Solace from the crowded landscape.

When I first arrived in Harlem, the fenced-off, overgrown empty lots here also attracted my eye… The empty lots… were a place for the eye to rest. This was not some romance for ruins. These blank, disavowed spaces had been labelled as blight, but they provided a visual and mental break from the clamor of the buildings and people. There was a hint of the horizon.

Here was solace from the crowded landscape – both the physical crowdedness of buildings and people and the crowd of stories and histories. A friend of mine describes certain cities as being full – too much has happened there, you cannot move… I suspect he’d say Harlem is another place that is too full – though its crowdedness and overpopulation have been discussed in other terms. In the empty lots, my mind escaped history.

–Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Harlem is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America


vanportVanport lot at MLK & Alberta.


Corporate junk food peddler.

zz no 7-11

From 2012, at MLK & Sumner. When this banner was raised and some folks in the nearby neighborhood were working to block the construction of a building to house a new 7-11 at that lot (it was built, even though 7-11 reps lied in a public meeting and claimed there was no plan at all to put a 7-11 on this property), I received an email from someone accusing those neighbors of opposing the 7-11 as part of an anti-black, pro-gentrification, ‘lack of affinity’ towards minorities.

The email ended with this: “7-11. Let them come in. They are coming anyway. They rule. They control. Money talks.”

Inspiring Dreamers, & Calling all Runners & Volunteers! MLK Dream Run is August 2nd & 3rd!

The Spirit of Portland Award Winning


Event Dates/Times

* Saturday August 2, 2014 5pm-9pm: “Taste of the Dream”  Our pre-race kickoff and community celebration.
* Sunday August 3, 2014 6:00 am-noon: The MLK Dream Run-5k,10k & 15K race and Award Ceremony

All events held at the Vanport lot, MLK & NE Alberta


 Saturday, August 2nd, 5-9 pm, at the Vanport Lot at MLK & Alberta
Featuring “Taste of the Dream” as our Pre-race Kickoff Celebration

Food and Beverages, & a Beer Garden

Free entry!

Music and entertainment by

Linda Hornbuckle, N’Touch, Javier Nero, The Brown Sisterd

Dignitary address, including Mrs. Nancy Hales, our mayor’s spouse

Also included in the festivities are:

  • Small Business “Exboutique”- booths displaying community products and service
  •  Acknowledgment of sponsors and the Elite “Dream Supporters
  • Celebration of our NNEBA Youth Fellow entrepreneurs
  • NNEBA membership appreciation 
  • Community engagement & Activities
  • Messaging tied to the impact that the “I Have A Dream” speech as well as the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964
  • Pre-Race final registration opportunities


Sunday August 3, 2013, 6-10 am
The MLK Dream Run: 5k, 10k and 15K Geoff Hollister Tribute Race

Last year’s run attracted nearly 1,000 world class and amature athletes including race winners- former Olympic Qualifying runners Ryan Vail and Jared Basset.

The race also honor’s the vision of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech given in Aug 1963. This year will be the 50th anniversary of the Signing of the Civil Rights Act.

This year’s event will support the Youth Development and Empowerment programs of:
The “I Have A Dream” Foundation,
The NNEBA Youth Fellows Internship program,
The NxNE Community Health Clinic.

“Whatever you build, we’ll burn it down.”

Another incentive offered to developers [in Harlem] was an “arts and culture” bonus, in which developers were similarly rewarded that could be rented as galleries, performance space, studios, or offices for artistic organizations. The representative from the city planning department put it thusly: We’ve been told that arts and culture are important up here, so there are going to be restaurants and cultural venues. A community member in the audience grumbled in response: Arts and culture don’t pay the bills. Another suggested that the arts and culture bonus would lead to a situation was celebrated in Harlem but no black people actually lived there anymore. A long line of residents stood at a microphone to denounce the plan, the testimonies growing more and more heated. One man suggested that there have been riots before in Harlem’s past, and there can be riots again. Another man wore a T-shirt that read HARLEM IS NOT FOR SALE BECAUSE HARLEM’S ALREADY BEEN SOLD. He named the local politicians and businessmen he claimed were responsible, then left the mic to hover close to the urban planners seated at a dais in the front of the room. He looked each in the eye and then said: Whatever you build, we’ll burn it down.

—Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Harlem is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America


Photo of the lot at King Boulevard & Monroe, after the clearing of debris from a fire that destroyed a newly-built apartment complex last August, and view of the house on MLK next door that was badly damaged but appears to be undergoing restoration. Below, the house on Monroe that was burnt in the fire, and has been torn down. The fire was determined to be arson.


Footage of the flames; photos: “The Aftermath.

Reconstruction of the Monroe Apartments is underway – five stories, 46 units.