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Anyone Know the Portland Peace and Justice Center?

Just wondering what this organization/place is all about.
I checked out their website, and all it has is info about bike rides that happened a while back. The bike rides were to raise money for the Peace and Justice Center, but I have not heard anything about it. Anyone know more?

www.portlandpeace.org

bike rides are to raise money for eventual Portland Peace and Justice Center 10.Oct.2005 13:43

CaptainPlanet

As I understand things, The Sustainable Energy in Motion 2005 Bike Tours are part of an effort to raise money for eventually building a physical representation of the center, which now exists mainly as an idea. My experience with the PP&JC is that the person who began the effort, also owner of web hosting company ThinkHost, has given free hosting for the Shift to Bikes and the Portland Critical Mass websites. In return, the sites promote the fund-raising bike tours.

 http://www.shift2bikes.org

 http://rosecitycriticalmass.org

Portland Peace and Justice Center 10.Oct.2005 14:11

PPJC / SEIM Staff vladislav@davidzon.com

Greetings,

PPJC currently has one program, and that is the Sustainable Energy in Motion Bike Tour. All the information for 2006 is on our website :)

We are not a peace and justice center like any other in the country in the sense that we do not organize protests but rather focus on positive solutions, such as our bike tours. Our mission is through a focus on solutions and pro-active models, to facilitate social change by empowering activists and inspiring formation of innovative grassroots projects.

The SEIM tour is *not* a fundraiser -- it is a program of the peace center.


not much 11.Oct.2005 06:45

before my time

I got here 5/6 years ago. It was dissolving then as far as I can tell. I think it was a very progressive organization and there were many offshoots of other groups that have since started up after folks who started them worked within/under that PPJC name... I have only heard little snippets about how this group was intertwined with other groups.

There were also a couple papers that used to be published here in town called Portland InXcess and The Portlandian, in the times of Ace Hayes and his cable access show...

The Portland Alliance folks & Portland Copwatch folks know all that history though.

Gouged! - by the Portland "Peace and Justice" Center 07.Mar.2006 17:16

Linda Scott pianositter@aol.com

I registered for a bike tour and paid the "non-refundable" application fee. By return post came a whole set of previously unmentioned requirements, including rude and intrusive health questions that should never be asked by anyone but a doctor. When I protested, I was told I couldn't go on the tour without answering the questions and abiding by all of their previously-unmentioned rules. This business, owned by sole propietor Vladislav Davidzon, touts values like "we encourage individuals to act to improve their personal well-being" and "every human beig deserves a say in the decisions that affect heir lives and not be subject to the will of another". I am pissed that Mr. Davidzon gets to keep my $120 and I get nothing. I am researching the legality of this and hope to sue to either get my $120 back or be given a bike tour - sans the "drop your pants and bend over" prelude.

Gouged by the Portland Peace and Justice Center 08.Mar.2006 07:00

Linda Scott

I sent a comment yesterday in response to previous posts asking what was the deal with the "Portland Peace and Justice Center". It seems you have decided not to publish it. COuld you return it to me? I didn't keep a copy? Thanks, Linda

Warning! Yes, I have learned a lot about the Portland Peace and Justice Center 08.Mar.2006 07:15

Linda Scott

Visit the website, and it looks like it's a groovy non-profit that believes all the same things you do. On closer examination, it's anything but that. It's a business, owned by sole propietor Vladislav Davidzon, that offers bike tours. The bike tours are advertised at a certain price. After a person has registered, uyou learn the real price is the advertised price, plus a $120 application fee - non-refundable. THe website tells you, once you have paid the application fee, that you "have reserved your spot on the bike tou". Later you find out that they can turn you down if they want to, but they still get to keep your $120 because they told you it was non-refundable. THey told me they are "like a university, which charges a fee just to apply". This business was been set up with a name that would lead a lot folks (like me) to believe they would operate in an ethical way - like a values-driven nonprofit- rather than another slimy business where you better be on your guard.

Response to concerns 08.Mar.2006 17:45

Vladislav Davidzon, Portland Peace and Justice Center vladislav@davidzon.com

Greetings folks,

Just to clarify the situation -- the writer, Linda Scott, applied to our tour, and was sent our standard welcome kit, which requires full disclosure of relevant medical conditions. She has refused to return the kit, which is required for participation in the tour, and thus has choosen to drop out of the application process.

We require such disclosure because we travel through areas where 911 emergency services are not available. Our tour guides are specifically certified to make medical decisions within the guidelines set out by the Wilderness Medicine Institute, but in order to make such decisions, they must have information available as to pre-existing conditions.

For example, we need to know whether any of our riders have low sugar conditions, so that if that rider suddenly loses consciousness we would know what proper actions to take. We also screen for mental health history, as while experiences like this often attract people who see it as a good way to deal with their issues, our guides are in no way trained to provide any sort of counseling.

We operate tours in an incredibly high-risk environment, and follow standard operational and ethical procedures set out by the industry. Our medical screening is done by people with a long history of work within the industry. The Center does not accept donations and thus do not require 501c3 non-profit status, although all of our revenues are immediately re-invested into the operations of the center. We seek to innovate on the normal non-profit model, but are still clearly an organization with a social change, rather than profit, mission.

While we may reconsider our no-refunds policy during our annual review which will occur in the fall, but for now it stands. The reasoning behind the policy is to simply cover our costs of processing the flurry of applications we get to the tour, as it takes considerable staff time to review each one. The application fee police is no different than that used by any universities, or by any other outdoor providers, such as the National Outdoor Leadership School.

Linda is quite welcomed on our tours if she chooses to return the medical kit to us, however we do not provide refunds for people who choose to drop out of the tour. This is an operational policy which is clearly stated during the application process. As a general side note, if we ever choose to *reject* an applicant, we often will refund the registration fee (although such refunds are made at our discretion). In this case, the applicant has chosen to drop out of the application process, and thus will receive no refund -- she was not rejected, but rather chose to drop out.

I fully welcome all dialogue on this issue, as we have absolutely nothing to hide. The Center operates by the highest of ethical and legal standards, as well as by the standards which are set by the industry in terms of risk management and general tour operations.

With the warmest regards,


Vladislav Davidzon
Founder and Executive Director
Portland Peace and Justice Center
Sustainable Energy in Motion Bicycle Tour
www.portlandpeace.org

http://www.portlandpeace.org
503-239-8426
www.portlandpeace.org

Would you like to tell a stranger? 08.Mar.2006 20:53

Linda Scott

I declined to share the following information with business owner Vladislav Davidzon in order to participate in his bike tour, though I did offer to provide a "clean bill of health" from my primary care physician.

Examples of the type of medical questions (there were 3 pages of them) required for participation in the bike tours of the Portland "Peace and Justice" Center:

"Have you been in counseling with a psychiatrist, psychologist, guidance counselor, or other counselor witin the last two years?"

"Are you currently in counseling or treatment with a conselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or prescribing physician?"

"If no, but you were previously in counseling, when was counseling terminated?"

"Please check the appropriate responses that describe the reasons for counseling
__academic/career
__maintenance of medication
__eating disorder
__divorce
__substance abuse
__suicide
__family issues
__depression
__other

Summary of those items checked above:________________________________________"

...my reaction to this: "It's none of your business."

Conflictive statements 08.Mar.2006 21:16

Linda Scott

Vladislav Davidzon states above:

"As a general side note, if we ever choose to *reject* an applicant, we often will refund the registration fee (although such refunds are made at our discretion)."

I quote from an email sent to me by Vladislav Davidzon:

"Even if the application is rejected, fees are usually not refunded."

Resolution to concerns 13.Mar.2006 20:20

Vladislav Davidzon, Portland Peace and Justice Center vladislav@davidzon.com

Hello,

We've received quite a bit of great feedback, on both sides of the issue.

While standard to the industry we operate, and completely legal, the policy in question put us into a troubling situation, as I agree that there was an oversight in our design of the application process where we failed to disclose in full our application process.

The Center strives to operate by the highest legal and ethical standards. Upon internal review of the policy, it has became clear that the application process was not made quite clear, and thus we have not lived up to our standard of full disclosure.

I have issued a formal apology and credit to the rider in question, and will be altering our website to better disclose the application process. Thank you to everyone who wrote to us with concerns about
our procedures -- it is criticism in situations like this that helps make us a better company.

With much respect,


Vladislav Davidzon, Executive Direct
Portland Peace and Justice Center


Resolution and restitution 15.Mar.2006 18:48

Linda Scott

I'd like to follow up on my previous comments to concur with the previous posting and to offer thanks to director Vladislav Davidzon and the Portland Peace and Justice Center for doing all that I asked: they refunded my money and are examining their policies and practices in the areas that were a cause for anger, indignation, and discomfort to me. I know that when I'm just plain wrong sometimes and need to make amends, I generally have a helluva time wrapping my mind around it. So it's something I respect and admire whenever I witness it, and I think it has even more merit when it happens in the public eye, as it has this time. I'm a fan and devotee of learning, and I salute all who engage in it. Linda Scott

portland peace and justice has lost my support 03.Aug.2006 12:20

sadder but wiser

Huge scam. huge huge huge HUGE scam. A waste of time and money. Vladislav Davidzon is a slimy bag of poisonous non-organic fertilizer for getting a whole bunch of suckers like me to pay him $500+ to go camping with him and rip us off with a sub par disorganized version of WWOOF'ing. All this to raise funds for his political candidates. even if you support his political agenda, it's highly deceptive business practice. And the trip itself isn't worth the price you pay. So if you avoided this tour, thank your lucky stars. Hopefuly I can get some sort of refund; this wasn't anything like the cool service learning trip that was advertised. I am highly disappointed and wish to make sense of this all. I guess in the end I've learned to be a lot more careful and that even people who claim to promote progressive and sustainable causes can still be deceptive and take advantage of others.

