During this past week I have learned lots about Portland and how it works. Whether it is the Comprehensive Plan, or the pros and cons of urban renewal, I feel like I have a greater understanding of Portland. For example, when we visited ZGF, our task there was to map out a park with a large scale building on the parkland, and I recalled that the park I visited on Monday also had a large building incorporated in the park. It’s these connections that I have made throughout the week. Another connection I had was when we went to BPS on Tuesday and talked to heads of various departments, and one of them talked to us about carbon emissions; then on Friday at ZGF, I noticed that they made a concerted effort and were extremely proud to be LEED Platinum certified. Overall, The first week of PLACE was great and I’m looking forward for what’s next.
Today we started the day with a much-needed game of Ninja. Our energy was down and we were preoccupied by the soccer game between the U.S. and Germany. The game of Ninja boosted our energy, woke us up, and got us all excited for the rest of the day. We then talked about urbanization, suburbanization, and livability. We learned that cities were historically densely populated, and places which had minimal regulations about construction and maintenance. This created a place that many wanted to escape. As people left the city to settle elsewhere, away from the disarray of the city, suburbanization started to be marketed to the privileged. Those that had money were able to buy new houses, while those less privileged were forced to stay within the city where housing was cheaper. As a group we then discussed urbanization and the negative effects it had on the poor in the city. The less fortunate were negatively impacted, and displaced, because of the new construction the government authorized in places that were considered blight.
After learning more about how cities were created through urbanization we focused on the project we have been assigned by BPS. We needed to come up with one sentence for what the project is, one for what is important, and one for what the goal is. Though this task seemed simple we spent a lot of time editing and rewording the sentences to show our client that we understand what is being asked of us in a clear and concise manner. After working on these sentences, first individually, then in groups, and then all together, we came up with a rough draft of these sentences.
The last part of the day was spent in Portland Homeless Family Solutions. We learned about the programs they offer there to homeless families. They help eight families at a time and provide them a place to stay for the night. They provide food, classes on how to eat healthy, how to budget their money, and much more. The organization is very focused on making sure that families feel assisted and gather knowledge that will help them long term. We were given a tour of the facility. The volunteer director was very kind and did a great job telling us about the organization and answering all of our questions.
The day was fun, we learned a lot, and we made progress on our project. Overall it was a successful day.
We spent this morning discussing the scope, importance, and goals of the upcoming project on Powell, as well as the historical background of roadways in America and their tendency to displace ethnic minorities and cut through low-income neighborhoods. I feel like these two activities turned out to be very successful (despite the excitement of the U.S. World Cup Soccer game occurring simultaneously!). Defining our project, in particular, went very well. Everyone participated and involved themselves in ensuring that the wording of the project statement was to a standard that our clients would approve of.
After lunch, we visited the Goose Hollow Family Shelter. This turned out to be one of my favorite activities I’ve done at PLACE thus far, as I found myself inspired by the work this organization has been doing. It doesn’t sound easy, but these people are improving the lives of so many families that need the help. It hit close to home for me because this shelter is located extremely close to Lincoln High School, where I go to school. Due to the importance of its work and the close proximity to where I live and go to school, I could definitely see myself volunteering for this organization in the future.
Today two major events occurred- our first client meeting, and, just as as important, a citywide scavenger hunt.
Our day started with the scavenger hunt- although this was no ordinary search. We split into four groups, all intent on being the first to arrive at the final destination (think “The Amazing Race”). The hunt took us all around Portland, from American Apparel to the Waterfront. I think we all learned the importance of searching carefully and thoroughly- a mistake could send a group past the intended destination and all the way down to the river.
After a quick lunch we met with our primary client, Alexandra Howard, from the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. We will be working on the section of SE Powell Blvd, from 50th to 82nd. Currently, there are parcels of land on the side of the street that are not being used to their full potential. Our job will be to design how those ODOT-owned parcels of land can be integrated into a newly redesigned Powell capable of high-capacity transit. We received more detailed information about what we need to take into account throughout our work. We discussed possible transit types, budgeting, constraints, and the importance of equity (working to prevent as much economic displacement as possible). This meeting marked the beginning of our project- we present to City Council on the 16th. Wish us luck!
Editor’s note: Additional photos of the PLACE scavenger hunt are on flickr with the hashtag, #placehunt.
Today we began with a scavenger hunt which led us up down and around the streets of downtown. Although my group got off to a rough start, we quickly grasped our bearings and began to work together to succeed in finishing (last) (but with memories to last a lifetime). The scavenger hunt not only entertained us, but encouraged us to notice elements of our city I had never given much thought to before. For example, the abandoned theater across from Director Park had never crossed my mind before, but today, with “abandoned theater” being a subject for bonus points, I noticed its presence and the aesthetic it added to the park. Instead of being disheartening, it added to the street’s history and nicely contrasted the modern architecture and art of the park with a more rustic feel of the theater.
After lunch, we had our first client meeting. Our morning of experiencing firsthand the pleasant and not-so-pleasant elements of our city’s downtown prepared us nicely for synthesizing a proposed project in which our job is to increase the livability and pleasant attributes of a certain stretch of land. I think I can speak for the whole group when I say today was a great way to kick off our project!