by Audrey Meschter

In the polished linoleum hallways of an American shopping mall, a man sits at an empty food court table, practically invisible to the passing crowds of bag-toting shoppers. He is in his mid-twenties, well-dressed and relatively handsome, the epitome of mediocrity, and passable in every sense of the word. Yet as he sips from his styrofoam cup, his eyes dart across the crowds searching for vulnerability and hesitance, a lack of confidence, or an aura of insecurity.

By Kendall Duffie

The NARA (Native American Rehabilitation Association) Youth Residential Treatment Center (YRTC) is found in a nondescript building just outside of downtown Gresham; enter through the lower door and you are immediately washed in fluorescent lights, which illuminate a long hallway dotted with open and closed doors. A dreamcatcher hangs above a reception desk, but the front desk staff member, Ronnie, is nowhere to be found. It’s warm inside, and friendly sounds, laughter and chatter, are audible even down the hallway. I’m surprised to see the cloth that covers the table in between the waiting room chairs—it’s tan and has a distinctly tribal pattern on it, very similar to the ones I’ve seen on T-shirts and handbags in department store chains across Portland. This pattern is clearly appropriate here, in a center that celebrates and encourages specifically Native heritage, but begs the question: why do I, a white female hailing from one of the whitest cities in the country, recognize it?

By Ellie Chang

The theater reverberates with excited chatter and the cacophonous sounds of the orchestra warming up. The telltale dimming of the lights quiets thousands of people in a matter of seconds. This silence, though jarring, crumbles rapidly into a resurging thunder as the conductor marches into position. With the first flick of Norman Huynh’s wrist, the flutist brings to life the melodic opening motif of Barber’s “Second Essay.” As textures begin to layer and complicate the initial melody, Barber’s exploration of complex rhythms and contrasting orchestral colors provokes profound emotion through pure technical skill. As the orchestra transitions into Beethoven’s third piano concerto and Sibelius’ fifth symphony, the odd details that initially stood out to me—empty seats, the abundance of elderly audience members, and their smattering of canes and walkers—all take a back seat to the art created in front of me.

By Christina Boxberger

“Sometimes our attitudes hold us in place more than our circumstances,” Pippa Arend, co-founder of p:ear, told me of the current homelessness challenge. While Arend’s statement may seem callous given the magnitude of the homeless crisis in both Portland, Oregon, as well as the United States as a whole, Arend interprets the city’s problem in a novel way. Rather than blaming the homeless for their situations, she recognizes them as whole people. Portland has a substantial homeless challenge, caused predominantly by the combination of housing affordability, the increase in people moving to the city, mental health issues, and abusive relationships. As these factors are essentially uncontrollable, Arend explained that attitude is something manageable that can have an effect on every circumstance. Arend and her co-workers at p:ear, an organization assisting Portland’s homeless youth, intend to instill hope in the youth they serve to lift them out of their situations.

By Hannah Weinberg

At 9:37 p.m. on February 19, 2010, a seventeen year old boy is arrested for a series of crimes committed the previous November (Borrud, 2018). The charges against him are a collection of six methamphetamine-fueled armed robberies– including a Denny’s, two 7/11’s, an Original Philly’s, and an adults only store– all of which occured within the span of eleven days (Strovink, 2010). Months later, he pleads guilty and is sent to the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC), expecting to spend the next fifteen years of his life behind bars. At DOC, he is placed in solitary confinement for six months, where he is allowed out of his cell for one hour in every thirty six- and it is this brief reprieve that allows him to maintain his sanity. Eventually, this defeated misfit is sent to Oregon Youth Authority, and it is here where, according to him, the story of his redemption begins.