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  • 01/20/2022 7:14 AM | Kristen Gehrke (Administrator)

    The following is an email sent from Timbers season ticket holder Aaron Brown to the PTFC ticketing team, posted here with Aaron's permission. It may not reflect the views of the 107IST Board or the organization at large. 

    Last November, after celebrating a delightful end-of-season victory in the North End with my friends, I walked out of Civic Stadium to find that someone had cut through a lock and stolen my messenger bag off my bike parked on the temporary racks on SW Morrison.

    I was really distraught - while the the bag and contents were of minimal value to anyone by myself, I had a decade ago spent what was then to me a good amount of money on the bag and considered it one of my most prized possessions. At the time, after returning from college to move back to my hometown, I went out of my way to ask the local company making the messenger bag to use specific green and gold fabric, and gave them patches from the No Pity Van and of the club crest itself to sew onto the front. This rugged, delightful bag was literally designed to my exact tastes - the local company specialized in waterproof bags perfect for getting around town, and I took a certain amount of delight in knowing there wasn’t a single one like it anywhere on the planet.

    The same year I bought the bag, with what little money I had returning from college, I ponied up to buy a season ticket for the inaugural MLS season. It was at the time among the largest non-essential purchases I had ever made on my own dime - and I was rapt with enthusiasm that winter eagerly anticipating spending the next years of my life both biking around in my hometown and watching my plucky little club play in the top league in America.

    Until this fall, I do not believe I have missed a single regular season Timbers home match that I have been in town for since I went to my first match in the General Admission section in 2005. That’s just shy of half of my life at this point, and likely represents something close to 250 matches. I can't even begin to express the extent to which I've routed my life around supporting these teams, traveling thousands of miles (and lord, spending untold thousands of dollars) to sing for the boys in green and the girls in red. New York, Vancouver, Columbus, Atlanta, Washington DC, Minneapolis, Chicago, at least a dozen trips to Seattle... and why? Because in supporting these soccer clubs, I found community. I found people who enjoyed the beautiful game, the ecstatic thrill of spending ninety minutes together, watching the fortunes of our favorite club rise and fall. It's been so captivating to belong to something larger than myself, in an institution with deep, historic roots in my beloved hometown. That couple of days in 2015 when my dad surprised me with last minute tickets to fly to Ohio and watch the club put a star on the crest remains probably the greatest weekend of my life. I've recruited dozens of friends, colleagues, and family members to join me in the North End over the years, and probably gifted at least two dozen scarves over my life, usually successfully welcoming a new person into becoming a fan and supporter of these two cherished soccer clubs (and for the Front Office, new paying customers).

    If soccer is the most universal language on the planet (what Swedish writer Fredrik Ekelund called the “Esperanto of the feet”), being a supporter of the Timbers and Thorns and the community around it has always felt like Portland’s local dialect, and it’s an accent I assumed I would be glad to keep for the rest of my life. That the fans understood love of the sport and the club as an extension of love for the community itself is an ethos I’ve only grown to further admire in my own professional career in nonprofit advocacy spaces that prioritize using place to unite across differences and cultivate belonging.

    It should be noted that while I was standing this fall in front of my bike, morose about the loss of my messenger bag, a nearby fan unlocking her own bike insisted I borrowed her extra rear light to get home safely since mine had been lost in the theft. It was a reminder that in times of trouble, the supporters of the club always seems to look out for each other, even strangers, because the beauty of supporting your soccer club is that there are no strangers when you’re all wearing the same colors.

    So when I tell you that reading that ESPN article this weekend led me to consider that I might already regret renewing my season ticket for the 2022 season, I hope you understand how patently absurd I would find this sentence as recently as a few years ago. To find myself so disgusted with the reckless, arrogant leadership that I’d consider no longer planning my life around the fixtures is a helluva indictment on how deeply betrayed I feel from the past few years. It’s not too much to ask that the club recognize the values and priorities of the community who rearrange their lives to find opportunities to support them.

    To be candid, I’ve had iterations of this email in my inbox for years, starting with the Iron Front debacle in 2019 (which, by the way, given how the summer of 2020 played out in Portland with the whole “federal goon squad occupying downtown thing,” it sure seems prescient that in 2019 the Timbers Army was trying to warn about creeping fascism!). I was horrified by the possibility of letting Diego Valeri go in 2019, remain uneasy about the clubs deep ties to revanchist municipal business leadership, and remain astonished the club that consistently boasts about its sustainability bonafides continues to take a massive corporate sponsorship from 76, an oil company. That the owner of the club was boneheaded enough to take to twitter to complain about losing money hand over fist during a pandemic that created economic havoc for so many in the community and has so far seen 800,000+ deaths and counting only reaffirms how different a bubble the FO live in from the everyday Timbers fans, let alone the Portland community at large. 

