Call 2-1-1 and pretend you need help.

 2-1-1 is the number to call if you are homeless.  (3-1-1 to report a campsite). 

At least, that is what I was told by a City Commissioner staff member whom I met at a recent campaign event. 

When I doubted how effective dialing 2-1-1  could be, he reiterated that it was working great and that there is plenty of money to help.   That was encouraging.

That conversation weighed heavily on my mind for several days, prompted by the frequent interactions I have had recently with the trailer dwellers who live around the corner from my house.    They have been there since August, at the entrance to a natural space.  I guess they have claimed it for themselves.  I have had long conversations with them over the past weeks.   Others neighborhs have, too.  They aren’t interested in moving.  So frustrating, espeically for the people who look at their window every day to see it.

So, while walking my dog past them yet again, I decided to call 2-1-1 to ask for help, pretending that it was me living in a trailer on a sidewalk.

The call was infuriating for two reasons:

1).  As a homeless person, there was NO help. 

2).  As a taxpayer who has contributed significantly to the homeless housing fund, there was NO help. 

The Trailer Dwellers 

 Here’s a litte back story.  Troy is 64.  Says he used to live in Southern Cal and work in the aeronautics industry.  Grew up in a nice neighborhood, he says, just like mine.  He wouldn’t tell me how he went off the rails, but he did admit that he lives on $908-month disability payments, augments his income by selling scrap, and says he can’t be hired anywhere because he is a convicted felon. His toothless smile won’t win over many employers, either.  His college-educated kids live in LA, but he has no interest in moving by them.  

The other trailer mates are Dom and Brandy, in their 20’s. Dom recently moved here from Alaska. He is an aspiring tattoo artist who works infrequently in Vancouver.  Brady doesn’t work but we didn’t know why.  He said together the three could probably pool about $1,000 a month to put toward rent somewhere. 

What can you do with $1,000 a month?    I’m thinking maybe that would be enough to park that RV somewhere with power hook-ups and water in a designated space–not on a suburban sidewalk.   And then they could stop using the city street drains at will.  (Hasn’t the Joint Homelessness Taskforce had enough to identify and establish trailer campsites in the area?)

So, I called 2-1-1 looking for help. 

Here’s how that call went:

2-1-1 starts with a phone tree: Push 1 for Covid vaccines. Push 2 to participate in an automatic call-back service survey in two weeks, (I did it,)  Push 3 for Housing information.

Finally, I get to talk to someone.    She asks for my zip code.   I tell her.

ME:   Three of us in this trailer need to find another place to park it.  We can come up with $1,000 a month on our own   Can you help us out? 

2-1-1: Well, I can put you on a list for an apartment but it’s a long wait for anything to open up.

ME:  I can’t wait for an apartment.  But I have a trailer.

2-1-1:  Umm, yeah, there are some shelters in your area…but I know people don’t want to go to them.  

ME:  Yeah, I don’t want a shelter, I want a safe place to park my trailer. Where can I go?

2-1-1:  Ahhhh….let me look at the database.  Hmmm.  Yeah, there’s nothing in your zip code.   Well, actually nothing in Portland…. oh, but  there’s a space in Eugene.

Me:  Eugene? Why would I care about Eugene. Isn’t this a local service? 

2-1-1:  No, it is a statewide database. But I have a Portland number you can call to see what they have.  Do you want the number?

ME:  Ok. (Sigh).   Hang up. 

So, I dial it. 503 823-4375

“You have reached the office of the Bureau of Emergency Management.  If this is an emergency, dial 911.  Otherwise, leave a message and we will return your call.”  

Really????  This Bureau focuses on emergency response to things like earthquakes and disasters– hardly a referral number for a homeless trailer dweller.  But  I left my number on Monday for a call back anyway.  (No response.)

It is just painful, this lack of efficiency and accountability.

This is just one more example of why taxpayers and job creators all have one foot out of the door in Portland if they haven’t left already. 

 And into this painful mix the Charter Review Commission has offered up recommendations that will make the existing bureaucracy 100x  worse, which is truly terrifying.

The pendulum needs to swing back to the center.  Or more taxpayers and job creators will leave this once magical city.







With Food from the Sunshine Division

Since March, my daughter Tess and I have knocked on over one thousand different front doors 

Front doors in sprawling apartment complexes. In mobile home parks and secure, mid-rise buildings. Front doors of worn-down bungalows and simple suburban ranch homes. And, at doorways in Dignity Village near 33rd and Marine Drive, and the Kenton Women’s Village, a collection of small shed-like tiny homes, fenced in an industrial area near Columbia Blvd.  

We deliver emergency food boxes deep in NoPo or around the outer east side of the City weekly.  

