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Meet the Makers: Urban Designers Turn Movie Moguls

Get to know the creative force behind the Centers and Corridors video series

“Centers and Corridors are awesome!” That’s the mantra of Urban Designer Lora Lillard. Now a self-taught video director, Lora leads the team that is creating the video series about Portland’s Centers and Corridors growth management strategy as part of the Comprehensive Plan Update.

But how did a group of urban designers – admittedly a creative bunch – go from drawing maps, rendering streetscapes and building volumes, and discussing urban form … to making movies?

To answer that question, we have to go back to the Portland Plan, which focuses on creating Healthy Connected Neighborhoods. But what does one of those actually look like?

Meet the makers

“At the time,” reflects Urban Design Studio Lead Mark Raggett, “the economy was slowly coming out of a long slump, and places like Division and Belmont were just starting to pop. We wanted to show people the benefits of higher density places, where more people could be closer to the things that we like to do and that create a strong sense of community. We wanted to use our visualization skills in a new way to show people how exciting these places can be.”

Urban designers Courtney Ferris, Marc Asnis, Lora Lillard, Graphic Designer Leslie Wilson and Urban Design Studio Lead Mark Raggett collaborated on the Centers & Corridors videos.

People on the Street

Turns out Portland actually has a lot of good examples, which Lillard & crew began filming. At night and on the weekends, riding in their cars, on public transit or on bikes, pulling ivy in Forest Park, taking their kids to the playground, and staffing the Mixed Use Zones “walkabouts” all over the city.

“The community walks were the perfect opportunity to film people on the street,” says Lillard. “We wanted to get Portlanders in their own neighborhoods talking about what they liked about it and what they wanted to see changed.” People like Yu Te of Hollywood in Episode 1, or PCC Cascade student Eddie and Portsmouth’s Karen Ward in Episode 3. “A lot of people put their stamp on this video,” Lillard notes.

“Now we shoot video wherever we go,” says her fellow urban designer Marc Asnis. “But when we first started out, we really didn’t know what we were doing. At one of the first neighborhood walks, the camera fell off the tripod. The last video will be the out takes,” he jokes.

Graphic designer and newly minted video editor Leslie Wilson concurs. “I had to coach these guys: Rest your iPhone on a stable surface like a car or a newsstand! Otherwise the footage is so wobbly I can’t use it.”

Mastering a New Craft

The urban designers weren’t the only ones who had to come up to speed fast with new technology and communications tools. When Wilson’s supervisor asked her if she was up for learning Premiere Pro (movie editing software), “I said I’d try, and three days later I had an assignment,” she recalls.  

Many concept maps, story boards, scripts, computer-generated renderings and interviews later, the team has hit its stride. They all agree they’ve gotten better at the craft of video production – and more efficient.

“I think we’re getting a handle on our approach, and we have a huge library of footage,” says Lillard. “Video gives us a better tool to reach a broader swath of people more quickly. We wanted to find new ways to communicate dense and complex topics in a matter of minutes. So we’ve added it to our toolbox.”

15 Minutes of Fame

So for those who can’t or don’t want to take the time to read the entire 300+-page Comprehensive Plan Proposed Draft, pore over the land use map or ponder a list of infrastructure or transportation projects, “At least maybe they’ll watch a three-minute video about why Centers and Corridors are such great places,” says Lillard.

And the next time you see an intrepid planner on the street shooting video with their phone, “Come up and talk to us!” the team encourages. It just might be a shot at your 15 minutes of fame.

Preliminary Zoning Concepts for Mixed Use Zones Released

Draft concepts shared at two community workshops; document available online for review

The Mixed Use Zones Project team has released a draft Preliminary Zoning Concept, which it shared and discussed with the public at two recent workshops. The draft concepts include four new zones for discussion, with information about potential development standards. A new Centers Overlay Zone is also being considered.

With more public feedback, the zoning concepts will be refined and eventually incorporated into the Zoning Code to implement the new Comprehensive Plan.
Mixed Use Zones Project: Preliminary Zoning Concept

Read the Mixed Use Zones Project: Preliminary Zoning Concept - DRAFT

At the workshops on November 5 (downtown) and November 6 (at Jefferson High School), community members participated in small group discussions and shared their thoughts on height, transitions and massing of new development; street-level design issues; and incentives and bonuses for community benefits. 

The Mixed Use Zones Project team is incorporating this and other feedback, which will be reflected in more detailed zoning parameters at a second concept workshop planned for early 2015. After that, proposed zoning codes will be fully developed; a proposed draft is planned for public review in spring 2015. The proposed zoning code will be considered by the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission at a public hearing in mid-2015, followed by a recommendation to City Council.

The Mixed Use Zones Project is an early implementation project for the Comprehensive Plan Update. For more information, go to www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/mixeduse.