    So, I was already a bit frustrated with the front office when the news broke this fall that the club had essentially covered up sexual assault for years, allowed the perpetrator to get off without ramification, and then acted puzzled that the community was so outraged at the news. The obliviousness to the hypocrisy - support women’s sports by giving us your money, but please don’t hold us accountable to supporting women’s sports by making sure women have a safe workplace! - and the desperate PR attempts to try and quell the outrage through performative social media gestures. I just don’t understand how the club that sees itself as perhaps the largest and most important women’s soccer club in North America if not the world doesn’t recognize the responsibility it holds to set precedence that such trespasses are unacceptable, and that the club needs full transparency and accountability. I think about how many supporters in the Riveters section carry with them everyday all sorts of awful trauma related to sexual assault, and it makes me miserable to imagine that their beloved Portland Thorns was incapable of rising to the challenge of setting the tone and proactively showing it will do everything possible to exorciate assault from women’s soccer.

    Other than a single cup of coffee the day of the cup final, I’ve maintained a concession and apparel boycott since the news broke, and honestly can’t imagine myself spending another dime inside the stadium anytime soon. I also take umbrage with the grotesquely out-of-touch statement that the club issued in response to the ESPN article, which noted the whole “90% season ticket holder renewal statistic” - we all know that was overwhelmingly driven by a desire to be present to hopefully watch Diego Valeri be sent off with a trophy. I myself only renewed my season ticket (and even so begrudgingly) because the original announcement suggested I’d be able to buy four tickets to the cup final, which of course was immediately cut down to two. I feel kinda tricked into renewing, to be honest, and I’m wondering if it’s not time for me to officially break up with this club and find other social institutions that actually seem to share my values, or at least care to listen to what my values are. The club’s decision to dismiss the monthly check in with the 107ist, a democratically elected representation of fans (certainly more democratically chosen than anyone in the Timbers higher leadership), only reinforces a gut decision that the club remains oblivious to who lines their pockets, who vouches for their values, who carries the team through good years and not-so-good years, rain or shine.

    I hope the front office is taking seriously the possibility that that organic, word-of-mouth zeitgeist that keeps bringing fans into the stadium might disappear, forever doused by a greedy and clueless attitude towards the folks lining the pockets of the FO. What happens when you don’t get the free advertising of supporters proudly wearing your scarves across town, asking to put the match on at the local bar, feeling proud to be part of something bigger than oneself because it reflects one’s larger ethos and values? Will the corporate sponsors be as excited to renew when the general admission section doesn’t keep the stadium’s energy flowing through the season? Do fans across the stadium really show up to watch this team hunker through a rebuild without any coordinated trumpets, tifo or singing?  Forget the moral and sentimental angle - I'm astonished the Front Office thinks that breaking off meetings with the 107IST is somehow an economically wise decision. Since I did renew my season ticket and you do already have my money, I suppose I look forward to continuing my concessions boycott and gleefully participating in whatever direct action the 107IST has in mind for the upcoming season to go on strike and make explicit their contributions to the community. I want to see Gavin Wilkinson fired, I want to see more accountability and transparency around the investigations of assault underway, I want to see a front office that sees their biggest supporters as accomplices in celebrating our club and community instead of adversaries.

    So yeah, in some ways, having that messenger bag stolen from my bike during a Timbers match was a pretty fitting representation of the season.  I’ve written multiple emails and filled out plenty of surveys over the years pleading with you to set up an outside-the-stadium bag check as i’ve seen at most other MLS stadia I’ve visited, which would be massively helpful for anyone trying to bike or transit to the match (especially after enforcement of the clear bag rule). I also noticed that it appears the cheery woman on Timbers/Thorns match day operations staff who since 2011 has watched the bikes during the match to deter theft no longer holds that job. It’s honestly a wonder that more folks haven’t had bike lights stolen. (There were multiple cops nearby, but they literally laughed at me when I expressed frustration that their presence didn’t deter petty theft). Can’t help but wonder if her absence is a sign of the club once again cutting costs.

