This Week's Curator: Gus Kroll of HOMEpdx
Gus Kroll is a stay-at-home parent hanging out with two busy kids under the age of 5, while his wife of 10 years (she’s awesome) pays the mortgage.
Gus also works half-time at a small organization called HOMEpdx with folks who are living on the margins downtown (some living outside, some are marginally housed) and he’s lucky enough that he’s able to take his kiddos downtown with him for a lot of his work and they get to join in the small community-building work in their own way. If you ask, the older one would love to tell you about some of the friends she has downtown.
You also might find Gus busy on Mt. Scott-Arleta Board or working on The Arleta Triangle on summer weekends.
Tell us about your neighborhood. What are the ups and downs of it?
I think all of Portland is busy dealing with (or embarrassing) its legacy of white supremacy. While we’re doing that, we’re also deciding who our neighborhood is for in terms of class.
Does a shelter belong here? How much will this housing impact my parking? My property value sure has gone through the roof, I’m going to make a killing when I sell, but it sure is a bummer that my renting neighbors saw a 20% rent hike for the 3rd year in a row.
These are tough issues. But our neighborhood has some great things going for it. This year I’ve been involved in a “White Privilege” group of white people educating white people, I’ve got neighbors who have figured out where I live and now, sometimes unannounced, leave me survival gear to pass on to our neighbors on the street sitting on my porch, I’ll get calls or texts about “I have a neighbor in a tent who _______, how would you handle this?” It’s neat to be part of a network of folks who aren’t just sitting around waiting for the city to “fix the homeless.”
What are your favorite East Portland things to do and places to go?
Portland Mercado, Lions Eye, EC Kitchen, Errol Heights, Powell Butte, Gateway Discovery Park, El Nutri Taco, IKEA (hate me if you must but free childcare for hour and a half!!!), Westmoreland Park, Reed Canyon
What do you think people don’t know about East Portland that they should know?
This is a great place to discover foods from around the world but you have to be willing to make it off the beaten path. Good Neighbor at SE 82nd and Boise (there are some bulk bins at the back that are worth exploring) and Oriental Food Value at SE 82nd and Isley (they toss in a little extra something into your bag for free each time and so you discover a weird Thai candy or a flavor of ramen you’d never heard of, it makes discovering new wonders easy and low risk). The books “Wild in the City” as well as Laura O Foster’s “Portland City Walks”/“Portland Hill Walks” have lots to offer for just about every part of Portland including some in the East half of Portland (Multnomah County Library has all 3).
What do you think would be most helpful for people in East Portland?
More libraries, sidewalks, bike lanes, street lights, but more [real deal] affordable housing, social services, more grocery options, and for answers to houselessness that don’t flush gobs of money without actually fixing anything (like sweeps).
How do you think your Portland matches up with the Portland you’ve seen in media?
If I never see another Portlandia sketch it’d be pretty great. Gentrification didn’t need a sketch-comedy advertisement to help it along.
Actually takes place outside of Portland, but the movie Wendy & Lucy manages to capture some the feel of it.
What keeps you up at night worrying?
That my kiddos are inheriting a dystopian hellscape husk of a planet and that they’ll starve to death in the coming famines.
No, seriously, this keeps me up.
What gives you hope?
I find hope in little projects of people organizing food banks, running drop-in centers, giving me survival gear to pass along. Small hopes but representative of larger possibilities. And really, if we lose hope we just seal our fate and my kids really are screwed.
Why did you agree to participate in this project?
There are some great things happening in Portland and I want to give them my own spin, which is I think unique. I don’t get to speak for homeless folks, but I can certainly let you know what they’ve said to me, and I hope to give you a more human face to a crowd that’s regularly dehumanized.