Saturday, October 07, 2006

Hi I live in New Columbia

Dr James Mason leads a workshop for privilege awareness and how to create welcoming and safe environments in New Columbia's community room.
...Columbia Villa, another wartime housing project in the Portsmouth Neighborhood, is being rebuilt; the new $150 million community will be known as New Columbia and will offer public housing, rental housing, and single family home ownership units...

I live in New Columbia housing development. Here's a link to a documentary film on it.

I am a homeowner and I also own the land and pay taxes. We pay homeowner fees. So we are part of the "experiment" of putting folks together here across socioeconomic lines. I don't live in the top of the line Legend Homes but the middle of the road--still probably thought of as wealthy by many others who live here in apartments and condos and townhomes--Tom Walsch homes. There are also Habitat For Humanity Homes. HOST can get grants for those who qualify to pay for closing costs. And there are tax abatements available also for those who income-qualify.

You may know this used to be Portland Villa or just "The Villa." At times nasty and full of real ganstahs I am told. The people who lived there then were moved off so the whole thing could be torn down and rebuilt. Those who still wanted to were then brought back here to the brand new neighborhood complete with four parks, a community garden, trails nearby through biological preserves, an upcoming A.J. Java coffee shop in the middle by the beautiful fountain and Big City Produce next door to that.

I moved here, to this neighborhood because I, yes, wanted to be closer to the African American community in Portland. Even though I know white people are a pain in the ass when many black folks would prefer just one place to go, thank you, where they don't have to deal with us being around.

I figured I'd work things out and that's how it's been.

I've decided to write about living here in New Columbia. It's so GOOD! If one bad thing happens here you see it in the papers. Granted there's been good articles in the papers too. But mostly if something bad happens that's reported on. I've decided--with some prompting and affirmation by the local black leadership here--to blog on ... and on!! and on!! about all the good things happening here.

So the other day someone, just standing waiting for a bus, picked up some stray trash on the ground. Neat, huh?

Saturday, Dr. James Mason led a workshop organized by Leslie Esinga here in New Columbia. It was to create awareness of privilege-levels different people have and to brainstorm together how to support the youth here.

His homework for the 12 people--about half black and half white people were in the group with one non-US born person--is to bring back something to share that is good around here. Last group time the homework was to talk to youth in the hood and ask them what they would do if a car came up to them while they were standing in the street as a group, blocking the road way. Would they move?

One woman did her homework. And they all said they would move but the driver might have to wait for a minute. :)

According to Leslie A. , what the young people want is a space to call their own. And that is being worked on. The money ends in December but Leslie's position doesn't. So she is definitely working on finding and securing a space for them.

She held a pizza and soda dinner for a brainstorming with the young people after each home was visited by a team of hers. They spoke with over 75 young people and 25 ended up showing up for the meeting.

Our idea, backed by Dr Mason, is to pay each youth a consulting fee of $25 for attending the meeting next time.

So, I'll continue to post about living in New Columbia and try and supply more in-depth links and information for those interested.


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