From These Streets I Rise is an inspirational piece of love and compassion honoring the diverse stories and immediate experiences of Portland Street Roots’ vendors impacted by homelessness.  Weaving together stories and live music, one actress shifts seamlessly through multiple characters, taking us on a unique journey that reminds us of the power of community and the resilience of the human spirit.

From These Streets I Rise, live-streamed from CoHo Theatre on Sunday, Sept. 13th at 2 PM.

MIKKI JORDAN: A Note From The Creator

“I’m a huge fan of documentary theater.  When I lived in NYC I had the opportunity to take a class with one of my heroes,  Anna Deavere Smith, and later was able to study documentary theater with Jessica Blank and Eric Jensen, creators of numerous documentary theater projects including The Exonerated and Coal Country.  Their work inspired me to become more curious about the intersection of social justice work and theater performance, which eventually led me to pursue a second career in social work.  I knew I wanted to create my own documentary theater piece one day, but I didn’t yet know the story I needed to tell.

A couple years after moving to Portland I began working as a crisis worker in emergency departments and the story became evident.  Most of the patients I work with are un-housed.  Every day at my job I’m forced to discharge patients back to the street without adequate access to basic resources.  This is often referred to as a “moral injury”, having to act in a way that goes against your own moral, ethical compass.  Kicking patients to the curb who are in a chronic state of crisis serves as a moral injury to both parties.  This wears on you.  It wears on staff, patients.  Burnout becomes evident, and this, in turn, results in many un-housed individuals being treated in ways that are frankly inhumane.   

I felt their stories needed to be heard.  I wanted people to understand the complex web of circumstances that can lead a person to homelessness.  There is no “one size fits all”.  Each story is unique.  I wanted to create a theater piece that could give these stories a platform. 

A close friend of mine suggested I pitch my idea to Street Roots and, thankfully, they were all in.  I conducted approximately forty interviews over a three-month period and in January, 2019, I presented a concert version of the piece, accompanied by the wonderful jazz pianist, Jonathan Eder, that was part of the Fertile Ground Festival and served as a celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Street Roots.  

Earlier this spring Chris Harder and I were in conversation with CoHo about producing a different play all together, but when the pandemic hit we realized the piece didn’t fit in the new world we are all now inhabiting.  Thankfully CoHo suggested remounting From These Streets I Rise.  The stories felt all the more vital given the shifting state of our world.  Chris and I seized the opportunity and were able to recruit the incredibly talented Portland-based singer/ songwriter, Samie Joan Pfeifer, to write some original music for the piece.  

I’m so grateful to CoHo for giving me the chance to expand and grow this project.  The homeless crisis remains a contentious topic in Portland, but the solution is actually fairly simple: redirect resources away from the criminal justice system and into needed community resources that can help people heal and rehabilitate.  

I hope this show serves as a reminder to be gracious toward those going through difficult times.   You don’t know their story.  My hope is that this show highlights our interconnectedness and serves as a call to action for our community.”


From These Streets I Rise was created in honor of Street Roots. Their mission is to create income opportunities for individuals struggling with homelessness and poverty. To honor this mission CoHo will donate 75% of all ticket sales directly to Street Roots. The majority of those funds will be given to the Street Roots vendors who contributed their stories to this project. Below is a list of vendors who’s stories inspired this piece, listed in order of appearance.

Barbra Weber
Dennis Chavez
Don Peterson
Mark Rodriguez
Anonymous 1
Anonymous 2
Tina Drake
Chris Vandam
David Northcut
Paulette Bade
Mike Sims
Raven Drake
David Samson

For over 20 years, Street Roots has been creating income opportunities for individuals experiencing homelessness and poverty by producing a newspaper and other media that are catalysts for change. Our vendors purchase our newspaper for $.25 and sell it for $1, keeping the profits. They are their own small business owners, and through selling the newspaper, they earn income, build skills, and make important community connections.

Our newspaper covers many topics and stories you won’t find in other local news outlets, and is a leader among reporting on housing and homelessness. We also print the Rose City Resource, which compiles all the services available for low-income and unhoused folks in the Tri-County area in a concise, 4″ x 4″ booklet, as well as in a digital form. Street Roots is also a vocal advocate to make housing a reality for everyone in our community, and against criminalizing or punitizing our unhoused neighbors.

Your support through this performance is accomplishing all that, as well as helping Street Roots and our vendors continue to navigate the ongoing global pandemic.

– Andrew Hogan, Deputy Director at Street Roots

CLICK HERE to make a direct contribution to Street Roots.


