This Week's Curator: Erica
Hi, I'm Erica. I live in the Portland half of Rockwood, have spent most of my life working in disability rights, and though I might not be as big of a name as the people coming before me or after me, I represent more of the everyperson of East Portland. My roots run deep here; I can bore you with tales of the 80s sewer scandals or show you where the plane crash happened; I struggle daily with that I constantly find myself forced to choose: live in the part of town where all the queer people live but have 34 roommates and always be the only person of color in the room, or stay here, where you belong in general but end up a bit isolated.
Because I'm an everyperson, and because I know I wouldn't have a job anymore if I were outed and I already exist way too close to the margin financially, you don't get my real name or real face. I know this might be weird, but multiple people can assure you I am an actual person and I have lots and lots of things I am qualified to opine on, whether it's the tensions of belonging to a group of people with no organized local advocacy or crappy behavior on the MAX or the struggles of trying to get your groceries on public transport or how awesome our parks are out here.
Tell us about your neighborhood. What are the ups and downs of it?
I live in what the City calls “Glenfair,” though almost anyone here says they’re from Rockwood, so I say I’m from Rockwood. The ups? Location, location, location. I can still afford to live here, transit is an option for most trips, I feel pretty comfortable, and it’s somewhere I’ve actually spent some time living in. The downs? I could do without the drive-bys and the reality that the cops are more concerned with yelling at Black boys walking down a street with no sidewalks and the sin of drifting a foot from the edge than they are about some chucklehead selling meth, which leads to more of those drive-bys.
What are your favorite East Portland things to do and places to go?
De Leon’s, of course! 3am at the Tik Tok...the good one on Division. Gateway Discovery Park. Sayler’s. Powell Butte Park.
What do you think people don’t know about East Portland that they should know?
We’re one quarter of the city’s population and easily the most diverse bloc of people in the city. We’re generally *not* served by Portland Public Schools, which seems to escape a lot of people who live closer to, and especially west of, the river.
What do you think would be most helpful for people in East Portland?
Better transit. Access to supermarkets that aren’t openly hostile to their primary users (looking at you, Gateway Fred Meyer…). A coffee joint with seating open past 6pm east of 122nd. A Mayor who knows that there’s a city east of 82nd...or even 205!
How do you think your Portland matches up with the Portland you’ve seen in media?
Media representations of Portland tend to be sneering and mocking, targeted at the fantasy of an indiverse city where everyone’s the same. And sure, that applies to the techbro clone factory west of the river, but that’s not the whole city, and the perception that Portland is an indiverse place really does active harm to people of color who live here, the sneer that erases our literal lived experiences.
What keeps you up at night worrying?
The fact that a Fascist runs the country.
What gives you hope?
Human kindness. Kids. Small furry creatures. That this-all may well be temporal.
Why did you agree to participate in this project?
I’m part of the diverse ecosystem that is East Portland, and there’s a lot of specific challenges to being queer, and especially being trans, in an area a lot of your queer friends would never go near. I’m part of a world that necessarily exists a bit below the surface, someone who remains hidden in plain sight because I have to keep that anonymous office job downtown to survive.
You can find Erica on Twitter at @inchoaterica, on Tumblr at ericainchoate.tumblr.com, and on her blog at inchoaterica.wordpress.com. You can email Erica at firstname.lastname@example.org.