Volunteer opportunities in Opportunities to volunteer in Montavilla

A few weeks ago, a neighbor wanting to volunteer in their neighborhood made a post on Montavilla Neighborhood Community, a Facebook Group page, asking for input.

The response was incredible.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the tragedy and negativity spotlighted in the news, but there is so much good work being done in Montavilla and beyond that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

I was encouraged to compile this list of volunteer opportunities by neighbor Amy Reaney, and since one of the goals of Village Portland is to encourage civic engagement, I thought it was a great idea.

Much of this list is based on that post, along with a few other groups I knew about. Please let met know if there are other groups you think should be included. There’s not rhyme or reason to the order of these organizations.

If you’re looking for a way to get involved in 2019, I hope you can find an organization that fits your skills and interest.

Rahab’s Sisters

“Rahab’s Sisters creates community through radical hospitality with those marginalized by poverty, houselessness, sex work, violence or substance use.”

Every Friday they offer a meal and supplies “to anyone who identifies as a woman, or whose gender identity makes them vulnerable.”

If you’d like to learn more about their work and or get involved, fill out their form here.

Join PDX

JOIN offers basic services to homeless people “in a welcoming, low barrier setting”. They need volunteers to commit to a weekly two-to-three-hour shift to help staff their day space. JOIN is open from 10 am to 3 pm Monday through Friday.

Portland Public Schools

To volunteer with PPS, you have to pass a background test, review the mandatory Child Abuse & Adult Sexual Misconduct Volunteer Training, and sign a confidentiality form. Then you can contact school leadership. Start here.

You can also work with an organization already working in schools. School leaders are also open to ideas for new programs. For example, my plan to develop a media education / journalism training was well received.

Oregon Parent Teacher Association

Composed of parents, teachers, and staff, the purpose of this organization is to “serve the needs and desires of its members in promoting the health, welfare, safety and education of children and youth”.

Get involved here.

Multnomah County Library

Every library hosts events and ways to get involved in the community.

You can serve by helping both youth and adults improve their reading skills, neighbors to improve their English skills, as well as shelving and checking in materials, assisting in computer labs and helping with outreach.

Here‘s a list of current opportunities.

Montavilla Emergency Warming Shelter

During winter’s coldest days, Portland simply doesn’t have the shelter capacity for all of the folks living outside. Hosted at Saints Peter and Paul Episcopal Church (SE Ash & 82nd), this volunteer-run shelter is an amazing neighborhood effort.

Montavilla Neighborhood Association

The MNA meets monthly, and with presentations on everything from grassroots initiatives to development projects, it is a great way to stay in touch with what’s happening in the neighborhood. The organization also hosts community events and weighs in on City policy on behalf of its members.

Neighbors can volunteer by sitting on board or on a committee, helping out with current initiatives, or proposing projects of their own. Watch this video for the highlights of MNA’s achievements from last year.

Montavilla Initiative

This organization advocates for a safer and more livable neighborhood.

Read about controversy surrounding the organization and members ‘responses to criticism here.

Montavilla East Tabor Business Association

The goal of this organization is to create a strong local community by hosting local events for entertainment and networking, promoting local businesses, and recruiting new businesses to fill gaps in needed goods and services in the area.

METBA is run by a volunteer board and is comprised of about 100 businesses. Visit their website for more information on their events and how to get involved.

Montavilla Food Coop

The board and members of the Montavilla Food Co-op are working to bring a member-run grocery store to the neighborhood. There are several ways to participate, and, specifically, they need help with social media, volunteer coordination, and community outreach. Learn more and fill out a survey here get involved.

Friends of Mt. Tabor

Mt. Tabor is a wonderfully unique park, with multiple opportunities for service. Friends of Mt. Tabor organize the Mt. Tabor Weed Warriors to tackle invasive species, staffing of the visitors center, and conducting foot patrols of the park.

You can also become a member of the group, sponsor a bench, or partner with the organization.

Weed Warriors meet once monthly from April through September to “remove invasive plant species and restore native habitat to Mt. Tabor Park.” 

Volunteers at the visitors center greet guests, hand out maps, answer questions, and give out dog biscuits.

Friends of Mt. Tabor’s periodic foot patrols “observe park activity and conditions; record and report theft, vandalism, graffiti, and improperly secured facilities; manage lost and/or found items, provide first aid, assist lost or disoriented individuals, and pick up litter while on patrol.” An orientation is required before participation.

