This Week's Curator: Sonja Mckenzie of Parkrose School Board and Planned Parenthood
Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and what keeps you busy all day/week.
My name is Sonja Mckenzie and I grew up in Katy, TX, a small suburb outside of Houston TX. I am a former school teacher. I have been in Portland for 20 years now and it is home. I am a busy mom to four teenagers!! My 2 oldest attend Parkrose High School, and my youngest, twin girls, attend Parkrose Middle School. Managing the life of our busy family keeps me busy. I am a Volunteer Coordinator with Planned Parenthood CW. I manage the Volunteer program for all 7 Health Center locations in the region. I love working with Volunteers! In 2017, I was elected to the Parkrose School Board. Recently, I was elected to the newly created OSBA Members of Color Caucus as Regional Director. In addition, I was appointed to the Board of Dress for Success Oregon in 2017. Volunteering in the community is a way of life for me and my family. I am busy, but I feel the work is vitally important.
Tell us about your neighborhood. What are the ups and downs of it?
We live in the Maywood Park neighborhood in Parkrose. I love our community because it is small and conveniently located with easy access to travel to any of the major freeways.and other parts of Portland. The great part about the community is that we have access to lots of shopping, parks etc. The longer I stay in Parkrose, the more I feel a sense of community. The down part is that we have seen a lot of families move out of Parkrose because the price of housing is unaffordable for them. Also, more retail store closures recently which is always sad to see.
What are your favorite East Portland things to do and places to go?
I love coffee shops, libraries, going to the movies and going for walks! I often meet with community partners and friends at local coffee shops like Jet Black coffee, Park Place Coffee, and Cafe Delirium. I am a Southern girl, so I love to treat myself once in while to country cooking at Biscuits Cafe in Gresham. For several years now, when the weather is nice, I find refuge and peace taking a walk at the Glendoveer Trail.
What do you think people don’t know about East Portland that they should know?
People should know that there is a unique and beautifully diverse history in the neighborhoods and communities within East County. Their stories and history should not be forgotten when talking about Portland as a whole.
What do you think would be most helpful for people in East Portland?
More access to affordable housing for young families and young professionals.
How do you think your Portland matches up with the Portland you’ve seen in media?
I think there is a disconnect, especially with the way that communities of color are presented in the media. There are so many stories of families with very different experiences that are positive and powerful and speak to their perseverance.
What keeps you up at night worrying?
Racism. The overt kind that hits you right in the face and underlying systems of racism that affect the lives of people of color everyday in our country. I don't sleep much!!
What gives you hope?
Aallan, Mariah, Mattie and Victoria - my kids and their generation. They are watching us and they are gonna change the world!
Why did you agree to participate in this project?
I need to work on my Twitter skills and I never shy away from representing Parkrose!!
Where can we find you online and/or in person once your week of tweeting is up?
On the web: http://do.parkrose.k12.or.us/school-board