“They [City of Portland] need to actually do something about it [gentrification], and build affordable housing, but if they don’t then that means all of our communities of color will be pushed out all the way to Mt.Hood.”
Ana Meza (21), is very involved in the Lents community and the complete embodiment of the American Dream. Having moved to Portland when she was eleven-years old, Meza slowly developed into the community activist, that ROSE Community Development (Revitalizing Outer South East) so valuably recognized in awarding her the 2015 Youth Leadership Award. In our interview we talked about the sense of community in SouthEast Portland.
Q: Why do you feel there is urgency in telling the stories, working with and repairing the gentrified neighborhoods of Portland?
A: I feel like a lot of people do not know this is happening. If you actually get to see your people and how it has affected them, then that's when you realize that woah, this is having real impact on real people in our own community, along with how it has affected the community, too.
Q: Author, social activist and feminist, Bell Hooks has compared gentrification to colonization, “post-colonial style.” What are your thoughts on that comparison and how could you best visually describe gentrification?
A: I can definitely see how it is like colonization-- by making people fit into your customs, culture, what you know and you like. Making that people lose their identity, who they are, their culture and just who they are as a person. By looking out Powell, I have noticed that gentrification happens after urban renewal, so you take old buildings destroy them and build new ones.
Q: Despite all of the negativity happening, what is one thing that you still love about your neighborhood?
A: My neighborhood is really diverse. I attended David Douglas and when I was their over 50 different languages were spoken, which allowed me to get to know different cultures.
“If we are not able to get more affordable housing in Lents, it will just become another North Portland, there is just no other option of where to live.”