War veteran Doan Kim Bang is at heart a man in pursuit of peace - a writer, artist, father, activist, community organizer, and resourceful entrepreneur.
In 1991, after years of war in Vietnam, 42-year-old Bang fled his country with his greatest treasures– his four children ranging in age from two-and-a-half to 17.
After fighting a grueling war against the Communist regime as a decorated 1st Lieutenant of the Tank Division, a prisoner of war for six years, and a recipient of the U.S. Bronze Star, leaving was the only option.
Upon arriving in the United States he focused on providing for his family. He cobbled together two and three jobs to make ends meet: working at a pharmaceutical factory, upcycling items for resale at the local flea markets, and taking photos for the local community.
Both noble and practical purposes inspired his idea to start a newspaper geared toward Portland’s newly settled Vietnamese community. Few of his countrymen had access to news, whether from back home or about their lives here in the Northwest. With local Communist Party sympathizers attempting to undermine this new and fragile community, he also wanted to create a platform for free speech. It was less about money and more about offering a vibrant voice of truth, freedom, and hope.
Armed with grit and resourcefulness, he and his business partner, Trung Nguyen, launched the only Vietnamese-focused newspaper in Oregon in 2001, only one of three in in the Northwest. He says about the first few years, “I had no idea how to do it but was confident and had the guts to do it.” He started by creating posters to be passed around the Vietnamese community announcing the new newspaper.
Initially he wrote his stories by plucking away with two fingers on a typewriter, cutting and pasting the text onto larger sheets to be sent to the local printer. The day of the first printing he and Nguyen were so excited, they went to the printer an hour early and sat eagerly to get it hot off the press. Bang later taught his computer-savvy youngest daughter the publishing program, a predecessor to Adobe InDesign, to generate the publication. Today, 17 years later, Doan Kim Bang is still creating meaningful content to encourage, engage, and empower his community.
Industry: Media, Newspaper