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Board Meeting February 17, 7:00-8:30 pm

All are welcome to attend SWHRL's monthly board meeting Wednesday, February 17, on Zoom. This month we will be looking specifically at the role of SWHRL in a changing environment, how we can better serve our members, and how to reach out to a broader membership. The agenda is attached below.

To get the Zoom link you will need to register in advance by emailing president@swhrl.org no later than noon on the 17th. You don't need to be a member to join the meeting, but do let us know if you're new to SWHRL and would like to become a member. 

Hope to see you there!


SWHRL holds firmly to the belief that our neighborhood is enriched by diversity.  We fully embrace and encourage active participation in SWHRL by every community member regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, age, faith, gender, sexual orientation, income level, or ability.  

Deciding How will Portland be Run

In December SWHRL President Melanie Billings-Yun was sworn in as one of the 20 members of Portland’s Charter Commission. The Commission will spend the next two years reviewing and recommending amendments to the City Charter, the founding document that establishes Portland’s governing system, election procedures, and city management. Recommendations from the Commission that have the support of 15 members or more will automatically be placed on the citywide ballot; those that have support of 12-14 members will be referred to the City Council for consideration.

A central part of the Commissioner’s mandate is to engage the community in conversations about how they would like the city to function in a way that is representative of all its citizens. Melanie looks forward to holding regular meetings with SWHRL members and other neighborhood and community groups to talk about the work of the Commission and learn more about your concerns and ideas.

Available on Streaming

Portland, the Black Experience: Neighborhood Reflections

On September 16, SWHRL sponsored a panel discussion on “Portland: The Black Experience.” Three African-American neighbors—Mingus Mapps, Martha Jembere, and Kevin Rhea—spoke frankly and movingly about their experiences with racism, what it is like to be Black in a predominantly white city, and the actions they would like to see to make ours a more inclusive home for all. The widely praised panel was attended by over 70 residents and was featured in a powerful piece in Southwest Connection https://pamplinmedia.com/scc/103-news/482651-388693-whats-it-like-to-be-black-in-portland

If you missed the live event, want to share it with your friends, or just watch it again, a video is now available at https://youtu.be/_klHQi8cWws. With deepest thanks to our generous speakers.

Ending Racial Injustice is Our Collective Responsibility

Like many across our nation, we have watched in horror as so many black lives have been brutally taken. The tragic killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor in recent weeks has shaken us all.  Unquestionably, white privilege and systemic racism permeate our country.  Our community is not immune to these failings, as you can hear in the trenchant words of Kevin "KRhea" Rhea, an African-American member of the SWHRL neighborhood:

On my way out for a workout in the "whitest major city in America". A city very well known for it's racist past and it's current "climate." All I have on me is a $30 running watch, pair of running shorts, tee shirt, low socks and shoes. I CANNOT be carrying a weapon because I have no place to hide it. I'm NOT a threat to anyone and most importantly, I'm NOT RUNNING FROM anything. I'm just trying to get some exercise. Yes, I will run past "your" house, past your driveway and through your neighborhood but it's not really "your" neighborhood, it's OUR neighborhood because I too live here. I'm not a threat to your wife or daughter. I'm not the black boogeyman. If you could step outside your fear and simply say "good morning" in return as I pass, you might find a way to conquer your fear. I don't do drugs, I don't rob people, I don't rape, I don't destroy property and neither does my owning a home here bring down the value of yours.

If you feel the need to cross the street as you so often do as I approach that's on you, not me. If you choose to ignore my, "good morning" or my "hello" that's on you not me. Just know this, I started running in 1976, I started cycling in 1972 and I've had EVERY experience a black man in US can have as he runs or rides wherever the eff he feels like running or riding because these streets, roads and wilderness areas aren't YOURS . . . they're OURS and yes, that means "even" mine, a black man. The only experience I haven't had is being shot! Guns pulled but never shot. Ahmaud Arbey wasn't so lucky.

Running/cycling/walking/driving/living/being while black is not a crime . . . no matter where we choose to do it. Peace to Ahmaud Arbey. Blessings to his family. PS Do you have to worry or even think about the risk you take WEARING a mask these days? I do and it has nothing to do with the virus. Feel me.

We must support change now! More than ever, these times demand that we come together to openly confront racist oppression and discrimination in all its forms, including demanding reforms in the way we are policed.  We envision our police working collaboratively with all the communities they serve, with increased transparency, accountability, fairness, as well as public safety. SWHRL stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.  


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