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gentrificated clownarchy, a true story

"Ok, you jerks, ya wanna hear a story from Portland? Well I got a tale that will turn your knuckles white and curdle yer blood like... well, like curdled blood (whatever the hell that is). The Alberta clown house is situated in NE Portland. It's the home base and breeding ground for Portland's own internationally renowned (we've been to New Mexico and our videos are big in Bogotá, Columbia) clownabilly rock band, named after me, Pepto Dizmal.
fighting over spilt mud
fighting over spilt mud
We are five brothers. I'm the most beautiful, then there's Dingo the rodeo clown, Draino the dumpster diver, Neptune the greasy hippy, and Servo the punk (he's adopted).

We used to live in North Portland, on Mississippi Ave.(back when it was rough) A few of us engaged in vigilante justice: us vs. the jerks who sold crack and beat up prostitutes in our yard. It worked like a charm; Police do their thing, and so do normal citizens, but nothing... NOTHING... scares a thief or crack dealer more than four clowns stalking them on girls' bikes, and throwing painted bricks at them, while laughing hysterically."
We hit the underbelly of the Mississippi neighborhood like a gaggle of frozen rubber chickens (whatever the hell that is). The crack dealers' union almost fell apart, as their representatives lobbied the C.I.A. for more funding and better training since none of the pimps and thugs were schooled in countering vigilante clown insurgents.(Ask the folks at Mississippi pizza, we used to rumble with thugs on their front porch) Many a would be thief stopped the police in those North Portland streets, begging to be taken to jail just to get away from a drunken, naked clown (I get sexy when I drink).

Yes, the plan worked. People were coming out of their houses; enjoying the community, and more people, told people who told people who told people, and they all began loading their bikes on their cars (hahahahahaha) and moving into the neighborhood. Pretty soon, it was so safe that we could no longer afford to live in our clown house. Rents skyrocketed with the influx of Young Urban Professionals. A coffee shop sprung up, and then a video store with no videos, just little records that don't play on the record player.

Friends of ours who had lived and worked there 40 years got swindled out of their building, and evicted. Our slumlord noticed the coffee shop, and the presence of people who wear ties, and decided not only to raise the rent but also to evict us.

Let me tell you freaks, I haven't seen that much drama and grief since we clowns had to battle N.V.S. (that's a gang of disgruntled, clown-hating baseball players. Their name sounds like the word "Envious" but it really stands for "Not Very Sportsmanlike"), on the streets of Eugene.

Our new house on Alberta street is bigger, better and I hear it's more beautiful (I've never been there), and I don't think we will have to worry about getting classed out for at least six months. Fancy buildings are going up all over, and the sidewalks are cluttered with that chain-link fencing that surrounds construction of condos and high rent shopping. It's a funny irony that I hear all the new apartments are being built with large balconies to enjoy the very street life they are driving away. The moral of the story? If you like where you live, keep it ugly. Encourage litter and gang violence. I'm just too beautiful too be in a gangfight, so when I get out of jail, I'm going home looking like crap. I told Dingo to get me an old jockstrap to wear, and I'm only eating bacon here in the joint (weird that almost none of my kennelmates dig bacon, they must be Catholic), so by the time I get out I'm gonna have the most impressive set of ingrown-hairy man boobies in town. Oh by the way, in case your wondering why I'm in jail, the rumors about me aren't true. I hear people are saying that I went back to the old hood and dispersed hundreds of little baggies containing crumbled macadamia nuts, to encourage the crack horde to return.

But the truth is, we were biking our stuff to the new location; I hadn't even seen the joint yet. Dingo got exited about the new digs and yelled, "YEEEEE-EEE-HAW!" A nearby agent of the office of Homeland Insecurity misheard him, and thought it was me, yelling, Jiiiiiiiiiiiiiiihad! I still haven't been charged, or seen a lawyer, but that's ok. I'm lucky, some people will never even get to SEE Cuba, and they give me free electricity, straight from the tap. I did notice that the Mexicans here wear rimless sombreros and talk some messed up Spanish. Gotta go, I hear a jar-head coming.

"Love ya when I'm drunk,"


homepage: homepage: http://photobucket.com/albums/v161/crustaspunk/Clown%20House/

anarchists and artisits 08.Jul.2005 08:32

ian wallace

anarchists and artists- the shock troops of gentification. first ones in. first ones out. good going boys. and speaking of going, realestate agents would like you to move to tacoma or spokane. just for a few years.

Recognize the enemy,don't ride the fence ? 08.Jul.2005 09:37

Class War

Didn't the clowns frequent these knew gentrifying businesses, and profit from them by taking jobs at places like the Purple Parlor, sitting drinking beer at the Mississippi pizza,sipping your lattes at Fresh Pot.Didn't Dingo work for one of the main driving forces for the economic and cultural shift in the Boise neighborhood,Kay Newell at Sunlan lighting.I straight up class racist. Recognize the enemy.If you ride the fence,at some pojnt you will fall off.After being pushed out of N.Mississippi,did you really think that moving to Alberta,a street that was already far ahead in the gentrification process that you would last there ? or were you hoping to be accepted by the new trendy art crowd ? I hear people calling the gentrification process on North Mississippi & NE Alberta as PROGRESS, I call it economic and class RACISM...We can sit back and get pushed out to deep southeast,or Vancouver,or we can step up,find our common voice and join class struggle....

Aryan business fest happening on North Mississippi ? 08.Jul.2005 09:42

You don't want these trees.you only want towns & cities

Where's All The Anti-Racists ?
So you wanna fight racism.look a little closer to home.Have you been up to North Mississippi lately and taken part in the financing of pdc's process of economic and cultural racism that is being applied to the Boise community that historically has felt the rath of community ethnic cleansing,being forced to relocate from one neighborhood to the next by white fear,white business and a white Portland city council.So where's the community outrage,where's the protests,where's the marches ? Maybe you are planning the marches and protests while sipping your latte at freshpot while writing your manifesto on your laptop, or looking for working close commadre while sipping a cheap corporate beer at the crow bar. See it for what it is RACISM and we can & will stop it...

