Local governments scramble to meet severe winter weather needs
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for the Greater Portland Metro Area and the I-5 Corridor through Monday morning. In response, the city of Portland, Multnomah County, the state of Oregon, and other local governments have announced states of emergency extending until next weekend. If you haven’t already prepared, take some time to do so today. Here are preparation recommendations from the CDC and I’m rounding up local announcements and requests on Twitter as I find them. If you don’t have access to shelter, 211.org has a list of shelters currently open and TriMet has guaranteed free rides to warming shelters.
While Portland residents and organizations are stepping up to provide shelter, hot meals, and other support for the winter weather, there’s a certain amount of distrust in the city government’s ability to support residents in emergencies like this, especially after its failures during the heat waves this past summer. Ted Wheeler, the mayor of Portland, shared a tweet on Wednesday asking for volunteers to staff shelters and donations of winter gear. The tweet received a largely negative response, in part because the tweet was posted just before city staff forced people to leave established camps. Full disclosure: I posted my own angry response to Wheeler’s tweet. During camp sweeps, city staff routinely seize personal possessions (including the sort of winter gear Wheeler requested Portlanders donate). The Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program, which is responsible for coordinating sweeps, is overseen by City Commissioner Dan Ryan through the Portland Housing Bureau.
New beer to benefit Grande Ronde
Ruse Brewing launched a new hazy IPA that acknowledge’s Ruse Brewing’s presence on the ancestral lands of Indigenous tribes that are now a part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. All proceeds from the new beer, titled ‘Native Land,’ will be contributed to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Native Land is available in the Ruse Brewing taproom (which has takeout options).
The beer is a collaboration between Ruse Brewing and Bow & Arrow Brewing’s Native Land Project. Bow & Arrow is the first Native woman-owned brewery in the US. They launched the Native Land Project to inspire other breweries to use a standard IPA recipe and label, along with local touches from the breweries involved, to raise funds for Indigenous tribes and other organizations committed to strengthening Native communities. Partnerships between breweries and Indigenous communities have a complicated history, but seeing Indigenous leadership at the Native Land Project is reassuring.
Greater Idaho on the May ballot in multiple counties
So far eight counties in Eastern Oregon have voted to leave the state of Oregon and join the state of Idaho. At least two more counties will vote on that question during the May 22 election. Douglas County actually voted down a non-binding measure to pursue joining the state of Idaho in 2020, but petitioners have a new ballot measure that would update an existing county ordinance to allow county employees to advocate in favor of the move. In contrast, the measure on Klamath County’s ballot would create a county board to evaluate the benefits of such a border change.
Antonia Hitchens wrote an in-depth piece on the Greater Idaho movement (as proponents of moving the state border have named their efforts) for The Atlantic earlier this month. (If you hit The Atlantic’s paywall, the Pulitzer Center has posted a full copy of the article.) Hitchens’ coverage looks at the connections between Greater Idaho advocates, far-right anti-government activists, and White supremacists. While Portland residents may be tempted to just say that Idaho can have these folks, Hitchens makes clear that Greater Idaho supporters represent problems that secession won’t fix. The responses to Hitchens’ article from those supporters (including one posted to the Greater Idaho website) really only reinforce her point.