My election day began with a meeting of a group I was recently asked to join, the NE STEM/STEAM coalition in Portland, Oregon. The group’s mission (I paraphrase) is to help students from communities of color gain access to careers and education in science, technology, and the arts.
It is an incredible collection of people and organizations, spearheaded by the indomitable New Market Tax Credit guru and all around community development expert Carl Talton. The members of this coalition include non-profits like Airway Science for Kids, Inc. (To put it in their words, they work with “Portland’s hard-to-reach youth” to build an actual airplane and sell it. Talk about inspirational.) And there is the retired school superintendent, Pixel Arts Education, a local college, the Rebuilding Center, educators… the list goes on and on. Amazing people doing amazing work to bring economic opportunity to all Americans.
My next meeting of the day was to get together with a small, local property owner as a part of a public sector program that, in part, brings assistance to long-time resident owners so they can learn to leverage their properties as investments and stay in their neighborhoods as they change, instead of being displaced by gentrification. In this case, I had the absolute honor of meeting with an immigrant couple who moved to the US as adults, learned English, and over the years acquired buildings as they started businesses.
She is from Asia, quiet and whip smart. He is from South America, gregarious and very detail oriented. They were strong, open, caring people who have worked hard their whole lives, who take care of their parents and their extended families, and have contributed much to our economy.
Every person I worked with on election day personified, in tangible and heroic ways, the ideals this country was founded upon, and it was a privilege to have been able to spend time with them and be reminded of all that America can be.