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Q & A: Portland comic artist Max Young tells all

BPS E-News, March 2014

Illustration by Max YoungLast month the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability published "Portland’s Central Eastside," a visual story about this unique and dynamic part of the city. One of the most notable characteristics of the book is the striking black and white illustrations done in a quasi-comic art style. These drawings were commissioned from local Portland comic artist Max Young, whose own history mirrors the dynamic and creative nature of the district he rendered so effectively.

Young moved to Portland in 2012 after receiving his Master of Fine Arts in Sequential Art from the Savannah College of Art and Design, and BA in Drawing from University of Tennessee. Although classically trained in the arts, Max has been making comics since he was a kid.

Young’s portfolio includes a back-up issue for Hell Yeah (an Image comic series) and plenty of self-published comics like Jetpack Shark, Sydney Sage: Extreme Exterminator and Blacked Out. In addition to action and adventure comics, he also creates illustrations for various clients.

Staff found Max through Periscope Studios, a collective of comic artists working in the Central Eastside. We asked him about working with Portland’s creative community, the industrial district and working on this project.

Tell us about the group of artists you work with. How does the collective work?

It's a fun experience to work in a studio with other cartoonists. At my own studio, it’s a two-person operation with a lot of individual feedback and collaboration. But I also interned for Periscope Studios in the Central Eastside, where nearly 20 artists work in a large open space. I make an effort to drop by and work there every once in a while because the energy there is so contagious. Everyone works in their little space, listening to music or podcasts while we're all working on our own projects. Anytime there's something you're struggling with, it's incredibly easy to get someone else to look at it and help out. Also, there's a lot of influencing that happens, where you see something cool that someone else is working on, and that influences the work you're doing. It's really the best way to make art, outside of your own personal bubble.

Your studio is in the Central Eastside, right? How do you like it?

It's actually in the Lloyd District, which is just outside of the Central Eastside, a block or two north. It's a great area to live with so many places within walking distance to shop and eat. I love it. It's quiet, but right near everything with a MAX station a few blocks away.

Does the industrial district help you connect with other working artists, book designers and communications folks?

That was probably one of the most shocking things that happened when I moved to Portland. Interning at Periscope got me immediately in touch with a multitude of cartoonists, and before I knew it I was meeting many others at various places. The artistic community is so big that you can't help but meet talented people. I've met a ton of writers, illustrators, cartoonists and other art-making professionals, and I'd attribute that directly to Portland's overall sense of community. It's such a unique melting pot that it develops and enhances creativity, and that abundance helps to inspire my own artwork.

What was your impression of the Central Eastside planning project when you first learned about it?

It sounded like a fun challenge honestly. I really hoped that I could be a part of it because it was something new and different. I had no idea how the project would come together in the end, but I knew it was going to be an interesting journey to get there. When comics and graphic novels can reach a new and wider audience, I think those projects work out well. People love comics and illustrations, and using them to share information is a really good way to get people to stop and read.

What do you think about the future of the Central Eastside? Of Portland?

The tour of the Central Eastside was really eye opening. I'm always in that part of Portland; my favorite restaurant of all time, the Montage, is there. But I was really shocked at how little I knew of the area — so many more studios, shops, restaurants and businesses that I never knew were there. People are making a lot more things in Portland than I realized. I didn't know there was so much industry in that area. It felt like I experienced a new side to a place that I had been to so many times previously, that I honestly had to completely re-evaluate and change the way I look at the Central Eastside.

I think the Central Eastside will start to see some growth in the coming years. It's a unique area in a special city, and until recently its cool and different quality has been something of a secret. Once people start to learn more about that, I imagine that it'll start attracting more businesses. It's a lot like Portland. You hear a lot of good things, and then you go there and it's even better than you expected.

Will you be here then?   

I certainly hope to be! I can say with confidence that if there was ever any city that I felt like I belonged in, it's definitely Portland.

You can find more of Max’s artwork at or follow him on Twitter at @OhCayBro. His primary website,, is currently offline and will be relaunched with a new web comic in the coming months.

Solar and schools go together like peanut butter and jelly

BPS E-News, March 2014

Kids are our future leaders and problem-solvers so we need to invest everything we’ve got in their future success. This means creating a clean energy future. There is momentum building to ensure that solar becomes a critical part of that vision. 

Solar Forward is a crowdfunding campaign that brings solar energy to beloved community institutions like schools and community centers. 

Our goal today is to bring a new solar electric array to the Lent Elementary school in Southeast Portland. The 10-kilowatt system will be installed at a visible location near the school’s colorful community garden.   

In partnership with Solar Oregon, Solar Forward will work with Lent’s teachers to expand energy literacy and increase energy awareness for students in conjunction with the system’s installation. A third Solar Forward site is in the planning stage, too.

The Solar Forward fund has already raised 75 percent of the funds needed to install the system. We need just $10,000 more to make this installation a reality! 

Will you join our group of solar leaders?

