Cheryl Leontina Joins BNA from PSU for Alleyway Project

The Boise Neighborhood Association recently welcomed Cheryl Leontina, a student intern from Portland State University studying architecture. Cheryl’s architecture vision includes “designing spaces that support community and promote human connectedness, ensuring that dwellings are conduits to nature and the everything, and transforming city blight by repurposing abandoned structures and vacant lots into activated centers and urban parks.” Cheryl brings a wealth of experience and excitement to the Boise Neighborhood Association-- she is a current architecture student, an accomplished artist, and in 2007 she designed and built a primitive earthen home using found materials on site where she lived until moving to Portland in 2011.

Cheryl has joined us to coordinate the Alleyway Project in the Boise and Concordia neighborhoods-- a months long project to restore, revitalize, and repurpose our communities’ alley spaces. As a part of this work, Cheryl will:

  • Conduct surveys of neighbors along each new alley.

  • Perform outreach and work with neighbors to establish a vision for each alley.

  • Create a process for outreach to engage our community in the process to beautify and activate alleyways.

  • Engage our community in an Alleyway Naming Contest.

  • Organize alleyway events like lawn games, BBQs, wine parties, art walks, dog walks, native plant walks, and bike rides.

  • Draft a neighborhood sustainability template and present it to neighborhood associations and business organizations.

  • Write grant applications to provide funding for art, plants, and other materials.

Cheryl has already started on this exciting work by surveying neighbors at the Boise Neighborhood Annual Spring Cleanup! If you’d like to get involved, provide input, or just welcome Cheryl to our neighborhood, please email her at leontina@pdx.edu.

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.

Meet Ed Shiang, Board Co-Chair

I joined the Board last year and I love it. Why? Besides meeting dedicated neighbors and increasing my feeling of community....one of the main reasons to be honest is....I feel there is no pressure to do anything. Yes, I try to show up at a 2 hour meeting every month and I do initiate things...but that's it. I can do whatever I want on my time...when I have time. Oh - and there is support within the Board and Community and even the city of Portland for my favorite ideas, which is very cool. What are my favorite ideas for this year? I'd have to say...a dog park, neighbors entertaining neighbors, skill sharing, pot lucks, entrepreneur club, neighbor happy hour, and the Last Wednesday Social. Speaking of the Last Wednesday Social! January 28th, from 7-9 PM Tesoaria Wine Bar (4002 N Williams). 15% will be donated to the Boise Neighborhood AssociationCome on down for some great wine and donate to a great cause. And - I am charged with recruiting 4 new board members this year...as I said, it's fun to be involved, so feel free to email me about this or any idea or come to the social and let's meet!

Thanks! Ed Shiang - shiang2034@gmail.com

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.

It's almost January and we've got tools, money and ideas: What will we accomplish together in 2015?

My first job out of college was working for an urban planning and design firm, though I had no background in it. Since then I've had an amateur interest in city planning, placemaking, and community spaces. Last year I started looking into City Repair, a local non-profit that helps communities become more resilient and connected through placemaking project support - they call that annual program Village Building Convergence. So on a rainy Thursday evening this December, I biked over to Ex Novo Brewing in Eliot neighborhood for an event hosted by City Repair, to hear people from a distant SE neighborhood tell the story of how they came together over several years to build a tight-knit community in the face of an established culture of isolationism and fear in their crime-ridden neighborhood. After holding several fundraisers such as plant and rummage sales, they raised enough money to paint two large mural art pieces on two major street intersections.

The story was inspiring. They moved themselves from a place of helplessness to empowerment, and turned their social isolation into social capital. Embodying the tenets of permaculture and the Transition movement, they saw the potential in their social capital to create positive change. The traditional paradigm of our age lies in power structures, entertainment, advertising and other forms of material capital. These aspects do not address real challenges that communities face - as one person put it, "banks fund isolated landscapes". By coming together to work on placemaking projects, the community successfully banished the daily drug and crime that isolated them in fear, and created lasting connections with each other, new community traditions like BBQs and gardening with kids. As VBC says, "community ownership and empowerment is what makes resilient places". By making your community more livable, it also gets safer and stronger.

After the presentation and Q&A, City Repair volunteers asked everyone to read through their 2014 placemaking toolkit, design cheat sheet, and application. Here's how it works: Every year, City Repair solicits ideas from communities that want to work on a placemaking project of some kind - and there are a LOT of different kinds.  (You can download the packets here.) City Repair reviews the applications and works with the organization to figure out the best way to go about it - they help figure out how much it will cost, if they need to modify the idea to make it more workable, how many people and committees they might need, etc. They basically empower and educate people on how to do what they want to do. The applications are due January 22, with the application fee, which goes toward the project. However, they are flexible with the fee - it can be paid later, or with money from another grant. They do have scholarships for those with financial constraints but given that they are almost 100% volunteer-driven, the application fee helps them produce this incredible service to community members for affordable rates and prompt payments keep it logistically simple for the small core volunteer organizers. All of the projects that are accepted will get done during this year's "Village Building Convergence", May 29 - June 7.

