Resist: How Donald Trump Threatens Portland—and Why You Must Fight Back

Nobody would blame Portlanders for wanting to pull the covers over their heads when they woke up Nov. 9.

The night before, Americans summoned what has all the makings of a calamity upon the nation: They elected Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States.

Trump’s election doesn’t just mean a triumph for Republicans at the far right edge of the party. It means that a boor, admitted sexual predator and racist will occupy the White House. His victory emboldens white nationalists who would make this country great by silencing anyone who doesn’t look like them.

Yet the citizens of this city didn’t stay in bed.

Instead, they took to the streets.

(Joe Riedl)
(Joe Riedl)

For six nights in a row, thousands of Portlanders marched against the Trump presidency, vowing to do everything within their power to halt Trump from achieving his aims.

The protests have not always been pretty. Masked anarchists armed with baseball bats overwhelmed march organizers Nov. 10, smashing car windshields and shop windows. A 14-year-old boy allegedly shot and injured a protester on the Morrison Bridge early Nov. 12.

Mayor Charlie Hales and his Police Bureau have deployed compression grenades and tear gas, struggling to maintain balance between freedom and order. A leading Republican called for Gov. Kate Brown to impose martial law.

But the nonviolent protests are not cause for alarm. They are a reason to hope.

The marches deliver a clear message to Trump, one that few top Democrats have been willing to send:

This city will not kowtow to a president whose backward-looking policy proposals would turn America into a banana republic. Instead, Portlanders will resist. They will defy this president as he tries to turn the clock back. They will stand arm in arm with our most vulnerable neighbors and defend their right to an equal place in this country.

But to rise against Trump, we must understand where he actually threatens us.

(Joe Riedl)
(Joe Riedl)

In the following pages, we’ve assessed the dangers to Portland and Oregon posed by a Trump presidency. We have not attempted to rank them by significance—it’s impossible to weigh the risk to Latinos from mass deportation against the safety of women from sexual violence, and we’re not going to try. Instead, we’ve graded these threats by probability, on a scale of one to five Trumps. (Five is the most threatening.)

Predicting what Trump will do is not simple. He flips positions so fast that some of the risks we’ve identified could be obsolete by the time this story comes out.

“Donald just has no interest in information,” his biographer Wayne Barrett told The New Yorker this week. “He has no genuine interest in policy. He operates by impulse. And I don’t see any of that changing. Why would you change it?”

Yet it is possible—and necessary—to judge Trump by what he has already done, and what he has promised to do.

Those facts are sobering, at times terrifying. But we aren’t presenting them to frighten you. We’re listing them so all of us can understand what’s at stake, and prepare to fight for it.

There are many ways to battle Trump. Street protests are an important form of resistance, but they are hardly sufficient. Most of the causes in the following pages have advocacy organizations that will use their energy and resources in positive ways to fight for the causes in which they believe. Oregon has progressive politicians, powerful organized labor, and deeply committed activists, all of which are bulwarks that can be forces of resistance—a more productive approach than despair.

But the first step is knowledge. It is the one thing that most frightens Donald Trump, and the greatest weapon against him.

—Nigel Jaquiss, Rachel Monahan, Beth Slovic, Aaron Mesh, Piper McDaniel and Sophia June

(Christine Dong)
(Christine Dong)

Women will lose reproductive rights when the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. redtrumphat2

Having recently decided he’s pro-life, Trump says no one’s getting onto the U.S. Supreme Court who doesn’t share his views on abortion.

But overturning Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973, would take filling two court seats—not just the vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February.

Even then, success for Trump is no guarantee. A case directly challenging Roe would have to wend its way to the Supreme Court. That could take years. “Roe v. Wade has withstood some very conservative courts,” says Janel George, director of federal reproductive rights and health with the National Women’s Law Center.

If the court struck down abortion rights, the matter would turn to states, some of which still have laws on the books banning or criminalizing abortion.

That’s not the case in Oregon, but advocates here are already planning to buttress the defenses.

Michele Stranger Hunter, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, said her organization is “absolutely preparing” for worst-case scenarios in which Oregon becomes an island of reproductive freedom. “It’s beyond belief,” she says, “that my daughter will be fighting this fight, too.”

Meanwhile, providers in Oregon remain defiant. “Our health center doors will stay open,” says Jimmy Radosta of Oregon’s Planned Parenthood. —BS

Trump will launch a nuclear weapon. redtrumphat

The risk is not nil. Multiple political opponents—including Marco Rubio—have warned that Trump lacks the temperament to oversee America’s 2,000 nuclear missiles. And it’s not exactly reassuring that the nation most likely to provoke Trump—North Korea—shares the Pacific Rim with Portland.

But that bleak scenario depends on dozens of other things going wrong, all of them outside your (and Trump’s) control. Say a prayer that the White House keeps its cool, and focus your energy elsewhere. —AM

Thousands of Oregonians will lose their health insurance with the elimination of Obamacare. redtrumphat4

The biggest headlines surrounding the Affordable Care Act in Oregon centered on the high-profile failure of the state’s online health care exchange, Cover Oregon. But the biggest effect of President Obama’s policy on citizens was different: the federally funded expansion of the Oregon Health Plan, which insures low-income Oregonians.

One of candidate Trump’s most consistent pledges was that he would treat the ACA like an unqualified contestant on The Apprentice. Here’s what his position paper on health care says: “On day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare.”

State Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) has been working on health care policy for more than 50 years. He says Trump and his supporters don’t understand what the ACA is. “I don’t think they know what the hell they are talking about,” says Greenlick. “They think it’s Obama and, therefore, it’s bad.”

Oregon has already applied for an extension of federal funding for its innovative coordinated care organizations, which could bring in $1.25 billion next June. And Trump is already walking his promises back. Early indications are that Trump may retain key elements of the ACA, such as requiring insurers to cover pre-existing conditions and allow parents’ coverage to extend to their children until age 26.

But if Trump goes along with critics of Medicaid expansion and pulls the plug, that could be a disaster. “Besides having horrible health outcomes, we’d have horrible economic outcomes,” Greenlick says. “That would take billions of dollars out of Oregon’s economy.” —NJ

(Joe Riedl)
(Joe Riedl)

Mexican immigrants will be deported. redtrumphat5

Trump has made one thing abundantly clear: He will build that wall. Or maybe a fence. Maybe a wall and a fence.

Whether Trump ever succeeds in building anything—Mexico has said it won’t cough up one peso for the project—he’s not relenting on his vehement anti-immigrant rhetoric, telling 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl on a Nov. 13 broadcast that he wasn’t ruling out the possibility of a mass deportation of undocumented immigrants. His first priority, he says, is the removal of undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

His threats of deportation—and the acceleration of immigration policy under President Obama—tear at the fabric of Oregon, where between 120,000 and 160,000 undocumented immigrants, mostly Latinos from Mexico, live in mixed-status families. Many of those families include children who are U.S. citizens, whose lives would be turned upside down if their parents were deported.

“I cannot imagine the magnitude of the pain,” says Francisco Lopez, political director of Portland’s Hispanic Voice for Community Change. “It’s beyond what we’ve seen before.”

It’s also likely Oregon’s annual harvests of Christmas trees, hazelnuts and strawberries will suffer, says Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries. “We have a hard time getting enough labor as it is,” he says. “Uncertainty does not help.”

Portland Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler pledges this city will continue to serve as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants threatened with deportation—even though Trump has threatened to yank federal funding for so-called “sanctuary cities.”

Carmen Rubio, executive director of Latino Network in Portland, says her group will align with others to ensure no one’s rights are trampled. “We’re going to demand that our communities are respected,” she says, “and that justice prevails for all of us.” —BS

LGBTQ rights will be rolled back. redtrumphat3

There are a range of threats to LGBTQ protections, although some safeguards are more at risk than others.

Amy Herzfeld-Copple of Basic Rights Oregon says overturning same-sex marriage would be difficult, because the president can’t simply change Supreme Court rulings at his discretion.

“The law is very strong that once people are married it can’t be taken away,” says Herzfeld-Copple. “It’s unlikely according to national legal partners. Courts generally respect prior [Supreme Court] rulings.”

Similarly, Herzfeld-Copple says, many of the Obama administration’s landmark LBGTQ inclusive efforts, such as the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which were congressional acts, would also be more difficult to undo.

Other protections are more vulnerable, such as anti-discrimination acts and protections for the trans community through health care. Herzfeld-Copple notes a lot will depend on the makeup of the Trump administration and what it targets. The onus will now be on states to play a stronger role as advocates and places of sanctuary. Oregon, one of the most LGBTQ-progressive states, has a broad array of protections, including a ban on conversion therapies that try to “cure” kids of being gay.

“We’ve seen really encouraging statements from officials in counties and cities,” says Herzfeld-Copple, “and we are positioned well with a strong governor. A lot will depend on how much the new administration can have an impact over federal law and orders.” —PM

Poor kids will go hungry more often. redtrumphat4

Trump hasn’t been specific about poverty programs. His tax plan, however, would slash an estimated $6.2 trillion in revenue from the federal budget, according to the Tax Policy Center in Washington, D.C.—with most of the benefit accruing to the top 1 percent of Americans. Trump has also pledged not to cut the military, and to cut at least 1 percent from other agencies to fund the tax cuts, slashing the safety net.

When House Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed Trump in June, Trump pointed to Ryan’s vision for how to address poverty as a point of agreement, and Ryan has not been short on specifics about poverty programs. The House budget proposal from June would cut $3.7 trillion in programs to low- and middle-income families if you include cuts to Medicaid, according to an analysis by the Washington, D.C., think tank Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

Oregon’s projected budget deficit could exacerbate the effects of a Ryan/Trump budget. “These are all concerns to vulnerable populations,” says Oregon Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer (D-Portland). —RM

(Joe Riedl)
(Christopher Onstott)

Trump will reverse efforts to halt climate change redtrumphat5

New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert, among the country’s pre-eminent climate-change reporters, tweeted Nov. 9, “Yesterday may have been the worst single day for planet Earth since the end of the Cretaceous.”

The election of a climate-change-denier-in-chief may not really be the death knell for the planet as we know it: Truth be told, the chances were slim for humanity already. It’s possible to argue that the Paris climate-change accord, which Trump has pledged to overturn and which committed nearly every country in the world to lowering greenhouse gas omissions, wasn’t likely to be enforced anyway.

The Environmental Protection Agency rules designed to lower carbon-fuel emissions are likely to be revoked by the new administration or overturned by a newly conservative Supreme Court.

The result is no cap on fossil fuels and a steadily warming planet, close to reaching a point at which there will be no way to limit global warming.

“Things just went from really, really bad to worse,” says Adrianna Voss-Andreae, who founded the environmental group 350PDX. She spoke to WW through tears. “I’m a mom with young kids. And it’s hard to fathom.”

But cities like Portland have capacity to meet a substantial portion of international emissions goals. “Because cities are where the carbon is, climate actions delivered by mayors have an enormous effect,” says Josh Alpert, director of special projects for C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. —RM

Free-speech rights will wither. redtrumphat3

Attacks on the First Amendment could range from a crackdown on pornography and strip clubs to curtailing a free press.

That second possibility is more grave—and more likely.

In February, Trump pledged to “open up those libel laws, so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” He explicitly named the county’s foremost papers—The Washington Post and The New York Times, in particular—as his adversaries. (And this was before their stories on his tax returns or his admitting to sexual assault.)

The most immediate threat to the practice of journalism even without a Trump administration was probably billionaire-backed lawsuits, akin to the one funded by Peter Thiel against the now-defunct website Gawker. Thiel now serves on Trump’s transition team.

“What we saw there is the power of money; the power of money can undo civil liberties and civil rights,” says Mat dos Santos, legal director of the ACLU of Oregon.

The court’s interpretation of libel protections, notably in New York Times v. Sullivan, could be overturned through an amendment to the Constitution or a radical overhaul of the courts. But neither is remotely likely, says the Media Law Resource Center. And Oregon has exceptionally strong protections for frivolous so-called SLAPP suits.

Dos Santos pledges to keep fighting. “Free speech rights embedded in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution have been in place for centuries and have been protected by the ACLU and other groups for at least a century. We think they’re not going anywhere.” —RM

Nike will be crippled by trade restrictions. redtrumphat2

Not exactly.

Yes, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is toast. The trade deal—championed by President Obama at a May 2015 rally at Nike headquarters—died a quick death after Trump’s election, with Democrats and Republicans saying it had no chance of moving forward.

The deal would have lowered duties on footwear companies like Nike doing business in Asia. A spokesman for Nike declined to comment on the deal’s demise. But the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America calculated the deal would have lowered 18,000 taxes on U.S. businesses, possibly saving consumers money at checkout.

Some on the left aren’t mourning the loss. Shanti Lewallen, a Working Families candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2016, campaigned against trade agreements like TPP, arguing they represent a race to the bottom in terms of global wages. “I think the Nikes of the world will be heartened by a President Trump,” he says, “who on the campaign trail stated that American workers are paid too well.” —BS

(Joe Riedl)
(Joe Riedl)

There will be more homeless people, because federal dollars for affordable housing will dry up. redtrumphat3

As with many other policies, Trump has been silent on this. Housing appears to be a low priority for him—one reason for cautious optimism that housing dollars won’t completely disappear.

If Trump includes housing in his infrastructure plan, that could mean dollars for housing. And the two key pieces to federal housing policy—rent assistance and the tax breaks for building housing—assist poor people but line the pockets of developers.

“They benefit private property owners and landlords,” says Kurt Creager, director of the Portland Housing Bureau. “I don’t see that changing going forward.”

The tax credits awarded to developers to build affordable housing have powerful senators in their corner.

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who is chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has co-sponsored a bill to expand low-income housing tax credits with the ranking Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Home builders are lobbying to expand that tax credit.

But Trump is also likely to slash federal spending—eliminating any gains—and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is vulnerable, like any federal agency other than the Department of Defense.