PDX Soapbox Car Derby

One day every summer, Mt. Tabor attracts dozens of DIY soap box cars builders for an annual race down the extinct volcano.

The event attracts thousands of visitors and hundreds of volunteers are need to make the event happen. The event also has a year-round board that meets monthly.

Learn more about the participants and community effort to make the derby happen in our video from 2018:

Mainspring Portland

Mainspring is a community food, clothing, and resources pantry located near 82nd Ave and Freemont St. They accept donations, and need volunteers to do a variety of tasks including: greeting participants, organizing donations, picking up supplies, determine the need of participants, and more.

Saints Peter and Paul Episcopal Church

This church is a great example of a community of believers using their time, energy, and meeting space to serve their community. They host multiple events and organizations including Rahab’s Sisters and Multnomah County Needle Exchange.

I imagine many of the churches in the area are doing good work and providing charity, and would love to know about their work as well.

Portland Animal Welfare Team

This organization provides free veterinary care to the pets of people who are homeless or living in extreme poverty.

Located near 82nd Ave and Halsey St, this organization needs volunteer veterinarians, as well as veterinarian assistants, and non-medical help.

Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon

APANO is a statewide, grassroots organization, “uniting Asians and Pacific Islanders to achieve social justice.” Fill out a form here to start the process of getting involved.

APANO’s projects include community organizing, supporting the arts and culture, leadership development, and small business development. The group has also been instrumental in the establishment and development of the Jade District.

Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization

IRCO has a long list of opportunities for volunteering including: photography, multiple tutoring positions, mentoring, and event organizing.

Habitat for Humanity / ReStore

With this organiation, you can volunteer by helping build housing for the less fortunate, helping in their offices, or taking a shift at a local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Located near Mall 205, the ReStore sells salvaged material from homes to fund their work. Start here.

Meals on Wheels People

This organization serves hot, nutritious meals at dozens of dining centers throughout the Portland area including a serving at East Portland Community Center (740 SE 106th Ave). Meals on Wheels delivers to home-bound seniors. 

Both services need volunteers to support their organization and deliver meals. Here’s an overview of their programs featuring an adorable father and son who volunteer together:

TriMet Ride Connection

Like their website says: Transportation is an essential human need.

Ride Connection volunteers helps folks get where they need to go. You can use your own vehicle to help or use one of theirs. Visit their website to learn how to get involved.

Montavilla Jazz Festival

Hosted in August, this two-day festival’s mission is to bolster the local jazz community. Organizers need help with their fundraiser as well as tabling at other events.

More details emerge on the new shelter planned for Foster Road

More details are coming to light about the new women and couples shelter planned for 6144 SE Foster Rd, including the fact that it’s planned to be a low barrier shelter. Since the beginning, neighbors involved have criticized the process around opening this shelter— and are still asking for more collaboration and clarity

The Foster Shelter Steering Committee meeting begins at about the @ 8:00 mark. Whether you’ve been following the issue or not, there’s several insightful comments on the Facebook livestream, and you can read the comments in realtime as you watch the video.

If you’re new to the issue, here’s a story from when the shelter was approved by the Multnomah County Commission in January, and a more recent piece from a meeting on the shelter in March.

I want to thank Gray Ayer for filming the meeting and allowing me to use it in this story. If you’re interested in getting involved in the planning process around the shelter, visit SouthEast Allied Communities web page.

To recap the last meeting, reviewed the program and building design.

@ 12:30 – April, from the Joint Office addressed questions from the last meeting:

In the last meeting, she said the committee wasn’t asked to vote on what population would be served, rather it was a “straw poll” or “check in”. The shelter would serve the most vulnerable homeless and those who “haven’t be able to engage in more traditional shelters”.

Said there wasn’t a budget for public safety, and that would be based on the good neighbor agreement.

@ 19:40 – April said it wouldn’t be humane to site shelter facilities far from neighborhoods they’ll have to integrate into eventually. If a person’s criminal history precludes them from being within a certain distance from a school, they wouldn’t be able to stay at the shelter.

@ ~25:40 – Willamette Center (a shelter similar to the one planned for Foster Rd) has a good neighbor agreement, but when pressed said that it wasn’t an actual written agreement. But it was clarified that a written agreement was offered, but not requested because things were going smoothly.

The neighbor who asked for a good neighbor agreement, bringing applause from many in attendance. He was told he’s get a good neighbor agreement.

