In light of “Bayside at rock bottom” (May 6), it became clear that another story needed to be told. Our story illuminates a narrative of beauty amid suffering, love despite oppression and the personhood of those who are also part of the Bayside community.

Working at the Resource Center, we live with these dichotomies every day and we recognize there is a profound complexity to our neighborhood.

While it is easy to criminalize poverty and demean people who are poor, we stand against these dehumanizing narratives. What is criminal are the inadequate systems. We should all feel outraged by the inhumane outcomes that result from lack of health care, affordable housing and other basic needs.

While some might see the worst in people, we choose to acknowledge and honor the whole person. At the Resource Center, we have the privilege of helping people who are artists, laborers, veterans, activists, fathers and daughters. We understand that individuals have identities beyond those that were spoken of in the reporting. The story we write recognizes the importance of relationships that withstand the darkness experienced by those with whom we work. Together, we recognize and challenge the unknown and create a collective imagination that transcends the simplistic views that perpetuate hate.

Our founder, Joe Kreisler, once said, “I am a human being. Part of my job, part of being alive, is making sure others are, too.” That belief is the pillar of the work we do at the Resource Center. The war on drugs did not work and people died; welfare cuts did not work and people died; hate is spoken and people die. We are left grieving and fighting for an idea that people deserve better, all people deserve justice, dignity and respect.

We ask you to stand alongside us, deconstruct hate, prioritize love and advocate for change that benefits all of Portland’s residents.

Hilary Eslinger

Preble Street Resource Center

Portland