Portland is a different city than it was 10 years ago. Today, one out of every eight residents in the greater Portland Tri-County area is foreign-born, and in some East Portland neighborhoods, immigrants represent one out of every three residents. So, what kind of city will Portland be in the future? How can Portland ensure that all residents have a voice, regardless of their country of origin or immigration status? How can Portland create an environment in which immigrants and refugees are recognized and supported as valued residents of our city?
On Saturday, August 19, immigrants and refugees from diverse communities across Portland gathered in City Hall to begin answering these questions. Individuals from the African, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, Slavic and Arab communities showed up to testify about their respective issues and to share their dreams. The forum represented the culmination of a three-month-long grassroots organizing effort facilitated by the Center for Intercultural Organizing (www.interculturalorganizing.org) and led by Bridgetown Voices, a cross-cultural immigrant and refugee collaboration.
The effort was partially funded by visionPDX, Mayor Tom Potter's Visioning Project. Over the summer, Bridgetown Voices organizers reached out to nearly 1000 newcomers, and they are now in the process of documenting their findings. Bridgetown Voices and the Center for Intercultural Organizing are planning to use the project as a way to identify issues that cross immigrant and refugee communities and to plan future organizing campaigns. For more information, contact Kayse Jama at (503) 287-4117 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.