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Gentrification Scandal 24.11.2008 13:17
Mississippi Ave Lofts qualifed for Federal Low Income loan
The controversial Mississippi Ave Lofts received a federal low income loan from The Albina Community Bank. I reread it several times because I couldn't believe my eyes. I think there is something terribly wrong with a high end condo project such as MAL, with 721 sq ft studios selling just below 300,000 and housing high end retail stores like Pastaworks, qualifying for a federal loan for low income communities.

Not only are they high end, but these developers have a documented track record of trying to bend rules and being less than honest in their drive to capitalize as much as they possible even in spite of community opposition. Then after they finally get their way (city capitulates, big surprise) they hire Gray Purcell a non-union, hire anybody off the streets(literally), company.

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18.10.2008 17:37
Red & Black Cafe Seeks Low Interest Loans
Red and Black Cafe- a worker owned co-op The Red and Black Cafe is thriving one year after being forced out of our old location, and business is getting better every month! However, we reopened on a shoestring budget and we are still recovering from the costs associated with our move. We are also preparing for increased payroll expenses with Oregon minimum wage goes up in January!
Dear friends of the Red & Black Cafe,

We are pleased to announce that the Red & Black Cafe (a worker-owned, collectively-managed cafe and community space) is surviving and thriving 1 year after being forced out of our old location on SE Division.

We reopened at 400 SE 12th Avenue in January, and over the last 9 months we have sold untold amounts of coffee and black dragon noodles, acquired a beer & wine license and a brand new beer cooler (check out our selection of local microbrews!), and hosted lots of film screenings, music shows, and benefits for community organizations.

With each passing month, business has improved. We feel confidant that we will be able to provide empowering jobs, delicious vegan food, and a welcoming community space for years to come.

However, we are facing a few financial hurdles. We re-opened on a shoestring budget and we are still recovering from the costs of renovating and equipping our new space and renewing our licenses.

Also, Oregon minimum wage is going up by .45 per hour in January! On behalf of all low-wage workers in the state we celebrate the increase. Unfortunately, this will also increase our payroll expenses. Ultimately we hope to provide living wage jobs, but we are still struggling to balance this goal with our mission of providing ethical, high-quality food at working class prices.

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26.08.2008 01:37
Helicopters over Portland

Is anyone else watching the black helicopters fly low over southeast Portland right now? They are small and fast and going back and forth over Powell Blvd. There were four at first count, now there are only two. No numbers or insignia that I can see but my eyes are bad, as is my camera. They seem to be carrying some kind of instrument arrays (?). Anyone know who these people are or what they're doing?.. Besides making me vaguely uncomfortable?

Update: now they seem to be criss-crossing the neighborhood, though still too fast and low for me to photograph.

[ Helicopters | black helicpoters ]


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23.05.2008 15:31
VBC Speech: "Key to Growing Food is Awareness"
I have been asked to speak here tonight because of the way I have been spending my time lately, which is growing vegetables, fruit, and herbs in a bunch of different plots around Southeast, and doing most of the traveling, hauling, etc., by bike. "Bicycle-based urban agriculture," it has been called. I am running the operation as a CSA. A CSA -- which stands for "Community Supported Agriculture" -- is a business arrangement in which a set of households provide resources, fiscal and otherwise, to a farmer in the Winter and Spring and in return recieve produce throughout the Summer and into the Autumn.

Together with my farming partners, who also ride their bikes everywhere, we are growing food for 40 households out of all these plots. We also have "The Staple Foods Project", with its own set of supporters, which is intended to raise survival foods such as quinoa, soybeans, sunflowers-for-oil, soup peas, lentils, and more. The overall goal of these projects is food independence, for a small number of people anyway, by this winter. Also, we will share whatever it is we learn with whomever wants to know. When it comes to food growing, none of us can afford to make any trade secrets.

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29.03.2008 11:17
NW Regional Council of Carpenters Picket at Condo-building site on Mississippi Avenue
picket at Mississippi Ave condo-project Friday March 28, 2008, the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters staged a picket line at the site of the Mississippi Avenue Lofts project (Skidmore and Mississippi Ave), demanding that contractor Gray Purcell pay area standard wages and offer area standard benefits.

The union picketers showed up at 6:30 am in the rainy and snowy morning, but the situation got heated when a private security guard for the condo-project used the metal fence to to push against the picketers, threatened to mace them, then called the police, reporting a "riot." [ Read More ]

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17.02.2008 10:39
Animal Rights Message Mysteriously Appears Downtown
Earlier today, as I was traveling down Alder Street, something caught my eye. In a sea of billboards competing with each other for my consciousness, I almost missed it. I almost went right by without registering it. But the face staring out from the huge, seemingly commonplace billboard was one that deserved attention, and quietly demanded it.

