Groups rally around ‘Lents Strong’ action plan

Find out what this organization has been doing, and plans for the future, to make the Lents neighborhood a better place to live and work …

At the Team Event Center, located in outer East Portland, people gather to learn more about the Lents Strong Action Plan.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

It takes participation by many organizations, group, and individuals to improve a neighborhood, say the developers of what they’re calling the Lents Strong Action Plan.

About 40 people attended a noon luncheon meeting at the Team Event Center on October 12 – networking, and then sitting at tables for discussion, with each table is dedicated to one of the three topics of interest.

“This is a community action plan for creating a livable and affordable neighborhood here in Lents,” explained one of the plan’s developers, Adam Brunelle, who works with Green Lents.

Adam Brunelle reveals recommendations for advocacy and action put forward in the Lents Strong Action Plan.

“It’s based on five years of intensive community engagement, at the grassroots level, through the Livable Lents “Listening Project”, which has engaged 1,400 people so far,” Brunelle told East Portland News.

Lents Strong was designed specifically to reach out to people who been left out of past planning efforts in the communities most vulnerable to displacement – including communities of color, renters, immigrants, and people who speak languages other than English,” said Brunelle.

The three values of the Lents Strong Action Plan are:

  1. Improving livability,
  2. Preserving affordability, and
  3. Fostering community control.

Participants learn how they, too, can have a voice in the changes coming to Lents.

From the self-determination perspective, “fostering community control” is especially important, Brunelle commented – especially in this long-standing City of Portland Urban Renewal Area (URA).

“Because of the URA, tens of millions of dollars are coming into Lents in the next five years,” Brunelle stated. “We want to make sure that everyone in Lents, as much as possible, has a ‘voice’, and is involved in the process.

Lents Strong seeks to stem the tide of displacement, and also identifies ways that we can work together – between government agencies, community organizations, businesses,” added Brunelle.

At the meeting, participants learn more about the Lents Strong Action Plan.

After brief introductions, the attendees – including those from nonprofit organizations, City Bureaus, and representatives from Multnomah County, as well as Lents neighbors – participated in table discussions regarding the issues of economic development, housing affordability, and safe and accessible community spaces.

“We have not yet reached decision-making, but we do have a plan, and we’re bringing it for comment, for revision – so people who are excited about it can really get going on it,” Brunelle remarked.

Green Lents Chair Jalene Littlejohn presents an overview of their program.

“We’re also looking to see where there is overlap of interest between organizations represented here – such Rose CDC, Asian Pacific Network of Oregon, Wisdom of the Elders, and people from all around the Lents neighborhood – Including the neighborhood association, and the Lents International Farmers Market,” concluded Brunelle.

Learn more by visiting this project’s page on the “Green Lents” website: CLICK HERE.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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