Vanport, The Musical


Vanport, The Musical

The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017 Presents

Written and directed by Shalanda Sims

Come smell the opportunity, touch the dream, hear the music, taste the victory and see the canvas as this refreshing take on Vanport unfolds. 

Sunday, May 21, 2pm
North Portland Library, 512 N Killingsworth Street, Portland

Sunday, May 28th, 2pm
Midland Library, 805 SE 122nd Ave, Portland

Monday, May 29th, 6 pm
Irvington Covenant Church, 4003 Northeast Grand Avenue, Portland
Part of Lost City, Living Memories: Vanport Oral Histories screening. RSVP here:



Happy Mother's Day to the Vanport Mothers!


Happy Mother's Day to the Vanport Mothers!

Today we remember and honor all the women who, during WWII, left all they knew behind, packed and moved their families across the country by car, train, and bus, and moved to Vanport, to build a better life for their children and contribute to the war effort. 

Here below a few quotes about motherhood in Vanport from the many interviews we've been collecting through our oral history project, now in its third year.

Join us on May 27th and May 29th for the (free!) screenings of Lost City, Living Memories: Vanport Through The Voices of Its Residents, part of THE VANPORT MOSAIC FESTIVAL 2017

"She wanted to get out of Hughes Springs, and I can see why after I visited. And, she decided she would go as far away from Hughes Springs as she could... And so she found Portland, Oregon, and she didn’t know a soul. But my mother took me, and my sister; I was two at the time, and my sister had just been born. And she got on the train and moved to Portland, Oregon. And so a lot of people who came to Portland, from the South, came to work in the shipyards. But my mother, I always call her a pioneer woman ‘cause she didn’t know a soul." ~Lurlene Samsud-Din

" my father contacted my mother and he said, “Pack up, get a Mayflower transport and bring the belongings; I have a home for you, so we can get settled. And so we traveled. My mother did all this, I don’t really know how she accomplished all these things, but we boarded a Greyhound bus and I believe we traveled for six days." ~ Marionne Endecotte

"I washed an awful lot of diapers. And I hemmed them all by hand everything because she was so tiny and she’s still tiny. You had to wash everything by hand because there was nothing else you could do if you wanted clean clothes." ~Lillie Kizer

My mother was Barbara Kiggins. I'm named after her. And she was very shy and quiet and she did everything that everybody would expect of a mother to do without getting any fanfare for herself. So she never, if she complained I didn't hear about it, she just did what needed to be done. ~Barbara Green

The day of the flood I can still remember my mom was cooking a pot roast because it was a Sunday. So not knowing where we were going to be she made certain that we had the pot roast in case we had to have something to eat.  ~ Sen. Jackie Winters


We particularly honor the Japanese American mothers "who had the misfortune of losing their husband to the Enemy Alien Control Program, as it came to be known, suddenly found themselves alone in a hostile environment, bearing the full responsibility for supporting their children financially and emotionally." Read about them and look at the moving photo essay on Densho blog . 




Story Harvest: Record your memories of life in Albina

Did you live in the Albina Neighborhood between 1940 and 1980?

The Vanport Mosaic would love to record your memories and digitize your photos for the new chapter of our on-going oral history project.  During the VANPORT MOSAIC FESTIVAL 2017, our volunteers will conduct interviews inside Stream PDX, a mobile recording studio in a '67 Airstream trailer:

May 26, 2-6 pm - near Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center
May 27, 2-6 pm - near Vancouver Ave First Baptist Church
May 28, 1-6 pm -  near Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center

To set a time slot to record, please call 510-717.2441, or email

Or stop by when you see Stream PDX Airstream!

We'd love to scan and digitize photos and artifacts for history preservation. Please bring anything you'd like, and our volunteers will scan them in front of you and return them immediately.

In collaboration with University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication’s Agora Journalism Center, University of Oregon Historic Preservation Program, Open Signal Portland Community Media, Stream PDX. Made possible by a generous support of University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication and RAAC.


This event is part of THE VANPORT MOSAIC FESTIVAL 2017- MAY 26-29, a four-day exploration of the history and legacy of Vanport, Oregon’s second largest city wiped out by a flood in 1948. Through theater, documentaries, historic exhibit, lectures, and tours we honor the experience of those who lived there. Full program at


For questions: or 971-319-0156





Join us at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem to commemorate the Vanport Flood

On May 30th The Vanport Mosaic will travel to Salem to participate to this historical event. 
Our collective is deeply grateful to Senator Jackie Winters and House Speaker Tina Kotek for their commitment to honor the experience of former Vanport residents and preserve this history for generation to come!

