Our Community’s Bright Future
Thank you to the 300 community members who painted our new community mural, Building Our New Landscape. Local artist Emily Lux designed the mural to reflect the resiliency of our community during COVID-19 and the prospects of a brighter future.
We believe that a brighter future is just ahead, but what does that really mean? I turn to the six community members whom I interviewed for ‘Late Night in Tigard’ to answer that question.
A bright future is one in which we understand that “everyone has a story, and their story matters.” Matthew and Lydia Hickox, owners of Empyre Barbers, saw this firsthand while providing free haircuts to homeless individuals and individuals in recovery programs. “It’s more than just a haircut … there was something that happened between us where I could see them getting their dignity back,” said Matthew.
A bright future is one in which we take care of one another. This is exactly what Packed with Pride did when COVID-19 forced the cancellation of in-person classes. The non-profit banded together to lessen the strain of food insecurity among students and families in the Tigard-Tualatin School District. These efforts did not go unnoticed.
Ben Bowman, a leader of Packed with Pride, recounted one of the most memorable stories for his volunteer work. “With tears running down her face, a mom was driving through the Packed with Pride pick-up location. She was crying with gratitude because she would not have to worry about how to feed her family. Packed with Pride existed to fill that need.”
Local businesses faced similar challenges in caring for their employees. Beth Koblegarde, owner of Shears Ahead, took care of the stylists even while her business was closed. “We were shut down for two months, but we still had to pay our bills and rent. We received a grant from the City of Tigard that allowed Shears Ahead to stay afloat while supporting our stylists.”
A bright future is one in which we are resilient. Part of being resilient is being prepared. We prepare by learning from our experiences. Kenny Asher, the city’s Community Development Director, highlighted how the proposed City Facilities Consolidation project will prepare our community for the uncertain future.
“Emergencies are happening, and government has an important role to play in responding.” We have the opportunity to design and build a 21st-century city hall and police station that meet resiliency needs, climate change needs, and safety.”
A bright future is one in which we embrace compromise and productive dialogue. This differs from the national narrative, but it contributes to the uniqueness of our community. “It is not a zero-sum game,” Valerie Sasaki, Public Safety Advisory Board (PSAB) member, notes. “We want to respectfully exchange ideas about how we can support our community and our police.”
A bright future is one in which hope shines. Difficult, uncomfortable conversations face the 16-member PSAB. But if you think these conversations may result in a lack of results, think again, says PSAB member Justin Low.
“The community should have hope. I’ve never felt so hopeful about a space and a decision-making table that was created to bring people together on such a sensitive matter.”
A bright future is one in which all 54,000 community voices are heard. For too long, local, state, and federal governments have ignored—both intentionally and unintentionally—underrepresented groups. This is a failure that will not be a part of our future community. Community leaders like John Trinh, New Narrative CEO and PSAB member, are doing their parts to hold us accountable.
“As an Asian American, as a person who works in the behavioral health field for the past 18 years, it was a calling for me. I need to be a voice to make sure that we have a safe way to work and live in the community.”
I invite you to make your voice heard. I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at (503) 810-0269. You can also share your voice at the next virtual Fireside Chat on Thursday, May 13, at 6:30 p.m.