Quote" The upper West Side,as the neighborhood was called, was supposed to be a "liberal" stronghold.I have never really understood exactly what a "liberal" is, though since I have heard "liberals" express every conceivable opinion on every conceivable subject. As far as I can tell, you have the extreme right, who are fascist, racist capitalist dogs like Ronald Reagan, who come right out and let you know where they're coming from. And on the opposite end, you have the left, who are supposed to be committed to justice, equality, and human right. And then somewhere between those two points is the liberal. as far as I'm concerned, "liberal" is the most meaningless word in the dictionary. History has shown me that as long as some white middle-class people live hight on the hog, take vacations to Europe, send their children to private schools, and reap the benefits of their white skin privileges, then they are "liberals". But when times get hard and money gets tight, they pull off that liberal mask and you think you're talking to Adolf Hitler. They feel sorry for the so-called underprivileged just as long as they can maintain their own privileges....Assata Shakur

Even OSPIRG is cashing in on the new affluent shoppers 08.Jul.2005 09:45

I don't want your progress it tries to kill me.

OSPIRG has started canvasing.

On my way home today I was startled by the site of two people in blue shirts with clipboards,standing outside the new Laughing Planet Buritos.As I looked closer to my dismay I saw those tell,tell letters,OSPIRG.Yes the canvasers have finally discovered there is now money to be had in the Boise neighborhood.At that point I realized the battle is lost :(

FU Class war 08.Jul.2005 11:17

Dingo "the guy who puts his name on what I write"

Do you know what kind of food the Purple parlor sold? She worked there because she wanted to work near home and also she wanted to have a job serving healthy food in an effort to help people that dont want a greasy mess have a place to go on dates of family outings.
How much beer do you think we really payed for at the pizza joint? and who do you think broke the story about kkk newal?
We hated the coffee shop and still do.
When we worked at those places it kept the doors of the clown house open and thus helped keep a place for tree sitters to land , pirate radio, zines and other free press, video ressistance, cafe Anarchista (we set it up next door to the coffee shop and gave away free coffee) and the free bike shop .
When you have a kid, you have to work, if you do it right you can do it near home and school, I had faith that our presence would keep at least a balance and if not, it's always a good subject for a comedy article and I add my name to articles so I'm held accountable.
If you think the clowns are sitting on the fence then you must have a bump on your neck from your head being so far up your ass, look I bet your gonna find one ya dope.

Gentrifico, the gentrifing juggler 08.Jul.2005 12:18

Joseph Failing

Gentrification? What the fuck do you expect. People like you are one of the main reason places become gentrified. Your over the top creativeness and inginuity are a magnet to white bread squares everywhere. Of course there are many other reasons for it too ( old fat rascist ladies, incresed urban density, bureaucrats making decisions from their desks based on numbers, tradition). But its funny how you can be the catalyst for the things you hate the most. So Dingo, what ARE you doing to to stop gentrification?

8 blown years 08.Jul.2005 14:58


We started in Eugen 8 years ago in the ashes of a violent protest to save some old trees slated to be cut down to build a parking lot.
We were at the end of a circis tour and decided to stay in the north west.
(I quit drinking a long time ago by the way)
What am I doing to stop Gentrification? nothing, I can only concentrate on here and now, and that would be making sure my 7 year old dosent see the most powerful man she has ever met openly sobbing.
I feel ruined, we have been around a very long time and I see nothing to prove we did any good, and I dont see any good in defending anything anymore.

tired of it all 08.Jul.2005 16:05


Why all this talk about gentrification? The reality is that poor people are able to live in really nice old homes because of a process I'll call slummification. I don't like the idea of driving anybody anywhere out of a home, and it's hard to muster up sympathy for a boring middle-classer losing their home during a down economy, but what about it? There's a foul system that caused the neighborhood to lose value in the first place, and, besides, I really don't think it's cool to blame a few clowns and artists for living where they can afford. What are they supposed to do? Go homeless because they can't afford anything in a "nice" neighborhood? Should they just ignore crack dealers on the front lawn?

Yeah, I am playing Devil's Advocate a bit, but I've only ever seen a one-sided look on the topic of gentrification here at Portland Indymedia. The Dingo post is expanding that horizon a bit and I welcome that.

Next Stop: felony flats 08.Jul.2005 16:53

mark my word

I remember once when I worked at the public school as a classified employee...never could get the job...(full fledged teacher)...that's always criticized for not paying enough(for what? to be a high consumption yuppie?), one of the teachers there who was scrambling to supplement his salary was building houses on the side. He related his efforts in dealing with the government and banks to get money and credit to get his deal with the biz going. It was an ongoing tale, but one day he said, this one thing that sets it all in perspective: "The U.S. is set up and run like a business. Think of it that way, and you may be able to start getting an edge on the game".

It's not your home. It's the means for the U.S. to maintain eminence over all the other countries of the world.

Alberta street is funny. All those ******* yuppies masquerading as want to be get down types. Mixing with the poor, imaginative types. Except the yups want the profit they sucked out of their cali or oregon gentri properties and invested in the new cancer stricken Alberta street to grow. They want prop values to rise so they can get up, wipe their butts on all the modest living people, and hot-foot it to hawaii or bali or cabo or whatever.

Don't waste your tears. Either enjoy the provence while it lasts, or the do the better thing....infiltrate the system and work to implement changes as you build a grass-roots re-evaluation of the very principles of country as home that the U.S. is built on.

