Have you ever felt simultaneously urgent and helpless about what was happening in the world? Have ever tried to speak out, but felt like your voice was a tiny echo getting lost in a great big world or bouncing wildly around the world wide web? You are in good company.
Somewhere along the way we forgot that we belong to our community, and our community belongs to us. Something powerful happens when we remember. Something powerful happens when we take that energy and hope and walk outside our door. Something powerful happens when we SEE our neighbors; When we SEE the unseen and overlooked in our own community. Something powerful happens when we we find our people out there... the ones who have been working alongside us the whole time. Something powerful happens when we find our voice.
Storyline Community exists as an organization because we made that discovery. We walked outside our door, and it changed everything. If you want to join the pursuit of justice and goodness in your neighborhood, come talk to us. That's what we do. We can help you find your drumbeat. As a starting place, explore below some ways you can take steps forward and learn about the needs of your neighbors in the Oak Grove/Milwaukie area right now:
Be trained as a community organizer. We partner with Metropolitan Alliance for the Common Good and other local organizers to offer training for those who want to learn how to make real change in their community. Community Organizing can look like small simple actions or giant ripple effects (Some known community organizers are Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama, for example). It is a fantastic way to find your voice in your own community.
Wrap around our community schools. One of the surest ways to strengthen a community and support those on the margins, is to build a safety net of community for our families and kids. We have organizers helping build community around New Urban High School and Oak Grove Elementary. Let us know if you are interested in learning more.
Bring life back to the heart of Oak Grove. We have a sweet little historic downtown area, that over time had lost its luster. Over the past two years, a group of people just like you decided to do something about it and have brought life back to our community, and neighbors to the streets. They have really just started this work and need others to join the cause. Learn more about them here and talk to us if you are interested in adding your efforts.
Advocate for our immigrant neighbors We are partnering with IMIRJ to advocate for our immigrant neighbors. Let us know if you are interested in being involved! Advocate for those who need affordable housing. As a community organizer, we listen. We often ask people who are doing good work in this community the question, "If you had the resources to change one thing in our community that would make the biggest impact on the most people, what would it be?". We also partner with organizations like Metropolitan Alliance for the Common Good in the work they are doing to answer this question. Over time, the answers change as our community needs change. But right now, time and time again, we are hearing the answer "we NEED affordable housing". Houselessness doesn't look like it used to or like we sometimes imagine it. Here are some compelling statistics:
In Milwaukie, home prices have increased 58% since 2000 and rent has increased a remarkable 78%.
27% of all Milwaukie households are severely housing cost-burdened- spending more than 50% of their incomes on housing.
There are 400 homeless school-aged children in Clackamas County as of 2017.
This is a probably specifically in our community, as evidenced by a housing vacancy rate at 3%, compared to a national vacancy rate of 12%.
Those most at risk to lose their housing are the most vulnerable- seniors on a fixed income, those already working more than one job, families with childcare costs.
For more information on the housing crisis and how close it often is to our own backyard, check out our Housing Highway page to further engage in the conversation. You can also contact us directly to find out more about how you can get involved in our local commission working to advocate for solution to this problem.