The staff at Point West marked Indigenous People’s Day (October 10) with a bus tour hosted by Know Your City, whose programs and publications are designed to educate people to better know their communities, and to empower them to take action. Our custom tour included oral histories of the following cultural sites:
The exquisite and ethereal Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland’s Chinatown. Inside the garden walls, you travel through time to another era in a faraway world. Lan Su is a window into Chinese culture, history and way of thinking.
The Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church was actively involved in the 1960s civil rights movement. The highlight was Dr. Martin Luther King’s visit to Portland in 1961, where he met with local African-American church leaders. Vancouver Avenue was a central polling place for African-Americans in North Portland.
Vanport was a hastily constructed city of public housing located between the Portland city boundary and the Columbia River. It’s currently the site of Delta Park and the Portland International Raceway. Vanport construction began in August 1942 to house the workers at the wartime Kaiser Shipyards. Home to 40,000 people, about 40 percent of them African-American, Vanport was Oregon’s second-largest city at the time, and the largest public housing project in the nation. Vanport was dramatically destroyed at 4:05 p.m. on May 30, 1948, when a 200-foot (61 m) section of the dike holding back the Columbia River collapsed during a flood, killing 15. The city was underwater by nightfall leaving its inhabitants homeless.
The mission of the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) is to enhance the diverse strengths of their youth and families in partnership with the community through cultural identity and education. NAYA is a family of numerous tribes and voices who are rooted in sustaining tradition and building cultural wealth. They provide culturally-specific programs and services that guide their people in the direction of personal success and balance through cultural empowerment. Their continuum of lifetime services create a wraparound, holistic healthy environment that is Youth Centered, Family Driven, Elder Guided.
The Jade District (82nd Avenue & Division), identified for its rich blend of Asian influences, supports locally owned businesses that promote local employment opportunities. Their commitment is to reach and engage many different cultural groups, thus bridging language barriers and improving safety. Neighborhood associations and community members are actively participating at their events and activities, including cultural holiday celebrations such as Lunar New Year and Mid Autumn Moon Festival, as well as promotion of the Annual 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade. Their vision also includes the development of a multicultural community center, an Asian inspired Night Market, and a local community garden. The intention is to improve the district for local residents and make it a destination for all of Portland and it’s visitors.
Our tour of the city gave the staff at Point West a deep look at the history of the place we call home, and the different cultures of our members. The experience was an enlightening one and we will take what we have learned to help better serve all of you!