First and foremost, we would like to send a huge thank you to all those who contributed to our End of Year Fundraising Campaign with Give! Guide. We are filled with gratitude for your generosity and for having stepped up to help Wisdom of the Elders to get off to a strong start in the new year to continue our work! The work of serving our shared communities.

I also want to thank our Wisdom staff who were so willing and gracious to help The City of Portland/Portland Housing Bureau distribute assistance to members of our community who are most in need during the COVID -19 Pandemic. You all did an amazing job!

Thank you to ~ Kunu Dittmer Bearchum, Kirsten Oliver, Dawn Lowe, Duane Lane, Lori Boisen, and Karina Ceron for your dedication and success in helping get these Programs done.

As a Native American organization, we are keenly aware of the needs of our community and humbly stand to assist as best as we can. We have been fortunate to be able to continue our work of Restoration & Conservation and sharing our documentary films of Oregon Native American history and perseverance in the best of time and in the difficult times.

“The Peoples of Eastern Oregon”

We were honored that our film “The Peoples of Eastern Oregon” was Nominated by the 45th annual American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco (The world’s oldest Native film festival) in the Best Documentary Feature Film category!

Our film also won the Best documentary feature at the NY/LA International Film Festival, and also screened at the Eugene Environmental Film Festival.

Congratulations to Tim Keenan Burgess (documentary Co-director/Multimedia Coordinator at Wisdom) and Kunu Dittmer Bearchum (documentary Producer/WYSE program coordinator at Wisdom)! And thank you to Lawrence Johnson for his long-time work on this project.

Documentaries aired on OPB Plus

In addition, our films “The Peoples of Western Oregon” and “The Peoples of Eastern Oregon” were both aired on OPB Plus, with future airings of both films along with our two shorter Alaskan films (“The People of the Whale” and The People of the Caribou”) coming in 2021.

OPB 30 sec Promo Trailers for both films:

Wisdom also held a screening of the films in partnership with Multnomah County Library and the Confluence Project in November

It included a virtual panel with the film’s co-directors Tim Keenan Burgess and Lawrence Johnson, and producer Kunu Bearchum, along with Quinault storyteller Harvest Moon. We also were the featured organization on Open Signal Studios digital network site for the month of November.
We also had a great screening for the Restoring Ecology class at Reed College, with a QnA by Tim Keenan Burgess and Duane Lane.

WABI meets its challenges and finishing the year with the Rent Relief program

The 2020 year will go down as one of the most challenging years of recent history. Like many places Wisdom had to adjust as new rules continuously rolled out regarding Covid-19. Duane Lane (lead staffer of The Wisdom Agricultural Business Incubator Program (WABI), continued with the WABI internship online and infield. Dawn Lowe, Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and WABI educator collaborated with Duane through online instruction of the WABI interns.

We had to be flexible like the willow willing to bend as situations changed with our partners, interns, and Covid-19 requirements. While in-field instruction was done six to eight feet apart. One day a week infield studies were achieved at Zenger Farm. We developed a new partner in 2020 for growing vegetables for Clark County, Washington with Clark County Foodbank. Interns were taken out into green spaces for plant identification with Dawn. Interns wore masks, used sanitizer and sterilized tools as needed. Interns participated in traditional plant uses and were given instruction online. WABI interns through the Community Watershed Stewardship Program (CWSP) and Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) grant were able to plan and design our new office grounds at Great Spirit Methodist Church with indigenous first foods and medicinal plants. Duane and Dawn brought the WABI internship to a successful close.

Currently, Duane and Dawn just completed work with a new opportunity with the Portland Housing Bureau helping Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) with the CARES rent relief program. We successfully signed up over one hundred referrals totaling over 400,000 in rent relief.

Open recruitment for Spring 2021 Wisdom Workforce Development

We are excited to announce open recruitment for Spring 2021 Wisdom Workforce Development (WWD) Interns! We hire and train WWD interns twice a year to provide environmental restoration and cultural arts education with relevant job skills training. This is a paid, part-time internship position intended for Native American and BIPOC identified adults in Portland are although all are welcome to apply. The spring cohort of interns will learn from and work with Wisdom of the Elders staff and partner organizations including the City of Portland (Land Stewardship and Community Gardens divisions), Johnson Creek Watershed Council, Leach Botanical Garden, Ecology in Classrooms and Outdoors, Rose CDC, Green Lents, and others. Our goal is to provide you with a holistic and culturally-tailored experience that balances education with hands-on field experience for your future career in the environmental sector.

The WWD curriculum provides classroom education in both Indigenous and western perspectives on Indigenous First Foods, understanding the environment, ethnobotany, climate change, Native American cultural arts, STEAM, and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). This initiative began in 2015 and is designed to strengthen future environmental workers’ career engagement, cultural identity, wellness resiliency, and more.

WWD graduates have opportunities to apply for green jobs in the local economy and/or apply for a job with Wisdom Workforce Development, LLC (an environmental restoration firm). You will also be provided assistance finding jobs with our many partner organizations or seeking further education and training opportunities. For questions and application information please contact