Pete Forsyth: A Profile of a Community Member and the East Portland Eagles Lodge 3256

Pete Forsyth. © Michael HermanThis is the first of a series of East Portland Eagles Lodge member profiles, in relation to the Third Place. If you missed the first blog post, click here to catch up.

Pete Forsyth first moved to Portland from Boston in 1991 to attend university at Reed College. After graduating, he busied himself with a variety of occupations like working at a bar and two newspapers, founding a business, building a communications plan for the non-profit Free Geek, running two political campaigns, and serving on two city commissions.

In 2007, he decided to join the East Portland Eagles Lodge in an effort to become better integrated into his adopted home. In search of a true third place, Pete wanted to build stronger connections with multi-generational native Portlanders and build a community of trusted friends.

In 2009, he moved to the Bay Area, where he became a member of the Alameda Eagles Lodge, before ultimately returning to Portland and to the East Portland branch in 2016.

Make Software Exhibit at the Computer History Museum. © Sabahat Ashraf

With Ward Cunningham and Andrew Lih, at the opening of the Make Software exhibit at the Computer History Museum, 2017. Photo by Sabahat Ashraf.

Pete is a longtime Wikipedia expert, who began contributing to the online encyclopedia in 2006. Since then, he was a founding member of WikiProject Oregon and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Signpost, a community newspaper covering Wikipedia and the Wikimedia movement.

From 2009-2011, he worked for the Wikimedia Foundation, where he designed the Wikipedia Public Policy Initiative, a pilot program to support university instructors’ use of Wikipedia as a teaching tool, by assigning Wikipedia writing to their students. This pilot evolved to become the Wikipedia Education Program. His consulting business, Wiki Strategies, advises organizations on how to engage with the Wikipedia community in accordance with its policies and culture.

Pete Forsyth at the University of California, Berkeley © Michael Herman

Pete at the University of California, Berkeley © Michael Herman

In his work with Wikipedia, Pete believes that the forum has changed the way we discover and share new information, record history, and the way we collaborate.

Transferring that belief to his work with the East Portland Eagles Lodge, he wanted to use his knowledge of community building and engage in a physical setting.

Pete wanted to become involved in the Eagles because he understood such fraternal organizations as places where the community works together, raises money for charities, and develops friendships with people they would otherwise never know.

Pete Forsyth © Rafi Sofer

In his work with the local chapter, Pete has not only met a variety of longtime Portlanders who can give him insight into the history of the city, he has also dived head first into charitable opportunities such as develop a list of local organizations to donate $4,000 as determined by his fellow members. Additionally, he was recognized for proposing 15 new members in just a few months, ran a lodge clean up day in April, and represented the Eagles at events such as the Cooky Parker soul dancing night, Frankenstein’s Comic Swap, and a visit from Rep. Earl Blumenauer. One of his proudest accomplishments includes establishing a high standard for opening of weekly Trustee meetings to all members, which has previously been closed to non-officers.

In March 2017, Pete was appointed as Board Chair of the East Portland Eagles Lodge, where was responsible for running the bar and event hall, and focused his efforts on addressing the charter suspension the local lodge has been under since early 2016. On May 24th, Pete was informed of a 90-day suspension related to his efforts to hire an independent lawyer to suss out the supposed sale of the lodge. Pete points out that the 90-day suspension was for his general status as an Eagles member. He was simultaneously removed from his office as a Trustee.

He recently accompanied a group traveling to the Oregon coast to meet the new Grand Worthy President, who was visiting from Vermont. Pete went hiking since his 90-day suspension prohibited him from attending the event. He did not meet the new Grand Worthy President, nor did he attend any affairs related to the event.

Pete Forsyth at Standing Rock © Wendi Anderson

Pete protesting in the cold at Standing Rock in December 2016. © Wendi Anderson.

Losing the lodge would be a major blow to many of our members, particularly the elderly with limited mobility who may not otherwise have much in the way of a third place, or even first or second. With no information about the current situation with the lodge, it is impossible for members to begin to discuss plans for the future.

In the meantime, Pete has been enjoying his summer, and has remained in contact with his fellow Eagles members, including visiting one member who recently moved into an assisted living community, and helping another with computer problems. He also joined a group traveling to the Oregon coast to meet the new Grand Worthy President, who was visiting from Vermont.

Regardless of what happens with the sale and his future as a trustee with the organization, Pete is determined to rally his fellow Eagles members to remain involved with the chapter.

Updated August 22, 2017: This article has been updated from its original version to clarify some details related to Pete’s 90-day suspension from the East Portland Eagles Lodge. We regret any misconception or confusion related to the original piece. 

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