2015 Northeast sustainability project overview - boise and concordia neighborhoods

As part of a larger, long-term "sustainability in neighborhoods" initiative, individuals within the Boise and Concordia neighborhoods are spearheading a new sustainability initiative in partnership with Portland State University (PSU)’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS) and the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (NECN). This initiative will focus concurrently on policy and on action, to be guided by neighbor volunteers and advisors, and include a part-time paid PSU intern who will be initially responsible for much of the initiative’s execution. The initiative’s timeline is preliminarily set for one year, with extensions to be determined later by the advisors. The geographic scope is initially the two neighborhoods, Boise and Concordia, within the contextual setting of the 12 Northeast neighborhoods that make up NECN.

Policy items include working with the neighborhoods, the community, and the PSU ISS,  to develop a draft sustainability policy template that could be customized and adopted by individual neighborhood organization boards (as well as, potentially, other groups, such as business organizations), elsewhere within NECN and across the city.

Action items include projects that make our community more sustainable. This might include projects to: shape the urban form of a neighborhood in ways that will facilitate more sustainable practices by its residents and visitors; tweak systems within the neighborhood so that they operate in a more sustainable fashion; or support public art and the local economy in ways that ensure their sustainability.

While a short list of near-term action items will be developed by the project steering committee, a longer-term list of action items will also result from the efforts of the sustainability policy development initiative. To support all action and implementation activities, this project will also include a heavy emphasis on fundraising, in particular but not limited to grant writing, in order to provide resources to support further implementation actions. Community capacity building, including the development of cooperative volunteer networks to support implementation initiatives, will also be an important focus of activities. This capacity building can begin with the community outreach that the sustainability policy development initiative will require.

Early actions are expected to include activities related to alleys, public art, neighborhood greening, and related community organizing efforts that have a nexus to increased neighborhood sustainability. Alleys in particular are found in both neighborhoods, and offer an in-between space in deep need of greater attention and investment, with the potential to pay near-term livability and sustainability dividends. Community organizing efforts around alleys are expected to bring neighbors together to develop processes to improve the alleys, provide spaces for art, provide for the greening of public spaces, and encourage additional infill development that will add new potential customers for neighborhood businesses.
Over the longer-term, this initiative is expected to pay broad sustainability-related returns, including increased neighborhood livability, reduced neighborhood greenhouse gas emissions, and the promotion of a sustainable local economy. This project is intended to be among the first steps of a long-term community process to improve neighborhood livability, one project at a time.