Portland Monthly’s November issue brings you our annual Light A Fire awards, which honor innovative and vital people, projects, and organizations working to make the city and the region better. On Thursday, November 2, we celebrate this year’s honorees with your basic enchanted-Oregon-forest-themed dinner gala co-hosted by a famed drag persona and featuring performing aerialists. You know, the usual charity event fare. You should go.
We’ve been doing Light a Fire for 13 years now. In PoMo’s editorial department, we like to say it’s one of our biggest projects: a process that begins every spring with an open call for nominations across a dozen categories; an unusual hybrid of journalism and civic awards program that sends our staff editors in chase of a dozen complex (but inspiring) stories. As we finalize our list of honorees, the decisions are sometimes agonizing. In the end, we always find ourselves amazed at the dedication, ingenuity, and passion of the people and organizations, large and small, that rise to the top.
This year’s LAF feels different, at least from my perspective, for reasons that are likely obvious. The broad world of engagement and action known roughly as “civil society” has faced exceptional pressure in the political and social environment of 2017. We feel that this year’s slate of recipients reflects the galvanized local response to these strange times very well.
An innovative, university-based design program took on homelessness. A venerable nonprofit cinema brought cutting-edge, grassroots art to an unusual global venue. The recipient of our individual Lifetime Achievement award stands on the front lines of some of urban society’s toughest problems. A health-care organization designed to serve people who often find themselves outside the mainstream system reaches tens of thousands of Oregonians. And during a heated moment of crisis, a Portland lawyer formed a fast-moving, improvised team to help a baby get the medical care she needed.
At a time when it sometimes feels like the bad news comes in torrents, we felt lucky to dive into 12 stories of people doing the right things, for the right reasons, in the imperfect but aspiring city we love. If you’re likewise moved, come on out on November 2.
5:30 p.m. Thu, Nov 2, Leftbank Annex, ticket prices vary