“In terms of the priorities, I didn’t hear one word the entire election about housing,” says City Commissioner Nick Fish. “And Republicans are always targeting HUD.” —RM

Pay equity and workplace child care are lost causes. redtrumphat4

“Equal pay for equal work.” That was Ivanka Trump’s pledge on behalf of her father to female voters in the U.S.

Trump, though, already has a poor track record. The Boston Globe reported in June that Trump paid female campaign aides 35 percent less than their male counterparts. And child care? All Trump thinks companies need to offer working parents are four walls, a warm body and a box of Legos.

“You know it’s not expensive for a company to do it: You need one person or two people, and you need some blocks, you need some swings, you need some toys,” he said last October. “It’s something that can be done I think very easily by a company.”

More than on most issues, Trump makes noises about wanting to help: He claims he supports giving new moms six weeks of paid time off, for example. But it’s difficult to believe he’ll do so, since he offers about as much detail about how he’ll pay for this as how he’ll pay for the wall. —BS

Gun control will be abandoned, and gun violence will increase. redtrumphat3

Forget about gun control at the federal level. Trump has shown no interest in limiting firearms.

“The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own,” he says in a position paper. “The right of self-defense doesn’t stop at the end of your driveway. That’s why I have a concealed carry permit.” During the campaign, Trump said mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., would have ended differently if victims had been armed.

Jenn Lynch, spokeswoman for the Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety, says this election will further delay action at the federal level requiring background checks. “More people are going to die in the interim than if we had elected a president willing to push those through,” Lynch says. ”Our charge to make something happen federally has realistically disappeared for the next four years.”

State-level gun control efforts are Lynch’s hope. For example, three gun safety measures passed in Nevada, Washington and California last week, which extended background checks. In her election night victory speech last week, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown teed up the issue for the 2017 legislative session. “Now, I’m asking you,” she said to the crowd at the Oregon Convention Center. “Will you join me in the fight to pass common-sense gun legislation?”

President Trump will not. Oregonians might. —SJ

Protest organizer Gregory McKelvey (Joe Riedl)
Protest organizer Gregory McKelvey (Joe Riedl)

The Portland Police Bureau’s settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice will be gutted. redtrumphat4

The U.S. Department of Justice under President Obama scrutinized police departments that had “patterns and practice” of excessive force. That included Portland, which in 2014 agreed to reform police officers’ interactions with the public, especially people with mental health problems.

Reforms are already underway, and the Police Bureau has made strides to reduce the use of force. But a DOJ under an attorney general such as Kansas’ Kris Kobach may not have patience or interest in continuing to monitor the bureau.

Jo Ann Hardesty, a longtime advocate for police reform and a possible City Council candidate in 2018, says she expects the DOJ to keep to the terms of the agreement, which lasts for three more years. “I suspect,” she says, “there will be zero new investigations into police violence and that the federal allocation of resources to the DOJ will be reduced.” —BS

Food products, such as avocados, could disappear under agricultural tariffs. redtrumphat3

Trump’s promise to tear up existing trade agreements has been central to his campaign. That’s scary because Oregon is a heavily trade-dependent state.

Trump will have unilateral power to make decisions about trade deals due to the North American Free Trade Agreement’s implementation law, which appears to give the president power to levy tariffs without congressional approval. If he abolishes NAFTA with Canada and Mexico, and enacts a 35 percent tax on Mexican goods, as he’s suggested, then many products could disappear from Oregon shelves—or just get really expensive. Those include avocados, limes, coffee and tomatoes.

“I don’t think it would be feasible to actually withdraw from NAFTA,” says Rossitza Wooster, a Portland State University economics professor who specializes in international trade. “Our economies are so well interrelated. If we all of a sudden change the relationship with that market, it’s not difficult to convince anyone that that will have huge implications for us.”

But if Trump does keep his promise, an increase in price is likely. “For the consumers at home,” Wooster says, “we’ll probably have less of the products, and by the law of supply and demand, they’ll be more expensive.” —SJ

Trump might place Muslims in internment camps. redtrumphat2

Trump’s Islamophobic claims have a historical precedent: the Japanese internment camps during wartime.

“The Japanese community were the first ones to reach out” after the election, says Laila Hajoo, director of the Islamic Social Services of Oregon State. “They said, ‘You people need to understand, we see this is a possibility for you because of what we suffered from.’ I was thinking, is history going to repeat itself? Are they going to feel justified for safety reasons to do what the Japanese Americans had to go through?”

Like Franklin D. Roosevelt, who enacted internment camps with an executive order in 1942, Trump would have the power to issue a similar order.  It would be subject to judicial review, and could be struck down if the courts determined it was unsupported by statute or the Constitution.

What’s more likely to happen, says Hajoo, is discrimination on personal levels—against Muslim women who wear head scarves, for example. According to a recent study from California State University, more hate crimes were recorded against Muslims in 2015 than in any year since 9/11. —SJ & PM

(William Gagan)
(William Gagan)

White supremacist groups will flourish. redtrumphat5

There’s no question that Trump’s victory has emboldened the white nationalist movement known as the “alt-right.” In fact, one of Trump’s first acts as president-elect was to appoint Stephen Bannon, who has given racist and anti-Semitic ideology a megaphone at Breitbart News, as his chief strategist.

“There should be no sugarcoating the truth here: Donald Trump just invited a white nationalist into the highest reaches of the government,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said Nov. 14. “Steve Bannon bears substantial responsibility for the open and disgusting acts of hatred that are sweeping across our nation.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports a spike in hate crimes since Election Day—more than 200 reported incidents nationwide in a week. In Portland, hate speech has been spotted this month at both Lake Oswego High School and Reed College, where racial epithets and a swastika were scrawled in the library Nov. 12.

“Of course we’re concerned about that,” says Bob Horenstein, director of community relations for the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland. “We always remind our community institutions to remain vigilant. As they say: If you see something, say something.” —AM

Trump will award Oregon’s top federal legal jobs to right-wingers. redtrumphat5

The state’s most powerful federal law enforcement official, the U.S. attorney for Oregon, gets his or her job through presidential appointment. The president relies on congressional recommendations both for the U.S. attorney and for federal judgeships, which are even more coveted because they carry lifetime appointments. “The plum jobs are federal judgeships,” says Kerry Tymchuk, former chief of state for U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.).

Traditionally, the president relies on members of Congress from his party to suggest candidates. That means U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, rather than Oregon’s Democratic U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, will likely shape Oregon’s federal legal appointments.

Current U.S. Attorney Billy Williams, an apolitical career prosecutor, got his job by default when Amanda Marshall resigned in 2015. Williams will probably stay on until a permanent U.S. attorney is appointed—and because the job is one of the biggest political prizes Republicans can bestow, he’s unlikely to keep the gig.

Perhaps more significantly, Trump gets a chance to appoint a successor to Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain, who is retiring from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the country’s largest, busiest—and most liberal—appeals panel. —NJ

(Christopher Onstott)
(Christopher Onstott)

Organized labor will be gutted by right-to-work laws. redtrumphat4

Organized labor dodged an artillery shell in March, when the U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association—a case aimed at slashing the power of public employee unions by allowing members to opt out of paying dues.

Joe Baessler, statewide political director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, expects Trump’s victory will give anti-union forces a second shot—and this time they won’t miss.

“We are a year away from a Supreme Court case that takes away our ability to operate like we do right now,” says Baessler.

One of the greatest powers a president wields is the naming of Supreme Court justices. Trump has said he plans to replace the late Antonin Scalia with another conservative, probably ensuring unions lose the next test case.

What might that mean for Oregon? Baessler points to two Midwestern states where unions got their wings clipped in recent years by state legislation curtailing union activity. Those states used to be solidly blue. “Look at Michigan and Wisconsin,” Baessler says. “They both supported Trump.” —NJ

Federal lands in Oregon will be lost to cattle grazing and strip mining. redtrumphat3

If Ammon Bundy’s occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge put conservationists on notice, President-elect Donald Trump’s victory has them on red alert.

The federal government owns 53 percent of Oregon, a higher percentage of federal ownership than in all but four states. On the campaign trail, Trump made ominous promises.

“We will allow energy production on federal lands in appropriate areas,” he said in a Sept. 15 speech to the New York Economic Club. “We will also open up vast areas of our offshore energy resources for safe production.”

That kind of talk scares conservation groups such as Oregon Wild. “This administration is going to provide the treasure trove for logging, mining, and oil and gas industries,” says Steve Pedery, Oregon Wild’s conservation director.

Timber companies, frustrated for decades at environmental protections that have sharply reduced timber harvests, are likely to push legislation reopening Oregon’s forests. Pedery says conservation groups have faced Republican presidents before and know how to mobilize support.

Yet the pet issue of the Bundy gang—turning federal lands over to the states—is unlikely to gain traction within a Trump administration. Trump was a rare Republican presidential hopeful who dismissed selling federal lands during the primary.

In January, the candidate told Field & Stream magazine he opposed it.

“I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great,” Trump said. “And you don’t know what the state is going to do. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble?”

Public lands have an unlikely champion in Trump’s inner circle: Donald Jr., an ardent hunter of elephants and other big game. “Donald Jr. has been very outspoken about his opposition to public lands privatization,” Pedery says. —NJ

Light-rail projects will be scrapped for a decade. redtrumphat4

Along with two mighty rivers and the view of Mount Hood, light rail defines the Portland metro area. Transit boosters had hoped the next extension would be a $2.5 billion line from Portland to Tigard.

Such projects require heavy federal funding—half or more. Under President Trump, such funding is unlikely to materialize.

Former Metro Council President David Bragdon, who now runs a New York advocacy group called TransitCenter, says the consensus in the transit world is Trump and the GOP-led Congress are likely to favor new highway projects in red states over urban train lines: “It would be a real stretch of optimism to expect this administration or this Congress to be anything other than antagonistic to transit.” —NJ

(Joe Riedl)
(Joe Riedl)

Intel will lose workers here on H-1B visas. redtrumphat4

Incoming first lady Melania Trump secured an H-1B visa—the kind typically offered to immigrants with specialty skills—to work as a fashion model. Trump’s companies sought more than 1,000 of the same visas for his own workers, The New York Times reported in August.

Over at Breitbart News—the springboard for Trump’s new chief White House strategist, Stephen Bannon—Intel takes a beating for using thousands of H-1B visas to fill temporary jobs for engineers.

Trump has pledged to curtail the use of H-1B visas in the hopes of forcing companies like Intel—Oregon’s largest private employer and one of the United States’ biggest users of H-1B visas—to first seek American-born workers.

“I remain totally committed to eliminating rampant, widespread H-1B abuse,” Trump wrote on his website in March. “I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program.”

William Moss, a spokesman for Intel, said the company wouldn’t comment on Trump’s stance. But past policy papers from Intel show the chipmaker believes strongly that its use of foreign workers boosts the U.S. economy through higher payroll taxes and the creation of additional jobs. —BS

Oregon will lose all influence in Washington, D.C. redtrumphat5

This state was no powerhouse in the nation’s capital under President Barack Obama. It’s about to get much worse.

Of our seven members of Congress, only one—U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.)—belongs to the party in power. Walden, just elected to his 10th term, has plenty of juice in his caucus: He just finished his second cycle chairing the National Republican Congressional Committee, a post from which he helped Republicans build their majority. He’s also reportedly close to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, a fellow former radio broadcaster.

But depending on Walden to generate pork is dicey because Oregon is small, far from the Beltway and still overwhelmingly blue. After the Nov. 8 election, Oregon is one of only six states still ruled by a Democratic trifecta—the governor and both legislative chambers.

“We will have much less influence than we have had before,” says former U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley (D-Ore.). “That’s just a reality.” —NJ

The U.S. Department of Justice will try to outlaw legal cannabis. redtrumphat

The power of states like Oregon to legalize cannabis essentially rests on a document from the U.S. Department of Justice called the Cole Memo. Issued in August 2013, the memo called for limiting federal prosecution of marijuana crimes in states where pot is legal. A memo is not strong legal grounds for a continued guarantee the feds won’t crack down, and leading candidates for Trump’s attorney general—including Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie—are no friends of cannabis.

But the new administration seems likely to stay out of our stash. Trump pledged on the campaign trail to let states decide this issue. It helps that marijuana has proved popular at the ballot box. Last week, California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine voters passed measures similar to Oregon’s on recreational use. It will soon be legal for nearly half of Americans to smoke up.

“It is obviously concerning,” U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) tells Marijuana Business Daily. “But…there were millions of Trump supporters who were part of this movement in the states that voted on [pro-cannabis ballot measures Nov. 8]. I do believe that the next administration will follow the policies of the Obama administration.” —RM

Trump will eliminate the U.S. Department of Education. redtrumphat2

Trump likes his federal agencies like his women: slim and compliant. And he’s characterized the U.S. Department of Education as fat and sloppy, with too many responsibilities that should be in the hands of local school boards.

But undoing the agency would take an act of Congress—a feat unlikely to attract enough Republican support to pass. —BS

(Joe Riedl)
(Joe Riedl)

FEMA will fail to respond in the event of a Cascadian megaquake because the West supported Clinton. redtrumphat2

Are we headed for another Katrina-style response if the Big One hits under the Trump administration? Or something worse? Trump has shown himself to be vindictive toward his political enemies—which Oregon clearly is. But the West Coast, even if it voted to soundly reject Trump, remains an economic powerhouse of our country. Observers of the Federal Emergency Management Agency say incompetence remains a bigger threat than spite.

“I’m not sure that even Donald Trump and Paul Ryan would deliberately fail to respond to an earthquake,” says City Commissioner Steve Novick, who has overseen part of Portland’s efforts to prepare for a Cascadian quake. “I would fear that the head of FEMA will be someone at least as unqualified as ‘heckuva job Brownie.’” —RM

Any progress on the Portland Harbor Superfund cleanup will be lost. redtrumphat4

After 16 years of study, cleanup of the polluted Portland Harbor is likely to be on hold again. Trump has even floated the possibility of abolishing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That’s the regulatory body enforcing the cleanup of the Portland Harbor.

