Community Ed instructor shows students how catios provide safe outdoor fun for cats

Story by James Hill & Mike Phillips. | Start the discussion

Pamela Gordon-Nelson with her friends at Cast Safe at Home.

It’s the latest craze that keeps cats and their owners connected and safe in the Great Outdoors.

This fall, the Community Education Program continues it’s focus on catios. The non-credit program is offering a tour of Portland catios with expert Pamela Nelson-Gordon. The Portland Community College instructor will lead discussions about the designs and details at each location, as well as talk about design elements and the construction methods used to create them.

Catios are a big deal in Portland. According to data from the Cats Safe at Home organization, there are an estimated 500 catios or more in the city. The Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon partnered with the Audubon Society of Portland in creating this popular tour in 2013.

“We are pleased to see catios growing in popularity in the Portland region and beyond,” said Meg Buckley, project manager for Cats Safe at Home. “When a safe outdoor enclosure is provided, you are giving your kitty fresh air and enrichment, and you are keeping both your cat and local wildlife safe.”Gordon-Nelson in front of catio.

Nelson-Gordon, who also teaches summer non-credit classes in drywall, garden trellises and more, caught on to the catio phenomenon while rescuing four cats through the Feral Cat Coalition. With a background in building construction, she plans to teach additional non-credit courses to demonstrate how to design and construct their own catios. So, if her fall tour of catios is full, there will be plenty of more opportunities to take part in the catio craze.

Or for more details, visit CatsSafeatHome.org.

Bringing Brazil to Portland

Luciana Diniz was born and raised in the city of Santos, in the Brazilian state of São Paulo.

The city is famous for producing soccer legends Pelé and Neymar and for being a musical hot-spot for samba, bossa nova, choro, opera, tango, and fado. This latter part has provided Diniz with fond memories of her youth.

“When I was a child, my father would get home from work and turn the music on,” Diaz said. “We would play and sing at family gatherings until two or three in the morning, and he made sure we only went to restaurants with good live music.”

Diniz has used that love of song to create the non-credit course “Portuguese Through Music” at Portland Community College. The Community Education class  typically occurs during spring term, and combines her love of language with her passion for tunes. Students learn the vocabulary of Portuguese while listening to sounds from Brazil’s finest musicians.

This non-credit course is the latest project for Diniz, who is a former department chair and current full-time PCC instructor for the English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Program.

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Diniz moved to Portland 12 years ago after earning a doctorate in Applied Linguistics from Georgia State University. She was surprised to discover Portland has a small-yet-vibrant Brazilian food scene. Restaurants and grocery stores featuring Brazilian sections have been a revelation.

She said there’s even a local company offering homemade Brazilian food that can be delivered to your house.

In addition to the food, Portland is home to a tight-knit Brazilian music community of choro groups, bossa nova enthusiasts, and a large-scale Carnivale-style drum ensemble called, “Bloco Alegria.”

“Even though most of my family is in Brazil, I was happy to be able to find culture, food, and music that are comforting and make me feel at home in Portland,” Diniz said.

Diniz said it’s been a dream come true to be in a position to introduce people to her Portuguese language in a fun and innovative way, as well as teach motivated ESOL students English and help them acclimate to America.

“I admire each of my students for valuing education and making it a priority in their lives,” she said.

Community Ed offers 15 language courses this summer.

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