Potential Ideas:

In the past couple of months, I've heard of several great ideas for projects from various community members. All of them would qualify for the application, and potentially others that are also due in January.

  • An outdoor clothes/blanket closet made of reclaimed materials (one exists in front of Community Supported Everything's Guild Hall on Alberta and 16th)
  • An outdoor trash burner that produces clean gas (Community Supported Everything has a prototype)
  • Benches, signage and fencing for an off-leash dog park area and community garden
  • Alleyway beautification through vertical gardens, kinetic and visual art with pollinator habitat
  • Wall murals on commercial buildings facing areas with pedestrian traffic
  • New trash cans for Mississippi and Williams Avenues incorporating reclaimed materials

Other ideas from the VBC:

  • Rain garden
  • Pallet garden
  • Cob bench
  • Free library
  • Mosaic wall
  • Trumpet rain catchment

grant opportunities:

The Village Building Convergence isn't a grant - but we could pay for the project using grant money from somewhere else. These are the two opportunities that I know of:

The Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) is also looking for grant applicants for projects that address watershed health and also meet community needs. Their pre-application is due Feb 6. Examples that could apply to our neighborhood would be alleyway cleanups, and planting in alleyways or dog park area.

The Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods will also release their annual community grants on January 5, likely due in February. The recipients are always community-building projects, usually by established non-profits, usually including diversity outreach components.

I'm inspired. Now what?

If you are interested in working together with other community members to make one or more of these projects a reality, then let's do it! Email me at katyewolf@gmail.com, and I will set up a meeting time where we can talk further about what projects we're most interested in and how we'll move forward to get our applications done.

Community Unity Jam - August 23

Last Wednesday, August 13, several neighbors got together at Lompoc Sidebar in the evening, to brainstorm projects to work on together. We discussed events, reaching out to businesses, churches and schools in the neighborhood to work together, and long term projects like the Trash Can Project. We were delighted to meet Robin Franklin, who is a pastor at neighborhood church Hughes Memorial United Methodist Church, which is on the corner of Failing and Rodney on the border with King neighborhood. She came not only to promote an upcoming event and ask us to pass it along, but to make a permanent connection to our neighborhood association, as she is interested in continuing the tradition of being a part of the neighborhood and working together with neighbors on projects. She told us all about the great things her church is doing and some of the history of the church, such as that the church was mostly African-American for many years, but now it has a mixed demographic congregation.

In the recent past, members of the church have offered crafts at neighborhood events at Unthank Park and helped out at the Spring Cleanup, and they would like to continue to do so. The church has a vegetable garden where they invite anyone to participate, plant and harvest. Robin said they still have veggies coming in, and so far this year have given food to 55 groups. They also offer their building as a community space. They share their church space with another congregation, Bright Star, where J.W. Friday is the minister. In February, the church hosts a Black History Celebration which they invite speakers to. This summer, a PSU History professor is teaching a summer kids camp on civil rights history (specifically for the 50th anniversary of the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1969) for neighborhood kids.

The big event Robin came to tell us about is next Saturday, August 23 from noon to 5 pm. You may or may not have heard about the recent rash of gang-related killings in Portland this summer. Several protests have happened around North and Northeast to bring attention to this and promote community fellowship and unity in place of violence. The event is called Community Unity Jam 2014 "Stop the Killing". Minister-turned-MC J.W. Friday will be spinning tunes (apparently he has his own internet radio show called "The Groove Factor"), and there will be a clothing donation and closet, doll making, community prayer, free hot dogs, live gospel music, and community unity speakers. The Facebook event page is here.

Hughes Memorial UMC/Bright Star church has a Facebook page, but it's in need of some help, and they have no website, as Robin told us. If anyone has an interest in helping them with their social media presence, it would help them spread the word about their offerings.

Hughes Memorial UMC: (503) 281-2332

Bright Star Ministries: (503) 208-1867

Hughes Memorial UMC has been featured as part of past North Portland Gentrification Tours offered by Know Your City, which offers tours year round of Portland's multicultural historical areas. The BNA is interested in having Know Your City do a historical walking tour of our neighborhood highlighting it's diverse multicultural past in the future again.