The Summer is Coming to a Close

Aside

The summer is winding down and Portland Enrichment recently went out for their last canvass on Saturday August 11th. On Sunday the 12th, the group volunteered at the farmers market for the last time of the summer as well. In one-way or another, I’m sure everyone in our group learned a lot from their experience with Portland Enrichment. Everyone had a chance to communicate with literally hundreds of people during the summer. I believe an important skill is learning about how others interact, and we interacted with a variety of great people and received some in-depth feedback about Lents.

During the summer we knocked on about 1000 doors and collected around 200 surveys. At the conclusion of the program, Portland Enrichment will release its End of Program analysis and final statistics. We will be able to fully assess data from the residents of Lents. Many people in Lents will be receiving emails from our partner organizations, which explain how they can get involved in the community. Our team encountered many people who were enthusiastic about getting involved.

At the beginning of the program I didn’t expect that we would have as many people as we did commit to participating in community actions. Out of the people we had a chance to talk to, I would estimate more than half of them took the survey and challenge. Unfortunately, we knocked on a lot of houses where no one was home. Something our group will address at our next meeting is the best times to canvass. This summer we usually canvassed on Saturdays in the early afternoon. This seems like a logical time to catch people in their homes because typically most people have weekends off from work. However, many days this summer were very nice and I’m sure a lot of families were out enjoying the weather Portland has to offer this time of year.

We will try our best to reach as many people as possible next summer. Nowadays, it seems people are so busy and some people don’t spend much time at home like they used to. But it does seem like many people are still eager to get involved. While canvassing, I heard a few people say how they wish they could communicate more with their neighbors and have more community events or block parties. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems people don’t talk with their neighbors like they used to 10-15 years ago.

I remember talking to a man who had four kids, had a job, went to school and was also involved with the community. I thought that this man must not have time to do anything. It was great getting to hear stories from the residents of Lents. It has been a pleasure getting to know people in the community and I plan to see some of the people I met again in the future.Image

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Mid Program Analysis Article

Portland Enrichment is a group of volunteers whose mission is to create thriving and sustainable communities in the area of Lents. The Portland Enrichment program is currently conducting a listening project and community challenge to gain feedback from residents in the Lents area. With the feedback they receive, Portland Enrichment is able to assess what changes and actions need to be taken in the neighborhood. If residents in the area are looking to take action and help out their community, Portland Enrichment will connect them with the particular organization to get them started.

Portland Enrichment works with a variety of organizations that specialize in food security, energy efficiency, community engagement and other sustainable community solutions. The group of volunteers canvass in the Mt Scott Arleta and Lents neighborhoods in SE Portland and table at the Lents Farmers Market.

This summer is the second go around for Portland Enrichment and the group hopes to build off of last year. Portland Enrichments goals are to knock on 1200 doors and receive as much feedback as possible.

Portland enrichment is broken down in to teams to handle certain aspects of the program. The data management team, led by Leo Qin, recently released the programs mid program report. The analysis gives background about the program and describes the methodology that was used. The survey questions were designed so Portland Enrichment could see how people felt about their neighborhood, what they liked, along with what complaints they had.

So far the volunteers have knocked on 500 doors, collected 100 surveys and 66 people have decided to participate in community challenge actions. After taking the community survey, 2/3 of the people agreed to also take the community challenge. Twenty one percent of people chose to partake in Food Security actions. Portland Enrichment plans to table at community events and hold two mega canvass days to reach this summer’s goals.

Leo was able to analyze the survey questions that the group asked the Lents residents by using graphs and word clouds. The first survey question was “What is your favorite thing about your neighborhood.” As Leo outlines in his word cloud, the words: “community,” diversity,” “parks,” “farmers market” and “neighbors” were many peoples favorite things.

Data shows that on average the residents of Lents rate their neighborhood a “4” on ne a 1 to 5 scale (1 being low and 5 being high). This numbers describes how people generally feel about the community.

Those surveyed also expressed their thoughts on barriers to living in an ideal community, what their ideal community would look like, and their concerns for development. There are three more weeks until the end of the program and the Portland Enrichment team will come out with a final program analysis after its completion. Portland Enrichment’s survey can be taken online at pdxenrichment.com.Image

Moving Forward and Analyzing Our Data

Sunday, the Portland Enrichment team went to the Lents Farmer’s Market. Across the street, the Ramona Street Fair was also going on. Some of our partner organizations were on display on Ramona and numerous people were visiting the different tables on the corner of 92nd and Foster.

