Nothing About Us Without Us
The Village Coalition Speakers Bureau is a diverse group of currently and formerly houseless people dedicated to raising public awareness about the dynamics of human displacement around Portland’s streets, and to creating platforms for houseless voices. We provide speakers and group facilitation with the goal of engaging, informing, and inspiring audiences toward compassionate community action.
We regard our speakers as the experts in the room. Their lived experiences position them uniquely to inform housed communities about how the intersections of poverty and economics, trauma, physical and mental illnesses, race and ethnicity, substance use disorders, gender and sexuality each manifest human displacement and trap people in unhoused instability.
Equipped with their insights, the Village Coalition Speakers Bureau seeks to:
ensure public discussions about houselessness are centered on houseless voices,
dispel commonly held stereotypes and misinformation through their personal stories and critical analysis of facts,
facilitate inclusion of the vulnerably housed and houseless in community responses to helping unhoused neighbors,
teach about the work of the Village Coalition, including the elements of village making.
Village Coalition Speakers Bureau
We are ready to work with a wide variety of audiences, and offer both standard and collaborated, customized programming. Our audiences include members of the general public, churches and interfaith organizations, community groups, neighborhood associations, K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and anyone interested to learn about houselessness and the work of the Village Coalition.
Our passionate speakers engage a variety of topics relating to houselessness, including:
Portland Houselessness 101
A Day in the Life: Surviving Outside on Portland’s Streets
Hearing the Houseless - An Interactive Listening Workshop
Pathways to & from Houselessness
Hand in Hand: Community Solutions for Houseless Neighbors
Village Making 101
Typical engagements might include the following:
Session duration between 30 minutes and 4 hours
Single or multiple speaker(s)
Narrative presentations of personal stories
Topical presentations weaving personal stories with data-rich reporting
Audience participation ranging from passive listening to Q&A sessions to full workshop engagement
Narrated audio/visual presentations
Facilitation to inform and develop community-led initiatives relating to houselessness
The cost for an engagement includes a $25 administrative fee plus honoraria at $35 per speaker per hour (one hour minimum honoraria). We require a minimum of 2 weeks notice to fulfill your engagement request. All requests are subject to speaker availability.
To request a speaking engagement, please email
Lisa and Scott are native Oregonians, living housed and houseless in and around Portland for more than 30 years. They are important members of the Dignity Village community, and have worked at the Portland Saturday Market as Set Up Technicians for more than 6 years.
Lisa and Scott share their experiences of houselessness through the intersections of domestic violence and mental health.
Lisa is secretly a fiddle player, and Scott is proud parent of his dog fur baby, Jello.
Jaison has lived houseless in Portland for 2 years (and elsewhere longer), and was a founder of Hazelnut Grove. He lives as a steward of the Greeley Forest Garden, working to support food justice and security for residents of Hazelnut Grove and the larger houseless community.
He also works as an artist to engage the community around the experiences of houselessness and mental health through poetry and textile arts.
Jaison is transitioning to permanent affordable housing, and knows bow ties are cool.
Milarepa is a committed Activist, an accomplished Artist, and a busy Chef who has experienced homelessness and displacement frequently in the last 5 years despite working full-time in his jobs. He leverages his work as a Muralist doing outreach in the street art and graffiti communities, raising awareness about the importance of community involvement and volunteerism.
Milarepa shares his experiences of houseless displacement through the lenses of economic marginalization and fatherhood.