Oh, Dingo. That's so sad. 08.Jul.2005 17:00

Caffeine Jones

I grew up here in N & NE Portland. 13th & Fremont, among other places. Since the 80's, I have seen a crack-fueled economy rise, along with a right-wing Neo-Nazi backlash, followed by an anti-racist uprising, and a gradual move back to a working-class neighborhood...I thought the word "gentrification" was a pretty dirty word, considering the urban renewal development brought with it.
I moved back here when my daughter was born, because everywhere else I lived , I found "White neighborhoods," "Black neighborhoods," "Hispanic neighborhoods," "Gay neighborhoods," etc, and I longed for just the good old neighborhood, with everybody in it. Seven years ago, when we moved to the Mississippi area, it was still here. I felt I was free to be an artist, and work for small businesses, and spend my money locally, just as I beleived to be right. Turns out, my beloved P-town is becoming more like California every day. Development has gone beyond urban renewal, and is now actively displacing people.
I don't blame artists & funky people for driving up the prices here, any more than I blamed them when it happened on Hawthorne, or NE 21st, or the (heaven help us!)"Pearl District." I think the reason for rising propety values is simply greed. Greed, and the fact that our fragile economy is making it harder & harder to "get ahead," and so those who want to be "upwardly mobile," have to keep jacking up their prices. Tough luck for those of us who just want to keep a roof over our heads, so we can eat & sleep & make funky videos about political activism & raunchy humor.
Please don't slam on Dingo for picking this house. He liked it because there was a neon clown in the window next door...Also because it was big enough to house the bike shop.
Dingo, please don't post to Indymedia when you're angry. It makes you sound crazy. Take a deep breath, get a dictionary, and write it carefully.

one sided look at gentrification 08.Jul.2005 17:04


you are right, indymedia has taken a one sided look at gentrification. Your lone white voice is like breath of fucking fresh air. A little racism just keeps us all on the cutting edge. right? like EMINEM!!!! Defend it man...clutch it to your heart. This should be your safe space, this and every other space...to defend the status quo.

Greed or the collapse of the cheap oil economy? 08.Jul.2005 17:55


I don't see that there has been a whole lot of real estate speculation in N/NE Portland, in the same was as there has been in other parts of the city. What is happening is what happened down in Oakland when I lived down there. The rents and property values are starting to reflect a premium for (A) the shorter commute associated with living closer in and the upward pressure on gas prices, and (B) the leisure time sacrificed to commute further distances on increasingly congested freeways. What happened in LA and SF is happening in Portland--the cheap, historically desirable "new single-family home" is only affordable further and further from the economic center of the metropolis. Meanwhile, 1200 sqft homes in places like Newark, Sunnyvale, Daly City, and (once the murder capital of the USA) S. Palo Alto start selling for $300/sqft - $600/sqft. It happened in LA, too, as the urban sprawl reached out to Corona, then Temecula, Velencia, Hesperia...

The driving engine of this urban sprawl was cheap oil. Americans will never again see $1/gal gasoline. There is a real estate bubble, but when it bursts the effects will be like the '91 recession, where the distant suburbs suffer dramatically and the residential areas around the economic assets (sea ports, airports, city centers) will be much less affected.


bubble? 08.Jul.2005 19:45

what bubble?

everything's going to be fine!
look ma, no hands!
look ma, no hands!

Blame the real enemy... 08.Jul.2005 22:41


While I'm bored by the clowns' performance style after so many years living here, it doesn't seem right to me to BLAME them for gentrification. As I think Caffeine, or someone using her name, wrote above, it's a big problem and no kind of moralistic judgement against 'freaky people' or white folks in the abstract will get to the root of the problem.

It's the land being owned for profit and power that causes a lot of this tension. Blaming particular people in a vicious and insulting way is not promoting class awareness necessarily, but it might be blowing one's own self-righteous horn. I'm sure everyone has experienced what landlords are and do, unless you're fortunate enough to own...

It's good to raise difficult questions, but put them in context rather than abstractly blaming some 'freaks' and performers for things that are way beyond them. If you're going to lecture everyone who might at one time or another be a beneficiary of whiteness or gentrifciation for things that are much bigger, then you've got a lot of talking to do, and you might want to consider the general difficulty of work, housing, etc period...blame the rich, the real estate companies, the market, property values, racism, hard drugs, capitalism, stupidity, the law, etc...what kind of high horse are some of these posters on, and how have they gotten by in the past?

Tentatively of course


In addition to the last post.... 08.Jul.2005 22:45


There are a few things in the original post up there at the top of the thread that are disturbing.....but they can't be taken out of the context that we all are forced to live in, more or less. Is someone automatically aiding racism and gentrification if they take direct action against predators and thugs? ......

be involved, or don't. 08.Jul.2005 23:04

that queasy pdx grrl

Why pick on someone for being creative and frustrated?

I would guess that every one of you who are giving Dingo a hard time here have participated in the local culture to some extent (at least, I hope you know what you are talking about to be so opinionated). It's really easy to point to someone and say "Look at you. You're feeding the system." But the truth is we *all* are. The very air we are breathing is a shared resource.

So you have the free energy and computer access to post. Why waste such valuable resources trying to blame a creative person for attempting to make a difference here? Why not be an active participant in creating community rather than destroying it, or spend the anger writing a letter to one of the many corporations that are far more responsible for gentrification than one individual, or simply get away from that computer screen and mentor a child so that in 20 years you won't be one of a handful of people in the city who can think for themselves?

I'm glad to see that people have the courage to talk and disagree here. I'm just always saddened by the level of immaturity, which is most clearly characterized by those of you who are acting out of fear. Pointing a finger at someone who speaks out rather than acknowledging that NONE of us have the answer, that there is no "The One Answer" to solve all our problems, is a gesture of fear rather than compassion. Indymedia is one of the few places we have free speech, couldn't we put it to a more productive use?

Need I mention that the negativity on this thread is reminiscent of the negativity of anyone who has been trampled by the system and can't accept that they are not alone? So many good people before and, most likely, after all of us will be forced to navigate a very imperfect, saddening, vexing world. Does it really disturb you *that much* to hear another citizen of the city complain? Is your personal angst at the system so exclusionary? I thought most of us Indymedia folks were "pissed off at the status quo" (that's a sarcastic use of the cliche, in case you are wondering...)

