Recap of 2016 Paella Fest with Senator Merkley

On September 18th we hosted our 2nd annual Paella Fest nestled in the hills of the Southern Willamette Valley at Sweet Cheeks Winery. Guests enjoyed a delicious array of Paella from local chefs, live music, and a variety of speakers, including Senator Jeff Merkley. The event concluded with a paddle auction that raised over $30,000 to support the work of SquareOne Villages.

Prior to the Paella Fest, Senator Merkley, a strong affordable housing advocate, visited and toured our Opportunity Village project in Eugene. Following the tour, he fielded questions and listened to stories from some of the residents there. The video below features a brief interaction in which Sky calls for an Opportunity Village in every state and every city.

Later on in the evening, Senator Merkley delivered a keynote speech in which he emphasized that stable affordable housing is a fundamental element for enabling people to thrive. However, he noted that Oregon currently has the 3rd most unaffordable rental market in the nation, and the state would need to create a little more than 103,000 affordable units for people earning extremely low-incomes. To address this challenge, he concluded "we have to create and think outside the box"

The Senator closed his remarks by citing the idea of Nobel Peace Prize recipient Albert Schweitzer, “ ‘Do something wonderful. People may imitate it.’—That’s what is happening with SquareOne Villages.”

Listen to the full speech below:

Additional speakers included former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, SOV’s Executive Director Dan Bryant, State Senator Floyd Prozanski, and Arbor South Architects Principle Dan Hill.

The vision and site plan for our Emerald Village project was displayed on a new poster that features 15 unique tiny house designs that will be built.

Attendees also got a glimpse of life at Opportunity Village through two short video featuring two couples at the village. Both of these couples hope to become residents of the Emerald Village Community when completed.

Many thanks to our sponsors for the evening—Hearing Associates, PeaceHealth, Trillium Community Health, Pacific Continental Bank, and Vik Construction—and all the architecture and design teams involved in the Emerald Village project, the SquareOne Villages Board, and the Opportunity Village residents that helped make the event a success.

If you missed it this year, we hope you'll consider joining us at next year's Paella Fest!

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