Current News

Standing in Solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement

Dear RARE Community,

The Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) AmeriCorps Program unequivocally condemns the murders of Black people by police and white supremacists. These are repetitive, horrific reminders of the systemic racism and militarized police force still present in our society. We stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and commit to elevating racial justice in our ongoing work throughout rural Oregon.

The RARE AmeriCorps Program is a white-founded and white-led organization which strives to build capacity and quality of life. Our program, staff, and members benefit directly from community development models originating from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) leaders and organizers who are largely unacknowledged in the field.

We must honor and celebrate the vibrancy and resiliency of BIPOC individuals and communities within our state and the community work they do for rural Oregon.

Our work has not previously, but must now begin centering lasting change that will build up and support the voices of our BIPOC members and communities. We are in a deep learning process. Internal conversations regarding our own implicit biases, white fragility, and the structure of our organization have led to the development–and delay–of this statement. We recognize our silence has contributed to the continuation of blatant and passive forms of discrimination, injustice, and racism. RARE is committed to spending the time and money to educate ourselves in order to build more equitable communities in rural Oregon. We must break the silence about racial injustice in our communities and organizations.

RARE is committing to continue to listen, learn, invite people in, and work for better BIPOC representation in community development. Our tangible action items of commitment include:

  • Developing a more robust equity plan,
  • Revising recruitment processes,
  • Investing in further anti-racism training opportunities for members and staff.

To uphold the mission of the RARE AmeriCorps Program “to increase the capacity of rural communities to improve their economic, social, and environmental conditions,” we must change the way we recruit, train, and support our communities, members, and staff.

We look forward to publishing our Equity Statement, sharing resources and tools, and continuing conversations with our members and communities. Our anti-racism work is not limited to our staff, members, and policies, but extends to every corner of this state. We invite you to join us in our continuing journey.

Standing together for rural Oregon,

The RARE AmeriCorps Program Staff and RARE Year 26 Cohort

Tidings from Titus – May 2020

Thank you to Corum Ketchum, Years 24 & 25, for this amazing image of Titus.

Dear RARE Alumni,

I often say that it’s through the challenges we face in life that we come to grow as individuals.  It’s all part of the process when serving rural with the RARE AmeriCorps Program; we challenge ourselves through service and are transformed for the better as result.  With the arrival of COVID-19 in Oregon nearly two months ago, well, I can’t help but keep coming back to this mantra.  Yes, it’s true, we are being challenged enormously as individuals and as a nation, but we will get through this.  And in doing so, we will become stronger, united, and more resilient then ever before.

How can one remain so hopeful during times like this?  Well, just look around you, and it doesn’t take long to see an array of positive action taking place.  Humans are taking immense measures to help each other during times of such immense adversity.  It’s a beautiful thing, and something I am reminded of on a daily basis.  Just look at this year’s members alone, all of whom have risen to the occasion, stepped in, and stepped up to provide much needed capacity to rural Oregon right now.  Whether it’s helping pack emergency food boxes at Columbia Gorge Food Bank or helping small business owners in Reedsport access emergency funding, I have seen nothing but the best from this year’s cohort.

Though adversity comes opportunity, which is another mantra that I keep coming back to.  Here at the RARE AmeriCorps Program we are seeing an array of opportunities arising that will absolutely shape the future of our service to rural Oregon.  As odd as this might sound, I am excited about what the future has in store for the RARE AmeriCorps Program and for National Service as a whole.  Some of you might have read the recent piece by New York Times Opinion Columnist, David Brooks, that speaks beautifully to the need for service in county.  Or maybe you caught the article written by William Burns in the Atlantic about the Nation’s need for a rebirth of public service.  Such press combined with legislation like the Undertaking National Initiatives to Tackle Epidemic Act or the Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act, speaks to the immense opportunity that we have in our future.

Rural Oregon needs us, possibly more than ever before.  When COVID-19 hit, the team and I quickly realized the RARE AmeriCorps Program has a critical role play in long-term rural economic recovery game.  With that, I am pleased to let you all know that we have a new initiative in place with The Ford Family Foundation that will result in the placement of RARE AmeriCorps Members with an array of rural Economic Development Districts during the 2020-21 service year.  Using a proscribed yet place-based approach developed by staff and faculty within the Institute for Policy Research and Engagement, the RARE AmeriCorps Program will provide both the capacity and expertise needed to “get things done” for rural Oregon in the coming years.

