Parks, community centers, conservation efforts, improved roadways and pedestrian amenities are common projects neighborhood associations would like to feel empowered to work on. But how are associations and other community groups supposed to overcome the planning and financial hurdles that make these projects feasible?
Portland neighbors often feel stumped by infrastructural challenges that exist between them and the creation of successful community projects. This is particularly true when it comes to advocating for neighborhood assets that are allocated and managed by the City of Portland.
Tony DeFalco, Verde Energy Program Manager and Coordinator of the Let Us Build Cully Park! project, will tell you to begin a project by thinking of all its potential benefits. Broaden your scope so that a single project is envisioned from the start by considering multiple issues that the community faces. This approach results in buy-in from stakeholders and potential partners who are committed and enthusiastic about a project.
Over a decade ago, in the Cully neighborhood in Northeast Portland, neighbors challenged themselves to not only build a neighborhood park, but to also consider other possibilities that a neighborhood park could catalyze.
By quick glance it was obvious that the Cully neighborhood lacked green space and the uplifting benefits that green spaces afford the community. Verde, the Let Us Build a Park coordinating organization, founded in 2002, by Hacienda CDC and Cully neighbors, was determined to increase “environmental assets” in a neighborhood that experienced “more than its share of poverty.”
Stakeholders approached the building of a Cully park by assessing all the possible. The neighborhood recognized that job creation, more equity among Portland neighborhoods by “address[ing] a divide that exists between sustainability and low-income communities,” workforce education, small business development, and increasing the vibrancy of the neighborhood were some of the enticing possible outcomes of creating a neighborhood park.
This broad lens allowed Cully neighbors to start dynamic dialogues with stakeholders; they weren’t just asking for support for a park — they were inviting community members to offer their talent, experience and know-how to developing the community by way of a neighborhood park.
It was this perspective that gave the Let Us Build Cully Park! project its strong foundation. Working from this viewpoint, Cully neighbors were able to leverage funding and support from a variety of resources. And health organizations, community development and housing commissions, environmental and cultural organizations were eager to sign on. To learn more about this project, please visit this link!
And for more information on Verde visit: http://verdenw.org/
By: Ashe Urban