The best-case scenario: Republican leadership no longer requires polluters to clean up after themselves, and offers them tax breaks as an incentive.

“This could not happen at a worse time,” says City Commissioner Nick Fish. “If they eliminate the EPA or replace it with a toothless tiger, it could put our Superfund process in limbo.”

Environmentalists are holding out hope that the EPA will issue its formal decision for harbor cleanup by the end of the year, but cleanup will still require consensus from the polluting companies, who have no reason to come to the table and every reason to battle this in court.

“We’re looking at an unprecedented assault on the framework of environmental laws that has been in place for years,” says Bob Sallinger, conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland. “A huge part of [Trump’s] four years will be fighting rollback of federal mandates. We’ll be looking for the Oregon [congressional] delegation to play a huge role in that.” —PM & RM

The Columbia River could become a freeway for fossil fuels. redtrumphat3

In recent years, environmental advocate Columbia Riverkeeper and its allies have waged a series of battles, mostly successful, against projects that would transport fossil fuels across Oregon.

The projects include a series of proposed coal export terminals, a propane terminal at the Port of Portland, and a dock in Vancouver, Wash., that would be the largest shipper of North Dakota crude oil. That crude would arrive on oil trains passing through the Columbia River Gorge—another mode of transportation opposed by Columbia Riverkeeper and its allies.

Under a Trump presidency, those battles will begin again.

“We are very concerned that the federal government will not comply with the laws that require protecting clean water and endangered species—or gut the laws that protect them,” says Brett VandenHeuvel, Columbia Riverkeeper’s executive director.

Government agencies—including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (which oversees pipelines), the U.S. Department of Transportation (trains), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (marine terminals)—have ultimate authority over whether fuels can travel to and through Oregon. Trump has pledged to eviscerate those agencies.

He says he “will reduce and eliminate all barriers to responsible energy production, creating at least a half million jobs a year, $30 billion in higher wages, and cheaper energy” and “unleash America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves.” —NJ

Violence against women could spike. redtrumphat5

The genital-grabbing president-elect’s behavior and campaign bluster has ignited concern that violence against women will soar.

“The fear of escalation of violence against women is very real,” says Erin Ellis, executive director of the Sexual Assault Resource Center in Beaverton. “When we have a national leader spewing such deplorable rhetoric around devaluing the status of women, we now set a new tone for our children around what is acceptable.”

The accusations of sexual harassment a dozen women have leveled against Trump, his dismissive response to them, and his boasting about his predatory tactics have lowered the bar for acceptable conduct and discourse.

“The campaign rhetoric is an open invitation to everyone that we no longer are practicing tolerance and acceptance and inclusion, and that women are valued on their appearance,” Ellis says. But she and others are ready to defend women’s safety.

“Our agency has been open for 40 years,” she says. “We are not going anywhere.” —SJ

(Will Corwin)
(Will Corwin)

Welcome to the 2016 Coffee Guide

We weren’t planning to end up at Anna Bannanas.

The power was out at our office because Portland Bagelworks had exploded. A sickly plume of smoke was still visible in the distance. So we held our weekly culture meeting in our favorite cafe on nearby Northwest 21st Avenue, where a Halloween skeleton was so well hidden behind a pillar it actually frightened you as you turned the corner.

And it was the best meeting we had all year—more productive, more convivial, more full of coffee refills and banana bread and mildly pornographic local art. Our baristas filled us in on news about the explosion that our own paper had reported. Hell, we liked it so much at Anna Bannanas, we had our next meeting there, too.

It was a reminder that Portland coffee culture isn’t just about austere minimalism and brand-new trends in half-crack, ultra-light roasting. Old-guard cafes like Anna Bannanas are places where the San Fran life-disruptor programming a righteous dogsitting app has to recognize she’s part of the same community as that guy who makes his own pants.

Just be good to your barista while you’re there. That “hipster service” you’re always complaining about might be your fault. And if you’re in need of some chill to figure that out, there are coffee-and-weed pairings.

A coffee town with Heart and Coava and Water Avenue has nothing left to prove—the coffee wars are over, and we won. In readers’ polls, Seattle’s favorite coffee is Stumptown. So now maybe all cafes don’t have to be third-wave churches anymore. If you secretly need daily affirmations from Dutch Bros., indulge your obsession. If you want to get whipped cream on your Americano, life’s your huckleberry.

So while we were impressed to discover just how good Five Points coffee roasting has gotten in the six years it’s been at it, we’re just as revved up about places devoted to providing a good place to hang, like a new sneakerhead cafe serving a LeBronald Palmer coffee drink, a coffee shop run by an ad firm that has crazy Thai-chile syrups, and, yes, a brick-and-mortar from stoked-on-life Oregon chain Dutch Bros.

Go ahead. Do it. Order your direct-trade, shade-grown, single-source espresso with whip. It’ll be good for your soul.


Welcome to the 2016 Coffee Guide
Our Favorite 11 New Roasters and Cafes in Portland
10 Reasons Your Barista Hates You
Five Essential Old Portland Cafes
The Guilty But Very Real Pleasure of McDonalds Coffee… and 7-Eleven
The Brave New World of Cannabis and Caffeine Pairings
A Starter Pack for Every Classic Portlander Who Frequents Coffee Shops
Here’s What Happened for Coffee in 2016
We Asked People at Northwest Portland Coffee Shops Where They Were From and What They Were Drinking

This Is Your Guide to the Future of Food in Portland

The Portland restaurant scene at the turn of the millennium is now, 16 years later, almost unrecognizable.

In the year 2000, Willamette Week’s Restaurant of the Year served mac and cheese and an “overdone” meatloaf sandwich. At downtown’s Mother’s Bistro—which named a mother of the week—our critic dined next to a guy who ate his meal with a nice, tall glass of milk who reminded her of a time before we knew about “pinot-noir-infused marionberries.”

Thank God, we now live in the post-pinot-noir-infused marionberry age.

This week, as we release our annual Restaurant Guide—look for it around town—we took a moment to ponder the future of Portland food.

Over the past 16 years, our food scene has ballooned from a meat-and-taters town punctuated by a few notables like Paley’s, Higgins and Zefiro to a seedbed for out-of-town chefs who’ve moved here to make their names and careers. The Feast festival has made this city an annual junket for national magazine writers eager to gush about our quaint food paradise.

Well, Portland food is about to change again. And in this issue, we’re looking at what the near future of food here might look like.

Portland is no longer a scrappy upstart with potential—and in part that means competition. Food carts long ago reached their saturation point, and with new construction rolling in, the pods are starting to close as often as they open. Restaurants were never a sure thing, but the market’s as tight as its ever been, and with new labor laws, we may have to get used to even very good restaurants dying young.

To prepare you, we talked to two restaurateurs whose restaurants closed right after we named them among the 100 best in the city, and visited others seeking fresh territory on our uncharted northern frontier.

Growing up also means we are becoming a true global food city, with seemingly every Japanese ramen outlet choosing Portland as its American launching point. And Portland is returning the favor by expanding all over the globe.

Meanwhile, some enterprising fishermen are taking the same farm-to-fork philosophy that put Portland on the map in the first place and applying it to fish—and in the process of mapping out a sustainable future for seafood they might be helping turn our almost-coastal river town into the seafood capital it’s never been but should be.

But if all goes wrong, and we’re stuck in a dystopian food-scarce future—which, by the way, we always have been—you can always live on futuristic substances that put all your nutritional needs in a little bottle. We did, anyway. And we sort of liked it.

The future is always exciting and scary. Portland food will be no different. Here’s your guide.

(Julie Showers)

Portland’s Food Scene Is Getting Cutthroat—We Talked to Two People Who Didn’t Make It

Our Food Critic Subsisted Mainly on Soylent for a Month, and He’d Probably Do It Again

Portland Restaurants Are Opening Outlets All Over the Globe—And Some of the World’s Finest Restaurants Are Coming Here

Vancouver Is the New Frontier for Two Ambitious Portland Restaurateurs

Two Major Innovations From Two Local Companies Are Changing the Way We Eat Fish In Portland

WW‘s Restaurant Guide 2016

Meet Two Portland Women Who Make Their Livings Talking About the Ultimate Taboo: Death

Jana DeCristofaro may have the toughest job in Portland. Each morning, she drives to a large Craftsman house a block off Southeast Foster Road, and goes to work among the dead.

To be precise, DeCristofaro makes her living talking to survivors: bereaved children and teenagers. She’s the director of children’s grief services at the Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families, a nationally renowned center for counseling kids in Southeast Portland’s Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood.

That means DeCristofaro, 42, spends much of her days starting the kinds of conversations most people scramble to avoid. She sits with children whose parents have recently died, and asks them what they miss most about their lost loved ones. She starts group conversations between grieving teenagers. And she advises parents about how to break the worst possible news to their kids.

DeCristofaro’s job is haunting and difficult. But it isn’t unique. When Casey Jarman began writing a book of interviews about people who have confronted death, he found many Portlanders who confront mortality on a daily basis.

“Call it exposure therapy,” Jarman writes. “If you have a fear of heights, spend some time in the mountains. If you’re scared of death, what can you do, short of dying? You can spend a year of your life talking about it.”

Jarman, co-founder of Party Damage Records and a former WW music editor, spoke to hospice workers, philosophers and Oregon’s former death-row executioner. His book, Death: An Oral History, comes out next week.

Among the people he interviewed are two Portland women whose job is digging in the roots of grief. In the following pages, excerpted from the much longer conversations in Jarman’s book, you’ll meet DeCristofaro and Holly Pruett, who arranges and officiates DIY memorial services.

These women confront on a daily basis the most basic and frightening fact of our existence: that it ends. But that’s just where these conversations start. —Aaron Mesh

GO: Casey Jarman talks to Jana DeCristofaro and Holly Pruett at Powell’s Books on Hawthorne, 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd., on Thursday, Oct. 27. 7:30 pm. Free.


Jana DeCristofaro

The Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families is a low-key place, despite its austere name.

One might expect a woman with the title of coordinator of children’s grief services to be relentlessly serious or walk on eggshells. Jana DeCristofaro, though, is unfussy and direct.

This is a place where people come to talk. Kids talk to other kids. Teens talk to other teens. Parents talk to parents. Some of that talking is about death—the center helps people who have lost parents and siblings—and some of it is just talking. More than 30,000 children and teens have taken advantage of the Dougy Center’s services since it opened in 1982, and DeCristofaro has talked, laughed and cried with a lot of them in the past 15 years.

I graduated with my Master of Social Work degree in 2001. I got a job doing research, and over the course of the year, I was feeling very unfulfilled with that work. A friend of mine was like, “You know, you should check out this place. I don’t know, it’s called the Doughy Center or Dooey Center? There are kids who go there, they’re sad. They have teddy bears and they cry.”

I was like, “What are you talking about?”

I looked them up, and they were having volunteer training a few weeks later. Our volunteer trainings tend to have really long waitlists, but I happened to write in just after somebody had canceled. They invited me to come to the training. It was held at a small building in North Portland. It was dark and gloomy, in a basement, and we were all squished in there, sitting on colored pillows. I thought, “What have I gotten myself into?”

The Dougy Center was the first program in the country—I think the world, too—to start working with grieving kids in a peer support model. The whole idea is bringing kids together of a similar age who have a common experience of the death of a parent, sibling, primary caregiver, or—in the case of teens—a close friend or a cousin.

We have over 30 groups for kids and teens that are split up by ages: 3 to 5, 4 to 8, 6 to 12, 11 to 14, and 13 to 18.

The Dougy Center was started by a woman named Bev Chappell. She’d had a long-standing connection with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a pioneer of the death and dying field back in the ’60s and ’70s. A 13-year-old boy named Dougy Turno, who had an inoperable brain tumor, wrote to Kübler-Ross and said, basically, “Hey, how come kids get cancer? And why do we die?” She wrote him back, and it was a long, colorful, illustrated response.

In the late ’70s, Dougy came to Portland for some experimental treatment, so Elisabeth reached out to Bev Chappell, who lived here, and was like, “Hey, would you meet up with the family, help them get settled?” Bev did that, and she started visiting Dougy at the hospital. She looked around and noticed that, one, the medical community was not down with telling kids what was going on. Because back in the day, the approach was not to tell them.

But Bev hung out with them long enough to realize that the kids knew. She heard them talking to each other and starting conversations about things like: Do you think you’re going to live long enough to go to prom? Have you kissed a girl? Do you think you’ll get a chance to do that? What do you think it’s like where we’re going? You know, all the stuff that the kids talk about in group. They were doing it without adults facilitating the conversations.

That’s where she got the idea to start a center. She hosted the first group in her basement, and I think there were four boys who came to that group, and from there it has just grown. She’s still around. She lives in East Portland, and was just at our benefit gala a couple of weeks ago. Now we have 500 children and teens coming through the doors every month at three locations.

When the teens first come in, you can often tell they do not want to be here. I’m like, “Anyone willing to admit you’ve been dragged here against your will?” In this last orientation, all five teens raised their hands. I was like, “Wow, I’ve got my work cut out for me.” But just acknowledging that, it opens up the energy in the room in such a dramatic way. I tell them, “I’m not here to convince you. I won’t take it personally if you decide not to come back. My job is to try and show you everything, what we are and what we’re not.”

It doesn’t work too well to force people to talk about this stuff against their will. One time, I asked a teen group, “How many people got something for coming to the Dougy Center?” It was like, “Yeah, I got out of school.” One kid said, “I got a new MacBook.” Everyone was like, “Damn it! We should have asked for more.” I thought I was going to start a revolt. It doesn’t take long, though, for most of them to realize we aren’t in the business of making them do, say, or think anything. They get comfortable being with other grieving teens pretty quickly.