On Tuesday May 30th Senator Jackie Winters and House Speaker Tina Kotek are the Chief Sponsors of Senate Concurrent Resolution 21, memorializing the 69th anniversary of the Vanport Flood

Ceremonies for SCR 21 will take place at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem. If you would like to join, please meet outside the Chamber of the House or Representatives no later than 10:30am. Courtesies will be given during the House Floor Session followed by a vote on the measure by the members of the Senate during the Senate Floor Session. Following the close of the Senate Floor Session a reception will be held in the foyer outside the Senate Chambers on the second floor of the Capitol.

Please RSVP to AmyBeth Stevens at 503-986-1444 or email



Proclamation for Vanport Day Of Remembrance at City Hall: join us!

May 24th, 9.45am
Portland City Hall

Please join Vanport Mosaic at Portland City Council on May 24th, and make history with us! Mayor Wheeler will proclaim May 30 to be Vanport Day of Remembrance in Portland, 69th years after a flood wiped out Oregon's second largest city. 

This has been such a wonderful community effort, and a perfect prelude to the The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017l, May 26-29. Full program:

The proclamation will be shared again at the opening of the oral history screenings Lost City, Living Memories: Vanport oral histories
- on May 27th at 6.30pm, by Senator Jackie Winters, a flood survivor, at Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church of Portland -- on May 29th at 6pm, by Commisioner Nick Fish at Irvington Covenant Church.


 the City of Portland and the state of Oregon remember Vanport!

the City of Portland and the state of Oregon remember Vanport!

Vanport history will not be forgotten! The Vanport Mosaic community is thrilled to announce three major events we advocated for, enthusiastically supported, and we are now deeply grateful for:

  • On May 2nd, 2017 Governor Kate Brown signed a Proclamation for Vanport Remembrance Day 
  • On May 24th, 2017 Mayor Wheeler and Portland City Council will officially proclaim May 30th, Vanport Remembrance Day. (Join us!)
  • And, finally, on May 30th, Senator Jackie Winters (a former Vanport resident and flood survivor. Watch our short documentary where she shares her memories) and House Speaker Tina Kotek are sponsoring a joint resolution, SCR 21, memorializing the 69th anniversary of the Vanport Flood.

Thanks to the former Vanport residents for sharing their memories for generations to come; to all the families, churches, and community groups who have been collecting and preserving these stories for the past decades; to the artists, writers and historians who have been keeping them alive.

Join us at The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017, May 26-29, when we will read the Proclamation and will share copies with you all. Stories build community! 


Vanport Tours: The Site & Its Many Stories


Portlanders often ask: "Where was Vanport located?" The answer is: in our backyard! Join us on May 29th for Vanport Tours: The Site and its many Stories to explore the historic sites, now PIR/Delta Park. RSVP for our (free!) guided bus tours, or grab our newly produced map (yup! free as well!) of Vanport in 1943 superimposed over the current map, and walk on your own pace. And did we mention the bike tour? Check out The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017 full program at:

The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017

Narrated bus and self-guided walking tours of the original Vanport site. The tour begins at the Expo Center, and loops through the PIR grounds. This route includes the sites of historic Vanport’s most important civic functions as well as residential areas. Additionally, the Building D lobby at Expo will offer brief presentations about Vanport’s lasting impact on our communities. 

This tour is FREE and open to the public. RSVP for bus tour here.

Bus tours are expected to last approximately 75 minutes. The self-guided walking tours will start anytime between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, and last approximately one hour.

Expo Center, Building D
2060 North Marine Drive Portland, OR 97217
and The Portland International Raceway

For questions: or 971-319-0156.

 Organizations supporting the Tour include: The Vanport Mosaic, Columbia Slough Watershed Council, Port of Portland, Bureau of Environmental Services, Multnomah Drainage District, Expo Center, Metro, Portland International Raceway, and North Portland Neighborhood Services.


