Going Beyond the Flint Water & Housing Crises

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Humboldt Gardens Community Room

5033 N Vancouver Ave

Portland, OR 97217

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Going Beyond the Flint Water & Housing Crises: Community-led Solutions for Equitable Systems

Recode is pleased to welcome panelist speakers Monica-Lewis Patrick, CEO of We the People of Detroit and Cat Goughnour of the Right 2 Root Campaign. Ms. Lewis-Patrick will discuss how decades of planning decisions led predictably to the Detroit and Flint water crises and its relationship to gentrification, displacement, and a regional housing crisis. Ms. Goughnour will share how we can "co-create a people+place-based, health+wealth community stabilization process for Portland’s African American/Black residents to reduce disparities, increase opportunities and generate prosperity."

This session aims to frankly examine the disproportionate effect that historic and current city planning has on disinvested communities. Through case studies of community-led solutions that address wealth and infrastructure disparities, this session also aims to inform and inspire our own community to collectively do better.

This event is free to the public. If you'd like to help us cover costs, recode will gladly accept donations here.


  • Elected officials
  • Community advocates working in the realms of:
    • Gentrification, Racism and Displacement
    • Infrastructure equity
    • Environmental/climate justice
    • Planning and Design Professionals
      • Urban planners, architects and engineers and other infrastructure, sustainable communities and built environment practitioners
      • Developers
      • Contractors
      • Public Agency and Utility Employees



Monica Lewis Patrick, M.A.L.S.(aka The Water Warrior) is a mother, educator, entrepreneur, and human rights activist/advocate. She is co-founder of We the People of Detroit and has served as Director of Community Outreach & Engagement since 2009 and was unanimously elected by the Board to become the President & CEO in 2014. She is an active member of the People’s Water Board Coalition, US Human Rights Network, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights(IACHR), HOW(Healing Our Waters)/ Equity Advisory Council, Flint Strong Stones(Co-founder), Freshwater Futures/ All About Water(Advisory Committee), Detroit Equity Action Lab (Fellow 2016) and was named to the World Water Justice Council in October of 2015. She is actively engaged in almost every struggle on behalf of Detroit residents. As a former Lead Legislative Policy Analyst for Detroit City Council under the mentorship of former City Councilwoman the Honorable JoAnn Watson, Monica has authored legislation, conducted research, and delivered constituency services to tens-of-thousands of city residents.

Lewis-Patrick attended the historic- Bennett College, a graduate of East Tennessee State University with a B.G.S. (Bachelors of General Studies) degree in Social Work and Sociology, a M.A.L.S. (Masters of Arts of Liberal Studies) degree with a concentration in Criminal Justice/ Sociology and Public Management and a Ron McNair Scholar. She is currently one of the leaders at the forefront of the water rights struggle in Detroit and beyond. She most recently presented before the United Nations Secretary- General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation-DESA in New York City, along with several other national and international leaders on the global water crisis. She also spoke on the impact of the water crisis most recently at the historic Spelman College, for the 10th Inauguration of President Dr. Mary Schmidt.

Lewis-Patrick’s organization We the People of Detroit, co-hosted the United Nations Rapporteurs on Water/ Sanitation and Housing in Detroit in October of 2014 to challenge the Human Right to Clean, Safe and Affordable Water being denied to the residents of Detroit. Currently, she is the visionary, co-designer and co-author of the We the People of Detroit: Community Research Collective that published and released “Mapping the Water Crisis: The Dismantling of African-American Neighborhoods in Detroit” (August 2016) as volume one of a three-part series documenting the effects of austerity and its relationship to race in Detroit.

Lewis-Patrick, has won numerous awards and has been featured on several radio and television programs; such as, “Wake Up Detroit”, “Roland Martin Show – TV One”, MSNBC News and the like. She has also been featured in several newspapers and magazines; such as, EBONY magazine, JET magazine, Sojourner Magazine, The Washington Post, Guardian Magazine, The Hindustan Times, the Michigan Citizen, Voice of Detroit, Truthout, Mother Jones, Parian Magazine- Alter Mondes and a German Publication.

Cat Goughnour award-winning, Oregon-born human rights advocate specializing in applied equity policy, holds a MSc: Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies from London School of Economics and a BA in Socio-political Philosophy from Portland State University. Through Radix Consulting Group, her certified B Corp (established 2014), Cat employs a solution-focused approach to re/address the root causes of disparity while catalyzing social change. Since 2015, Radix’s Right 2 Root has been capacitating African Americans impacted by displacement and gentrification using a holistic, upstream Public Health intervention to leverage planning tools, public interest design, and community assets to create healthy, innovative places.

Right 2 Root Campaign: A Community-Centered System for Equitable Development in N/NE Portland is a community-led approach designed for community members affected by displacement and gentrification to work with planners, architects and other progressive entities to become architects of our own lives, communities, families and futures.

Right2Root aims to identify and build upon community assets; prioritize community development and resource allocation through an equity lens; build healthy, holistic infrastructure to maximize health, innovation and maker opportunities for the most vulnerable; and ameliorate traumatic physical, psychological, social, economic, cultural, environmental impacts caused by ‘root shock’ through unmitigated, multigenerational, serial forced displacement. It provides the tools necessary for people to become community builders, planners, leaders and decision makers - architects of their own lives by bringing together community members, architects and planners, and other early adopters and champions to work collaboratively to implement a Human Centered Plan to address the needs of Portland’s Black communities.


From We the People of Detroit:

Mapping the Water Crisis: The Dismantling of African-American Neighborhoods in Detroit” (2016) shows how decades of planning decisions led predictably to the Detroit and Flint water crises and its relationship to gentrification, displacement, and a regional housing crisis.

2018 Branigin, Anne "More Than 17,000 Detroit Homes at Risk for Water Shut-Off: Report"

From Right2Root:

2017 Robert Wood Johnson/ PolicyLink Convening, “Empowering Health Equity Action with Online Data Tools”, Portland, OR, July 10, 2017 (webinar).

2017 B Corp BLD PNW Summit, “Human Centered Design for Social Impact”, Portland, OR, June 22, 2017.

2017 Design Week: Thinking for Social Impact Panel, “Human Design for Social Impact”, Portland, OR, April 26, 2017.

2016 EcoDistricts Summit, Session, “Right to Root Recipe: Overcoming the Push/Pull Factors of Displacement through Equitable Development”, September 14, 2016.

From Others:

Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon: A Hidden History” by Walidah Imarisha for Oregon Humanities Conversation Project with support from Portland State University’s Black Studies Program

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Humboldt Gardens Community Room

5033 N Vancouver Ave

Portland, OR 97217

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