Once I had a group of teens talking about how the death they experienced has affected what they wanted to do with their lives in the future. Many of them were like, “I want to honor my parents by going to their alma mater,” or “I really want to become a nurse because the nurses helped my brother so much when he was sick.”

There were a lot of those sort of more expected answers, and then there were some kids who said, “I hate doing well at things now. I actually don’t want to do well. I don’t want to have any success with my life, because to do it without my person there is too devastating. I’d rather feel like I haven’t done anything.” I thought, “Wow, what a hole to be in.” I never considered that moving forward without this person and having success could mean leaving them behind. That really opened my mind.

Anytime somebody says something that surprises me, I always try to remember that there could be someone else in the group going through something similar. My job as a group facilitator, if I’m doing a good job at it, is to speak to what’s not being spoken about in the group. Many times there’s a sense of, “Yeah, yeah, we all know this is true.” And I ask, “Who’s had an opposite experience?”

With the younger kids, I think about one boy in particular. We sat quietly and we were talking, and he had so many questions—not for me, necessarily, just questions. He was talking about how it didn’t make any sense to him. His mom had died, and he was like, “You know, people say that when your person dies, they are looking out for you, they are watching you from above, and making sure everything’s OK. Our roof sprung a leak last night, and, I don’t know, don’t you think my mom in heaven looking out for me would make sure the roof didn’t do that?”

I was like, “Hmm. That’s a really interesting question. What do you think?” And then it just went on. We talked for 20 minutes. There were so many questions this little boy was really wrestling with—answers he’d been given from adults in his life that were very black and white. He was like, “That doesn’t make any sense to me.” He wasn’t having an opportunity to really muck around in the gray areas. “Well, they say when somebody goes to heaven, they never look back because they’re so happy to be in heaven, but don’t you think if you were a mom, you’d miss your kids?” Here’s a little boy thinking his mom doesn’t miss him.

That was really powerful for me because oftentimes we think that, developmentally, these kids are concrete thinkers and we tell them concrete answers. But many times they are very wise and have some really deep philosophical questions.

One little kid, their person had died by suicide, and they were like, “I’m just so worried. I hear when people die by suicide, they go…” and he pointed down to the ground with his finger. He’s like, “But I really think they went…” and he pointed up. Just for him to be able to say, “This doesn’t work for me,” was pretty amazing.

Some people will ask, “Do you have a really hard time now? Thinking that everyone’s going to die?” I tell them I’ve always had that. Long before I started working here. Working here just solidified my anxiety a bit, and perhaps enhanced it.

I also accept the fact that when I go anywhere, I always have at least two or three stories about how someone has died doing what I’m about to do. That just happens—it’s just the way it is. Like, this river is so beautiful, but there was that brother who fell off that rock over there, and then there was the guy who went mountain biking and hit a pothole and cracked his head open. But I came that way before I even had this job. My mom’s been like that my whole life: “Don’t do that, you’ll die.” I already know all the ways you could die, but now I have particular stories that match up with them. I have to spend a lot of time being, like, “Yes, and we’re going to still do that.”


Holly Pruett

Holly Pruett officiates ceremonies from cradle to grave—think baby blessings, weddings, retirement rituals, and so on—but her interest in funeral rites has made her one of the central figures of Portland’s burgeoning DIY death scene. She went into business for herself after two decades as a political consultant and public relations director. (Her résumé includes helping form Basic Rights Oregon.)

I have always looked at cherished social conventions like weddings and funerals as old-fashioned relics. But I never spent much time thinking about what, if anything, they should be replaced with. That’s Pruett’s line of work. She is a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant, and while that term may elicit images of tree people wearing white dresses and daisy chains praising “the goddess,” Pruett is clear-eyed about the need for ritual in our lives.

A friend read in People magazine about a burial ground in South Carolina called Ramsey Creek Preserve, [where] people were buried in a natural wooded setting.

My friend thought, “If this is in People magazine, and it’s happening in South Carolina, why is it not happening in Oregon, the so-called green sustainability capital?”

When we got in touch with the national Green Burial Council, they said, “You know, there’s somebody else who’s expressed interest in your town.” It happened to be a woman who was a Life-Cycle Celebrant. I got together with her and asked, “What’s a Life-Cycle Celebrant?” When she described it, I was like, “Whoa.” It seemed to be a convergence of many of the things that I was interested in.

When I explain to people what a Life-Cycle Celebrant is, I often say it’s like a secular clergy person. Because not only can I officiate weddings—and, technically, I do have clerical credentials to do that—but I am there for people in the process of figuring out what ceremonies they need in their life.

Somewhere around that time, I realized that the most common form of human memorial, among a lot of people I’d come across, was no memorial. I slowly started to recognize that I was in a position to address some of this cultural vacuum.

All of the needs that organized religion and social rituals used to serve are still with us. It’s just that a lot of those forms have become archaic. Funerals are just a bad brand. A funeral director once said to me, “In the funeral chapel, you’ll often see a man gripping his wife’s arm, saying, ‘Don’t you dare waste our money on something like that for me.’” Because they see a retired clergy person mispronouncing the name of their best friend, and it’s like, what’s the point?

I’m coming to see that one of the most powerful roles I serve is that I’m typically the first person to meet the deceased after they’ve died.

I’m not a medium working metaphysically, but I am leading their loved ones through the memories and through the presence that is evoked through their stuff—a quilt they made, the letters they wrote, their emails, the impact that they had on others. Their legacy can be so much clearer to me, in a sense, because I’m coming to it fresh.

I hear things like, “I felt closer to my mother during the process of working with you than I did in the last months or years of her life.” Perhaps she was suffering from dementia. They’ve gone through their mom being sick and dying, and it’s still very raw, a very painful thing. Then they revisit, with me, the stories of their mom’s early life and how she became who she really was, and how everyone else saw her. It’s healing.

In one ceremony, the client generated a list of words—associations that reminded her of her mom. We printed them out on these really nice, blank business cards. We put them in one of her mom’s pocketbooks. She was a really sharp dresser and always known for having a pocketbook. During the memorial, a large family gathering, we passed the pocketbook around. Each person pulled out a card, and that word—in connection to that physical object—evoked her presence.

I met a young woman in her 30s who was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. She hired me to help put together her death plan. She wanted to spare her husband as many decisions as possible. I created a lengthy questionnaire for her to use to clarify her wishes. Some things were clear—like, she wanted to be cremated—some things weren’t.

Do you want to put together the playlist for the music at your memorial, or choose the food, or do you not want to? Are you planning a party, or is it more like this or that person should speak? I always say, with these planning questionnaires, just respond to those questions that really resonate with you. None of it is mandatory.

She was like, “How can I possibly answer these questions on my own?” She brought together her 10 closest friends from various parts of her life, told them there’d be pizza, and they talked about death. She selected a subset of my questions and invited me to observe.

What was phenomenal was that most of these friends hadn’t met each other. They were from different parts of her life. Very easily, the first time that they could have met would have been at her memorial or at her deathbed. Of course, they are all very bereaved about her diagnosis and her living with this, but societally, what kind of permission is there to talk about that and for her to say, “OK, I know I’m going to die, and I need you all to help me talk about that and to tell me what you think happens after we die?” It became, “I don’t know what I think, what do you think?”

It was like they were starting to do a workout together, you know? Because they’re going to have to train to hold this grief together for her.

My life has become heavily engaged in conversations about dying, death and grief. In my personal life, I’m at an age where many people who I personally care about are sick or dying, or coming to me with their bereavement. Of course, I have a professional practice of assisting people in memorials and home funerals. At times, I think, “What have I done to my life?”

This interest in rekindling ceremony could be the start of something much bigger, or it could easily become another self-help program. You can buy kits online for your divorce party—so much ritual has already been commodified. Think about a baby shower: How do you mark a baby coming or a wedding? It’s become all about the stuff that you buy, or these silly, giddy, frivolous activities. What about this threshold that these people are about to cross?

Most of us aren’t living in a way that says, “I belong to the world, the world needs me.” If we don’t celebrate people’s death, then they never really belonged to the bigger story.

Portland Needs to Build Thousands of Affordable Apartments. Here’s Why It Keeps Coming Up Short.

If there’s anything Portlanders can agree on in a fractious election year, it’s that residents of this city—especially those with low incomes—need more housing.

That’s why a ribbon-cutting ceremony held this summer at one of downtown’s stateliest apartment buildings felt like Christmas in July.

In a sun-dappled courtyard, City Commissioner Dan Saltzman basked in the applause of developers and dozens of residents.

The crowd was celebrating the reopening of the Bronaugh, a 50-unit apartment building at Southwest 14th Avenue and Morrison Street. The city had financed REACH Community Development’s $14.65 million purchase and renovation of the building to house those who make less than $15,400 a year.

“In Portland, we strongly believe that downtown should be a place where people of all incomes can live,” Saltzman said.

Not up for discussion that day: Whether the city had gotten the most housing possible for its investment.

The renovation of those 50 apartments had cost $514 per square foot. That’s twice as much as the new construction of market-rate apartments springing up all over the inner eastside without public subsidy.

In other words, the city could have built 100 new units for the amount of money it spent restoring 50.

Today, state and city elected officials are rushing to respond to Portland’s housing crisis. Salem will consider aggressive legislation next year. And the City Council voted in June to put on the November ballot a first-of-its-kind, $258 million housing bond for Portland.

The quarter-billion dollars would be in addition to the record $153 million the Portland Housing Bureau will spend this year to help find or build housing for low-income Portlanders.

Dozens of interviews and an examination of bid documents, contracts and other public records reveal patterns in that spending. First, although Portland has deployed enormous resources to house people, city officials have paid little attention to delivering the most housing for the money spent.

And second—rather than private, for-profit developers, those benefiting from the city’s largesse are nonprofits.

“The Housing Bureau isn’t interested in economic efficiency or helping the greatest number of tenants,” says Portland State University professor Gerard Mildner, who once served on the board of REACH, the Bronaugh redeveloper. “They are trying to help a constituent community of nonprofits and advocates.”

Housing Bureau documents are clear: “Increasing the availability of affordable rental housing is priority one.”

In the past decade, the Housing Bureau has spent $735 million. The city doesn’t have annual figures on how many units it created during that time—but government-subsidized housing in Portland increased over the past 10 years by 9,363 units.

If increasing the supply of affordable housing were in fact the top priority, by one calculation the bureau could have added at least 1,000 additional units—enough to house as many as half the people currently sleeping on the city’s streets. (See “How to Build 1,000 Units,” below.)

“Our government is so caught up in efforts to appease so many interests that they step right over that guy on the sidewalk to accomplish other goals,” says Tom Brenneke, who develops market-rate and affordable housing. “We’ve spent a ton on homelessness and haven’t moved the needle.”

Bronaugh Apartments
Bronaugh Apartments (Joe Riedl)

Last year, housing developer Rob Justus presented Portland Mayor Charlie Hales with a proposal: If the city could come up with $20 million, Justus could combine it with other financing to produce 1,000 units of new, low-income housing.

The approach of Justus’ company, Home First Development, offered a partial solution to the worsening housing crunch. Hales praised Home First in his 2015 State of the City address.

“They’re not building Cadillac spaces, but building small, quickly and well,” Hales said. “We need these types of creative solutions because we need housing stock now.”

Blunt and intense, Justus is a veteran of the city’s struggle to address homelessness. He founded a nonprofit called JOIN in 1991 and spent the next 16 years helping people living on the street find housing.

Justus became a housing developer in 2007. “I was frustrated with what wasn’t happening,” he says. “There just weren’t enough units being built.”

Home First Development has now built 213 apartments, with 207 under construction, but the company still doesn’t have an office. Justus holds meetings in coffee shops and at the Green Dragon pub on Southeast 9th Avenue.

Justus says after Hales’ speech, communication from the mayor’s office stopped. A Hales aide, Jillian Detweiler, says the city approached two charitable foundations about funding Justus’ idea but couldn’t pull together the money.

Dave Carboneau and Rob Justus of Home First
Dave Carboneau and Rob Justus (right) of Home First

Fast-forward 18 months. The City Council is now asking voters for $258 million to build, buy or renovate 1,300 units. That’s nearly $200,000 of public money per unit—10 times the subsidy Home First requested.

That cost difference may seem like a misprint. But Justus says it’s characteristic of the city’s approach.

“The focus of the affordable-housing industry in Portland has not been on serving people,” he says. “The industry and the funders have not looked at efficiency—they’ve done ‘cool’ projects with lots of expensive bells and whistles.”

The Housing Bureau was created in 2009 at the urging of City Commissioner Nick Fish. From the day he won election in 2008, Fish pushed to combine all of the city’s housing efforts in one place—and to beef up funding. He succeeded on both fronts.

Fish rejects Justus’ criticism of the Housing Bureau. He says Home First Development performs an important function but does so on projects of lower quality and less durability far from the central city.

Fish says focusing on low costs is “penny-wise and pound-foolish.”

“You could reduce the expense of our projects—but at what cost?” Fish says. “We do high-quality work in neighborhoods where people want to live. I’m not going to compromise on those values—we should celebrate them.”

City Commissioner Nick Fish (center left) in the St. Johns Parade. (Courtesy of Multnomah County)
City Commissioner Nick Fish (center left) in the St. Johns Parade. (Courtesy of Multnomah County)

“Affordable housing” is publicly subsidized and usually built by developers who agree to limit rents in exchange for public financing. In Portland, as in many cities, developers rather than the Housing Bureau own the finished buildings.

Affordable-housing units constitute 13,000 of the 250,000 households in Portland: about 5 percent.

The Housing Bureau has spent an average of $73.5 million annually in the past decade on housing and homeless services. Much of the money has gone to nonprofit developers such as Home Forward (formerly the Housing Authority of Portland), Central City Concern, and REACH Community Development. (Some of the Housing Bureau’s spending goes to shelters, rent subsidies, foreclosure avoidance and programs other than construction.)

Unlike public services such as police, parks and streets, which are available to everybody, housing dollars are rationed. City officials say there is a shortage of 25,000 affordable-housing units in Portland.