And, by the way, those who are brave enough to do something positive with their lives such as create art and dedicate themselves to building open spaces for others to express themselves *are* making a difference. You're very, very lucky if you didn't grow up in a way that you feel a great sense of relief any time you hear of someone actually being creative.

All any of us can do is to live honestly and freely and well, to make human mistakes and try to correct them, and to stand up to the negativity and fear of the people who are being so beat down by the system that they feel they have to attack us.

What you are seeing in this thread is how the system wins, folks. It's how we are told "You cannot make a difference". It's how peer pressure makes us feel trapped.

three more things 08.Jul.2005 23:21

that queasy pdx grrl

In response to the comment above,

"There are a few things in the original post up there at the top of the thread that are disturbing.....but they can't be taken out of the context that we all are forced to live in, more or less. Is someone automatically aiding racism and gentrification if they take direct action against predators and thugs? ......"

I agree with finding some of what both Dizmal and Dingo raised disturbing. But that is the *point* of dialog.

And to correct my previous post, I accidentally left out the "Dizmal and" in front of Dingo. I'm talking about both.

Finally (yes I'll shut up now, at least for a while :) isn't the post that started all this supposed to have some humor? Yeah it may have backfired. But I got the strong feeling that the "narrative voice" was, um, "exaggerated".

real estate brokers 09.Jul.2005 00:45


I think that a lot of people are misguided in where a lot of gentrification starts. It clearly is a racist and classist act propogated by the city which gives funding to developers/real estate agencies. The pyramid starts when "lower" class people can't afford to pay for their homes because there aren't any jobs or markets for them to make money through. When that happens and people have to possibly move into creating their own businesses, sometimes and sometimes not, attaining a business license and pay taxes, subsequently their money that they make can't be keep in a bank account because the government likes to know how it's citizens get money. If you don't have a bank account and credit and money that is verified you can't buy a home, so many homes that could have been bought up by local residents become or stay abandoned.
Yay! (sarcasm here) for the real estate developers, they love it when the city forces people out of entire streets through deeming the buildings uninhabitable or not for sale (to the local buyers). Real estate developers will buy up whole blocks, refurbish the homes to semi sellable or liveable conditions and in a lot of cases now mini museum pieces of historic portland. Once that whole blocks looks nice with clean front yards and a young middle class family moves in, their job is done, all they have to do now is sit and rake in all the money from the homes and the tax breaks for "re"developing an otherwise "uninhabitable" neighborhood.
These developers and the city are who is to blame for what's happening here in Portland.
I'm a 3rd generation Oregonian, unlike most people in Portland these days and I come from a lower caste family who used to live off of 15th and Alberta back in the late 70's. My mom once picked up a beatup prostitute which led her to a coma because the pimp was pissed because she didn't pay the girl. It was rough.
With what is happening now is disgusting and everytime I talk with someone about that area and find that they live there I try to bite my tongue, because it is only partly their fault for what's happening. It's like blaming all the idiots who voted for Bush.
If you don't like gentrification don't live there and don't go there to shop and if you are an activists, contact your local commisioners about real estate developers and then ask them what they are redeveloping and how they are going to help the real locals to buy these homes. Also look into horrible HUD. I may be wrong, but from what I understand the PDC helps first time buyers to buy homes in poorer areas by giving them information on what agents and developers have fixer uppers for very low prices (90,000$), currently being reenacted in the Lents area. It's just so interesting that they want as many people from outside the neighborhood to come and buy it up. Those poor people are just so nasty, dirty and drug addicted. ew... gross... nice young folks or as KGW news calls people with my skin color "fair" skinned types to move in and make it desirable. urgh. sorry for the cynacism.
It's true when someone wrote that it was because of those crazy white folks that gentrification happens, but it's not because of single home buyers see them, it's because the developers see them and they are who pander to the gentry who is always looking to buy their next home in the city.
That was just my dollars worth.

Pepto writes the funny, I just laugh 09.Jul.2005 01:10


I'm glad there is an Indymedia, The bit didnt backfire because it got folks talking, a lot of them are dopes and thats funny, they can expect to be written into a stand up bit or video, thats fine I win.
I'm over the frustration with trying to save the world with comedy and getting the shaft by greedy developers, truth is people like to laugh and I like to make them laugh so there will never be a homeless clown (a good one anyway)as long as theres someone who likes laughing, the thing is I like being able to create giant floats and bikes and props and videos and film and all the great stuff we whip out every damn day, it's gonna suck to be in a cramped little piece of crap apartment after having so much to work with so we arnt gonna let it happen.

Did you know: I ran away from home as a teen and joined the Shrine circus? I went all over the U S of A for years and finaly quit when I got sick of the way elephants are "Broken in" I started my own circus that #1 was totally cruelty free and had zero animals and #2 sucked as a show, I wasnt ready lol.
You know, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, if we tell folks that Cafe Mam treats workers with respect and grow the beans in a good way using a goofy comic or skit, it works way better than stabbing them with a screwdriver as they come out of the store with the Folgers.

I know one person the kids at the clown house were cool with 09.Jul.2005 03:22


Kendra James

A Community in Flux 09.Jul.2005 06:56

author: b.villain author: b.villain B.A Villain

The Mississippi Avenue neighborhoods are once again under seige by the forces of "development" and "urban renewal". But rather than community building, these forces aim at community replacement. Those moving into the Boise neighborhood should we aware of the history of neglect and displacement that haunts Mississippi Avenue and the neighborhoods which surround it.

