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Constructing Hope launches history project honoring BIPOC industry pioneers with mural, interactive website and celebration

COURTESY: CONSTRUCTING HOPE - The mural being painted on Constructing Hopes site along N.E. Church St. recognizes 18 BIPOC construction pioneers.

Correction: There are 28 people who are honored by the project, and 18 of them appear in the mural.

With an eye on a career change in the next few years, Pat Daniels, executive director of the Constructing Hope Pre-Apprenticeship Program, just saw her succession plan take a significant step forward.

The Portland program recently was selected as one of 31 organizations throughout the state that will receive funding from $380,000 in grants awarded by the Oregon Heritage Commission. Constructing Hope applied for $18,783 to produce a history of BIPOC pioneers in the construction industry, an interactive website, and a Day of Hope celebration.

The project will honor 28 BIPOC construction pioneers, 18 of whom also are recognized in a mural that will soon be completed on Constructing Hope's home at 405 N.E. Church St.

"The whole purpose of the artwork really is so people can see themselves in those jobs," said Daniels, co-chair of Metro's C2P2 regional workforce committee. "Most people of color don't have a clue about the industry unless they have a father, uncle or other relative who worked in it. If they see people who look like them and understand them, they are more likely to join them."

She noted that she hopes to begin working as a consultant in the next three or four years and hand over leadership of Constructing Hope. Before that happens, however, she wants to honor "the champions" who came before her and helped her attain success.

Constructing Hope got its start through a program initiated by the Irvington Covenant Church in North Portland. Church members concerned about the negative effects of gentrification in North and Northeast Portland established the Irvington Covenant Community Development Corp. in 1995.

Daniels, who has lived in Northeast Portland since the 1970s, joined the corporation in 2005 to help with fundraising for the construction training program that is now known as Constructing Hope. She said she was inspired by her experience of working in human resources for the Port of Portland, where she saw the difficulty people who had previously been incarcerated, also called returning citizens, faced while looking for work.

"When we started the program, construction was one area that embraced formerly incarcerated people and looked at whether they could do the work and understand the culture," she said.

Over the years, Constructing Hope's mission has evolved from introducing members of BIPOC communities, low-income adults and returning citizens not only to potential careers as construction workers, but also as project managers, superintendents, architects, engineers, developers, owners and other professionals in the design and construction sectors.

The BIPOC Pioneers in Oregon's Construction Industry project is intended to tell the stories of people of color who overcame the odds to establish construction businesses, hire other people of color and, in many cases, retain family homes. It will establish a place-based history in a traditionally African-American neighborhood that preserves the past, inspires others to build for the future, and provides an anchor and sense of place for communities to reconnect, Constructing Hope's grant application states.

The history project will feature brief video interviews with several of the honorees that can be accessed with a QR code. For honorees who have passed away, videos will be compiled through family members, historical research and other sources. The QR code also will be connected with a booklet and the website.

Daniels will lead the project with Kimberly Moreland, MBA, MURP, owner of Moreland Resource Consulting and an Oregon Heritage Commissioner. Moreland is a board member and vice president of Oregon Black Pioneers, a board member for the Bosco-Milligan Architectural Heritage Center, a Portland Historic Landmarks Commission member and a member of the Oral History Association.

"We want this to be an inspirational piece so people can learn more about (the pioneers') role in navigating and creating a pathway for others in the industry," Moreland said, adding the videos will highlight the challenges and barriers the BIPOC pioneers faced as they entered the industry as well as advice they would give people of color joining the field today.

"We are happy that we are able to extend this honor beyond the mural and recognize their role in creating a more equitable pathway into the construction trades," Moreland said.

Constructing Hope's grant application states that the project will literally open the organization's doors to unemployed community members and young people planning their future. The welcoming will start with the mural outside and continue with tours, conversations and hands-on activities.

Moreland said the BIPOC Pioneers in Oregon's Construction Industry project brings her full circle from her first job out of college more than 30 years ago, when she worked for a minority contracting assistance program in Ohio.

"I remember meeting these amazing minority and women contractors who were advocating for more access," Moreland said, noting the issue is much bigger than Portland and is about generations of people of color fighting for opportunity for a very long time.

"I would love to share this story, and I want to make sure it's shared accurately and in a very inclusive way, so we recognize everybody who paved the way for contracting opportunities for today," Moreland said.

The project is scheduled to launch in February for Black History Month. Constructing Hope will match the Oregon Heritage Commission grant with $18,785 for a total project cost of $37,568.

Still in the planning stages, the Day of Hope celebration is scheduled be held in late summer or early fall 2022 with the intention to bring together the pioneers, muralists, construction industry partners, government agencies, and unemployed or underemployed community members.

The mural, slated for completion Dec. 20, was produced by four Black artists, one of whom is a Constructing Hope graduate and another who formerly worked as a plumber. It was funded by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU, the museum's Black Lives Matter Artists Grant program, and an anonymous foundation supporter.

Over the past six years, Constructing Hope has placed more than 350 graduates in new careers with an average starting wage of $19.02 an hour. Two-thirds of graduates are people of color and more than half are returning citizens.

Constructing Hope is renovating and expanding its classrooms and training space to double the number of people it trains in order to help fill the estimated 2,300 job openings the construction industry will have each year through 2029. Construction represents the highest share, 85%, of difficult-to-fill jobs in Oregon, according to Constructing Hope.

Honorees:

Marcela Alcantar, Alcantar & Associates

Leon Araiza, Advanced Tribal LLC

Sam Brooks, Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs

Faye Burch, FM Burch and Associates and Professional Business Development Group

Andrew Colas and Herman Colas, Colas Construction Inc.

Keith Edwards, IBEW Union Local 48

James Faison, Faison Construction Inc.

Donna Hammond, IBEW Union Local 48

Percy Hampton, Constructing Hope

Nate Hartley, Nate Hartley Oil & Associates Inc.

Reynelda Hayes, All About Flagging LLC

Gary Hollands, Interstate Trucking Academy Inc. and Northeast Southwest Trucking Irvington Covenant CDC

Ray Lampkin, Lampkin General Contractor

Berenice Lopez, LatinoBuilt and H.E.L.P Group Inc.

Michael Martin, NW Infrastructure LLC

Rosa Martinez, LatinoBuilt and PMG Abatement

Mark Matthew, Pacificmark Construction Shirley Minor, S.G. Minor & Associates

Jeff Moreland and Andre Raiford, Raimore Construction

James Posey, National Association of Minority Contractors Oregon Chapter

Maurice Rahming, O'Neill Construction Group

Sam Riggins, Riggins Remodel

Alando "Al" Simpson, City of Roses Disposal & Recycling Verde

Jeana Woolley, JM Woolley & Associates


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