Today in PLACE, we kicked off the start of our project by looking at a work plan. As I flipped through the pages, I was surprised with all that needed to be done before Thursday of next week, but I remain optimistic and have faith in the ability of our group! One of the things that I found most interesting about the work plan is how the groups were divided. First, groups were determined between who wanted to work towards composing a list of best practices for youth engagement in public spaces and who wanted to work on creating a tool. After figuring that out, there were sub groups for each group, being case studies, expert interviews, community outreach, and lit/data analysis. I found this interesting because I didn’t know how we were all going to tackle such a big, complex project but having main groups and sub groups really help outline different target aspects of our project and help us stay focused on one thing at a time, which can be hard when you know what the goal is, but determining how to get there is a little obscure. I look forward to the rest of PLACE and cannot wait to see how our finished project turns out!
We had yet another educational and passionate day at PLACE today. Starting off, each person further learned about themselves and their ability to work in a group through color personality testing. I found out a lot about myself and now have a better understanding of the people in our group. I found it especially interesting to notice the way in which each group was sitting at their table. Every group seemed to have the same sitting position which was interesting. I personally had a hard time choosing one color to fully represent my personality. It seemed like I needed a whole new color with bits and pieces of all the other colors- I guess that would be brown. I think overall though, each person found a color to represent them. Qiddist then talked about identity. Identity, she explained, is an important part of leadership. The most powerful thing she talked about was the story where she humbled herself when working for the labor unions in Chicago. I think this conversation made a lot of people look deeper into what defines them as a person. I know I did. We also talked about privilege, realizing it is important to acknowledge it.
After, we filled out a goals and objectives sheet together, finally nailing down exactly what our project will focus on. I feel a lot more confident in the project, as there is concrete plans for the group. We had a nice lunch in the sun. Some groups I over heard discussing passionately discussing politics. To finish the day, Lou from the Portland Development Commission came in and lead what quickly became a heated, yet necessary conversation about the growth of the city’s GDP verses the growth of the gap between the rich and the poor. The conversation could’ve gone on forever! Tyler mostly spoke for the group, eloquently bringing up the injustices the PDC supports. Then of course, another day ended in a discussion of gentrification!
We started off the day with a discussion, and than test on our personality types, and leadership styles. This test was especially interesting for me, because as I went through the test I thought that I came to a consensus that I had a certain leadership style, but when I looked into the characteristics of that type of person I realized that I could not relate to any of them, but when I read the characteristics of a green person it was almost uncanny how much I related to these characteristics. For me this test was almost a battle between who I want to be, and who I truly am, and for this test although I wanted to be an truly I could not relate to that group at all.
We finished the day off with Lou Bowers, a retired worker for the PDC, and our was one of my favorite of the year. When Lou told us that the PDC’s main goal is to create a higher GDP, by creating more high skill jobs, many of my peers thought this meant a conscious discrimination of minority, and low income families, and the following discussions was one of the most heated of our short time at place. I thought both the points brought up by my fellow peers and Lou were really interesting, and I am honestly excited for more discussions like that in the future.
Thursday was the most exciting and overall best day of PLACE so far, at least in my opinion. The day was interactive and engaging and it was nice to, again, work on solving a specific and realistic problem as with the role play. We had the great opportunity to visit THA Architecture and worked on arranging buildings and park space in an empty block, which is a development currently under construction in NE Portland and will be the home of the PLACE center upon its completion. We were given an open paper map of the block and paper representations of the buildings being built on the property to rearrange. We were given freedom to chop up the buildings, the only limitations being the shape and area of the property and the areas of the three buildings as well as access points for emergency vehicles, room for the storage of 200 bikes and some landscaping/park features. It was interesting to see the designs other groups came up with as well as the final design that is being built. In the group of which I was a member, we decided that rectangular shapes were too boring and were much more liberal with the arrangement of the buildings. It was interesting to be in an actual Architecture firm and also a great opportunity to ask questions about how a professional architecture firm operates. These included what software they use to some of what the design process is like.
Today was our first day meeting with our clients: the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability or the BPS. We arrived at the BPS headquarters on 4th avenue and met first with the executive director for the BPS for 15 minutes, and then talked to Radcliffe Dacanay. Radcliffe was such a cool guy; not quite six foot, but a big personality. He spoke with us about the project he was working on: The Powell/Division Rapid Transit Project.
Part of the reason Radcliffe’s presentation was so interesting to me was because I live in the Richmond/Clinton neighborhood and therefore the busses I use for transit are the 4 and the 9, both of which are hopefully to be made more efficient via the Powell Division Transit Project Radcliffe was telling us about. He also spoke about the re-development of the Division neighborhood past 82nd Ave, and the Jade district. This was also very interesting to me because I am quite interested in gentrification, and historical renovation of neighborhoods, and its effects on the colored and lower class communities in Portland. The potential plans for the area take into account the currents community’s hopes and priorities while incorporating them with urban renewal and making the area more desirable for residents and businesses. This is intriguing because the number of consequences this project faces if anything goes to far, could be catastrophic for the current neighborhoods and communities in the area continuing Portland unjust history of gentrification and community relocation.
We started the day meeting with Kate from TriMet. Learning about the history of TriMet is important in understanding youth- friendly public spaces because not only does public transport enhance accessibility to young people but it will increase the livability and development surrounding TriMet. Incorporating TriMet into our idea’s for youth-friendly spaces will be important to expanding the audiences we can reach. The easier it is to get somewhere, the more likely it is you’re going to go there.
After our meeting with Kate, we went across the Tillikum Crossing – first bridge of its kind in the US! I read an interview with Dan Blocher, the executive director of TriMet. He discussed that the bridge was less innovative in design than in the concept of Portlander’s green influence. The bridge is a product of the Portland environment, and with such progressive clients for our project I think we can be success in starting conversations about youth involvement in public planning.