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An "Out Of The Box" traveling exhibit about Vanport

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We are thrilled to offer a new way of learning about the transformative history of Vanport!  Vanport.  A Story Lived. A Story Told traveling exhibit  tells the story of the temporary city of Vanport and the vibrant community that called it home. Through archival material and oral history, it explores this chapter of history and its enduring impact. It is an essential and often forgotten story of migration, housing, displacement, and perseverance.

This is Vanport Mosaic first "Out Of The Box" exhibit, designed to travel to schools, churches, community groups and wherever there is an interest for this important history. Please come and see it, and drop us a line at info@vanportmosaic.org to explore how to bring it your community!

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CALENDAR:

2017

  • May 26-29: Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017
  • August 5th: Vanport Jazz Festival
  • September 28-October 5th: Oregon Historical Society 
  • October 15th: Portland State University/Portland State Of Mind in conjunction with Lost City, Living Memories oral histories screenings. Info here
  • November 8-10: Lewis&Clark College/14th Annual Ray Warren Symposium on Race and Ethnic Studies. Info

2018

  • February 8th: Fair Housing Fair
  • May 25-28: Vanport Mosaic Festival 2018

 

Our deepest gratitude to all the former Vanport residents who have shared their memories with us for the past three years, and informed this exhibit with their riveting stories. And to all the Vanport Mosaic oral historians who helped us capture, honore, and preserve these precious voices.

Special thanks to: Oregon Historical Society, City of Portland Archives, Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, Multnomah County Archives, Portland State University Special Collections and University Archives, Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources, Oregon Black Pioneers, Kim Moreland, James Stanley Harrison, Zita Podany, Thomas Robinson, Terry Baxter, Tanya Gossard, Norman Gholston, Jim Burke, Susan Barthel, Will Bennett, and Peter Marsh.


Made possible by the generous support of:
The Oregon Community Foundation, Oregon Arts Commission, Portland State University and the Division of Global Diversity and Inclusion, Oregon Historical Society, The City of Portland, Prosper Portland.

CURATED BY: Laura Lo Forti, Greta Smith, A Fourth Act
DESIGNED BY: Paste In Place/www.pasteinplace.com
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Join our memory-activism campaign #IRememberVanport!

2018 marks the 70th Anniversary of The Vanport Flood. From now until the Vanport Mosaic Festival 2018 (May 25-28), we invite you to join our memory activism campaign to keep this important history alive.

Thanks to all of you who joined us in our advocacy effort in the past three years, Governor Kate Brown, Senator Jackie Winters, House Speaker Tina Kotek, and Portland Mayors Charles Hales and Ted Wheeler, have proclaimed a Vanport Day of Remembrance on the anniversary of the flood. It is time for a permanent memorialization of Oregon's second largest city and its multi-racial and multi-cultural community!

"Make history" with us by sharing your thoughts on WHY we should remember, and ideas on HOW we can honor and preserve this important chapter of our past for generations to come.

Here how you can participate the collective conversation:

  • Leave your thoughts here in the comment section.
  • Take a photo of yourself in front of our traveling exhibit Vanport: A Story Lived. A Story Told and tag it #IRememberVanport. Share on social media or sending to us at info@vanportmosaic.org. Don't forget to add your thoughts with it!
  • Create something to commemorate this history in whatever art-form you like. Share on social media with #IRememberVanport, or sending to us at info@vanportmosaic.org.
  • Join at any of our events and share your ideas in person and/or on the form available at the event itself.

We will collect all the contributions and share them with you all as they come, and they will be part of the celebrations during the Festival 2018. 

Thanks for keep supporting this "history from the bottom up" effort!

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LEFT HOOK, A NEW PLAY ABOUT COMMUNITY DISPLACEMENT IN 1970'S PORTLAND

Photo by Shawnte Sims

Photo by Shawnte Sims

I boxed the NYC Golden Gloves in the early ’90’s. It was one of the most rewarding times of my life. Up at 6am to take the train to Gleason’s gym, giving my whole mind & body to the training. The support of my community, my trust in my trainer, my faith in a fair fight, stepping into the ring and facing my opponent. And no punch is as beautiful as the left hook. Precise. Powerful. Clean. Because of its proximity to your opponent it’s a hard one for them to see coming, and as with any good blow, the power comes from your back foot, spiraling up through your body, with clean alignment you deliver the blow.

Many times I have encountered the lament “there are no black people in Portland”. It would certainly seem to be the case relying on the dominant narratives from mainstream media (like the TV series Portlandia) down to public school history books. Growing up as a person of color in NE Portland, I knew this wasn’t true, we were here - but somehow we weren’t seen.

History teaches us that the greatest influx of Portland’s African American population was due to the Great Migration from the south during the War Years to work the Kaiser shipyards. After the 1948 flood, those who had established a community in Vanport now found themselves redlined into the Albina neighborhood, one of the few areas of Portland blacks were allowed to rent or buy, due to the Rose City's discriminatory housing practices. Keep Portland weird indeed. 