Mississippi Avenue, and the Boise neighborhood, is once again facing the forces of "Urban Renewal". A neighborhood that has overcome many struggles in the past, which have disturbed and displaced its residents, is now losing the economic battle over its homes, businesses and its parks. Situated high upon the bluffs of North Portland, its easy access to downtown, isolated residential streets and the existing commercial buildings that line the avenue, all make the Mississippi Avenue area attractive to young, upwardly-mobile, urban professionals who are seeking a place to settle down. But with these young families comes the force of Urban Renewal, and ultimately gentrification, with far-reaching implications on existing families
The Boise neighborhood, long before acquiring this name, was inhabited predominantly by middle-class German families. Mississippi Avenue, as it now exists, is only part of the original avenue though. The avenue once followed straight down the hill into the lower Albina area, lined with homes and businesses. This area was filled primarily with working-class Swedish families, who labored in the adjacent Albina Railyards.
During World War II the industrial building yards around Portland were built up as part of the war effort, especially shipbuilding yards along the Columbia and train capacities across the Northwest. This industry brought poor families from the rural South, looking for work and a new place to call home. Many of these families found homes in Vanport, a federal housing project near the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers. A complete city of, at one time, 80,000 residents, it was noted for being the most racially diverse city in Oregon, and the highest number of African-American residents in the Pacific Northwest. But in 1948, a massive flood broke through the levees along Vanport flooding the town so quickly that evacuation was nearly impossible. Many blame the Kaiser group (whose shipyards were main employers of the residents), for stalling the warnings of insecure levees, as well as the city and state for negligence of allowing the disaster to happen. In all, 15 people were killed, dozens seriously injured, and 18,000 were left homeless. Many of the African-Americans relocated to the relatively close Albina neighborhood.
Almost overnight the Mississippi Avenue neighborhoods became predominantly African-American, as well as those along Williams Vancouver, and Martin Luther King Boulevard, from Russell Street to Killingsworth. Many of the Vanport families also moved into the housing between Broadway and Burnside, known as Sullivan's Gulch.

The automobiles introduction had harsh impacts on the neighborhood, as it did in cities across America. Those families who were able to afford the suburban flight, made it, while those who lacked the means were left behind, living in forgotten urban neighborhoods. With business following out to the surrounding beltways of the city, people left in these urban neighborhoods were left without work, without services and without the attention of city officials -that is until "urban blight" became a political issue. Urban blight was a term used to describe the conditions of these forgotten city neighborhoods that had become economically depressed during the post-war years. Low-income areas were described as "low tax bases", making it easier for officials to deny repair to streets and parks, fueling the decay of urban neighborhoods. By the mid-1950's urban neighborhoods across America acquired reputations as dangerous places where the new suburban middle class feared to visit.
What this meant to residents was a feeling of being trapped in their own neighborhoods, with little recourse to revitalize their homes, businesses or parks. Lending was denied to these residents for economic development of any kind, as it was labeled risky to invest in businesses or homes that were in these "red-lined" areas. Banks literally drew maps with pre-denied neighborhoods blocked off by red lines to be used when considering loan applications.
What this meant for city officials was a chance to win political support from developers and removed suburban voters by opening these depressed areas for re-development, or "Urban Renewal". Large projects were undertaken in attempts to draw suburban families back into the city, if only to spend their money. Here in Portland, the Lloyd Center shopping mall, the Fremont Bridge and the Minnesota Freeway were all major urban renewal projects, aimed at bringing shoppers back into downtown. Unfortunately for the residents of these urban neighborhoods, each of these projects displaced hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of families.
One of the early renewal projects of this era in Portland was the Lloyd Center shopping district. This project, completed in 1960 undertook the redevelopment of dozens of blocks of housing. Along side the construction of Interstate 84, which ran directly through Sullivan's Gulch, the neighborhoods in the renewal area were easy candidates for redevelopment. The displaced families had little to defend them from the developers' claims, and were quickly forced to leave their homes. Many of them relocated into the Lower Albina neighborhood.
Ironically, the construction of the Coliseum, only a few years later, was aimed at the area between Broadway and Interstate 84. This effectively displaced many of those same families who had been moved during the Lloyd Center's construction. With little choice left, many of them settled in the Mississippi neighborhoods and further up in Northeast neighborhoods.
The building of the Minnesota freeway was probably the most detrimental single project of Portland's urban renewal, as far as Mississippi Avenue is concerned. Not only did the building of the freeway require the demolition of hundreds of houses, it created a blockade between once contiguous sections of neighborhood. The neighborhoods between Interstate Avenue and Mississippi Avenue were once open and inviting for foot traffic or residents looking to visit either retail area. The freeway, with its monstrous size and speed, virtually killed both avenues overnight. The remaining homeowners on either side were also left to face lead emissions in their air and soil and the roar of speeding cars throughout the day and night. Mississippi Avenue was redirected under the freeway cutting off the remaining bit of Lower Albina and further isolated Mississippi from the surrounding neighborhoods.
So when Kaiser Permanente Hospital began to bid with the city to redevelop the land between Russell Street and Fremont along Williams Avenue, it is no surprise that residents refused to move from their homes. Facing police force some families barricaded themselves in homes and some organized and marched into the construction zones. Some even lined Williams, throwing bottles at passing motorists in an attempt to gain media attention to the problems facing them. Ultimately though, these families were all forced to leave their home, once again relocating further up in North and Northeast neighborhoods.
Finally when the Fremont Bridge was constructed, between 1971-73, the eastside on-ramp displaced some of the last remaining residents in the neighborhoods below the current Boise neighborhood. Again, some families protested the project, but as in previous projects they had little opportunity to affect the decisions. Some were fortunate enough to be moved only a few blocks up into the adjacent neighborhood along Mississippi Avenue.

