This Week's Curator: Som Subedi, Refugee and Activist
It seems like everyone in East Portland knows Som Subedi. He is always meeting and connecting with people, from our government leaders to the newest Portlanders who just walked off the plane from another country. Som is a refugee from Bhutan who came to East Portland in 2008 after living in a makeshift hut in a refugee camp for almost two decades. He became an American citizen in 2013, and he is married with three children, including twins. Som advocates on behalf of the refugee and immigrant communities, both locally and nationally. He organizes events, rallies, and brings the community together.
Tell us about your neighborhood. What are the ups and downs of it?
It is East Portland’s fate not to have enough resources to serve the growing refugee and immigrant community. But this motivates me to work hard to bridge the gap between what the neighborhood has and what it needs. The positive about us living together in East Portland is we support each other.
What are your favorite East Portland things to do and places to go?
I love to go to multi-cultural events where communities come together, Immigrant and Refugee youth soccer games, community gardens where I see the continuation of agricultural practices from back home but with the style and weather of the NW. I go to ethnic stores to get spices and clothes from back home. I love to cook for friends and I combine spices from three different continents together in my cooking.
What do you think people don’t know about East Portland that they should know?
People outside East Portland overlook the cultural and social wealth of the diverse communities that live here.
What do you think would be most helpful for people in East Portland?
Having more representation in our local government, so that we can be prioritized with resources. We also need more community engagement with our government and policies.
How do you think your Portland matches up with the Portland you’ve seen in
I feel that most people picture Portland to be like the tv show Portlandia, but I didn't come here because of Portlandia and I don't feel like that show represents me or my community. I don't feel like my community is well represented in media about Portland.
What keeps you up at night worrying?
Trump’s bullying, lies and lack of humanity which unfortunately is leading to lower compassion levels around the world.
What gives you hope?
In the short-term, what gives me hope is the upcoming November election, which gives the opportunity to invest in East Portland. A lot of women, candidates of color, Immigrant and Refugees are running for office. That gives me hope.
Why did you agree to participate in this project?
To represent the unheard and unseen immigrant and refugee people in East Portland.