Last Day

Last Day

I haven’t been at work these past couple of days because of a heat wave that hit Portland. The forecast broadcasted highs of 108 and Rosewood does not have a.c so I was instructed to work from home.

Despite the heat the Rosewood still wanted to put on their biggest event of the year called Rosewood Night Out. The event has tablers, kids activities, a band, an outdoor movie as well as a free barbecue. Last year they had close to 3000 people attend the event. As this was my last day working I came in at noon for a celebratory/goodbye lunch. The staff had all signed one of the maps that was displayed at the 162nd Bus Line Gathering. This is by far the coolest card I’ve ever gotten and is destined to hang on a wall in my room.

It took us from about 4 hours to setup for the event which started at 5. I was stationed at the Rosewood table continuing transportation advocacy for increased service for TriMet’s proposed bus line along 162nd Ave. As people came to the Rosewood table I helped them fill out the survey tool I created, as well as asked them to prioritize among a list of items regarding the MAX station.

The experience working at The Rosewood Initiative has impressed upon me a number of things. I am invested in the betterment of the world through studying and making city and regional areas increasingly equitable and environmentally conscious. Making engaging and reciprocating cities/regional areas more efficient and providing necessary services and amenities for their inhabitants to connect them to resources encapsulates my interest in finding relevant work experience. This internship experience at the Rosewood Initiative focused on advocating for communities living in East Portland, working in the community to show support for improved pedestrian infrastructure and public transportation services. As Portland rapidly absorbs investment and becomes increasingly expensive, people are bought out and driven to outlying areas. As theses areas become increasingly dense it is important to not only pay attention to capacity metrics when planning for public transportation but also equity ones. Working with employees at the Rosewood inspired me to remain dedicated to my work as the employees set this precedent, often volunteering their time in order to benefit the community. It takes a team of selfless individuals to make up a successful nonprofit, an observation I will remember as I move forward.

As city and regional planning has a variety of specialties, I would like to explore other areas in the field while still continuing to engage in public transit topics. In the future I would like to travel to explore planning in an international context. With greater understanding of public transit I would like to study more thoroughly systems practiced in other cities. To further my education, I believe it is important to experience how other places practice planning, studying successful, failing cities and changing cities.


Gift from home

My best friend from high school came and visited me this weekend. It is difficult to express what a meaningful weekend it was. I have spent a decent amount of time exploring Portland on my own, something which I feel has influenced my outlook on a number of things, however there is no comparison to sharing both time place with those you care for.

We spent time walking through downtown Portland, stopping into my most frequented destinations: the Central Library and Powell’s Books. We took the bus in and out of the city. Taking the bus with a friend seemed to cut the travel time in half. We spent a considerable amount of time outdoors. Taking the opportunity to spend time in nature was absolutely phenomenal and is an entirely different experience when you have someone to share it with.

Portland was an entirely different city this weekend. Instead of a city to analyze, measure and compare, Portland became a place to live and explore. Time moves faster when you’re sharing it. The weekend passed so quickly it makes me wonder whether or not it even happened. I can recognize the ephemeral nature of time much more clearly with a friend around.

The Event

Monday 7/17 and Tuesday 7/18

I have planned a number of events however it always escapes me the level of work and attention to detail that goes into it. On Top of all the canvassing and outreach there is organizing food donation, volunteers, setup, creating information to handout during the event, inviting and coordinating with TriMet, PBOT and GDOT to table at the event…. On top of everything the event had no budget which I actually didn’t perceive as much of a challenge because I try and live as cheaply as possible. I submitted a donation request to New Seasons which thankfully went through. They donated about $100 to whatever we wanted in the store which unfortunately doesn’t go far as their prices are on the bougie end. In addition I made about 75 cupcakes which I brought in for the young interns to decorate. They are fourteen years old and had an absolute ball doing it. Rosewood employees buy lunch from a small eatery in a Mexican Grocery next door to Rosewood. Everyone has a very close relationship with the woman next door. She cuts us amazing deals on lunch, whole plates of food and a drink for five dollars. She was more than gracious in donating drinks, taquitos as well as chips and salsa for the event.

I made a floor map as well as detailed directions for each station to give to the volunteers. The event incorporated the project objectives and also offered a number of opportunities for the community to collaborate on a vision for both improved accessibility, amenities and service for both the proposed bus line along 162nd Ave. as well as in the greater East Portland area. In the hopes of both increasing community participation and fostering engagement, the team planned the event to be both interactive and informative.

