Tag: mission

After vandals target Oregon Historical Society, director vows, ‘Our mission will be undeterred’

Amid violent protests Sunday night in downtown Portland, several prominent statues were toppled, windows at Portland State University were smashed and police said gunshots were fired into an empty restaurant.

But the vandalism that seemed to gather the most ire from city and state officials occurred at the Oregon Historical Society, a bastion of diverse artifacts and exhibits on the 1200 block of Southwest Park Avenue.

Nearly a dozen windows in the institution’s pavilion were smashed, said Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk. Flares were tossed into the lobby, and a priceless quilt was taken. Preliminary estimates to repair the damage were about $25,000, Tymchuk told The Oregonian/OregonLive, though costs could end up higher.

The vandalism occurred during a protest organizers billed as an “Indigenous Day of Rage.” The action was eventually declared a riot, and three people were arrested.

Tymchuk was troubled that the society was targeted, especially given the institution’s recent efforts to tell a full and complete version of Oregon’s history, which is replete with ugly instances of white supremacy.

“We have been doing so much in leading the conversation, the uncomfortable conversation, on Oregon’s past and telling the unvarnished truth through our programming, exhibits, lectures and publications,” Tymchuk said.

Late last year, the society devoted an entire issue of its quarterly publication to Oregon’s unseemly history of racism. Earlier this year, the institution unveiled a permanent exhibit, meant to be the cornerstone of the museum, called “Experience Oregon.” Tymchuk said curators worked diligently with Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes “to make sure we were telling their story correctly and accurately.”

The quilt taken from the society’s lobby was a bicentennial heritage quilt, stitched by 15 African American women in the mid-1970s. The artifact had traveled the nation before going on display in Portland.

It was the society’s commitment to featuring exhibits that showed the diversity in Oregon’s history that made the vandalism so hard to fathom, said Rep. Tawna Sanchez, a descendent of the Shoshone-Bannock, Ute and Carrizo tribes who represents parts of North and Northeast Portland.

“The fact that someone would hijack Indigenous People’s Day to commit more violence is not appropriate,” she said at a Monday morning news conference. “The destruction of the Oregon Historical Society in any way, shape or form is unconscionable because that place is so amazingly part of the actual truth of our state.”

Amid the shattered glass and singed carpet were elements of hope, though. The windows could be repaired and none of the exhibits were damaged. Tymchuk said police recovered the stolen quilt a few blocks from the museum, wet but mostly undamaged.

Tymchuk has been inundated with texts and emails of support as news of the vandalism has spread, but when he arrived at the society Monday morning, he found a handwritten note on a napkin, wrapped around a single dollar bill.

“Hello,” the note began. “I’m homeless so I dont have much to give to you, just some of my bottle collecting money, but I saw your windows

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Meet Billionaire Politician Tom Steyer’s Wife, A Pioneering Impact Investor On A Mission To Spend $1 Billion Righting Society’s Wrongs

Kat Taylor started a bank, a venture capital firm and an agribusiness to use capitalism’s toolbox to fight systemic racism, environmental destruction and economic inequality.

On March 1st, as she gathered with thousands of others to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on the 55th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, Kat Taylor burst into a rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man.” These days, Taylor is best known as the singing spouse of billionaire climate change activist and ex-Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer. But in the world of impact investing, she’s famous in her own right for the breadth and ambition of her efforts, as well as her musical shtick. Indeed, Taylor’s efforts are the big reason the couple made the Forbes Impact 50 for 2020.

Way back in 2007 (the stone age in impact investing), Taylor and Steyer launched an idea they’d talked about for years: use a charitable foundation to start a bank that would lend to nonprofits and do-gooder businesses and direct its profits back to their environmental and community charitable causes. With Taylor as CEO, Beneficial State Bank has grown into a $1.1 billion institution with 13 branches stretching from Washington to Southern California. The couple has put $110 million of charitable donations into Beneficial, which has $760 million in loans outstanding to its target market, though it hasn’t yet paid out dividends to the foundation. (Taylor is now Beneficial’s chair, having stepped away from the CEO job in January to campaign with Steyer.)

