Day 3: Government and architecture by Maggie

We started today with two awesome presenters Martha Pelligrino and Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward. We explored the levels of government (city, county, state, and federal) and their responsibilities. There is not a definite trend, but it is safe to say that the state government manages “things” and the county manages the needs of the “people”. We also learned that while the levels of government work together, if an issue does not get solved at a higher level of government, it will get pushed down until it gets solved. That means some issues do not get a solution. The presenters also mentioned the possible ways that youth can participate and learn about local issues. One of them being to meet with local government  leaders in coffee shops.

After that, we headed to Hacker Architects where we had a speedy lunch under the carefully designed roof of their building. Our main task at Hacker was to design an all function gymnasium that was to surpass the usual presumptions of school gymnasiums. First, we brainstormed the purposes of gyms as a whole, then split up into groups of three where we designed and presented our finished gymnasiums. The point of the project was to realize how everything was designed with intention and the impact it has on its surroundings. Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 10.33.51 AM

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Day 2: We need to use our voice! by Karina

Today at PLACE we started off our day in Downtown Portland in the front of the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, once everyone arrived we talked in a circle and went around saying how we were feeling today. I honestly did not know how I felt about the day and decided to pass on that question. We paired off in two groups of three and one of four students to start a scavenger hunt around the Downtown area. I was nervous because I was going to talk to people I had never met before, but as we started I felt more comfortable because my teammates were really cool and nice people. Doing the scavenger hunt was a good way to bond and talk to the other students, it was also a great opportunity to be able to learn about the history of many great places in Portland such as the the Tom McCall Waterfront, The Pearl district and more.

Later we me met up in the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability with the rest of the students. We were presented with a presentation about the Climate Action Plan that Bill Beamer presented to all the students. Which is a road map to cut 80% of our carbon footprint by 2050 in Portland. I learned that it takes a lot of effort and other people to contribute to the change to  be able to see anything change in our community. After all today I felt that youth and others need to speak on topics such as decisions others make that affect our environment because those decisions are very important and could drastically change anyone’s community. It is important for us to use our voice and speak our truth for the people around us to hear. As a community we need to take care of our earth because it’s the only one we have. At the end of the day I felt full of happiness and excitement from the things that we will be learning in the next three weeks in PLACE.

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2018 Day 1: Hearing stories, seeing each other by Helen

Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 10.23.02 AMAfter the first day of the 2018 PLACE program, I could not be more excited for the weeks to come. Today, we were not only introduced to the PLACE program, but the CENTER as well. To start out the day, we walked behind the CENTER to look at some quotes engraved in metal pipes, in search of one that spoke true to us. I loved that we created goals for the group through a metaphorical “BBQ” lead by George, discussing the symbolism behind which utensils/food items we would bring. I appreciated that we took time as a group to reflect upon what emotions we were feeling after we encountered a new experience with each activity. I instantly felt comfortable in our group setting because everybody was incredibly respectful of the perspective/stories that each individual had to share.

Jasmine Love was nice enough to come in today to help facilitate an activity that asked the group to reflect on issues that are meaningful tot them and their potential solutions. Even though we only had half an hour to consider the prompt, I was impressed by the thoughtfulness of our answers as a whole. I’m eager to see what we can accomplish as a group with the knowledge that we will acquire from multiple aspects of this program. I look forward to connecting to all the students,George, and Kofi!

Day 1: New Terms/New Friends by Andre

After a week of introductions over multiple emails, we finally got to put faces to the names. Today was the first day of the Place Summer Program, and we already learned a lot. We are all from different perspectives, we all have different stories to share with the world, and this program is the perfect place to express and share our stories. 