    Something that meant an awful lot to me, that represented the things I cared about most in this world, that I was overjoyed to talk about at endless length, that I had repeatedly asked for support to keep and cherish, feels like it’s been taken from me due to indifference and neglect from the very entities of which I consider myself the biggest of supporters. I suppose I shouldn’t have expected otherwise, given how the front office ignored Mana Shim in 2015 and now both unceremoniously showed Sebastian Blanco and Diego Valeri the door in 2022 despite these individuals’ overwhelmingly significant contributions to the club and the community.

    Given all of that, I suppose it's foolish to assume this email will have any impact on the club's front office. Just another supporter audacious enough to believe they are entitled to have the club they care about maybe care about them in return.

    Last month, despite the cost, along with my season ticket I bought myself a replacement new messenger bag. Although it’s a slightly different shade and updated looks, when asked to choose a color I of course inevitably chose green.

    Please restart listening to and collaborating with the 107IST to allow me the opportunity to someday be eager to cover it in Timbers patches while I carry it around town.

  • 12/08/2021 7:53 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)

    The following is a post from Rachel Greenough, 107IST member and Rose City Riveters Steering Committee member.

    Am I happy the Timbers are playing for a cup at home? I sincerely wish that weren’t a complicated question.

    I’m a Thorns supporter through and through, but I love when the Timbers win. My friends have given their blood, sweat, and tears to support this team, and they deserve moments like this.

    Except this isn’t really that moment, is it? For anyone paying attention to the broader soccer landscape in Portland or the U.S., this isn’t really that moment we’ve been waiting for. This moment is much, MUCH more complicated.

    I wasn’t able to watch the game or get updates on Saturday, so I checked in anxiously around the time of the final whistle, expecting to feel elated if the Timbers had won. Instead, I felt sadness.

    I felt sad because it felt like this win had come at the expense of NWSL players, the expense of our protest, the expense of momentum in the movement for more transparency. That’s not the fault of Timbers players (though seriously, where have those voices been these past two months?), nor is it the fault of supporters who are understandably thrilled to be here at the end of this season. But it sucks.

    It hurt so badly watching the Thorns lose in semifinals. It hurt so badly every time we watched them gut it out the final month of the season before that. I made the choice to show my caring through being there, screaming, holding signs and waving flags — but I know others who couldn’t bring themselves to do that. We all took our stands where we could. We knew how much the team was hurting. Their world (and league and club) had been rocked. That they managed to pull through it with some semblance of unity was incredible.

    This semifinal loss was heart-wrenching in a manner that was even deeper than the infamous 2016 end to the season. Worse than 6-0 to the Courage in 2019. Because this loss spoke of deeper pain and deeper hurt. I don’t claim to speak for any players, but as a supporter my heart hurt for the players on the field as they played through the end of this season. Even more, it hurt for those who weren’t there. For Mana Shim and Sinead Farelly and Kaiya McCullough and everyone else — identified or anonymous — who has left this league over the years due to abuse and harassment.

    It bears saying again. Paul Riley abused players. He used sexual coercion and harassment to make their lives living hell. He is an asshole and an abuser.

    The club’s current owner, the current GM of the Portland Timbers, and others in the highest positions of power knew that this occurred. No, they didn’t know everything, but they knew enough to know that Riley no longer deserved to work here. They knew enough to know that they should look into it further. But they let him walk away and take the next job that came along in the league. They congratulated him. They maintained those relationships. Because that is what powerful men do for each other all the damn time.

    The Thorns have a new GM and a new coach. I am excited about those hires. I love this team. But this is not over as long as these men are in charge and as long as they maintain an absolute brick wall of silence around the club — BOTH clubs. As long as they are the names and faces listed as being the top of the hierarchy on timbers dot com (which is also the website for the Thorns. Weird, right?). As long as the Timbers win and they coerce everyone into renewing season tickets on their timeline. As long as they sit silently and hold all the power, while women and non-binary players are playing in a league that has systematically disempowered them from the start.

    I’m just extremely tired of men winning everything and women and non-binary players giving up their dreams. So am I being overly sensitive, feeling sad as I watch the end of a remarkable Timbers season? Probably. But my heart is broken and I am tired and I just wanted to say it out loud.

  • 11/24/2021 9:00 AM | Kristen Gehrke (Administrator)

    The views of the author are not necessarily those of the 107IST or its Board of Directors. 

    “This is soul-crushing.”