I sure hope this letter gives you a touch of hope and inspiration as we work through these trying times.  Let this group of amazing individuals not forget the power of community, even if that community is held within a digital format.  This community, RARE Family, has played a key roll in getting me through some of my toughest times, so if you find yourself feeling isolated, hopeless, flustered… just don’t forget about all the people within this network that care about you!

Keep your head up and your hands clean!!

In Service,
Titus Tomlinson, Years 13 & 16
RARE Program Director

The Reality of RARE Family

I’ll be honest:  I was skeptical at my RARE orientation in 2012, when Titus was going on and on about the RARE family.  I was like, sure, these people seem cool and nice, but family? I wasn’t convinced.  I had recently been married, and was very content spending most of my time with my husband. I had an amazing RARE placement working at a farm outside of Springfield focused on K-12 education, local food systems organizing, and training beginning farmers, and I really wasn’t looking to socialize much beyond that.  I just wasn’t in the market for family.  But, as the year progressed and I saw these folks at trainings, informal gatherings, and from hosting one at our house many a weekend *shout out to Katya for getting me out of the house*; before I knew it, I had become friends with this phenomenal group of people.  I knew that if I needed anything they’d be there to support, and they knew they could expect the same from me.  I wasn’t going on all the extra RARE trips or social gatherings, but that didn’t mean I didn’t feel this closeness with this RARE cohort.  That’s the beauty of RARE.  It is bigger than an individual and really bigger than itself.

Since that service year, I think even more so actually, I see and feel a part of the RARE family. Working in the Oregon food systems world, I come across many RAREs.  This year in my role working at Oregon Food Bank in community food systems, I get the privilege of supporting the RARE Food Systems Cohort through monthly calls.  This group of women are fire.  I am inspired by the amount of passion, thoughtfulness, and critical thinking they bring to the work.  I also continue to connect with RARE alum and people impacted by the RARE program.  Particularly during this current COVID-19 health crisis, I’ve seen how deep RARE support and reach goes.  Through finding placements for RARE’s, modifying work plans, and general broad based support, the RARE network is expansive.

When reflecting on RARE, I can’t help but think about who makes up the RARE family.  To be part of the RARE family is a privilege.  Privilege itself isn’t inherently good or bad – it is determined by how you choose to use it. In acknowledging the privilege I do have, I want to continue to push and expand and support what the RARE family is, who is part of it and who has access to this amazing network of people.  Titus, I believe you now.  There is a RARE Family, and I’m grateful to be part of it.

Katy Giombolini, Year 19

Renewable Energy Is A Benefit To Everyone

by Tina Buttell

Sometimes we forget that we’re all in the same boat. Despite our differences, we all prefer clean air and water, safe homes, good jobs, convenient transportation, and we mostly don’t even disagree about climate. We want livable futures for our children, abundant crops, lush forests and recreation opportunities.

Unfortunately, some organizations pit us against each other by exacerbating perceived differences. The Cascade Policy Institute, one of about 160 right-wing think tanks under the SPN umbrella, is one such organization in our area. SPN is a deceptive acronym for State Policy Network, which makes it sound local. It is not. It’s a nationally funded membership group of extremists in the Republican Party that pretends to support low-income, rural folks but is closely aligned with wealthy, corporate business interests, including the fossil-fuel industry. They are known for union busting, voter suppression, climate denial, expanded law enforcement and are associated with ALEC, a notorious ultra-conservative lobby.

Another detractor from our common good is J.P. Morgan Chase Bank that invested over $67 billion between 2016 and 2018 in environmentally destructive tar sands, ocean drilling, LNG (liquid natural gas) and coal. Bank of America and Wells Fargo are right up there too, with more than $39 billion and $35 billion respectively, in oil and gas during the same time. Whether you drive a Tesla or a large pickup truck, where you save and invest, and which credit card you carry, may matter more.

Meanwhile, there are some hopeful examples of constructive collaboration. Rural Development Initiatives, a nonprofit based in Eugene, assists communities to create jobs, connect to financial opportunities and coordinate value chain projects such as the Cottage Grove “Food Hub” and the Garibaldi “Fisheries Hub,” to generate long-term community wealth and economic vitality. Their goal is to shift rural economies away from inequitable extraction of resources and towards a collective, inclusive vision of the future.