So what we face today along Mississippi Avenue is hardly a new issue. The forces of Urban Renewal are hard at work again to "rescue" a neighborhood from "blight" and "decay". In the interests of business we are seeing the redevelopment of block after block of commercial, industrial and residential lots along Mississippi, drawing in new residents and raising property values throughout the neighborhood. The median income of residents has risen quickly over the last few years, which increases tax-bases, forcing the city to complete long-overdue maintenance on streets and parks. The rising economic values on the properties of the Boise neighborhood cause the land taxes of adjacent properties to rise as well. These increased taxes and fees often become harder for elder residents to afford; that is to say, they have not become more prosperous just because the neighborhood has become more prosperous. The increased costs of living, coupled with the influx of a new, more affluent "gentry class" of people makes the neighborhood, which they have lived in through the times of red-lining and economic isolation, become uninviting.
Mississippi is rife with a history of displacement, resentment, and flux.
Of course, without discounting the Native Americans who lived along the bluffs in what is now North Portland, several communities have undergone displacement from this neighborhood. What was, during the 1950's, a dim-lit street of be-bop clubs and was abandoned by the city as a "blight" is now being rediscovered as new boutiques, coffee shops and cafes. The character of a place is defined by the acts that occur there. Those moving into the neighborhoods along Mississippi should be wary of the cycles of gentrification and its negative ramifications. And those opening businesses within the neighborhood should try to consider the residents of the area before the profits that can be won.

Solutions 09.Jul.2005 06:59

Be part of the problem or be the solution

This discussions seems to be getting stuck on the symptoms. Lets all just agree that we are all the first wave of gentrifiers.Now how do we stop the displacement process, which is having the biggest impact on the cultural and economic makeup of the Boise neighborhood.Of course keeping the community and national history in our minds for reference.
1)A community forum & discussion that is inviting to all our cultural and classes of residents
2) A Boise Neighborhood Association that has some teeth and has a more diverse community makeup.That the whole community can feel is in some way serving them.Which will mean taking the power that is held by the City of Portland.
3)Stopping or slowing the business and condo developments so that the residents can catch up.The businesses move fast because they have only one voice,MAKE MONEY.The residents and community board move slowly because there are lots of voices and the city of Portland laws hold us back. Build in a process that makes sure any new businesses have to get approval from the community board before opening, this will also include new housing developments.Right now our only recourse against businesses that we do not feel serves us is to not spend our money their,which is now why developers like Ben Kaiser want to bring in the people that will ,without regard for the residents that are looking for community serving businesses.So that we as a community can be apart of the process from the beginning, not once they have there plans .I'm a surprised that all the businesses and developers do not do this out of respect for the community already.
4)Support businesses that bring jobs for the residents of the Boise Neighborhood. Maybe a survey of the community businesses at present would be a good tool.
5) Keep the economic and cultural diversity alive.For every high income condo development we support an affordable development.
6) Be a residential voice in the community by attending the Boise Neighborhood Association meetings.www.boisevoice.org

Why Are we so shocked ? 09.Jul.2005 07:00

North Mississippi

I remember when I first moved up to North Mississippi a cop car stopping alongside me and asking, "why are you living in the Compton of Portland with all these niggers", and then took off.But now a few years later with the help of the police,Boise Neighborhood association and the Portland Development Commission(PDC), and of course all the developers and all the new minority white women owned entrepeneurs,local,cutsie,wootsie stores that do not serve the surrounding community and endless supply of restaurants and bars that cater to the white affluent culture.There is no black culture left along North Mississippi for the affluent white culture to fear...Thanks Kay Newell(The Light Bulb Lady)Sunlan,thanks Janet Bower (PDC's community steering director)...In the words of the resident G.W Bush....Mission accomplished....

Question For "Class War" 09.Jul.2005 07:01

alsis39 alsis35@yahoo.com

"...We can sit back and get pushed out to deep southeast,or Vancouver,or we can step up,find our common voice and join class struggle..."

Well, CW, you are quick enough to write in very specific terms how supporting local business is WRONG. So why are you so vague about what these nasty, nasty small business supporters should do to "find a common voice and join class struggle" ?

I bought a house in NE Portland, not far from Alberta St., in 2000. It was modest, and at the absolute ceiling of what I could afford to pay to live. It was no more expensive than renting in other neighborhoods whose gentrification period was too long ago to be alive in the locals' memory. Nonetheless, you are quick to acuse, but I wonder what you would have people do ? Live in tents ? Continue shelling out to landlords, who are frequently no more "local" than a big-name bank ? You don't want people to buy beer or coffee from a local business, so what's the alternative ? Is buying corporate beer and coffee at Safeway acceptable, or do we all need to just skip beer and coffee so we can be as virtuous as you ?

You can slag on us "shock troops" pretty good, now I'd like to see if you can go beyond slag ? How do you want your ideology translated into specific acts ?

Portland Black Herstory 09.Jul.2005 07:26

Class Struggle

I had the great privilege of sitting down with a Boise neighborhood elder for a couple of hours and listening to herstory.We chatted about the good old days along N.Mississippi, down to Russell which was the main black business district,before legacy emmanuel destroyed it,down the the Broadway which was also a black business district,until the rose quarter destroyed it.Her families being so excited about being able to purchase their first house only to find out a year later that interstate 5 was going to destroy it and separate the white neighborhood from the balck.Most of this I knew there was one question that left me speechless and brought tears to my eyes,and when I think about it i get passionate and angry. I ask her why her parents had moved from Southern Georgia -her answer,"they either stayed in the south and got hung or the moved to Oregon and got whipped".
When you are trying to force your white,middle class sensibilities and morals on this neighborhood,think about that statement,it is being passed down through the generations.Slavery isn't forgotten in the black culture,it's not passed herstory that has been forgotten,it is still happening and it is happening here in the Boise neighborhood.I wish some of these new business owners had had the chance to hear more of the voices of the neighborhood,rather than the few voices on the community board,such as Kay Newell-Sunlan, pushing her agenda and demonizing the black youth and black culture.All I hear is the same rhetoric,drugs,gangs,drugs,bad kids,blah,blah,blah.I wish people would just come out with it and be honest,we are Racist.We don't understand the black culture /
They are American but do not have the same morals or sensibilties and they are not assimmilating into our white culture ?
We as neighbors need to spend alot of time listening to the stories,the businesses need to slow down and let the residents catch up,we need to cultivate & support
black owned businesses....The healing process will be a long process.if we don't take the time there will be a whole lot of hurt....