Meanwhile, Taylor has been pursuing an even more in-the-weeds environmental project: turning the 1,800 acre grass-fed cattle ranch 40 miles south of San Francisco that she and Steyer acquired in 2002 into a model for “regenerative” agriculture, focused on water and land quality as well as humane animal treatment. Before the pandemic, the TomKat Ranch was seeing steady sales of its prime LeftCoast Grassfed beef brand, collecting data on soil health, running on-site workshops and lobbying big buyers like schools and hospitals to demand regenerative food. Since the pandemic, it has shifted to hosting virtual webinars and has donated chickens and coops to struggling senior homes and food banks. While the couple has invested tens of millions into the ranch, it has yet to turn a profit. 

Finally, there’s what Taylor hopes will become her biggest impact play of all, Radicle Impact, a for-profit venture capital firm she co-founded in 2013 to invest in “good food, good money and good climate.” Radicle has so far poured $45 million, almost entirely from Taylor and Steyer, into 27 portfolio companies—everything from fintechs like LendUp and Aspiration to local farm company Hudson Valley Harvest to Aclima, which creates pollution sensing networks and UrbanFootprint, a seller of city planning software. But ultimately, Taylor hopes to deploy $1 billion in impact money, both from her family’s fortune and from outside investors, through Radicle—and to make real money doing it.

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Postal Service cuts are cutting into its law enforcement mission

In April, Daniel J. Trammell attacked a postal service letter carrier while the letter carrier was simply delivering mail. The Postal Service employee suffered an injury to their neck. Earlier that same day, Trammell entered a post office, shouted at employees and threatened to shoot his letter carrier. 

This of course was not the first threat that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has dealt with. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the nation was on edge bracing for additional waves of attacks, which ultimately did come with the anthrax scare. This dangerous attack emanated through the mail, just seven days after 9/11. The USPS was the unwitting victim, with its law enforcement officers, postal police and postal inspectors having to handle a very dangerous incident. 

Today our pandemic is seeing similar dynamics at play, exacerbated by funding debates in Congress, as postal police and Postal Service inspectors are again caught in its crossfire.

The U.S. postal system is not only massive but it has been considered critical to our national security since its founding. Perhaps that is why the Founding Fathers included the postal system in the Constitution and originally listed the postmaster general as a Cabinet figure. It is also the reason the USPS has law enforcement agencies and an entire federal code dedicated to it — 18 U.S. Code Chapter 83.   

Despite being equipped with security, mail theft is on the rise as USPS employees face an increased threat of assaults and continued attacks. 

Still, even through escalated violence, postal service employees continue to aid in the delivery of 212 billion pieces of mail to over 144 million homes from 40,000 post offices, and they must continue to do so safely. Unfortunately, as it continues its operations, one of the Postal Service’s answers has been to cut its law enforcement operations.

For example, on Aug. 25, Deputy Chief Inspector David Bowers revoked postal police officers’ law enforcement authority, except when they are on property owned or leased by the USPS. This seems like the wrong strategy given its employees are sustaining increased attacks on the streets of America. If the postal police aren’t there to protect those employees and respond to these incidents, who will handle these crimes? 

This change of operations has left a target on most postal employees and mail as well as using U.S.  postal inspectors, who traditionally handle investigations of terrorism, international criminals, child predators and mail fraud, to fill the gap in some cases. So instead of focusing on fighting crime and protecting postal facilities, postal inspectors have been used for other law enforcement operations while postal police officers’ duties are further eroded. 

Instead of the Postal Service letting their law enforcement officers protect, investigate and catch thieves who are “mailbox fishing,” they are trying to replace the old blue collection boxes with new and improved “fishing proof” collection boxes, which don’t stop mail theft but merely displace it. Now, instead of going after mail boxes, thieves are targeting mail carriers

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