“Black-Centered Spaces for Community and Business in Albina,” is the name of a project that won the Portland Bureau of Transportation a $25,000 grant.
PBOT was one of 10 agencies nationwide to earn a Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery grant from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), a nonprofit that works with over 80 member cities in North America. NACTO says the money should, “Provide health services information to residents, create space for safe mobility, and bolster local economies.” The winners were announced on August 25th.
According to a PBOT spokesperson, they plan to partner with the Soul District Business Association, Self Enhancement Inc., and Albina Vision Trust and use the money to supplement their Frontline Communities Partnership Program which helps organizations respond to the Covid-19 crisis. PBOT has $50,000 allocated for that program and plans to award it in $10,000 chunks. The funds will also help create new public street art in north Portland.
“We plan to provide resources to businesses in the Albina neighborhood as they create physically distant spaces for business activities,” PBOT says. “We expect this to include funds to support Healthy Businesses installation with outdoor space for business activity in the area.” The grant will specifically help BIPOC-owned business in the Albina neighborhood, “To design and build open spaces that will allow for safe shopping and eating, while incorporating public art and youth programming into the design of the spaces.”
In July we reported on concerns that some Black business owners felt like PBOT’s street plaza permitting program was not inclusive enough. PBOT pushed back on that claim and said businesses owned by Black, Indigenous and people of color make up about one-quarter of all Healthy Business permits. Even so, this grant money will help further PBOT’s work to be “an antiracist organization”.
In addition to working with business owners PBOT says the money will help fund a public art project on NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, “to honor Black Portlanders and support a distinct brand/identity.” You’ll recall that back in June PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said she planned to install a large “Black Lives Matter” mural in response to protests over the killing of George Floyd. But that plan was scuttled over concerns that it would be too performative and reactionary (Washington DC had beaten us to it) and because it wasn’t a priority for Black community leaders.
Now Eudaly’s agency says they’ll use some of this NACTO grant to fund a larger, longer-term “placemaking effort”. According to PBOT they’re leveraging funding from the Regional Arts and Culture Council to pay Black artists to design banners and street sign toppers that will be installed along Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd later this fall.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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It’s a nice thought…
Murals mean “you do not want to live in this neighborhood.”
And especially divisive, political ones like what Eudaly wanted.