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Arriving at the Center, you get a warm welcome from the people there. You are respected, appreciated, and valued. Then comes the icebreakers. we get split into pairs, and George asked us questions about ourselves that we would have to answer with our partner. Then, the pairs will introduce each other to the group. We then went on a walk with another partner in a direction that was given to that pair: North, East, South, and West. And during that walk, the pair would have to find all of five things in the area: path, district, node, landmark, and edge. Then we got to eat lunch with our partner. When we got back, we watched a video of cities around the world and how they created or improved the cities in such a short amount of time. We then, got to create a layout of a city ourselves. We ended the day by gathering in a circle and sharing what we learned to the group.

One day down, a lot more to go! Already I have made friendships with my fellow peers. And it’s an honor to be able to spend time with these amazing people that I want to connect more with.

Day 16 “Presentation Day!” – By David

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Finally, after a really short month of learning about the city, researching, and cobbling together our ideas to make a product, today was presentation. I was part of the presentation group, so I arrived at the Mercy Corps Action Center at 9:00 so we could practice our presentation since we hadn’t the day before. Doing our very first dry run just hours before we had to present was something familiar to me, so I was confident in the team to make an amazing presentation. Afterwards, we had a two-hour break before the presentation started. About half an hour before the presentation, when people started to show up, I began to feel slightly nervous, wondering if I should have practiced more.

When the time came to present, Beth, the Mercy Corp employee we worked with and George introduced us to a group of about 25 people. During the presentation, the audience seemed very engaged and interested in our project. After the presentation, there was also a Q&A session which our group handled very well, being able to answer all of the questions confidently.

Overall, I thought we gave an excellent presentation! Beth repeatedly said she was blown away with our work. Looking back on the month, as cliché as it sounds the journey was really the reward in the end. Everything I had learned walking around Portland, doing research about the earthquake, and working together with the group taught me so much. I’m very grateful for this entire experience and hope to be able to apply these skills to my future work.

Day 16 “Final Presentation” – By Nic

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Today was the culmination of our PLACE careers, today was presentation day. As everybody shuffled in, the mood in the air was somewhat tense, everyone’s minds were set on executing with perfection. Chatter of the previous night of long work was abundant and it brought many ideas of change to the table. One by one each idea was addressed and the presentation continued to morph.

Finally, when the entire presentation group arrived, a practice presentation commenced. After each person presented their part, suggestions were made and adaptation was necessary. Having such little time, everyone frantically made finishing touches to our presentation.

After a brief lunch break, the entire group convened back into the room full of all kind of emotion. Some were excited and some were nervous. As the ever so underwhelming number of Mercy Corps staff took their seats our minds cleared and everyone was ready to do their part.

When we were doneabsolutely killing our presentation, the entire group of students joined their peers in the spotlight. Question after question from the audience members, the group answered with great professionalism and our high level of knowledge and dedication was validated. Despite the redundant questioning from some listeners, our points and ideas were put on the table and they were not going to be ignored.

Following the presentation, the audience moved out and we had a quick meeting with Beth from Mercy Corps. The discussion displayed the high level of impression that we made yet showed us pushback we hadn’t really expected. As our time culminated, the whole group knew that for change and progress to happen, our continued dedication and passion for the subject would be needed.

Day 15 “Manageability and Meetings” – By Reid

28395292191_4d6d6f7c30_oTo start the day we got into groups and worked on creating the products and presentation for Mercy Corps. It was a daunting task to start but having broken it down into smaller groups it became a lot more manageable. I spent the morning with the products group where we focused on creating helpful tools and visuals such as a website and handout in order to engage the audience of our presentation.

After lunch, we sat down with our state representative Earl Blumenauer. This was one of my favorite things we’ve gotten to do in PLACE because we were able to have an interesting and organic discussion with an important political figure rather than just a one sided Q and A. Specifically this discussion was around voting rights, such as how young people should be allowed to vote, the possibility of a test deciding whether or not you are qualified to vote, and the relationship between a citizens right to vote and their duties to their country. It was a pleasure to meet Mr. Blumenauer and I’m so thankful to PLACE for giving me this experience.