This is the blog for the educational equity Community of Practice.

Fall 2013 Social Change Workshops!

Posted by on Oct 30, 2013 in Educational Equity, Justice System, Social Justice, Sustainability | Comments Off

Please find below the fall term workshops that we offer as part of our work to support the continuing engagement of students and alumni in community-based social change. These workshop build on the 21 workshops offered last year that were attended by some 400 students, alumni, faculty and community members.

Please share them with your students and with other lists as appropriate. They are free and open to students, alumni, faculty and the public. In the past instructors have offered extra credit or otherwise integrated some of these workshop into their curriculum if there was a good fit.

We’re excited to be collaborating with the Center for Intercultural Organizing, who will also be sharing the offerings with the groups they work with. All off-campus workshops will be at their offices on N. Killingsworth.


Tuesday 10/29 – 6:30-8:30PM

Fundamentals of Community Organizing

Facilitated by Abigail Singer

Center for Intercultural Organizing – 700 N. Killingsworth Street
Do you want to get your community organized to take on an oppressive boss, a neighborhood polluter, or some other force of oppression? Are you interested in starting a community garden? Wondering how to start a group, keep it together, and create a healthy, collaborative and inspired process for realizing your collective vision? This workshop will go over the basics of how to start a campaign or community organization, identify your goals and strategy, and make a plan that is both realistic and also addresses the root causes of issues in our communities. Folks are welcome to bring specific questions or issues that you may be grappling with.

Invite your friends on Facebook! –
Though not required RSVPs help us know how many to expect and will help us prep the space – RSVP here!



Thursday 11/7 – 4:00-5:50 PM

Why Should I Care? Stories for Social Change

Facilitated by Kari Koch

Portland State University – Cramer Hall 225
Building towards social change is not about finding the most compelling statistic or fact. It’s about understanding what people are experiencing and telling a story that connects issues with actions, vision for change, and a plan to win. Stories move people and make social change possible. In this workshop we will learn about constructing narratives and stories around campaigns, events, and actions using our own personal experiences.

Invite your friends on Facebook! –

Though not required RSVPs help us know how many to expect and will help us prep the space – RSVP here!


Thursday 11/14 – 6:30-8:30 PM

Developing and Sustaining A Global Perspective through Solidarity and Collaboration: Independent Hip Hop, Cultural Activism and African Solidarity
Facilitated by Mic Crenshaw
Center for Intercultural Organizing – 700 N. Killingsworth Street
Mic Crenshaw is a socially conscious emcee, a social justice activist and an educator. Crenshaw’s work combines elements of independent Hip Hop, popular education, community organizing and direct action under the umbrella of cultural activism. Through Hip Hop Culture which is global Crenshaw has established links with cultural activist across the continent of Africa.

How does African Hip Hop relate tour our community? Why work on social justice issues in African countries when we have our own issues here? Come learn about efforts to build and sustain a computer center in Burundi Central Africa, and radical Hip Hop Collectives in Zimbabwe and South Africa and current efforts to link them to local classrooms and communities. Learn about the Afrikan Hip Hop Caravan project and the work that the Obo Addy Legacy Project is doing in schools locally.

In this workshop we will sharpen our perspective on global links between our communities and cultures within the current economic context. There will be a short lecture, performance, multi media presentation and most importantly dialogue.
Invite your friends on Facebook! –

Though not required RSVPs help us know how many to expect and will help us prep the space – RSVP here!

Tuesday 11/19 – 4:00-5:50 PM

Finding Ourselves In Charge: Collective Leadership and What We Need to Know to Build Progressive Movement in the Pacific Northwest

Facilitated by Dianne Riley

Portland State University – Multicultural Center (Smith Memorial Union 228)

Turmoil among elected leaders in the nation’s capitol have eroded confidence within an already alienated and distrustful public. After 30 years of downsizing government, is it finally small enough to drown in Grover Norquist’s proverbial bathtub? And then there’s the banking industry… and Corporations personified …and international invasion of privacy, global corruption and on-going financial instability…

But maybe all the chaos in Washington and everywhere else is a sign of something other than chaos… maybe something bigger is happening… This workshop will map the political terrain and times for those of us living in the Pacific Northwest right now. We will place ourselves in the context of large scale trends. We will do this with the purpose of suggesting that all we have to do is read the signs and we will see that a new Progressive era is already at hand and we are already in charge of creating something better.

Invite your friends on Facebook! -

Though not required RSVPs help us know how many to expect and will help us prep the space – RSVP here!


