Among all of Portland’s most celebrated features — our excellent coffee, our eclectic beers, our extra-eclectic coffee-infused beers — it’s the strong commitment to writing and literature that feels especially vital these days. The literary arts bring together the widening groups of people inhabiting our city, from the new to long-term residents, young and elderly, writers and readers from all backgrounds and histories.
It’s Giving Tuesday today, and aside from our own #Give2PSU campaign, we wanted to highlight the local organizations who’ve paved the way for us to become “The Most Literary City” in America. Through workshops, speakers series, and community events, these nonprofits are working to grow active literary citizenship (the best kind, but we might be biased). If you’re considering making a donation this Giving Tuesday, consider supporting these nonprofits. There’s plenty of giving to go around, and time and attention are just as valuable as your dollars.
This community-centered organization has been offering writing workshops since the late ’90s. With an understanding that writing is one of the most powerful tools we have to connect us to our own humanity, the organization focuses on expanding access to that tool, not only providing workshops but the materials, childcare, and transportation needed to participate. Proceeds from paid workshops go towards funding free, facilitated workshops in hospitals, prisons, low-income housing communities, schools, and treatment centers. Write Around Portland has also published 50 anthologies since its inception and hosts community readings every May and December. You can support them by making a donation, becoming a volunteer, or hosting a journal drive.
To address literacy gaps and the need for culturally-relevant reading material, this nonprofit partners with local literacy programs to collect, clean, and distribute bundles of age and skill-appropriate books to kids. In addition to donating new and used books, you can also support the organization by volunteering to sort and distribute books, or attending one of their Pop-Up Celebrity Book Groups.
The IPRC recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and thankfully, shows no signs of stopping its commitment to independent publication and artwork. Part work studio, part classroom, part event space, the multifaceted center has given shape and form to enough literary publications to fill another Powell’s. Show support by becoming a member, volunteering in the zine library, or visit their shop, where you can buy a print from Portland writers (and past Portland Review contributors) like Lidia Yuknavitch, Margaret Malone, and Martha Grover.
A sprawling nonprofit focused on community organizing, political advocacy, and leadership development, APANO also dedicates an arm of operations to arts and social justice through the Arts and Media Project and MicCheck, a summer series of performances, film screenings, and installations. For the past two years, the nonprofit has organized the East Portland Arts & Literary Festival (EPALF), a day-long event of performances, writing workshops, and kid-friendly book fairs, to highlight Portland’s artists and writers of color. You can donate directly to APANO, or find information on events and volunteering here.
What began as a small lecture series in 1984 is now a widely-recognized organization responsible for offering such events like the Portland Book Festival (formerly Wordstock), Writers in the Schools, and a somewhat larger lecture series that brings world-renowned authors like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Tayari Jones, and George Saunders to the Portland stage. You can support Literary Arts work of funding Oregon writers, through the Brian Booth Writers Fund, or by contributing to their Students to the Schnitz program, which organizes classroom author visits and other literary engagement opportunities for students in the Portland Public Schools.