Meet our new board members!

This month, we are onboarding 4 new board members to our team! Join us in welcoming Kathy, Coya, Phil and Chris to the SJCO family! 

Kathy Glanville
Kathy loves living in St. Johns and is excited about the newly expanded mission of the St. Johns Center for Opportunity. She is looking forward to being more involved in her community in ways that strengthen our neighborhood. She holds a BA in Consumer Studies from the University of Utah and a Masters in Public Administration from Portland State University.  Her career is in higher education as a Systems Analyst for an ERP Software company, Ellucian. Kathy also recently completed the NET (Neighborhood Emergency Team) training and is now an active NET. During her down time she loves spending time with her husband and their dog and looking for unique photography of the St. Johns Bridge.

Coya Crespin
Coya has lived in the St. Johns area for 7 years and firmly believes in uniting with her fellow renters to work for a greater good. She currently works at Community Alliance of Tenants, as a member of the Grassroots Organizing Team.  In addition to going to school part time, she is a currently working on a fellowship with Organizing for Action. In her spare time, she enjoys chilling with her two children, who are her Sun & Moon, and eating tasty food.

Phil Crowder
Phil is an Oregon kid by way of California and has called Portland home for almost 10 years. He fell in love with the St. Johns neighborhood while house hunting with his wife a few years ago. Phil's passion for helping others has always manifested itself through his career in management, sales and customer service.  His genuine interest in giving back to the community was developed while pounding the pavement and assisting on a senate campaign in Colorado 3 years ago. He earned his diploma from the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!) with a Major in Business Administration and a Minor in Psychology.  In addition to being on the Business Resource Team, he also is an animal lover and spends time volunteering at the Oregon Humane Society.  In his spare time, you can find Phil at West Coast Fitness, out on the running paths, trying new Portland restaurants (and the wines and craft cocktails to go with it), watching his favorite teams (Ducks, Giants, 49ers) and spending quality time in his lovely St. Johns home with his wife Rachel and OHS rescue cat, Gouda.  

Chris Robasky
Chris Robasky is a first generation college student from rural Pennyslvania, graduating from Penn State and Loyola Chicago School of Law.  She happily sold all her belongings and moved to Portland in 1999, and soon after bought a house near Pier Park where she lived until recently with huge dogs (Stella and Ghost still live there with nice renters who take care of them).  Chris still lives in North Portland and regularly visits and loves St. Johns.

Chris has worked as in-house attorney and in employee/labor/HR professional positions for large employers including Nike and Providence Oregon Region.  She currently is a labor relations manager at Multnomah County. Chris enjoys most things that don’t involve too much exercise, and likes to think about traveling.  

Gentrification: Can a St. Johns Housing Action Plan help?

Article by Barbara Quinn
Published in the St. Johns Review on April 21, 2017


Though the city and political leaders have talked about it for years very little has happened to address the rapid gentrification of our city and particularly in north Portland. Has the situation improved after past housing forums with political leaders? Not enough. This time I hope it will be different.

The recent eviction of residents at Titan Manor Apartments in St. Johns is testimony of the failure to address housing issues. According to some sources Portland hasn’t been able to slow its rental crisis because “in a city that prides itself on progressivism, many of the traditional tools used to create more affordability are off the table.” Until last year, the City did not require inclusionary zoning, which mandates that new buildings include a certain number of affordable units. There’s no rent control in Oregon, and efforts to ban no-cause eviction are currently being challenged at the city and state levels. The city has embarked on big urban-renewal projects in the past few decades without putting measures in place to ensure that tenants in those neighborhoods won’t be displaced (The Atlantic, Can Portland Avoid Repeating San Francisco's Mistakes, Semuels, 5/17/16). More than half of the city’s tenants spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. Rent increases can rise rapidly in some cases even doubling.

While St. Johns has the most diverse high school in the state, Roosevelt High, with close to 1/3 white, 1/3 Latino and 1/3 African American students, that diversity is currently being threatened by displacement due to the cost of housing. Diversity has been the heart and soul of our community, diversity of age, ethnicity, income, and faith.

The neighborhood is increasingly becoming white upper middle class like the rest of Portland because the free market is driving housing prices sky high in a traditionally affordable neighborhood. The free market, lest we forget, produced a San Francisco where houses' average cost is over 1 million dollars. Generally only wealthy, white people can live there. Is that where we want to go? Heck no, everyone says, but what are we doing to prevent it? Little to nothing. Apparently here in our city and in our state, the free housing market rules.
   
The Comprehensive Plan, in contrast, envisions the St. Johns neighborhood as a town center with diverse residents, where people are able to age in place. Yet, how can that happen if older residents can no longer afford property taxes? Or afford to stay in the neighborhood they love? Ethnic diversity? Forget it. The average Hispanic family can now only afford a 1-bd home here. Just ask the owner of Novedades Prado whose Hispanic customer base is eroding. They are fleeing the neighborhood. African Americans? They are also fleeing. We are becoming whiter and wealthier with each development.

