AFS Staff and Local Committee Explore Portland During Site Visit

Annual Meeting News
downtown portland, oregon square scene with a post that has a sign with many different locations pointing in different directions

Site visits to conference locations provide an essential opportunity for AFS staff and the Local Committee to lay the groundwork for a meaningful and generative AFS annual meeting, building relationships and partnerships that can extend far beyond the conference. In this photo essay, Annual Meeting Director, Roz Rini Larson and Special Projects Consultant, Cassie Rosita Patterson explore the city of Portland from April 14 – 18, 2023. While in town, we caught up with Local Committee members Rick March (Portland resident and retired State Folk Arts Specialist, Wisconsin Arts Board) and Mathilde ‘Tilly’ Frances Lind (former Portland resident and Director of Programs and Research, TAUNY Center).

Special thanks to the entire Local Committee for preparing us for our visit!

Roz shows an elderly couple how to purchase their hop pass. Two hop pass tickets are shown in the foreground.
We purchased a HOP card, which we learned connects across the public transit systems in the city, including the train, buses, and railcars. Roz’s skill at providing instructions were immediately put to use as a couple asked her how to purchase their pass.

Later, we learned that you can download the HOP app, which allows you to easily pay for individual rides or day passes from your smartphone. Watch this video to learn more about how HOP works and how you can use it during your time in Portland!
We spent the evening walking the couple blocks surrounding the hotel to get a sense of nearby resources. We found plenty of grab-and-go food options, restaurants, and handy stores for essentials and cheap food like Target, Safeway, and CVS.
On Saturday, we met up with Local Committee member Rick March to test his Walking Tour: Arts, Foodways, and Communities of Southeast Portland. We took the #14 bus to the Portland Mercado, an incubator kitchen and food truck pod that is an economic development initiative of Hacienda CDC. Hacienda CDC is a Latino Community Development Corporation that strengthens families by providing affordable housing, homeownership support, economic advancement and educational opportunities.

Listen to this podcast episode from PDX Beat about the Portland Mercado, where they interview Jamie Melton of Hacienda CDC about the impetus for and framework of the project.

We sampled food from several food trucks, and Rick and Roz got to try chamoy for the first time.
Rick led us on a walk through southeast Portland neighborhoods to Books with Pictures (also on the tour!). In 2022, Books with Pictures received the Will Eisner Comic Industry Award for being the best comic book store in the world.
Image of four people smiling and having lunch at a restaurant.
On Monday, we met up with Alenna of Travel Portland at Screen Door to get more information about local sites, events, and information for Annual Meeting attendees. Cassie’s friend Moriah, who lives in Seattle, provided perspective and asked questions as well. We were especially interested to learn more about social service programs and city-wide efforts to address housing and mental health crises. Learn more about Portland-based social services in the Advocacy and Social Services section at the bottom of this page.

Later, we met up with Mathilde ‘Tilly’ Frances Lind and her friend Kelly, a longtime Portland resident, to explore Powell’s City of Books (the largest used and new bookstore in the world) and the Portland Japanese Garden.
A pond and lush greenery around it, along with trees
A small pond and lush greenery and stones
garden grounds at the japanese garden, which include sand designs with grass in the middle and pink trees

Visiting the Oregon Historical Society and Museum

The Oregon Historical Society (OHS) is a private museum, archival library, and educational institution headquartered in downtown Portland. It was founded on December 17, 1898, with the purpose of forwarding the “collection, preservation, exhibition, and publication of material of a historical character, especially that relating to the history of Oregon and of the United States.”

Water is Life advocacy display.
Medal of Freedom recipient, Minoru Yasui.

OHS exhibitions engage complex histories of the state. Read some of OHS’s blog posts to learn more!

Good Eats in Portland

Note: We redistributed our restaurant leftovers after our meals. Learn more about food redistribution in the resources below.

Portland Experience Resources

Advocacy and Social Services

While the Local Guide will provide a more in-depth and complex background on Portland’s history and contemporary scene, these resources (which we will continue to update leading up to the conference) can get you started thinking about how you engage the city during your stay.

  • Prosper Portland focuses on building an equitable economy, based on four cornerstones:  growing family-wage jobs, advancing opportunities for prosperity, collaborating with partners for an equitable city, and creating vibrant neighborhoods and communities. To support that work, we seek to maintain an equitable, innovative, financially sustainable agency. Prosper Portland invests financial and human capital to serve the city and its residents.
  • The spirit of the My People’s Market is to celebrate community, culture and business while reimagining ways to support local multicultural entrepreneurs with broader exposure to grow and support their businesses.
  • Trauma Informed Oregon is a statewide collaborative aimed at preventing and ameliorating the impact of adverse experiences on children, adults, and families. Trauma Informed Oregon works in partnership with providers, individuals with lived experience, and families to promote and sustain trauma informed policies and practices across physical, mental, and behavioral health systems and to disseminate promising strategies to support wellness and resilience.
  • Portland Street Response, a program within Portland Fire & Rescue, assists people experiencing mental health and behavioral health crises. The program is currently responding citywide and you can request service by calling 911.
  • Downtown Portland Clean & Safe District provides essential services to the people, places and businesses within a core 213-block area of the city. Operating since 1988, the district is one of the oldest, largest and most successful enhanced service districts in the nation.

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