Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Home of Her Own in Kenton

Living on the streets is dangerous.  We all know this.  People are subject to theft and assault and violence, subject to the weather--cold and rain and freezing and heat.  Men against men--survival and alcohol and other drugs.  And men and women against women.  Tent cities have blossomed all over the nation.  The problem of homelessness is overwhelming.

One of the things Portland has been a leader in trying to solve the problem of homelessness is to dedicate areas as villages.  Other major cities have followed our lead.  The dedicated or managed tent cities have come a long way from a spray of tents here and there to an acre or two of dedicated land to create a permanent space.  Dignity Village, created in 2000, has grown up a great deal from a tented area into into a village; a model space with rules and regulations, monitored by the citizens themselves.
Dignity Village 2009

And then we took the idea of a permanent home a step further.  Over the past two years we have refined our approach.  Mayor Ted Wheeler thought living in a tent wasn't a great viable means of living.  So we started building tiny homes so people could get out of the elements.  Port-a-potties and fresh water are supplied by the city.  So now there are choices in our town: shelters, tents, tiny houses.
Dignity Village today

Not long ago, we had dedicated land given by the city to house homeless women in my neighborhood. The village is named Kenton Women's Village.  It is a fenced-off area with wood stakes in the chain links for privacy.  Not yet knowing what this was, I would see women working out by the road, pulling weeds.  Turns out it is a year-long pilot project that has 14 tiny houses for single occupancy.  It is self-governed with Catholic Charities as overseers.  Homeless women are often not comfortable in shelters, feeling vulnerable to disruption and perhaps abuse.  This village gives them a door to lock and a sense of home.

Kenton Women's Village
I have been donating quilts to the village for the past few months.  Five or six total this year.  And last week I brought 12 Christmas Stockings filled with necessities like shampoo and deodorant and combs and candy.  Candy is a necessity, right?  I have been able to meet some of my neighbors.  It is a well-kept wonderful area that can grown in homeyness, just like Dignity Village.

I love the village idea, the tiny houses ideas.  One idea is to open our own yards to tiny houses if we have the space and desire to help in that way.  While we have added many more shelter beds throughout the city, it is the tents and tiny houses that bring the community into the lives of transient people.  They have a place to belong.  A home, a space to call their own.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Weird Portland Wednesday: Keeping it Clean

A clean house is a delightful house.  It is organized and walking into this house, you are notice immediately...yeah that's it.  Walking into this house you immediately notice it is a clean organized house! 
By the way, my house isn't a neat organized house.  Better than when my sons were young, but still.

So for me, a vacuum is just a vacuum, right?   As a kid, it was an annoyance.  As a teen it was a chore.  As an adult it is an annoying chore.  Dogs hate it.  Cats run from it. 
I never understood how Mrs. Cleaver could smile so much, all dressed up--with her pearls even--while she vacuumed away her troubles with the Beav and his gang.  Certainly my mother never wore her pearls while she vacuumed.  But alas, my mom was never June Cleaver.

Well lately I have come to understand just how interesting are vacuum cleaners!  First, vacuums have always been kinda cool, having those two "u's" together.  Not many words in the English language have two u's side-by-side.  But I have found out, thanks to Portland, they are much more than that in coolness.

Portland has a vacuum museum.  Yes, a vacuum museum (notice I have spelled "vacuum" many times because of the cool u-thing).  Downtown at the Stark's Vacuum Cleaner Sales and Service, over in the corner of the store, is the Stark's Vacuum Museum.  It used to have over 300 machines, but this number was reduced to 25 this year.  Plus it has three timelines of the progression of the vacuum.  

I thought this was pretty spiffy, if not strange, to have a museum dedicated to vacuums and then I found there are actually vacuum enthusiasts!  They had their annual convention--annual convention!--last June in Spokane, Washington. 
Imagine toting this around in your house. 
But I do like the handy clock :)
The Vacuum Cleaner Collection Club says on their website: "Most collectors have a fascination with vacuum cleaners from a very early age. We enjoy the mechanical workings and appreciate the design of many vintage vacuum cleaners."  So okay.

 No way have I become a vacuum cleaner
enthusiast, but love that Portland has one of the few museums around.  Simply to keep Portland weird.