The storyline of Left Hook condenses a history that unfolded over a dozen years or more in Portland into a few months, touching on the intermixed experiences of African-American Soldiers returned from Vietnam, the aborted Legacy Emanuel Hospital Expansion, the Black Panther Movement, and Portland’s once world famous black boxing community in Albina. The all black cast focuses on the owner of the fictional Left Hook Boxing Club, and his struggle to claim a stake in the American Dream for himself and his family. To keep faith.

Rich Rubin’s new script allows us to hear voices of this all to true recent history, offering a start of an understanding of the intentional and systemic choices that lead to the continued displacement of the African American community in Portland. In this time of engaged discussion about gentrification, affordable housing and displacement of communities, I hope we can use this as a spring board to ask where do we want to go from here, and how do we imagine our city.

Damaris Webb, Left Hook Director

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Rising Waters: A Community Dialogue on Displacement

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Did you miss the theater forum that followed Gentrification is Weird bike ride during the Vanport Mosaic Festival last May? Join Living Stages, Ignorant/Reflections and Laquida Landford for Rising Waters: a Community Dialogue on Displacement Sat. 06/24! "Through interactive performance, conversation, and theatrical games we'll build community and explore questions of place, home, and possibility within a framework of ongoing community displacement in Portland."

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A painting to remembering the Vanport flood

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A painting to remembering the Vanport flood

Artist Sarah S.Shay shared with us this beautiful painting she created in remembrance of the Vanport flood. You can buy a print at this link.

Here Sarah's thoughtful reflections:

I have lived in Oregon for about 15 years. However, I embarrassingly did not know *anything* about Vanport until about two years ago, and then learned more when OPB aired the Vanport documentary. I couldn't believe I hadn't heard about this, and that it wasn't more publicized. I'm from rural Pennsylvania, and our little town was flooded on several occasions, the Allegany River jumping the banks and completely flooding everything not on a hill. So, I grew up looking at old photos of people and their boats, ruined stores and houses...but that town still exists.

Vanport is one of those events that's, well, not just an event. It left me wondering how many other people here--in-and-around Oregon and beyond---had no idea what "Vanport" was. It wasn't an event, it was a community and work and a home for so many people. The tragedy of the flood and everything associated with that loss and deception somehow got named "Vanport," too. I was left questioning what other tragedies were named by their "home," like Columbine. I'm hopeful that the stories of Vanport as a home come out of art and stories and photos....While the flood definitely was a defining event, I would like to remember Vanport as I remember anyone else I loved who has been injured or who has passed: they have name, a story, and a relationship to so many people, some of whom never officially knew them.

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May 30th, 2017: A Day To Remember

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May 30th, 2017: A Day To Remember

On May 30th, 2017 The Vanport Mosaic traveled to Oregon State Capitol to be part of an historical moment!

The Oregon State Senate unanimously voted on Senate Concurrent Resolution 21 to officially commemorate the anniversary of the Vanport flood and remember its survivors and the people who lost their lives. We are grateful to Senator Jackie Winters, who lived in Vanport and survived the flood, and House Speaker Tina Kotek, whose district includes the area where Vanport once was, for sponsoring this resolution. 

Watch a few clips from the moving day:

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Oregon State Capitol

On May 30th, 2017 Vanport Mosaic traveled to Oregon State Capitol to be part of an historical moment!

The Oregon State Senate voted on Senate Concurrent Resolution 21 to officially commemorate the anniversary and remember its survivors and the people who lost their lives. Thanks, Senator Jackie Winters (R – Salem), who lived in Vanport and survived the flood, and House Speaker Tina Kotek (D – North Portland), whose district includes the area where Vanport once was, for sponsoring this resolution.

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The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017

The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017 ended yesterday with a screening of Lost City, Living Memories: Vanport Through The Voices of Its Residents at the beautiful Irvington Covenant Church. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for all the gems of this mosaic: those who tell the stories; those who receive them as gifts; those who share them through theater, poetry, music, film, exhibit; those who teach them to our youth. We are grateful to our funders, sponsors, and partners who continue to support what is now more than a festival... The Vanport Mosaic has grown into a community of Memory Activists that gather around the many silenced histories of our region. Let's acknowledge the wounds and understand the legacy of the harm, celebrate resilience, and work towards a future where we can all be safe and thrive.

