Andre Middleton interviews Cole Merkel and Joseph Glode about engaging the houseless community in telling their stories with art.

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Tue, 11/29/2016 - 11:30am to 12:00pm
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Street Roots serves as an outlet for stories for members

Cole Merkel is the Vendor Program Director at Street Roots.

Cole Merkel moved to Portland in 2010 to be a Jesuit Volunteer, first at Operation Nightwatch, then at Street Roots. He was hired by SR the day his JV term ended and now oversees all aspect of the vendor program as Vendor Program Director. A native of the Great Lakes State, Cole holds a Bachelor's Degree in History and Creative Writing from the University of Michigan.

Joseph Glode is a photographer and documentarian based in Portland, Oregon. His work focuses on the people, places, and various subcultures that create a community. He began his career in media production working in the network television industry in Boston, MA and he transitioned to the non-profit sector soon after moving to Portland in 2004. He has worked on video projects with Sisters of the Road, Living Stages, Rock ’n’ Roll Camp for Girls, and the City of Portland. In 2013, he decided to take a hiatus from video production to dedicate his efforts to the study and practice of documentary and street photography, a passion he has had since a teenager. He enrolled in the MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research program at Pacific Northwest College of Art and studied the importance of rhythm in contemporary documentary photography citing the works of photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson and Allan Sekula and philosophers Henri Lefebvre, Walter Benjamin, and Vilém Flusser. In August of 2015, he completed his degree and held his first solo exhibition for his collection of street photography titled Low East. He is currently working as a freelance photojournalist and videographer.

Street Roots — published weekly in Portland, Oregon  — has been Portland's flagship publication addressing homelessness and poverty since 1998.Street Roots creates income opportunities for people experiencing homelessness and poverty by producing a newspaper and other media that are catalysts for individual and social change.

A few years ago I was blessed to work with the wonderful folks at the August Wilson Monologue Competition. Executive Director Kevin E Jones told me that one of the goals of this project was to change the racial ecology of the arts in our region through teaching young people of color the power of theater via the plays of the great August Wilson. I took that goal to heart and have adopted this as a mantra that guides me to this day. If you believe in the ability of art and creativity to empower our youth then please consider sharing this opportunity with a teen in your life or schedule a presentation at your child’s school.

My comrade and friend Sharita Towne has a call for video artist that she asked me to share URe:AD stands for the United Re:public of the African Diaspora, via this collaborative, we​​ encourage diasporan connectivity, understanding, and empowerment through workshops, exchanges, and the production of hand-printed related products. We are now beginning our largest video exchange program to date. UR:EAD TV will feature video shorts submitted from an open call around the diaspora and present them in a traveling film festival format. The film fest will travel to at least 4 additional stops across the U.S. including Portland this spring! 

My last week's guest the three artists represented in Drawing As Core; Karen Esler, Laura Ross-Paul, and Renée Zangara -are having an artist talk at the Northview Gallery at PCC Sylvania today Tues November 29th a 1pm. This will be a great chance to not only meet these amazing artist but to hear how such an incredible show came together. If you head over there after our show you should be fine.

The Arts Equity Grant program (formerly the Expanding Cultural Access Grant program) provides financial support to organizations in Multnomah County and the City of Portland conducting arts and culture projects and programming for communities of color, immigrants, refugees, underserved neighborhoods, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ communities, and other under-represented communities. The goal of this grant program is to further RACC’s commitment to ensuring that everyone in our region has equal access to arts and the fundamental right to express their culture through the arts. Letter of intent to apply deadline is Feb 22 so please start thinking about your project now visit to learn more



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