The event incorporated a number of interactive stations including:

Survey Station: Every attendee was asked to complete a survey in order to enter a raffle which took place at the end of the event.

Additional Bus Stops: Community members were given three dots to place next to the following categories they believed to be most important: shelters, adequate lighting, benches, wider sidewalks, signaled crosswalks. In addition a large printout of the proposed bus route along 162nd ave. was displayed and community members were given sticker dots to designate where they would place bus stops.

MAX Station: Community members were given three dots to place next to the following categories they believed to be most important: Crime, Pedestrian level lighting, Speeds on burnside/162nd, Crosswalks @intersection & mid-station, Sidewalks around station, Real time arrival displays. In addition a large piece of butcher paper was provided where community members could write out their safety concerns in the area. Finally at this station community members could vote on whether or not they support the MAX stop’s name being changed from E 162nd Ave. MAX Station to Rosewood/ E 162nd Ave. MAX Station.

SWOT Analysis: This station asked community members to write out their perception of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in the area.

Film Station: This station provided provided community members to share their experience using public transit in the area on camera.

Tablers: The transportation team invited TriMet, the Portland Bureau of Transportation as well as the Gresham Department of Transportation to hold tables at the event. Community members were given the opportunity to ask questions and hold discussions with these organizations. In the transportation team hoped that in inviting these organizations to the event they were able to see experience first hand the lack of pedestrian infrastructure, the transit needs within the community as well as the community support for improved transit service.

Near the end of the event everyone present came together for a community held discussion and also to watch two videos concerning transit and public safety in the area.

I was pleased with the way everything turned out. All in all we had about 75 attendants. Holding the event provided me the opportunity to practice public speaking, volunteer organization, event planning, community outreach, coordination with professional organizations and most importantly community engagement.



Monday 7/10-Thursday 7/13

This past week I have been very busy preparing for the community event concerning the 162nd busline ave project. I have been doing a lot of canvassing out in the neighborhood. I have avoided going door to door as much as possible and tried to instead engage with people walking up and down the streets. The sphere people occupy at any given moment is very indicative of what their reactions may be. As I approach people on the streets we are both in a public sphere and we are more or less on the same plane. In a metaphorical sense approaching people in their homes forces a public sphere into the domain of a private one inviting invasive sentiments. Discussion is a democratic practice and plays better on a level playing field than on uneven terrain.

The economic development coordinator and I went to businesses in the area on and around 162nd. Speaking to strangers in an outreach setting reminds me of speaking a foreign language, there are varying degrees of proficiency all the way up to the highest degree of fluency. If I were to rate myself I would say I’m proficient but certainly not fluent. Ane like learning a language the more exposure and the more practice you have at it, the more proficient you become, to the point where you can begin speaking without even thinking about forming the words. In the outreach context, the more genuine someone seems, the more fluent they are.

A Rosewood employee and I drove to pick up a volunteer who, like many in East Portland is handicapped and relies entirely on public transportation. We drove down and I dropped her off at Fred Meyers on Division. I then walked from the end of Division back to Stark. The street was mostly empty but I had engaging conversations with some people. It is much easier to speak to those walking on the street than it is to those working in a business.

I am continually surprised by how diverse East Portland is. I am probably in the minority in that I am not bilingual, although I am picking up pieces of Spanish and Arabic simultaneously as I am working with many of the volunteers going out to canvas. East Portland is very much a multi-lingual region which has added a layer of complexity to the canvassing operation. I printed flyers for the event in Spanish and English but I would need to have at least fifty additional translations in order to have equally accommodated everyone I contacted.

I would like to live in a city where it is common for everyone to speak three or four or even five languages. At first thought this sounds like a novelty which at the next thought only made me realize what a bubble I live in and in reality it this is not so uncommon.



Land Use Balance

The most general law in nature is equity-the principle of balance and symmetry which guides the growth of forms along the lines of the greatest structural efficiency.

