Outer East Portlanders participate in Portland Plan process

If you didn’t get to one of the initial Portland Plan workshops, find out what you missed. And, learn how you can still get in two-cents by participating online

Before the workshop, ROSE Community Development board member Roger Anthony looks at some of the fact-based exhibits posted.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Attendance was good at the outer East Portland “Round #1 Workshop” held on November 19 in the North Cafeteria at David Douglas High School, as participants got ready to learn about the Portland Plan.

When attendees arrived, they were encouraged to mill around, look at the exhibits on poster boards, talk with City staff, and chat with their neighbors.

Minutes before the evening session was about to start, Portland Mayor Sam Adams strode into the building. At a subsequent workshop, Adams spoke with us about the Portland Plan process.

Mayor Sam Adams rolls up his shirtsleeves, and gets ready to begin another Portland Plan Workshop session, at David Douglas High School.

“Positive things rarely happen by accident,” Adams told us. “When Portland puts its mind to setting a goal – and actually planning how to achieve that goal – we tend to achieve it.

“This process is the important initial round of public outreach, getting input from people who live in these neighborhoods. Their participation will help us make the difference.”

Just before the workshop begins, Parkrose School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Fischer Gray chats with Mayor Sam Adams and Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

Commissioner Fritz welcomes participants
After applause for Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz subsided after her introduction, she opened the session, saying, “It’s an honor and a privilege to serve you as your City Commissioner. I am in charge of the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, which serves all 95 neighborhoods.

“This [process] is about the ‘new’ Portland. This is about you helping us in city government decide what happens here, and throughout Portland. Your input makes a difference,” Fritz assured.

Commissioner Fritz says that during the year-and-a-half long process, there will be many ways to be involved with shaping the all-new Portland Plan.

“These workshops begin an 18-month process,” Fritz explained. “There will be many different ways to be engaged. We ask you to tell your friends and neighbors about opportunities online, writing, and telephone calls, and all that. This is going to be your Portland Plan. Thank you so much for coming.”

Adams solicits initial comments
“Now that you’re here we’re going to get right into it,” Mayor Adams began. He outlined the order of the evening. “We’re very lucky here in East Portland that we have the great ‘East Portland Action Plan’,” a comment that drew applause from the attendees. “A lot of volunteers spent a lot of time working with Mr. Barry Manning and with others in the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.”

After his brief opening remarks, Mayor Adams roamed through the audience, asking citizens about their concerns. “What are the questions, concerns, complaints, complements as we talk about as we plan for the next 25 years?”

Audience members raised issues – all of them were written down on pads at the front of the room – ranging from getting a waiver from the EPA for Bull Run water, to reviewing high-density building codes in outer East Portland, to helping the David Douglas School District deal with burgeoning schools with a low tax base.

Mike Vander Veen expresses his concerns about outer East Portland’s “identity” to Adams.

“One of the things we covered while making the East Portland Action Plan,” commented Mike Vander Veen, “is exploring is the identity of the area; understanding where we live, and identifying how we live. How can we come up with am area identity? And, how does this fit into the ‘20-minute neighborhood’ concept?”

The 120 citizens who came to the workshop participate with “clicker voting”, as well as at roundtable discussions.

Following a brief, but factoid-intensive, informational PowerPoint slide show, which included voting with remote control clickers, attendees talked with one another in a staff-led discussion three different times during the morning’s session.  Each discussion lasted about 20 minutes.

The first discussion centered on the three issue sets of (1) Prosperity, business success & equity; (2) Education & skill development; and (3) Arts, culture & innovation.

The second group of action areas were (1) Sustainability & the Natural environment; (2) Human health, food & Public safety; and (3) Quality of life & civic engagement.

The final action discussion areas centered on the concepts of (1) Design, planning & public spaces; (2) Neighborhoods & housing; and (3) Transportation, technology & access.

Participants were asked questions such as:

  • Do any of the facts presented here surprise you?
  • What facts are missing?
  • Have any of these facts affected your life?  Your family?  Your community?

They were also asked how we, as a city, might respond to facts and challenges.

Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s Yvonne Garcia leads a discussion at a Portland Plan workshop.

At the conclusion of the session, Mayor Adams suggested that the “conversation” continue online at Facebook (CLICK HERE) or at the City’s official webpage (CLICK HERE).

FROM OUR COVER: Tom Lewis, Vice Chair of the Centennial Community Association voices his concerns about education in outer East Portland.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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