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VMF 2017 Final Screening

Join us TODAY for the last FREE SCREENING of short documentaries of life in Vanport, memories of the flood and its aftermath. ~6pm - Irvington Covenant Church~
With World Stage Theatre performs songs from Vanport, the musical written by Shalanda Sims. Remarks by Commissioner Nick Fish and Kimberly Moreland/Prosper Portland. Prof. James Stanley Harrison will answer our questions about Vanport history.
This is the closing of The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017!
RSVP: https://lostcitylivingmemories0529.eventbrite.com/

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Vanport Tours

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Join us TODAY, May 29th, for a full day of exploration of the historic Vanport sites with our BUS/WALKING/BIKING TOURS! The free narrated bus tours are "sold out" but there might be last minute cancellations. And you can still grab our newly produced map (yup! free as well!) of Vanport in 1943 superimposed over the current map, and walk on your own pace. Or join is for Gentrification is Weird: Bike Tour/Theater Forum at 1pm!. #RememberVanport 

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Lost City, Living Memories

The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017 closes tomorrow, May 29th. Please join us the final FREE screening of Lost City, Living Memories: Vanport oral histories at 6pm at Irvington Covenant Church. All NEW stories! We are particularly honored to be able to share Mr. Albert Oyama's oral history. Through his memories, we will learn about the experience of one of the thousands of Japanese American families who suffered under the great injustice at the hands of the government, evacuated to prison camps during WWII. The Oyama lost everything and rebuilt their life in Vanport, only to experience the most heartbreaking loss. Mrs. Izumi Oyama is one of the fifteen recorded victims of the 1948 flood. 

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THANK YOU!

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Thanks for all of you attending The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017 this weekend! Today program: Priced Out- With Oregon Humanities community dialogue at 11am- IFCC; American Summer Squash & Hercules Didn't Wade in the Water at 2pm at IFCC; Vanport, The Musical at 2pm at Midland Library; Vanport Mosaic Festival: Gambatte Be Strong at 7 pm at IFCC. And we are continuing Story Harvest: Albina Memories - recording oral histories in collaboration with Stream PDX. Come and say hi when you spot the silver airstream parked outside IFCC!

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Gambatte Be Strong

Opening tonight, as part of The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017! 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. 

Opening tonight, as part of The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017! 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. 

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Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017 OPENING!!!

The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017 opened today with The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017: Two Vanport Exhibits!, American Summer Squash & Hercules Didn't Wade in the Water and Story Harvest: Albina Memories, plus remarks by Com. Amanda Fritz, the festival co-directors, and John Cárdenas/ Prosper Portland! Music by New Orleans saxophonist and singer Reggie Houston.Velynn Brown-Writer & Speaker and her daughter Aliyah Brown, fourth and third Vanport descendants, honored us with "Holding On -A Poem about Roots and Remnants" ... our hearts are full. Join us tomorrow! #VanportFest2017 @RememberVanport

The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017 opened today with The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017: Two Vanport Exhibits!, American Summer Squash & Hercules Didn't Wade in the Water and Story Harvest: Albina Memories, plus remarks by Com. Amanda Fritz, the festival co-directors, and John Cárdenas/ Prosper Portland! Music by New Orleans saxophonist and singer Reggie Houston.Velynn Brown-Writer & Speaker and her daughter Aliyah Brown, fourth and third Vanport descendants, honored us with "Holding On -A Poem about Roots and Remnants" ... our hearts are full. Join us tomorrow! #VanportFest2017 @RememberVanport

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Oregon Arts Watch

American Summer Squash & Hercules Didn't Wade in the Water on Oregon Arts Watch! " Jocelyn Seid directs Don Wilson Glenn’s Squash and Damaris Webb directs Michael A. Jones’s Hercules as part of this year’s The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017, which looks at the roots and consequences of the post-World War II destruction of an entire largely working class and multicultural city by floodwaters in what is now North Portland. Friday through June 4 at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center. Among several other events are educational workshops and an exhibit at IFCC, Vanport: The Surge of Social Change. #VanportFest17

 

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City Council

So, this happened! This morning at City Council we heard Mayor Ted Wheeler reading the Proclamation for a Vanport Day of Remembrance, and we were moved to tears by the testimony by Mrs. Bea Gilmore, former Vanport resident, 9-year-old Arinze Na'im McGee, Vanport Mosaic youngest historian-in-residence, Shalanda Sims, third generation Vanport descendent, and Mr. Bob Matsunaga, who was displaced by the Japanese internment in 1942, and once again by the flood in 1948. Join us in honoring and exploring the Vanport history and its legacy at The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017 May 26-29! #VanportFest17 #RememberVanport#StoriesBuildCommunities

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The Portland Observer

The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017 on The Portland Observer! "A large line up of events told through film, theater and historical exhibits are planned for the Memorial Day weekend beginning on Friday, May 26 and continuing through Monday, May 29. The second annual festival is collaboration between artists, churches, educators and community groups who have worked for years to preserve the memory of this lost city.

The festival presents a thoughtful, thorough and fresh look at one of Oregon’s most tragic events while also exploring issues of housing discrimination, migration and displacement that continue today."

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Vanport, The Musical

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Vanport, The Musical

The Vanport Mosaic Festival 2017 Presents

VANPORT,  THE MUSICAL
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: https://lostcitylivingmemories0529.eventbrite.com/

Info: www.worldstagetheatre.org

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Please join Vanport Mosaic at Portland City Council on Wednesday 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 2017, May 26-29. Full program: www.vanportmosaic.org/thefestival
The proclamation will be shared again several times during the Festival.

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