At our meeting on Thursday, our group had discussed our approach and strategy for getting people to listen who we are and what we are trying to accomplish in the community. Our group’s idea for the farmers market was to play a quick and simple trivia game with the people that came by our table. We called it “Foster Trivia” (Foster is one of the major streets that runs though Lents.)

Examples of questions we asked people were: How many people live in Lents? Who was Lents named after? How many grocery stores are in Lents, and what year was Lents founded? Some of these questions are hard to get exactly right, but a surprising amount of people knew the answers to our questions spot on. Weather people knew the answers to the questions or not, they were happy to take a free lollipop off of our table… everyone likes lollipops.

Nearly everyone at the Market lives right in the Lents area, and most people that talked with us wanted to take our survey after learning a new fact about the town they lived in. I was able to learn a lot of facts about Lents on Sunday and heard some exciting stories as well.

Leo Qin, and the data management team, presented the mid-season report on the feedback Portland Enrichment has accumulated thus far. His report first describes our program and what we do and then he described our team’s methodology for collecting our neighborhood feedback. The three methods we collected data through were in person canvassing, tabling at the Lents International Farmers Market, and through online submission.

The data management team analyzed what people said in the community survey questions. Questions we asked were broken down into eight categories: favorite things, overall experience, relative importance of livability, highest visions, areas for growth, concerns about development, and barriers to health. For each category, a word cloud was created which showed the most commonly used words from people for that particular question. For the “favorite things” category some most commonly said words were: community, diversity, affordable, proximity, parks, Farmers Market and quiet.

There are also graphs to show what community actions people chose to take so far. All of the community actions were well represented and fairly popular. The eight community action categories were: Local Community Energy, Food Security, Resource Sharing, Watershed and Habitat, Community Engagement, Community Investments, Community Spaces, and Diversity and Healthcare. The Food Security action was the most popular action chosen by residents, accumulating for 21 percent. To view our mid season report visit pdxenrichment.org.

Paying Attention to Traffic

A common community concern that people brought up Saturday while canvassing was traffic congestion and limited parking. Throughout Lents and specifically on 82nd street there are a lot of businesses on the main road with no parking lots. People are forced to park on the street and in front of houses. It becomes an inconvenience for drivers, homeowners and is detrimental to businesses as well. Often times business are forced out of business simply from having difficult customer access and something many people in Lents cherish is their local businesses.

Traffic incidents, roadwork, and weather conditions can make the roads irritating and dangerous to drive on. Numerous people said they have had bumper-to-bumper car accidents from the constant commotion and cluster on the streets. The question is how do we fix traffic congestion? How can we construct parking lots for some of these businesses without clearing out other businesses or homes?

Neighbors said that the city recently put in a crosswalk on 82nd street that allowed for people to safely cross the street. The crosswalk is strategically placed and saves people lot of time. Now they don’t have to walk hundreds of feet just to cross the street at the next stoplight to get to their destination. Others suggestions were more to have more bike paths. Maybe then people would start riding their bikes, instead of driving their cars, especially when they need to travel only a short distance.

Portland is notorious for its public transportation system and it is able to help a lot of people in the city in their day-to-day lives. It’s great for people who don’t have cars, it makes for less traffic, it’s cheaper than spending money on gas, and its environmentally friendly. People also can relax on public transportation and not have to worry about getting in a car accident.

Others have said that public transportation can be dangerous and slow. Everybody has their own opinions and there will always be positives and negatives to newly implemented ideas. But public transportation is something that many people see as a convenience and it definitely benefits many cities. Streets years ago were not built to support many of the cities that have blossomed around us today.  I believe it’s important to find the causes of traffic congestion/problems and try to not make those same mistakes when developing new cities.

People Are Getting Excited!

This past weekend our Portland Solutions group held our weekly meeting on Thursday to touch base and assess how we were doing in terms of staying on task and accomplishing our goals. On Saturday, we had three groups of two and went canvassing. On Sunday, we went to the farmers market from 10:30 to 4 p.m. to talk with members of the community.