Runtime: 1 hour

Mikki Jordan……………….. Performer
Samie Jo Pfiefer…………….Musician/Muse

Mikki Jordan………………..Co-Producer, Creator
Chris Harder…………………Co-producer, Director, Dramaturg
Megan Thorpe………………Stage Manager
Jenn Lin………………….….Lighting Designer
Phil Johnson………………..Sound Designer

Alan Cline…………………….Broadcast Director
Tamera Lyn…………………..Camera Operator, Editor
Zoe Ezechiels………………..Camera Operator
Amanda Vander Hyde………Camera Operator
Meg Slaughter……………….Camera Operator
Rory Breshears………………Production Manager


Philip Cuomo……………………..Producing Artistic Director
Kiera Coughlan…………………..Development Associate
Sasha Belle Neufeld…………..Financial Associate
Laurel Wilde Daniel …………..Communications and Patron Services Coordinator
Phil Johnson………………………Artistic Associate


“A Life I’d Be Owed” – by Samie Jo Pfeifer
“Bootstraps” – by Samie Jo Pfeifer
“Make Me Down A Pallet on the Floor” – traditional folk song
“Bird’s Yet Flown” – by Samie Jo Pfeifer
“Wayfaring Stranger” – traditional folk song
“Placeholder” – by Samie Jo Pfeifer
“God Awful Time” – by Samie Jo Pfeifer
“He Was a Friend of Mine” – traditional folk song
“His Eye is on the Sparrow” – hymn by Civilla Martin and Charles Gabriel, 1905
“Homeward Bound” – by Marta Keen

Original music by Samie Jo Pfiefer is available for purchase. CLICK HERE to find out more!


Artists Rep, Jonathan Eder, Brooke Anderson, Mark Ruskamp,
and to all the Street Roots vendors who contributed their stories to the creation of this piece, and to Street Roots staff and volunteers, particularly Andrew Hogan and Kaia Sand.


MIKKI JORDAN (Co-producer, creator, performer) is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and spent fifteen years in NYC devising new works with various independent theater collectives. Her love of documentary storytelling and narrative healing work eventually lead her to pursue a second career as a psychiatric social worker. Now based in Portland she works as an emergency department crisis worker, therapist, and theater artist. She creates original documentary theater works exploring social justice issues that directly impact our community. Stay tuned for upcoming projects:

She would like to thank all the Street Roots vendors who so generously took the time to share their stories for this performance. May your words inspire us all to act with greater kindness and serve as a call to action for our community.

CHRIS HARDER (Co-producer, director, dramaturg) is an actor, director, and theatre-maker dedicated to artistic risk and the creation of new work. He is a Resident Artist with Artists Repertory Theatre and has performed on numerous Portland stages over the past 20+ years.  In addition to his private classes, he teaches acting with the Portland Actors Conservatory, Portland Playhouse, and Oregon Children’s Theatre.  He is currently developing a new theatrical installation online titled TimeCapsule.

SAMIE JO PFIEFER (original music) hails from the heartland of Kansas,where she was brought up in a family of musicians, with a diverse history in Polka, Celtic, Classical, and Rock music. She moved to Portland to attend The Portland Actors Conservatory, then moved on to work with Tim Stapleton in set design and painting around the city. She is thrilled to be back at CoHo, her last appearance in Playhouse Creatures where she composed and performed the music for the show. You may have also seen her as Grusha in Shaking the Tree’s production of The Cucasian Chalk Circle.

MEGAN THORPE (stage manager) is an Oregon native and is very excited to be back at CoHo to work on this piece. Megan graduated from Pacific University where she studied Music and Theatre. You may have seen her in her blacks backstage at Artists Rep (including The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, 1984, Teenage Dick) where she enjoys being hands-on with the actors; or stage managing at CoHo sneaking up to the booth (Radiant Vermin, Year of the Rooster). Megan also stage manages for Chamber Music Northwest’s summer festival (usually!) where she can indulge in her love of music. Megan also made her Portland Opera debut working on Bajazet this spring which, unfortunately, did not hold performances for the safety of our cast, crew, and patrons. The show will go on, and Megan is extremely excited to help bring theatre to you in this new format.

JENNIFER LIN (lighting design) is a freelance lighting designer and stage technician who has been working behind the scenes for Portland theater, opera, and dance since 2008. She attended Portland State University and in 2007 received The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival’s Achievement Award for her lighting design for PSU’s production of Electra. Her designs have spanned a wide range of venues, disciplines, and styles, from site-specific dance (Re/Activate at Wieden and Kennedy) to innovative opera in bars (Opera Theatre Oregon’s The Medium at the Someday Lounge), to children’s theatre (Oregon Children’s Theatre’s Dragons Love Tacos). Jennifer is a core company member of Third Rail Repertory Theatre, and a member of IATSE local 28.  Recent projects include Third Rail Repertory Theatre’s devised play, Home/Place.

