Parkrose Community Plan gets a zine

News Article
Two youth transform the plan into a visually accessible story about the history and future of their community.

During the past year, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, the Portland Bureau of Transportation, and the Historic Parkrose organization have been working with Parkrose community members – especially representatives of underserved communities – to develop the Parkrose Community Plan.

Located in NE Portland, Parkrose is bordered by Sumner to the west, the Columbia River to the north, Argay to the east, and Parkrose Heights and the city of Maywood Park to the south. One of the most linguistically diverse areas in Portland, Parkrose has been in transition from an agricultural to an urban environment since the first subdivision plat was filed in 1911. In fact, some of the main street commercial area that was once served by a streetcar on Sandy Boulevard remains viable today.

Colorful illustration of a school building with trees and people in front, and text "Parkrose Plan" "Make our future brighter"
Cover of new Parkrose Plan zine, illustrated by Parkrose High School graduates Say’Yonce Tate and Ben Torres.

Historic Parkrose is committed to the growth and preservation of the Historic Parkrose Business District and its surrounding neighborhood. This community-based organization is leading work on the Parkrose Community Plan, in partnership with BPS and other government and community partners, to address topics such as safe streets, housing and displacement, access to jobs, community spaces, and emergency preparedness.

As an alternative to the official plan document, the Historic Parkrose team coordinated the production of a simplified version of the plan in a zine format, with the goal of reaching out to the Parkrose youth and the non-English speaking community. They chose the zine format because zines are:

  • Self-published and self-distributed.
  • Cheaply made or low-budget.
  • Non-commercial.
  • Sometimes connected to activities, lifestyles, subcultures.
  • A channel for under-represented voices to distribute content outside of mainstream media channels.

The digital copy of the zine is available on the BPS Parkrose Community Plan and Historic Parkrose websites.

“The creators felt this was important because planning documents usually have technical, urban planning language that not everybody understands – so only a few people read them,” said BPS collaborator Angie Martinez. ”By using illustrations created by young Parkrose residents, we hoped to get the attention of the Parkrose youth, so they can learn about this community-led plan and start to advocate for the implementation of it.”

To create the illustrations in the zine, Historic Parkrose commissioned local artists Say’Yonce Tate and Ben Torres, both recent graduates from Parkrose High School. As young BI POC residents, they experienced firsthand the issues of the neighborhood – but also celebrated its vibrancy and cultural diversity. Tate and Torres express in each illustration what they see for the Parkrose community: a brighter future.

Role of youth in plan development

9 young men and women standing together wearing face masks, next to a table for Columbia Slough Watershed Council
Parkrose youth at a planting event at the Columbia Slough (image provided by Historic Parkrose)

These talented youth were part of a broader effort that youth and the Parkrose School District made to create the Parkrose Community Plan. This process began in March of 2021 with a series of eight workshops for Parkrose youth to discuss their concerns, needs, hopes, and ideas for the future. They presented their ideas to the broader community, highlighting the art and aspirations of homeless youth, during an outdoor Parkrose Film Screening event on the Parkrose High School soccer field in May 2021.

To reach out to the immigrant, non-English speaking communities in Parkrose, the BPS team coordinated the translation of the zine into five languages: Spanish, Vietnamese, Lao, Amharic and Tigrinya. In the coming months, this resource will be printed and distributed within the Parkrose community.