Tuesday 11/26 – 6:30-8:30 PM

Interrupting Oppression in Our Everyday Lives

Facilitated by Sally Eck
Center for Intercultural Organizing – 700 N. Killingsworth Street
In this workshop, we will discuss and, more importantly, practice the art of engaging in productive dialogue about the experience of oppression in our daily lives.  Learn strategies and build community to recognized and raise our collective consciousness about the detrimental effects of microaggressions and co-create hope toward positive social change.

Invite your friends on Facebook! –

Though not required RSVPs help us know how many to expect and will help us prep the space – RSVP here!

Tuesday 12/3 – 6:30-8:30 PM

Conflict Transformation for Resilient Organizing

Facilitated by Rain Crowe
Center for Intercultural Organizing – 700 N. Killingsworth Street

Conflict is inevitable, especially within groups of people coming together with different value systems, personal, and organizing cultures. Conflict can be an opportunity to grow communication skills, group rapport and trust, and deepen our commitment to the shared work. Or, it can be a painful, individual or group experience that ultimately dissolves the working relationships and impacts the efficacy or functionality of the shared work or the group itself. How does a group consciously choose the path of the former? In this workshop we’ll use a restorative justice framework to explore and discuss how conflict within a group can be anticipated, contained, and transformed.  We’ll look at some common roots of group conflict including abuse or misuse of power, the lack of a strong intact pre-existing group relationships, horizontal oppression, basic communication breakdown, lack of tools, or inherited cultural shame about being involved with conflict. I’ll offer some strategies for engaging the inevitability of conflict in groups before it begins to happen, as well as some clear basic tools for engaging it when it arises. Voluntary pairs work, whole group discussion, and role playing may all be part of this workshop based on the desire of the attendees.
Invite your friends on Facebook! –

Though not required RSVPs help us know how many to expect and will help us prep the space – RSVP here!


Earthstock: The Epitome of Happiness

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Educational Equity, Social Justice | Comments Off

Earthstock is an event that I attend every year that holds a very special place in my heart. Earthstock is a dance that is held every year at the Crystal Ballroom for high school students in Special Education programs in the Portland-Metro area. The students get to leave school for a day and dance to their heart’s content while feeling the floor bounce to loud music. It is truly amazing to see how happy every single person is. It’s absolutely addicting!

This event relates to every civic engagement topic I can think of but the one that I think about most is diversity of communities. Not everyone has the opportunity to go to prom and this is a dance for those that may not get to attend. People come back every year anticipating the great time they will have. Song requests are encouraged and the last few years we have had a photo booth so everyone can have pictures as keepsakes.

I cannot say enough good things about Earthstock and I encourage everyone to check out the website I leave you with this thought: What can you do to make ONE person’s day better?


Tryon Creek and Sauvie Island; Different Contexts, Similar Results

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Educational Equity, Social Justice, Sustainability | Comments Off

Similar to Celine’s recent post, students in my capstone “Outdoor and Environmental Education” had the opportunity to read and reflect on posts submitted by students in her “Hunger in the City” capstone on Sauvie Island. Both capstones engage elementary students on field trips into the great outdoors, but with different focal points.

Despite the different areas of focus, we observed many connections among the take away lessons from these experiences.  In both classes hands-on, field based education became more than a fun learning experience.  This type of education began being viewed as transformative in that it allows students the opportunity to take control of their learning and to solve problems without waiting for an “authority” to tell them the correct answer or course of action.  Moreover, these kinds of experiences create a platform for open and honest communication among children and adults from a diversity of backgrounds.

Together, the ability to solve problems and communicate effectively provides children with the background to become successful leaders for social change.  If these simple observations can transcend the specific outdoor contexts of farm and forest, then how do we facilitate this type of education on a regular basis?  What other observations will we be able to make as this type of education becomes more prominent?  And how can we as citizens continue to support these experiences throughout our lives?

Civic Engagement and Diversity in Schools

Posted by on Jun 11, 2013 in Educational Equity | Comments Off

Screen shot 2013-06-11 at 8.57.39 AM

In order to complete the civic engagement requirement for my Capstone class, I chose to attend Parkrose High School’s multicultural festival. The celebration aimed to showcase the diversity that’s present in the school’s neighborhood, and it did so very well. Traditional dances from around the world were performed by students. Teachers from the school contributed as musicians, speakers, and facilitators. There were also delicious international dishes prepared for the gathering.

The event was open to the public, so many students, their families, and friends attended in support of the contributors. Good turn-out showed that the subject of diversity is a relevant one for the Parkrose area. The fact that the high schoolers were motivated to participate in the event and invested in its success sent a message that the topic of cultural diversity is one that’s important to them as well. Parkrose High School’s staff and students did an excellent job of opening up  a space for the discussion, acknowledgement, and promotion of the different backgrounds and histories their members have.