PHIL JOHNSON (sound design) is a visual and theatrical artist based in Portland and the host of Radical Listening Podcast (Coho Productions). His recent productions include Pipeline (Confrontation Theater) Cop out, Hands Up (Red Door Project), Redwood, School Girls or the African Mean Girls play (Portland Center Stage), A Doll’s House pt 2, Everybody, The Humans and An Octoroon (Artist Repertory Theater), Phil Has a BFA and MA from Ohio University. If you enjoyed the show please comment @Philjohnsonlive or visit for more content.


During a regular season at CoHo, our lobby space undergoes a transformation for each show. Sourcing local artwork that deeply resonates with the themes of the current play on stage, our lobby becomes a mini-gallery, giving us the opportunity to create space and elevate the work of visual artists in our community.

For the run of From These Streets I Rise, our mini-gallery is going digital! Before and after the live-stream, patrons will enter a “virtual lobby” where a slideshow will feature the work of four artists based here in Portland. Whether creating art inspired by a life on the streets or creating art physically on the actual streets, these individuals are creating works of art that serve as a call-to-action, answering questions like how do people in challenging environments sanctify space to make it home? How does one beautify the world? And amongst the darkness, how does one bring color into their lives?


Aileen McPherson

Aileen McPherson was born in Shreveport, Louisiana.  She had been writing poetry sporadically since her twenties; however, a Street Roots creative writing class in 2014 galvanized her efforts in 2014 after she became a vendor. She has been a frequent contributor to Street Roots.  She has been a BLICK local artist (March 2018), a participant in the Giving Tree project “Bloom”, a collaborative art installation at the J. Pepin Gallery (May 2018), and is featured in the Portland Art Museum installation “Object Stories: One Step Away” (July 2018). Started working with Dana Louis and Gather make Shelter in 2018 as one of her painters and are still currently working together painting pottery and on a painting project for Hygiene 4 All, coming this year.

One-third of the proceeds from sales will help fund the McPherson Homeless Housing Campaign; the second third will support future books; the final third will help support her little family (husband Charles, and emotional support companions “Jac”, a 10-year-old toy poodle, and “Munchkin”,  a 7-year-old cat) all of whom live in Portland, OR.

Aileen says, “Portland is the first place I ever felt like I was home; this is where I belong.” 

Zach Mckinley is a multi-medium artist who lives and works in Portland, Oregon. Originally from Anaheim, California, this is where he first saw graffiti. His use of colors to bring a certain feeling to his work stems from the diverse cities he’s explored around the world. Blending all different types of styles, colors, textures, and tones. This can also be viewed in his photography, illustrations, and woodblock prints.

Artist Statement: Colors let you feel, imperfections shows you beauty.

Sean Lambert

Sean Lambert was born and raised in Bennington, Vermont, and has called Portland his home for the last five years. During this time, the depth and maturity of his work has grown exponentially. From winning the 2018 Nike BIKETOWN Design Challenge to expanding the scope of his art to include powerful mural collaborations in response to our city’s reckoning with police violence, COVID 19, systemic racism and politics at large, the artist’s singular style seamlessly translates across a diverse array of presentations. 

Although best known for his abstract renderings on paper and canvas, Lambert’s dedication to color, form and balance is a fresh and vibrant take on contemporary creativity. Unafraid to mashup imagery with his more familiar milieu, Lambert’s explorative nature comes full circle in a variety of pieces wherein the viewer can interpret the ranging lines and shapes as recognizable pieces of a larger continuous whole. 

With donations of his work over the last year raising in excess of $15,000 for such organizations as Cascade AIDS Project, Our House of Portland, Camp Fire Columbia, Don’t Shoot PDX, Beyond Black CDC, Equal Justice Initiative, and others, Lambert readily contributes to efforts that recognize the importance of the arts in combating the negative forces impacting our most vulnerable communities. This same generous spirit and overall positivity in the face of struggle resonates in the selection of work featured here as a visual complement to From These Streets I Rise.

Jamaali Roberts is a multidisciplinary visual and musical artists. His illustrative paintings and drawings investigate the rich, multi-faceted, and diverse experiences of African-Americans. He is especially interested in African heritage and with the phenomenon of movement and rhythm patterns we see everyday. Alongside his visual works, Jamaali is active part of the community within the greater Portland area, sharing African drumming, hosting collaborative drawing events, painting murals and designing traditional hand-lettered signage, along with directing educational workshops for youth in schools, the houseless community, and those serving jail/prison sentences. Jamaali hails from Atlanta, GA and graduated from Portland’s Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2017 with his Bachelor’s degree of Fine Art in Painting.

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