Westbank, the developer of Woodward’s, partnered with local businesses to put on a Thanksgiving dinner for “500 members of the local community”. It was held today in the Woodward’s atrium between 4:30pm-6:30pm. In September, an email was sent to residents in Woodward’s asking for volunteers and I signed up.
I have negative things to say about the event.
As I was going downstairs for my shift, I bumped into someone in my building. He was just coming up and he was furious. He had no idea what the event was about and he was refused entry into the Woodward’s Atrium (he likes to go up the spiral staircase and take the elevator up from the second floor). They asked him to produce a ticket which he didn’t have. He explained to the people by the door that he lived in Woodward’s and only wanted to go home, but they still turned him away.
I was confused. Why would a resident of Woodward’s be refused entry into a public space in their own building?!
Well, it turned out that Westbank’s Thanksgiving dinner was by invite only. I thought it was an open event, that people could walk in off the street but I was wrong. S., a volunteer who works at London Drugs, was also surprised that it was an invite only event. He said the Portland Hotel Society was somehow connected to this event and thought maybe the invitations were handed out through them.
This is the main problem: S. and I volunteered our time believing it was an open event. In the end, our time served “members of the community” but we still don’t really know who that refers to.
Someone will point out that invites help insure food doesn’t run out. I say alright, do the meals by invite only, but public entry to the atrium should never be restricted. Future events need to be clear that it is an invite only event, and state who the “members of the local community” refers to because clearly that did not include residents of Woodward’s. It also excludes other Downtown Eastsiders who did not get invited.
I personally told a few people about the Woodward’s Thanksgiving dinner. One person works for a non-profit in Chinatown (I thought this counted as community membership). Thankfully none of them came or it would have been very embarrassing.
See this paper invite? Westbank organized this event but they do not appear on this invite. Who exactly is “Woodward’s”? That is a question you and I both must remember to ask. Let’s hope the W does not stand for Westbank.
Some questions to think about: Who operates the Woodward’s atrium? Is it alright for access to that space to be restricted for events? If so, what kind of events qualify?
I was excited to participate in a community event at Woodward’s; however, if I knew the details of this Thanksgiving dinner — that it was by invite only and that the atrium would be closed for this private function — I probably wouldn’t have volunteered. I felt mislead. But oh well. In the end, I did do my volunteer shift. Some people got to eat a free dinner so that part is a good thing.