Two videos that will help you understand homelessness in Portland

Still from Hazelnut Grove, a short film by Kevin Neidorf.

Still from Hazelnut Grove, a short film by Kevin Neidorf.

I want to share two videos that I think will help broaden your understanding of the homelessness crisis and give you some new perspective on it. And here’s why I’m doing it:

Over the past few months I’ve gotten many emails from people who bike by homeless camps and then write in to say: “The homeless situation is out of hand and something needs to be done about it.” In part because of emails like that we’ve covered the topic several times recently.

This might make you wonder: Why are bicycle riders talking about the local homelessness crisis? Why am I reading about this on a bike blog?

Part of the answer is that when you experience a city by bike, you are physically and mentally much more a part of your surroundings than people who drive or use transit. Bicycle riders experience the street environment in a very direct way, so it’s no surprise that all this camping — much of it happening directly adjacent to multi-use paths — is on many people’s minds at the end of their commute.

On a personal note, I’ve learned a lot in the past year as I’ve watched the politics of this issue play out in city hall and tried (and not always succeeded) to lead a discussion about it here on BikePortland. As part of that learning process I’ve read up on the subject, added a lot of new voices to my social media feeds, and stay open to new information and perspectives. On that note, I’ve just come across two great videos that I felt were worth sharing.


The first is Hazelnut Grove, a short film by Kevin Neidorf. The Hazelnut Grove camp that has sprung up in North Portland’s Overlook Neighborhood has been on our radar since the beginning because it’s directly adjacent to the Greeley Avenue bike path connection (from Interstate). We started getting emails from readers about it almost as soon as the tents went up. Some people weren’t happy that the path was being “routinely blocked” by Hazelnut Grove residents. Neidorf’s film beautifully breaks down that wall between “us” and “them” by sharing first-person narratives from Grove residents.

The other video is a TedX talk given just last week by the Street Roots editor Israel Bayer. Street Roots is a local nonrofit newspaper that covers homelessness and gives voice to people who don’t usually have one in our local politics or media. Bayer’s talk was titled, Homelessness In America: The Journey Home.

Our housing crisis is far from over. While advocates and politicians work toward solutions, one thing the rest of us can do is work toward a greater understanding of the issue.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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