As with many cities in the United States, Portland suffers from age-segregated urban planning.This leaves younger generations socially isolated from the elderly and their wealth of experiences. In response to this issue, Eric John Olson and I created a special project for the City of Portland, Dial an Old Friend: a public hotline that connects people to our city’s wisest citizens.
In collaboration with elders at the Hollywood Senior Center, we conducted oral histories about the city’s past and seniors’ dreams for the future of the city. Stories were generously contributed by Harvey Garnett, Jacqui Jackson, Pete Peterson, and Georjean Wilkerson. The final stories were broken down into categories of interest and made accessible via a phone tree that shared personal experiences about gentrification, affordable housing, transportation, employment discrimination, and ideas for a more equitable future. The general public can access the Dial an Old Friend hotline by calling +1 (971) 803-6444.
Dial an Old Friend was launched during the 2018 Social Practice conference Assembly, which was hosted by Portland City Hall. The project was made possible by the generous support of the Hollywood Senior Center, Portland State University, and the office of Portland Councilmember Chloe Eudaly.