Steven Reed Johnson

Portland, Oregon USA

About Me

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About Me

Steven Reed Johnson, Ph.D.

PO Box 82935

Portland, Oregon 97207


Distinguished visiting professor, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

Research Fellow, Ryokoku University, Kyoto, Japan

Visiting Professor, Gyankunji College, Katmandu, Nepal

Adjunct Professor, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon USA

Visiting Scholar, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia

Steve Johnson has been a community activist, researcher, educator, lecturer and consultant for 40 years.  He has worked with over 500 nonprofit organizations, public agencies, and businesses.  He returned to university life in the late 1990s. His Ph.D. thesis, The Transformation of Civic Institutions and Practices in Portland, Oregon 1960-1999, (2001) was awarded the best dissertation of the year award on urban politics by the American Political Science Association.  Since 2006 he has lectured overseas in 125 cities in 20 countries to over 6,000 people.  The subjects of these lectures has been the role of civic engagement in creating vibrant, healthy, and sustainable communities.   He is adjunct professor at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on citizen participation, community studies, urban watersheds, civic engagement and social institutions, urban planning, and healthy communities.

Steve Johnson is an innovator and early adapter.  In the early 1970s he created and published Rain Magazine one of the first journals about sustainable development practices in the USA. In 1976 the journal was selected as a model program by the U.S. President's Bicentennial Commission.  In the 1970s and 1980s he was an early adapter of information technologies.  He created a national network of nonprofit technology assistance centers and worked with Apple Computer Company to establish nonprofit computer networks.  In the late 1970s he was part of a National Science Foundation sponsored program that studied the use of ARAPnet (processor to the Internet) for social network development. He was awarded a Pioneer in Media award by the Media Alliance for his work with nonprofit uses of information technologies.  In the late 1980s he established one of the oldest watershed councils in the country, the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, and helped create Portland's greenspaces program.  For his work with environmental stewardship he was awarded the Great Blue Heron Award by the City of Portland.  In the early 1990s he helped establish Portland State University's nationally acclaimed Service Learning curriculum.

He has helped create many enduring civic programs and organizations including an arts and crafts Market (Portland Saturday Market), an urban agriculture education center (Zenger Farm), a coalition of public interest organizations (Coalition for Livable Future), a regional sustainable agriculture organization (Tilth), a regional bicycle and pedestrian trail system (40 Mile loop and Springwater Trail) and a regional watershed council coalition (FAUNA).  He has served on over 50 advisory committees and commissions, including for the U.S. Congress.  For his work as a community activist he was awarded the City of Portland's Mayoral Sprit of Portland award.

Additional Information:

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References and descriptions of available lectures available upon request.

Johnson, as a writer, has great buried talent. He has a unique and special sense of words. His vision of life is his own. He’s an outsider. As a person I found him guarded, intelligent, critical. He didn’t say much in class; I could see the disgruntled word “hypocrisy” written in flames on his forehead blinding him to certain things. I liked him, I tend to believe in people like Steve (they often write the standard toppling things 5 years after you’ve written them off as hopeless). But also, there’s not much you can do for them. An avant-garde personality in the best sense. I would suspect that he’s not yet mature enough, or bitter enough to accept the ironic diminishment of himself which teaching requires. But under the psychedelia he is solid. (1968).

                                                           John Clellon Holmes

Author of Go

Popularizer of “Beat,” Friend of Jack Kerouac

Weird Factoid

My birth announcement in the Oregonian, records a birth for Kenneth and Jean Johnson, of Larry, not Steve, Johnson.  Is there a Larry Johnson out there in a parallel universe?