-Herbert Read

One of my new favorite websites is the Portland Oregon Events Calendar. There is a lavender festival on throughout lavender farms in Oregon this weekend. As I have not spent much time out on the Oregon Coast area and I had access to my Aunt’s car this weekend I took the opportunity to go. A trip to the countryside reinforced the notion that protecting the natural environment is an integral aspect to intelligent, sustainable and healthy urban communities. I have spent so much time in Portland’s urban environment I hadn’t realized just how penetratingly beautiful Oregon’s countryside is. It would be such an incredible loss to lose these areas to urban sprawl. Portland has an urban growth boundary which works to protect these areas. It is crucial in my opinion that as cities continue to trend in the upwards direction that urban growth boundaries are implemented. It turns out that it is not only Portland that has an urban growth boundary it is all the cities in Oregon State.

Though conserving the natural environment ought to be done primarily for the health of the earth, it can also benefit the health of the people. Farms have much more to offer than produce as its visuality and serenity is just as valuable a resource as its physical ones. These are services extending beyond both production and environmental stewardship, serving to instill human mindfulness taught and absorbed only in an un-urban landscape.

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Thursday 7/6

I met with a number of the volunteers today to canvas out in the neighborhood. We had a long debriefing meeting before hand in which we discussed the importance of reaching an audience beyond the streets around the Rosewood Initiative and extending both far North and South along 162nd Ave. Three out of the five volunteers were able to make it, one of which uses a walker and is not able to go out to walk the streets to canvass so she stayed at Rosewood where she surveyed people as they came in and out of the community center. The remaining two volunteers went south to survey residents in the area. Since I did not have a partner I decided to visit businesses in the area. I walked up to Glisan and spoke with a cashier at The Grower’s Outlet, a fresh produce stand which looks like it has been plucked up from a far out rural town and mistakenly dropped in the middle of far east Portland. I went across the street to a general store. I also walked along Glisan for a little ways and stopped by a Mexican Food Cart. I spoke to the owner’s children as the owner did not speak English. Though I couldn’t speak with her directly I was thankful I had made flyers in Spanish I could give her. As I walked back to Rosewood I realized just how much time it takes to have a good conversation with someone about public transit in the area, how much more time I will need to dedicate to canvassing in the area, and how far a genuine smile goes when approaching strangers.

Upon my return the volunteers were enthusiastic to share the conversations they had had in the neighborhood, describing what great conversations they had with residents and just how interested people are in implementing a bus line along 162nd.FullSizeRender

San Diego

I took advantage of the long fourth of July weekend to travel down to San Diego to visit relatives. I flew into San Diego and was lucky enough to have two gracious cousins very proud of San Diego and more than happy to show if off. They own a car so like Seattle I was lucky to be able to go many different places in and around San Diego in a short time span. I was very lucky in this as San Diego depends almost entirely on the automobile. This is not only evident in their lack of public transportation but also the wide and vast road networks connecting nodes within the city. Downtown itself is fairly walkable however even the areas considered dense have fairly wide streets. Recently San Diego has built extensive high end condominiums as there is a huge housing demand. I have not read or studied San Diego in depth but from what I gathered from residents shaving lived there for 30 years it seems that although San Diego, like other cities, is changing due to increased investment, the pressures of gentrification here are not as prevalent as they are in Portland, Seattle, or Cincinnati. From what I have understood San Diego was relatively empty and as investment poured into the city, the empty spaces more or less filled in. While San Diego has allowed itself to be bought up it has not, due to the pre-existing circumstances, dislocated long standing residents.

I had wanted to visit Tijuana while I was there however we were unsure of the conditions within the city and had some safety concerns, especially due to the current political relationship the United States has with Mexico. The sad reality is the resentment across the border is entirely justified and though our president may not have done so intentionally, he has already created an invisible wall.

I am currently making good use out of Portland library’s guidebook collection, especially those with walking tours. I choose a walking tour through the Gas lamp quarter which is one of San Diego’s older neighborhoods. I finally understand the sentiment behind the phrase “The Wild West” as next to every historic building was either a bar or a brothel. We walked through little Italy (which resembles Italy as much as a turtle resembles a cat),  visited the absolutely enormous San Diego Zoo, the public library, the ballpark, the piers, beach towns, Point Loma, the Del Hotel in Coronado, Torrey Pine State Park and of course the beach. As we walked in and around San Diego’s natural landscape I felt as if I was exploring an alien planet both absorbing and trying to comprehend its strange beauty. The landscape is so drastically different than what I am used too. There is very little dark green leafy vegetation like there is in Portland which I have become so used to. I felt at times as if I were in a Dr. Seuss book as the the cacti, shrub like plants and twisting trees take on a very cartoonish impression as compared to the stern and straight appearance of their northern counterparts. The ocean view was absolutely breathtaking, especially from Point Loma and Torrey Pine. It was in these instances I felt I could whole heartedly appreciate the allure of the Southwest. Where San Diego lacks intelligent urban planning it provides the overwhelming draw of natural beauty. A city which incorporate both are cities to strive for.