    That’s what I told my wife before my son and I headed down to the stadium Sunday afternoon. She had helped me put together one last sign just a couple of hours before kickoff — “Do the right thing.”

    It had been 45 days since Meg Linehan’s article was first published and we all learned about the horrible acts inflicted upon two former Thorns players by a former Thorns coach. It was appalling. How does this even happen? In this club? Our club? And how had no one been held accountable for six years? Six years!

    Parting ways with Paul Riley in 2015 was the right thing to do. That said, he continued coaching — in the same league, no less. I believe that Portland had an obligation to bring this to the league and take whatever available steps there were to prevent him from continuing to coach in the NWSL. It is mind boggling to think that a coach could do these things, a team could find out, and he would still coach at all, let alone in the same league.

    The piece of the story that has not been addressed by the club are the actions – or lack thereof – of Gavin Wilkinson, Nancy Garcia Ford, Mike Golub, and Merritt Paulson. Part of being an employer is to make a safe work environment for your employees. Disregarding a player is not making a safe work environment. Keeping people safe goes beyond physical injury. It means taking steps to protect a player’s physical safety, mental and emotional wellbeing. It means being human to other humans.

    I have been a season ticket holder for the Timbers and Thorns since they joined MLS and the NWSL respectively. For more than a month, it has been difficult to hold tickets to either, especially the Timbers. While Gavin Wilkinson has been on administrative leave from the Thorns, he has remained in his role for the Timbers. This is not the “One Club” that has been touted by the front office for the last eight years. One Club would remove Gavin from his role in both teams.

    I’ve realized how little joy I am finding in my relationship with One Club when I received the “Know before you go” email ahead of the match against San Jose. One, I had forgotten there was a game, so that says something. But more importantly, I didn’t see attending the game as something to look forward to. It was an inconvenience. Why would I want to attend a game for a club that appears to be doing so little despite the voices of so many. There are many actions that can be taken, and many demands to be met. There is one that is the simplest of all, and would be felt immediately:

    Fire Gavin Wilkinson from the entire organization.

    I desperately want to want to renew my Timbers and Thorns season tickets. Right now, I don’t think they want me to want to. If they did, they would listen as One Club. To the supporters. To the players. To Mana and Sinead. 

    Right now, they are barely hanging on to two Half Clubs. They need to make a choice. As it stands, what the Timbers and Thorns are telling me is that I am not a valued season ticket holder, fan demands are not a priority, and player safety does not matter. Three things that can quickly end in No Club.

    Like I said, this is soul-crushing.

    -- Kyle Jones, Timbers & Thorns supporter

  • 11/24/2021 6:53 AM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)

    The following is a post by Sarah Gehrke.

    I moved to Portland, Oregon, three years ago. As an avid supporter of women’s soccer, I was in awe to finally be in the city I considered to be the home of the pinnacle of women’s professional soccer. After spending five years supporting the Washington Spirit, I was finally in a place I thought gave women’s soccer the environment it deserves. I thought Portland had it all — a gorgeous downtown stadium that regularly boasts tens of thousands of fans, a large and passionate supporters group, significant brand awareness throughout the city, and much more.

    However, Portland is not the shining beacon of women’s soccer I thought it was. One month ago, we learned that Paul Riley was accused of sexually coercing multiple players, while the Thorns Front Office quietly placed Riley on leave and then declined to renew his contract without any mention of the investigation or administrative leave. Both Gavin Wilkinson and Merritt Paulson publicly continued cordial interactions with Riley. On top of that, Wilkinson allegedly dissuaded Mana Shim from speaking openly about her sexual orientation. 

    An environment where players aren’t protected, where they are made to fear speaking openly, and where a known abuser is allowed to move on without consequence is not acceptable. Despite the extensive reporting and follow-up stories, the Front Office has done little more than pay lip service to the calls for accountability, including only placing Wilkinson on administrative leave from the Thorns while allowing him to continue in his capacity as GM of the Timbers. This decision stands in contrast to a recent sexual abuse scandal in men’s hockey, where the GM who mishandled sexual assault allegations stepped down from his role. While we need to wait until the results of the investigation before terminating Wilkinson, he should be placed on administrative leave from the team — full stop.

    Closure and moving forward doesn’t happen wIthout accountability and consequences for the people in positions of power in the Thorns Front Office that 1) fostered an environment where this type of abuse could occur and 2) allowed an abuser to move on from the team without acknowledgement of the circumstances of his departure.