Cum on down 09.Jul.2005 07:26


Lent's is still a good cheep place and will be for years because it is chock full of ex cons and white trash that will never leave until they go back to prison. Beside that Foster is going to be the next Hawthorne but will be better and stay that way because no body but poor white trash will live here. Some great old houses. Some crappy plywood ranch houses too.

Question For "Class Struggle" 09.Jul.2005 07:43

alsis39 alsis35@yahoo.com

"...we need to cultivate & support black-owned businesses..."

How many black-owned businesses have held on in the Boise area, even before the current wave of gentrifiers ?

The invisible hand, whether discussing racism in business or in residential matters, seems to be the big moneylenders;The banks, followed closely by politicians and the heads of business lobbies.

How do we make these institutions less racist and classist, or cut them out of the picture entirely ? Until this question can be answered, seems to me like we are all doomed to tear at each other, and continue on the cycle of neighborhood "boom and bust." :(

Gentrifico strikes again 09.Jul.2005 07:49

Joseph Failing

Clowns, yall are doing real good. i wasn't trying to point the finger at you. I just waswondering if you had any answers to help me. My life was over a long time ago but my legacy lives on in a street and abridge that once were used as crack dealing oasis's and are now used as parking lots for the SUV's from Beaverton. Thanks for your kind presence on my path, i miss you. Please feel free to stop by and soak the side of any buisness along my route with your beer infused piss. PEACE!

A Rising Tide... 09.Jul.2005 10:13


"Black Herstory" is right, there is definitely an institutionalized rascism in this country, but it's also what some sociologists contend is "class-ism." There are black residents of this city who are wealthy and just as elitist as the white "I got mine, you get yours" type. It's really a pathology of society, a kind of group think that has been reinforced by the political climate that has prevailed since the late 70s.

There was a fundamental change of paradigm in the Reagan years. Since the birth of America, the working class has been very suspicious of the wealthy, in much the same way it remains in Ireland, Ukraine, etc. Then the rhetoric got turned around--it was those "lucky" people "sucking" from welfare who don't have to work or pay taxes. Never mind that most of them lived in poverty. Reagan said, "government is the problem," and he wanted America to be a place where "everyone can become a millionaire."

Then came changes in social security witholdings, corporate taxation, etc., that shifted more of the burden on the working class and middle class, while government transfers to support arts, education, parks, and other services that offer quality of life to those who can't afford it started to get cut back. Regulation of white collar crime almost amounted to decriminalization, while the noose tightened around the lower income brackets who could get unnecessarily cruel sentences for minor drug offenses.

Gentrification is just a postule of a greater infection, which is the culture of greed and status anxiety, which everybody is conditioned to.

About Janet Bower 09.Jul.2005 11:43


I dont know how I feel about her, she really helped kick the darkys and poor folks out but at the same time she hated doing it, she saw that the clown house was spending hours fixing kids bikes, collecting them and distributing them for free to any who may need a bike (try that at the C.C.C.)and got us a grant from the "Take the time grant" people that got us 500 bucks for tools. That really made a difference.

Look at the indiemedia calender for today (Sat.)any of those folks who kicked me in the face yesterday can come over and see what we do.

where's the substance, Catherine? 09.Jul.2005 11:51


It's interesting that you've concluded I'm a racist. Whatever. I think it's a mistake to look at gentrification in terms of race rather than from socio-economic and cultural perspectives. Dare I say it's racist?

B A Villian's post highlighted some of the major (and seemingly racist) forces that slummified the area. I still can't find any justification for criticizing a person moving into a neighborhood they can afford and feel safe in rather than going homeless or risking it by buying a home that stretches their financial situation. As for what businesses choose to go there, I do wish more businesses would serve the immediate community. That will happen if cheap transportation (by middle class standards) dies off and people want to walk to the store instead of drive.

You, on the other hand, Catherine, still haven't addressed one question I put forth. Until you do, your sarcasm ain't worth... Let's just say that it's easy to be sarcastic and it doesn't serve well until you put some thought behind it.

What has this turned into? 09.Jul.2005 13:08


Seriously, a good majority of the homes in NE are owned by minorities, who are making 3 or 4 times there investment selling to people that want to move into ALberta area. Who's pushing them too sell other than greed? So far it seems like it's the white people speaking for the minorities that live in NE.

I've decided that I can't and shouldn't speak for minority communities that I am not apart of. It's going to have to be the minority communities that stand up for themselves. I can only stand in solidarity with them. From what I've seen living in NE Portland, that bling bling gang banger bullshit is more popular than anything MLK or the Black Panthers ever said. Yes, there are a small few trying to change this.

I think it was Fred Hampton that said and I'm going to paraphase this "IT DOESN"T MATTER WHAT COLOR YOU ARE BLACK or WHITE, YOU CAN STILL BE A CAPITALIST PIG".

Yeah there's racism and gentrification, but it's hard to fight that when there is no community in solidarity with each other. Without a strong community the system can just pick us apart. There's a crack dealer living in my friends NE neighborhood, and NOBODY seems to care but me. Selling crack to his brothers and sisters, people need to wake up to the real problem the system that creates this mess of gangs, poverty, sexism, racism, and etc. CAPITALISM!!!!!!

There's alot of critizism of supposed privilegded whites moving into NE, which I could say it just racism of itself because it's a generalization. Isn't that what racism is? Personally there are "insert color" that I respect and love, on the other side there are "insert color" that are a bunch of self-centered jerks.

So what is the difference betweeen "insert color" jackasses riding around in their new Expeditions with fancy chrome wheels? Nothing!!!!! besides that there pigs, who don't give a F$@K about anybody but themselves and there new camera cellphones.