A frequent argument against Timber Unity and allies is that “they don’t get it.” This isn’t really true. They are resisting taxation and other changes because they do “get” the threat of rapid, impending change to their way of life. The climate justice movement needs to ease the transition to sustainable industries and lifestyles for those most at risk for loss. In contrast, a frequent complaint against environmentalists is that Oregon’s carbon emissions are too small to matter. Oregon is small in size but is a significant global model for land-use policy, forestry, livable cities, ecotourism and more. Just as each vote counts, each person’s carbon footprint adds up and sets an example. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

An interesting new Clackamas County-Americorps partnership is the RARE program — Resource Assistance for Rural Environments — which will focus on local solar projects and carbon-emission reduction. The Urban Rural Ambassadors Summer Institute between students in La Grande and Portland is yet one more example of a collaborative vision for the future, involving a summer student exchange program with discussions of shared goals, as well as appreciation of differences.

We all can benefit from the transition to renewable energy. Besides contributing to a cleaner, cooler environment, renewables will become more prevalent and affordable even as oil and gas prices continue to rise. Rural communities are earning income from solar and wind farms, and PGE is scheduled to shut down its coal-fueled Boardman plant very soon, closing Oregon’s era of coal-generated electricity.

There are rarely simple solutions to complex problems, but together we can keep our boat afloat. As said by Abraham Lincoln, “We can succeed only by concert. It is not ‘can any of us imagine better,’ but ‘can we all do better?'”

Tina Buettell has lived in rural and suburban Clackamas County for 44 years.

Originally published in Clackamas Review.

Urban Renewal Authorizes $400,000 For ReVision Monuments

By Mark Brennan

The Florence Urban Renewal Agency (FURA) met Feb. 26 at Florence City Hall with a short agenda but faced a decision on whether or not to spend thousands of dollars for two gateway monuments on Maple Street, as one of the final pieces in this phase of the ReVision Florence Streetscaping Project.

The agency began the meeting with Chairperson Bill Meyer welcoming new member Mark Tilton to FURA. The attention of the group was then directed to issues related to the ongoing ReVision Florence project.

The original ReVision Florence called for monuments to be built to welcome people to Historic Old Town Florence. The plan was to have a total of three built and to place two on Maple Street and one on Quince Street.

Unfortunately, the cost for all three of the pieces exceeded the monies budgeted for the project, according to Florence Project Manager Megan Messmer. The scope of the project was reduced by eliminating the Quince Street component from the equation.

In a memorandum Messmer provided to FURA directors explaining the decision she wrote, “The budget for this project was $396,000. Unfortunately, both bids came in above the budget and the engineer’s estimate of $416,000, which included a construction estimate of $396,000 and $20,000 in contingency. … Staff does not believe that removing the Quince Street monument would have a large impact on the integrity of the ReVision Florence Project as a whole.”

Messmer’s memorandum also pointed out that when these monuments were originally designed, the Quince Street property across from the FEC was not owned by the agency. Now that FURA has control over that property and is seeking lodging or related developments there, she believes there is value in waiting to construct a gateway at Quince.

The future gateway at this location could include additional directional signage for Old Town that includes lodging, shops, restaurants and the Florence Events Center.

Messmer also wrote that the current ODOT contract will construct the base for a monument at Quince Street that will be usable for another type of monument at a later date.

During the meeting, she recommended that directors accept the negotiated bid and to enter into a contract with Specialty Metal Fabricators LLC in the amount of $375,000, for the construction of the two gateway monuments at Maple Street, which they did.

Messmer also asked directors to authorize the City Manager to enter into Amendment 5 with the Engineering firm Murraysmith for construction administration, engineering and inspection for $57,000, which will result in a net change to the contract of approximately $34,000. The total expected expenditures for the two monuments on Maple Street will be approximately $409,000.

Directors discussed the financial ramifications of the agreement briefly before approving both of Messmer’s requests.

Messmer also presented the directors with an update on the construction currently underway with ReVision and presented a proposal for a FURA Redevelopment Assistance Program, which included suggested eligibility guidelines, program application and an overview flyer.

Directors voiced support for the program and approved moving forward with the proposal.

The second major update of the meeting came from City Manager Erin Reynolds, who provided a recap of the steps taken to this point regarding the marketing of the Quince Street property which is owned by the city.

Community and Economic Development Assistant Sarah Moehrke also made a brief presentation on the property, asking the directors to approve the first phase of landscaping the area at a cost of approximately $5,000.

