It’s amazing what you learn in the photography equipment business. For instance, I’ve lived in Portland for over 30 years, and I had no idea that the Lents neighborhood was the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in Portland.
I found out because Pro Photo Supply gives me the freedom to support community projects that use visual communication to tell their story. This summer, the Regional Arts and Culture Commission, Rose Community Development, architects from Propel Studio, and photographer Dawn Deano teamed up to bring a vision to life for the Lents neighborhood.
The “Lents Grown Story Yard” is the result. The residents voted to take a scrubby, vacant lot at SE 88th and Foster, and turn it into an attractive gathering place as well as a venue to tell the story of this vibrant enclave in Southeast Portland.
Propel Studios in collaboration with the PDC, RACC, and the Rose Foundation created a gathering place and gallery in one. Dawn Deano’s striking black and white portraits, printed on weatherproof canvas and placed throughout the Yard, artfully reveal the spirit and vitality of those who invest their lives and livelihoods in the Lents neighborhood.
Lents youth contributed as well. Pro Photo Supply helped them capture stories about their community by providing cameras and lenses at low or no cost, as well as basic instructions to get the kids started. Luke Bonham of Rose Community Development Corporation, and Dawn Deano worked with them throughout the summer to craft short videos of Lents as seen through the eyes of its younger residents.
The grand opening of “Lents Grown Story Yard” was held on a recent warm summer evening. Nearly 300 residents showed up to take part in sampling a variety of ethnic foods supplied by Lents businesses and residents, listen to music, and celebrate together as friends and neighbors.
It was a huge hit, and a big win for an up-and-coming neighborhood that’s been overshadowed and overlooked for far too long. As a Pro Photo Supply team member, it was a pleasure to be a part of bringing the Lents story to life. Here are some links to learn more about “Lents Grown,” and the new-found pride of place its residents have found.