Continued from the front page.
See below for details on how to help out.
Since our humble and admittedly civilly disobedient
beginnings, we have come a long way. Our present
location in Sunderland Yard is our sixth and only
location not arrived at in one of our popular shopping
cart parades. And since we began both the purpose and
the long-range vision of Dignity have become steadily more
refined in the praxis of the village's historical
Our purpose is to create a safe, sanitary,
self-governed place to live as an alternative for
Portland's poor, an alternative to the over-burdened
shelter system where there are about 600 shelter beds
for about 3500 homeless people, an alternative to
sleeping alone in the doorways, under the bridges, or
in the jails where we are occasionally housed for
urinating in public, jaywalking, camping, whatever.
Our vision is to create a green, sustainable urban
village, built by and for ourselves using mostly
donated and/or recycled materials, solar and wind
power, composting toilets, and growing our own organic
food in our gardens and on our farm. To read more
about our vision, please see
What We Propose To Do on
the About Dignity page of this site.
From December of 2000 until September of 2001, Dignity
occupied a series of otherwise unused public spaces
near downtown Portland, and grew in numbers to our
largest size of 83 people. Each move was a celebratory
occasion for another of our famous shopping cart
parades which increasingly became community-wide
events well-covered by the media. Eventually, on 4
September 2001 Dignity was forced under threat of a
police sweep to move to Sunderland Yard, a city-owned
leaf-composting facility seven miles from downtown. A
supporter of the village paid rent to the city that we
might remain in this space until 1 July 2002.
Presently Dignity's relationship with the City has
improved as we actively seek to locate and buy our
eventual permasite. We face a number of challenges in
our efforts to locate and purchase our own land where
we can realize our dream and build what we are going
For one, we need to purchase a piece of land that
meets the following criteria:
- it must be close to downtown,
- have good separation from nearby residential homes,
- be easily-accessible to utility hook-ups,
- have an affordable price,
- be environmentally safe and clean,
- be of at least an acre-and-a-half in size,
- and be accessible for vehicles and wheelchairs.
For another, compliance with conventional zoning and
building codes is likely to be a significant
challenge. Since we began, we have steadily improved
our health and sanitation standards. Today the village
has hot showers, four Port-O-Lets, dumpster service
and several spacious heated common areas. The village
is already meeting or exceeding the health and
sanitation standards of temporary emergency-relief
encampments sponsored by Red Cross, Corps of
Engineers or Mercy Corps. Eventually we will move from
tents to more conventional structures in a "phased
development" approach that allows for incremental
Dignity Village has always worked hard to maintain
good relations with its neighbours, many of whom have
become supporters. However, NIMBYism is alive and well
in Portland as Dignity found out when we tried to rent
a parcel in the Creston-Kenilworth neighbourhood in SE
Portland last October. At a neighborhood meeting to
consider the move, neighbours shouted down Dignity
speakers and behaved in a most undignified manner
(including one arson threat) which factored into the
decision to stay at Sunderland until July. Now Dignity
hopes to locate permanently in a neighbourhood that
places a high value on social and economic diversity,
under a Good Neighbour Agreement and with creative
partnerships with Neighbourhood Watch and other
neighbourhood-based livability initiatives.
Dignity estimates that it will take at least $500,000
to purchase our permasite and to meet phase one
construction goals. To raise these funds, we are
planning a capital campaign, to provide local "match
money" necessary to apply for major grants. Donations
may be earmarked directly to our Land Acquisition Fund
to help meet this major milestone to self-sufficiency.
If you can provide volunteer assistance related to
land search, neighbourhood advocacy, zoning/building
codes, or know of possible funding opportunities,
Jack Tafari at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or Tim McCarthy at
How Can You Help Dignity Village?
Some suggested ways of helping are listed below. If you have questions,
suggestions, or ideas please drop us a line using the contact information
at the bottom of the page, or stop by the village!
- Donate to Dignity Online!
Dignity Village is a legal non-profit organization and all donations are
make a donation online with your credit card
through our page on the non-profit Network For Change website:
Donate Online to Dignity Village via NetworkforGood
Help out with the items that we need.
(Click on the link for a list and details.)
Write a letter pledging your support to our project.
particularily helpful from local businesses. Send it to us at the
Buy our book, Criminal Reality.
a Dignity t-shirt, mug or tote bag.
Proceeds go to our Land Acquisition
- Make a tax-deductible donation. Funds should be addressed to
"Dignity Village", a 501(c)3 non-profic corporation, who oversees our
(Don't forget to ask your workplace if they match funds donated
- Print out and distribute some of our documentation.
Handouts and sign-up sheets to help people find out about us and get
in touch with us.
- Sign up to receive our news updates
and other important information.
Digsville Farm Wish List
Use of a tractor for a day
Lumber including plywood, long poles, lattice
Friendship and visitors
Dignity Village contact information:
c/o Sisters of the Road
133 NW Sixth Ave
Portland, Oregon 97209