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Tuesday, November 13—City of Portland Office of Community & Civic Life had the honor of hosting the 34th Annual Spirit of Portland Awards.
Since 1985 these awards are given to individuals and organizations who make outstanding contributions to our city and community. This year we had 19 winners between individuals and groups! Through their exemplary work, the recipients are leading our city to drive support for critical issues, change perceptions, and build movements.
Portland is home to a diverse range of communities with unique experiences and interconnected lives. These communities rich in thought, experience, and perspectives come together to tell a greater story about our city. We are indeed one city with many communities.
In celebration of Portland’s diverse communities, the theme for 2018 ceremony is “One City, Many Communities”. Each 2018 Spirit of Portland Award winner exemplifies this theme through their work, commitment, and dedication to enriching the lives of their fellow Portlanders.
Winner of Sandy Diedrich Environmental Stewardship of the Year award: Robin Vesey
Robin Vesey was honored with the 2018 Sandy Diedrich Environmental Stewardship of the Year award. She was honored for her twenty-two (22) years of dedication and outstanding environmental restoration efforts of the Terwilliger Parkway.
Through her commitment, Robin has scheduled and hosted over 42 community restoration work parties—working with more than 1,451 volunteers contributing 6,035 volunteer hours. These efforts have cleared 13.5 acres of ground ivy, 16.68 acres of tree ivy and over 3,459 trees have also been cleared of ivy. Additionally, she has also coordinated with multiple diverse community groups to continue these critical restoration efforts.
In 2000 Robin also began the important community partnership between Friends of Terwilliger and Multnomah County’s Alternative Community Service (ACS) program. Since then, Robin has coordinated over one hundred ACS work parties utilizing the valuable resources and efforts of ACS clients to remove non-native invasive plants along the Terwilliger Parkway.
Winner of Outstanding Young Leader Award: Amira Tripp Folsom
Amira embodies one person using her conviction, heart, and passion, to influence many communities. At age 14, Amira started a Youth Ending Slavery group at her school to raise awareness about young girls being sex trafficked and to raise funds to aid groups working to help victims of sex trafficking.
"Moving forward, I am hoping to connect with a few of the people I met at the event. In my community I am working on events with the youth social justice groups I am apart of such as the Youth Collective and the Youth Education Advocacy cohort, and I have recently taken on an executive role in Oregon Youth for Gun Reform.
When it comes to getting things done, it is always great to collaborate with other passionate youth activists. Some of my upcoming projects within my school are organizing a bake sale with my club, Youth Ending Slavery, and holding self-defense classes, discussions on healthy relationships, and documentary screenings on human trafficking at my school. Many students in my chapter have expressed interest in having guest speakers come and talk about modern-day slavery and one award recipient that I met at the Spirit of Portland Awards was Officer Mike Gallagher, who works in the Sex Trafficking Unit of the Portland Police Bureau. At the event, I asked him if he would be interested in coming to my school and found out that he has worked with Youth Ending Slavery before! I am very excited to expand on educating other students about human trafficking with someone who has seen it firsthand."
—2018 Young Outstanding Leader Amira Tripp Folsom on her experience of receiving a Spirit of Portland Award and her plans to work with a fellow honoree, Officer Mike Gallagher.
Winner of Commissioner Dan Saltzman Award: Officer Mike Gallagher
Officer Mike Gallagher has been a police officer with the Portland Police Bureau for 27 years. For most of his career, he has worked to address the issues related to prostitution and sex trafficking. He has been assigned to the Sex Trafficking Unit (STU) out of East Precinct for the past eight years.
Trophies for 2018 Spirit of Portland Awards were specially designed and created by local artist, Thea Gahr around the theme of "One City, Many Communities".
About the artist: Thea Gahr is an artist, activist, and educator whose work focuses on the intersection of social and environmental justice. She is a member of the Pittsburgh-based artist cooperative Justseeds (justseeds.org), works with the EPM68 autonomous school in Mexico City and Linfield College in Mcminnville, OR.
From the Artist: "This art celebrates the history of the land from which Portland has grown. I wanted to use the symbolism of nurse logs as giving life to the native and domesticated roses as well as the pollinators, who have stayed with us into city life, which have now become the symbol for migration. I see the roses representing the diverse communities that are growing at the roots from all that came before. The image of the river with all its bridges representing the act of community organizing that connect these diverse ecologies of peoples and place.
This is a multi-block and hand painted Linoleum cut on cotton paper. The background block was done with a very large brayer and rainbow rolled giving a special individual touch to each of the prints in this edition. Each print was made with lots of love and care with the hopes of reflecting the amazing work of those building communities."
—Thea Gahr on her inspiration and story for the event artwork.