By Steve Elder and Nancy Varekamp | CNA Media Team
This neighborhood picked up its moniker from the school that opened its doors here in 1905. Although the institution matured from parochial school to university status, the name Concordia persisted.
Now the site in northwest Concordia neighborhood is vacant. Should neighborhood association retain its name?
That was the question posed to more than 30 participants in November’s Concordia Neighborhood Association annual meeting. Concordian Dan Werle offered a presentation outlining what factors should be considered.
Why should the name change? What people and businesses might be impacted? Would it be helpful, problematic or not make a difference? What would the new name be?
Former neighborhood names have included Irvington Park, Town of Creighton, Heidelberg Addition and Foxchase Addition.
“My intent isn’t to slam the [Lutheran] church or the university,” Dan explained “It’s a pivotal time in our world, nation, city and neighborhood,” he added, pointing to the Movement For Black Lives; online, verbal and physical attacks and threats toward women; and more racial, social and economic challenges.
“Names matter. Buildings, streets and neighborhoods reflect our values, and they improve our sense of history and our relationship with community,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to honor an individual who has – or people who have – lived in the neighborhood or contributed to the neighborhood.”
It could pay tribute to a marginalized or under-represented individual or group, increase community involvement and/or inspire and reflect inclusiveness.
Considering the possibility of a name change was greeted with interest at the meeting.
One participant commented, “Your initial thought about changing the name is ‘no,’ but, when you get the context, it softens things a lot.”
“I really appreciate the thought,” reported another. “Makes sense to me to cut the tie with Concordia University and come up with a name that reflects our values.
“Love the idea to honoring a BIPOC who made an influence,” she added. “An idea is looking into what the Indigenous folks called this place in the past.”
Another offered his opinion on a new name. “I’d vote for an Indigenous person,” he said. “They’re even ahead of my own race – African American – in being persecuted.”
Chair Astrid Furstner appointed Dan to chair an ad hoc committee to engage in research and community involvement.
Other committee members are: Mary Barrett, Ike Harris, John McSherry, Elaine Oliver, Brittany Taylor and Addie Virta.
View the PowerPoint presentation here, To contact the committee, email Chair@ConcordiaPDX.org.