Now in its fourth year, Metro’s Community Placemaking grants program continues to attract enormous interest from applicants. “For the 2020 cycle, we received 79 applications asking for $1.6 million and had $190,000 to award,” said program manager Dana Lucero. A community-based advisory group comprised of people who work at the intersection of arts and social justice in greater Portland reviewed the applications and selected the eleven that were recommended to the Metro Council for funding.
Metro’s placemaking grants program exists to invest in communities that are tackling challenges across greater Portland, helping them build stronger connections to each other and the neighborhoods they call home. The projects funded by this program take an arts-based, equity-focused approach to bring about the changes community members want to see in their neighborhoods.
This year’s grant deliberation took place in mid-March during the start of COVID-19 distancing and a potentially prolonged period of uncertainty and financial challenges. In such times, supporting our most vulnerable community members has never been more important. Metro committed to using a racial equity lens when making budget decisions and, as such, funding this year’s awards moved forward without cuts. This year’s recipients anticipate people sharing space at some point during the 18-month grant period, but will adjust as necessary to ensure people’s safety while achieving their goals in a different way.
The 2020 grant recipients are:
Memoria, Resistencia, y Liderazgo: Latinx from Within, $22,700 (Forest Grove)
This grant supports the development and permanent installation of photos, videos and the written word to tell the story of the immigrant experience in Forest Grove and nationally. The project is led by, and features the stories of, local Latinx artists and community members. The installation will take visitors of Adelante Mujeres’ multi-use community center on a journey of the past, present and future – the resilience of diverse Indigenous peoples and Latinx communities throughout colonization, the immigrant experience in Oregon, and how culturally-specific programming and centers are key to building unity and more Latinx leaders.
Lutheran Community Services Northwest
Black Youth Dialogue and Art Project, $24,443 (North Portland)
This grant supports youth in affordable housing development New Columbia’s participation in workshops on identity formation, dispelling myths, sharing history, culture and Black unity. African Immigrant/Refugee and African American youth in the New Columbia neighborhood will be brought together to dialog around their heritage and experiences as Black youth in the Portland area. They will learn from each other’s cultures to promote greater inter-group identity. Culturally-based art activities such as African drumming and spoken word/hip-hop will create a sense of cohesiveness. Youth will offer a final performance for New Columbia residents, parents and the public.
Ethos Music Center
Pass the Mic Music Education for Immigrant Youth, $10,000 (East Portland)
This grant supports culturally responsive music education for immigrant youth who live near David Douglas High School. After school programming will engage the young people to express themselves by creating original music with instruments they will keep. With translators on hand, they will learn songwriting, instrument playing, lyric/poetry writing, stagecraft and collaboration. Music education will continue through a 1-week summer camp, where coordinators will hold workshops to address issues the youth want to tackle. SUN School partners will run buses to and from camp and provide healthy food for breakfast, lunch and snacks. The camp will end in a free concert for youth to perform their songs for the community.
Reynolds High School
Art Talk Bus Stop, $10,633 (Troutdale)
This grant will support Reynolds High School’s Art Talk Bus Stop, a monthly, 30-minute, student-produced podcast about how local artists and creatives make a living, using storytelling to build community. An artist in residence will mentor students throughout the year, develop a guest list reflective of student interests and mirroring the racial, sexual orientation and socioeconomic diversity of the school, and continue outreach to cultural organizations and community groups. The recordings will amplify the voices of local artists and give listeners a window into cultural happenings in our region. KBOO Community Radio will air the podcast during their Youth Programming on the 4th Wednesday of each month.
Read about each project by visiting the 2020 Community Placemaking grantees page here.
Open Signal Immersive Studio, $23,990 (Northeast Portland)
This grant supports Open Signal’s extended reality (XR) training offered to communities of color who are often excluded from accessing advanced and emerging technologies. Online workshops will focus on virtual production and immersive storytelling, and be followed by conversations about the social implications of XR technology, focusing on BIPOC voices. Partnering with Outside the Frame, a nonprofit providing media training to homeless and marginalized youth, they will teach a team of youth field and studio production to create a 3-part TV and live stream series exploring concepts of extended reality with local artists participating in Open Signal’s New Media Fellowship program.
