TRAG nominated for outstanding partnership with the Downtown Oregon City Association

By Trieste Andrews,

The Board of Directors for the Downtown Oregon City Association has nominated TRAG for outstanding partnership. A draft of the nomination written by Liz Hannum the Director of DOCA is attached. The nomination is for 2021-22.  It focuses on our work in reinstituting the mural code and the Restoration mural of the Trolley car and the new mural at White Rabbit.

By Liz Hannum the Director of DOCA

Brief Project Description 

DOCA has spent 3 years working with the Three Rivers Artist Guild to help bring vibrancy to downtown Oregon City through the creation of the mural code, restoration of a historic mural, and a brand new mural.

Describe the person, project, or activity you are nominating. Refer to the category description for additional questions to include.

Three Rivers Artist Guild is an inclusive organization providing mutual support, encouragement, services, and education for the enrichment of artists and their communities. 

This joint project advocated for a mural code at the City, found funding for a mural restoration depicting a historic scene from when the trolley used to run through Oregon City, and a new mural created by an indigenous artist at the gateway entrance to downtown. It also faces the Falls site now owned by the Grand Ronde Tribe so the mural tells the story of the beginning of the falls from the Grand Ronde perspective and bridges the divide between old Main Street and what will be a restored Main Street once the Falls site is redeveloped.

Describe the impact the person, project, or activity has had on improving your downtown or neighborhood commercial district and the businesses located there. If a project or activity, are there secondary or spin off effects? For instance, did the rehab of a particular building spur additional investment downtown or have an effect on a nearby business?

In early 2019, a representative from TRAG and DOCA and the City of Oregon City sat down to talk about how we could change the city code to allow murals back in Oregon City. This ended up as a multi year effort to build support among the business and property owners, the artists in the community, the general public, and more to petition the City to institute a mural code. After several iterations and lots of discussion over years, the City was poised to change the code. The original code included an Arts Commission as the permitting body that had dissolved more than 15 years earlier. TRAG and DOCA came together to get the word out to individuals to help rebuild that commission. So not only did we restore the mural code together and support each other to find funding to restore an historic mural and create a new one, but we also helped to bring the Arts Commission back at the City level to start working on more ways to bring art to our community. 

As mentioned in the description, the connection that the indigenous mural has made with the Falls site is going to make downtown more welcoming to all.

Please tell us why this person, project, or activity should be considered for an Excellence on Main award. What lessons were learned and what can be taken away from your experience?

These two murals and the partnership that they created were years in the making. Perseverance and dogged determination, especially on the part of TRAG who collected 70% of the 150 letters of support for the mural code restoration, are the only way to get things done. This idea was fairly well received and it still took years to get it through the commission and included the creation of a new iteration of a city arts commission that had been dormant for years. The final viewing for the indigenous mural was last weekend and the amount of foot traffic that this brought to the business was absolutely amazing. 

We also helped each other out constantly. The best example of this was when the TRAG volunteer scheduled to power wash the wall so the mural could get started a few days later was taken away with a family issue, DOCA stepped in and 4 of our volunteers offered to do it so that the schedule didn’t need to be pushed back.

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