A Report From, A Return To Portland

A Report From, A Return To Portland
10 years, 6 months ago 1

Hello, Portland.

It’s great to see you again. Haven’t been here since 1978. How you have changed, in a good way I must say.

Me, too.

Last time I was here I was a 30-year-old prairie editor of 3,800 daily newspaper from Little Falls, Minnesota. I was an idealistic, energetic post-Watergate journalist who hoped to make a change in the world. You were a city of progressive people who wanted the same. We related then, we do now.

I sat in the crowd at an Associated Press Managing Editors Conference, wide-eyed and inspired, as journalistic sages sat on stage and taught and inspired me. I did take time to explore The City of Roses, its parks, gardens and cultural treasures. There may have been a microbrewery involved, too. It was a long time ago to remember. But I do recall Portlanders were a progressive people. The “greenest city,” rich in arts and culture and caring for social programs. I liked that. Oregonians seemed to share Minnesotans core values. Without the wind chill.

Since my first visit to Portland I moved on to chair APME committees, serve on its board, and edit newspapers in some of the nation’s largest cities. I eventually became one of those sages on stage.

In those travels, I have come to know your editor, Peter Bhatia. The Oregonian has traditionally been and continues to be a great newspaper serving a great city. You may not think that when your paper appears wet in your driveway or they leave out a favorite comic, favor a view that you may not agree with. But trust me, you have a good one.

Let’s move on, 34 years. I am back, sitting wide-eyed and curious at The Social Venture Partners convention at the Portland Hilton. If one is going to start over with a second career, the SVP convention is a great place to learn. SVP Portland has a great group of engaged philanthropists hosting more than 2,000 SVP partners from across the nation and around the world.  There will be sessions on collective action, financing social Impact and innovation in education.

SVP brings together worlds that typically do not overlap: grant making, volunteerism, nonprofit capacity building, and philanthropic education. Every SVP is a network of engaged philanthropists who believe that they can have a positive impact on their communities and who use innovative strategies to address complex social issues.

The convention opens Friday with Dan Pallotta, a nonprofit evangelist and author of the groundbreaking books “Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential” and the just-released “Charity Case”, in which he introduces The Charity Defense Council “to re-educate the public and give charities the freedom they need to solve our most pressing social issues.” I serve on the council’s advisory board and its mission of changing the way public thinks about charity and about change.

Friday night, the public is invited to an event at the Hilton Portland. Changemakers’ Night:  Passion for Progress will feature three innovative social entrepreneurs: Craig Kielburger, Matt Flannery and Jill Vialet.  Flannery is co-founder and CEO of Kiva, a nonprofit with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.  Vialet is founder and CEO of Playworks, which provides trained coaches to low-income schools in major urban areas to focus on recess and play to support learning. Kleinburger, co-founded Free The Children in 1995 at only 12 years of age. Today, he remains a passionate full-time volunteer for the organization, now an international charity and renowned educational partner that empowers youth to achieve their fullest potential as agents of change.

Pretty inspiring people coming to Portland.  I’ll be in the audience, wide-eyed and learning, just as I was 34 years ago.

And, Portland, it so very nice to see you again.


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  1. […] was in Portland at The Social Venture Partners International convention.  SVP is a network of engaged philanthropists in 20 cities in places like Cincinnati, Seattle, […]