Getting to Know Your Neighbors

Q&A with Shari Dunn

Shari Dunn was raised in a working-class, blue-collar, African-American neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has lived in Sunnyside for the last six years. The former CEO of Dress for Success Oregon, she’s the founder and CEO of ITBOM Consulting. ITBOM stands for I’m the Boss of Me—where she does strategic equity work.

How have you liked living in Sunnyside?

Shari: For the last six years, I have loved living in Sunnyside. I could actually walk to my previous job. I love being within walking distance to a park. It’s just this last year since I’ve been in my condo that it’s been hard, because of crime.

We don’t have mailboxes anymore. We had to take them out of our lobby because someone was breaking in weekly to steal our mail, so now I have to go to the post office to get mail. Then they escalated—they tried to break into the elevator to take metal out. We’ve had our storage units broken into. We’ve had cars stolen. We’ve had someone camping in our boiler area who keeps turning on and off our boiler, which is where our hot water comes from. At the height of the winter storm, we had our heat turned off because [the camper] was hot and didn’t like the noise. When our storage area got broken into, the trail of stuff led from the storage units to the [Sunnyside] camp.

Have you interacted with the police at all?

Shari: We call the police all the time and that’s pretty much it. I mean, what are you going to do? The person is gone. Over the Memorial Day holiday, we hired a security firm and the security guy saw someone, but he did not feel safe getting out of his car because there was a car with the thief and he couldn’t tell how many people were in it. By the time backup came, they had left. I guess for me, if a professional doesn’t feel safe…. But I’m in the building with these people and that is stressful. We’re at the point where we are trying to figure out what to do next.

Is everyone in the building concerned?

Shari: Everyone’s concerned. There’s no one that’s saying “How dare you be mad at a houseless person!” or “You’re lucky to even get mail!” But I encountered that at the Sunnyside Association Neighborhood meeting. Someone was like that. I went to the meeting because I was curious as to what was going on. There was this narrative – I don’t know if the Association put out or that The Oregonian put out – but in the winter it was like: “Oh, the neighbors don’t want a sweep of this camp. The neighbors all support this camp.” And I was like, do you know what’s going on in our building?

Did they?

Shari: Well, I told them. I think people take this a little bit like Israel and Palestine where whatever you say about one it means you hate the other, which is not true. I know people who have experienced homelessness. My nephew has experienced homelessness. He has been kicked out of a shelter for his behavior and lives with my mother in Wisconsin. So I feel like a lot of people are telling me what they don’t know about, which gets a little weird.

The issue with homelessness is about humanity and what is our obligation to each other. And I just don’t think our obligation is to turn people out in this heat. Or in the winter. And yet people were advocating that they have the right to stay out. That’s not a civilized society.

You’re a consultant, a professional problem solver. What do you think we should do?

Shari: Number one, this idea about opening up more space for people to camp is a good idea. I think we need to think about things that are not in use right now, like the Lloyd Center. You could set up facilities, showers—there’s a lot of potential in that space. And then set about proper triage. In most emergencies, you go from who is less injured to who is most injured, and you design your solutions based on that. But in this case, you do a bit of a reverse triage—you want to find the people who are going to work every day who are homeless, and prioritize them for housing. Then—and this is probably a state issue—we need more beds for drug and alcohol treatment and more beds for mental health treatment. And then there’s a group of people who are not competent to make decisions, and we as a society are going to have to decide, are we going to provide inpatient care for some period of time? Like this African-American woman in downtown Portland I’ve seen walking around in underwear, screaming. That is not an answer. There is no housing that’s going to help that. What she needs is somebody to say “I need to help you because you cannot help yourself at this moment.” That’s what I was doing. But no one asked me.

What do you mean? The Sunnyside Newsletter is asking you right now!

Shari: Thank you!

Devin Browne is a freelance journalist currently working on a story about mail theft in Portland. Please email her with any stories, tips, or info at [email protected].

Emergency Preparedness and the SNA Board Meeting

Summer emergency preparedness tips

Last summer, the fires got pretty close to us and we all remember the days spent inside due to very poor air quality and wildfire smoke from Oregon, Washington and California. The forecast for this summer in Oregon is talking about a robust wildfire season. There are common sense guidelines for camping, barbecues and fire pits that most of us are familiar with. Please remember these guidelines to keep our Sunnyside neighborhood safe this summer. 