@ 33:24 – A neighbor said that the current low barrier plan is at the different end of the spectrum from what Mayor Ted Wheeler said. His staffer said Wheeler didn’t understand the terms meant, but does now.

@ 50:32 – Officers from the Portland Police Bureau addresses public safety concerns around the 120-person shelter. The comments on the FB livestream are insightful during their presentation.

It’s good these meetings are happening, but this all exists within the context of a top-down process that didn’t include neighbors until the decision was already finalized. Early in the livestream, one neighbor criticized the steering committee modelpreferring to pursue a lawsuit against the City.

This isn’t an endorsement, but Loretta Smith, a candidate for next month’s City Council election, address the issue in the video below:

Portland City Council Candidates Debate

It was good to see candidates for two Portland City Council seats discuss the issues brought forward by East Portland neighbors. Also encouraging was how many volunteers from different neighborhoods stepped up to help put the event together.

The debate was put on by the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association, and organized by the organization’s president, Chelsea Powers. 

After introductions and thank yous, the debate began.


@ 3:15 – The candidates for City Council Position 2, (L to R: Julia DeGraw, [a surrogate for] Nick FishPhilip J. Wolfe, and Nicholas Sutton) made their introductions.

@ 9:50 – The candidates are asked about better representation for outer Portland, and if they would support changing the City Charter to create districts.

@ 14:55 – The candidates answered how they would include neighborhood associations and other community groups in City decisions.

@ 20:40 – The candidates were asked about livability issues, and more specifically, if they supported hiring more police officers.

@ 29:25 – The candidates were asked how they would balance the budget to support City services.

@ 36:15 – The candidates were asked about how they would pave streets in East Portland.

@ 41:50 – The candidates made their concluding statement.


@ 49:30 – The candidates for Portland City Council Position 3 (L to R: Stuart Emmons, Andrea Valderrama, Loretta Smith, Jo Ann Hardesty, and Felicia Williams) made their introductions.

@ 55:30 – The candidates are asked about better representation for outer Portland, and if they would support changing the City Charter to create districts.

@ 1:03:08 – The candidates answered how they would include neighborhood associations and other community groups in City decisions.

@ 1:11:54 – The candidates were asked about livability issues, and more specifically, if they supported hiring more police officers.

@ 1:22:15 – The candidates were asked how they would balance the budget to support City services.

@ 1:30:33 – The candidates were asked about how they would pave streets in East Portland.

@ 1:37:47 – The candidates made their concluding statement.


Election Day is May 15th. The last day to register to vote in this election is April 24th.







MNA – March meeting

The March Montavilla Neighborhood Association meeting welcomed candidates for a Portland City Council seat, a representative from Portland Community College adult GED certification program, and heard about a planned development.

@ 4:45 – Candidates for position #2 of the Portland City Council incumbent  Commissioner Nick Fish and organizer Julia DeGraw spoke on these four issues: homelessness & housing; livability & crime; police funding & accountability; and the role of neighborhood associations

The last day to register to vote in the May 15th Portland City Council election is April 21st.

@ 52:30 – Juliet Purcell, with Portland Community College spoke on its Adult Basic Education / GED program.


@ 59:10 – A representative of the 14-unit development planned for 90th Ave & SE Hoyt spoke. 


@ 1:11 – The MNA board members gave their reports.

@ 1:25:00 –  Lene Garrett called for volunteers to be advocates for the elderly through the Oregon Long-Term Care Ombudsman. For more information go here.



Welcome to Village Portland

Welcome to Village Portland, neighborhood news & actions in East Portland.

We’re here to bridge the gap between news & civic participation… and to encourage folks get involved with their community and support their neighbors. There are a million voices fighting for your attention, but we want to help you connect with your village, your neighborhood… where your power to connect and make change is the strongest.

Sign up at the bottom of this page to get email notifications from Village Portland. We publish a weekly news and events multi-media post to keep up up to date on what’s happening in the neighborhood. You can also follow us on Facebook / Twitter.

Support us and help promote your business or organization to your neighbors by having us tell your story. You can also get involved and tell stories from your community through our multi-media citizen journalist training program. 

There are Village Portland sites for Montavilla, Lents, and Brentwood-Darlington:

Village Portland @ Montavilla

Village Portland @ Lents

Village Portland @ Brentwood-Darlington

We’re most excited about the Village Portland @ Montavilla site. It has the space for more in-depth stories, as well as a neighborhood directory where neighbors can find and learn the story of local businesses and organizations.

Explore your Village with DuckDuckGo, the search company that respects your privacy.


If you’re an organizer or writer interested in bringing a Village Portland to your neighborhood, contact Andrew Wilkins, Publisher / Editor:



Business owners invest so much time, energy, and money for the chance to build a business that reflects their values and serves their customers in a unique way. Many neighbors want to support businesses that share their values, and we want to help owners tell this story.

We can help tell your story by putting together the best mix of video, photographs, and words that will tell your neighbors who you are, why you do what you do, and why they should support what you’re doing.

Take a look at the story of Montavilla Mini Farm, a neighbor who sells produce from her side yard garden. The full story is here, and you can watch the video below.


Here are a few more of the stores about the community and volunteerism that makes East Portland a great place to live:

Life’s a little different in East Portland. Meet some of the activist and artists working in their community through a mural by local artist Alex Chui:

The 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade, it feels like the great American small town parade and the best of 82nd Avenue:

Volunteers work year-round and raise about $30,000 to put on the PDX Adult Soapbox Derby, an amazing mix of DIY engineering, art, and racing in Mt. Tabor Park:


I follow the news because you don’t want to

Recently, the Oregonian started showing up in my driveway. This wasn’t much-hated, unshakable Food Day— if was a full edition.

I’m not one of those people who prefer a print edition. The web is cheaper, cleaner, produces less waste, and gives readers a chance to contribute to the discussion. But I think it’s clear that there is much to be desired from the Oregonian (or their owners Advanced Publications) web product.

There’s been a lot of criticism of the Oregonian’s coverage, and the sensationalist reporting definitely seems like a trend. The most disturbing let an accused double murder’s implausible— but sexually titillating— excuse for the deaths are in the headline and lede. Rape victims get anonymity and so should murder victims— but there are multiple photos of the 19-year-old female victim accompanying the story.

Today’s big issue is cannabis legalization: Washington’s cannabis stores are opened yesterday (7/8) and the Oregonian sat down with the Oregon’s initiative author and the head of a national organization who gave $650,000 to the ballot measure. Surprise! They’re both in favor of it.

They talk about the lack of a DUI standard, and there are a few unattributed graphs on the standard arguments against legalization in general— but there are no substantial alternative POVs. Legalization seem inevitable in Oregon, (though polling shows only a ten point lead for advocates) but will it be done right? I started a Reddit thread on the issue.

In other stories:

* After a series of stories from the Oregonian, the Oregon state fire marshal posted the travel patterns of oil train travel in the state.

* A former high school principal was sentenced to 2 years in prison by a state court for sex with a 12-year-old, while a federal court gave him nearly 11 years in prison for possession of child pornography. He was convicted of a similar crime in 2003, and only served 6 months in jail and 1 year in a half-way house. The case highlights the disparity between state and federal sentencing regarding child abuse, the Oregonian reports.

* In 2012, Reed College reported 14 on-campus sexual assaults, while the University of Oregon (with 20 time the student body) reported 17. Columnist Steve Duin said these numbers indicate a need for sexual assault reporting reform at the U of O, similar to what happened at Reed in 2011.

There was also plenty of crime, sports, food, lots of inserts, and an editorial page focused mostly on national issues— but I included all of what I thought seemed important.

The case for crowd-sourced mapping

OpenStreetMap is an open-source alternative to big tech’s mapping.

The rise of smartphone and GPS technology has led to tens of billions of dollars in online mapping investments and acquisitions by big tech, but is it a problem to have our interface with the physical world controlled by for-profit companies?

OpenStreetMap is an open-source alternative, promoted in a blog post (I found on Reddit) by Emacsen, one of the organizers of the project. Emacsen writes big tech cannot be trusted to develop such a critical resource for three basic reasons: “who decides what gets shown on the map, who decides where you are and where you should go, and personal privacy.”

Along with being independent from big tech, OSM is customizable and maps can be downloaded to use off-line. I don’t use GPS, but I hear it can be unreliable. Apple’s turn-by-turn software can be frustrating, and recently after a few hours of roaming the streets of San Francisco with my iPhone 5’s map zooming in and out awkwardly and spinning the map so I couldn’t tell which way was north— I wished I had other mapping options on my phone.

Continue reading “The case for crowd-sourced mapping”