As the story goes (told in numerous news articles and talks around the world) Mark Lakeman, City Repair’s co-founder, and a group of neighbors tried to get permission to create a more friendly gathering place in their intersection but the city refused. Determined to take back their public space, the group did it anyway and the rest is history. The city is now onboard, and reclaiming public spaces with colorful intersection paintings, tea carts, mini libraries, and cob benches are fairly common in Portland.
Years ago I lived within a short walk of Share-It Square, one of Portland’s first painted intersections. I found plenty of excuses to wander over with a friend, have a cup of tea, and enjoy the warm neighborly vibes.
Earlier this summer, I reached out to City Repair using a generic email on their website. An organization run by volunteers, I thought it might take a while to get a response so I went ahead and added a link to show off some of their good work on my community webpage.
I heard back later in the summer from a staffer at City Repair with a short thank you note, apologies for letting the email slip by, and suggestion to meet. Ridhi D’Cruz, an organizer, part-time place-making manager, and volunteer everything else let me know that City Repair was winding down after their busiest time of the year.
Ridhi has been with City Repair organizing events and working with volunteers for the past four years while working on a recently completed graduate degree in anthropology at Portland State University. Ridhi is from Bangalore, India, where she finished her undergraduate degree in psychology, sociology, and English literature.