One concerned neighbor responds to the MNA election controversy agreement

editor’s note: I reached out to the neighbors concerned about the honesty of the MNA election, in light of the recent deal reached. (For background on the issue, see the most recent Last Weekend post.) Evelyn Macpherson shared her thoughts below:

I am concerned about making a statement. I take issue with many of the points within Amanda’s [Rhodes, Montavilla Neighborhood Association vice chair] letter on behalf of the MNA and its members of which I am one.

I was involved in a large effort on behalf of MNA members to right some wrongs within the organization and I have received nothing but grief from the board for my concerns. The concerns of nearly 200 others who weighed in on the grievance seem to be of no consequence to the current board members.

Many neighbors were concerned for their own involvement in our grievance. They asked to not have their name signed for the purpose of remaining anonymous and possibly saving themselves from personal scrutiny by what appeared to be a hostile group of board members. But we managed, still, to find 59 people who were willing to sign it. The effort has not been treated with due diligence.

I am grateful to Ben [Kerensa] for attempting to reach a civil arrangement. All any of us wanted was to make sure our NA was in order and following procedure whilst making every effort to include all voices of our neighborhood. I believe we can move past this, but not without some sadness for what could have been. I hope to see the MNA board do positive things for our neighborhood and when they do I will support them.

In the meantime, I have not felt welcomed or valued in my efforts to serve through the MNA and I will be seeking other outlets for my gifts and talents to be spent. This outcome of Ben’s lawsuit is not fair or right, but it is civil and it reflects my and other’s intent to build bridges.

I want avoid more conflict even when consequences of loss and dismantlement of the MNA would be just and right. They have not proven to serve our community as a whole. They have refused the rights of members based on their own emotional responses. Even worse, they have carelessly slandered well meaning individuals and groups of neighbors. With that, do be looking for some connection opportunities as they roll out. I, for one, am thrilled for the upcoming year. Some truly rewarding and life-giving things are coming down the pipe.


Your new MNA board

The results were posted yesterday afternoon…. here’s your newly elected Montavilla Neighborhood Association board:

If you’d like to see the final vote count, go here.

There were 22 candidates this year, and during the preliminary vote count 222 people voted. For more information and video of the election, see the story below.

I hope everyone who chose to ran stays involved and finds their own way to serve this neighborhood. Let’s get to work!

I’m pretty excited for my self-chosen role as reporter, cheerleader, referee…

Image result for portland oregon map montavilla


Montavilla: a brief exploration

I’m new to Montvilla, and I’ve had just a couple opportunities to just walk around and explore.

It’s pretty exciting to settle in, meet my neighbors, and find the stores and restaurants that work for me. I’ve lived in Portland on-and-off for a total of about six years, mostly in Inner Southeast.  IMG_1135

I grew up in the suburbs of Memphis, and my identity of place was the city— even though my life growing up in East Memphis was worlds away from what was happening in Midtown, Orange Mound, or Downtown.

A lot of our identity is shaped by the media— newspapers, television radio— and most of them are focused on the larger scale, the city scale. Cities matter of course, because that’s how we’re governed, but it’s nearly impossible for citywide media to keep a finger on the pulse of the smaller communities, the neighborhoods.

Like Portland, Memphis is a very neighborhood-based town. While finishing journalism school, I chose a neighborhood called Vollintine-Evergreen, once called the most racially integrated in the country. This designation mattered to me, as did the fact that V-E was affordable and a community where I thought I could make an impact.

After I graduated, I worked as a freelancer, mostly at Memphis’ alternative weekly. I enjoyed writing about the citywide issues, but I started to realize citywide media didn’t reflect many of the neighborhood-based issues that impact people’s lives.

A turning point in my thinking came after a shooting near my house. Unfortunately, this  kind of violence wasn’t uncommon. But this shooting was different: it happened on a basketball court. Between the Grizzlies and University of Memphis Tigers, Memphis is b-ball crazy— and every news news station showed up to breathlessly cover this story.

