Hurricane Katrina: Remember and Act for Climate and Racial Justice

Saturday, August 29th will mark ten years since Hurricane Katrina. Its devastation highlights painful histories and issues of racial injustice and inequity in this country—policies, planning and investment that are not entirely unique to New Orleans. 

Katrina also shone a bright light on segregation, disparities in physical and economic mobility, as well as inequitable emergency response and climate policies. And, it showed us how a natural disaster can increase gentrification and displacement.  

We know that climate change makes things worse for low-income communities of color, that it exacerbates existing inequities and reinforces systemic racism.  In the case of New Orleans, not only were low-income communities of color the hardest hit, but inequitable planning and investment dramatically changed the demographics of the City.  Both African Americans and Whites left New Orleans, but many fewer African Americans had the resources to return.  There are nearly 100,000 fewer African Americans in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina—an exodus of 8%.  The share of whites, on the other hand, increased from 26.6% to 31%.[1]   Not only has this exodus clearly contributed to family and community instability, but also has had impacts on the City’s cultural diversity, political representation, and economic opportunities.

Portland’s communities, too, experiencing clear disparities in economic wealth and public investment, are susceptible to impacts of climate change including droughts, floods, and forest fires.  Slower but real emergencies—lack of affordable housing, poor access to healthy or culturally significant foods, or increased exposure to dangerous air quality and toxins—will only accelerate with climate inaction and business and planning as usual.

It is vital we push for change now, because of climate change, because more powerful storms are predicted, and because the painful effects of Katrina are still alive.  We must act on climate, push for equitable investment, and design policies and planning around those most impacted—low-income communities of color. 

Featured in Street Roots:

[1] Shrinath, N., Mack V. & Plyer A. (2014).  Who Lives in New Orleans and Metro Parishes Now? Data Center Research? Louisiana: The Data Center.

July 2015 CCC Member Spotlight

Slavic Network of Oregon was founded over ten years by leaders within the Slavic community. Since its inception, Slavic Network has played a critical role in Portland's Slavic community by providing culturally-responsive programs that meet the unique needs of Slavic seniors, parents, and children.

Most recently, the Slavic Network of Oregon has focused its efforts on developing relationships with religious Slavic organizations. As a result of the intentional outreach efforts, the Slavic Network was able to provide annual programmatic support to 2,000 Slavic community members through trainings, support, and encouragement. 

As a grassroots community-driven organization, the Slavic Network of Oregon leverages the leadership and experience of the Slavic Advisory Committee (SAC), a team of Slavic community leaders with a vested interest in the Slavic community. The SAC team strategically surveys their respective community to identify community needs and develop culturally responsive solutions that meet the needs of their community. The SAC also organizes trainings and workshops for the community. As result of the Slavic Network's long-standing presence in the community and strategic partnerships with the religious organizations, the average audience for the trainings are about 300 people. 

Ultimately, the Slavic Network's community engagement efforts with community leaders and organizations has improved the quality of life for Slavic people in Oregon.

July 2015 Equity Lens: Education Justice Update

HB3499 Signed Into Law!

Governor Kate Brown signing into law HB3499 with students and members from communities of color.  (Photo: Gordon Friedman / STATESMAN JOURNAL)

Governor Kate Brown signing into law HB3499 with students and members from communities of color. (Photo: Gordon Friedman / STATESMAN JOURNAL)

This legislative session, Governor Kate Brown signed into law HB 3499, a comprehensive approach to improve outcomes for Oregon’s English Language Learners (ELL) by increasing transparency, accountability, and systemic supports for schools, educators, and students. Currently, only 49% of ELL students graduate from high school and for many years, communities of color throughout the state have struggled with these detrimental educational outcomes. Leaders from communities of color knew we could do better, and with HB3499, our communities have the ability to turn this crisis into an opportunity for students throughout Oregon. HB3499 will ensure that ELL resources are focused on delivering quality ELL programming to our most vulnerable students and resetting the status quo of using these critical resources to fill shortfalls in school budgets.

The CCC, our members, and our community partners were instrumental in all leading facets of this groundbreaking legislation – from research on best practices for ELL students, to compiling statewide data on ELL outcomes, to drafting the bill, and to building a broad base of support with communities of color throughout the state. The CCC appreciates the leadership of Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO); Center for Inter-Cultural Organizing (CIO); as well as our advocacy our partners at Stand for Children and Northwest Health Foundation.