    I am cautiously optimistic about the recent hiring of Karina LeBlanc as Thorns GM and rumored hiring of Rhian Wilkinson as the next head coach. I’m thrilled to see women who played the game in Portland coming back to the organization; however, it is also true that both lack experience for their future roles. If one of the goals of bringing R. Wilkinson and LeBlanc into the organization is to improve treatment of players and culture within the club, then there needs to be clear policies in place to give that power to both of them. Without explicit empowerment and guardrails, I believe existing, powerful members of the Front Office — including Paulson, G. Wilkinson, and Mike Golub — will control the real levers of power within the organization, which is part of what has created an environment of silence and disempowerment of players.

    I love this city. I love my community of supporters. I love to support the players of Thorns FC. I will not back down, and I will not give up until we’ve seen the safety and environment for players of Thorns FC protected (as outlined by the demands published by both Thorns players and the Rose City Riveters). 

  • 11/17/2021 9:45 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)

    The news of how the Portland Thorns handled learning of former coach Paul Riley’s abuse hit many people hard. We continue to be awed by the strength shown by Mana and Sinead in sharing their stories, and we follow the lead of the players in designing the 107IST response.

    We recently conducted two surveys to see how people feel about 107IST actions in response to the revelations. We did a members-only survey first, and then followed that up with one for the wider community.

    We heard from a lot of people — and we appreciate everyone who took the time to give feedback!

    • 274 members responded to the member survey, and 461 to the community survey.
    • Of those 461 who responded to the community survey, 42% were 107IST members. We asked folks to only fill out the community survey if they had not done the member one, but it is possible some people responded to both.
    • We ran the member survey for two weeks before the community survey, so that time gap may have affected people's opinions either positively or negatively.
    • We’re breaking out results as “Member Survey,” “Members in Community Survey,” and “Wider Community.”

    Respondents representing the full range of the PTFC community. Most survey-takers follow both the Timbers and Thorns, though some follow just one team.

    Note: Numbers in all charts may not add up to the total number of survey respondents because all questions were optional.

    Not surprisingly, folks who took the survey have been following the 107IST response to the news. Three-quarters of members and more than two-thirds of non-members have been following our actions “very closely.”

    We asked two similar questions: How has the 107IST response been so far, and how hard should we push moving forward? It’s a similar question, but we wanted to ask it in both a backwards-looking and forward-facing way.

    For the backwards-facing question, results were very split. Overall, around half of respondents think the 107IST response has been about right, with the rest fairly split between wishing we had pushed harder and wishing we had a softer response. Notably, members taking the more recent community survey softened a tiny bit: While 48% still said we've been doing well, 29% said we've been pushing too hard. There are many things this could mean, but without additional research, it’s difficult to read too much into the directional changes in this question.

    How hard should 107IST push moving forward? The bottom line of this is similar to the previous question: Roughly a quarter of respondents think the response should be tempered, and nearly 75% think the organization should continue pushing for change. A very small portion of respondents — 3% overall — think the organization should stop all work on this issue.

    Gavin's future: Like everything else, people are split. About half of folks have already seen enough and think he should be fully removed from the PTFC organization. A third want to see how the investigation goes. Timbers supporters are slightly less interested in his ousting. In the member survey, only 43% of Timbers Army folks wanted him gone, compared to 56% of Riveters and 66% of people who identified as being part of both supporters groups.

    Thanks to everyone who took time to participate in the survey. We’re also looking at all the thoughtful comments you left. Your responses will help shape our future work on this important issue.

  • 11/10/2021 10:27 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)

    The following is a post from Stephan Lewis, 107IST board member.

    For those of you who actively engage in the elections process for the 107IST board of directors, you know that it has for years been a process in which members can help set the priorities for the future of the org. You know that the process has been daunting at times with the depth of questions and responses. While we’ve worked to make the process smoother through appointments from the Rose City Riveters Steering Committee, the Timbers Army Steering Committee, and the BIPOC group, it can still be overwhelming for members to run for an at-large position. It takes a lot of personal and mental preparation to be willing to throw your hat in the ring.

    I was asked to write this because, historically, I’ve been good at long-range recruiting for the board. A lot of this is planting the seed in people that have the potential to be effective in a specific role, coupled with encouragement and support. Honestly though, it’s been hard recently. Who wants to do this? While it does honestly have some enjoyable moments, it’s not like it’s that frequently fun or free of stress anymore (if ever). Just calling it like it is and looking straight at the elephant in the room.