This phase would remove underbrush and forest debris from the location. A second phase of the landscaping effort would focus on delimbing trees and removing larger brush from the area. The second phase would be considerably more expensive, and Moehrke reported the city would continue to accept bids for Phase 2 of the project.

Directors then approved the request.

The next FURA meeting is scheduled to take place at Florence City Hall on March 25 at 5:30 p.m.

For more information, visit www.ci.florence.or.us/urbanrenewal.

Originally published in the Siuslaw News

Oregon Coast Public Art Trail Back On Track

By: Leslie O’Donnell

With new staff and new plans in place, the Oregon Coast Public Art Trail is on the path to a more promising future.

Marcus Hinz, executive director of the regional marketing group Oregon Coast Visitors Association (OCVA), said he has hired three contractors to inventory public art along the entire coast, one for the north, one for the central coast and one for the south. By the end of spring, the goal is to have identified 80 to 90 percent of the public art along the Oregon coast.

Hinz said public art is defined as art that is accessible 24/7 without fees or admission charges. While murals and sculpture make up much of public art, OCVA will also be documenting what Hinz termed “obscure” art, such as artistic benches or ornate manhole covers.

Public art is a “soft” way to get people interested in coastal communities, Hinz explained. The public art trail is meant to be a shoulder season marketing campaign, he noted.

“Public art is a ‘soft sell,’” he said. “The whole point of an art trail is economic development.”

He explained that when people get interested in visiting an area to view public art, they can then be introduced to museums, theaters, galleries, art studios and other venues in the same communities.

While planning for an Oregon Coast Public Art Trail has been going on for several years, Hinz is optimistic about what is happening now. Acknowledging that they have not made a lot of progress recently due to multiple staff changes, OCVA has changed its strategy so that each newly hired contractor lives in the area he or she is responsible for inventorying, and will be making face-to-face contacts with city officials and others to complete the public art inventory.

“We divided everything into three, and the new staff are renewing relationships with city officials and the local art community, and taking an inventory of public art in their area,” Hinz said.

That inventory includes taking photos, noting the latitude and longitude and address, writing a paragraph to describe what inspired the art, defining who owns the land where it is displayed and citing the name of the artist.

“Then we’ll see what we have, and will break it into two phases — marketing public art and destination development,” Hinz said. “We’ll also look at communities where there are gaps, and try to work with those towns to get public art. And we’ll work with each community to see how they want us to build itineraries to market them.”

The contractor for the Central Coast — defined as Florence to Lincoln City — is Sarah Abigail Moehrke. Hinz said she is a RARE (Resource Assistance for Rural Environments) participant from the University of Oregon, works for the City of Florence as a community and economic development assistant and has a background in public art.

The information about public art that the contractors gather will go into OTIS — the Oregon Tourism Information System database created by Travel Oregon.

“That will allow destination marketing organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and Discover Newport to input the information from OTIS onto their websites,” Hinz explained.

The project is extensive, with Hinz noting that there are more than two dozen incorporated cities on the coast plus tiny, unincorporated areas such as Otter Rock and Seal Rock, bringing the total closer to 40.

“The new contractors have been working about a month, and given the new structure and support from OCVA staff, we’re going to make some pretty quick progress,” Hinz said. “We’re a team now.”

OCVA Destination Management Coordinator Arica Sears is the project leader for the Public Art Trail and oversees the three art contractors.

“This is a great opportunity to see what public art exists along the coast and to identify where public art could be placed,” Sears said. “The project will provide excellent opportunities for off-season visitation at the coast, and is a good way to highlight communities.

“We’re hoping visitors can learn about and have a deeper understanding of ‘place’ while visiting the art trail,” she concluded.

Public art is thriving in many coastal locations, and a public art inventory is already in place in several communities. Catherine Rickbone, executive director of Oregon Coast Council for the Arts (OCCA), said she thinks the idea of a coast-wide public art trail is “great and wonderful.”

She chairs the Newport Public Arts Committee and said that anything that highlights public art — such as the Oregon Coast Public Art Trail — is a good thing.

Newport has 50 to 70 pieces of public art, Rickbone noted, adding that its inventory is geared to inspire cities to develop public art. Newport’s public art ranges from Bayfront murals to sculptures at city buildings and parks, as well as at the Newport Performing Arts Center.

She helped the City of Florence develop its own public arts committee and represented both OCCA and Newport’s committee when Florence unveiled a mural at the Central Lincoln People’s Utility District in that city.

