On our blog, we’re sharing stories of those working to create social change here in Oregon—and beyond. If you have news or events that deserve to be championed here, let us know.

Image courtesy of Disabled And Here.

Collected Wisdom

Taking Stock of Your Photo Choices

Those of us who work in communications are constantly shaping stories, often relying on words and images to accomplish our goals. And for many social change organizations—especially those operating on a limited budget—free stock photo galleries serve as an indispensable resource for these images. Yet if these galleries do not truly reflect the diversity of the people in our communities, the stories we tell will not reflect this diversity, either.

Yet if these galleries do not truly reflect the diversity of the people in our communities, the stories we tell will not reflect this diversity, either.

That’s one reason behind a growing movement to create collections of striking (and free) stock photographs that aim to be inclusive. Portlanders are leading some of these efforts: Affect’s Disabled And Here collection celebrates disabled individuals who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color, while AllGo’s collections depict plus-size people living normal lives.

Other notable inclusive galleries are Vice’s Gender Spectrum Collection, Canva’s Natural Women Collection, and Nappy. In addition, Project #ShowUs and TONL both offer large galleries of inclusive stock photographs for sale.

The Jargon Bargain

We are powerfully attracted to using jargon—specialized, technical language—because it can act as an efficient shorthand, and show others that we are experts in our field. But in a post for the Communications Network, Eric Zimmermann and Calvin Koon-Stack explain why our use of jargon often hinders our ability to communicate effectively.

One problem emerges when our audience does not have the same fluency with such language that we do. It’s then that jargon can distract listeners or readers. As the brain attempts to recall just what jargon phrases might mean, it is unable to engage with the other ideas that an expert is seeking to convey. Read the full post for tips on how to eliminate jargon from your own writing.

Making Change

Deep Roots in the Community

For many, Portland’s Street Roots is the ultimate example of social change communications. This weekly newspaper is sold to the public by vendors who are currently or formerly homeless, and vendors keep most of the money they earn from these sales. A recent Oregon ArtsWatch article outlines the long-running impact of this organization, which engages 160 active vendors to sell nearly 35,000 newspapers each month.

Its pages also amplify the voices and creativity of many who have been marginalized in our community.

For twenty years, the nonprofit’s journalism has served as a window into the world of people experiencing homelessness, while its pages also amplify the voices and creativity of many who have been marginalized in our community. And its editorial platform makes it a unique advocate for those who have experienced life on the streets. Read the entire article to discover more about the creative, can-do persistence of this organization.

Supporting Black Entrepreneurs

One lingering stereotype about the Pacific Northwest is that its people of color are few and far between. But in a Medium post, entrepreneur and advocate Stephen Green writes that, contrary to such perceptions of our region, there is a thriving (and growing) black community in the greater Portland area. Yet he points out that, “as the number of black businesses in Portland continues to grow, the support infrastructure for them has all but crumbled.”

“as the number of black businesses in Portland continues to grow, the support infrastructure for them has all but crumbled.”

A response to this lack of support has emerged with the annual PitchBlack event, which offers black entrepreneurs a venue to pitch their ideas, connect with funders, and reach a wider audience. The effort is spearheaded by Green, and supported by an array of corporate and nonprofit partners. Participants have pitched ideas ranging from sneaker-themed coffee shops to tech-based community platforms to mentorship programs.

An article in the Portland Business Journal reveals that the 38 entrepreneurs who have presented at the event have gone on to raise $38 million for their ideas—on average, that’s a million dollars per pitch. But as Green also notes, “it is still the only consistent place black founders are featured.” Read more about this year’s PitchBlack event in the article.

Participate

Help Students Imagine New Possibilities For Themselves

A current cohort of Carpe Mundi students.

Sure, she was enrolled in college. But Nelyn Phillip felt like she didn’t belong in higher education. She couldn’t shake this feeling until she took part in program run by Carpe Mundi. This nonprofit organization offers low-income, first-generation college students in Portland a year-long mentorship and scholarship program that culminates in an experiential education semester abroad.

In this video, Nelyn describes how she found a passion for equality, activism, and social change that led her to a Global Citizen Conference in Tunisia, a geopolitical tour in Palestine, and a post-hurricane reconstruction project in Puerto Rico. Nelyn isn’t alone—many other Carpe Mundi students have created new possibilities for themselves by engaging with each other, communities abroad, and communities at home. Remarkably, over 90 percent of these students persist in their college education after completing the program.

On Friday, October 25th, Carpe Mundi is holding its annual fundraising auction in Portland. To attend, click here. And if you are a student (or know one) who may be eligible for the nonprofit’s programs, applications will open on November 1st.