At least, according to The Atlantic, the Washington Post and the Huffington Post. And I buy it – hell, I grew up here, and I never met a black person until I was 12 years old.
One of the core missions of While Rome Burns is to nurture and promote local diversity – religious, gender, ethnic, and racial. Because I don’t want to spend my life in a place where everyone looks like me, thinks like me, has all the same social and cultural baggage that I have. It feels to me like a purgatory of mirrors, where everything is safe but nothing is novel. A world without surprise, without a reason to stretch your mind, to reach outside – and beyond – yourself.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what might be done, how to engender and celebrate diversity in this, one of the most beautiful cities in America. And one thing I’m learning is that I’m not alone – there are a lot of smart, capable, determined people in this town working to make Portland the inclusive, forward-looking, courageous place I think it could be.
This month’s While Rome Burns’ honored guest is Living Cully. Living Cully has some very innovative ideas that – while not specifically addressing issues of racism – go straight to a number of closely related issues, including their anti-displacement and affordable housing work, their health and environment work, and their economic development, advocacy, leadership and youth programs. From their About page:
“Living Cully is an innovative collaboration that formed in 2010 between Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East, Hacienda Community Development Corporation, Native American Youth and Family Center, and Verde. Through its work in NE Portland’s Cully Neighborhood, Living Cully reinterprets sustainability as an anti-poverty strategy by concentrating environmental investments at the neighborhood scale and braiding those investments with traditional community development resources.”
Please join us January 28 at our new time, (the fourth Sunday of each month from 5 – 7 PM), as we celebrate this amazing group. We’ll also be paying tribute that night to Portland music legend (and my dear friend) Jaime Leopold, with a set chock-full of his brilliant and quirky music, as performed by his band, The Short Stories.
Local musician Chelsea Sue, who was such a great hit at our September show, will be opening the night with her special brand of magic.
Oh – and happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!