That people live in much simpler conditions than we enjoy is not a revelation.  It’s more a sad confirmation of how many people in our city are struggling.   And so many on the east side.  But, that’s another story. 

Since the start of the pandemic, calls to the Portland Police Sunshine Division have greatly increased from people seeking emergency food boxes.   Sunshine responded immediately, expanding their regular assistance program by securing a vacant Safeway store in northeast Portland to become the hub for an even larger, ongoing response.   

Tess and I joined their delivery staff in March for what we thought would be a few weeks of service.  Now, nine months later,  we are still at it making about 20 stops each Monday and Wednesday morning.   For Tess, this effort replaces her regular volunteering at Providence Hospital which was curtailed with the arrival of the virus.  People who know Tess can vouch for her generous spirit.   For me, this experience allows me to serve and to spend meaningful time with my daughter.  

Those to whom we deliver are diverse. They are families,  big and small, and singles.  They are young, old, physically-challenged, and sometimes recent immigrants.   Those we see are always grateful, waving to us and calling “thank you” as we drive away.  

It’s a humbling reminder that not everyone in our neighborhoods lives with the same conveniences we know.  

Each day, I think about how challenging some tasks must be.  Grocery shopping cannot be easy if you don’t have a dependable car, let alone enough money in your food budget.   I’m reminded how difficult it must be to do laundry for your family after first rustling up quarters then hauling clothes and towels down the hall or down the street.  


 Many times, a glance inside these homes reveals barely furnished rooms.  I think about moms at home with kids, stuck inside during the pandemic and I wonder how they are handling online learning. 














 With schools and libraries closed, and household budgets stretched, do these kids have any books of their own in which to retreat?

With Books from Big Yard 

With schools and libraries closed and household budgets stretched, do the kids we see have any books of their own in which to retreat?  We couldn’t stop thinking about kids stuck at home.  Dropping off food is important, but Tess and I  want ed to do more.   So I reached out to Big Yard Foundation.  Founded by Brennan Scarlett, a Central Catholic graduate now playing for the Houston Texans, his foundation is committed to improving children’s literacy.   Immediately,  Big Yard provided us with various age-appropriate books and book bags that we deliver on our changing weekly route. They are always enthusiastically received.  It’s great for the kids and extra enjoyable for us.

Cory Company is grateful for the blessings it knows and the ability to serve. 


Big Yard Foundation


1190 KEX’s Mark Mason Interview 4/24/2020


Make me like your company

Much-loved Radio personality Mark Mason called Cory Company recently to say I was spot-on with my recent LinkedIn post advising broadcast advertisers to refrain from telling us that these are “uncertain times.”

On his radio show Friday, Mark and I were able to expand that conversion and highlight ‘how-to’ talk to consumers these days.  Great discussion!  You can listen to the segment here.

avoid Cliches

The takeaway is that after two months of sobering  news and non-stop spin, all of us are weary of  messages that have become a cliche, like “uncertain times,”  as well as “in this together”  and “stay safe.” 

Too many businesses are saying the same thing in the same way.  Cue the pensive and moody piano underscore. 

There is a better way to go. You can still be relevant and respectful and most of all, engaging!

Cory Company is adept at crafting broadcast advertising that showcases the unique personality of your business.  You want to connect with consumers in a positive way so they like you and feel good about your company.  

Let’s connect and find out what your company is doing to assure customers that they will be well served–and safe.

Then, I’ll make sure that message is heard. 







Words Vs. Data

We are awash in numbers.  Data is everywhere.  Old-fashioned things like words are in retreat; numbers are on the rise.  Unquantifiable arenas like history, literature, religion and the arts are receding from public life, replaced by technology, statistics, science, and math.  Even the most elemental form of communication, the story, is being pushed aside the list.”Bruce Feiler, NY Times, 2014.

No doubt, data and automation are driving business, At what cost?

In advertising, data doesn’t grow your business.  Good stories grow businesses.  And good stories are shared by customers.

Be heard.  Tell your story. And deliver on your business promise..

Regardless of other options, “word-of-mouth” advertising is critical to business success, whether it communicated by a customer or conveyed affordably in sound- driven media.

New media allows businesses to pinpoint an exact target customer.  But is the required investment to reach that ideal person sustainable?  Maybe not.

Compare the cost-per-thousand of passive digital impressions to the cost of broadcasting a memorable audio message crafted to engage, inform or entertain.  Audio messages breakthrough. And, typically, the cost of broadcast advertising is more affordable.

As the media landscape continues to evolve, advertisers shouldn’t back away from traditional media like radio and TV.  With sound, businesses will reach their best targets along with thousands of unintended prospects.

By building familiarity with a larger audience, a message provides value for the future.

Consider the observation of noted futurist Gerd Leonhard:

“Trust isn’t digital, happiness isn’t a program and relationships aren’t code.”