For me, this incident begged the question: are the weekly incidents of assaults, burglaries, and car accidents less important because they are so frequent, or are they more important because of their frequency and the enormous impact on people’s lives. That speed bump or crosswalk in front of a school, or new apartment development doesn’t mean too much to the media consumers of the entire city, but it’s extremely important to the neighbors who travel those streets ever day.

I volunteered a lot at my neighborhood group, and when I was offered a job there, I jumped at the chance. Instead of simply watching things happen as a journalist, I was going to make an impact as an organizer / advocate. The job ended up being a fabulous disaster, but it gave me the chance to learn about neighborhood issues and develop a website to cover them.

I ran Village Memphis for three or four years, and loved the opportunity to write about neighborhoods and sustainability (then called environmentalism). I was also able to help organize neighbors and shape local news coverage through media criticism. SInce then, I’ve been in and out of journalism and had several other interesting jobs, but nothing gave me the same sense of satisfaction as publishing my webzine.

Montavilla feels like the perfect neighborhood to re-start what now would be Village Portland. The issues of East Portland have long been ignored by city government, and there’s such a beautiful collection of people, restaurants, churches, stores, ect. that I want to learn about— and share that knowledge with my new neighbors.

Supporting local businesses is such an important ethic to Portlanders, and I’d like to provide an opportunity to learn more about our neighbors, and the values with which they run their businesses. I’m finishing the development of a website with the functionality to build those connections, and until that comes online I’ll be writing on this basic WordPress site.

I am independent, but I want to collaborate. I have a vision, but I am here to serve. I have a plan, but I am open to suggestions. If you’ve lived here a while, or are new like me, I’d love to hear your story… and maybe even get your feedback on what you think I should know about Montavilla.

Thank you for reading, I’m looking forward to this storytelling adventure…




2014 Portland Adult Soap Box Car Derby


I’ve been to three runnings of Adult Soap Box Car Derby, and it is easily my favorite Portland annual event. I appreciate all the racers, volunteers, and kind attendees for making this such an awesome event— and those who took the time to talk with us.

I also have to give props Portland Community Media for the use of the camera, and to my friend Sandy V. for stepping up to help document the event. We had a great time making this film— and I feel like we captured some of the wackiness and community spirit that makes the derby what it is.

I apologize for the shaky camera and blurry shots… I’m new to that camera. See it as an artistic flourish to represent the buzzy good times that went down (peacefully) under the high pines of Mt. Tabor. Despite it all, I hope through the film you enjoy meeting a few of the fun, creative, hilarious people that make the derby happen.

MLK Day Service Opportunities


King delivering the “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 Washington DC Civil Rights March.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'”

-Martin Luther Jing Jr.

The Oregonian has a great listing of service opportunities tomorrow. There are opportunities to help the homeless and school children, plant trees, and remove invasive weeds.

All MLK Day Hands On Greater Portland and United Way of the Columbia-Willamette service opportunities for Portland are filled, but a few spots are still available in Vancouver. Hands On helps connect people to service opportunities year-round, and you can browse their calendar here.


I ran across this last night on Portland Indymedia: it’s a zine responding to two journalists recent criticism of black bloc tactics. From a release about God Only Knows What Devils We Are (.pdf version): “we sought out our comrades from the heart of the black bloc and asked them to tell their side of the story: where they come from, why they participate, how they see the world”. The journalists were responding to Dear Occupiers a pamphlet that “endorsed a diversity of tactics” including black bloc (background here) and property destruction:

“All the pretty commodities in the window, usually the breadth of an entire social class away from me, are now a mere hammer’s distance from my proletarian hands. I can move through these spaces in which I am not authorized to be, transforming them. I can dance with mannequins or use them to smash out the windows of a storefront. I can trade the insanity of everyday misery for a collective madness that devastates the avenues of wealth.”

It’s clear  the author believes the current political system has failed him and society… I’m not sure how a few (or many) broken windows and burned buildings is going to make things better, but as we see street battles in Greece and speculate how the Occupy movement will evolve— it’s important to hear the philosophy behind the destruction and the masks.