“We continue to grow our public arts inventory,” Rickbone said, adding that the Newport committee is quite active and commissions new works of art.

Sears said that anyone on the central coast with information for or questions about the coastal public art inventory is invited to contact Moehrke at centralart@thepeoplescoast.com.

Originially published in Newport News Times

City Seeks Public Input For Villages At Cascade Head Property

The City of Lincoln City is holding two public forums to discuss the proposed urban renewal boundary and a list of potential capital projects to be completed at the Villages at Cascade Head, a 360+ acre parcel of land in north Lincoln City purchased by the City in 2013.

The first of two public forums is set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7, at Ace’s Bar and Grill, 3309 NE Clubhouse Dr. The second will be held 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, at the Lincoln City Cultural Center, 540 NE Highway 101.

“The upcoming public forum is one step in creating the draft plan which we hope will be ready for Council consideration in July or August this year,” Urban Renewal Economic Development Coordinator Jodi Mescher said. “If City Council votes to adopt the Urban Renewal Plan for Roads End/Villages at Cascade Head area, it could be an important economic development tool to increase financing for priority projects in the new urban renewal area.”

If the Urban Renewal Plan is adopted by the Lincoln City Council, the Urban Renewal Agency can go ahead with capital projects, such as:

Construction or improvement of public facilities including streets, sidewalks, utilities, parks
Streetscape improvements
Storefront improvements
Participation with developers for property improvement
Rehabilitation of existing buildings

City staff has identified a list of potential projects to be completed and the first public forum is to discuss the draft plan and collect feedback on priority projects and projects yet to be identified.

The Villages at Cascade Head, previously a bankrupt vacant development, was purchased in 2013 by Lincoln City for $2.5 million.

For over 20 years the vision for 1,800+ homes at the Villages at Cascade Head has been troubled by foreclosure, developer concerns and expiring city planning approvals.

City officials have long-held to the idea that the Villages at Cascade Head will be an economic boon to Lincoln City but have struggled to advance the multi-million dollar investment despite spending an additional $2 million into the site for planning, utilities and other costs typically paid for by developers.

According to sources, developers have put in over $10 million to develop the Villages.

Developers are skeptical on a city-controlled situation where the City can drop hundreds of lots at any given time with a vote from the council. Builders believe they could not compete and the unknowns are too much to risk large amounts of money.

“If the City can sell lots at will or rezone adjacent properties it reduces the value and makes it unattractive,” a prominent Lincoln City developer who requested anonymity said.

Former Lincoln City Mayor Don Williams, who won in a 2014 landslide election, called for a sale of the Villages as part of his campaign.

“I don’t believe the City should be in the land development business,” Williams said. “We were assured repeatedly that we weren’t going to do this, but here we are in the land development business.”

Whatever the City decides to do, it will impact property values for improved and unimproved property throughout Lincoln City and North Lincoln County.

Originally published by Lincoln City Homepage

Port Purchase For Wetland Mitigation Could Be Beginning Of Costs

By Anna Del Savio

The Port of Columbia County board of commissioners authorized the purchase of 194 acres near Port Westward at their Jan. 8 meeting. The land, which the port bid on in November, will be used for wetland mitigation.

Bringing the land up to its full wetland mitigation potential, however, could cost as much as $45,000 per acre, Commissioner Larry Ericksen said at the port meeting.

The land itself cost $452,500. Making the land more effective for wetland mitigation could cost millions more.

“In terms of the wetland quality, it’s very low currently wetland quality. It would not be a valuable mitigation site until a lot of work is done there,” Commissioner Chip Bubl said.

The port only found out about the land auction shortly before the deadline for bids, leaving little time for studying the land quality.

The process to check for wetland mitigation potential “was relatively minimal,” according to Port Planning Coordinator Tabitha Tolsma.

“Basically, soil scientists came out and dug some small trenches and determined that the soil was hydric,” Tolsma said.

Projects that remove or inhibit natural wetlands are required to mitigate the impacts of the project by establishing wetland mitigation elsewhere or purchasing credits from a mitigation bank.

Credits would be available from the port, which would cover the costs of bringing the wetlands up to standards.

“Current practice has been — for PGE projects — they’ve been mitigating on our site, and they’ve been very free to give away our property to mitigation,” Commissioner Robert Keyser said.

Valuable wetlands can have deed restrictions placed on them, prohibiting any development on the land. That’s a concern when companies use unoccupied land for wetland mitigation, potentially jeopardizing any development future.

