This Is Us St. Helens - Joan Youngberg COURTESY Columbia Arts  Guild (1).jpg

Joan Youngberg ran a similar painting party last year at Running Dogs Brewery for her first community art project.

Some called it “the tiny house project,” the brainchild of Joan Youngberg that brought the citizens of St. Helens together to paint tiny houses to represent their individual uniqueness. Now, “This is Us: St. Helens” is being reimagined as an annual community art project to include Columbia County at large.

“Flagship Columbia County” will bring a new medium for painters to work with. Youngberg will offer 5x8” pieces of Tyvek, a water proof siding material, that will become an array of “flags” to represent Columbia County citizens.

“The word flagship means “your best” and I think people here really are the best,” Youngberg said, adding that she chose flags because Columbia County is a nautical community.

The flags will be assembled to create a colorful banner to be displayed in the county over the summer. The project is sponsored in part by the Columbia Art Guild with grants from The Oregon Foundation and the Columbia County Cultural Coalition.

Youngberg said she’s hoping to do more public events rather than private events this time. Last year, she used the private events to educate the community on the project and what she was trying to accomplish. This time, she hopes those that held private events will come out to the various public events she has planned. “I think people understand the concept now, so they might be more willing to step forward and do it,” Youngberg said.

Last year, Youngberg hoped to assemble 5,000 tiny houses for “This is Us” and ended up with just over 3,000. This year, since

the flags are bigger, she’s aiming for 2,000. “Not that I don’t need every single one I get, but last year I was doing several events a week, if not a day, and I’m trying to keep it a little more sane,” Youngberg said with a laugh.

For “Flagship Columbia County,” Youngberg plans to reach out to Rainier, Clatskanie, Scappoose and Vernonia to include their citizens in the artistic fun and make the project truly county-wide. She said interested parties should keep an eye on her Facebook page where she’ll post reminders for upcoming events.

Youngberg’s first “paint party” is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22 at Running Dogs Brewery. The event is free and all are welcome. For any questions, contact Youngberg at

Until then, you can still enjoy “This is Us: St. Helens” at its present location under the awning at the South Columbia County Chamber of Commerce.


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