See why so many people gave up a beautiful Saturday morning to discuss civic issues – what topics were discussed – and why …
At tables set up around the Madison High cafeteria, representatives of community and non-profit organizations greet people coming to the “82nd Avenue World Café”.
Story and photos by David F. Ashton
With an eye towards envisioning what the 82nd Avenue corridor could look like in the future, about 100 neighbors, business owners, community leaders, and representatives from government and community organizations, gathered on the sunny morning of May 4 in the Madison High School cafeteria.
“The idea is to have a discussion about what people are doing along the 82nd Avenue corridor, and what they would like to see happen there in the future,” explained Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Planning Program Manager Bob Kellett.
Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Planning Program Manager Bob Kellett and Central Northeast Neighbors Community Program Manager Sandra Lefrancois pause for a photo, while neighbors pour into the “Café”.
“While there’s a lot of great excitement and energy happening, often we get lost in our own ‘little world’ about what we are doing. This is an opportunity to hear about what others are doing, and to make connections so we can work together in the future,” Kellett explained
The program was organized by Portland neighborhood coalitions Southeast Uplift and Central Northeast Neighbors, Kellett told East Portland News. “We’re also working with the East Portland Neighborhood Office. We recognize that this corridor isn’t just about individual neighborhoods or neighborhood and business associations, it’s about a whole community.”
The format was based on the World Café Method, Kellett said. “It’s having a broad discussion about a lot of the different topics, and about what people want to see, and then moving forward.”
Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz listens at the “Businesses, services, job creation, and economic neighborhood potential” table.
“82nd Avenue is really important,” said Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz just before the event began. “It could be a wonderful place. It is surrounded by wonderful neighborhoods. It is impressive to see all the neighborhoods coming together to figure out how to improve business and livability along 82nd Avenue.
Asked if what she was learning could influence her decisions at City Hall, Fritz replied, “I am here to learn and listen. I’m looking forward to learning what the community would like to see on 82nd Avenue.”
Yelp.com Portland Community Director Don Bourassa tells groups it is time to move on to another topic of discussion.
The tables were divided into topic areas:
- Arts and Culture,
- Business Development,
- Crime Prevention,
- Family Wellness,
- Streetscape Design, and
- Sustainable Transportation.
A facilitator took notes while participants at each table were involved in four rounds of discussion. Each question was tailored to the table’s topic:
- What do you like most about 82nd Avenue in its current condition?
- What do you think is most challenging about 82nd Avenue?
- If you could ask civic leaders to promote one change to 82nd Avenue, what would it be?
- What can you or your neighbors do to improve 82nd Avenue?
Representing the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association, Richard Kiley of Home Run Graphics participates in a discussion.
At the conclusion of the discussion rounds, facilitators shared the reality, hopes, and concerns expressed by those at their tables.
The information provided varied as widely as the participants. Although the day’s sessions didn’t end with an “action plan” – that wasn’t the point. Business people, neighbors, elected officials and others interested in 82nd Avenue all experienced meaningful engagement in the process, as intended, the organizers said.
Participants share their ideas regarding 82nd Avenue at this community forum.
To see what each table’s comments were on each question at this forum, download an Adobe PDF document prepared by the conveners of the “82nd Avenue Community Forum”: CLICK HERE.
© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News