’t has a tune up or oil change in 40 years.

In real terms, it has sent manufacturing and skilled labor contracts overseas to increase profit; gutted workers rights, wages, and benefits to increase their profits; used taxpayer bailout funds and tax abatements to reward their corporate shareholders; spends an outrageous amount of public funds to pay private companies to imprison the highest population in any developed “democratic” nation in the world; uses publicly funded services to oppress, kill, intimidate, obfuscate, and terrorize its citizens and then uses that same public’s Justice Department to excuse the violence and to blame the victims; systematically defunded schools, infrastructure, social service programs, and the safety net to fund an out-sized and unsustainable military; plundered the treasury for pointless and unwinnable wars so they could profit from those wars; and bowed to the wishes of corporate political interests by handing you the *corporation’s* choice for nomination because he is their creature.

There is no going back to before. This is officially a failed state.

Why are we talking about an election rather than a revolution?


Read more…

From Liberty Gardens to Victory Gardens


As I was researching my article on the 1918 – 1919 influenza pandemic in Montavilla, I came across a news item about Victory Gardens in 1919. Why, I wondered, would they still be growing Victory Gardens months after World War I had ended in 1918?

With some investigation, I discovered this was intended was to help alleviate the food shortages in war-ravaged Europe. The gardens planted during the war were actually called Liberty or War Gardens. When Congress voted to declare war on Germany on April 4th, 1917, food was already in short supply in the United States due to crop failures and the Allied nations’ needs.

On April 11th, President Woodrow Wilson called on farmers to increase production. Retired businessman Charles Lathrop Pack said America would win the war “by fighting it with food…” and wanted to enlist civilians in this battle.

Pack believed urban gardens could contribute substantially. In March 1917, on the eve of America’s entry into the war, he founded the National Emergency Food Garden Commission (later called the National War Garden Commission) to advocate and educate the public on the importance of vegetable gardens. Backyards, schoolyards, and vacant lots needed to be brought into production. 

By the end of 1917, nearly 3 million war gardens (1,150,000 acres) were under cultivation in cities and towns. In 1918, that number grew to an estimated 5,285,000. Not only did this increase the food supply, it also freed up trains for war-related purposes. Adults and children on the home front were significant contributors to the war effort.

Source: Charles Lathrop Pack, “The War Garden Victorious”, 1919 (artist J. N. Darling); Google Books

On March 3rd, 1918, when Portland held a war rally at the downtown Auditorium, it became an official proponent of the movement. Supporters, of course, recognized that amateur gardeners would need assistance in orde to succeed.

Help came in a variety of ways. Local newspapers ran how-to articles on food gardening. Pamphlets, demonstrations, lectures, and classes were also available. Then the federal government provided an extra hour for after-work gardening by initiating Daylight Saving Time on March 31st, 1918.

“How to Succeed with the War Garden”, planting table
Source: The Sunday Oregonian, April 14, 1918 (Historic Oregon Newspapers)

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How the COVID-19 pandemic makes the case for guaranteed basic income

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Millions of Americans are now practically forced to stay in their homes, that is, if they are lucky enough to have homes. Some are without their usual meager income and unable to afford their bills. Many are limiting their trips to the store, not just to protect themselves, but also to protect others.

Many Americans have recently lost their jobs, their healthcare, and without a stay on evictions, would be on the verge of losing their housing. It remains to be seen how they will pay if the debt is merely pushed off to another date. 

One thing that all these Americans have in common is that they are in this predicament through no fault of their own. Not a single one of them created COVID-19— yet they all suffer from an event, or series of events, beyond their control.

Nor is their restricted freedom the fault of their government, which is taking appropriate action by restricting movement, just as it does by restricting drunk driving. Even libertarians agree that the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the rare times where it is appropriate to restrict otherwise paramount freedoms. 

Those Americans who are currently falling into poverty due to the COVID-19 pandemic also have something in common with many other Americans who were in poverty before a global health emergency: they are there through no fault of their own.

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Certainly some people are in poverty as a result of their own poor decision making, and I don’t want to discuss whether or not we should include a person’s IQ in the relevant list of factors beyond their control. But even in the best of times, ignoring IQ and focusing solely on choices, there are some people in poverty through no fault of their own. 

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