Updates from Our River | February 8, 2021

We recognize and deeply appreciate your support in PHCC’s collective victories in 2020. We’d like to especially extend gratitude to those who submitted comments on various issues, shared our messages via email or social media and made monetary contributions toward our work. We are thankful to you and hope you will continue to support us in 2021 as we continue to fight for a clean river for all.

Click here to make a contribution.

Team Updates

The PHCC team has grown since our last newsletter. We welcomed two new staff members and continued partnership with two interns who are pursuing their Masters of Social Work. Look below to meet our new team members and reintroduce yourself to familiar faces.

Cassie Cohen (she/her)
Executive Director

Email: pdxharborcommunitycoalition@gmail.com

Cassie grew up in the Portland metro area, caring deeply about her connection to nature. She didn’t understand why she and her family were disconnected from the Willamette River until she learned about its complicated environmental condition. Cassie is known for her skills to bring diverse stakeholders together to address social, racial, environmental, and economic justice issues. She serves as the Executive Director for Portland Harbor Community Coalition. She has over 15 years experience working in nonprofit, education, and in the public sector. From 2009-2015, she led Groundwork Portland, an environmental justice organization led by and serving communities of color, during which time they formed the Portland Harbor Community Coalition. She and her team were also able to hire and employ 100 young people in environmental jobs training. Her passions are dance and spending time with her 5-year old daughter.

Alexander Lopez (he/him)

Master of Social Work Intern

Email: lopeza7@mailbox.winthrop.edu

Alex is a graduate student in social work and a state-licensed geologist specializing in the remediation of petroleum and chemical impacted properties. Originally from Houston, Texas, he grew up in the shadows of oil refineries and witnessed the environmental damage caused by the oil and chemical refining industries and its disproportionate impact on low-income and BIPOC communities. Growing up in a coastal city, Alex was never far from the water. But the water in southeast Texas, never far from industry, always comes with warnings and worries about being exposed to industrial contamination. In 2005, Alex moved to Portland to pursue a career in environmental geology and on one of his first assignments, measuring the petroleum contamination in the water in the Willamette River, he recognized the familiar impacts of industry on Portland Harbor. When not interning, studying, or working at his job organizing a nutritional support program, Alex enjoys making music and exploring the geology of the northwest.

Tatiana Havill (she/her or they/them)

Master of Social Work Intern

Email: tatianahavill@gmail.com

Tatiana has lived near and played in the Willamette River for her whole adult life. She has great respect and love for the river, appreciating all the vibrant life and beauty along its banks—bright red osier dogwood branches in winter, sticky fragrant cottonwood buds in the spring, sparkling ripples in the summer sun, and tiny mushrooms among fallen leaves in autumn. She hopes to continue her watersheducation by learning from people who fish and gather food from the river. She recently moved from Eugene to attend PSU, with a focus on environmental and food justice social work. As an intern for PHCC, she looks forward to connecting more with coalition members and providing creative, technical, and organizational support for PHCC.

Elijah Cetas (he/him)

Campaign Organizer (part-time)

Email: er.cetas@gmail.com

As Campaign Organizer, Elijah joins PHCC to support coalition members in the fight for a just cleanup and community benefits. Elijah grew up in North Portland, and came to know the river from the back of his bike on long summer days, riding from slough to park, exploring the hidden places that make the peninsula so special. In 2018, he graduated with a bachelors of arts and science degree from Quest University Canada in the unceded territory of the Squamish Nation. He came home to Portland in 2019, and began collaborating with PHCC as an organizer in the climate justice movement, raising awareness about crude oil by rail traffic in North Portland and on the river. In 2020, he worked with PHCC and partners to help launch the Braided River Campaign, a coalition effort to advance a new future vision for the industrial lands of the Portland Harbor.

Communications Coordinator
Mamelang Memela

Email: memelamamelang@gmail.com

Mamelang is a Portland transplant from Johannesburg, South Africa. Having been born and raised in a landlocked and water scarce region, her experiences living and visiting different places have helped shape her view and understanding of how people are, consciously and subconciously, impacted and influenced by their surrounding areas. “Although it’s been said many times before, I truly believe that water is life and I’m excited to learn more about the Portland Harbor and help create new ways for us to connect with different communities and advocate for a cleaner and safer river for future generations.” A recent graduate of the Lewis & Clark Environmental Studies program she is interested in expanding accessibility of information about the Portland Harbor and its clean up as well as other issues along the Willamette River. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the PNW through hikes, baking and watching pop culture video essays on Youtube.


Monsanto Settlement

Portland Harbor activists and PHCC members testified to City Council last Wednesday, demanding a just and transparent process to co-create a plan for disbursement of corporate industrial polluter Monsanto’s settlement funds coming to Portland soon with communities that have historically been harmed by Monsanto’s toxic chemical PCBs in the waterways and fish in Portland.

Willamette Cove Uplands

The Oregon Department of Quality (DEQ) will release their plan for the remedial design of Willamette Cove soon. PHCC will not accept DEQ’s plan if it does not adequately address the hundreds of community comments demanding a full cleanup. We will continue to pressure Metro, as the owner of the 27-acre site, to commit to a full cleanup. Keep your eyes open in the following weeks for information related to the planned report and next steps of action.