Here's suggestion:
Get with your community, friends, and family figure out what you all want to do, what is troubling you, and come up with a plan of action. Personally I think the focus should be on developers and city government for creating the situation.

this was fascinating 09.Jul.2005 15:38


i just wanted to say that this whole dialog was fascinating for me. i live in the boise neighborhood, and see first-hand the class-differences, and i think it shows what a great institution the indymedia is that everyone shared their piece.

Corbett Street 12.Jul.2005 21:28

P. Green

"Yahoo" - You had one of the most positive comments I've read on this topic.
Does anyone remember the old Corbett Street/Lair Hill community? (Not the fake Penny Whatshername's version.) We got rid of the bent spoon and 'fit bunch, rented flats from a slumlord, used the empty lots for our community garden (singular), had block parties, bands of little kids zooming from house to house, and we started a cooperative daycare center. We were a diverse bunch of folks: color-, age-, money-, education-, sexuality-, and several other -wises. We were artists, lawyers, postmen (and women), students, rock "stars" and orchestral musicians, truckdrivers, drifters, rightwingnuts, marxists, black panthers, stone hippies and praise Jesus born agains (to name a few, 'cause I know I left a lot out).

My point? None, I guess. Maybe nostalgia. Maybe regret. Today Corbett street is picture-pretty - and deserted. Our old garden/kids playground is condos, the prices of those old houses and flats are definitely part of the bubble - and when I go by there, I don't see any little kids or dogs, old folks or winos, or people just hanging out. The old corner store is tricked out - and I bet my credit there now is a whole lot worse than it was when I was a single mom going to trade school and stretching not-quite-enough from the first to the 30th each month.

I left to find work, but my old friends did try to purchase their homes there, back in the days of open red-lining. I guess maybe Penny got some of it sort of right as far as that story goes.

I guess there may be a point to this ramble after all: The time to organize is before you need it. So keep talking and being good neighbors, good friends, here at IMC and on the street and at work and in the checkout line and anywhere you are. Join something - just one thing - and give it a little quality time - maybe a couple hours a month. Do remember that many hands make light work.

You gotta be kidding 30.Jul.2005 00:11


I can't tell if the author of the story is 1/2 serious, joking, or overly grandiose as to his impact on the neighborhood. Not even sure how a someone who in not historically from the community can call it racism that white folks are moving into black neighborhoods. Simply put, it's not racism...in fact it might just be the absence of racism. Racist folks move to the county in Oregon...away from the black folks and urban latinos.

However, I do give this guy credit for acknowledging a wee bit of truth by saying if one wants gentrification to stop, leave the neighborhood shitty [paraphrasing]. It seems to acknowlege that the people who lament gentrification the most are the most likely cause. Really, if you want a cheap place to live and don't want to impact black and brown communities...move to Gresham

Mississippi neighborhoood history... 31.Jan.2007 00:32


I think that before you call the gentrification of the Mississippi (Boise) neighborhood RACIST, you should consider that the neighborhood was founded by Russian (historically white, right?) immigrants. Furthermore, the group of clowns you refer to (I know you are not) consist of primarily white people yourselves, correct? I know that "Dingo", "Caffeine", and Melissa are white. Maybe you should address the fact that the gentrification of the neighborhood is more CLASSIST than anything. My family and I were also uprooted from the neighborhood back when the process first got started, in 2001. Our slumlord kicked us out of our house also. We happen to be "white" also. Our family also happens to be (yes, on both sides) third-generation Irish and German immigrants. Have you researched how these groups of immigrants were treated? We did not receive the "silver spoon", which is precisely why our family is still struggling to eat and receive necessary health care and educational opportunities. Our family attended CAT (Community Alliance of Tenants) meetings regularly to discuss the issue prior to our forced move from the neighborhood. Even though the people organizing the meetings had experience in San Francisco, they did not arrive in the neighborhood fast enough to educate the residents on their options, which was their intention. Please don't misunderstand me; I am not racist, nor am I saying that because white people "settled" the neighborhood, they should be the ones who have it now. I just wanted to give you a different perspective. I am a white person who happens to come from nothing, and I still have nothing. I am constantly pushed around because I have no "financial worth", and I am "uneducated" because I did not have a family that was able to pay for my college expenses. I am working on that, but going in to incredible debt to do it (for a cause that will benefit communities such as the Boise neighborhood). I am writing this simply to let you know that gentrification affects many more people than just minorities. I think that idea has been lost in a lot of the rantings of "the cause". Respect is something that should be a human right, and this includes "white" people. Please remember that not all of us "white" people have it all, nor does all of our futures look the brightest. Poor white people should have no help because they are white. (Even though the odds were against them from the start, along with many other minorities) That is the message that you seem to be sending. If that is true, then you are a detrimental instrument in the progression of your own neighborhood. Thanks for reading, CHEERS!

It's not just NE 14.Feb.2007 10:49


Funny how this is not only affecting NE but inner SE as well. As a long time resident if the Clinton/Division neighborhood, I can tell you from personal experience this is more of a class issue than a race issue. I think it has to do with the dissapearing middle class. I grew up on SE 20th and Clinton and I could walk to the Food Val(which is now New Seasons) and see cracks in the sidewalk, well used cars parked on the road and cross SE Division street without fear of being ran over by a white, liberal woman talking on her cell phone while driving a brand new Subaru. Now, on the block I grew up on they destroyed a union hall to put up a restaurant, high priced children's clothing store, and of course, a real estate company. How many restaurants does one neighborhood need? Now, condos with retail space are being built behind me and nobody seems to care. If I choose to move, I will no longer be able to afford to rent in the neighborhood I love so much, the neighborhood I was hoping to raise my kids in. I'm so glad your property values are going up. Kudos. I hope you feel great knowing that the only people who will be able to afford to live here are upper middle class folks with nothing better to do than eat out at that new Indian restaurant and shop for organic produce at the overpriced New Seasons. So much for buying a home here. I hope I won't end up in Gresham.