Multnomah County Takes Back the Block

On April 6, 2022 the Multnomah County Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program and Oregon Walks co-hosted an event called Take Back the Block. The event celebrated National Walking Day, Distracted Drivers Awareness Month, and National Public Health Week.

One of the main goals of the event was to draw attention to the new walking and biking infrastructure on NE Halsey Street and the parks in the area, places where people could get outside and get physical activity. The walk began in Gateway Discovery Park and crossed NE Halsey Street to Knott City Park before returning to Gateway Discovery Park. 

Walking and rolling are sources of physical activity for many, and access to pedestrian infrastructure can have a direct impact on health. Multnomah County Health Officer Jennifer Vines highlights the importance of walking as one of the best ways to promote personal health, as “…there’s almost nothing that [walking] will not improve, in terms of your mental… and physical well being.” 

The British National Health Service, which advises walking as a form of physical activity, reports that “…regular walking is proven to reduce your risk of some chronic illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, asthma, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some types of cancer. It can also improve your mood and reduce your risk of depression.”

The walk also highlighted some of the challenges of walking in Gateway and other Portland neighborhoods: sidewalkless streets. “Walkability of neighborhoods is essential. And particularly in communities of color…we see [a] lack of walkable sidewalks, we see lack of infrastructure for walking, we see lack of green space, and all of the things that contribute to health,” says District One Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran. According to the Portland Street Surfaces Map made by the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), in 2018 roughly a third of the length of the city’s streets had incomplete or no sidewalk coverage. 

This lack of pedestrian infrastructure has a disproportionate impact on people of color. The Fatal Pedestrian Crash Report (2021) by Oregon Walks states that “a majority (67%) of fatal pedestrian crashes occurred in areas where the percentage of people of color is greater than the citywide average.” Other groups disproportionately endangered by lack of pedestrian infrastructure are people with disabilities, people with low income, people experiencing houselessness, and older adults.

Oregon Walks Transportation Justice and Communications Manager Izzy Armenta emphasizes the importance of thinking about walking and rolling as physical activity but also as “a form of mobility that’s essential for everybody,” and says that this event was a way to start, and continue, a conversation about how to make a form of mobility that’s safe and accessible to everyone.

PBOT’s Interactive Crash Map shows nine pedestrian deaths so far this year, putting Portland on the path to continue a rise in pedestrian deaths from 2021, which saw 27 total pedestrian deaths. Changes to pedestrian infrastructure, such as lighting, could be a key part of stopping this rise. As stated in the Oregon Walks Crash Report, “street lighting was found to be an urgent issue with 79% of crashes occurring in the dark with potential lighting inadequacies identified at a majority of these locations,” and that from 2017 to 2019, “100% of pedestrian fatalities of those identified as Black occurred when it was dark.”

“Improving lighting, road signage…[creating] safer routes to local destinations, whether that be the local clinic, the nearest church or nearest grocery store” are some of the ways that Taylor Ford, Communications Specialist at Multnomah County REACH, says pedestrian infrastructure can be improved in order to promote walking. Through working with nonprofit organizations, like Oregon Walks, and other government entities, REACH states on their website that they hope to “ensure that the African-American and African immigrant/refugee experience is uplifted through this work and that the Black community is able to have an influence on any future models for urban design and transportation policy.”


Post Seniors: Quintana Jones

An illustration of Quintana Jones by Lula Hugo.

Most likely to wear a beret and pull it off.

Quintana has been a writer for the Post during her senior year. She doesn’t have a favorite section to write for, explaining that “[y]ou gotta do them all” during your time on the Post, though her favorite story she’s written is her article ranking the top eight hottest U.S. Presidents. Her life goals are to learn to salsa dance, become fluent in French, and have a garden. Quintana’s plans for after high school are to attend a dual degree program with Emerson College and Paris College of Art, earning a degree in film art and film production, with a minor in French. One thing she thinks every Franklin student should do before graduating is “[w]ait in the lunch line without cutting or leaving class early,” something your peers will surely appreciate.


Post Seniors: Abe Nelson

Most likely to restore our faith in white men.

Abe has been writing for the Post since his sophomore year. One thing he’ll miss about the Post when he’s studying engineering at Tufts University is “being forced to mail newspapers by Oscar.” On a similar note, his words of advice for new writers and editors are “don’t sit at Oscar’s table because he will make you mail newspapers.” Abe is looking forward to “[l]iving somewhere new and meeting new people.” Throughout his high school career, Abe has also participated in cross-country and rowing. As to what else he does in his free time, Abe says, “To do things in my free time I would have to have free time which I don’t because rowing.”


