Day 13: Planning and Labor Division

The thirteenth day of our program was a very productive one.  We started the day by deciding who would play which role in the creation of our final document.  After some deliberation, we reached a consensus on the labor division and we then talked in our groups to decide how we would complete our assigned tasks.  I was an editor, a job which I chose because I enjoy correcting mistakes in writing and because I believed it would allow me to best assist the group in our goal of creating a professional-looking document to go along with our plan.

After meeting with our groups, we joined back together as one large group and began the long, arduous process of analyzing which features we wanted in our final plan and which ones we didn’t.  This took a great deal of deliberation, but we eventually decided that for our three most contentious issues–one-way versus two-way traffic, parking versus no parking, and bike lanes versus bikes in the street–we could avoid the messy process of deciding on which one to use in our final design by having two final designs.  One of these designs would be the “radical” design, featuring the less conventional options provided by all of the design choices we could make.  The other design was a more conventional one, which would sacrifice some creativity at the altar of simplicity and could be considered less difficult to implement by the city.

After breaking for lunch, we were split into two groups.  Both groups were given the task of creating a “radical” and a “conventional” plan.  Each group then split into two groups in order to accomplish this task quickly.  I was in a “conventional” group, and we quickly drew up a plan that respected all of the constraints and requests provided.  We then came back into one group and analyzed our plans that we had created for a second time in order to give the design group the feedback they would need to create the best plan possible.  After doing that, we broke for the weekend.


Day 11: Wednesday, July 10th

On Wednesday, we had the opportunity to meet with George’s friend from grad-school and employee of the bicycle-advocate firm Alta, Matt Berkow.  Alta has been active in the implementation of bike-share programs across the country, including the very recent New York City bike-share.  After the case study, literature analysis, survey, and interview groups shared with him our findings and conclusions, Matt worked with us to further understand the necessities of a bike-friendly green-way.  We dabbled in a little social psychology when addressing the use and treatment of bikes in bike-share programs, and learned from it social habits and trends to consider on our project.  In response to our presentations, Matt was able to both give immediate feedback, and identify useful resources for further research.

In the afternoon, we took the streetcar to Jamison Square where we surveyed pedestrians park-goers in an attempt to gauge the community’s opinion on the implementation of a greenway.  Breaking off into pairs, we spent the rest of the day collecting information around our project site  on the value of parking, controlled traffic, and bicycles, among other things.


Day 7: Tuesday. Uncle Sam, Project work, and Splashing

Day seven rapidly went by as the five-hour span encompassed fun activities ranging from ice cream to Sam Chase at Metro.

In the morning we discussed our previous day and what we were to accomplish today. We talked about true colors, the Albina Neighborhood, and our meeting at City Hall on the third floor; however, the greatest piece of news was that our project would officially start. We would split into four groups, each focussing on a single block.

Meeting with Sam Chase was intriguing as we all learned about Metro’s function and what it does for the city. He told us about his experience in the Netherlands concerning bicycles and their relationship to cars as well as the uniqueness of Metro itself.

After our brains were still processing all the information given to us, it was a pleasant surprise that we got to spend the last 2-3 hours outside. Our first task: eat. Choices in the ecotrust building included the Laughing Planet Cafe and Hot Lips Pizza.

Our respective groups walked to the blocks. The four blocks we are concerned about are from 9th to 13th on Johnson. We were tasked with interviewing people on the streets, recording sensory details the block provided, a sketch of the block’s use, and any other information we could gather.

Being 90+ degrees outside, going to Jamison Park after was only logical after a day of good, hard work. George provided ice cream, and we absorbed our vitamin D, splashing and playing in the water. Some, due to “high-five bribery,” got wet. Very wet.

— Conner

At Metro, we spoke with Sam Chase, who is one of six unique councilors there. He went through his presentation, speaking about what Metro does and his job. One of the most talked about, controversial aspects of Metro’s power is the Urban Growth Boundary and land use planning. This has been a hot topic in the past and present.

Metro’s uniqueness stems from the fact that it is the only elected regional government in the country. There is one council president in charge of the agenda and six Metro councilors. Sam is in charge of district five, which is all of North and Northwest and sections of Northeast, Southeast and Southwest.

Sam spoke a lot about his recent trip to the Netherlands. He went so that he could look at their bike system, since they have one of the most progressive ones in the world. Some of the devices used to encourage biking were having a small physical barrier between bikers and motorized traffic, making sure citizens know that on bike friendly streets, bikers are the priority, not cars and changing the color of the road.

In the Netherlands, bike lanes are all red, which is convenient. In some spots, they also have the car lanes, cobblestoned, as a subliminal message that it is time to slow down. One suggestion about our greenway he gave was to make sure not to make it into a regional attraction, since the Pearl already has Jamison Square and they most likely don’t want more visitors. Although then again, if you live downtown, you might want the hustle and bustle.

— Sophie

Day 6: Racism, City Hall Meetings, and Personality Tests

Today was the first day of our second week! We started the day off with some reflections over the past week, and sharing some of our favorite moments that we had experienced over the first five days of the program. My own favorite moment was meeting the representatives from BPS and PDC, and especially seeing how passionate they are about the work that they do for the city, and generally seeing how the process of urban renewal is looked at from different perspectives.

After this brief re-cap, we started talking about the homework over the weekend: we were assigned a reading dealing with the subject of racism in Portland, and how this has affected the Albina neighborhood in particular. Everyone in our group was disturbed and shocked by how this racism was actually built into our laws, and that though it isn’t always blatantly shown, it definitely does affect how certain neighborhoods are viewed and how they progress differently, due to the limited opportunities they are given because of different regulations. This led us to an activity where we each acted as a different stake holder from the Albina community and acted our different parts, showing that the power is really in the hands of the current residents and developers, while the long time residents  don’t have as much power or say.

The next thing on our agenda was going to city hall and meeting with one of Charlie Hales’ committee members. We spoke to him of the different bureaus and how the current system being implemented, keeping all the bureaus at city hall, differs from the usual system and what the benefits of such an arrangement is. Another topic we discussed was budgeting plans and how the amount of money we have versus the amount of money we need can sometimes cut the projects we can do, or how completely we can do them.

The final activity we had during the day was a personality test. There were four possible options: blue, orange, green, and gold. Blue is a more theatrical and peaceful type, orange is a spontaneous and witty personality, green is analytic and calculating, while gold is a traditional and perfectionist type. It was interesting to note how much overlap there was between categories, and how there would be certain traits that applied to you from one color group, but didn’t apply in the category that you most fit into. For example, I was categorized as orange, but for my learning type, I identified as green. Some people’s groups fit them perfectly, while for others there was not as concrete of a type that they fit into.

— Lara