Gambatte Be Strong

Seventy-five years ago, on May 6, 1942, Japantown in Portland was empty of Japanese Americans by military decree. They joined 120,000 other Japanese Americans in ten hastily erected concentration camps across the United States. During The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017 we will remember and reflect on this tragic chapter of our past.  Vanport Mosaic Festival: Gambatte Be Strong by Chisao Hata and Nikki Kojima Louis +  Lost City, Living Memories: Vanport oral histories  Full festival program:

The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017
Staged reading created by Chisao Hata and NIkki Nojima Louis, directed by Chisao Hata

From Japantown to the Portland Livestock Exposition, from WWII concentration camps to the Vanport flood--the immigrant journey of the Japanese in Oregon is paved with stories of perseverance and courage. Gambatte Be Strong is an original reading of the little known stories featuring the return of Japanese Americans to Oregon after their incarceration during WWII.

With: Heath Houghton, Sumi Wu, Kim Bui, Jenna Yokoyama, 
Ken Yoshikawa, and Savira Kambhu

Two Performances:
Saturday, May 27, 2017 2pm
Sunday, May 28, 2017, 7pm

Suggested - $25
Suggested General - $15
Suggested Senior/Disabled/Students $5

The Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center 5340 N Interstate Ave, Portland, OR 97217

Run time 1hr with no intermission
Box Office at IFCC open one hour before curtain
Please visit Vanport: The Surge of Social Change exhibit running in tandem.


Join the "abundance" campaign: Donate to The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017!

The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017 is around the corner!
We are so grateful for the excitement and heartwarming interest the event is receiving! Many of you are asking the following question: 

That is a heck of an event! How are you going to make it happen? And how can you offer 4 days of screenings, oral history recordings, theater, exhibit, an educational workshop, a reunion for former Vanport residents, narrated bus tours, self-guided walking tours with a map and an app, a bike tour with theater performances for free or low-cost to the public?

Here is our "secret": Abundance. Abundance of volunteers, abundance of funders, abundance of sponsors, abundance of partners. First and foremost, abundance of passion and idealism. And if this sounds terribly naive… well, it is, but it works! Last year our Inaugural Vanport Mosaic Festival, grounded on this unconventional “business” model, is a testament to the power of grassroot organizing and community engagement.

Watch this short documentary to get a glimpse of it:

On Memorial Day weekend, over 2500 Portlanders of all racial and gender identity, age, and socio-economic backgrounds gathered to explore the history of Vanport, the catalyst of the racial mosaic that now exists in Portland and the region. Sixty-eight years after the flood that destroyed what at its peak was Oregon's second largest city, we showed its former residents, now in their 80s and 90s, that their experience matters to us, and that we are not going to forget it.

This abundance-powered effort received a Spirit of Portland Award, a Columbia Slough Watershed Council Leadership Award, and an Oregon Heritage Excellence Award.

We will be honest. This year it’s been harder… Allowing yourself to be so idealistic and keep your hopes up in these difficult times where everything around us screams fear and scarcity has been a challenge. But now more than ever, we want to believe we can do it again. We can keep using the power of personal stories, arts, and dialogue to envisioning and building the community we wish to become.

Will you help us do it again? Will you join the growing network of funders, sponsors, donors and partners who are making this year’s festival possible, and help fill the gap we have left? Your tax-deductible contribution will prove, once again, that stories build communities. 





Lost City, Living Memories: Vanport Through The Voices of Its Residents

The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017 presents

Join us for TWO SCREENINGS of the latest short documentaries part of Vanport Mosaic on-going oral history project, now in its third year. Through archival footage, historic photographs, and compelling first-person narratives, this collection of community-produced short films creates a rich and elaborate “mosaic” of the vibrant community that made up the city of Vanport.  

Tickets are FREE, but seating is limited and RSVP is strongly recommended. Donations are gladly accepted at the door.

Saturday, May 27, 2017 6:30pm
Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church, 
3138 North Vancouver Avenue, Portland, OR 97227

With special guest blues and gospel singer Marilyn T. Keller; Sen. Jackie Winter, flood survivor, reading the City Proclamation for a Vanport Day Of Remembrance; PCC Prof. James Harrison

Monday, May 29, 2017 6pm
Irvington Covenant Church
4003 Northeast Grand Avenue , Portland, OR 97212

With special guest Shalanda Sims, director of Vanport, The Musical, performing a few songs from the play, and PCC Prof. James Harrison. Remarks by Nick Fish.