Keyser advocated for the land purchase over continuing the current practice.

The port is paying for the land out of the general fund but is also looking into financing options, explained Bob Gadotti, the port’s finance manager.

Originally published in Columbia County Spotlight

Falls City Looks To Rehab Building

FALLS CITY — The city of Falls City hopes to build a partnership with Polk County to redevelop a vacant property it owns on North Main Street into an operating business.

In 2017, the owner of the then-Little Luckiamute Clinic donated the property, located at 304 N. Main, to the city. It has since been vacant and falling into disrepair.

The next year, the city formed a committee to explore options to occupy the building, with the possibility that the new tenant would repair the building in exchange for little or no rent for a certain amount of time.

“The advisory committee made a suggestion and that is to partner with Turning Earth Farms, have them fix it up and do a contract,” said city manager Mac Corthell at a council meeting in December.

Turning Earth Farms would have made the building into a community/multi-use center and would have managed it.

“It didn’t work out. When we attempted to negotiate, I think there were some things they didn’t anticipate that they would need to be responsible for,” Corthell said. “It wasn’t a feasible agreement to be made.”

He said the contract was scrapped and so was the advisory committee.

Corthell said having the building vacant and deteriorating will eventually be a liability to the city, so he proposed a plan to put the property into use again.

“It’s in a prime location in Falls City, so we really need to look at moving that thing one way or another,” Corthell said. “We are looking into the cost to get it habitable, and my goal and plan is to discuss the potential of a two-part grant with the county. The county offers an economic vitality grant, if you will. They give out $30,000 for free to businesses that create jobs in Polk County. I’m going to attempt to partner with them.”

He said the hope is to get cost estimates to repair the property for occupancy and seek a grant to pay for the work. Then once a tenant has been identified, apply for an economic opportunity grant from Polk County to help the business get started.

He said the option could be more beneficial than selling the property, because it could eventually become a revenue source with a lease, and the city would have more control on what kind of business occupied the property.

William Sullivan, an AmeriCorps Resource Assistance for Rural Economics participant working for the city, said the first step is finding out how much it will cost to rehabilitate the building.

“We will have some contractors take a look at it and get some itemized numbers to bring back to council,” Sullivan said.

Mayor Jeremy Gordon said he liked the idea of spending money on the former clinic to help get it occupied.

“I think the city should invest a little in that property,” he said. “If we are asking people to clean up theirs, we should be taking care of ours.”

Originally published by the Itemizer-Observer

Meet Our RARE AmeriCorps Members: Eva Kahn

Eva grew up in Portland, OR and Hood River, OR. She graduated from the University of Oregon in 2019 with a degree in Planning, Public Policy, and Management. In college, Eva was the coordinator of the University’s student community garden, studied sustainable development abroad in Ecuador, and completed an Honors Thesis on student farming. She has a passion for sustainable and equitable food systems, which is what brought her to the Columbia Gorge Food Bank and RARE. When she’s not working with food, Eva likes to ride her bike long distances, draw, listen to bluegrass, and revel in this beautiful state.

Community and Organization:

The Dalles sits on the banks of the Columbia River, straddling the border of Oregon and Washington. Most know the Columbia River Gorge for its astonishing beauty, the emerging tech and engineering industry, craft beer breweries, outdoor recreation opportunities, and fruit orchards. Despite all its glory, the Columbia Gorge struggles with similar issues facing many rural communities in Oregon. Economic disparity, lack of housing, poverty, and hunger pervade. Columbia Gorge Food Bank seeks to challenge hunger and its root causes across three counties (Hood River, Wasco, and Sherman). It partners with 25 agencies in the Gorge, distributing food to 33 sites. These sites directly assist people in need of food. The food bank also coordinates with the state network of food banks and works on regional-level policy and community issues relating to the root causes of hunger.

Project:

Eva will be assisting the food bank on a variety of projects, including opening two new school food pantries in Hood River County, a Harvest Share program at Hood River Valley Adult Center, and organizing community outreach events. She will also be helping the food bank transition to an independent nonprofit entity by helping assemble a founding Board of Directors and helping write the 501(c)3. She will also be coordinating the food bank’s volunteer program, developing its Disaster Plan, and supporting work around housing security in The Dalles.

Email: ekahn@oregonfoodbank.org
Organization: Columbia Gorge Food Bank
Community: Columbia River Gorge
Population: 82,608
Counties: Wasco, Sherman, Hood River