By Daniel Hong
Occupy Portland is moving, out but it’s not for certain where they’re moving to. Their last day with St. Francis Parish is April 15th, with plans to move on this International Workers’ Day, May 1st.
While it might seem rushed, it’s actually been a long standing collaborative effort representing several months worth of work. The “St. Francis Working Group”, created in the summer 2012, has engaged in a continuous dialogue with St. Francis’ pastoral administrator Valerie Chapman on current issues and larger vision. Info Team (the office receptionists) and Friends of Occupy Portland (FoOP, the movement’s 501(c)4) made numerous presentations to General Assemblies and Spokes Councils, providing them the support and autonomy they needed.
The church offered a quick transition for the post encampment period late December 2011, with one of the most affordable rents for 800 square feet of space, but it ultimately became clear that it was not an ideal situation. Language was agreed upon in the arrangement with the church to safeguard against the office becoming a competing environment with the the Dining Hall as a resting/dignified space for the homeless and poor. It proved to be a policy difficult to enforce as individuals exploited it in just such a manner. Many found the location challenging to find, due to a lack of available parking and limited visibility. It’s always been the intention of FoOP to downsize so funds can be more evenly allocated to protests and social projects.
Consensus has yet to be reached on where exactly the new office will be. Occupy Portland is currently open to tips about spaces to lease within the Portland metropolitan area, and options remain open.