Sincerely,

Sadder but Wiser

bad vladislav davidson! bad! 31.Aug.2006 11:30

woman

a few things about this ride:

1. vlad is not running a non-profit. THIS IS A FOR PROFIT BUSINESS. He uses profits to fund whatever political causes he chooses. The first time that he said anything about this was during orientation when he told us that if we had a problem with this, that we should say so and not ride with the tour. He also emphasized that if we chose to withdraw, that there would be no refunds. And regarding his political interests, he is militant about middle east politics in a very angry and scary way.

2. the food will not be locally grown, maybe not even organic. Dehydrated beans, boxed mashed potatoes, soy cheese, etc.

3. we experienced minimal interaction with hosts. I heard that the reason for this is that hosts let us camp on their property in exchange for riders' labor during "work activities." Vlad did not appear to have any rapport with the hosts. He sat in the van most of the time listening to music or talking on his cell phone. He did not take part in work activities with the group and was unable to facilitate introductions between riders and hosts that would have allowed for the type of interactive experience that most of us expected.

4. orientation is a waste of time. It took place in the trillium school, which is really a dirty warehouse on the northern outskirts of town. There was no real schedule, and the workshops that he held (which were said to be mandatory) were pointless. For example, the bike mechanics workshop consisted of vlad asking if anyone knew how to fix a flat and then choosing one person to fix it in front of everyone else. I can't imagine that anyone learned anything that afternoon. For meals he had us cook dehydrated foods on a weak electric stove top that needed about 50 minutes to boil water. A tremendous waste of time, and frankly, a downer to be spending vacation that way.

5. the directions that were distributed to us every morning before we hit the road regularly had mistakes. Really unprofessional.

6. vlad was insensitive and unresponsive to the riders who struggled. Riders were pretty much on their own and vlad was very unaccommodating and curt to anyone who needed assistance with anything. Once during lunch I asked where the cheese was to make a sandwich (he had set out bread but no cheese . . .). he basically told me that I could go look through the van if I wanted cheese. A silly example, I know, but come on . . .an extremely unpleasant guy.

7. vlad didn't ensure safety of riders. He didn't check in with riders to see how they were feeling - if they were dehydrated, if they were injured - anything. he was very socially awkward, seemingly angry, and therefore he was not approachable.

8. on my trip there were at least 5 people who left before the end of the trip.

Response from Portland Peace and Justice Center 01.Sep.2006 13:21

Vladislav Davidzon vladislav@davidzon.com

Greetings,

Thank you for posting your feedback about the tour. I will be the first to say that there were plenty of things we can improve, many of which can only be expected given the sort of astounding growth we have experienced and the diversity of riders we attract. Regardless, to anyone who has left the tour disappointed, I most sincerely apologize -- we can, and we will do better next year.

The concerns voiced are all legitimate experiences of the poster, and I want to publically thank the individual in question for voicing these issues as it is only through critical feedback like this that the company will become the incredible social change operation that it can. At the same time, while some folks left the tour early, some also chose to extend their tours from one week to two our more because they loved the experience we offer. The surveys we have received thus far indicate a mixed variety, with the overwhelming majority however stating that they will recommend the tour to friends and will consider returning next year.

We attract a diverse audience of riders, from fifteen to seventy years of age. We've had radicals anti-oppression activists with us, and we've also had riders who hold right-wing racist views (and who, of course, felt less than welcomed by the rest of the group). We've had teachers, doctors, ministers, students, activists and members of the US military ride with us. And we scaled from seven riders the first year to over one hundred and thirty this year. That is astounding growth, and it is unsurprising that things ran less than flawlessly considering the sort of challenges that resulted. It is also worthy to note that many, if not most, of the folks who left did so because they found their bigoted, neo-conservative, racist, zionist views not welcomed on the tour by either the majority of the riders or myself. Every ethic of tolerance, by its very definition, defines what is being tolerated -- and in our case, racism, zionism, bigotry are all things that are by our policies, not welcomed. We are a political organization first, and a business second. And to anyone who is surprised by the politics, I point to the ten key green movement/party values clearly posted on our website -- hardly something that was in any way hidden! :-)

However, I also do not want to downplay the issues which have already been brought up -- they are mostly legitimate and valid. The fact is that the quality of the tour experience varied, and for this company to succeed long-term we must be able to offer a very consistent, positive, experience. There were, without doubt, things that we can improve and build upon. At the same time, the overwhelming majority of the surveys we are receiving rank this tour as being an outstanding experience to which many riders expect to not only return next year, but also recommend to friends. Clearly we're doing something very, very right, even if not flawlessly.

