Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Response to tragedy: Moving forward in North Portland

The following article I wrote was published in The Oregonian on 8/03/2010.


By Kay Reid

Today on North Haven and Cecelia, I saw that my elderly neighbor's nasturtiums are thriving; she is always sowing something new. Her neighbors, avid campers, have returned, their car and trailer dusty again, cranky old dog Dharma glad to be home.

Last week, as I was driving on Dwight, a teenager in the middle of the street waved me down. "You're going to scare them!!" he shouted as I rolled the car window down. It was a duck and her ducklings about to enter the street. Marsha, near the scene, said she sees this every year: The family is headed for the Columbia River and out to Sauvie Island. I went by McCoy Park on the way home and saw lots of kids. Eighty children participate in programs there every day.

It's busy at the bus stop up on Fessenden, where people bus for the usual reasons: work, appointments, friends. I know drug deals sometimes occur there. That such deals also routinely occur in Pioneer Courthouse Square, Goose Hollow and other places is little comfort.

The No. 4 Fessenden is where the seeds of sweet Billy Moore's murder first were sown in an exchange of words. The sadness in New Columbia, among renters and owners of all races, was and is palpable. How, why did that other teenager have and use that gun?

I bought a house on Haven Avenue two years ago, hoping to enjoy the experiment of New Columbia. Actual experience has wonderfully exceeded my hope. Every day, I see and hear a world of stories and people that I like. We are a neighborhood on 82 acres with people from 22 countries speaking 11 languages. We are Caucasian, African American, Mexican, Guatemalan, Colombian, Russian, Vietnamese, Hmong, Somali, Haitian, Filipino, Burundian and more. We are also from Beaverton and Irvington.

I was saddened by the recent story in The Oregonian ("Trying to restore safety," July 24) that packaged New Columbia as a haven for violence and crime. Publication of the photo of children who saw Billy murdered was insensitive and cruel. I wish the newspaper hadn't done that.

Yes, we have problems to be solved. Yes, some owners and renters are unhappy. But this is a community of strong, caring people who respond to tragedy with a sense of responsibility and collective involvement. It is a resilient, hopeful and proud community with most households wanting to live in peace.

Kay Reid is an oral historian who helps individuals, families and organizations tell their stories. She also teaches an English for Speakers of Other Languages class at New Columbia.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tables of Memory Workshop, July 18

Tables of Memory

Join Me at My Home for an Oral History Workshop and a Nutritious Table

Saturday, July 18, 5 - 9 p.m. Limited to eight people, $50 per person.

Please let me know by email, kreid@spiritone.com or phone: 503-282-4787

Do you ever stop to think about the data arrangements deep in your memory, those tablets and mesas where your recollections are etched or scribbled? Do you think about how to bring them alive, and about how you might record the lives of friends and family? Food, Meals, and Tables are springboards to remembering. I will help you spring.

The Courses:

4:30 – 6:15 p .m.: I will introduce oral history concepts and techniques for recording stories of our families, extended families, neighbors, or friends at the club, church, and workplace. My instruction is informed by my own experience of recording the oral histories and stories of more than 120 people.

6:15 – 7 p. m.: Next we enjoy the pleasure of a table: delicious main dish, salad, bread and light dessert. Lemon water, a table wine, and tea are provided. If you wish to bring your own wine, you’re welcome to do so.

7 - 8 p.m.: We will engage our memories, using tablets and pens.

I will illustrate the process of evoking memories by asking participants questions about foods, meals, tastes, food rituals and tables from their past. The questions have the potential to bring alive all kinds of memories.

This is going to be a very good time! We will write and remember. Some people may want to share their recollections, so we’ll allow time at the end for those who do.

You will have a feast of memories and ideas to chew on for weeks, tools to use on your own, and perhaps a start on a project. The $50 fee includes the instruction and An Oral History Kit for you to take home. I hope the meal that accompanies the workshop will leave you with a happy belly
and that the total experience is rewarding.