Changemakers: Portland recyclers tackle much more than trash

City of Roses Disposal and Recycling wants you to “distract your wasteful thinking”. So this shift can help the local color communities.

PORTLAND, Ore. – In honor of February as Black History Month, we recognize “Changemakers” – African Americans in various industries who are committed to making our community a better place.

The Simpson family is for you. Al, Alando and AJ own and operate the disposal and recycling of City of Roses in northeast Portland.

Al is the patriarch. He started the business 25 years ago with a truck and a dream. “I never thought it would be that big,” he said.

It’s a major operation that spans more than 11 acres right off Northeast 138th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard. It has a north star – use its success to pay it forward. According to the City of Roses, it is the first black-owned waste company in the country.

RELATED: Changemakers: The Veteran of the Portland Navy Brings Heart and Soul to the nonprofit Soul River

Al made many sacrifices to get where he is today. His sons didn’t see him much growing up.

“I think back to my childhood and don’t know when he slept,” said AJ. “It was amazing.”

Al didn’t sleep much because he had two jobs. He took out a second mortgage to buy his first truck and start his transportation business. That was his sideline. He also worked full time for the city of Portland in maintenance. And then he didn’t see many people who looked like him.

“There were no colored people in the trucks,” said Al. “There weren’t any black people in management. I used to go in there and drive for someone else and I said, ‘I can’t. Things have to change.'”

And Al changed things.

Today City of Roses employs around 65 people, 80% of whom are colored people. And 85% of managers are black or female.

City of Roses is also a Certified B Corporation. That means it is committed to balancing purpose and profit, and considering how its choices affect employees, customers and the community.

RELATED: Terms in Black

“As we grow, the # 1 focus is on our people growing with us,” said Alando. “One employee in particular started sorting on the sorting floor, which was pretty close to the minimum wage, and now that person is buying their first house. It really offers the economic opportunity for people of color from underserved populations to be financially independent and create wealth by doing Become a homeowner. And the only way to encourage that is to create living wage jobs here. “

CLOCK: Sunrise Extra | Changemakers: Chat with Alando Simpson from City of Roses Disposal

He continues: “We don’t come into communities to displace or beautify. We actually come into communities to support, uplift, and invest.”

The city of Roses wants to “disrupt” waste management by changing what the public believes is available.

“We inspire people to see waste as a real resource in society,” said Alando. “I want others to also see people in underserved paint populations as assets and resources for a local economy, rather than just the discards concentrated in impoverished conditions.”

The company is currently in the process of rebranding itself. It shortens City of Roses with the acronym COR.

“That way we can do more than just make garbage,” said AJ. “Whether it’s youth camps or nonprofits, it can branch out in so many different ways. We’ve moved to this bigger building and we’ve got a big room downstairs, and we’re going to make it a learning center in particular, being here in Parkrose If we can create that as a kind of hub for teens to see people of color running a business, then all we can do to involve our community in achieving those goals is the ultimate. “

Alando agreed, saying that black men in America are not portrayed as viable in terms of economic opportunity and independence.

“Especially when it comes to being an entrepreneur. Most black men in management positions are usually entertainers and athletes or politicians,” said Alando. “I think it is a disservice to our next generation not to see the opportunities to be entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs to nurture and support their actual communities.”

“It’s the same with my dad. He may have been overlooked and had to overcome the toughest rifts to become an independent business owner, but someone picked him up and invested in him very early in his life and supported him and gave him the infrastructure and the Tools to become an entrepreneur very early on, who knows, “said Alando. “It could have been waste management. And that still doesn’t mean it can’t, as we’re evolving from generation to generation. It just means that our local community must definitely focus on adding value in their backyard look for gemstones in terms of human capital before we start looking “outside of our city and region.

“We just want to encourage people to divert their wasteful thinking,” he said.

And that’s the real legacy of a changemaker.

Al, Alando and AJ Simpson – we greet you!

More Changemakers Stories:

Comments are closed.