“With out the advocacy and united voice of leaders from a the Coalition of Communities of Color and Stand for Children this groundbreaking law would never have been passed.” - Nichole Maher, President and CEO of Northwest Health Foundation

In addition to community leadership on HB3499, the Department of Education and the Governor’s Office provided leadership in convening all stakeholders to have facilitated dialogue about the impact of this legislation leading up to the session.

HB3499, which was sponsored and championed by Representative Joe Gallegos, passed with unanimous support from both the house and the senate. If you have any questions or need any more information, please feel free to contact the CCC.

July 2015 Equity Lens: Community and Economic Development Update

Bullitt Foundation Site Visit to Cully Park

Bullitt Foundation Site Visit to Cully Park

We’ve ended the 2015 legislative session, we’re midway into the summer, and CCC’s Community Economic Development Program (CED) is heating up!

Already, CCC completed a CED environmental education series, which provides an opportunity to set a CCC wide vision of the environment, displacement and gentrification.

In addition to ongoing organizational and coalition work, we are continuing efforts on a collective agenda to address displacement and gentrification, uplifting the voices of those most impacted by gentrification and displacement and respecting our culturally-specific histories, experiences and approaches.

Members are scaling existing community engagement processes, environmental initiatives, and climate justice work to a regional and statewide level. 

We have joined Renew Oregon, a statewide campaign to pass climate policy, advocating for legislation that will (1) drive significant carbon and pollution emissions reductions, (2) mitigate the negative impact of climate change and climate policies on communities of color, and (3) provide opportunities and reinvestment for communities of color.

Finally, CCC members, NAYA and OPAL are completing robust climate resiliency planning to ensure our communities are prepared for the impact of climate change on intersecting priorities such as meaningful participatory planning, transportation, housing, public health, and economic opportunity.  Look at CCC and collaborative work on climate action here.


  • HB 3470 The Climate and Justice Stability Act moved much further than expected—through public hearings, out of Rules and into Ways and Means.
  • With incredible support HB 2564 Inclusionary Zoning passed through the House and into the Senate, but Senate leadership opted against a final vote on the bill.


  • SB 214: Age 3 to Grade 3 - In Senate Committee on Ways and Means upon adjournment
  • SB 553 A / SB 554 A: Disproportionate Discipline - Signed into law
  • HB 3499 B: English Language Learners - Signed into Law
  • HB 3025 B: Ban the Box - Signed into Law
  • HB 2002:  End Racial Profiling - Signed into Law

Please contact Maggie Tallmadge, Environmental Justice Manager, at with any with related initiatives, efforts and events!

July 2015 Equity Lens: Bridges Update

CCC's Leadership Development Initiative's New Name and New Look!

The CCC's Leadership Development Initiative is now known as BRIDGES: A Leadership Initiative for Oregon's Communities of Color! BRIDGES’ mission is to expand the capacity of communities of color to self-organize, network, build culturally-specific social capital, and develop our own pathways to equity. BRIDGES houses six culturally-specific leadership programs led by CCC member organizations and provides cross-cultural networking and support.

Congratulations to the graduates of the 2014-2015 programs!

2015 API CLI Graduating Cohort

2015 API CLI Graduating Cohort

Each year, leaders in the six culturally-specific programs collectively contribute over 12,000 hours of work, undergo 4000 hours of culturally-specific training, receive over 1300 hours of mentorship, and engage approximately 2000 community members through cohort-led action projects and campaigns.

You can learn more about BRIDGES and stay updated through our new quarterly newsletter, Leaders Bridge, where we share program updates, leader spotlights, upcoming events and leadership opportunities to engage in our work and communities.

For more information about BRIDGES or to sign up for the Leaders Bridge Newsletter please email Jessica Lee, Leadership Development Manager, at

2015 CCC Legislative Action Day

Monday, March 30th, 2015 :: Oregon State Capitol :: Salem, Oregon

The Coalition of Communities of Color would like to thank our member organizations and advocates from communities of color from across Oregon for supporting and participating in the 2015 CCC Legislative Action Day at the Oregon State Capitol! CCC would also like to thank and recognize Governor Kate Brown and all the state representatives for taking the time to meet with participants.

2014 JustPortland + CCC Summer Party

Saturday, September 27th, 2014 :: Tamale Boy :: Portland, Oregon

JustPortland's Steering Committee and the Coalition of Communities of Color would like to thank everyone that came out to support the 2014 Summer Party at Tamale Boy. Everyone had a wonderful evening of delicious food, cool beverages, and the company of outstanding community leaders of color that are creating a just Portland for all. Cheers! Feel free to tag friends and family.