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May 30, 2017
Portland Underground Grad School Happy Hour: Problem Solving Sorting Hat
The Slide Inn

According to a Harvard study, social interaction is the second biggest influence on happiness, right after sleep. This happy hour is all about strengthening the social bonds in Portland by creating generosity and helping each other out.

The idea is called the the Problem-Solving Sorting Hat (PSSH). This is what we'll do: everyone will write on slips of paper a problem that they need help on. Examples:

  1. I need a babysitter in NE.
  2. I need a handyman to fix my gutters
  3. I'm looking for informational interviews in public engagement.

All the problems are put into a hat and then read out loud. Together we'll offer our networks to connect the person to resources. After we go through all the problems, we'll have open socializing so everyone can connect more with people they can help out.

Come at 6p to grab food or drink. PSSH will start at 630. Connection, play, and problem-solving. Come and have some fun and experience generosity!

Aug 7, 2017
Public Lands Under Attack: Their History and Your Role Today
HatchLabs, 2420 NE Sandy

PUBLIC LANDS UNDER ATTACK: THEIR HISTORY AND YOUR ROLE TODAY Mondays, August 7, 14, 21, 28 || 7:00 - 8:30 pm

In this 4-week course, we will answer the question: how can we protect our public lands? From the Trump Administration to the Far Right militants who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Reserve in 2016, our public lands are under threat like never before.

To learn more and to sign up, check out the course listing on the PUGS website!

Instructor Kristin Teigen of PUGS discusses the course with KBOO's More Talk Radio:

Portland Underground Grad School - Never Stop Learning.

Sep 7, 2017
The People's History of Oregon (Portland Underground Grad School)
Taborspace, 5441 SE Belmont
  • Thursdays, September 7, 14, 21, 28. || 7:00-9:00pm
  • Taborspace|| 5441 SE Belmont St
  • 4 weeks || Limited to 20 students || Scholarships Available

Whiteness and Power

Despite Oregon’s progressive and forward thinking reputation, our history tells another story – indeed, many refer to Oregon as the South of the North, as we have historically embraced segregation, exclusion and displacement. Through this class, we will look at how Oregon’s whiteness, historically and today, has created this reality.

Portland Underground Grad School - Never Stop Learning.

Sep 9, 2017
Class, Race, & the Urban Landscape (Portland Underground Grad School)
  • 4 Saturdays: September 9, 16, 23, and 30 || 10:00-11:30am
  • Location changes each week
  • $99 || 8 Student minimum; 25 maximum

From its foundation as a small, speculative settlement along the Willamette to the current gentrification and redevelopment controversies today, Portland’s urban landscape is ever-changing. Considering race and class in each gathering, this course will feature four walking conversations on the built environment of our urban landscape and how Portland came to look the way it does. Leave the course with a richer understanding of Portland’s history and the ability to further investigate how race, class, and urban development have been shaped into what it is today.

Portland Underground Grad School - Never Stop Learning.

Oct 2, 2017
Hip Hop, Spoken Word, and Transformation (Portland Underground Grad School)
HatchLabs, 2420 NE Sandy

4 Mondays: October 2, 9, 16, and 30th (skips 10/23) || 7:00-9:00pm
Hatch || 2420 NE Sandy Blvd.
$189 || Limited to 20 students || Scholarships Available

Do you have deep concerns about to social, political, economic realities we face in society? Are you concerned about anti-intellectualism and access to education that inspires critical thinking? What are the intersections between capitalism, the prison industrial complex, the military industrial complex, entertainment and dominant culture? Let's explore these questions through creative writing, an examination of history, Hip Hop Culture and dialogue.

Portland Underground Grad School
Never Stop Learning.

Nov 1, 2017
Storytelling and Social Justice (Portland Underground Grad School course)
SE Uplift, 3534 SE Main

Storytelling and Social Justice: Telling Better Stories for a Better Future

Do you want to promote justice and inspire others, but aren't sure how? It starts with telling the right story. Sharpen your communications skills to make meaningful change happen in your own community.