APANO Communities United Fund
East Portland Art + Justice Lab, $20,556 (East Portland)
This grant supports building community's capacity to engage in public planning and offers mentorship for emerging local creatives. Six art fellows, working in pairs (one established, one emerging artist each), will engage multiethnic residents of Orchards on 82nd, a new affordable housing development. Working together around issues of residents’ concerns, they will each create a public project or performance that works toward improvements. This project grew from community input that pointed to artist fellowships as a means to cultivate art, culture and relationships among residents
Tene'kin tanik maaya, $17,700 (Northeast Portland)
This grant supports neighborhood-based activities to engage youth in the appreciation and visibility of the indigenous Mayan language in the Cully neighborhood, where there are a significant number of Yucatec Mayan speakers. The language is alive in the community, but most Yucatec Mayan speakers do not write or read the language and children from Mayan families are not fluent. With support from fiscal sponsor Verde, local artist Patricia Vazquez Gomez will expand her Mayan language work in Cully and teach screen printing to a group of engaged teens who will create an array of printed Mayan language materials that will be shared with Cully neighbors and the Portland region through makers fairs. Indigenous rapper Pat Boy, who sings in Yucatec Mayan, will hold a series of workshops for youth. The grant also supports initiating Yucatec Mayan language classes with neighborhood mothers.
Mobile Community Mural, $13,800 (Fairview)
PlayEast!, a collaboration between Fairview and Wood Village, will continue their work with Latino parent groups by providing training in areas the parents requested - leadership, communication, conflict resolution and community organizing. The sessions will involve Multnomah County’s Partnership & Capacity Building program and other community partnerships. Using what they learned, the parents will work with a local Latino artist and youth involved in the Building Toward Success program to create mobile murals that represent their culture and community where they live. To mark the close of the project, the parent groups will organize a celebration to come together and share their experiences.
Gentrification is WEIRD!
Kidz in the Park, $12,500 (North Portland)
This grant supports groundwork for a formalized Black- and Brown-led friends of George Park group that will oversee long-term advocacy of the North Portland park and surrounding corridor. Led by Gentrification is Weird and local rapper Mat Randol, with support of fiscal sponsor Friends of Noise, the team will gather oral histories to preserve the neighborhood’s deep industrial, blue collar, multi-cultural history which has been largely missed in other neighborhood preservation or restoration efforts in North and Northeast Portland. They will also create a survey to understand community priorities with a specific focus on nearby schools and community centers to ensure a Black/Brown, youth-informed approach.
Slavic Community Center of NW
12th Annual Slavic Festival, $16,678 (East Portland)
(Should distancing measures remain in place through 2021, organizers will transition to a virtual festival.) The Slavic Festival is an important annual celebration that brings together multiple generations from different social groups and people whose first language is other than English. Festival goers will experience Eastern European cultures through music, dance, food and more. This year’s festival will focus on the cultures of Slavic people from the 15 former Soviet Republics, with involvement of refugees and immigrants from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
Native American Youth and Family Center
(com)motion, $20,000 (Northeast Portland)
(com)motion is an innovative, community-led, multicultural movement studio combatting systemic exclusion and providing an avenue for cultural movement arts taught and attended by people of color, individuals with different physical abilities and members of the LBGTQIA+ community. The studio is also an incubator where movement instructors of color and from historically marginalized communities receive technical assistance. As a program of Our 42nd Ave, part of the Prosper Portland Neighborhood Prosperity Network, and led by Native American Youth and Family Center, project partners will respond to the effects of COVID-19 by making physical improvements to meet safety and state health standards and continuing to support the community instructors with additional assistance and technology tools.
Metro expects to announce details of the next grant cycle in mid-June. Sign up to receive news about grants and placemaking events and opportunities around the region.