    We’ve said, “Well, in a normal season…” a lot over the past few years — but what is a “normal season”? I barely remember at this point. These past few years, we’ve had 107IST board members go their entire terms without experiencing whatever a “normal season” is. Between compressed schedules for construction, a friggin’ pandemic, and struggles to get the PTFC Front office to understand some of the most basic elements of who we are and what is important to us within the diaspora of our broader community, maybe this is just the way things are. Regardless, we will always put the work in to be standing at the ready, even if it feels like it’s always on the struggle bus.

    In the past few election cycles, we’ve been using this space to talk about what skills we think we’ll need as a board with a lot of success. We’ve been blessed with truly solid people — people who are committed to serving and who bring valuable skills to the table. The best laid plans don’t always shake out, however — especially given the issues we’ve collectively faced over the last years.

    At this point, we could probably use someone with conflict resolution experience, to be honest.

    There is an inherent symbiosis between the 107IST and the PTFC Front Office. We spent the better part of this last year working to strengthen the relationship with the FO in the hopes of making it “more healthy.” None of us got into this to “stick it to the FO.” That’s not why we’re here. We do this to sustain and grow support for the Beautiful Game and this place we call home. We’ve been talking to them about some topics for the entirety of our existence that are just now getting traction, and others that have fallen on overly confident, yet unqualified ears, more consistently than any of us would like. (Tweak your business model and hire qualified people to help you through some of these issues already.) It seems to be the nature of professional sports, where big egos and swagger rule the day, to use confidence to get through things one doesn’t understand or are qualified to address. What other professional sports don’t have, however, is a supporters culture like what we have.

    It’s not all bad. We’ve done a lot of great things through our relationship with the FO and will do more in the future. But, holy shit, they pissed me the fuck off talking about their “ethos” in their statements and saying they share ours without even understanding what ours means. Or, using the phrase “proven track record” to absolve themselves of doing the continuous, often difficult work of striving for improvement. Look, we obviously aren’t perfect, but our ethos against hate and intolerance means we will constantly strive to improve. It’s a cornerstone of who we are. At this point, we don’t even know when, or even if, we’ll meet with them again. Our last monthly meeting was pushed before ultimately being cancelled, and this month’s wasn’t even scheduled. Some form of communication will continue, but it may just be … different … moving forward.

    And look, it’s not all about the FO. Most of what we do as an organization has little if anything to do with them. However, what we understand through personal experiences and hearing from you, our members, is that there is a lot of disillusionment with the FO, and the effect on our passions is leading to a crisis of faith in many — if not just apathy.

    We know that we are blessed with so many talented and passionate people within our membership. We may have worked with you on projects, read your well crafted emails to the FO that you cc’d us on or, you’ve engaged in high-level discussions we’ve been privy to. We see you. We know that there are almost endless other local organizations doing amazing work in our community that are worthy of your volunteer time and effort. We would even encourage our members to look at other organizations we support that would benefit from their skills and passions without as much frustration. We get it.

    Why does this sound like I’m trying to persuade you not to run for the board? Well, we know where you are because you're not alone. It is through an understanding of the elephant in the room that we learn to tame it and ride it into battle like the soldiers of Hannibal. As One Club.

    Being a PTFC supporter has never been about winning. Don’t get me wrong, winning is great and sharing it with you people makes it even greater. Just as having you people there to share in the frustrations of loss; the embrace of pain and suffering for our support, we have each other; we have this place on earth. Attending matches and growing the game is opportunity to take your joys from the week or your sorrows and frustrations from the week and give them all freely as an offering to this place on earth through a tangible, visceral experience empowering our Club through dance and song and ecstasy and yes, shared despair. Even if it’s only a fleeting moment like that Dairon bicycle last week, I’m reminded of what we’ve created together. That’s what brought us here. That’s what drew us in. That’s who we are as a community. That’s what we need to work to protect. That’s what we need to rebuild. That’s where our past, present, and future reside.

    That’s why we need your help.

    This thing we’ve all created together is in crisis, along with our collective faith. It’s long been said that owners, staff, and players come and go but we, the supporters, will always be here. I’m here to assure you that we will indeed be here — and we want you to be, too. Together, we can make this into what it needs to be. Together, we can stand shoulder to shoulder for what we love. You can play a role in that. Your passion is worth fighting for. Your skills and experience can contribute.

    Do you have something to contribute by running for the 107IST board? You’re damn right you do.