Willamette Cove In-Water

Remedial Design: Community Validation Session

Wednesday, February 17 at 6:00pm – 7:00pm

The City of Portland is hosting a Community Validation Session to inform the community about how they have taken in recommendations from the recent workshops and begun to integrate them into their remedial design plans. The technical team will report back on the feedback they heard from the first two Remedy Design Workshops in January. Please attend and feel free to share!

Add the event to your calendar here. Zoom link available here.

Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group

Virtual CAG Meeting

Wednesday, February 10 at 6:30pm

Click here for the Zoom Link

2021 is going to be an important year for remedial design – finally, after 20+ years. The CAG is excited to host a series of panels with speakers from organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Habitat Restoration Specialist , National Resources and Damages Assessment (NRDA), and Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) staff for Watershed Services. Join in the conversation this Wednesday to hear from two exciting guest speakers!

Guest Speakers

  • NOAA’s Lauren Senkyr will be discussing Habitat restoration on the Willamette River and the work that NRDA is doing currently on the south and north reach of the Willamette River in the Portland Metro area. There will also be discussion about identifying connections between restoration projects and remedial sites, and how it is all coordinated with EPA and DEQ. Lauren Senkyr Habitat Restoration Specialist NOAA Restoration Center Office: (503) 231-2110 lauren.senkyr@noaa.gov
  • BES staff from Watershed Services will be discussing the creation of fish habitat using log jams, explain the deficiencies of critical habitat, and fish migrations on the Columbia Slough, a narrow waterway about 19 miles in the floodplain of the Columbia River. Contact/ Questions- Jennifer Devlin (BES) Office: (503) 823-1234, email: jennifer.devlin@portlandoregon.gov



Date: Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Time: Start at 6:30 pm Pacific
Location: Online Only
Weblink: https://zoom.us/j/92314448438


  • Meeting ID: 923 1444 8438
  • One tap mobile: +12532158782,,92314448438# US (Tacoma)
  • Have problems signing in? Contact Scott Burr: 503 999 5790



Cathedral Park

Portland Harbor Collaborative for Cathedral Park

The EPA will start a working group this month under the new Portland Harbor Collaborative for Cathedral Park to engage interested communities about the remedial design of the Cathedral Park shoreline and river near the park. This will allow us to set a higher standard for community influence over the sampling and design process for the cleanup at a site that is a critical access point for thousands of people and wildlife.

Save the date for the evening of Wednesday, February 24th from 5:30-7PM. This first meeting will be held virtually. We will share more details closer to the date, and feel free to reach out to Laura Knudson at EPA if you wan to be added directly to the group (email: knudsen.laura@epa.gov, phone/text: 206-643-4299)

Information on the Portland Harbor Superfund Sites has been recently updated.

Click here to download the graphic below.

The Braided River Campaign

Envisioning Portland Harbor 2040

What do we want the Harbor to look like in 2040? How do we lay a foundation for that future now?

Beginning this past year, PHCC joined with coalition members and partner organizations to form the Braided River Campaign (BRC)—a grassroots effort to advance a community vision for the future of the industrial lands and fossil fuel corridor on both sides of the North Willamette River, from the Broadway Bridge to the Columbia Slough. Through art, history, and community conversations, BRC is beginning to shape a vision for a Green Working Waterfront—a place where the Superfund cleanup creates good jobs, healthy habitats, and plenty of river access protected from pollution, gentrification, and displacement.

Help us shape this vision, and make it a reality as we advocate through the City of Portland’s 2040 Economic Opportunity Analysis. We need your imagination and lived experiences to guide this community vision!

If you want to learn more, or to join the BRC as an individual or member of a community group, reach out to braidedrivercampaign@gmail.com or to any PHCC organizer.

Follow the Braided River Campaign on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more updates!


Wednesdays in February, 2021 at 4:00pm (PST)

Green New Deal Workshop

The newly founded Breach Collective is offering a free, in-depth workshop series on the GND. Breach Collective is a climate justice organization that partners with communities at the front lines of the climate crisis to advance justice through locally-driven campaigns rooted in the power of grassroots organizing, legal advocacy, and human stories.

Feb. 10
Racial Justice in the Just Transition
Olufemi Taiwo (Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University)

Feb. 17

Feb. 24
Resource Extraction and Justice
Thea Riofrancos (Professor of Political Science at Providence College)

Register here

Place: Zoom (link sent out to RSVPs before sessions)
Cost: Free



We appreciate your contributions during these very challenging times. Right now, any amount of support can help us push through this pandemic, so we can continue to keep a close eye on the oversight agencies and the polluters, and provide needed support to our coalition members.

Portland Harbor Community Coalition’s mission is to elevate the most-impacted voices in the cleanup, restoration, and redevelopment of the Willamette River Superfund site.

Copyright © *2021* *Portland Harbor Community Coalition*, All rights reserved.

Our River. Our Future.
With questions or to get involved, contact us at pdxharborcommunitycoalition@gmail.com
Facebook Page: Portland Harbor Community Coalition