East Portland ‘Community Values’ survey results revealed

See what emerged from a recently-completed ROSE Community Development study, and what it means to folks in East Portland …

Past ROSE CDC Board Chair Roger Anthony welcomes participants to the community forum.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
At what was called the “ROSE 5×10’ Community Forum”, ROSE Community Development Corporation revealed findings from an area survey, on March 31 at the Lents-Gilbert Church of God Church community room.

“ROSE interviewed 65 stakeholders in our neighborhoods: Residents, neighborhood association leaders, business owners, service providers, and government officials,” said Nick Sauvie, ROSE Executive Director, before the meeting started.

“The survey was commissioned as part of the ROSE CDC mission: Building community and strengthening neighborhood economics to Revitalize Outer South East [Portland] as we serve the neighborhoods of the Brentwood-Darlington, Lents, Foster-Powell, Mt. Scott-Arleta, and Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhoods.”

ROSE’s Executive Director Nick Sauvie listens, while intern Hiroaki Aki describes the research project.

“Each ROSE Board member and staff person set a goal of meeting with at least five stakeholders by the end of 2010 – hence the name ‘5×10’,” Sauvie explained. “Tonight, we’re presenting our findings to the community, and trying to identify the highest priorities. We also hope to establish new partnerships with organizations represented here, to accomplish those top priorities.”

There weren’t any real surprises uncovered in the study, Sauvie told us. “I think there was a lot of agreement that ‘community building activity’ is a really important, as is increasing the level of neighborhood improvements. People want to see things like paved streets, sidewalks, and better parks. The study is more a confirmation of community values, than anything.”

This report, ROSE CDC leaders say, confirms the issues and priorities most- reported during a series of interviews with community stakeholders.

The study was set up to perform a “SWOT” analysis:  “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats”.

The most frequently mentioned categories mentioned as both a “threat” and as an “opportunity” were:

  • Social assets (e.g., diversity and neighborhood identity)
  • Business development
  • Commercial redevelopment
  • Transportation and infrastructure
  • Education and training
  • Economic asset creation
  • Affordable housing
  • Civic engagement

The audience at the survey presentation, made up of neighborhood leaders, businesspeople, and community organization directors, listen to the findings of the survey.

Sauvie introduced us to recent Portland State University graduate Hiroaki Aki, who guided the project while finishing school, and who continued working with Rose CDC since last October as an intern.

In his presentation of the findings, Aki said the survey responses suggest developing an advocacy strategy around transportation and infrastructure improvements, where key decision-makers are from outside the neighborhood. “Within East Portland, community organizing could address our community’s weaknesses, such as business development and public safety.”

Aki showed a chart that lists the community stakeholders’ five top priorities:

  1. Neighborhood Improvements (32.2%)
  2. Community-building (26.3%)
  3. Economic Development (19.7%)
  4. Human Services (11.0%)
  5. Housing (10.8%)

The Economic Development category had the fewest “strengths”, Aki pointed out, and the most “weaknesses”.

Three Economic Development sub-categories (Business Development, Commercial Redevelopment and Economic Asset Creation) were ranked in the top five of perceived weaknesses. On the other hand, there are many opportunities in economic development because Business Development and Commercial Redevelopment were ranked second in that category.

Aki says eight specific recommendations – starting with “community-building” – were revealed by the research project.

“Initiatives that address two or more of these opportunities could generate support among our community partners,” Sauvie observed. “And the good part of having all of our Board members and staff out talking to members of the community is that a lot of really good conversations got started. That’s where positive activities will come from.”

To read the “East Portland Community Values” report, CLICK HERE for a PDF document, on the ROSE CDC website.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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