Save Money and Live Healthy at Fix-It Fair on Saturday, November 22

This free City of Portland event runs 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. at Parkrose High School

Fix-It Fair logo

Fix-It Fairs are free events where you can learn simple and effective ways to save money at home and stay healthy this winter and beyond. 

Featuring exhibits from numerous community partners, these events also include an extensive schedule of workshops held throughout the day. Experts will be available to talk with you about water and energy savings, personal health and healthcare, food and nutrition, community resources, recycling, yard care and more!

Special workshops taught in Spanish are offered at the David Douglas Fair in February. Free professional childcare and lunch are provided at each Fair.

The 2014 – 2015 Fix-It Fair schedule: 

Saturday, November 22, 2014, 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. 
Parkrose High School
12003 NE Shaver St

Saturday, January 24, 2015, 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Rosa Parks Elementary School 
8960 N Woolsey Ave

Saturday, February 21, 2015, 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. ¡Clases en español!
David Douglas High School
1001 SE 135th Ave​

To find out more information about scheduled workshops, visit www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/fif (en español: www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/fif/esp) or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FixItFairPDX.  

To receive information and reminders about upcoming fairs, email fixitfair@portlandoregon.gov.   

The Fix-It Fairs are presented by the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability with support from the following sponsors: Energy Trust of Oregon, Pacific Power, Portland Water Bureau and KUNP Univision. 

To help ensure equal access to City programs, services and activities, the City of Portland will reasonably modify policies/procedures and provide auxiliary aids/services to persons with disabilities. Call 503-823-4309 with such requests.​


City Council celebrates Portland’s legacy of age-friendly activism

Mayor Hales Signs the Best Cities for Successful Aging Mayor’s Pledge

Photo

Photo Caption: The Age-Friendly Portland Advisory Council, including members of Elders in Action, AARP and the PSU Institute on Aging, reported on accomplishments to date, and previewed upcoming activities that help advance Portland as a city for older adults to thrive as they age.

November 12, 2014. Today Mayor Hales, along with his colleagues on the City Council, signed the Best Cities for Successful Aging Mayor’s Pledge and celebrated the one-year milestone for Portland’s Action Plan for an Age-Friendly Portland. The pledge asserts that for Portland to be a city in which older adults thrive, we need employment opportunities, cultural enrichment, affordable housing and great public transportation.

This collaboration between public, private and not-for-profit partners builds on a long legacy of advancing Portland as an age-friendly city. Portland was the first US city to join the WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities, and was also one of the original cities participating in the AARP national network.

“We’re proud that Portland is among the first American cities to join the Best Cities for Successful Aging collaboration,” said Mayor Hales. “Being an age-friendly city is in our DNA: Portland has been a walkable city for well over a century; we’ve embraced public transit with buses, light rail trains and street cars; and we have countless urban parks to explore. The beauty and amenities of the city should be available for everyone, and that includes older residents.”

City Commissioner Nick Fish, who has been a consistent champion for older adults, stated, “I’m proud to live in a community that’s working hard to support people of all ages. Our Action Plan for an Age-Friendly Portland will help us better prepare for our aging population and the unique challenges they face. Together, we can ensure our older adults are respected, involved, and receive quality care and services. I was proud to join my Council colleagues this morning in signing the Best Cities for Successful Aging pledge!"

Final Public Hearing for 2014 on Draft 2035 Comprehensive Plan Draws Large Crowd

More than 75 Portlanders give testimony on draft policies, processes and more; work sessions to begin

2035 Comprehensive Plan Update Proposed DraftOn Tuesday, November 4, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) welcomed a full house of community members for a presentation on the Transportation System Plan and testimony on the Comprehensive Plan Proposed Draft.

For almost four hours, close to 80 Portlanders provided comments on a variety of subjects, from demolition to institutional zoning, transportation policies and the public engagement process. This was the last public hearing for 2014; additional hearings on the Comprehensive Plan Update will be held in early 2015. To view the video of the hearing, read the minutes and peruse the written testimony, please visit PSC News.

Testimony accepted until March 13, 2015

Written testimony is still being accepted until March 13, 2015, but community members are encouraged to submit their testimony as early as possible because the commission will be considering testimony and formulating recommendations during upcoming work sessions, which start November 18, 2014.

This first work session will be devoted to developing agendas for upcoming work sessions in 2015. Subsequent work sessions will begin on January 27 and conclude on March 24 (based on the current schedule). Each agenda will be dedicated to one or more themes or topics.

On or before November 18, staff will release an outline of tentative agendas for the upcoming work sessions. This will help community members know how to best time the submittal of their written input to be considered during the relevant work session. For example, if issues related to public involvement policies are scheduled for a February 10 work session, submitting testimony related to that topic by the end of January will allow staff time to review the testimony and acknowledge it in a staff report. This will help ensure it is considered in the PSC’s deliberations.

For updated information about the work sessions and other PSC meetings, please see the PSC tentative agenda. Better yet, see a previous article about the entire Comprehensive Plan Update process moving forward.