A bilingual stormwater pollution awareness mural in Cornelius; an art and natural habitat project designed to improve a pedestrian bridge in Portland’s Jade District; and a traveling African-American Cultural Festival throughout all of greater Portland are among the six awarded Metro’s new Community Placemaking grants, totaling $100,000.
Investing in people, neighborhoods
Earlier this year Metro launched a new program to support community-driven placemaking activities across the greater Portland region. The program will provide grants and technical assistance to organizations and local governments seeking to undertake placemaking projects in their communities.
Learn more about our new Community Placemaking program.
Read about the event that helped us kick off the program.
2017 Placemaking Projects
Art Saved My Life
YGB Portland and its partners will invite three artists of color for month-long residencies in NE Portland to create and present artwork by and for people who have been displaced by the gentrification in this area.
Multilingual stormwater art in Washington County
Tualatin Riverkeepers, Centro Cultural and Muslim Educational Trust will work with community artists to install two murals focused on how polluted runoff affects our waterways and watershed. One mural will be bilingual, in English and Spanish, while the other may be trilingual in Arabic, English and possibly Somali.
Metzer School Park placemaking
Supa Fresh Youth Farm and its partners will continue giving young people opportunities to develop leadership and teambuilding skills as they design a market space in the community garden of a future public park in Tigard.
King School Museum of Contemporary Art
King School Museum of Contemporary Art and partners will expand the work they are already doing at a K-8 public school in Northeast Portland, pairing students with renowned artists to learn about museum careers.
Advancing Vision Zero through creative placemaking on Outer Division
APANO plans to commission local artists to transform an underused pedestrian bridge, near where people lost their lives in preventable traffic crashes. The art would encourage people driving to slow down and walking to safely cross the street.
African-American Cultural Festival
The African-American Cultural Festival, formerly the Black History Festival, takes place every year in February. Festival organizer World Stage Theatre will extend its programming to people and organizations serving the African-American community. The festival promotes healing and unity among those who have been displaced during gentrification.
Established this year, the grants are intended to support community-driven activities that benefit historically marginalized individuals and communities, strengthen social interactions among people and foster connections to different neighborhoods across greater Portland.
The grant recipients are:
–Young.Gifted.Black/Brown Portland, Deep Underground, Friends of Noise: $11,400.
–Tualatin Riverkeepers and Centro Cultural: $11,500.
–Oregon Human Development Corporation: Supa Fresh Youth Farm: $13,050.
–King School Museum of Contemporary Art: $19,000.
–APANO Communities United Fund: $20,000.
–World Stage Theatre: $25,000.
An advisory group of community members selected these projects out of more than 50 applicants.
“Placemaking is… what we’ve all been doing in public art for many years, which is to get an artist invested in a space and to learn about that space and learn about the people in that area and then creating work that hopefully fosters connections,” said Rebecca Banyas, an art consultant and member of the community advisory group that selected Metro’s grants recipients.
Why these projects rose to the top
The proposed projects met Metro's criteria for creative placemaking and strong partnerships with equity as a foundational element.
“They just gave us goosebumps,” said Felicita Monteblanco, coordinator of the Washington County Nonprofit Network and a member of the grant program’s community advisory group. “They address equity. They have thoughtful ways of incorporating art.”
The project leaders are “really representative of Metro's values around equity, inclusion, diversity and serving communities that have been historically underrepresented in funding, in terms of civic engagement, and in terms of artistic participation and recognition,” said committee member Roya Amirsoleymani, director of community engagement at the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art.
“We looked for a balance of projects that were brand new ideas that might have been prompted by this funding opportunity, and other projects that had been making a lot happen with very little in the way of resources,” she said.
For example, the King School Museum of Contemporary Art, another grant recipient, has had a home in Northeast Portland for more than two years at the Martin Luther King, Jr. School. The K-8 school doesn't have an arts curriculum.
With the museum embedded in school, students take on roles as curators, installers and docents, while working with local and internationally renowned artists who bring their work to this museum.
The grant will help the museum expand its programming with mentorship and after school programs, a contemporary art research library, and a visiting artist lecture series.
“We were excited by the creative capacity of [all] the projects,” Amirsoleymani said. “We were moved by the vision that, I think, they have for a better community and a better world.”
The application pointed to the gentrification in the neighborhood around Martin Luther King School Jr. School. Black families who have been priced out of the area continue to send their children to this school, making it a special touchstone for the black community across the Portland region.
“Portland is changing rapidly, but so is Tigard, Tualatin, Hillsboro," said Alex Dupey, a member of community advisory group and director of planning services at the firm MIG, Inc. "[They] are dealing with some very challenging growth issues.
"Gentrification is a huge thing," he said. "And being able to take charge of your neighborhood or what your outcome is, even at a small level with these grants, I think, is hopeful. It gives people more say on how they feel things are going.”
Creating places where all people may thrive
Metro supports projects that create jobs, and safe and stable neighborhoods for families; use land efficiently; and protect farms, forests, rivers, streams and other natural areas. These placemaking projects recognize that neighborhoods need more than pipes and roads to thrive.
When people feel connected to one another and to a place, "it helps them want to contribute to the well-being of their community, which then contributes to their well-being as a person, right?" said committee member Tonisha Toler, community liaison at the Regional Arts and Cultural Council.
Placemaking "increases in many ways the value of participation and civic engagement in communities," adds Metro Councilor Carlotta Collette, who also sat on the selection committee. “For us, [these projects] help us to build community, but also build an audience of people who understand what Metro is trying to accomplish" in creating places where all people may thrive.
“The best kind of placemaking, which is what Metro is embarking on, is the kind that really considers the history of inequity of power and resources, financial and otherwise,” Amirsoleymani said. “And so how do we start to tip the scales and rectify that and strive for a more equitable distribution of wealth, power, and resources? Placemaking is one of the ways in which that can happen.”
In the coming weeks, we'll kick off a series of mini feature profiles of the grant recipients to share more about the work they do, the projects they plan to deliver within the next year and opportunities for the public to participate.
Visit our Community Placemaking grantees page.
Metro’s investments, such as these placemaking grants, are strategically focused to help local communities create or sustain the vibrant places envisioned in the Region’s 2040 Growth Concept.
The work of the Community Placemaking grant recipients aligns with Metro's strategic plan to advance racial equity, diversity and inclusion.
Read the strategic plan: