Thursday, March 29, 2007

Street Roots Special Edition to hit the streets tomorrow

A Street Roots special edition on New Orleans, 18-months after will hit the streets tomorrow. The edition takes an in-depth look at individuals living in Portland displaced after Hurricane K. It also has two major features by civil rights attorney, professor and writer Bill Quigley on what's happening on the ground in New Orleans. Also included is a feature on the owners of the Orleans Candle Company in North Portland, a column on small businesses from a former Bureau of Housing and Community Development staffer Kim Powe, who now works with Mercy Corp in New Orleans - along with a look at the Common Ground Collective in New Orleans.

Why New Orleans? Why in Street Roots? That’s a question we discovered, pondered and rediscovered over the past three weeks of putting this special edition together.

New Orleans is a reflection of America in the early 21st century; a time when we wage war on foreign soils, when we discriminate against the poor and homeless in our own cities and send poor people to jail by the thousands for being addicts. It illustrates how everyday people cannot afford to live and shop in the very neighborhoods where generations before them lived. A time when public housing is sold to private developers, and deals that affect poor people are made on the basis of projections and funding streams instead of logic and integrity.

The issues affecting the Gulf Coast have been covered in every major newspaper, magazine and TV outlet in the United States during the past 18 months. Still, we find ourselves removed from another dark chapter in our country’s history. Unfortunately, the more we look to the Gulf region for answers, the more apparent it becomes that New Orleans has become a symbol of our own neighborhoods. Decades of redlining and land grabs by developers yield millions of dollars in profits in urban cores while citizens are pushed to the outer rings of cities and into the suburbs. In New Orleans, hundreds of thousands of people were scattered to the four winds, much like the Trail of Tears more than a hundred years before. In Portland, thousands of working families and poor people are forced out of their neighborhoods and must live with the economic environment created by individuals removed from the poverty they seek to eliminate by any means necessary.

Putting together this special edition, we were burdened with the fact that we couldn’t bring the entire story of the people of New Orleans to the streets of Portland. We could, however, bring you certain aspects of a story that is far from over. We’ve worked hard to bring you snippets of the stories of people living in Portland from the Gulf region, and of what’s happening in New Orleans today.

Street Roots believes in people. We believe in hope and laughter. We believe that no government entity or business interests should let profits outweigh people. We believe it is our obligation to report on what’s happening on the ground today, 18 months after Hurricane Katrina — because the closer we look at New Orleans, the more we see in ourselves.

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