Supporting renewable energy delivers real benefits to the community, from the quality of the air we breathe to the economic opportunity created for Portland’s small businesses and workers. Your tax-deductible contribution, no matter how large or small, will be so helpful to meet our goal.


Portland Housing Bureau announces assistance to create affordable homes

BPS E-News, March 2014

PHB TeamThe Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) strives to solve the unmet housing needs of the people of Portland. One way they do this is by offering programs to promote the creation of affordable homes. PHB is currently inviting applications for the Multiple-Unit Limited Tax Exemption (MULTE) Program.

MULTE Program projects receive a 10-year tax exemption on structural improvements to the property as long as program requirements are met.  Requirements include at least 20 percent of units rented to households earning no more than 60 to 80 percent of median family income, depending on the area. The MULTE Program offsets developers’ operational costs while creating affordable units in market rate projects.

“Housing prices are rapidly increasing and we want to ensure that all Portlanders can afford a place to live. This is a valuable tool to keep Portland affordable for hardworking families,” said Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

MULTE awards are made using a competitive selection process. PHB selects recipients based on their commitment to providing public benefits with their projects. This includes affordability, accessibility features for seniors and people with disabilities, partnerships with organizations reaching vulnerable or disadvantaged communities and minority contracting goals.

PHB anticipates additional tax exemption availability within the current application cycle. We welcome inquiries for both the current MULTE application and upcoming cycle, available in the early spring of 2014. Developers with prospective projects should contact Dory Van Bockel, LTE Program Coordinator, at or 503-823-4469. Information on the MULTE program is available at

Media Contact: Jaymee Cuti, Portland Housing Bureau, 503-823-3239,

Members wanted for Planning and Sustainability Commission

BPS E-News, March 2014

The Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) includes 11 volunteer members with expertise in a range of areas. As a group, they balance a variety of City goals. We are currently seeking a member to fill a vacant position on the Commission.

The PSC has specific responsibility for the stewardship, development and maintenance of the City's Comprehensive Plan, Climate Action Plan and Zoning Code. Their recommendations to City Council on Portland’s long-range goals, policies and programs for land use, planning and sustainability aim to create a more prosperous, educated, healthy, resilient and equitable city.

The work of the PSC is to:

  • Advise City Council and City bureaus on social, economic and environmental issues as well as long-range development in Portland; and on the development and maintenance of the City’s Comprehensive Plan and implementation measures.
  • Ensure sustainability principles and practices and equity considerations are integrated into policy, planning and development decisions.
  • Advise City Council, as well as City bureaus and other agencies, on projects and proposals that significantly affect the city.

More information about the PSC.

Application Process

As the Zoning Code requires, the membership of the PSC “should include broad representation of Portland’s community and reflect the dynamic nature of this changing city.” To balance and diversify the current composition of the PSC, at this time we are especially interested in adding a member who has experience and knowledge about innovative urban solutions, new technologies, community building, affordable housing, green building or efforts to make Portland a thriving, livable city for all.

Typical time commitment for PSC members includes two 3-hour monthly meetings, reading/preparation time prior to each meeting, as well as possible additional time on sub-committees. Because this appointment will fill a position that is mid-term, this position will have approximately nine months of service at the initial confirmation, with the option for the Commissioner to serve an additional two 4-year terms.

To indicate your interest in serving on the Planning and Sustainability Commission, applicants must complete an application form and return it to the City's Office of Neighborhood Involvement at 1120 SW 4th Ave, Suite 110, Portland OR 97204.

The PSC values diversity and encourages everyone who is interested in this position to apply. Applications for those who apply that are not selected will be kept on file for two years for consideration when a position is again open or vacated.

From BPS Director Susan Anderson: Introducing the BPS 2014-16 Strategic Plan

BPS E-News, March 2014

BPS strategic Plan coverI'm pleased to share the new 2014-16 BPS Strategic Plan.

This strategic plan provides us with a fresh start in a new direction.  It builds on the Portland Plan, a strategic roadmap that promotes a more prosperous, educate, healthy and equitable city.  And it takes the next step.  Because great plans need great follow through and implementation — and that's where's we're headed.

In the coming three years, BPS will align our resources and actions with dozens of partners to deliver innovative and practical solutions.  We will work to refine the big picture vision, and set the rules, code and policies through updates to the Comprehensive Plan, Climate Action Plan, a new Central City 2035 plan, improvements to the zoning code and other planning efforts.  In addition, we will motivate voluntary and market-based actions by residents and businesses through education, technical and financial assistance, research and demonstration to promote waste reduction and recycling, energy efficiency, green building and solar technologies, brownfield transformation, access to healthy food and other sustainable and efficient practices.

Throughout all our efforts, we will focus on actions that 1) create more healthy, walkable and connected neighborhoods, 2) build on the strength and character of East Portland with much-needed improvements, and 3) advance a low-carbon economy and healthy, prosperous city.

We look forward to collaborating with our many community partners and with cities from around the globe to glean best practices, and address these very significant challenges and opportunities.  Please take a look at the strategic plan and tell us how you can help us implement this plan, and how we can work together to create a more prosperous and healthy community.

All the best,