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Helen Silvis of The Skanner News
Published: 16 August 2011

The Equity Ride tours through the newly-landscaped I-205 multi-use path project, which provided dozens of temporary youth jobs this year.

East Portland, or "The Numbers,"  is home to one-quarter of the city's residents. But this fast-growing area is also poorer and has fewer resources than other parts of the city. So what's being done to level the playing field for this multicultural area? Find out Aug. 25 at the Second Annual Equity Ride.

The East Portland Plan, adopted in 2009 aims to bring more resources and support to residents living east of 82nd Avenue. Check out some of the efforts underway at the second annual Equity Bike Ride, gathering from 5:30 pm, Aug. 25 in Lents Park, SE 92nd Avenue at Steele. The bike ride will set off at 6 p.m. and travel six and a half miles through the Lents neighborhood.

"It is open to anybody who wants to join in and participate," said Shelli Romero, public policy and communications manager for Oregon Department of Transportation, who started the Equity Ride last year.  "We've doubled the number of sponsors and we expect a lot of people to come so we encourage people to get there early."

Last year's Equity Ride went through the Montavilla Neighborhood; this year's ride will look at Lents, with the goal of raising awareness and bringing diverse communities together to learn about the geographic, racial, economic and environmental equity efforts underway in East Portland. 

Romero said she wants to bring attention to ODOT's Multi-Use Path project at I-205, as well as to the work of other agencies and nonprofits.  She hopes people with ideas and energy will come along and network.

"This event encourages people to network, so there may be some partnerships that come out of that," she said. "And we want to show that there is a way for equity to be an integral part of development."

The ride will stop four times to check out new development: first, on the new I-205 path at SE Liebe; second, at Holgate Transit Center; third, at Gilbert Heights Middle School; and finally at Zenger Farm. At each stop on the Equity Ride, speakers from sponsoring groups will explain how their work impacts equity and diversity issues, and what's possible for future projects.

Among the sponsors are: the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center, the Latino Network, the Immigrant and Refugee Council of Oregon, the Asian and Pacific American Network of Oregon, the Audubon Society, the Center for Diversity and Environment, and The Skanner Foundation.

Enjoy a tamale, courtesy of Hacienda CDC, and find out more about transit, housing, networking and development in East Portland, as you discover the joy of biking on the new path along I-205. That project includes the planting of 10,000 trees and bushes along the edge of the freeway, helping to shield surrounding neighborhoods from air and noise pollution and creating a greener environment.  METRO's 'Nature in Neighborhoods' capital program, working with a nonprofit partner, Friends of Trees, created 31 temporary tree-planting jobs for youth through the Rosemary Anderson High School POIC program.

"They get paid training as Friends of Trees crew leaders," Romero said. "And the nonprofit Verde will help with establishing these trees, watering them and making sure they survive the first three years.

"I think the users of this path are enjoying them."

Photo by Chijo Takeda shows Antonio Askew planting a tree.

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