For low-income, undocumented, underserved, immigrant, LGBTQ, gang-affected, and otherwise at-risk youth, the path to prosperity can seem impossibly arduous. No one understands that viewpoint better than the crew at Momentum Alliance, a group composed entirely of youth who have faced down and conquered dire circumstances of their own. They leverage a number of tools at their disposal?namely a guiding cadre of coaches, a network of allies, and each other?to inspire their peers to become leaders themselves. Through programs such as summer camps and workshops, the team instills leadership skills in its charges and prepares them for the transition from vulnerable individuals into effective community advocates and decision-makers.
After spending time in Quaking Grass's furnished loft studio, you learn why some of the yoga, Zumba, and holistic-dance instructors refer to the space as their "big living room." Once inside the studio, you find yourself in a sprawling, high-ceilinged loft. Natural light spills in from tall windows and onto green walls, where African art and decorative Asian fans hang. Scanning the room, you see plush furniture, a kitchenette, and a massive Native American dream catcher, painted white and hanging 6 feet to the floor.
Quaking Grass is home to the Healing Arts Collective; many of its members left positions as businesspeople, teachers, and lawyers in favor of a more relaxed lifestyle. According to director Heather Straube, they each felt called to help others through techniques such as massage, yoga, and dance. Instructors lead students through progressive poses in Vinyasa yoga, dances set to Latin and Caribbean beats in Zumba, and blends of meditative martial arts and freeform movement in Earthquake Ecstatic and Nia dance. Though they guide some classes step-by-step, instructors emphasize free exploration over adhering to a strict routine—reminding students that they can meditate silently, pair off with partners, or dance alone to practice leading and following at the same time.
Once each month, Quaking Grass's members also host an open community clinic, experimental salon, and potluck. Practitioners stationed throughout the space introduce curious guests to basics of tarot-card reading, massage, hypnosis, quantum touch, and a host of other holistic methods—with the hope that visitors, like babies balancing their first checkbooks, experience something new. Individual members, artists, or community practitioners may also lead workshops or lectures explaining their craft.
Each year, more than 300 vendors and 10,000 lovers of food, wine, beauty, and charity assemble for the annual Portland Women's Expo. In the vendor area, companies with specialties ranging from fitness and spiritual healing to home decor and financial planning share their products and expert advice with attendees. But visitors needn't worry about weary feet and sore backs after exploring the expo, as pampering and relaxation is the name of the game. The Massage Garden connects attendees with a dozen massage therapists who ease tension for a modest donation, and the Beauty Bar brims with complimentary hairstyles and makeovers. Visitors can also kick back to watch the Love Yourself First fashion show, which features creative apparel from up-and-coming Portland designers. On top of everything, guests can sample free chocolate, charcuterie, cheeses, and other gourmet edibles along with wine and spirits from a bevy of local establishments.
Tickets don't just support each guest's beautification efforts, however. The expo serves as one of two yearly fundraisers for The Portland Women's Expo Foundation, an organization intent on building a temporary housing and assistance facility for homeless families.
Oregon Food Bank seeks to address the problem of hunger through local advocacy and by distributing food to relief agencies such as food banks, soup kitchens, and shelters in Oregon and Clark County, Washington. The organization's network of partner agencies then provides that food directly to people in need. Oregon Food Bank obtains nutritious fare through a combination of bulk purchases and donations. As the need for hunger relief has increased during the last few years, so has the number of Oregonians and Washingtonians whom Oregon Food Bank serves.