Dignity Doings

by Patricia L. Annis
staff writer

A race for the wind

Dignity Village plans to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony with other local "dignitarians" June 6 at Sunderland Yard for the city's new windpower project which is expected to bring 1,000 green jobs to Portland. In the shadow of the city's windmill, Dignity is racing to complete a windmill of its own. It is mostly finished, but they need a large industrial fan from which to fashion the blades and cannot afford the price. So far, the 25-foot high windmill, made of recycled parts, has cost only $2.99 and is capable of delivering 720 watts of energy. "We pay over $2,200 a month for the pleasure of living on wet asphalt in a leaf composting site, and our landlord was complaining that we kept blowing fuses, so we would love to run our lights on wind-power," says Jack Tafari, chair of the village council. Shawn Followell designed and built the windmill from a car alternator with blades made of tentpoles and coffee cans atop a collapsible stunt tower from a Hollywood movie set. Mounted to a trailer, "the whole thing is easily mobile," says Followell, "in case we have to move." All they need is some really big fan blades. And then, says Tafari, "itsa hot shower frumma wind power, yeah!"

A fundraiser to buy land

Dignity's Land and Freedom benefit is slated for June 21 at Portland State University's Smith Ballroom from 12:00 noon to midnight. The event is a fundraiser for land acquisition and to help cover the village's day-to-day operational costs. Tickets cost $20. Entertainment will include the popular seven-piece Upright Dub Arkestra, Systemwide and folk/protest singer Desert Rat. The lineup and other details of the benefit are still unfolding as street roots goes to press, so watch the village web site for further developments at www.dignityvillage.org.

Digsville Farm underway

Dignity farmers are cultivating organic produce, giant sunflowers and succulent berries for market on a beautiful 3/4-acre patch of land 65 miles southwest of Portland near Hagg Lake. "Digsville" is awash in new sprouts of veggies and herbs overseen by small flocks of poultry, pheasants and quail. "The farm is about self-sufficiency," says J.P. Cupp, "though it is not an end-all to homelessness." The farmers say they would greatly appreciate donations of vegetarian compost, eggshells, fowl, livestock, lumber and some technical farming skills. For more information contact J.P. Cupp at 503-281-1605 or by email to tentcitypdx@yahoo.com. Watch for our in-depth story of Digsville in next month's street roots.

Open House held

Dignity residents demonstrated their gardening and grilling skills as well as their culinary expertise Sunday May 29 from noon to 6 pm at an open house. Visitors were treated to fresh strawberries, assorted salads and hot dishes while Shawn Followell flipped burgers and chicken on the grill. Under balmy skies the windmill turned and the dogs barked and Randy Gragg of the Oregonian showed folks his article about the village in this month's "Architecture" magazine. Little gardens and greenhouses abound at Sunderland. Ross Bennett showed off the patch of plantings he co-farms with Shawn. "This is our Little Cuba," he grinned. "See our corn moon." Sure enough, corn is planted in the shape of a crescent moon, garlics and onions surround it as stars and, says Bennett, marigolds will come up in the eye of the moon. Pointing to the other end of his patch, Bennett smirks, "That whole thing over there is broccoli because George Bush hates it. If they don't have dirt under their fingernails or don't eat broccoli, don't trust 'em." In the gathering house, Gary Spry's beautiful guitar music competed with the sudden sounds of water splashing down on the cement floor nearby as a woman washed her hands at a faucet without a sink, reminding people this is still a tent city.