  • 11/03/2021 7:58 PM | Jennifer Ingraham (Administrator)

    The following is a post by Matt Cleinman.

    It’s now been a month since Meg Linehan’s article about Paul Riley’s abuse has rocked the NWSL community — and especially the Thorns. As a long-time supporter of the Thorns, those first few days were really difficult. Hearing the news was one of those “time stops” moments. Disbelief. Tears. Unable to focus on anything else. More crying. Holding tightly to every update that trickled out over those first couple days. And then thinking about how I’m a man, and how this news is hitting even closer and harder for many women and non-binary supporters.

    A few weeks later, there are still aspects that make me sick. My stomach knots up each time that I remember Paul Riley traded for specific players he had coached for years. And while I’m incredibly awed by the strength and courage that Mana, Sinead, and Kaiya have shown in coming forward to transform our league, I still cry every time I consider that there are likely more victims out there. More than anger, though, these days I’m mostly disappointed and worried.

    Disappointed: The Thorns leadership still has not shown that they understand why their response in 2015 — or 2021 — is completely inadequate to many of us, how it fully misses the mark. Merritt Paulson’s kind tweets to Paul Riley over the past few years are infuriating: They are overtures to an old friend, not the words of someone who is irate at someone who abused his employees. (Further anger-inducing: The day the article was released, as I was sobbing, Merritt’s priority was deleting these old tweets.) Merritt’s recent open letter reads extremely false, especially when compared to his kind pre-article tweets. It seems like he’s trying to save face now that his dirty secret is out. Leadership and attitude starts at the top. If Merritt doesn’t understand, it’s hard to think that his deputies will.

    Worried: I’m worried that the changes being promised won’t be enough to transform our team and our league into a place where our players can feel safe and supported. Every day that Gavin Wilkinson remains employed makes me worried that real change isn’t coming. The fact that he is still actively working for the Timbers makes no sense, and it betrays the lack of concern this organization has about his conduct. If you’re worried enough to put him on leave from Thorns duties, why aren’t you worried enough to remove him from his Timbers duties? Why are Timbers players safe with him, but Thorns players are not? It seems like you’re setting up to clear him after a cursory investigation.

    (Update: Karina LeBlanc has been hired as the general manager of the Thorns. She is extraordinarily qualified, and I look forward to her return to Portland. However, this underscores that the Front Office’s process has been a sham. After weeks of insisting that they were waiting for a complete investigation before making any decisions, they reverse themselves and hire KK. It’s almost as if it’s not about the investigation, but instead about other factors.)

    I bought season tickets before our inaugural season kicked off, and I have been a dedicated Thorns supporter ever since. I’ve traveled to most of our postseason games, even when it seriously stretched my budget — and saw our team lift the trophy in both 2013 and 2017. In two weeks, we have a semifinal game at home. But I can’t bring myself to purchase a ticket from the Thorns organization. There is one other thing that presently gives me a pit in my stomach: The thought of sending more of my money to this team’s owners and leadership.

  • 11/01/2021 10:09 PM | Jennifer Ingraham (Administrator)

    We are now accepting candidate submissions for this year's 107IST election cycle! To run for the board, you must have been a current member as of October 31, 2021. The deadline to submit your application is noon on November 19.

    This year, there are two member-elected positions that will serve three-year terms. The Timbers Army Steering Committee, Rose City Riveters Steering Committee, and the BIPOC Committee also nominate candidates for one-year terms. You can read more about the board composition and the elections process in our bylaws.

    If you’re considering running, we recommend you join us at our next board meeting on November 9. Over the next few weeks, we’ll also be publishing some more information about day-to-day board life and the things we’re working on to give a better idea of what being on the board is like.

    Important dates

    • Applications for candidates will be open until noon (Pacific) on November 19.
    • We will post the list of candidates and their statements on the website on the afternoon of November 20.
    • After the slate is announced, all current 107IST members will be able to post questions to candidates in the member forums on the website.
    • On December 4, from noon to 2 p.m. (Pacific), we will host a virtual forum session for all candidates. This session is moderated, and the questions will come from members.
    • We will post a recording of the forum on December 5 to all 2021 members.
    • We will also email ballots to all 2021 members on December 5.
    • Voting will take place from December 5 through December 12, and we will announce the results on December 13.

    What are our needs?

    As always, we are looking for professional, committed people to join our board. The main requirement is always people who can put in the time needed for board initiatives. (The time commitment can vary depending on what members take on, but the average is somewhere between 6 to 10 hours a week.)

