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Albina Vision: History, Equity, and a New Economy for the Rose Quarter

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Billy Webb Elks Lodge

6 North Tillamook Street

Portland, OR 97227

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Bright Lights: Conversations on Portland’s Future

An evening with Rukaiyah Adams, Zari Santner and Ron Herndon

Arguably some of Portland’s greatest urban flubs of the last half-century—and serial acts of racial injustice—played out in the neighborhood once known as “Lower Albina.” This once-thriving African-American community was systematically routed by Memorial Coliseum, Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, and the expansions of Interstate Ave and I-5. Then came the tangle of roads, parking garages, and arena dubbed the Rose Quarter.

A new coalition of community leaders, “Albina Vision” led by Meyer Memorial Trust’s Rukaiyah Adams and former Portland Parks Director Zari Santner and including the Portland Trail Blazers would like to fix the district—and right the wrongs. They will be joined by Ron Herndon of Albina Head Start who will share his vision for 5,000 units of affordable housing in Lower Albina. Both plans are aimed at growing Portland more affordably and bringing displaced citizens back.

Albina Vision proposes a bold vision for new urban district that will feature affordable living, including housing, sports, arts, and workspace—all in a redesigned district that will stretch from the Lloyd district through the Rose Quarter, passing over I-5 and reaching to the east bank of the Willamette River.

What’s different about the Albina Vision? First it deals squarely with the history of the neighborhood—it doesn’t skirt the historic, often intentional, displacement of the African American community. Second, it envisions a new development framework: a financial instrument known as a “community trust” in which the various parties at interest—the City of Portland, the Trailblazers, private land owners, and community organizations and members—come together to shape economic outcomes that will benefit the community. Specifically, this trust would serve as the steward and “curator” for the district to ensure it’s success: to swap land, raise money, and provide programming.

Adams traveled from Martin Luther King Jr Elementary and Harriet Tubman Middle School to Stanford University to the top ranks of investment. She now serves as chief investment officer for Meyer Memorial Trust and chairs the Oregon Investment Council. Santner served for two decades as a project manager and director of PPR overseeing the creation of iconic Portland parks like Jamison Square and the Vera Katz Eastside Esplanade. Longtime activist Herndon has served as director of Albina Head Start for four decades, growing it to serve more than 1,000 children across 26 sites in the city.




Named for a prominent musician who led an African American Elks band that played in Portland and on steamships on the West Coast in the 1920s, Billy Webb’s Elks Lodge began life as a YMCA. It has served as a central meeting spot for Portland’s minority communities throughout its 90-year life.

The Bright Lights began in 2008 to host prominent designers, innovators, politicians and other thought leaders from Portland and beyond in a intimate, fearless onstage conversations about the future of the city and region.

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Billy Webb Elks Lodge

6 North Tillamook Street

Portland, OR 97227

View Map

Refund Policy

Refunds up to 1 day before event

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