Meet Samuel Garcia, our new Neighborhood Sustainability Intern!

Samuel Garcia is our second Neighborhood Sustainability intern, a paid part-time position provided through the PSU Institute for Sustainable Solutions. Samuel will be working in Boise and Concordia neighborhoods on outreach to neighbors, churches, non-profits and businesses to offer support for sustainability and community building projects. He will be continuing the work of our first intern, Cheryl Leontina, with alley events and projects.

In his undergraduate college career, Samuel successfully started a faith-based Latino & Filipino club and organized interactive outreach and engagement to facilitate thought provoking discussion in the college commons. Currently, Samuel is pursing his Masters of Urban and Regional Planning at PSU.

2015 Northeast Neighborhood 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.

Want to get involved in the affordable housing conversation in your community?

January’s meeting of the Boise Neighborhood Association was joined by Jes Larson and Cameron Herrington of North/Northeast Neighbors for Housing Affordability (NNNHA), a grassroots volunteer organization formed a year ago comprised of N/NE residents and handful of professionals who work in the housing and social justice sectors.

Jes and Cameron spoke to the neighborhood association about the key work and priorities of the NNNHA:

  • Livability within a neighborhood comes from a balanced mix of different kinds of housing that leads to a healthy and viable community, but Portland is lacking thousand of units of needed affordable housing. Jes, as co-chair of NNNHA and leader of the Welcome Home Coalition, is gathering up region­wide housing advocacy efforts to focus on new ongoing revenue for affordable housing, likely gearing up toward a ballot measure in 2016. They have a fiscal sponsor under Oregon Opportunity Network and have a steering committee with members from regional non­profits.

  • Priority policies for this year will be inclusionary housing and ICURA (Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area) commitment to affordable housing (Portland Housing Bureau has set aside $20M).

  • The board of the Boise Neighborhood voted to endorse a letter drafted by the NNNHA that calls for Portland Housing Bureau to use $20M to purchase land rather than subsidizing affordable housing right now. This “land banking” is a long-term strategy for creating substantial affordable housing in the coming years that recognizes gentrification displacement patterns.

  • A bill to repeal Oregon’s ban on inclusionary zoning will be introduced in the legislature. Portland City Council has endorsed this bill and NNNHA will advocate for it and drum up endorsements. If the ban gets repealed, NNNHA hopes to be part of the conversation about how to implement it.

Are you interested in joining the conversation on affordable housing? Here are some ways to get involved:

  • Check out the NNNHA on Facebook!

  • Anyone can join the NNNHA advocacy group! They meet the first Wednesday of the month, at 7PM at the office of the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (4815 NE 7th Ave).

  • On March 11 and May 13, the group will be travelling by bus to Salem to advocate for a suite of policies, the topmost being inclusionary housing and increasing budgets for affordable housing. 

  • On January 28, City Council will hold an open meeting to discuss the N/NE Housing Investment Strategy.