“There are many more people who are eligible for subsidized housing than can be served,” says Mildner, the PSU professor.

That scarcity raises the stakes for how the city spends its affordable-housing funds. Given the shortage of affordable units, you might expect the city to try to build the greatest number of apartments for available money by awarding funds to the lowest bidder.

In fact, the opposite often happens: The city shows little regard for the cost per square foot of publicly subsidized housing.

Even beyond safety and design requirements, the projects the city subsidizes often include an array of expensive features—high-end architects, wraparound social services, and LEED Platinum environmental certification—to help win funding competitions that are effectively beauty contests.

Here’s how a 2015 report from the Meyer Memorial Trust examining the cost of affordable housing diagnosed the problem:

“There is pressure to bring in design ideas that go above and beyond the simplest, most basic housing,” the report said. “This pursuit of additional points tends to drive up costs in the absence of strong incentive for cost efficiency.”

Greenview Terrace (Courtesy Cascade Management)
Greenview Terrace (Courtesy Cascade Management)

Part of the reason the Housing Bureau’s deals deliver fewer apartments than might be possible is that the bureau regularly violates its own guidelines for keeping costs low.

Consider Greenview Terrace, a 31-unit project at Southeast 148th Avenue, just south of Stark Street.

The Housing Bureau often loans money to nonprofits to build affordable housing. The loan is interest-free and has no repayment schedule—it is, in effect, a gift. That was the arrangement with Rose Community Development, which in 2013 purchased and renovated Greenview Terrace. (Established in 1991, Rose owns 331 apartment units in outer-Southeast Portland and has a $2.6 million budget.)

City guidelines limit Housing Bureau loans to 100 percent of appraised value. Records show, however, that the bureau loaned Rose $2.82 million for Greenview Terrace, almost three times the project’s appraised value.

Rose used the money to rehab Greenview Terrace, but at the end of the project, rent restrictions made its value a fraction of the city’s investment. Financial projections show Rose is unlikely to pay back the loan.

Rose acquired and renovated Greenview Terrace for $172,000 a unit, twice what Justus was spending to build a new project at the time in a nearby neighborhood. And contrary to city guidelines, which require developers to use their own money to invest at least 2 percent of a project’s value, Rose did not spend a dime of its own money on the project.

Housing Bureau director Kurt Creager, who arrived in 2015, says he is tightening the rules. Rose executive director Nick Sauvie says very low tenant incomes required the large subsidy.

The beneficiaries of the city’s generous subsidies are almost always, like Rose, nonprofit developers.

In the past two years, the city has agreed to put $61 million into 13 affordable-housing projects. All but one of them are being developed by nonprofits. Only $4.5 million of the $61 million is going to a for-profit developer.

To his credit, City Commissioner Saltzman, who oversees the Housing Bureau, in 2014 implemented maximum-cost-per-unit standards for projects financed by the city. (According to standards, one-bedroom apartments should cost less than $243,750, and two-bedroom units less than $337,000.)

The problem is, the limits don’t necessarily mean anything.

This year, for instance, the Housing Bureau and Saltzman awarded Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives the funds to develop a project on land near the intersection of Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Rosa Parks Way, even though it included fewer units and required more subsidy per unit than a competing project.

PCRI, which manages 700 units of affordable housing, has struggled financially. In 2013, records show, the city gave PCRI an $8 million bailout.

PCRI’s cost for the current project will be $335,000 per unit—about twice the cost of typical new market-rate developments on the eastside, and above the maximum costs allowed by city guidelines. Yet it won funding anyway. (Saltzman told The Oregonian last week that he reversed the decision in response to concerns from PCRI and black community leaders.)

Saltzman acknowledges the Housing Bureau has put other priorities ahead of efficiency. “We haven’t paid a lot of attention to costs in the past,” he says. “We need to do better.”

The Housing Bureau’s willingness to bend its own rules when doing business with Rose Community Development and PCRI is evidence of the significant influence nonprofit developers exert at City Hall.

When the city solicits proposals from developers, panels of city and county officials make recommendations. The written comment of a panel member about the challenges faced by a developer competing with PCRI was telling: “For-profit developer,” the panelist wrote as a criticism, records show.

Creager acknowledges that nonprofit housing developers wield substantial clout at City Hall. “They all have boards, and all the boards are politically connected,” he says. “That’s about 350 politically connected people associated with them.”

Portland Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman (Courtesy of Multnomah County
Portland Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman (Courtesy of Multnomah County)

In addition to funding new apartments, the Housing Bureau spends heavily to renovate existing buildings.

Of the 901 affordable-housing units the city agreed to fund this year, only 646 will actually be new units—apartments that don’t currently exist. The rest are existing units that will be renovated. (The proposed bond has a similar structure: Only about 975 of the planned 1,300 units will be new construction.)

That sometimes makes sense because all buildings eventually need renovation. But records show that rather than financing construction or purchasing relatively inexpensive buildings, the city has poured money into buildings that are small, old and located in the most expensive parts of Portland.

In 2008, the City Council voted to renovate 11 affordable-housing properties in the central city by 2013 to preserve aging buildings and the federal rent subsidies attached to them.

“If we hadn’t stepped in, those units would all be condos today,” Fish says. “Instead, we preserved 700 deeply affordable units in the most desirable parts of the city for 60 years.”

From 2013 to 2015, the city subsidized the completion of just 773 new units, while renovating 638 units.

One current city-financed renovation deal with an eye-catching price tag is Central City Concern’s renovation of downtown’s Henry Building.

The Henry consists of 153 studio apartments of 150 square feet each, with shared bathrooms. It serves people who make far less than 30 percent of median family income.

The Henry will soon undergo a top-to-bottom rehab that will cost nearly $1,000 per square foot of actual living space—four times the cost of new development.

Records show a panelist in the city’s recent affordable-housing funding decision said the project made no sense.

“It is more expensive to rehab this building than it would be to build a new building,” the panelist said.

Sean Hubert, Central City Concern’s housing director, says seismic repair accounts for much of the cost. He says at-risk residents would be difficult to relocate if Central City were to sell the building.

“What we’re doing is cost-effective,” Hubert says.

Critics say renovations are often inefficient.

“Rehabs eat up too much money,” says Tom Kemper, a longtime developer of affordable housing in Portland who now runs Housing Works, a Central Oregon public-housing agency. “That’s a really significant issue.”

Dan Valliere, executive director of REACH Community Development, which renovated the Bronaugh and manages more than 2,000 units of affordable housing, says critics miss the maze of expensive state and city requirements, spiraling costs and challenging tenants.

“How can we make affordable housing more efficient? That’s the right question,” Valliere says. “But what we do is really frickin’ hard, and it’s not valued.”

The Henry (Joe Riedl)
The Henry (Joe Riedl)

The $258 million general obligation bond measure city officials put on the November ballot contains no cost-containment measures. But it is a change from the status quo.

It’s even less cost-effective.

Currently, developers combine city subsidies with money from the state and other sources to fund their projects. Every city dollar leverages as many as five outside dollars.

But the Oregon Constitution limits the use of general obligation bonds in a way that requires the city to own 100 percent of the projects built with bond money. That restriction means the city cannot leverage outside funding with the bond.

That’s why the city is budgeting nearly $200,000 in bond money per unit, far more of a subsidy than it spends on current projects.

On Sept. 19, Denver, facing a housing crunch similar to Portland’s, approved a $150 million tax increase that will generate or preserve 6,000 units of affordable housing. That’s $25,000 a unit.

Justus declined to comment on Portland’s bond. He’s busy working on a project in Bend, where, unlike in Portland, the public-housing agency welcomed him.

Fish is no longer Portland’s housing commissioner, but he’s spending every spare moment raising money for the bond.

“It’s not a perfect vehicle,” Fish says, “but it will make a difference.”

People classified as homeless on Portland’s streets—at least 3,801 by last count, but probably a lot more—are banking on the city spending the money wisely.

Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler says that must happen.

“You can’t just declare a housing emergency and keep doing the same thing,” Wheeler says. “We’ve added a lot of programs to affordable housing that may be socially desirable. But when the goal is to create the maximum number of new doors, we have to reduce costs and get more supply on the market as quickly as possible.”


The Wages of Fear

REACH Community Development director Dan Valliere and other nonprofit developers say the best way to save on housing is scrapping a state law requiring payment of commercial-scale union wages for most affordable-housing projects.

“Lowering the cost of construction would be big,” Valliere says.

That wage law arose from a dispute a decade ago between the city of Portland and trade-union workers. But the political giveaway was so rich that the union leader who won it tried to give it back.

Bob Shiprack, head of the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council and the man who led the fight for union wages on publicly funded commercial projects, told WW in 2008 it was never his intention that affordable-housing projects pay commercial-scale union wages, a decision he called “illogical.”

House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) is pursuing a variety of housing reforms, including rent control. But not this one.

“While labor contributes to the costs of a project,” she said in a statement, “I don’t believe the prevailing wage is the major cost driver.” —NJ

Hacidenda CDC headquarters
Hacienda CDC headquarters (Joe Riedl)

No Housing in Hacienda

The new headquarters of the Hacienda Community Development Corporation in Northeast Portland is a 11,200-square-foot, concrete-and-glass building with offices for the nonprofit’s employees.

It was completed last year with a $2.4 million Housing Bureau loan. City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who oversees the Housing Bureau, initially rejected the request because it conflicted with a 2009 council ordinance that dedicated the requested funds to “affordable-housing projects that meet citywide housing-preservation policy goals.”

City Commissioner Nick Fish and other Hacienda supporters pushed for the loan. Fish says the city policy was ambiguous and the funds could have been forfeited if they weren’t allocated to Hacienda. “We had the opportunity to put the money to good use when nothing else was getting done,” Fish says.

Under pressure from Hacienda’s allies, Saltzman changed his mind. “I relented on the basis that the money will be repaid,” he says.

The office building does not include a single unit of housing.—NJ


How to Build 1,000 Units

Observers offer divergent estimates of how many apartments the city of Portland could finance if its goal were producing the most units for the lowest cost.

Home First Development’s Rob Justus says the city could build for half the cost. Portland State University professor Gerard Mildner says the city could save one-third of the cost. City Commissioner Nick Fish says it might save 15 percent, although he thinks that would sacrifice housing durability and city priorities.

Let’s be conservative and say it’s 10 percent. In the past decade, the Housing Bureau spent $735 million. Ten percent of that is $73.5 million.

In April, the Housing Bureau said it would generate 901 affordable-housing units from a city investment of $47 million. It was able to do so because housing developers leveraged the city’s contribution, generating a unit for each $52,000 of subsidy. If the city were to leverage the 10 percent savings—$73.5 million—in similar fashion, it could have generated 1,394 additional units.—NJ

Happy Hour is Portland’s Day-Drunk, Cheap-Eating Sweet Spot

I  once lived in a place where happy hour was against the law. It was awful. In a maybe noble effort to avoid after-work drunks on the highway, Illinois banned all by-the-hour booze discounts. The bars of Chicago were ghost towns in summer sun, and desolate holes on winter afternoons. If you drank, you drank with angry bike messengers.

Well, Chicago—you’ve got good improv and great hot dogs, but your afternoons were tragic. (Illinois just reinstated the freedom of happy hour last year, and there was much rejoicing.)

Happy hour is Portland’s sweet spot. We are a day-drunk and cheap-eating town more than any place I’ve ever lived—a city full of spoiled cheapskates who’ve gotten used to eating $5 double-stacked burgers doused in brie, $2 cocktail menus at bars that have hired Stephen Malkmus as a DJ or $6.50 world-beating, scratch-made nachos as large as many house pets.

For this Happy Hour Guide, we compiled our list of the 100 food and drink deals we believe will truly make your afternoons and late nights better than anything in an entire state governed by Rod Blagojevich.

Do the pages of Bon Appétit stick together with your tears because you can’t eat fine dining on a coffee-shop salary? No problem. Both early and late, our 2015 Restaurant of the Year offers achingly good $4 pâté and $5 Vieux Carré taptails that taste like the beginning of the best Louisiana bender ever. Our 2014 winner throws down $5 mussel plates and transcendent house-infused vodkas at $3 a shot.

Don’t give a crap about fancy? You’re also covered. For each quadrant of the city, we’ve listed all the places we could find with beers under $2. Can’t get out of work at normal happy-hour times? Well, it’s always happy hour somewhere. And we also offers a list of happy-day food-and-beer specials that sometimes put happy hours to shame.

Times are tight, and with Trump looming like the Death Star, we’ve got plenty of reasons to drink.


Welcome to the 2016 Happy Hour Guide

SW Portland Happy Hours | SE Portland Happy Hours  | N/NE Portland Happy Hours | NW Portland Happy Hours

Ridiculously Cheap Deals for Every Day of the Week: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday SaturdaySunday

32 Places to Get a Beer for Less Than $2

 Top 5 Happy Hour Burgers Under $5

Strip Club Happy Hours

 Five Cocktails You Can Get For $5 Or Less

 Here’s Where to Get Happy Hour Deals All Day—From 7-1 AM

 Five Ways to do Happy Hour Nachos

 Where to Get the Best Happy Hour Oysters

I Moved to the Edge of Portland to Help Refugees. But They Can’t Afford to Live Here Anymore.

A white supremacist killed a teenager with a car across the street from where I live.

The 7-Eleven is busy at all hours, a steady stream of people. A month ago there was a fight in the 7-Eleven parking lot, and a man recently out of prison hopped in his car and used it to run over a black 19-year-old named Larnell Malik Bruce. A makeshift memorial went up. My 6-year-old daughter saw the messages as we walked past, and I had to explain to her what they meant. A young man was killed in anger, I said, and it’s OK to be sad.

My children play in the courtyard of my apartment complex, a maze of beige, two-story buildings. Some nights, loud bangs puncture the quiet—you never know if you are hearing fireworks or gunshots. The MAX station a block away plays classical music after dark to lower the rate of loitering and assaults.