Do you have any suggestions of how schools and other public spaces can initiate discussions about cultural diversity?

Do you know of any other organizations or locations that are already celebrating diversity well?

Multnomah County’s Office of Diversity and Equity’s web page has a current list of local organizations and events that focus on cultural diversity. Here’s a link to the website:

Exploring What Volunteering Looks Like Post-PSU: A Collection of Student Perspectives

Posted by on Jun 10, 2013 in Educational Equity | Comments Off

Exploring What Volunteering Looks Like Post-PSU: A Collection of Student Perspectives

be-proudWhat does volunteering look like post-PSU?  And how does our community support OR create barriers for community work beyond the structured opportunities we provide in courses like the PSU Capstone?   In the last few weeks, my current and former students in the Enhancing Youth Literacy Capstone have been having candid conversations about what their participation in community does or could look like.  There are no easy answers, but this collection of stories and responses is a good start!  Please feel free to read and add your thoughts as well:


Civic Engagement Identity

Posted by on Jun 7, 2013 in Educational Equity, Social Justice | Comments Off

An Act of Civic Engagement & Documentation for Blog Publication

Civic Action & Reflection

I have learned the most about myself through this partnership work from the kids, their little faces help me realize that at the end of this I have created my own civic identity through my engagement and I am leaving a footprint behind that has made an impact. As I reflect I can see the instances of action that occurred where I feel I was the most impactful. Despite the everyday involvement of helping in homework club, serving the kid’s lunch, or coaching them on the soccer field, I see my actions and involvement in the Multi-cultural night on week 4 as most impactful. I got to intermingle with the kids and their families which created an even deeper bond and shed more light onto what their lives are like at home. The kids were overwhelmingly excited about the few newer books we had brought in for display at the Cultural night, they all wanted a copy and said they don’t have any new books in their library, especially not on the topic of culture. These books were informative picture books with maps, flags, and statistics, each educating on a different culture. My biggest concern academically with the kids at my school is the lack of engagement in reading and culture. The library has cut to shorter hours, is closed in the summer, and drastically limits the number of books kids have access to. There is a 2 hour reading program SUN (Students Uniting Neighborhoods) developed for elementary aged students within attendance who need extra help with their reading over the summer run mostly by volunteers. This allows kids access to books from the school and the local library across the street during the summer when they are usually closed or have reduced hours. Some kids have no way to obtain books in the summer if their parents work all day and the school library is closed. How do I know this you ask? Last week I caught a sweet little 2nd grader stuffing a hardback into his backpack. When I asked him what was up, he replied that he had nothing to read at home because his parents couldn’t buy him books. He also said he was sick of reading the comics and that he is too intellectual for that. He is smart, and also funny, which pains me even more to hear that he is in such desperate need of great reading material when there is so much out there to be read. He needs access to it and the local public educational funding is failing him by not providing him with adequate access to the school library as hours are reduced and budgets are cut. If he can barely get books now, how will he get books during the summer? We made a plan and discussed how he can sign up for the reading program at the school during the summer months. I spoke with his teacher and she said she will make sure to send home a request form in hope of getting a parents signature, I gave her the form that we have copies of in the homework club office.

Within this exchange I realized just how easy it was to get involved and take immediate, tangible action. I made sure the letter was sent home and he was informed of his options, he said he had never heard of it before but there were posters up all over the school. I realized I could be better, more involved and started wondering why it took me my final term of college to get involved, really involved into a partnership program in my community. I will be continuing my involvement over the summer and participating in the Summer SUN reading program that provides books and mentors for elementary readers of all levels in English and Spanish. Below is also a list of other local elementary aged summer reading programs and ways to keep the kids involved in reading throughout the summer!  - local sports advocates – local library programs  (DIG SRP) – PSU interactive classes – PPS programs by teachers (4 week sessions)

Tryon Creek to Sauvie Island

Posted by on Jun 7, 2013 in Educational Equity, Social Justice | Comments Off

Students in the “Hunger in the City” capstone had some fun reflecting on the posts submitted by our PSU peers at Tryon Creek.  Like the Tryon capstone, we lead field trips for elementary  students from local schools in an outdoor setting. It was interesting to note that both sets of capstone students gained similar insights about elementary age youth.  Namely:

  • Young learners seem to have an inherent interest in the natural world despite being immersed in technology on a daily basis.
  • Students learn better when we resist force-feeding them information.
  • Students learn better when they are allowed to explore.
  • Field trip leaders who are passionate about their work really inspire kids to learn.