Thursday 6/29

This morning I helped to set up for a Job Fair that Rosewood is holding. Job fairs are invaluable opportunities as all the resources are the same as no resources when there is no accessibility. I continue to be impressed with Rosewood’s ability to organize and connect the endless lists of nonprofits in the area. There were close to 100 people present not including the tablers at the event. Part of what I really enjoy about this internship is the diversity of activities I am engaging in here.

I went to a grant planning meeting with the Executive Director, the Transportation Specialist and the Program Support Specialist from Rosewood to meet with an employee from Oregon Walks. The two organizations are collaborating and applying for a Meyer Memorial Trust Fund to fund the position of the Transportation Specialist and an employee at Oregon Walks for an additional three years. As of now his position as Transportation Specialist is funded through Americorps Vista and lasts the duration of one year.

The first part of grant writing includes writing a letter of interest delineating their proposal. The second part of the grant is the actual application which includes the proposal, applicant’s outcomes, applicant’s benchmark, key personnel, proposed budget details, impact on the organization as well as supplementary materials. Sustainability as well as diversity equity and inclusion are key pieces in the application. The process of going through and differentiating between outcomes, measurables, strategies and benchmarks requires much attention to detail as the difference between the four categories are very specific.

There was a free ballet in Washington Park at the Rose Garden Amphitheater put on by the Oregon Ballet Theatre. The Performance, called Performance XX, consisted of three pieces choreographed all by women. The Rose Garden Amphitheatre is a beautiful venue. Having access to parks and their amenities is enriching and is an indicator of a healthy community. I have not been to the parks yet on the far east side but I am doubtful they hold the number of amenities as those on the West Side. This is not an entirely fair comparison as the parks on the far east side are much smaller. Using parks as an indicator for community health I think would be a good measurable. I didn’t end up getting home until around 10pm.


Wednesday 6/28

The transportation specialist I am working with is writing this month’s newsletter and I was both pleased and surprised when he told me he was writing it about me. He asked me to include a blurb to insert in the letter which I spent a solid portion of my morning on. I have gotten so much out of this experience thus far and it is important to me that what is published in the newsletter completely reflects this.

The rest of my morning I spent in excel putting in data and formatting a final report for the surveys the community liaisons completed for the Gresham Active Transportation Plan.

Volunteer Voices

Tuesday 6/27

This morning before work I stopped off at Kinkos and picked up the flyers I made for the community event I am planning on July 18th. Printing is a very costly process to say the least, even in black and white on standard paper.

Today was the day I had planned to canvas along 162nd street with the volunteers however two of the four who were supposed to join could not make it. One volunteer contacted me after the meeting apologizing that he could not come as he had Ead after Ramadan. I am not familiar with the term Ead, according to google it stands for Employment Authorization Document which is a document providing work permits for non-U.S. citizens, but I am not sure this is what he meant. I will inquire about this when I see him next.

I would have gone out to canvas with the other two volunteers however one of the volunteers who uses a walker had suffered heat exhaustion the previous weekend and understandably was not up to going door to door. She is a new addition to the team and has valuable insight as she has had experience working with the federal government. She is from Rockwood, the next neighborhood over not from the neighborhood and has differing opinions as to how we should effectively go about this project. She is obviously very dedicated to the project but I can see how coordination between her and the other volunteers may be problematic.

I got off the blue line downtown and headed for the Central Library where I picked up a guidebook on San Diego. I have a four day weekend as it is the fourth of July on Tuesday and I have decided to take the opportunity to visit my uncle. The bus was at least twenty minutes delayed but I took the opportunity to read the guidebook. On the bus back I switched to a novel I am slowly working my way through called A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. The book is 603 pages and looks to be written in size 10 font. I am getting a lot out of it as the setting is in urban India. Reading about the squalor and political disruption provides an interesting juxtaposition to the studies I am doing here in Portland.