AGE is a Gift
Spotlight on Caroline Miller
AGE is honored to kick off our “AGE is a Gift” series with a spotlight on Caroline Miller, the first Latina Multnomah County Commissioner.
Raised in Los Angeles, Caroline came to Portland to attend Reed College. After college, she spent four years teaching in small communities in Europe and Africa. Caroline returned to Reed College for her Masters of Arts in Teaching degree. She became deeply involved in the labor movement, advocating for injustices towards teachers. She served as head of the Portland Federation of Teachers Union.
Asked how she became a politician, Caroline jokingly replied, “It was all progress by stupidity and ignorance”. She was approached about canvassing for someone’s campaign. She didn’t realize that it was a one-time ask and kept coming back every weekend. She was asked to join a couple of city committees and became hooked on politics.
Caroline served as an original councilor with Metro and two terms for the Multnomah County Commission. “I’m currently in my fourth career” which is writing. Caroline recalled the day her first book was accepted for publication. She was having hip replacement surgery. Just prior to being wheeled into surgery she received a letter of acceptance from a publisher. Caroline has since published various books and a play titled, Woman on the Scarlet Beast.
Writing has allowed Caroline to see how time and experience brings a new voice to her work. She views this as “the wonderful ability to collaborate with yourself”. Gothic Spring was a prime example of this. She had written an earlier draft as a young woman. Revisiting that draft as an older woman allowed the original characters to evolve. The older woman character changed from being the butt of jokes and stuck in her old anti-feminist ways to an older woman who has a legitimate point of view. Caroline stated that age has allowed her to write with more compassion. “I had fought those battles and now knew what was going on”.
Caroline chuckled, “I’m unapologetic for being old. Some people might not believe me when I say this but, I wouldn’t be young again.” Age has given her time for reflection which enriches her work as a writer.
Caroline has been a tireless advocate for women and gender equity. Being a woman, especially a woman in politics, has driven her goals and aspirations. She is proud of the work AGE in the Arts has accomplished and is proud to be a strong supporter.
“I am proud of the work us women have done for other women. My contribution, small as it may be, has been consistent in pushing women in continuing to move in the direction towards equality. I’m still focused on keeping women’s chins above the water, and higher, and higher, that’s what’s important to me. That’s my legacy.”