The solutions implemented so far may have helped but have not had enough impact to change the gentrification process, aka the forced flight from the neighborhood due to the cost of housing.

April 10 St. Johns Forum to organize a Housing Action Plan
The housing forum on Monday, April 10 at the St. Johns Community Center was organized to address these serious issues. Its purpose was to get feedback in order to form a St. Johns Housing Action Plan. Sponsors were St. Johns Center for Opportunity, St. Johns Neighborhood Association and PSU Urban Planning students, who acted as facilitators. The organizers want to help neighbors preserve what makes our neighborhood unique.“St. Johns is like Mayberry,” the woman to my left said. But Mayberry never saw a housing boom like this.
   
There is strong support for diversity here, the facilitator said, but the success of a plan depends on interest from the community and its leaders.
   
I joined the break-out group that sounded most interesting: Creative Housing Solutions. Some suggestions from the group were: formation of land trusts and a local tenants' union, more affordable permitting and taxes for building accessory dwelling units (ADUs), and education of residents on what affordable housing should look like. Traditional houses and buildings could be preserved and remodeled into multiple housing units, no-cause evictions should be banned, (currently the ban is being challenged at the city level and discussed at the state level), and meetings could be convened with developers to find out how to give them incentive to support a housing plan. All this is good.
   
But the challenge lies ahead to keep the issue front and center and build productive partnerships to make a Housing Action Plan that makes a difference. There are good examples available. The neighborhood that's taken the most initiative on affordable housing has been Cully. Living Cully, a coalition, has been rushing to create affordability before prices spike. Living Cully is trying to 'move as much land and housing out of the system as possible into some kind of community-controlled model,' says representative Cameron Hetherington. Right now, about 14 percent of the land in Cully is shielded from the market in some way, to maintain affordability, twice as much land shielded from development than in the rest of the city, he says. It helps that land prices are still relatively low since it's an outlying neighborhood.
   
They’re also working with other community groups to ensure the city follows through on affordable-housing commitments in a way it didn’t in the past. The group Anti-Displacement PDX meets every other week and tries to make sure policies are in place to protect every neighborhood from the churn that the city experienced in the past.

“Our fate is bound up in the fate of our allies in north and northeast Portland,” Herrington said. “We have to be working together city-wide on the policy landscape and getting the right policies in place, really supporting each other in neighborhood-based fights in general” (Ibid.).
   
What must we do to preserve what is unique, what we like, the diversity, the traditional housing styles, and small town lifestyle in our neighborhood given that growth will occur? As always, we must fight back and refuse to accept half measures by our city and state leaders. You can get involved and keep updated at the St. Johns Center for Opportunity website. Or you can drop in the office at 8250 N. Lombard St. 

We need partnerships with other neighborhoods and groups who are forging ahead in this fight such as Living Cully and Anti-Displacement PDX. Gentrification hurts young students the most so we need partnerships with school advocates such as the Roosevelt Alumni Club and the PTAs. We have a right to determine what kind of neighborhood we live in and to demand of our political leaders support for our autonomy in achieving reasonable and affordable housing costs for all residents.

Community Building through Food

Meet Josephine.
It's not a person, it's hundreds.

Josephine is a company based in Oakland, CA, who has recently expanded its entrepreneurial food model to Portland. At the heart of it, Josephine wants to help people in communities feed each other better and use food as a powerful and positive agent of change for communities all around the world.

There is a lot more to learn about Josephine, so we suggest you spend some time getting to know them online.

Home-based cooks can sign up on Josephine, cook delicious meals out of their home, and hungry community members pick up the nightly meal from the cook’s home. Each cook has a page on the website where they can share their upcoming meals and what day they’re preparing that meal. Then, community members can order those meals online and pick it up at the cook’s house. 

As a new venture to Portland, Josephine is partnering with community based organizations to help get the word out and build partnerships to help build successful community models. We’re excited to be partnering with Josephine! As the operators of the Farmers Market and an organization that supports home-based businesses and entrepreneurs, we look forward to building a strong St. Johns community around food.

There are two ways you can experience Josephine.

Eat. Sign-up on the website (it’s free) and you’ll get access to the cooks in your area. Luckily, there is a handful of cooks on “the peninsula”. Some of the meals coming up in the neighborhood include carnitas tacos, potato and kale enchiladas, and a grilled bone-in pork chop.  So take a night off from cooking and give it a try.  If you’re new to Josephine, use promo code STJOHNS for $10 off your order

Cook. If you have a passion for cooking, it’s easy to become a Josephine cook. You get to set the menu, pick the price, date of meals, and pickup times. Plus, Josephine connects you to resources to help you build a strong business and following. Learn more about what it takes to be a Josephine cook.

Finally, check out this journalist's perspective on Josephine.

Thoughts from the Board : Babs Adamski

Hello dear readers!

