An unsanctioned carfree picnic on SW Montgomery today will remind people to connect

People coming together in the streets is a time-honored Portland tradition.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

Just yards away from the horrific hit-and-run last month, and in a society where we are building walls around each other instead of breaking them down, a group of Portlanders plans to reboot a 50-year-old idea: A free, “inclusive Portland picnic”.

“In the wake of intense discord, we’re gathering to connect,” reads a media alert sent out by organizers. “In recent weeks we’ve seen a spate of incidents that have deeply affected our community, including the shooting of John Elifritz; the suspicious circumstances around PSU student Aaron Salazar’s injuries; the vehicular assault of three women on PSU campus; and just this weekend, the conflict between alt-right and anti-fascist factions.”

The plan is to reclaim one block of SW Montgomery (an idea that really isn’t that radical) street between Broadway and 6th from 11:00 to 1:00 pm today. Organizers say they want to create a positive event. There will be invited guests to “collectively imagine what an inclusive Portland might look like and feel like.” There will also be an open mic.


A picnic held in this grassy area helped bring people together in 1969.

In a subscriber post yesterday, Go By Bike owner and event co-organizer Kiel Johnson wrote that idea was partly inspired by “conscious raising picnics” held in Portland in the summer of 1969. Organizers of those picnics also made a statement about public space by holding the events in a small grassy area sandwiched between lanes of Harbor Drive, the multi-lane highway that used run through what is now Waterfront Park.

“The desire to claim your exclusive rights to common space is tempting in a world that seems run more off of social media than face-to-face contact, but exclusivity will not help us solve the most pressing problems we face as a society,” Johnson writes.

Another co-organizer, former candidate for Portland Mayor and current Portland State University employee Sarah Iannarone, says, “So often people hold protests to oppose something they don’t want, but in this case we’re coming together to protest in the affirmative for the Portland we would like to see—one that is safe, affordable, and accessible for all people.”

If you are downtown or can get there today between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm, grab your lunch and join the picnic!

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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4 years ago

love this idea and wish i could make it!