I had already looked away when it struck me. I had to back up and look again. Sure enough, in a city where every bare surface is covered with the cold face of commerce, where murals are illegal unless they're selling something and Clear Channel serves as gatekeeper of our collective consciousness, I had stumbled upon something different. This jaunty little pig was not selling anything. More revolutionary still, the little rogue was actually imparting an animal rights message! Surely I must be seeing things, I thought. After all, doesn't Clear Channel own every billboard in the city? Clear Channel once refused to sell ad space for a sign promoting vegetarianism, claiming that such a message was "too controversial." (Though, of course, "public service" slots for the forest industry, claiming that logging saves forests from fires, are not considered controversial at all by Clear Channel. Nor are signs advertising for the meat industry, or billboards selling women's bodies along with the cheap products they adorn and are adorned by.) Upon closer examination, I discovered that this was not a billboard at all, but an expertly executed banner.

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13.02.2008 11:03
Another Fox Tower? Appeal Wed. 2 PM
The public is invited to comment at the hearing in the Council Chambers, 4th and Madison at 2 PM, Wednesday. Comments can also be e-mailed to Karla Moore-Love, Council Clerk  kmoore-love@ci.portland.or.us or given or mailed to her at 1221 SW 4th, Rm. 140, Portland 97204.

This is your opportunity to tell the Council what you think of more high-rise development, gentrification, and construction downtown. Moyer's architect is talking in the press like a planning Czar. He says he can put skyscrapers anywhere downtown using FAR stratagems if zoning does not allow, as with Moyer Tower. The Block-5 area has been a construction-sacrifice zone too often through the years :1997-2000, 2006-2008, and, if Moyer gets his way, it will be so again 2008-2011.

"What market collapse?" say developers, who claim they're building "ten years into the future" and for "an exclusive market." What do you say to the makeover of your city for the benefit of some hypothetical upscale market from out of town? Moyer Tower stands for all of that and more of that.

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17.12.2007 21:03
Asking for help in Colton
Several months ago, an article was posted here about a road closure in Colton. Most of you have probably never been out there, but I'm fairly certain that you are familiar with official tactics when citizens begin asking questions. The road remains closed and now the man in charge has stopped responding to questions.

What is most interesting is that this road was closed after a mud slide. The slide occurred when the owner of the property clear cut his land. Does that sound familiar?
This is happening all over the Northwest. People who care nothing for the land and the soil, cut trees and walk off with their profits while the rest of us are left to deal with road closures and, more importantly, the loss of precious soils and forests. This damage has been done, but I am hoping that when the county gets emails from the people that they will understand that we are out here watching and we are not clueless.

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03.12.2007 11:42
Another Fox Tower, But No Due Process
Moyer Tower, bigger than Fox Tower and only a block away, is getting no due process from the Design Commission.

The Moyer Tower project was presented to the public from the get-go, not as a project proposal in process, but as a fait accompli. The message to the public: "This is a done deal. Stay away."
This proposed 35-story immensity, bulkier than Fox Tower and just a block away, has huge impacts and issues that deserve an honest process. One developer, who has already stamped a footprint upon midtown like no one else, wants to use dubious FAR-transfer stratagems to grab another four million cubic feet of midtown airspace. He, and a submissive Commission, want to do this with only a restricted and perfunctory affectation of a real due-process. His so-called land-use review is held as an afterthought, following a design review. That's doing the process backwards.

Mr. Moyer, there is a civic dimension to all of this that you ignore. You think you are so magnanimous for donating Block 5 to the city for a park, but we notice that you have built a profitable six-level parking lot under it, that you have tried to put a big upscale restaurant on the surface of it, and that now you want to steal the air space over it in order to erect another oppressive skyscraper next to it.

Next Land-use hearing: December 6,
Be there and protest!
1900 SW 4th, 1:30 PM

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COMMUNITY HISTORY 24.10.2007 14:21
Our Collective History at 7 corners and the red and black cafe
i may be accused of being nostalgic, but how can anyone not feel something as the red and black and other tenants are forced to move away from the 7 corners area, whose sense of place they helped to create? by sharing these thoughts i seek to strengthen my understanding, and stimulate discussion toward a bigger picture of our collective memory.

it's precisely because it is a common story of power, land ownership, the displacement of people and the disruption of the places they gather, that this story needs to be reflected upon. sure, the handwriting of gentrification was always on the wall at 7 corners, and the promises of a community minded landlord were accepted on a basis of minimal trust, but what a drag it is ultimately to be forced to move when it was your own action, creativity, and insight which helped to create the conditions for greedy landowners to exploit!

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