    We continue to work towards becoming more strategic in focus, empowering the steering committees to take on SG efforts, so we are definitely looking for individuals with organizational change experience, as well as administrative, project management, and strategic thinking skills.

    As the board continues to evolve and grow, and we continue our capital campaign for a permanent home, it would be great to have people with fundraising experience on the board.

    There is no age requirement or residency requirement — those who identify as part of an RSG should consider running!

    About the board

    Our board members help shape the organization and work to make the Timbers and Thorns supporter experience bigger and better, as well as contribute to initiatives in the Portland soccer community. You can find out more about the current board, the positions and committees they serve on, and the initiatives they manage here.

    If you have any questions about the election process, please email us at elections@107ist.org.

  • 10/27/2021 3:54 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)

    Boycott concessions and merchandise

    Three weeks ago, our leadership teams called for our members to boycott concessions and official team merchandise until significant changes are made to our club’s organization — changes that will focus on the players and increased transparency. We continue to ask for your support in this boycott.

    You can read more about our demands here.

    The Portland Thorns players have also listed out three demands for the club:

    • That the investigations proceed immediately, and that our GM, Gavin Wilkinson, be placed on administrative leave until the process concludes.
    • That there be an increase in the diversity of voices within the club’s board of executives.
    • That we, the players of the club, gain seats at the table in order to increase transparency, accountability, and cooperation between the players and the front office.

    The NWSLPA have provided their own list of demands for the league, which can be found on their website.

    24th-minute activities

    The Riveters have published more information about the protest, the players’ asks, and how to participate here. The key pieces for the Timbers match today are:

    • Smoke at the 24th minute will continue. The 24th minute was chosen because Sinead Farrelly’s original number with the Thorns was 24 and 6 (2+4=6 ) was Mana Shim’s number.
    • During the 24th minute, TA or Riveters capos may be on the main stage waving Riveters flags while we chant “Protect the Players.”
    • Bring in two-sticks or signs showing your support of the players or your displeasure with the current situation. We have been told that as long as signs do not violate the PTFC code of conduct and do not have profanity or threats, they will be allowed in.
    • Pick up a flyer or two from the 107IST membership table located on the concourse in the North End that gives more detail about what and why we are doing this.

    Beyond what we are currently doing, we are working on next steps that can increase pressure for systemic change. We are not taking this lightly. Stay tuned. If you have suggestions for additional actions we can take as an organization, please let us know. We are stronger together.

  • 10/27/2021 3:47 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)

    [Originally published in the member newsletter, on October 13.]

    Background information

    Over the past month, our organization has been responding to reporting in The Athletic about events that occurred in 2015, when Mana Shim reported Paul Riley’s behavior to the PTFC leadership team, including Merritt Paulson, Gavin Wilkinson, and HR.

    We also learned about how Wilkinson talked to Shim behind closed doors, essentially telling her to “just stick to soccer” and not be publically out and proud. Reporters have also confirmed that the Timbers/Thorns leadership had unexpected reactions to stories that told us about the whole player. Wilkinson has said that Shim’s claims are “bullshit” when initially asked for comment. He later walked back that comment.

    Merritt Paulson’s open letter, posted three weeks ago, further demonstrated that the organization has yet to make concrete changes to address their past failures. While Wilkinson has been placed on administrative leave from the Thorns, per the players’ request, he is still performing his duties as GM for the Timbers. There have been no further updates from the organization in the past three weeks. This is unacceptable.

    The Rose City Riveters Steering Committee, the Timbers Army Steering Committee, and the 107IST Board believe that the incident recounted by Shim describes a toxic culture and should not be ignored. This reporting calls into question the credibility our club has with future players and forces us to ask the question: Who else has been silenced or did not feel they could be their authentic selves here? We believe that systemic change is needed to restore the reputation of the club across both NWSL and MLS, and that Wilkinson needs to be terminated.

    The 107IST’s mission is to support soccer in and around Portland, from the grassroots to the highest level. As such, we stand behind the players, and we believe that immediate and meaningful action is necessary for our club to thrive. Soccer is more than a sport: It’s a community of people who collectively pour their blood, sweat, tears, and passion into something they love. We have learned that there are players whose safety and identity was threatened, and players who continue to fear retaliation. As supporters of PTFC and members of the 107IST, now more than ever, this is our time to support and stand behind the players of today and tomorrow.

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