Post Seniors: Emilia Valencia

An illustration of Emilia Valencia by Lula Hugo.

Most likely to sing the national anthem at the Olympics.

Emilia has been a writer on the staff of the Post for one year. Her favorite article she’s written is her piece about “Jeopardy” hosts titled “Who is… the New Host of ‘Jeopardy!’?” because, she explains, “I got to interview some really cool people.” One thing Emilia will miss from her time on the Post is “[r]eading everyone else’s stories the day they are published.” Her life goal is to attend the Academy Awards (as a guest or a nominee, we’ll have to wait and see). In the fall, Emilia will attend Pace University in New York City as a communication studies major with a minor in film and television.


Post Seniors: Stella Garrido-Spencer

Most likely to go on “Dancing with the Stars.”

Stella has been a writer for the Post for the past school year. Her favorite section to write for has been Feature, home to her favorite story she’s written, “The Push To Lower The Voting Age: Can 16-Year-Olds Be Trusted To Vote?,” which covered the movement to lower Oregon’s voting age to 16. When asked what kitchen utensil she would be, Stella says, “I resonate most with garlic presses because they are kind of unnecessary but fun.” Her favorite parts of the Post have been Late Nights, which she will miss when she attends Occidental College to major in sociology and minor in art.


Post Seniors: Angelique Ute

An illustration of Angelique Ute by Lula Hugo.

Most likely to write a powerful memoir that is used in future English classes.

This has been Angelique’s first year writing for the Post, during which her favorite article she’s written is her recap of Daniel Craig’s legacy as James Bond. Angelique is going to miss getting feedback on her writing as a part of the Post, a sentiment that she echoes in her advice to the new staff: “Take any advice and edits from your editors, it’s really good feedback on your writing, plus it benefits both the writer and editor.” Next year, she will be studying at Portland State University, majoring in business management. She says, “I’m looking forward to having a lot of free time, I’ll be able to work on my hobbies.”


Post Seniors: Ella Kauffman Smith

An illustration of Ella Kauffman Smith by Alyson Sutherland.

Most likely to become a victim to a Willy Wonka trap.

Ella has been on the staff of the Post for two years, this year as one of the two Forum Editors. When she leaves Franklin she’s going to miss “Kirsch, Late Night, and all [her] Post friends.” If Ella were a kitchen utensil, she would be a ladle (fitting, considering her favorite story she’s written is “What Is The Best Winter Soup? A Soup Competition”). Ella is looking forward to “taking more science classes and living in a different place” when she attends Goshen College in Indiana this fall as a biology major with a pre-vet focus.


Post Seniors: Miranda Phinney

An illustration of Miranda Phinney by Pearl McNames.

Most likely to become the next great philosopher.

This has been Miranda’s first year on the staff of the Post. Though they try to alternate which section they write for, their favorites are Forum and Feature, which best suit their preferred longer, essay-style articles. Aside from the Post, their favorite classes have been AP Calculus BC and AP English Literature, interests that they hope to pursue further in college. When they’re not working on schoolwork or their articles for the Post, Miranda can be found reading or discussing stories of any form at length with friends. This fall, Miranda will be attending the University of California, Davis with plans to major in either physics or math, with a minor in English.


Post Seniors: Oliver Fox

An illustration of Oliver Fox by Alyson Sutherland.

Most likely to get really into chess.

This has been Oliver’s third year on the staff of the Post, during which he served as one of the three Editors-In-Chief of the newspaper. One thing he’ll miss about the Post is “all of the people [he’s] met.” His favorite class, other than the Post, is Metals. If Oliver was a kitchen utensil, he would be a knife. One of his life goals, he says, is to “have enough of an impact for someone to know my name before they meet me,” something he may or may not have already accomplished, depending on who you ask. This fall, Oliver will be studying engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, where he’s looking forward to “meeting all the new people!”


Post Seniors: Nora Hugo

An illustration of Nora Hugo by Pearl McNames.

Most likely to adopt a child or a raccoon she finds on the side of the road.

Nora has been on the staff of the Post for three years, serving as one of the three Editors-In-Chief of the newspaper this year. Her favorite section to write for is Variety, where she served as an editor last year. When asked what she’ll miss about the Post, she says, “I know this may seem controversial, but I’ll really miss Editor’s Late Nights. The energy can get stressful, but it also is where we solve big problems and work together the most. The camaraderie is pretty unbeatable.” Next year, she’s “looking forward to the East Coast autumns to live out [her] Gilmore Girls dreams” while attending Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. One thing she thinks every Franklin student should do before graduating is “go to a sports game that doesn’t usually have a large crowd. This year I went to as many women’s varsity soccer games as I could with my friend and had a blast.”