Here are a few tips:

– Check the air quality index (AQI) in Oregon daily. My husband and I check this index every morning to decide whether or not to open up our windows around the house. You don’t need to download an app, although the free recommended one is OregonAir. Since the wildfires and smoke last year, it’s a good idea to check air quality before heading out for the day. 

– Sign up for Public Alerts.  This is essential and covers alerts for the Portland-Vancouver area. Please consider signing up for each cell phone in your family. Spend some time on this site where there is great info and lots to learn. Under the ‘Hazards’ section you can learn about ‘Wildfire and Smoke’ and ‘Wildfire 2021’.

Learn about FirewiseUSA. from the National Fire Protection Association. Great tips for preparing your home and our community during this wildfire season.

Once again, a BIG THANK YOU to all the community-oriented Sunnysiders who step up each and every day to keep our neighborhoods clean and safe and liveable. I am grateful for all that you do.

5 Interesting Ways To Shape Your Personality As You Age

What do you think personality is? It is your mindset, your behaviour, and the emotions that you show. It is what makes you stand out from others. It is your quality and your individuality. Every human is born with a certain set of characteristics. However, personality tends to change as you grow. Your upbringing, city, country, school, neighbourhood, friends and many other things reconstruct your personality, which means it is not fixed. Everyone changes with time. People become patient, cheerful, bitter, or reckless over the years. But, what if you could change yourself for the better?

Here are some simple yet highly effective and exciting ways to align yourself and contour your personality as you age. With a sophisticated nature, you would age gracefully and beautifully. 

1. Read Self-Help Books

It is a great habit to read books often, but is it improving you in the long run? Did the last book you read add something to your knowledge? Did it teach you life lessons? Did it explain ways to change your habits and let go of toxic traits? Ask yourself these questions. No book is a waste of time, but if you are investing your time and energy into refining yourself, then choose your book wisely.

Consider reading books from prominent personalities and learn from their lives and experiences. Make sure you have something to learn from every book you read. Over time, you will see how books manifest their magic on you. The lessons will show in your personality after a certain period. You can consciously change your personality with a good book. 

2. Meet New People And Explore

People can change you for the better or the worst. It depends on the person. If you are hanging out with people who do not provoke you to become a better version of yourself, people who are holding you down, or people who throw shade, consider moving on. Even if these people are friendly or helpful, there is always room to go out and meet new people. 

This is especially true if you meet someone from another background or culture. Every person holds a universe inside. When meeting someone new, you have a chance to not only learn from them, but doors to their country, values, and cultures also open up and can inspire you. 

Sometimes people have such a considerable effect on our personalities that we don’t even realise how much we have absorbed until we imitate their behaviour. This is the reason you must surround yourself with people whose personalities are inspiring; they are the ones who read between the lines and educate you.

3. Attend Seminars And Talks By Influencers

We all want to live a successful and happy life. We are in awe of people who are successful. We want to listen to what they preach. In reality, they are just doing things we choose to ignore as mundane. They haven’t done anything out of the ordinary to be where they are.

When you listen to them, you’ll observe how mundane things have an impact on our personalities. For instance, most successful people stress waking up early, some ask you to write down your goals on a piece of paper to give it meaning or have clear plans about your future. All of this is stimulating a change in you to stay motivated and focused. When you keep listening to what they have to say, you gradually notice how their words have wriggled into your subconscious mind and changed you. 

4. Come Out Of Your Comfort Zone

The one bold step anyone can take is to challenge themself. No one can change their personality until they want to. 

Your comfort zones, fears, or limitations have kept you from exploring this world. Every risky step in life is worth it. Whether you succeed or fail, you will always have something to learn, and there is nothing better than failure to redirect you and make your personality more robust and resilient. With age, you will confront every test in life because you will not be what you were ten years ago.

5. Understand That It Is What It Is

One of the most peaceful things in life is when you realise that things happen regardless of how much you want to prevent or change it. When you stop chasing happiness and settle for what the present has to offer, you can save yourself from several touches of melancholy. 

You need to come to terms with life, and you will observe how many useless things were holding you back. This revelation will revamp you in ways that you would have never thought possible because the bigger picture becomes much clearer and it gives you the liberty to live your life without worrying.

Final Word 

Always be open to changes. If your personality can redesign itself with age and time, why stick to the dull life and the old you? Become fearless and search for ways that can bring out the positivity in you. You can read more at