Dates: Wednesdays, November 1, 8, 15, and 29 (skips 11/22) || 6:30-8:30pm
Location: SE Uplift || 3534 SE Main St

It's easy to feel powerless in our current climate: we hear heartbreaking stories in the media and on the streets, but don't know how to act. But what if we had the power to change the script and add our own stories to the world? In this course, we will examine how stories personally affect us and advance a better society. Cognitive linguistics research and social movements throughout history prove that stories inspire true change. By advocating for new narratives and making them visible to mainstream culture, we can call others to action.

Over four weeks, seasoned storyteller Matt Kinshella will help students flesh out stories of their own, understand the complex roots of social movements, and challenge preconceived notions along the way. His storytelling has elevated the profile of social services and motivated people to take action in their communities. Matt will teach you to tell compelling stories, and even change the course of history.

Nov 7, 2017
Mass Incarceration and the War on Drugs (PUGS course) - advance registration
HatchLabs, 2420 NE Sandy

Mass Incarceration and the War on Drugs:
Understanding & Moving Beyond the Current Prison Crisis

Mass incarceration is the racial justice issue of our time. The U.S. incarcerates more people per capita than any country in the world, and incarceration rates are acutely and disproportionately concentrated in communities of color. What are we going to do about it?

Tuesdays, November 7 to December 12 || 7:00-9:00 pm
Location: Hatch || 2420 NE Sandy Blvd

Many Portlanders are free to close their eyes and ignore mass incarceration, while others must face the legal system’s injustices every day. We can’t allow this to happen any longer. In this class, we’ll learn the roots and real-life experiences of mass incarceration, and we’ll hear from local experts who have been directly impacted by the system and are working for change. By better understanding the history, impact, and complexity of mass incarceration, and connecting with those already working to address it, we can develop meaningful ideas to disrupt the status quo. We'll plan what we can do individually and collectively to join the movement to dismantle mass incarceration within Oregon.

In class meetings, we’ll discuss the lecture material and gather critical information to put into action. In the last two classes, we will co-create class projects aimed at disrupting mass incarceration at the local level. Let’s work together to end mass incarceration and transform our community!

PUGS Instructor
Nicole Lindahl has worked to dismantle mass incarceration for the past 20 years. Most recently, she earned her PhD from UC Berkeley researching the life histories of people who were convicted of violent crimes and served long sentences in California.

Jan 4
Course: Portland's Urban Native Americans: How to Be an Ally (PUGS)
Wayfinding Academy, 8010 N Charleston

4 weeks

Explore issues impacting Native Americans in today's Portland as well as the history behind them, and gain a language for supporting the lives and cultures of Native people.

Native Americans face tricky sociopolitical and structural inequities in today's Portland. What does it mean to be an ally? This experimental and interactive class will crush stereotypes and raise hell. In a fun way! You will finish this course better informed and better equipped to be part of a better future for Native Americans.

Instructor: Christine Dupres (Cowlitz/Cree), Ph.D. is a writer, teacher, and Native leader. She is the author of Being Cowlitz: How One Tribe Renewed and Sustained Its Identity (University of Washington Press). She has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Oregon.

Jan 7
Reading Ta-Nehisi Coates (6 wk course, PUGS)
SE Uplift, 3534 SE Main

Join us as we engage these challenges, facing our history, politics and notions of justice through the lens of America's foremost writer on race, Ta-Nehisi Coates. To read him, to think with him, is to be confronted with pressing moral, cultural, and intellectual challenges.

Coates is the author of Between the World and Me, an urgent look at race in America, which won the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction and the 2015 Kirkus Prize, and the new collection We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy. Coates is also a national correspondent at The Atlantic and a 2015 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship ("Genius Grant"). He writes with bracing honesty about slavery, housing discrimination, the fear and control of black bodies, and the racialized roots of American wealth.

Instructor: Douglas Tsoi, JD, is the founder of Portland Underground Grad School (PUGS). Previous careers include teaching high school history and ethics and intellectual property law. A nationally renowned education expert called Douglas "the best teacher I've ever seen teach." At PUGS, he teaches Financial Freedom, Criminal Law: How to Think Like a Lawyer, Behavioral Economics, How to Teach, Reading Ta-Nahisi Coates, and Racial Discrimination, Big Data, and Privilege.