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We plan to knock on a total of 1200 doors in the Lents area during the summer. Currently, we are planning a mega canvass that we will have in a few weeks. For the mega canvass we will be inviting a large group together to come walk around the neighborhood and talk with residents. We will also be contacting local reporters and other media sources to gain some media attention, which will help more people become aware of our program.

For me, canvassing is getting more and more comfortable. And the more comfortable I feel, the more I am able to enjoy it. The weather on our canvass day was excellent as well, which made it easier for us to walk around and be efficient while canvassing. It’s nice to see people walking around and enjoying the sun. Everyone seems to be in better mood on a nice day and the sunny weather is always a fun topic to talk about in Portland.

People in the area love going to their local restaurants, salons and stores. A question we asked folks at the market was “What is your favorite local business.” I heard many great descriptions of a number of places I will need to check out sometime. It always seems I find the best places to eat or to buy things at after talking to others. All of the favorite local businesses were posted on our map of Lents at our table.Image

Nearly everyone that came up to our table that Sunday commented on the empty lot behind us and they asked if we knew what the city was doing about that, or why they knocked the buildings down that were there in the first place. I had no answer for them unfortunately, but I found it interesting that so many people noticed and seemed to care about what was going on back there. It is now a goal of mine now to find out why the buildings in the lot were torn down. I learned Sunday that Lents has a history of demolishing buildings and not rebuilding; the residents don’t seem to like that too much.Image

A Beautiful Day in Portland

Last week our Portland Enrichment team divided into sub groups so we could have a few people focus on particular goals that we wanted to achieve by the end of the summer.  At our meeting we brought out a large, white sheet of paper that we filled out from launch week. On the paper were certain job descriptions such as Media, Community Events, Data Management, and Contacting Partners.

Each category had a leader and one or two other people to help out the leader in that category as well. This structure allowed individuals to focus on what they want to do as well as maintain a balance of power between everybody.

At the meeting we also decided who will be facilitating the next meeting, who would be doing a confluence call with other programs nationwide, and discuss our shifts for working at the farmers market that Sunday.

Sunday was our group’s first time at the farmers market and we were able to have a tent and table set up for us. At our table, we had a poster size map of the Lents area and we asked people at the farmers market what their favorite place in the Lents area was.  When people decided on a favorite place, they would write it on a sticky note and place it on the map wherever the place happened to be.

We got a lot of responses and our map became full of colorful sticky notes. People really took pride in where they live and what they like to do in the area. In fact, many people said their favorite place was the farmers market that we were currently at.

After asking residents what their favorite place was, we asked them if they would like to take our survey. Many people decided to take the survey because they were already talking about all the things they liked in the neighborhood. We received a lot of input from people at the farmers market and I’m excited to see/talk to more people the next time our group goes and maybe even see some of the people that we that were at the market last time.

At the end of the day, we accumulated about 15 surveys and had the pleasure of watching and talking to a variety of people. The farmers market offers something for people of all ages and is a great place to spend the day, especially in the summer, here in Portland.

Getting Started and Planning for the Future

On day two of launch week, our Summer of Solutions team met with representatives from partner organizations that we would be working with throughout the summer. When the meeting began there was about 15 of us and we all introduced ourselves. Our partners gave background about their organization and how they helped benefit the community.

Common areas of focus were energy efficiency, transportation and local food and farming. Some of our partners include Million Monarchs, Zenger Farm, Green Lents, Foster Green, Urban League and Mt. Scott Community Center. Our meeting was held at Mt Scott Community Center, which is in the neighborhood where we would be canvassing.

We then went on a walking tour throughout the town of Lents. Our leaders taught us the history of the city and our group had a chance to grow accustomed to the area that we would help to improve. It was interesting to see the diversity of people and the unique landscape of Lents.

The next day our group concentrated on identifying our goals for the summer. Our group filled out an asset map, which is a way for group members to identify what they and their co-workers can contribute to the team.

We also discussed what we would do if certain challenges were to arise such as if we were canvassing and some one who opens the door doesn’t speak English. We also put together a timeline so we will be able to keep track of our progress and estimate about how long certain projects may take.

A common goal of ours is improving the program from last year.  Everyone from our group was able to contribute ideas and will be able to use their skills to benefit the group. We hope to gain more media attention, get more people to participate in the neighborhood challenge, and host an event at the end of the summer.