A community-based initiative directed by Story Midwife Laura Lo Forti. Production Manager: Meredith Lawrence. In collaboration with A Fourth Act, the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Open Signal Portland Community Media.

Made possible by the generous support of Oregon Community Foundation, Oregon Arts Commission, Kinsman Foundation, Oregon Historical Society, Portland State University, The City of Portland, Portland Development Commission, Business for a Better Portland.


American Summer Squash & Hercules Didn't Wade in the Water

The Vanport Flood parallels the more recent Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans. The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017 invites you to American Summer Squash & Hercules Didn't Wade in the Water, two new one-act plays about the American Dream, displacement, and Hurricane Katrina from the African American perspective. Full festival program and tickets at:

The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017
by Don W Glenn, directed by Jocelyn Seid


by Michael A Jones, directed by Damaris Webb

Staged readings of two new one-act plays about the American Dream, displacement, and Hurricane Katrina from the African American perspective. 

Six Performances:
Friday 5/26th 7pm
Saturday 5/27 7pm
Sunday 5/29 2pm
Friday 6/2 7pm
Saturday 6/3 7pm
Sunday 6/4 2pm
*curated post show conversation following Sunday 5/29 matinee

The Price of the Ticket - $25
Suggested General - $15
Suggested Senior/Disabled/Students $5

The Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center 5340 N Interstate Ave, Portland, OR 97217

Run time 2hrs 30 minutes with one intermission, Box Office at IFCC open one hour before curtain.
Please visit Vanport: The Surge of Social Change exhibit running in tandem with this performance.

La’Tevin Alexander, Anthony Armstrong, Arlena Barnes, Kenneth Dembo, Jasper Howard, Eric Island, Rickey Junior, Anya Pearson*, Seth Rue*, Andrea Vernae & Damaris Webb

Stage Management: Jory Bowers* & Judith Yeckel, 
Costume Design: Wanda Walden, Technical Direction: Lara A. Klingeman

Priced Out

Thrilled to host Priced Out- With Oregon Humanities community dialogue as part of The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017! Seating is limited so grab your tickets!

The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017

Producer Cornelius Swartz and Editor/Co-Producer Eric Maxen

An excerpt of the new documentary Priced Out: Gentrification in Portland, Oregon, An Upcoming Film that gives an investigative and personal look at how skyrocketing housing prices displace Portland’s black community and reshape the city. 

This will be followed by a facilitated dialogue on community and housing hosted by Oregon Humanities

Sunday, May 28, 2017, 11 am-12:30 pm

Suggested - $5

The Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center 5340 N Interstate Ave, Portland, OR 97217


The Vanport Mosaic Festival Education Workshop


The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017 presents:
May 27th, 2017
11:30-3:00 p.m.

PCC Cascade Campus Terrell Hall Auditorium, 705 North Killingsworth Street - Portland, OR 97217
FREE! Registration is required as space is limited. You can register here.

For questions, please contact Vanport Mosaic Education Program Coordinator: Greta Smith 

In response to the increasing number of inquiries we have been receiving from educators who want to explore the transformative history of Vanport with their students, The Vanport Mosaic offers its first workshop to share multidisciplinary tools and opportunities for curriculum development for formulating lesson plans.  

This year’s festival themes of migration, housing, and displacement are central to the workshop, as well as the question of how unresolved issues with race-based displacement reverberates through future generations.

Educators will have the opportunity to attend three different sessions offered in the disciplines of history, geography, and arts & humanities:

Teaching Vanport through History: 
This interactive workshop prepares you for teaching about Vanport, a significant episode in local and national history. Learn how to craft a 15-30 minute lesson that wows students and helps them gain a new insight and appreciation for our history. 

Lead by James Stanley Harrison, professor emeritus of History at Portland Community College where he has taught since 1993. He is currently working on a book about the wartime housing project of Vanport.

The Landscape of Vanport: 
This workshop will focus on how to use both the past and present day landscape as an opportunity to study a local geography project. The sample assignment will expand on the creation of “learning opportunities” around both human/cultural or physical geographies of the location and place we know as Vanport City, Oregon. 

Lead by Heather McAfee, who teaches geography at Clark College and serves as chair of the Geography Department. 