I live in Rockwood, at Southeast 188th Avenue and East Burnside Street.

And the rent is going up.

This is one of the last affordable places left at the edge of Portland—and one of the first places where people arriving from war zones live when they come to America.

One of my neighbors, Shafi, works at the 7-Eleven. He is a refugee from Afghanistan, and he has lived here for almost two years. He has already been robbed at gunpoint twice while working. Shafi was behind the counter when Bruce was run over by the car. Shafi’s wife is one of my good friends here. She always cooks food for me and invites me into their apartment. Their son, almost 2 and very energetic, loves to bang on my sliding glass door, often wearing a T-shirt with an American flag that reads “United States of Awesome.”

I talked to Shafi a few days ago, and he told me his family will most likely be moving this month.

Why? They have many reasons. His wife is allergic, both to the mold in their apartment and to the trees and pollen outside. They know people in Georgia, and the rent will be cheaper there. They “are out of options” in Portland.

They can no longer afford to live at 188th and Burnside.

Lots of people in Portland are feeling the squeeze of rising rent. If you are a barista or a bartender or an artist, you might be moving farther out to the edges of the city, in search of a way to make it livable. You might, soon enough, come and live in Rockwood. This is what developers and landlords are hoping.

But it is also what will make it unaffordable for people with the lowest incomes. That includes refugees—my neighbors, who are trying to rebuild their lives in a new country.

Related: Meet the refugees who have become the newest Portlanders.

At night, I sit in the courtyard of my apartment building. I think about this neighborhood, and all the contradictions in it. I think about how much I adore the tacos and the views of Mount Hood and the once-cheap rent. But mostly these days, I can’t help but think about how I am a part of the problem.

The author, D.L. Mayfield, with her son Ransom. She recently published her first book, Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith. (Joe Riedl)
The author, D.L. Mayfield, with her son Ransom. She recently published her first book, Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith. (Joe Riedl)

I moved to this place because I thought I could make a difference.

For years, my husband and I have lived and worked within refugee communities, mostly in Portland. Born and raised an evangelical Christian, I went to Bible college to become a missionary and started volunteering with refugees, mostly from East Africa. Slowly I realized I didn’t want to convert anyone to Western evangelicalism. I still believe in Jesus, but my work shifted toward a new mission: helping our refugee friends and neighbors navigate the complexities of life in America.

Eventually we joined a nonprofit that works in low-income communities and moved to Minneapolis for three years of training and experience. When we moved back to Portland last July, our city seemed unrecognizable. Where we used to live—close to inner Southeast Division Street—was now block after block of boutiques and high-end apartments, fried chicken and biscuits and expensive boots, $4 coffee sipped by people who looked and acted and dressed all the same.

Also, we couldn’t afford to live there anymore.

Related: Portland, I love you, but you’re forcing me out.

Accustomed to diversity and broke after a cross-country move, we applied to live at Barberry Village, just outside Portland city limits at the far western end of Gresham. We had heard the complex was home to many refugees. We wanted to live among people who were different from us, and help them adjust to life in a new country. Barberry was just what we had in mind.

A few years ago, in 2010 and 2011, new managers came to Barberry Village and discovered an excellent strategy for finding consistent, responsible tenants for a historically troubled area: working with resettlement agencies to rent to recently arrived refugee families.

The strategy worked. Barberry, which had been infamous to local police, saw a dramatic decrease in both police calls and vacancies. Police showed up at the building more than once a day, on average, in 2010; by last year, the number of calls had dropped by more than two-thirds, and Gresham police now say the building has the lowest number of calls of any apartment complex its size. By the time I got here in 2015, Barberry felt like a safe place to raise my own family.

Our apartment has a sliding glass door that opens onto a small concrete porch and large dirt courtyard. Twenty-three other apartments also back into this space.

It reminds me of a courtyard in Italy, a town square, a piazza of haphazard grass and porches with clothes and rugs drying in the sun, people grilling all kinds of food. An older woman from Cuba talks to me in super-fast Spanish, sure that I can understand her. A Somali woman is lonely in her second-floor apartment, trapped inside by having three kids under age 4. But mostly there are women from Afghanistan milling around, hanging out of windows to call to me, pushing strollers full of squalling children back and forth through the courtyard to each other’s apartments. They stop in front of my little porch and scoop up my baby to kiss him. They chat with me, all of them with varying degrees of limited English.

In the late afternoon this spring, I would sit in a blue plastic chair outside while my children played in the dirt. I watched women feed their children small pieces of bread, and admired their beautiful outfits—dresses over billowy pants, floral and sheer headscarves on. They leaned on strollers as they talked in their own languages.

These women all knew why they were here—they escaped their countries, and were working hard to make a life here.

They were kind to me, cooking food for me, and laughing and joking. But they didn’t understand my American ways, how I closed the blinds in my house at night, the way I craved privacy after a long day of caregiving.

And it hit me: I don’t belong here.

Alaa Jasim, 35, in wheelchair, is a refugee from Iraq. On a recent afternoon, he was visiting Syrian refugees who live at Barberry Village. (Joe Riedl)
Alaa Jasim, 35, in wheelchair, is a refugee from Iraq. On a recent afternoon, he was visiting Syrian refugees who live at Barberry Village. (Joe Riedl)

We got a letter in the mail three months ago. It said that in 90 days, when our one-year lease was up, the rent for our two-bedroom apartment would be raised by $110—from $830 to $940 a month.

On top of that, if we chose not to sign a new yearlong lease, we would be charged an extra $200 a month, effectively raising our current rent by more than 35 percent.

I felt slightly sick. I knew gentrification was coming to Rockwood, I just didn’t expect it would happen this fast.

Rents are going up at extreme rates. I’ve never lived like this, with this kind of instability before. Owners can charge more because the market supports it. The trickle-down effect is snowballing—those who displaced people in North Portland, downtown and inner Southeast got pushed out themselves, and they keep spreading outward.

Related: The Portland rent spike has been spreading east for a year, pressuring low-income residents.

The trouble with these rising costs, of course, is what will happen to those living on fixed incomes. People cannot keep up, including recently arrived refugee families.

(Portland does not have a cap on raising rents—the city’s newest rules require 90 days’ notice for any increase more than 5 percent.)

With the rent increases at Barberry Village, many recently arrived refugees no longer qualify to rent—because the lease requires tenants to earn two times the rent. Refugees are given eight months of financial assistance by the government to get on their feet, and they have not had their benefits raised at a rate that lets their income keep pace with the rent hikes. (The Barberry owner and building manager both declined to comment.)

It has become official, written into the rental agreements of the complex that refugees inadvertently helped make more desirable—they don’t make enough money to live in Portland.

More than 90 percent of refugees in Oregon get settled within the city of Portland because this is where they can access services. But within the past year, Catholic Charities of Oregon has begun placing people in Salem—70 so far—partly because of rising housing costs in Portland.

“We are still continuing to settle people in Portland, but we are also settling people in the Salem area because of the cost of living and the rent hikes,” says James Howell, director of development for Catholic Charities of Oregon. “Portland is just proving to be more and more difficult.”

Related: East Portland landlord gives tenants a choice: Pay a 45-percent rent hike, or get evicted.

After I got the rent-hike letter, a thought began bothering me. I had been pushing this thought aside for quite some time, but it came back.

What am I doing living here?

I thought I was helping. But instead it feels like I am just the first in a wave of changing the neighborhood.

I had come here to purposefully live among refugees. But I wasn’t one of them. I was protected by my family ties, comfortable background, and economic class. This rent hike was unaffordable to many of my neighbors—and a mild inconvenience for me. That wasn’t an accident: I was exactly the kind of person that property owners wanted to use to replace refugee families, one apartment at a time.

That change would happen with or without my taking up one unit in the building. But I hadn’t even thought about it. I was focused on myself and what I wanted—cheap rent, a diverse neighborhood, the sense that I was doing good—but I had no knowledge of the structures and the systems and the history that was at work, forcing my neighbors out.

It was insistent, a worm eating through my heart: Good intentions aren’t enough. I was living out another page in the history of a state that has accepted outsiders reluctantly.

So I started asking my neighbors about it.

Ana Luisa Díaz Villegos, 74, moved to the U.S. from Cuba last year. Her monthly rent is more than she receives from Social Security. “I don’t feel secure,” she says. (Joe Riedl)
Ana Luisa Díaz Villegos, 74, moved to the U.S. from Cuba last year. Her monthly rent is more than she receives from Social Security. “I don’t feel secure,” she says. (Joe Riedl)

One of my neighbors, Anna Luisa Diaz Villegas, an older, energetic woman from Cuba, is on a fixed income. At age 74, she receives $733 a month in Social Security, but her rent is climbing to $1,060 this month.

“I can’t pay more,” she says. So where will she come up with the money? We don’t answer the question, because neither of us know. Instead, she tells me again about the food bank at the middle school, and urges me to get free food for myself and to bring it to others. Instead of dwelling on her own problems, she tries to take care of me.

Another neighbor, Abdullah Ahmed, is from Iraq, and when I mention the rent increase, he grimaces and says, “Oh, yes—this is a big, big problem.” With his son helping to translate, he tells us how he has lived in this apartment complex for five years, and recently started trying to find another place to live. But the few places he looked at were all more expensive than Barberry Village. So he will stay, for now. To make up the extra money, besides working at a laundry service, he hopes to become a taxi driver.

I knock on the door of three men who split the rent on a two-bedroom apartment; in the past, they have had as many as five people living in the same space to cut down on expenses. All three are refugees from Iraq.

When I ask about the rent increase, they all seem resigned.  “It’s not a big deal,” Sarmad Al Gharrawi says. But he is looking for another place to live so his fiancee from North Carolina can join him, and he says it has not been easy to find anything affordable. Although they talk about the rent and are looking for another place “every day,” they say “this is the cheapest place.”

Al Gharrawi and his roommates are like so many refugees who live here—arriving in Portland after a long and tangled trip, in his case through Syria, Jordan, Slovakia, Austria, Denmark and Sweden. The two-bedroom apartment he shares with his roommates was $750 a month when they started renting it two years ago. It will soon be $930, and they have to decide this month whether to sign another one-year lease. If they go month to month, looking for another place, the rent will jump to $1,130.

Another family, refugees from Nepal, is facing a similar rent hike. In the two years they have lived here, the rent has gone up almost $200 a month. The family has seven members, including twin babies.

“Every year it goes up,” says Sumil Gurung. “I’m planning to move to Columbus, Ohio.”

Since Barberry Village began renting to refugee families, crime at the apartment complex has plummeted. (Joe Riedl)
Since Barberry Village began renting to refugee families, crime at the apartment complex has plummeted. (Joe Riedl)

My husband recently got a different job, a better one, and now he sits in an office in fancy clothes. The last paycheck he got made me finally relax. We are in the process of buying a house around the corner from our apartment complex.

He and I remain different from our refugee neighbors for an obvious reason: We can afford the down payment on a house. And I feel conflicted about that.

Related: Is it time for Portland to put a cap on rent hikes?

But buying a home is a more honest way of living here: It means a real financial stake for us. It means we aren’t going anywhere, that we are invested. My daughter attends first grade at the local school, one of the most diverse places I have ever been.

I feel like my mission has changed: I want to convert Portlanders to care about what happens to people in Rockwood, before it’s too late.

Because others are leaving, too.

My neighbor Mehrafzun caught me as I was walking past her back door. Come in, come in, she motioned, and I noticed her place was bare and clean. Where are you going? To Tigard, she told me. Why? This apartment is no good, she said, there are mice everywhere, my children are sick, the manager does not do anything.

She told me that for two months she walked the neighborhood, trying to find an affordable apartment. She wanted a three-bedroom for $1,200, and she could not find it. In Tigard, they found a two-bedroom for $1,100, on the second floor, and it is nice and clean, she tells me.

I remember the first night I met her, her family freshly arrived from Afghanistan, her living room empty save for a couch and two lamps with the shades upside down. In her limited English, she was desperate to talk to me, to tell me their story: how she was married at age 15, the troubles her family experienced, the flight to Iran, and then to Turkey, the years of second-class citizenship, and the eventual landing in America.

When I call her a few months later to tell her I am writing this story, she tells me she wants to stay in Oregon, because she likes it here. “Tigard is good,” she says. But her husband, Abdul, has to commute over three hours a day to get to his job at a food-processing plant. Their new apartment is far from services like the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization. But in her trademark way, she does not complain. “I am happy you are sharing this story,” she says. “We want people to care.”

That night, I kissed her cheek and said goodbye. And already, I knew: This is what I will be doing for the next few years of my life. I will say goodbye to the people who have traveled across the world to live here.

And the rest of us are left with a question: Are we willing to live in a city that is unlivable for so many?

WW staff writer Rachel Monahan contributed reporting to this story.

This woman, who asked not to be named, arrived in Portland from Myanmar. (Joe Riedl)
This woman, who asked not to be named, arrived in Portland from Myanmar. (Joe Riedl)

You Can’t Be What You Can’t See: Welcome to the 2016 Fall Arts Guide

In Portland, this was the year the arts got woke.

Way before Colin Kaepernick’s jerseys started selling out, our arts communities were focused on justice—marching, painting and dancing for change. The summer’s hottest theater ticket was a show about racial profiling written by black playwrights. The Portland Art Museum hosted an educational tour marking the day the first African slaves arrived in Virginia. Some of the city’s most prominent art galleries, as well as our longest-running theater, regularly hold diversity dialogues, and Portland authors have banded together for a reading series focused on writers of color.

Consider this year’s Fall Arts Guide our knee-down in solidarity.

Every story in our annual preview highlights work by women or people of color. Every writer who wrote one of the articles is also female-identifying, a person of color, or both.

As it turns out, there’s a lot of incredible art that isn’t made by white men.

