Rappers, dancers, a dance-off for teens, African drummers, jazz, soul and Gospel music are just a few of the reasons to visit this year's PROPER Festival, set to run from noon to 4 pm, Aug. 27, at North Portland's Kenton Park. In its 20th year, the festival brings people together, to share delicious food, fun, entertainment and live, face-to-face networking, across social and cultural lines.
"We offer very good free food and we feed about 1000 people," said Pastor Robin Gordon, an organizer with the group for the last two years. "We're simply about creating a fun community event that makes the community feel a little smaller, and a little more united."
The theme of this year's festival is "Uniting the Youth Today to Create a Better Tomorrow."
Niani Norman said organizers chose the theme after the tragic death of 14-year-old Helensview High School student Yashanee Vaughn.
"That hit home for a lot of people," Norman said. A youth advocate who has worked with the arts nonprofit Caldera, the SUN School program and church youth groups, Norman said she sees a disconnect between young people, parents and children's organizations. Deborah Sampson, another organizer, said the deaths of other young people, including Shiloh Hampton and Shalamar Edmonds, also had a strong impact on the decision to focus on youth.
"We're seeing a rise of violence among teens and to me, as a person witnessing it- it's getting out of control. We know 'It Takes a Village', and we are that village. This theme fits perfectly with our mission at PROPER, which is to bring everyone together, and really help people know what's available from the organizations working in our community –but also to get the community involved so those organizations are more effective."
Norman said she had not heard of the 11:45 effort that recently signed up 400 volunteers to work on projects that support youth and families. But she hopes that 11:45 volunteers and other community groups, such as the 'Restore the Village' campaign, will meet up at the PROPER festival and form relationships that connect Portland's efforts to help youth.
Kyna Harris, who leads Oregon Action's healthy kids initiative, will speak at the festival. Harris, who earned an MBA from Concordia University, has also worked for the Black Parent Initiative.
Children, teens and adults all will find something to enjoy at the festival, including games, a basketball shootout with prizes, a skateboard ramp and activities, also with prizes. A stage will showcase spoken word poets, dancers, and an incredible lineup of music that includes: rap from the Concrete Evangelists and from GNC Ministries; pop and loc from Nathan Edwards New Columbia Krump; rock from Venus Askew; dance with Bobby Fouther; comedy from David Little; plus the 25th Hour Band; Blue Reign; Chris Mondaine, and festival co-founder E.D. Mondaine, who performs with 'Belief.' E.D. Mondaine and Belief recently released their new album, featuring 'Cry Loud' a tribute to the residents of Joplin, Mo.
Another draw at the festival is the annual transportation and awards show which brings classic cars and unusual and interesting vehicles. If you want to bring a show car, or any vehicle, simply register – for free –with Pastor Gordon at 503-890-5393.
Youth nonprofits, churches, schools, recovery organizations, mentor organizations and support groups will have booths at the festival, offering information about resources and networks. Free health screenings will be on offer through the afternoon. Don't eat or drink for three hours in advance, if you would like to have your blood sugar checked – a test for diabetes.
E.D. Mondaine, senior pastor at Celebration Tabernacle Church, created PROPER along with Pastor Tyrone Sampson, who passed away last year. PROPER stands for: People Reaching Other People Expecting Restoration. Sampson's widow, Deborah Sampson, worked with Michael Hunter, Niani Norman and Robin Gordon to create this year's festival. Volunteers are needed. Please contact Robin Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org
PROPER is also known for its annual Thanksgiving dinner, a collaboration with Po'Shines Café at 8139 N. Denver. The group usually holds two summer events, but because of tight finances, this year has focused on the Kenton Park festival.
Here's the Lineup:
Shyne Chayim White - Hip-Hop
Kena Harris - speaker
Blue Reign - Pop, light Rock
STAGES Youth Theatre - Drama
E.D. Mondaine' & Belief - Gospel, Soul
Antoine Stoudamire - Rap, speaker
25th Hour -R&G
Blaque Butterfly - Spoken Word
Bobby Fouther - African Dancers
Venus Askew - Rock
Concrete Evangelist - Hip-Hop
Transportation show with Skateboard ramp
Nate Edwards - Krump, Pop & Lock
PHOTOS: from top, E.D. Mondaine and Belief performing at last year's festival. Pictures from last year's PROPER festival, courtesy of Pastor Robin Gordon.