Vanport through the Creative Lens: 
This workshop will spark ideas about teaching Vanport through creative responses to film and images and will provide several writing prompts and assignment ideas.

Lead by Melissa Favara, a writer and educator who lives in Portland, Oregon and teaches English at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. She writes and publishes creative nonfiction and essays and curates the 1,000 Words reading series.



"New Negro Migrants Worry City" - The Oregonian, Sept. 1942

"On September 29, 1942 the Oregonian ran a front-page  headline that read "New Negro Migrants Worry City" and another Oregonian article reported that some Whites complained that the Kaiser Specials were "bringing in an army of Negro workers" that "Portland didn't want."... Shortly thereafter the Oregonian reported Mayor Earl Riley's claim that Portland can absorb only a minimum of Negros without upsetting the city's regular life."

Excerpt from "A Menace to the Neighborhood": Housing and African Americans in Portland, 1941-1945 - by Rudy Pearson
Oregon Historical Quarterly
Vol. 102, No. 2 (Summer, 2001), pp. 158-179
Published by: Oregon Historical Society



Vanport Mosaic Receives an Oregon Heritage Award of Excellence!

On April 26th a small Vanport Mosaic representation traveled to Newberg to receive an Oregon Heritage Excellence Award for

The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2016, a groundbreaking, grassroots effort that utilized a multi-disciplinary approach through creative partnerships to bring Oregonians together to learn and talk about Vanport’s history.

We are so honored and humbled to see our collective effort acknowledged with such a prestigious and meaningful recognition! And it was truly inspiring to learn about the work that individuals, community groups, and local institutions are doing throughout Oregon to preserve local history.

Truly, this award is to the former Vanport residents and their families, the community groups, churches, teachers, historians, activists, artists, who have been silently preserving small and large pieces of this important history, so that at last, almost 70 years from the flood, we could assemble this rich and complex mosaic.

With gratitude,
The Vanport Mosaic Team


Happy Women's Day

Happy Women's Day to glass-ceiling breaker and history maker Sen. Jackie Winters! Today, as we're celebrating girls and women of the past and present from around the world -- Vanport Mosaic wants to honor the remarkable women who lived in Vanport, and shared their stories of strength and resilience with us.

Become a Sponsor for The Vanport Mosaic Festival

Check out this short video to get a taste of last year Vanport Mosaic Festival, and get in touch at if you are interested in becoming a sponsor for 2017 Festival (May 26-29): 4 days of theater, oral history screenings, tours, exhibit, educational workshop, former residents' reunion, to honor the community that was formed in Oregon's second largest city, and commemorate the flood that wiped it out in 1948.

Help Support A 99 yr old former Vanport Resident

Photo by: Meredith Lawrence

If you are looking for a meaningful way to celebrate Black History Month and you are in the Portland area, join a community celebration for Mrs. Thelma Glover's 99th birthdayon Sunday 19th, 3pm, at the historic Billy Webb Elks Lodge in Portland. You can still honor her from afar, by contributing to a crowd fund to help paying her medical bills. She lives by herself, and recently suffered a fall.

Ms.Thelma, as she prefers to be called since it makes her feel young, is a former Vanport resident. Last October we captured her memories as part of our on-going oral history project, and since she expressed the wish to see some photos of the city where she and her husband started their life together in 1943, we brought her the whole exhibit "Vanport: The Surge of Social Change" we co-curated with Oregon Black Pioneers for last year Vanport Mosaic Festival! Watch her story, Step By Step, and you will understand why everyone falls in love with this remarkable lady.

There is more to her story, of course. She is one of the last-living people who were displaced by the Emmanuel Hospital expansion (that was never realized...) in 1970s. The Oregonian recently published a great article and video about this painful chapter of her life. Check out the article HERE !

Did we mention there is a crowd funding initiative for Ms. Thelma?

The Vanport Mosaic Team

StoryWork Facilitation Workshop

Vanport Mosaic is thrilled to host a StoryWork Facilitation workshop, taught by StoryCenter director Joe Lambert and co-facilitated by our own story midwife Laura Lo Forti. "Holding a space for deep listening and transformational learning is sometimes a calling, but it is also a skill that can be learned and assessed. This two-day workshop offers participants tools and practice in facilitating StoryWork. More than ever, we need our helping professionals, our teachers, and our leaders to understand how to listen and support the emergence of voice."