Ashton Simpson took over as leader of the nonprofit Oregon Walks back in January. Before that, the Russell neighborhood resident and active volunteer for transportation issues ran for statewide office.
I reached out to him last week to get his perspective on the debate around the Hawthorne Boulevard paving project. Our chat went longer than expected.
Below is a slightly edited version of our conversation:
Any thoughts on the Hawthorne decision?
“I wasn’t involved in it at all. Outside of what was released yesterday [Tuesday, February 9th], I didn’t even know that project was happening. I’m still trying to get wrap my head around the organization and all the things that go along with it. But I did talk to someone on our Plans and Projects Committee and her and I both agree that what they proposed now is better than what is out there today. Granted, it was a big loss for a bike lane on that road, especially for those who live in that community. I wish that could have been added on. But at the same time, we had limited space requirements and they’re trying to fit a lot of stuff in there. [Read more…]
Oregon Walks Executive Director Jess Thompson announced Wednesday morning she’s leaving to take a job as leader of a nonprofit in Hawaii. The move will further hasten the organization’s shift away from traditional walking advocacy and toward anti-racism work that centers racial and social justice.
Thompson was hired in October 2018 to lead Oregon Walks, a group founded in 1991 that was formerly known as the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition.
“It is a bittersweet transition,” Thompson said in her announcement, “because I have learned so much from each of you as we have engaged in the work to center walking as climate, health, transportation, and social justice solution.”[Read more…]
In the latest sign of evolution in the transportation advocacy world, Portland-based nonprofit Oregon Walks has named Don’t Shoot PDX as a winner of one of their ‘2020 Oregon Walkstar’ awards.
Don’t Shoot PDX formed in 2014 in response to the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The group has been on the frontlines of Portland’s protests against racial justice. In June they filed a lawsuit against the City of Portland over the use of tear gas against people protesting in the street*. [Read more…]
While some Portlanders ride bikes and walk around their neighborhoods with relative ease, that ostensibly simple act isn’t so easy for many others. Local nonprofit leaders who work with immigrants, people of color, and families that rely on social services, paint a much different picture of neighborhood mobility.
In the case of Oregon Walks, Executive Director Jess Thompson said in a recent member newsletter that many people they serve, “Are not feeling safe leaving home during the pandemic.” “Too many folks do not have enough (or any) access to face coverings or reliable information about how to walk ‘Covid-aware’ and more safely when they walk out the door.”[Read more…]
It’s been a rip-roaring 24 hours in the streets activism world.
We’ve seen Portland’s Mayor say “no” to adapting streets to be in line with Covid-19-induced behaviors. We’ve seen the City of Oakland become a national sensation for saying the opposite. We’ve had some important chats about how groups that work with people of color see the issue. And we’ve had our first dose of tactical urbanism from someone who’s tired of waiting for changes.
It started when Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler took to Twitter to answer a question about giving more street space to give people on foot and bikes. Wheeler deferred to Portland’s transportation bureau and said, “If we close a street, we potentially make it more attractive and create a destination where large groups can congregate. This is exactly the opposite of what we want to do.” [Read more…]