Writer / Artist / Speaker / Producer

A word about Donovan..

Donovan Smith is a leading award-winning writer, producer and multi-faceted creative serving the greater Portland community. 

He’s penned nearly 200 articles that have appeared in The Skanner, Oregonian, Travel Portland, Portland Observer, Oregon Humanities, Gresham Outlook, Portland Tribune, Street Roots and more. He has interviewed countless policy makers, change agents, entrepreneurs, and artists including the world’s most successful independent hip-hop artist, Tech N9ne.

A plethora of individuals, organizations, and businesses have been supported with his PR services. These include Black United Fund, Urban League, Portland Harbor Community Coalition, Community Cycling Center, Green Hop, Nikki Brown Clown, Emerson Street House, YGB Portland and more. 

His “Gentrification is WEIRD!” project, emerged organically from his clothing line Ignorant/Reflections which uses provocative images to push critical thought. Additionally, the Gentrification is WEIRD! project has evolved through the years from a t-shirt statement, into a leading multimedia platform pushing important conversations about Black culture, policies and place in Oregon. In collaboration with Laquida Landford, Community Cycling Center, Living Stages Theatre, Black Sun, and Vanport Mosaic he’s co-curated the semi-annual GiW bike ride, touring  the lost city of Vanport, and ties issues of race, blight, and housing into the states current stitching. The inaugural ride engaged mayor Ted Wheeler in his first longform interview following his election, in a public dialogue around his priorities for Blacks in the city in education, workforce, and housing. He’s also led workshops for Momentum Alliance, Urban League, and Portland Youth Builders around this topic. The project also supported Beyond Black in presenting the first-ever Juneteenth celebration in Gresham, OR drawing thousands out to Vance Park in its innagural year in 2019.

As an assistant-producer on the award-winning documentary “Priced Out: 15 years of Gentrification in Portland”, he helped elevate important conversations around future development in the city. His co-produced 2016 short documentary on development in East County with Sika Stanton, “The Numbers” is often used throughout the city by government, schools, NGOs, community groups and others to converse about  strategies to mitigate cycles of gentrification and was screened at the Portland Airport and Hollywood Theatre. 

The Numbers from Sika Stanton on Vimeo.

His insights have made the pages of leading hip hop magazine, The FADER and the upcoming book of a Princeton professor. 

An oft-requested speaker, he’s shared the stage with nationally-acclaimed writers like Dave Zirin, and  presented at universities througout the region including University of Oregon, Portland State University, Reed College, and Warner Pacific. 

He has co-facilitated a conversation informing Portland African American Leadership’s civic  document for a “Black Utopia” in Portland the People’s Plan around the arts.

Gentrification is Weird Exhibition from Priced Out Documentary on Vimeo.

He has served on a number of arts, media and development committees that have allocated more than a total of $200,000 in private/public dollars. 

As an event producer he has led and collaborated on a number of moments including the first hip hop festival underneath the historic St. Johns bridge to celebrate the Willamette River, an innovative all-ages “Victory Lap” for Nipsey Hussle raising money for STEAM programming at Boise-Elliott Elementary, and an innovative show mashing up comedy and hip hop.  

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