We have found in previous iterations that the real power of this course is the dialogue between students, so unlike other PUGS courses, we are curating a diverse cohort. If you are interested in joining, please email and tell us about yourself, why you want to take this course, and how you anticipate growing from it.

Class meetings:

  • Sunday, Jan 7 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Sunday, Jan 14 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Sunday, Jan 21 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Sunday, Jan 28 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Sunday, Feb 4 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Sunday, Feb 11 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Jan 8
Hip Hop + Spoken Word: Find Your Activist Voice (4 wk course, PUGS)
HatchLabs, 2420 NE Sandy

Do you have deep concerns about our social, political, economic realities? Do you want to develop your perspective and be more informed than media pundits and online trolls? You aren’t alone in these turbulent times. Together, we’ll take a critical look at society and find our voices through creative writing, an examination of history and hip hop culture, and dialogue.

In this class, we’ll learn from veteran anti-fascist organizer Mic Crenshaw, who will open our eyes to what has been useful in the past, what can be effective now, and what mistakes we need to avoid in our activism. In honest discussions, we’ll explore the intersections between capitalism, the prison-industrial complex, the military-industrial complex, entertainment, and dominant culture. We’ll discover that hip hop and poetry are vital tools for staying conscious and empowered.

Instructor: Mic Crenshaw was voted Portland’s Best Hip Hop Artist in 2016 and is one of the most respected artists in the Northwest. In addition to his highly acclaimed work in spoken word and rap, Mic co-founded GlobalFam and Education Without Borders to create and maintain a computer center for youth in Burundi, Africa. Over 400 people have received free training.

Course meetings:

  • Mon Jan 8 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Mon Jan 15 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Mon Jan 22 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Mon Jan 29 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Jan 10
Race, Big Data, + Privilege (4 wk course, PUGS)
SE Uplift, 3534 SE Main

“White supremacy’s greatest trick is that it has convinced people that, if it exists at all, it exists always in other people, never in us.” - Junot Diaz

Structural racism is insidious in two particular ways. First, it is normalized and thus difficult to see, particularly for those who benefit from it. Second, although it is ubiquitous, and most of us believe racism is uniquely and singularly bad, we also see it as separate from us. This causes us to deny or downplay its significance. Big data reveals white supremacy and brings our structural inequities to light. By analyzing data sets from various sources—from online dating sites to scholarly research on the death penalty—we can see these issues in relief.

In this course, we’ll explore what large aggregate data tells us about criminal justice, opportunities for jobs and housing, and even hierarchies of love. We’ll explore what these mean in terms of society's structure as a whole and what they mean for us personally.

Significant parts of this four-week course will involve class dialogue and self-examination of personal privilege. It’s meant as a safe space for people ready for uncomfortable conversations about how they benefit from, contribute to, and take steps away from structural racism.

Instructor: Douglas Tsoi, JD, is the founder of Portland Underground Grad School (PUGS). Previous careers include teaching high school history and ethics and intellectual property law. A nationally renowned education expert called Douglas "the best teacher I've ever seen teach." At PUGS, he teaches Financial Freedom, Criminal Law: How to Think Like a Lawyer, Behavioral Economics, How to Teach, Reading Ta-Nahisi Coates, and Racial Discrimination, Big Data, and Privilege.

Sign up:

Course meetings: Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30 PM

  • Jan 10
  • Jan 17
  • Jan 24
  • Jan 31
Jan 30
Portland Underground Grad School HH & February Sneak Peek
Cardinal Club, 18 NE 28th

Date: Tuesday, January 30 || 6:00pm-8:00pm
Location: Cardinal Club || 18 NE 28th Ave

Join us at our January Happy (new year!) Hour to meet other members of the PUGS community AND get a sneak-peek at four of our February courses: Portland's African American Boys: How to Be an Ally, Crop Diversity, Financial Freedom, and How to Apologize.

