This Week's Curator: Khanh Pham, of APANO and Portland Clean Energy Initiative
Khanh Pham lives and works in the Jade District, a neighborhood roughly located between 82nd Ave and 92nd Ave, between SE Division and SE Powell Blvd. She works as the Manager of Immigrant Organizing at APANO, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, which is also in the Jade District. Khanh has been working for the past three years on the Portland Clean Energy Initiative, which allows her to combine her passions for organizing and strategic communications for racial, economic, and climate justice. In her free time, she enjoys playing with her 4-year-old daughter and working on a side project called Chia Sẻ Tin Tức, a Vietnamese translation project. She is proud to serve on the board of OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, also located on SE 82nd Ave.
Tell us about your neighborhood. What are the ups and downs of it?
My neighborhood is Powellhurst-Gilbert, but more specifically, I live in the tiny quadrant that is boxed in between Division and Powell, 82nd and 92nd Ave., the heart of the Jade District. The Jade District is a majority people of color neighborhood, with one of the largest concentrations of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the state. There are also lots of Russian, Somali, and Latinx neighbors as well.
What are your favorite East Portland things to do and places to go?
I love walking down the street to have dinner at Van Hanh vegetarian restaurant on SE 85th and Division, or the dumpling store Master Kong’s, or browsing the house plants and vegetable starts at Portland Nursery. I also love visiting Zenger Farm and the community gardens at Harrison Park with my daughter.
What do you think people don’t know about East Portland that they should know?
East Portlander often pay higher property taxes than Portlanders living in other neighborhoods, even those that have more expensive homes in more expensive neighborhoods. Even though we pay a higher proportion of our property taxes, we don’t get the same city services, access to transit, etc.
What do you think would be most helpful for people in East Portland?
Sidewalks. More frequent bus service, and more bus lines period. I think we should have City of Portland bureaus satellite offices in East Portland and all City Commissioners should have to spend at least 10 weeks out of each year in the East Portland office, to reflect the 28% of the population that lives out here, and in recognition of the historical neglect of East Portland.
What keeps you up at night worrying?
I’m heartbroken by the shootings this week in Pittsburgh and Kentucky, and I connect it to the growing trend of violence and hateful rhetoric directed at immigrants, Black people, Jews, LGBTQ people, and others. I worry about ballot measures, like Measure 105, which threaten our immigrant communities and communities of color by increasing the chances of racial profiling and turning our local law enforcement into another arm of federal immigration. It feels like our country is at a crossroads and I worry about immigrant and other communities, being the scapegoats.
What gives you hope?
I get a lot of hope from watching the broad grassroots coalition forming around the Portland Clean Energy Initiative. It’s been incredible to see racial justice groups unite with environmental and faith-based groups, along with small businesses with a vision for how we can invest in our local economic development, move off of fossil fuels and towards clean energy solutions, while creating good-paying jobs for those who most need them--and lowering our energy bills to boot! I get so much hope from seeing the relationships and partnerships and trust that are being built across race, class, gender, and I’m hopeful for the future grassroots initiatives that will come from this new. progressive majority in Portland.
Why did you agree to participate in this project?
I want to share my perspective, particularly in this important week before election day, when so many people will be making important decisions about how to vote.
You can find Khanh on Twitter, and at the APANO office on 2788 SE 82nd Ave, Suite 203.