My name is Babs Adamski and I am a recent addition to the St. Johns Center for Opportunity (SJCO) Board of Directors. I joined in Fall of 2016 after having been engaged at varying levels with the former St. Johns Main Street and more recently,  the St. Johns Center for Opportunity.

I am a long time grassroots organizer and I am guided by a personal mission to encourage creativity and justice in my environment. Volunteer and paid work has given me opportunities to work in capacities that serve the community. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but feel free to ask me what they are and I’ll tell you.

When I was approached about becoming a board member for SJCO, I took some time to consider how my personal goals would align with the goals of SJCO. It was particularly helpful that SJCO had just gone through a time of introspection about who they were as an organization, what they would do, and how they would do it.

SJCO has four specific areas of focus: community building, workforce development, affordable housing, and local business support. As I considered my personal goals and mission in a “hyper-local” manner, I could see that the work SJCO was doing in the community, matched well with my desire to encourage justice in our community. I see sustainable behaviors as a conduit for making a community more livable. Shop local, work as close to home as possible, commit to your community by engaging with your neighbors, and advocating for resources for your neighborhood. It is a matter of social justice that we all have a secure place to live (renting or owning a home), healthy affordable food, and equitable opportunities for education and work.

To me, SJCO works toward all these goals, and as a generalist, I want to be involved in all of them. But, as a person with a busy life and big family, I realize that I will be more effective if I focus my efforts. Currently, my greatest fear is that local residents, especially renters, will be forced out by the current housing market. Because of this, SJCO’s affordable housing advocacy is what I am most excited about. Whether it’s gathering groups together to canvass for the recent bond measure, being part of the Welcome Home Coalition, or gathering housing advocates to discuss their shared work in affordable developments, we’re working to help the St. Johns community consider what efforts we can make to increase housing stability.

As events and campaigns are publicized, please join in with your support - financially or by volunteering. If you have any questions about the work SJCO is doing, or want to grab a coffee and talk about the neighborhood, you can reach me at babsia@gmail.com

Meet our new board members!

Last month SJCO welcomed four new board members to its team! Please meet Sydney Leonard, Zac Padgett, Shannon Olive, and Cole Kimball: 

Sydney Leonard
Sydney is a proud resident of St. Johns and is passionate about local food and community building. She held the position of Program Manager for SJCO from late 2014 to early 2016, originally joining the organization via the St. Johns Farmers Market. Sydney now works for Portland Farmers Market managing programs, events, and community outreach at 7 farmers markets across the city. She holds a BS in Political Science from Johnson State College in Vermont and also completed the nonfiction writing program at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Sydney likes to spend her free time cooking and hanging out with her friends, her fiance, and their dog Bunk at various neighborhood haunts.

Zac Padgett.jpg

Zac Padgett
Zac is a business lawyer and counts small business owners, startup companies and entrepreneurs among his clients.  He was born and raised in Texas, but made he way to Oregon as quickly as he could. Zac's firm is distributed, meaning he gets to spend plenty of time working out of coffee shops here in the neighborhood.  He has significant experience in capital raises, mergers and acquisitions, leases, commercial contracting and nonprofit legal matters.  Zac serves as pro bono legal counsel to the nonprofit Depave and also serves on the business development committee for SOLVE Oregon.  On the weekends, Zac can be found riding his bike, seeing live music, hanging with his friends in the greater nopo area and taking care of the yard.

Shannon Olive.jpg

Shannon Olive
Shannon was born and raised in Portland. She is the mother of two fine young men, Davion and Jeffrey. Shannon realized her potential to make a difference when she served as a volunteer for Oregon Action from 2004-2008. She Chaired her first campaign: Voters Owned Election (Refinance Reform), which was the reform Amanda Fritz ran under during her first election year and won. 

In 2009, she was offered her first Organizing position with OPAL (Organizing People Activating Leaders). Since then Shannon has developed and obtained skills in nonprofit management and community, youth, and leadership development. She holds her Associate Degree in Criminal Justice from Portland Community College and is planning to return this fall to receive her BA in Psychology from Portland State.

She also serves as a Committee member for the Multnomah County Sheriffs Department Budget Advisory Board and is the Resident Services Coordinator for Cathedral Gardens in North Portland. She has additional experience in public speaking, strategic planning, fundraising, and hosting events. In Shannon's spare time you will find her planning and coordinating activities with her family!

Cole Kimball
Cole is a native Oregonian, growing up just outside of Portland. He has a BA in Business Administration with duel emphasis in Finance and Operational Management from the University of Colorado Boulder. After starting his career in Denver, he missed the rain too much and now happily calls St. Johns his home. During the week he is the Chief Investment Officer at Finity Group, a local independent advisory firm and on the weekend there is a good chance you can catch him on his bike in town or on the mountain if it is snowing. He is excited to be apart of the St. Johns Center for Opportunity and helping out in the neighborhood.