It is also important to note that this company has, must and will operate to the highest legal and ethical standards. It is clear that some people made assumptions about the tour when signing up which we need to clarify for next year and will do so. We will also re-affirm our ethical and legal committment by becoming a full-fledged member of the Better Business Bureau and other appropriate organizations. This, along with other changes will be made in response to the concerns brought up by this year's clients. It is critical feedback like this that allows this company become all that it can become, and to the posters, I am deeply grateful.

Many changes will be made for next year, and much clarity will be added to our marketing. I started this operation because I believe in what this company is doing, and we have certainly already had an amazing, positive, effect on many lives this summer -- and our feedback surveys prove that. Again, to those who left the tour disappointed for any number of reasons, I sincerely apologize. Your views are certainly taken into consideration, and adjustments will be made for next year. It is not positive feedback, but criticism like this that will allow us to become the incredible social change company that we want to become.

Thank you again for the feedback.

With best regards and in solidarity,


Vladislav


Enemies within 09.May.2007 11:13

wavelydavely

Linda, I'm almost sorry your experience ended with a resolution. In my opinion, Vladislav's restitution was nothing more than a publicity stunt. In correspondence with him, I was initially wrong about his organization (I thought it was non-profit with a heartfelt mission) and expressed irritation about his aggressive marketing, like a pile of junk emails, pop-ups on his website, and such. His was the most insulting and degrading response I could have imagined, especially considering his organization is called 'Peace & Justice Center'. Here it is:

Every once in awhile, we get e-mails that are just outright whacky and that
make my week. Yours is definitely that e-mail.
You signed up for a raffle to win a free bike tour, that clearly states on
the top that we're using the raffle in order to promote our tours. Had you
read the terms of the raffle, you would have seen that by signing up for
the raffle you are giving us permission to e-mail and call you.
We are a for-profit company, and I make no apologies for that. Our
marketing is aggressive, but it also works very well for us. If you don't
like it -- then don't enter random raffles. You gave us your contact
information :)
Thanks for the entertainment. Now please, go away.
With much respect,
Vladislav
---
Vladislav Davidzon, Founder and CEO
Sustainable Energy in Motion Bicycle Tours



And here was the 'whacky', entertaining email I sent him (which was actually a response to a previous rude email from his group).


Have you been to your website? The only place I could find the prices was in the area to sign up! No where else! I can't believe I'm getting irritated at an organization that uses the word sustainable so much! And for pete's sake, don't apologize for the price- that wasn't my complaint. Pop-ups, not being upfront with the prices, and a mailing list I did not ask to be on are tools not for an organization like you, but for business hungry and desperate for earnings. Are you trying to spread the word, or make cash? Well, I have received another generic mailing from you, so inside the breakroom of a will be a big sign: democracybike tour is a sham! How's that for word of mouth? Just because a you can't take me off your mailing list without my unsubscribing to something I never subscribed for in the first place!

Response from SEiM 11.Jul.2007 11:37

Vladislav

Wavelydavely,

My company is a for-profit social change firm. I am very proud to say that my company operates by the highest ethical and legal standards. We have made tremendous strides since this thread started, and I am proud to say that we have hundreds of satisfied clients whose lives we've profoundly affected through the sacred experience which we offer.

As for your e-mail to us, it was both offensive and mean-spirited, never mind that it showed a basic lack of understanding of marketing. You had entered a raffle to win a free bicycle tour, which at the time, clearly stated that in order to promote our tours, we are giving away a trip. Had you read the terms of the raffle (which were clearly linked), you would have seen that by entering the raffle, you were giving us permission to contact you.

We run aggressive marketing campaigns that work. Our marketing is both fully legal and completely ethical. As a company we aren't perfect, and I will be the first to admit that we have made mistakes. However I am deeply offended at the suggestion that anything about our marketing is either illegal or unethical.

We are a for-profit company that is driven by a clear triple bottom line: people, planet, profit. As a member of Co-Op America, we are certified as being a green business that is good for both the people and the planet. I suggest you find other companies to target, as you will find no shortage of companies that care about nothing but their bottom line -- environment, communities, employees be damned. We are different, and I suggest you invest some time in research before posting such things in the future.

I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.

Best regards,


Vladislav
President and CEO

Vladislav Davidzon also runs Thinkhost, a deceptive, unethical hosting company 18.Oct.2008 16:28

Harry

Vladislav Davidzon runs Thinkhost, a hosting provider which claims to be green, and dedicated to social change, but has run up a host of complaints all over the internet about its sketchy customer support, rude customer service, poor product, and complete lie of an advertisement "money back guarantee". I myself have lost over $200 to his company, with no way of getting it back. I want to warn people never to use ThinkHost, as it is a scam, along with everything else branded "Vladislav Davidzon".