Where We Live: The people behind ‘I Choose Love PDX’

Multnomah County

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Not long ago, Portland was seen as one of the most beautiful and desirable cities in the world. But the riots, destruction and ravages of a pandemic have changed the city’s image.

Former Harlem Globetrotter and motivational speaker Pee Wee Harrison and Portland community leader and tourism advocate Ray Leary wanted to change the narrative.

I Choose Love PDX‘ was born.

“Obviously, the times are full of division and divisiveness so the call of ‘I Choose Love’ is centered around unification and bringing minds and attitudes back to this wonderful place we call home,” said Leary.

‘I Choose Love’ was launched in October with the support of gospel singers The Brown Sisters and other community leaders. A rally was held at Northeast Portland’s Irving Park to commemorate the event. The event featured Black leaders and speakers who called for change through non-violent demonstrations. They hoped to form a coalition that will be able to push for the change people want to see without the destruction and violence that have marked past demonstrations in the city.

Since that time, the movement has gained momentum and has gained the support of community partners including the Portland Fire Bureau and Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

Their message — now featured on tee shirts and signs — is one they hope will resonate in the Rose City and lead to discussions to erase the hate.

I Choose Love PDX yard signs

“That’s what ‘I Choose Love’ is about — is being humane,” said Harrison. “It’s going to have to be inclusive of everyone because it’s going to take all of us to bring this back together.”

‘I Choose Love’ and the Portland Fire Bureau teamed up for a toy and clothing drive this past weekend at the Holy Trinity Creek Orthodox Cathedral in Northeast Portland. The drive continued Monday with a virtual concert and rally.

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