Woodlawn Neighborhood Association General Meeting Minutes (draft until approved)
June 2nd, 2021, Online only on Zoom
This is your neighborhood. This is our neighborhood.
Together, we have the power to make it a beautiful place to live for everyone.
7:00 – 7:10 Welcome and Introductions-Meeting is recorded
- Please introduce yourself in chats: name, pronouns, favorite summer activity
Board members: Melody Randolph, Maija Spencer, Beth Heins, Dennis Kennedy, Anjala Ehelebe, Shirley Minor, Thelma Diggs, Nancy Flynn, Chida Chaemchaeng, Keith Baich
- Approve May meeting notes – Dennis moves, Beth seconds, all in favor
- June agenda – Dennis moves, Beth seconds, all in favor
7:10 – 8:00 Guest Speakers
- 7:10 Lionel Irving: gang veteran, community outreach organizer
- Community response to recent violence
Love is Stronger has 3 main focuses:
- Community accountability – we all have resources and need to work together to be accountable. Violence in the community has a ripple effect, and sharing a kind word or offering to help can make a huge difference. Even people not directly affected by violence can be harmed by ripple effects, ignoring violence doesn’t help. Who can we each help? Lionel wants to see community cohesiveness. Help kids pause to think by sharing a kind word or action if you can, it might help change their path. Remember that there are many good guys in prison which leaves a big hole in the community. Share a kind word, share resources that we have.
- Reducing recidivism rate – help people get on their feet, take the pressure off as people coming out of jail re-enter and rebuild their lives. Love is Stronger offers support – clothes, jobs paying competitive wages, connections.
- Mental health – connecting anyone in their program with mental health services from people who can relate to their lives. Now there’s a lot more understanding of trauma and its effects.
- How can we get in touch with Lionel? 5037930985
- Things feel different compared to the 90s – it feels like the numbers are smaller but the violence is more obvious? Lionel says it does seem more brazen – he’s careful to talk about the difference between a gang member and a gang banger. There have been so many deaths that emotions are high which is leading to more violence.
- The sentiment of rolling up on the young kids (which Lionel was recommending – trying to openly greet and connect, then move on) is something that many residents of the neighborhood may not be comfortable with – neighbors may know they don’t know a lot about the culture. Can we come together as community members and see what ways we can connect? Lionel thinks it might help to hear from gang veterans and learn what might be useful. They have the ability to try to help others transition out of gangs.
- 7:25 Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty
- Portland Street Response
- City response to recent violence
Commissioner Hardesty’s comments: She personally tries to steer clear of using gang-related terminology, and at the same time feels she and Lionel have similar perspectives. She’d like to connect Lionel to the president of the Oregon Community Foundation.
She doesn’t believe all the violence we’re seeing is gang-related; domestic violence and stranger violence is up dramatically here and nationally. There is a lot of economic insecurity and stress related to the last year.
Society has a knee-jerk reaction when there is more crime, to ask for more cops; police officers are really meant to solve or manage crime, and adding more and more police isn’t the answer for every problem we are facing.
The last year has been unprecedented, but every corner of the city has people like those in Woodlawn who have been active in helping others. The pandemic will continue to have devastating effects for a while to come – up to 10,000 new houseless people almost overnight when the eviction moratorium ends in July. We’re facing a tale of two Portlands. One wants to get back to “normal” right away. The other Portland knows that we lived in a city and culture that was based in inequity. How do we stop the status quo from returning? How do we face the humanitarian crisis on our streets?
We need temporary stopgaps to allow people to live with dignity and respect while finding affordable housing. Community members are hugely cost burdened (spending less than 30% of their income on housing costs).
- Back rent will be due soon for folks – some say it would be less expensive for government to pay the back rent rather than suddenly have to manage that number of unhoused persons. Does she have a comment? – The size of the issue is much too large for our city to pay. She believes a federal amnesty is the only real answer for both renters and mortgage-holders, rather than look for 15 months of back payments.
- What are some practical actions being done to address the housing crisis? Answer: county is voting on our budget tomorrow (June 3) and June 17. Also trying to figure out how to make land available to let people self-manage camps across the city. Metro, Tri-Met, ODOT are working together to identify government-owned land. There could be minor supports like garbage pickup to help with sanitation and dignity. Also looking for a place for RV parking. There is a joint office of houseless services which is funded at $40 million annually by the city – now trying to determine what is being done with that money, what should be done with the money coming in from the Metro bond and Portland housing bond. There are a large number of housing-insecure people here. We need to think bigger and bolder to address these issues. All of the current plans are insufficient for the coming need – but they need to balance their budgets, too.
- What is the city’s position on Concordia University? Answer: she certainly thought of that as an option and connected with some of the trustees. She had the same thoughts about the Greyhound bus station. It was noticeable that people displaced by fire last fall and we were able to find shelters, yet we still have people on the streets. She needs to get three votes on any matter and can’t reliably get that third vote from Council. She’s seem more movement since Commissioner Ryan joined after the last election.
- Several people have suggested pods of tiny houses in every neighborhood to help house the houseless population. Answer: that’s great, we need creative suggestions like these. This is a governmental failure we’ve seen coming since at least 2008 but have done nothing to meet it. Creative ideas like this are encouraging.
- What about preventative violence actions in the community? Police patrols, getting guns off the streets? Answer: She’s wondering where these guns are coming from – how do they get into the city, into kids’ hands? Police seem content to blame it on poorly stored handguns but that doesn’t really match the volume we hear about. The main issues are too many guns, and economic insecurity. During economic downturns like this one, we often see more violence. We need crimes to be investigated and prosecuted. Not one police position was cut based on the $15m cut, regardless of what the police are saying.
