We’re live at the IAP2 2018 PI Works Conference in Portland! Over the next two days, we’re digging deep into public engagement tips, tactics and success stories, courtesy of the good folks from IAP2’s Cascade Chapter.
Follow along as we share what we’re learning about how to remove barriers, increase participation and build a more diverse community. We’ll be posting to this liveblog, and also tweeting from @ELGL50 and @NWELGL. Buckle up!
Thursday, June 21
The venue for the Thursday session is Catholic Charities in downtown Portland, which is a fitting location for a series of town hall-style discussions focusing on reaching and involving people who historically haven’t had a seat at the table.
The day began with a traditional song performed by local tribal members. As they reminded us, Portland and the surrounding area sit on ancient native lands, and it’s fitting to acknowledge that history as we dig into current topics.
Session 1 – Policing Our Communities Together
A panel representing law enforcement leaders and local activists wrestled with difficult topics related to policing diverse communities. Studies show that traditional methods of categorizing people, particularly minorities and immigrants, often fail to create meaningful demographic segments, because large ethnic groups are often composed of many distinct cohorts. New and better ways of reaching these groups are emerging every day.
Musse’ Olol, a representative from the Somali American Council of Oregon, made the point that often children have the best English language skills and are often the ones who end up speaking to police and legal aid during emergencies and investigations.
Moderator Ronault LS Catalani described how ethnic and immigrant communities often prefer local rules, laws and customs rooted in family. Community policing strategies can tap into that built-in sense of respect by engaging with local elders and community activists, rather than top-down enforcement.
And lastly — communication and networking is key. Interact with the groups in your community and build relationships with others.
“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” Judge Edward Jones
Session 2 – Affordable Housing Crisis Among Underserved Communities
This one proved to be extremely timely and focused on solutions. More than half of the country are now renters, which has elevated the profile of affordable housing.
Michelle DePass with the City of Portland Housing Bureau opened the discussion by observing that traditional studies of homelessness don’t account for people sleeping on couches or crashing with relatives.
“Homelessness doesn’t start when you run out of money. It starts when you run out of relationships.” Michelle DePass
Session 3 – Ensuring Equality via Equity Practices
This session started off with a bang by inviting the entire room to pair up for a good-natured game of Rock-Paper. There was a twist — the defeated players immediately had to form a cheering section for the winners. Gradually we whittled the crowd down to two players, each of whom were backed by a cheering section numbering in the dozens. It was energetic and great fun, and definitely easy to replicate at your next orientation or staff training.
Facilitator Kheoshi Owens then convened a diverse panel to share ideas about how to ensure that we’re not overlooking equity in our equality efforts.
So what’s standing in the way of equity and equality progress? Check out this zinger from one of the panelists.
“Some bad people with some very bad ideas are standing in the way.” Linda Castillo, director of the Equity in Practice programs for the Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement.