As a record-breaking heat wave scorched Portland in late July, Portland Streetcar's rider ambassadors took to the system to help riders stay cool. Over the prolonged period of extreme heat, teams handed out more than 600 bottles of cold water along with spray bottles, cooling towels and other items.
Rider ambassadors carried lists of cooling shelters and helped riders in need find resources to beat the heat, especially if they would otherwise be sleeping outside or without air conditioning.
The rider ambassador program began in January 2022 as a way to provide a non-security response to riders experiencing homelessness or struggling with mental health or addiction issues that might be using transit as a method of getting inside or off the sidewalk. By taking a community outreach approach, teams work to connect riders to applicable resources, offer supplies that might be useful and otherwise provide a friendly presence on the streetcar.
Portland's recent heat wave was yet another example of an extreme event in which having such personnel proved to be a lifeline for many of the community's most vulnerable and transit-dependent people.
Portland Streetcar's latest Art on Board installation, "The Watchers: Keep One Eye Open" by Habiba Abdul Rahim, is out on the rails around Portland's central city. This fifth vehicle-wrap installation celebrates the strength of a community through the actions of its members.
Art on Board is a program which showcases local artists’ work in public as the vehicles serve riders around Portland’s core. Highlighting Portland's diversity, artists of color have been paid to show their work on the vehicle exterior as a moving canvas celebrating our community.
When I first learned how to paint it was always with the idea that I wanted to create art that was in the image of people like me; African Americans are absent from historical art collections in some of the largest museums, galleries and major auctions and I knew that I wanted to use my gift to change that in whatever way that I could. As I began to share with people the how and why I began to paint, I soon began to realize the importance of connection and belonging. My art had become the vehicle through which we share life experiences and recognized similarities. It did not matter that the woman in the painting was Black, it was the story behind the painting, or the emotion it invoked, that was most important.
I create each painting with color in mind first; before I even know what the subject matter will be, I know what colors I want to use, and I allow the color choice to dictate the mood. In my most recent work I have been painting women on various shades of grey. The color grey for some can be unemotional and neutral; for me grey represents all the things that I want to be: peaceful, a soothing and nurturing presence, reliable, and wise. Grey for me represents a work in progress; accepting where I am while simultaneously creating who I want to become. Each piece is a search for meaning. They each are a reflection on the ideas of beauty, love, perfection, and growth.
"Keep one eye open" is an idiom that I grew up hearing elders say; it was a reminder to always remain vigilant and watchful. This piece is a reflection on the ways in which I can follow in the footsteps of the elders that I learned from; they were wise, nurtured, developed and guided, and anchored their families and community.
‘The Watchers: Keep One Eye Open’ is a series that calls us to reflect on the ways in which we can support, take control of, and build stronger communities. A communities greatness is determined by the actions of its members. My hope with this series is that we question whether or not we are individually creating meaningful change, are we inspiring others to create positive change, are we holding the right people accountable and if not, how do we do better.
Masks are now optional on Portland Streetcar (and TriMet) due to a recent change in federal law, but the CDC does recommend continuing to mask up on transit. We know our riders have mixed feelings about the mandate ending. We ask everyone to be respectful of others as we all adjust to this change.
Multnomah County will be closing the Broadway Bridge to all traffic for maintenance work on Sunday, April 3, from 7:00 a.m. to as late as 7:00 p.m. Crews will be performing preventive maintenance, replacing signs, and repairing damaged areas of the deck and other structures.
Streetcar service across the bridge will be disrupted for the duration of the closure. A and B Loops will run across the Tilikum Crossing, turning back at NW 10th and Northrup on the west side and N Broadway and Ross on the east side.
TriMet's Line 17 bus will detour to the Steel Bridge during the closure.
Ready for March Madness men's basketball in Portland? Ride the streetcar A Loop from downtown to the Moda Center—and the B Loop back after the games. Games in Portland are scheduled for Thursday 3/17 and Saturday 3/19.