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PP&R and partners host Charles Jordan Birthday Celebration on August 31, 2019

News Article
A celebration of the life of one of Portland’s most influential leaders, held at his namesake community center
In this article


(Portland, OR) – 

Portland Parks & Recreation invites all to a birthday celebration for Charles Jordan, the iconic former City Commissioner and Portland Parks & Recreation Director. Jordan was the first African American City Commissioner elected to the Portland City Council. The foundation and footprints of his extraordinary leadership are evident throughout the City of Portland, State of Oregon, and nationally. Jordan died in 2014.

WHAT:   Charles Jordan Birthday Celebration – a celebration of community

WHEN:   Saturday, August 31, 2019, 12:00pm– 3:00pm

WHERE:   Charles Jordan Community Center, 9009 N Foss Avenue

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“Charles Jordan was a visionary leader, a mentor, and a friend,” says Commissioner Nick Fish. “We are proud to honor his family and his legacy.”

“My father’s passing left our family and our entire city with a tremendous void,” says Dion Jordan (Charles’ son), who will serve as the event emcee. “I’m honored to be a part of a celebration of his life. It’s fulfilling to honor his lifelong passions for children, families and the environment, and to come together as a city and a community.”

Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) Director Adena Long will join Dion Jordan and other honored guests for a short program of celebration at the event on Saturday, August 31, 2019. All ages are welcome for an afternoon of free activities - fitness, games, plantings, arts and crafts, a building tour, health and wellness checks, music, birthday cake and refreshments, and partner activities, info, and resources.

“Jordan’s legacy will last for generations,” says PP&R Director Long. “His foresight and efforts towards making parks and recreation inclusive for all Portlanders are unparalleled, and his work means a healthier Portland and a better quality of life for everyone.”

Charles Jordan’s book, More than Just Fun and Games, will be on sale at the event. All proceeds go towards scholarships for youth so they can take part in activities and classes at Charles Jordan Community Center. 

Event partners include Portland Parks & Recreation, the Portland Parks Foundation (PP&R’s chief philanthropic partner), volunteers, the Jordan family, former PP&R manager Michelle Harper, and the New Columbia Community Campus Partnership. 

About Charles Jordan and Charles Jordan Community Center

In June 2012, Portland City Council voted unanimously on a measure put forth by Commissioner Nick Fish to rename Portland Parks & Recreation’s University Park Community Center in honor of Charles Jordan. The Charles Jordan Community Center was rededicated on Sunday, July 22, 2012 with a free public celebration, which Jordan attended.

“There never has, and there never will be, someone more deserving of this honor,” said Commissioner Fish at the time. “He was the person who took Portland Parks & Recreation to the next level. Charles Jordan is a champion for the environment and conservation nationwide. His commitment to children, families, and to building community is extraordinary.”

“His great saying was ‘Parks are more than just fun and games,’” says Michelle Harper, who worked with Jordan for years in several capacities. “He was a spiritual person with a strong connection to his church, and he saw us all as being connected. Portland’s parks were where we could come together to build community and family.”

Notable Charles Jordan quotes

“What people don’t understand, they won’t value; what they don’t value, they won’t protect; and what they don’t protect, they will lose.”

“Today you follow, but tomorrow you will be expected to lead.”

“If change is to be, it’s up to you and me.”

“Dreams are simply goals with wings.”

“Model the way – you never know who is watching and wanting to be just like you.”

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