Finally, we talked a lot about the labels applied to students who don’t adapt well to classroom settings.  Attention Deficit Disorder is one of these labels. We wondered aloud if the problem is not really about the individual student but the unnatural educational structures that we have imposed on young people.  We realize this is a complex topic but wanted to raise this question so that others could grapple with it.




Free Geek

Posted by on Jun 6, 2013 in Educational Equity, Social Justice, Sustainability | Comments Off

Free Geek is a 501(c) non-profit that repurposes old computers and electronics. They will give free computers to people who complete volunteer service and sell rebuilt computers, computer parts, and other electronics in their thrift store. They also offer free computer classes to the public. These classes include a getting started class for beginners, classes to build websites or computer controlled machines, and programming concepts. They also have classes for specific programs like Inkscape, Linux, WordPress, and HTML. They provide a valuable service to the community, provide computers to economically disadvantaged people, and according to their website recycle “a couple hundred tons of electronics each year.”


Free Geek:

1731 SE 10th Street in Portland, OR

RACE TALKS: An Opportunity for Dialogue

Posted by on Jun 2, 2013 in Educational Equity, Justice System, Social Justice | Comments Off


On Tuesday, May 14th I went to McMenamins Kennedy School for a Race Talk on Racial Profiling. Race Talks are the 2nd Tuesday of every month from 7:00 – 9:00 PM. They began in 2005 as a chance for people to have open conversations about race, class, and white privilege. “Talk about race is either in a whisper or a scream”. This was said by Donna Maxey who is the founder/ director of Race Talks. At these events people attending are in a comfortable, respectful, and safe environment. This allows the chance for actual conversations about some sensitive issues to happen. Their mission is for these dialogues to advance racial justice and reconciliation through honest dialogue, acts of reconciliation and education.

There were three speakers on Tuesday. The first was Dan Handelman who is a member of Copwatch. Copwatch is a nonprofit organization that observes and documents police activity while looking for signs of police misconduct and police brutality. His presentation addressed what racial profiling is, some statistics of racial profiling in Portland, and some cases he had witnessed regarding stereotyping and racial profiling.

The second speaker was Mike Reese who is the Chief of Police for the Portland Police Department. He talked about PPDs understanding and concerns on racial profiling. He addressed the efforts being made by the PPD to address these issues. Some of the things that PPD are working on changing are: needing new ways/ skills to search people, building a stronger relationship with the community, bridge funding to keep all of the PPDs new hires that would otherwise loose their jobs, training differently, hiring differently, making the right decision, and equity training.

The Final Speaker was Kayse Jama, the director of the Center for Intercultural Organizing. He talked about the CIOs history, how they got involved in the issue of racial profiling, and also what efforts are being made in the CIO community to address this issue. He also shared some powerful personal stories on his experiences with racial profiling.

Attending this event was a really eye opening experience. Racial profiling is a huge issue everywhere, including our schools. It is statistically true that students of color are disciplined more, and receive harsher punishments compared to their white peers. Donna said “White privilege is like asking a fish how’s the water?”. She is absolutely right. It’s something that is taken for granted and you don’t think about it daily. Like I said it is eye opening to be in an environment and hear these personal stories and statistics about these issues.

Allowing kids to be leaders

Posted by on May 23, 2013 in Educational Equity, Social Justice | Comments Off


Submitted by Jacob, Cho, Kyle and Eric of the “Hunger in the City”  Capstone, Spring 2013

After leading multiple field trips on the farm at Sauvie Island Center, our group agrees that promoting social justice and educational equity stand at the forefront of this course work.  Empowering children of all backgrounds to take control of the foods they eat is crucial to the success of social justice. Allowing students this choice not only promotes agency, but also allows for healthier options to be put on the table and in their bodies. By attending field trips students are able to see the process that goes into farming.

This may be the only opportunity for children of lower economic backgrounds to see a farm of this scale, while many of their peers from wealthier socioeconomic backgrounds are able to attend multiple field trips yearly. This allows for educational equity by providing every student with the same opportunities and not just providing these trips to students who are from a wealthier economic status.

After experiencing the field trips, we agree that the hands on approach to learning should be implemented whenever possible. This hands on approach has inspired us to utilize this same mentality when working with children in our everyday lives, allowing them to be leaders—in a sense—of their own educational and health decisions. While loosely guiding the students, this allows for a more peer-to-peer based learning style, as opposed to a lecture style or demanding style of learning.