6:00-7:00: mingle time
7:00-7:40: presentations
7:40-8:00: mingle time

Feb 1
Crop Diversity: Change Your Palate, Change the Future (PUGS)
through SE Uplift, 3534 SE Main

NOTE: There is no class February 8th.

Agrobiodiversity refers to the variety of crops and organisms that make up an agricultural system. This diversity is necessary for the system to function, adapt to a changing climate, and fight pests and diseases. It’s what keeps our food growing.

Historically, we knew and used more crop varieties than we know and use today. A lot of that change has to do with our picky palates. In this course, we will explore why (and how) our current food system makes us vulnerable. You’ll learn how to cultivate agrobiodiversity through your palate, plate, and pocket so you're eating more sustainably and ensuring crop production and food security for the future. We’ll also learn about “gleaning,” the process of collecting leftover crops, and about gleaning opportunities in the Portland area.

Instructor: Dr. Neeraja Havaligi is a practicing agriculturist, educator, scientist and a life-long learner of the power of growing, cooking, and sharing food. Her background is in agronomy and plant physiology and her current focus is urban agrobiodiversity.

Feb 3
How to Apologize (PUGS)
Taborspace, 5441 SE Belmont

Apologies have been in the news lately, but have you ever thought about how to make a good apology and why it's so hard to do so?

Join us in this one day workshop as we learn how to make a skillful and conciliatory apology. We will review recent high profile "apologies" (Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, Louis CK) along with examples from the past (Bill Clinton, Bob Packwood). In deconstructing them, we’ll identify the difference between an apology and non-apology and the barriers (emotional, legal, PR) to a good apology.

In the end, an apology is good when one shows they understand the offense and humbly seeks forgiveness. When we subject ourselves to another in hopes of healing and emotional growth for each of us, we’re doing our small part to keep compassion, justice, and grace at the center of our shared humanity. With that in mind, let’s ask ourselves: Who do I need to ask forgiveness from? And to whom do I need to offer it?

Instructor: Douglas Tsoi, JD, is the founder of Portland Underground Grad School (PUGS), a school for everyday life. Before PUGS, he managed a $4 million education and training program at the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance. Previous careers include teaching high school history and ethics, as well as being a intellectual property lawyer. A nationally renowned education expert called Douglas "the best teacher I've ever seen teach."

Feb 6
Portland's African American Boys: How to Be an Ally (Portland Underground Grad School)
through Taborspace, 5441 SE Belmont

Deadly police violence against Black men and boys sparked the #BLACKLIVESMATTER movement. But that violence represents a wider problem in American society: the fact that our national consciousness persists in viewing Black males through negative narratives. In this course, we will attack those narratives and ultimately become better allies to Black boys and men in Portland.

We will learn about the past, present, and future faced by Black men in Portland. We will confront society’s perceptions and biases, as well as our own, and we will consider how Black men are working to change them. We will also learn how to take personal and collective action to make a difference. In the end, we will be equipped to engage and support Black men without being another source of harm, and we'll have a concrete plan for moving forward.

Instructor: Justice Rajee is a program manager at Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center, serving Black young men on probation, and the Justice Subcommittee Chair for Black Male Achievement Portland. He is also the creator/host of the Ask Your Oldhead podcast.

Sign up here:

Jun 2
Family Preservation Project Documentary Screening and "Welcome Wagon" Fundraiser
Cider Riot!

Please join us at our fundraiser and event to benefit women being released from Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, Oregon's overcrowded and under-served women's prison. In partnership with the Family Preservation Project, an amazing organization supporting and empowering incarcerated mothers, students from the Portland Underground Graduate School's Mass Incarceration courses are creating a "welcome wagon".

The welcome wagon will be a will serve as a mobile, volunteer-run boutique to provide women leaving prison with the clothes, toiletries, make-over, and warm welcome they deserve to re-start their lives in the community on the right foot.

Join us on Saturday, June 2 from 6-9pm at the Cider Riot Pub (807 NE Couch St) for a screening of "Mothering Inside," a 30-minute documentary about the Family Preservation Project's work directed by Bryan Lindstrom (illustrious husband of Cheryl Strayed). There will also be speakers, music, and other fun things. Bring family and friends!

Hope to see you then!