This Week's Curator: Max Denning, Community Organizer from Parkrose
My name is Max Denning and I was born and raised in Portland, and was a Parkrose student from kindergarten through 12th grade. I went to college to study journalism and politics at Ithaca College in Upstate New York. During college I interned/worked for the Portland Tribune and interned for Willamette Week. After graduating in May 2018, I moved to La Grande to work for the city’s local newspaper. In February 2019, I left The Observer to work as a community organizer for Oregon Rural Action -- a political nonprofit in La Grande based on building a political voice for Rural Oregonians.
Tell us about your neighborhood. What are the ups and downs of it?
I grew up in the Parkrose school district and by definition the “Argay” neighborhood, but when anyone asks I’m from Parkrose. Parkrose is home, and therefore I am very biased when I say it is my favorite neighborhood in Portland. The ups: it hasn’t been gentrified yet (knock on wood) there’s historic elements (Rossi Farms) the school district is small with a beautiful new middle school and a high school that I believe is really working with students where they are to help prepare them for the rest of their lives. The downs: Parkrose has a lot of poverty, and with that comes struggles. It doesn’t have a lot of political voice in the city, and I think it’s difficult at times to organize the residents.
What are your favorite East Portland things to do and places to go?
Places: Gateway Breakfast House, Rossi Farms, Freddies, Hot N’ Pot Sushi, Wooden Chicken.
Things to do: Walk around the neighborhood, go play pick-up basketball at Argay Park, watch Parkrose sports games and grab coffee or food with my friends.
What do you think people don’t know about East Portland that they should know?
Last week, I asked four people who live in Portland how many blocks that thought were within the city limits East of 82nd. The answers ranged from 5 to 25 to 50 to one individual who grew up in the NEP getting it right — 100 blocks. East Portland is huge and diverse and by far the best part of town.
What do you think would be most helpful for people in East Portland?
More respect and understanding from city officials, the media and the other parts of Portland.
How do you think your Portland matches up with the Portland you’ve seen in media?
My Portland is NOTHING like the Portland in the media, nor the Portland that most people in this town experience. My Portland is very socio-economically and racially diverse. It’s Shari’s at 11:30 p.m.
What keeps you up at night worrying?
The possibility of gentrification in Parkrose.
What gives you hope?
Parkrose. The Boland Family. My good friend Tyler. The community I grew up in.
Why did you agree to participate in this project?
Because I love being from NE Portland, and want to share my experience here.
Where can we find you online and/or in person once your week of tweeting is up?
@TheMaxDenning or at Side A Brewing in La Grande for the time being!