- Change of topic: the Zenith oil trains coming through are aggressively loud every 45 minutes or so during the night. This is a stressor and the trains need to be controlled. Answer: Commissioner Hardesty says the Land Use Board of Appeals has to control this, not Council; current Land Use law dictates what the board and the trains can do. No one on Council supports Zenith moving their trains through our community, or the permitting process they followed. Council is looking to see what other requirements they can apply to Zenith to force them to run their business better as it impacts the city and the community.
- A community member was driving in Vancouver and didn’t see any houseless people – are they doing something different or better that we should investigate? Answer: it’s not fully clear what Vancouver is doing but she is not sure there aren’t houseless people there either.
- Commissioner Hardesty speak on the event that transpired involving PPB on May 18th at the intersection of NE 6th & Bryant. Two men were parked/asleep in a car in broad daylight and there was a strange standoff with the police. Answer: She saw the video and was appalled that the police were sending community members to check on the people in the car. All she knows is what she saw in the video and read in the papers – she hasn’t seen anything from any investigation. This is part of a much larger systemic problem. Is there a culture in the Portalnd Police Bureau of refusing to change? Of white supremicist ideology? Is anti-Blackness rooted in the PPB? There is an independent consultant investigating these questions, including whether there is any way to reform what we have. If not, what next?
- Portland Street Response Team: will there be openings for community members? What are the roles there? Answer: she has spent 3 years working on this alternative to an armed police response. The Portland Street Response Team is near and dear to her heart and it was developed in consultation with people from the affected community to find out what they need when there’s a crisis? The pilot began in Lents since there were few social supports there but a high number of calls for help; after the first pilot they planned to roll out second and third teams, but lost funding until the program was more fully evaluated without consulting the people who created the program. It is still going to roll out, but it’s going to take longer than a year for the pilot to be completed. It could have gone faster but Council chose the slower path of pilot, then rollout. This program should revolutionize 911 and every neighborhood is interested. There could be an amendment on the June 17 vote OR it will wait until the fall vote for funding.
- 8:00 – 8:20 Board Business
- Treasurer’s Report-Dennis Kennedy:
- 7294 in the bank, one expenditure in the last month for the DOJ Charitable Activities section
- Land Use and Transportation-Street Painting Applications-Anjala Ehelebe
- City has opened the season for neighborhoods to get free permits to paint or repaint their streets. City has to approve the illustration, neighborhood has to buy the materials. 8th & Holman was painted and could prhaps use a touch-up; at one time it was the largest painting in the city. 8th & Holland needs to be painted, it’s an offset with poor visibility, and painting the intersection could help slow traffic. Need volunteers and leaders. If interested get in touch with Anjala at email@example.com
- Couple of meetings about gun violence; have asked the city for more lighting in various locations but there is no budget for it. Considering polling the neighbors to add motion-activated lights on their houses.
- No permits to review.
- Farmer’s Market-Keith Baich
- First market is this Saturday June 5!!!! Hours are 10-2
- They’ve hired a market manager for the season, Dallas Hayley
- They have money in the account thanks to the tremendous community support when they raised funds after their break-ins. They will start seeing bills and expenses coming through soon, their last real expenses were in December.
- Donations from the off season will go to the SNAP match and will help replace the items that were stolen last season. They’ll need tents, chairs, tables, and will hire musicians.
- The market will do SNAP match up to $15 – that’s extra money to spend at the market!
- For now masks are mandatory and no seating at the market.
- They’ll need volunteers (not for the first market) so watch the market mailing list and Next Door and other social media options.
- Vendors: we’ll have a mix of new and returning vendors, including a new baker
- NECN-Dennis Kennedy
- NECN members recently participated in a 90-minute training on non-profit governance, how a board needs to function.
- NET-Erin Cooper
- Treasurer’s Report-Dennis Kennedy:
- Neighborhood Emergency Team: it’s shaping up to be a bad fire season again this year. Fire safety tips should be top of mind; Erin will write a column for the Hey Neighbor! NECN paper and will share with Woodlawn
- Upcoming Events
- Fri 6/4 @5pm Community of Hope Raise Hope Virtual Gala and Silent Auction to benefit services and housing for houseless single-parent families in North Portland
- Splendid Caper Theater Company presents “One Woman, Too Much” at Woodlawn Park, free-of-charge for all. Fri 6/18@7pm, Sat 6/19@2pm, Sat 6/19 @4pm
- In person meeting for July? (would still be streamed on Zoom)
- Some logistics: power for zoom streaming/recording, possible need of wind break (to help with audio)
- Nic moves having it in-person in location TBD so long as we can add the zoom functionality; Maija seconds. All in favor.
- all-neighborhood-invited picnic evenings in the park – Wednesdays in August. Maija will create a Facebook post suggesting people picnic 6-8pm in the North side of the park, which seems to be all that we really have to have. Remind people to bring masks for distancing purposes.
8:20 – 8:30 Final thoughts, announcements, other upcoming events
- Can we set up a directory for neighbors willing to help neighbors? There’s a form here collecting name/contact info/ability to help. https://forms.gle/1zFtCQnrPEjmK1RH9
- Retro Game Bar is celebrating their 2nd anniversary – congratulations!
- Woodlawn teacher Lionel Clegg was selected OnPoint teacher of the year!
- Let’s make sure we figure out a way to connect with Lionel Irving and Love is Stronger
8:30 Meeting adjourns
Thank you for coming! Hope to see you Wed, July 7th at 7pm for our next Meeting!