So inside this package, you’ll find scenes of 400 female motorcyclists descending on Mount Adams in photographer Lanakila MacNaughton’s pop-up gallery show. This fall in Portland, you can watch ex-inmates describe solitary confinement at a church-turned-theater. You can also witness New York’s pre-eminent black female choreographer translate her speaking patterns into dance, hear electronically looped opera at the Doug Fir Lounge or see geometric shapes shattered into neon slivers at Portland’s newest all-female art gallery. To help you take full advantage of this arts-filled season, we’ve assembled a super calendar of performance, book readings, gallery shows and concerts covering every day from now until Thanksgiving.

For those who don’t know, the phrase “You can’t be what you can’t see” refers to the need for role models from underrepresented groups to be visible in the media. The idea is, if you don’t see someone like you succeeding, it’s harder to believe you can succeed.

Well, this fall is a good time for audiences to see something different in order to be something different. Here’s where to start.


Portland’s Newest Gallery Is Only Representing Female Artists

This Portland Photographer Captures the New Wave of Women Motorcyclists

“Black Girl: Linguistic Play” Is Bringing Diversity to the Forefront of a Major Portland Dance Company

Portland Is Getting the Classical Latin It’s Been Missing, Thanks to a Genre-Bending Piano Duo

Portland Classical Artist Holland Andrews Has Graduated from GarageBand to a Major Art Residency With Her Operatic Vocal Loops

A Local Playwright Wrote a Play That’s Based on The Oregon Trail Computer Game

This All-Female Frankenstein Cabaret Ties in the Year’s Most Controversial Rape Case

These Prisoners Were Once in Solitary Confinement. Now, They Find Freedom Through Theater

How Cheryl Strayed’s Book of Advice Columns Made the Jump To Broadway—and Even HBO

Mitchell Jackson’s Essays Recall Growing Up in Pre-Gentrified Northeast Portland

These Six Female Curators Might Save Portland’s Art Scene

A Latina Construction Worker Takes Her Advocacy to the Big Screen

Something Artsy to Do Every Day From Today to Thanksgiving

Why Portland Loves Women’s Soccer Like No Other City

The Portland Thorns were down by five goals when the singing started.

It was June 7, 2014: a beautiful day for soccer at 75 degrees, the sun bouncing off the turf at Providence Park and beaming back on the faces of 13,838 spectators—almost all of them Thorns fans.

The match against the Western New York Flash went badly. By the 51st minute, the Thorns trailed 5-0 and their goalie, Nadine Angerer, had been ejected for taking down a Flash player.

Fans of most professional sports teams would have fled for the exits. But many of the Rose City Riveters, the Thorns’ die-hard supporters group, instead headed for the beer line.

The singing began in the stadium’s north end with a few voices bellowing an old Bill Withers song: “Lean on me, when you’re not strong.”

There was no miracle comeback: The Thorns lost 5-0. But the singing picked up momentum, made its way through Section 107, then 110.

“We all neeeeed somebody to leeeean on.”

“I think I maybe started crying a little bit,” says Thorns midfielder Mana Shim, reflecting on that moment. “There’s a sense of family, just that this group of people has your back. We’re all very hard on ourselves and want to do our best, and the fans never go away.”

This week, five of the Thorns’ most talented players return from a fresh disappointment.

They played for the U.S. Olympic women’s soccer team, which was favored to win gold in Rio de Janeiro, only to be knocked out in the quarterfinals. That was the earliest exit ever for U.S. women’s soccer at the Olympics.

Related: Four of the Thorns’ U.S. Olympic players talk about what it’s like to lose on a global stage.

On Sunday, Sept. 4, the Thorns’ Olympians—including Christine Sinclair, who helped Canada win the bronze medal, and Amandine Henry, who competed for France—return to Providence Park for Portland’s game against the Boston Breakers.

And they will be greeted as if they’d all won gold medals.

The love between this club and its fans isn’t just passionate. It’s unprecedented in the history of women’s professional sports in the U.S.

(Corri Goates)
(Corri Goates)

The Thorns’ average home attendance this season has risen to 16,772 a game. That’s more than double the turnout of all but one of the nine other teams in the National Women’s Soccer League. Even soccer-mad Seattle draws only 4,590 per game for Reign matches.

No other U.S. city exceeds an average home attendance of 10,000 for any professional women’s sport. Portland surpasses it every other week.

“It’s really special,” says Thorns midfielder Allie Long. “There are no other fans that support female athletes like they do.”

Related: Meet Nadia Nadim, the Afghan refugee who escaped the Taliban and became the Thorns’ newest star.

In this country, women vote more than men, watch more movies, buy more books, commit fewer crimes, and graduate from college more frequently. The one thing they don’t do anywhere close to as much as men is watch pro sports.

Except in Portland.

Most other NWSL teams market their matches as a family night. In Portland, the games are mother-daughter bonding events, date nights for 30-somethings, and the city’s largest outdoor LGBTQ cocktail party—a scene so thirsty that Providence Park has effectively replaced the lesbian bar in Portland’s nightlife scene.

“If there’s a Thorns home match, I’m reorganizing my weekend around that,” says Ryan Brown, a season-ticket holder. “It’s where my people are.”

The story of how it happened is a perfect storm of soccer fever, gay rights and feminist empowerment. And it started with a grizzled, gum-chomping man named Clive Charles.

(Corri Goates)
(Corri Goates)

An integral player for early Portland Timbers teams, Charles coached both the men’s and women’s soccer teams at the University of Portland. He started coaching the men’s team in 1986 and added the women’s team in 1989, coaching both until his death in 2003. In the process, he transformed the Pilots from a middling program into a buzzsaw.

Under his tutelage, the Pilots had a combined 439-144-44 record, including the 2002 women’s NCAA championship in his final season. Charles recruited and coached some of the most recognizable and talented women’s soccer players ever to play the game—including Sinclair, who was named the NWSL Player of the Olympics in Rio after scoring the winning goal in Canada’s bronze-medal match against host Brazil.

He put “the bluff,” as UP is called, on the map, and Portlanders turned out in droves to watch his teams. The Pilots’ women’s soccer team won a second NCAA title in 2005, cementing the small, Catholic university’s reputation as a national power.

“Growing up, we didn’t have many pro sports teams—the Trail Blazers were the Jail Blazers—and it was really easy to go to UP games. And the women were better than the men,” says Hallie Craddock, a Thorns season-ticket holder. “Having Christine Sinclair for the Thorns is icing on the cake. It was the perfect storm to be like, ‘Of course women’s soccer is good.’”

But Charles’ influence wasn’t limited to UP. He and many of his former teammates created a foundation of Rose City soccer via clinics, club teams and academies. Current UP women’s soccer coach Garrett Smith, who played for Charles, recalled how Charles began a summer league for female players.

“He brought in all the players, tried to cut the living costs, so professional women would have a place to play,” Smith says. “It’s simple things like that that start falling into place. The Thorns are reaping the benefits of that now.”

The Thorns played their first game in 2013, 10 years after Charles’ death at age 51 from prostate cancer.

They joined seven other franchises in the National Women’s Soccer League—the third attempt to launch professional women’s soccer in the U.S. More than 16,400 spectators showed up to the Thorns’ first home game. Then-coach Cindy Parlow Cone said the atmosphere felt like a World Cup.

Thorns matches are no typical family outings. Entire girls’ club teams will sit, focused and wide-eyed, only speaking to comment on the intricacies of strategy. Even teenage boys watch the match transfixed.

Until, of course, the Thorns score. Then it’s a cacophony of screams and shouts, the Riveters chanting away, scarves fluttering en masse—as thick, red celebration smoke pours from the north end and settles like a fog.

Then a badass young woman emerges from the haze to beat her own chest and celebrate her strength along with 17,000 other people.

(Corri Goates)
(Corri Goates)

“The No. 1 reason I love the Thorns is, on a philosophical and ideological level, it was so important to me growing up to see these strong women,” says Sarah Krabacher, a die-hard fan who makes sure she sits in the same seat in the front row of the north end for every game. “It’s very exciting to see women athletes worshiped, by girls and boys.”

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz was a fan of the Leeds United men’s professional soccer team while growing up in England, but her family loves the Thorns so much, it spent part of her son’s wedding day watching a live YouTube broadcast of a Thorns-Seattle Reign match. (Unfortunately for Fritz, the Reign won 3-1.)

“When I was growing up, girls didn’t play soccer at all,” Fritz says. Attending Thorns matches “just reminds me every time of how far women have come in my lifetime. The whole experience is wonderful.”

(Corri Goates)
Tobin Heath (Corri Goates)

Another aspect of Thorns’ matches is even more rare at sporting events.

Chris Henderson, a graduate student in American and sports studies at the University of Iowa, spent several days in Portland interviewing members of the Riveters for an academic paper titled “Two Balls Is Too Many: Stadium Performance, Gender, and Queerness Among Portland’s Rose City Riveters Supporters Club.”

The recurring theme he found? The north end is “a safe space for queer people.”

Craddock, a season-ticket holder who developed a friendship with Krabacher and several others after they met in the north end, says that’s a factor in attendance for Thorns matches. “I think there are several reasons, one of which is obviously lesbians,” she says with a laugh.

“The pro-queer factor is huge for me,” Krabacher adds. “Honestly, a Thorns game is the largest lesbian convention in the world.

“I’m from Idaho, and being a lesbian and being at a Thorns game, with all the pride flags and the tifo they did after the Orlando shooting and all these LGBTQ celebrations, it’s something Portland offers that some other places don’t.”

(Corri Goates)
(Corri Goates)

Perhaps the most remarkable part of fans’ love affair with the Thorns is that it has grown stronger, even when the team’s performance has gotten weaker.

After winning the NWSL championship in their first season, the Thorns were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in 2014. Last year, they won just six of 20 matches, failing to even reach the playoffs. Still, fans showed up—and more often.

Average home attendance rose from 13,320 in the Thorns’ first season to 15,639 in last year’s dismal performance to 16,772 this season. (Disclosure: This author writes copy for Nike, which is a sponsor of the Thorns.)

The Thorns’ biggest crowd this season at Providence Park was 19,231 on July 30, when Portland defeated the Seattle Reign 1-0 despite playing without its Olympians. The Thorns fielded a shorthanded team of 15 players, some of them unpaid amateurs, and the crowd cheered louder than ever.

That kind of loyalty is requited.

Long, the Thorns midfielder who recently returned from her first stint on the U.S. Olympic team, recalls a fan tweeting about his 8-year-old daughter getting bullied for wearing a Thorns jersey to school.

“I hate bullying,” Long says. “And they were making fun of her, and I was like, ‘Oh, heck no.” She reached out to the girl, got her tickets to a game, autographed gear, and met her after the match.

“I just have so much respect for our fans,” Long says, her eyes flashing as she recounts the story.  “Especially if some cute, little girl is getting bullied. She should be proud for wearing that jersey.”

(Corri Goates)
(Corri Goates)

A Hit Man Came to Kill Susan Kuhnhausen. She Survived. He Didn’t.

“We have an intruder in the house next door.…The intruder was in the bedroom with a hammer. The woman who lives there thinks she may have strangled him. He was down when she left.”

“Can you put her on the phone?”

“She’s bleeding.”

“Does she need an ambulance?”

“No, she’s a nurse. She says call an ambulance for the guy. He may be dead.”

—Portland 911 call on Sept. 6, 2006

Susan Kuhnhausen took her time going home.

 On the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2006, the 51-year-old emergency room nurse ended her shift at Providence Portland Medical Center on Northeast Glisan Street and headed to Perfect Look hair salon on East Burnside Street.

As she waited for her turn, she picked up a copy of Oprah magazine and read a poem.

“I will not die an unlived life,” it began. “I will not live in fear.”

One hour later, rested and relaxed, she drove to her blue, one-story Cape Cod with a gray picket fence in the Montavilla neighborhood of Southeast Portland.

In the mudroom at the back of the house, Susan found a note by the microwave from her husband of almost 18 years, Mike. “Sue, haven’t been sleeping. Had to get away—Went to the beach.”

He added that he’d see her on Friday or Saturday. “Luv, ME,” he signed off.

Unlocking the door to the kitchen, Susan heard the beeping of her security alarm. She disarmed it, walked through the house to the front door and then went back outside. It was clear and warm at 6:37 pm that day, and she stood for a minute or two in the front yard, flipping through her mail.

When she came back inside, she kicked off her Birkenstocks and noticed how dark it was in her bedroom on the first floor. Had she forgotten to open the curtains that morning?

Suddenly, from behind the bedroom door, a man lurched toward her.

At 5-foot-9, the 59-year-old stranger weighed 190 pounds. He wore Dockers, a blue-striped shirt and a tan baseball hat pulled down low over his eyes. His long hair was in a ponytail tucked into the cap. He wore yellow rubber gloves on his hands and carried a red and black claw hammer.

Ed Haffey, the hitman.
Ed Haffey, the hitman.

 “One minute you think you’re a regular person in the world,” she says now, “and then you’re not.”


Ten years ago next month Susan was attacked inside her home, by a man she later learned had been hired to kill her. By her husband.

Her story of survival remains one of the more shocking and violent tales in the annals of Portland crime—and one of the most heroic.

It grabbed international headlines for weeks as people marveled at the middle-aged nurse who not only escaped murder but strangled the lowlife with a felony record who had been offered $50,000 for the hit.

Her horrifying encounter fits a pattern. Nearly 1 in 4 homicides in Oregon involves intimate partners.

For 10 years, Susan—who today goes by Susan Walters—has spoken occasionally about her ordeal. But she’s revealing new details now, going back to how she met her husband. She’s telling this story for the first time, and is working on a memoir about her experience.

She survived that day, but carries psychic wounds: from knowing that her husband wanted her dead and from having to kill another person to save herself.

 The dread she feels even today isn’t guilt or shame. But it weighs on her just the same.

“I didn’t choose his death,” she says. “I chose my life.”


911 dispatcher: “What did she use on him? She strangled him. What else did she do?”

Anne Warnock, neighbor: “She put a chokehold on him.”

“I’ve got help on the way. Stay on the line.”

“She has a hammer here.”

“Don’t touch it. Don’t touch it. Just leave it there.”

“She hit him in the head several times. That’s the hammer he had with him. She struck him, and she strangled him, and she thinks he’s dead.”

—911 call on Sept. 6, 2006

For many people, the presence of an intruder brandishing a hammer in a darkened bedroom would prompt an entirely understandable response. They’d run.

But Susan wasn’t most people. An emergency room nurse for nearly 30 years, she had disarmed injured men, helped crack open people’s chests to perform heart massages, and administered IVs in patients thrashing from drug withdrawal. She and all the other nurses at Providence trained regularly in self defense, learning how to slip out of headlocks and clutches.

Still, she had doubted herself: “Will I ever remember this stuff?”

Years of training steadied Susan, who was still wearing blue scrubs when she returned home that night. When her assailant came at her, Susan crowded him, knowing the swings of his weapon would have less force if she stayed close.

His first blow landed on her left temple.

THE WEAPON: The hit man used this red and black claw hammer in the attack.

“WHO ARE YOU? WHAT DO YOU WANT?” she screamed as loudly as she could. But he didn’t answer. And he didn’t stop.

At 5-foot-4, Susan was 5 inches shorter than the man in the baseball cap. She had two bad knees from repeated injuries and excess weight. But she outweighed her attacker significantly.

Hoping to push him over, Susan says she slammed her body up against his.

He didn’t fall. Instead, he pushed Susan’s back against the pink-hued walls of her bedroom. He then uttered his only words that night: “You’re strong,” he told her.

The phrase sent surges of adrenaline through Susan—and a terrible awakening.

“He is here to kill me,” she realized at that moment. “I don’t know why. I don’t know who he is. But his intent was clear.”

Susan responded by pushing him again. “Who sent you?” she demanded.

She managed to wrestle the hammer from him, and she swung its claw three times, maybe four, into his skull.

He snatched the hammer back. So Susan grabbed his throat.

“WHO SENT YOU HERE?” she asked again, hands squeezing his airway.

The intruder’s face turned red, then purple, then darker purple with a blue tinge. Susan spooked. She let go. Then she tried to flee.

“I don’t know what I thought,” she says, “I just had to get out of there.”

The man, whom police later identified as Edward Dalton Haffey, caught her as she ran from her bedroom into a narrow hallway.

He spun her around again, punched her, splitting her lip. He punched her again. She fell to the floor. The image she saw next haunts her.

The Bruises: Police photographed Susan’s injuries two days after the attack.
The Bruises: Police photographed Susan’s injuries two days after the attack.

“He was standing over me with the hammer,” she says. “I looked at the floor and I thought, I’m going to die today.”

To this day she’s not sure how, but she managed to pull the man to the floor, too. “I gotta get the hammer,” she told herself then.

She started to bite Haffey, thinking that if she was going to die, her teeth marks might tie her death to him. Wrestling on the floor, she bit his arm, his flank, his thigh.

 She even bit through his zipper to his genitals. At the same time, she tried to rifle through Haffey’s pockets, looking for ID she could toss under a bed or chair or dresser that police would later find. “I was like a downed power line snapping on the pavement,” she says.

The fight had now lasted about 14 minutes.

They were both wedged on their sides in the hallway outside Susan’s bedroom. She threw her left leg over Haffey’s body, climbed up on top of him, and hooked her left arm around his neck.


He said nothing. Instead, he growled.

Susan leaned forward, tightening her forearm against his throat. He stopped moving. Then she grabbed the hammer and fled outside to neighbors, who called 911.

THE CRIME SCENE: Blood pooled in the hallway outside the bedroom where a hit man attacked Susan Kuhnhausen on Sept. 6, 2006.

Dispatcher: “Was he by himself?”

Neighbor: “Did he have anybody with him? No.…She expressed a concern it may have been her ex-partner who sent the person.”

    —911 call on Sept. 6, 2006

Susan had not witnessed a lot of happy marriages growing up. Her father, an Air Force cook, and her mother, a homemaker, separated when she was in second grade. Life was chaotic as the children moved from Colorado to Arizona, California and Nevada, shuffling between schools, homes and parents.

“My parents loved me, but they couldn’t teach me how to have a successful marriage any more than they could teach me how to fly,” she says.

Susan became a licensed practical nurse and then a registered nurse. She moved to Oregon in the early ’80s, settling first in Coos Bay and later Portland. Outgoing and vivacious, Susan unleashed loud, boisterous laughs. When she went to shows at Harvey’s Comedy Club, she’d sit in the front row.

In 1988, a friend and Susan’s mother paid for a personal ad for Susan in Willamette Week. “Someone different,” the 65-word ad teased. “SWF, 33, overweight but not over life, seeks SM who wants more out of a relationship than just ‘slender.’”


“Hi different,” one of many replies read. “My name is Mike. I’m a 39 y/o DWM. I enjoy most things in nature, from wandering in the Ape Caves at Mt. St. Helens to walking on the beach at sunset.”

The day she first spoke with Mike Kuhnhausen by telephone—Jan. 30, 1988—she marked in her kitten-themed daybook with a smiley face in red ballpoint pen.

Susan and Mike spoke on the phone many times before actually meeting—over 100 hours, Susan estimates. “He had a nice voice,” she says. “I was impressed he wanted to talk about the deeper things.”

The Couple: Susan met Mike after a friend and Susan’s mother paid for a personal ad for Susan in Willamette Week. It ran in January 1988.
The Couple: Susan met Mike after a friend and Susan’s mother paid for a personal ad for Susan in Willamette Week. It ran in January 1988.

For their first date, in February 1988, they met at the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, next to Reed College, where they fed ducks and Mike tossed unsalted peanuts to squirrels.

Within the year, they’d be driving to Reno to get married. Mike liked to play slots, and Susan figured there was no bigger gamble in life than marriage.

It soured quickly. “It wasn’t very long after we got married,” she says, “that there was no more hiking, no more getting out.”

Mike grew up in Portland, adopted as a newborn in 1948 by a couple in their 30s. He told Susan he saw combat in Vietnam, but she doubts that now. Military records list him as a switchboard operator.

Within a few years of the wedding, Mike got a new job as a janitorial supervisor for Oregon Entertainment, the parent company of Fantasy Adult Video.

He started slowly revealing to her in the early years that he’d never really been happy. “His life philosophy was: Life is a shit sandwich, and every day you take another bite until you die,” she says.

The couple never had any children, and Susan was fine with that. Mike, who chain-smoked while guzzling Diet Cokes, hounded Susan about her plans when she went out. He watched her spending and complained about minor purchases.

Seventeen years into their marriage, Susan had had enough. If she tried to kiss him, he’d burp. “I cared about him, but I didn’t want to live with him anymore,” she says. “I wanted to be happy again.”

In September 2005, she kicked him out of the house. He moved into his father’s home. But Susan never changed the locks or the alarm code—1210, their anniversary.

The Daybook: The hit man left behind a backpack that also contained damning evidence—Mike’s new cellphone number and a daybook with a note to “call Mike” two days before the attack.
The Daybook: The hit man left behind a backpack that also contained damning evidence—Mike’s new cellphone number and a daybook with a note to “call Mike” two days before the attack.

Dispatcher: “Have there been problems with her ex-husband or her ex-partner?”

Neighbor: “She did talk to Mike, her ex-partner, and asked him to house-sit for the cats, and he said he couldn’t do it. He was on his way to the beach.…He left her a note. He knows the alarm.”

“OK, that’s good information to pass to the officers.”

—911 call on Sept. 6, 2006

It didn’t take Portland police long to identify Susan’s attacker and tie him to her husband. Police found a wallet with ID in the man’s back pocket. Ed Haffey was a 59-year-old Vietnam veteran with a long rap sheet.

The day after the attack, Susan’s friend Helen Bulone accompanied Susan to her house to help her collect belongings.

“Susan,” Helen told her, “there’s a backpack in your basement that doesn’t belong.”

Police hadn’t noticed the backpack when officers inspected Susan’s cluttered basement. Inside was a container of Hershey’s syrup, $200 in cash, diabetes pills, a daybook and a pay stub made out to Haffey. An entry in the daybook for Monday, Sept. 4, 2006, was marked “Call Mike.” A manila envelope listed Mike’s new cellphone number.

Haffey, an autopsy would show, had a near-lethal dose of cocaine in his system when he attacked Susan in her home. He had recently lived in a trailer on Northeast Killingsworth Street. Relatives and friends told police he’d been raised in an upper-middle-class home and was an avid tennis player.

Court records revealed a gruesome crime 15 years earlier.

On Feb. 28, 1991, Haffey arranged the murder of his ex-girlfriend, 39-year-old Georgia Lee Dutton. Her decomposed body was later found along the Umpqua River, near Roseburg.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated murder on March 14, 1994, and spent the next nine years in the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution. He was released on Nov. 3, 2003.

After he got out, he moved to Portland, and he needed a job.

He found one, in July 2004, when Mike Kuhnhausen hired him to clean floors at Fantasy Adult Video.

Financial records police later reviewed show that on the day of the attack, Mike drove his gold Dodge Neon to the coast, checking into the Lincoln City Inn with a credit card that afternoon. He returned to Portland that night, then spent $339 on a Taurus .357 Magnum revolver at the Silver Lining pawn shop on Northeast Sandy Boulevard the next day.

On Sept. 8, Mike left a suicide note at his father’s house: “All I ever wanted was to be loved and every time I had it—I fucked it up.”

Then he bolted. Police put out a bulletin.

At 10 am on Sept. 13, a Clackamas County sheriff’s deputy finally caught up with Mike, stopping him in the parking garage of Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center, where Mike claimed to be checking himself in. “I have nothing to live for anymore,” he told officers.

They put him on an involuntary psychiatric hold. Eleven hours later, officers put him under arrest for conspiracy to commit murder.

Mike Kuhnhausen
Mike Kuhnhausen

Mike: “Am I under arrest?”

Detective Steve Ober: “At this point you are, so what I’d like to do is re-advise you of your Miranda rights.”

“You’re not going to believe my side of the story.”

“Why is that? We haven’t heard your side of the story.”

“My side of the story is so fucking off the wall.”

—Police interview with Mike on Sept. 13, 2006

Authorities didn’t buy Mike’s pleas of innocence or his alibi that he’d been at the beach.

He’d lost his job weeks earlier. He had no place to live. Susan had named her brother as beneficiary on her life insurance policy, and Mike knew it. But Susan and Mike had paid off the Montavilla house, and it was worth about $300,000—a house that would be his if Susan died.

By the time of Mike’s arrest, detectives already had employment records from Fantasy Adult Video to prove Mike knew Haffey. But when police booked Mike into jail on Sept. 13, he initially denied any connection.

Then he changed his story. “I didn’t do it,” he told them. “Just because I know the guy, doesn’t mean I did anything.”

Other evidence pointed to a plot with Haffey.

There were no signs of forced entry at Susan’s home.

But security records showed someone had disabled the alarm at the Montavilla house while Susan was at work. Mike later said he did it while dropping off the note about going to the beach, but he denied letting Haffey inside.

On Sept. 18, a former cellmate of Haffey’s contacted police saying Haffey had asked him to join a burglary—an “insurance scam,” the man told police.

He and Haffey met a guy at Southeast 82nd Avenue and Division Street. It was Mike Kunnhausen, who told the man he’d pay $5,000 if he helped Haffey kill his wife. He said no.

On Nov. 17, another witness told police he’d driven Haffey to meet a bald man in the parking lot of an Applebee’s near Interstate 205. Days after that, he saw the man’s picture in the news after Susan’s attack.

It was Mike, he said.

“He could deny it all he wanted,” says Brian Davidson, a prosecutor on the case, “but the weight of the evidence was overwhelming.”

 On Aug. 30, 2007, Mike pleaded guilty to soliciting Susan’s murder.


“Although this was a terrible thing that happened, no one in this family has any bad feelings toward you. You did what you were forced to do and in doing so, you spared many from the same trauma you experienced.”

—Sept. 17, 2010 letter to Susan from the hit man’s aunt

The Survivor: Ten years after the attack, Susan finds comfort in helping others to understand that they, too, can survive a near fatal attack. “If you can’t run and you can’t hide, you have to fight,” she says. “You don't know that you won’t survive.” (Christine Dong)
The Survivor: Ten years after the attack, Susan finds comfort in helping others to understand that they, too, can survive a near fatal attack. “If you can’t run and you can’t hide, you have to fight,” she says. “You don’t know that you won’t survive.” (Christine Dong)

Mike was supposed to be released on Sept. 14, 2014.

Susan, who’d filed for divorce the day after Mike’s arrest, prepared herself. Once bubbly and adventurous, the new Susan felt like “a broken plate glued back together.” She sat in restaurants where she could see the door. She switched driving routes. She circled the block if she thought someone might be following her.

“I’m doing a life sentence for picking a bad husband,” she says.

By 2014, she had moved to a new Portland home on an out-of-the-way cul-de-sac. Gravel surrounded her house so she could hear footsteps. She practiced shooting at a nearby range.

“If he came here, he was not going to get close enough to hurt me,” she says.

Mike wouldn’t live long enough to try.

On Friday the 13th, in June 2014, cancer killed Mike, 92 days before his release.

Jailhouse letters show Mike never acknowledged his guilt. He claimed he’d pleaded to the crime only to escape a possibly longer sentence. He continued to believe he was the true victim.

Ten years later, Susan still sobs intermittently when telling her story. “When I cry, I feel better,” she says.

She continued to work as a nurse until December 2014. Her job was to save lives. But having killed a man, people called her a hero.

Hero? What did it mean? And why did she of all people deserve such praise?

“They’re not calling you a hero because you killed a man,” her boss told her. “They’re calling you a hero because they want to believe, given the same circumstances, they, too, might survive.”