July 16, 2012
Story by Abby Warren
My Story, a Portland arts nonprofit that brings photography and related media workshops to underrepresented Portland Youth, received a competitve National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town grant last week.
Images from My Story's "We Are Portland" project may be familiar to many of us, as they illustrated the Portland Plan and brought liveliness to City Hall's Atrium this year. What may not be as familiar to us is the richness and understanding that My Story's programs bring to our city. The mobile photography workshops empower youth to gain a consciousness of their own identity, a meaningful connection with their communities, and an opportunity to share their stories with the world.
Part of NEA's Our Town program, this grant will help fund the six project sites of "We Are Portland" where 90 underserved youth will capture faces and stories of a changing Portland through Free Family Portrait Days reaching 180 families. At these festive neighborhood gatherings, Portland youth offer a lense through which community members can conceptualize community and build foundations for public discourse in the places they call home.
"We are Portland" is a partnership between My Story, the Office of Mayor Sam Adams, the City of Portland and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.
With only 80 funding opportunities and 317 applicants, My Story faced a success rate of only 25 percent. We congratulate them for securing this highly competitive grant and applaud the work invested by our Portland youth, city agencies, and My Story staff and volunteers.