Commissioner JoAnn Hardesty
I made over 700 photographs on January 2nd, and I have actually just finished the initial processing of all of them. (They were all taken at 3200 ISO or higher because everything was indoors, in very poor light. The one I'm posting for a Blip was made during the evening program, with one massive flood light aimed at JoAnn and Andrew Tolman, the American Sign Language Interpreter.)
It's after 2 a.m. on January 3rd now, but I want to post this, turn off comments, and move into writing. I've signed off Facebook. All that remains for me after a few hours of sleep is to mail off the camera to the Fuji people, to get some rest after this marathon day, and to begin a new way of life--which is actually an old way of life. It's hard to believe the internet has only been with us since about 1995, isn't it? It seems to have always been here.
I am happier about JoAnn's installation as a member of City Council in Portland than I can even find words to say. At her first press conference, she was asked her first priority. She said it is doing something for Houseless people. Doing something FOR. Not ABOUT. And then she said her other priority is making Portland safe for all people, not just for the people the Police have always protected. All people. Houseless people, Black people, immigrants and refugees, Trans people, children of all colors...all people.
I realized, listening to her, clicking the shutter, grinning like a fool and brushing away tears, that I have become so accustomed to being alienated from politicians that I am in SHOCK to see that an honest, caring, truth-speaking person, a person with a moral compass and the will to apply it, actually has some power to change this city. I felt this way when Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa. Of course it was not possible for him to make all the changes he wanted to make. Of course he needed the people to support him, and JoAnn needs the support of the people in this city. This is a beginning, not an end. But I thought of this poem by Adrienne Rich in 1994, and I think of it again today.
What would it mean to live
in a city whose people were changing
each other’s despair into hope?
You yourself must change it.
What would it feel like to know
your country was changing?
You yourself must change it.Though your life felt arduous
new and unmapped and strange
What would it mean to stand on the first
page of the end of despair?
I will be back here when I have a story to offer. Not till then. I hope it won't be long.