Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

More Contact Info

September 4, 2013 Meeting Summary

Committee Members Present:
Les Shannon, Rachael Hoy, Duncan Hwang, Claudia Arana-Colen, Vivian Satterfield, Demi Espinoza, Bill Beamer, Kristey Nguyen

Staff Present:
Tim Lynch, Desiree Williams-Rajee, Taren Evans, Lauren Norris, Michele Crim

Welcome and Introductions:
The committee is interested in hearing a presentation from Greg Schrock regarding the equity scan that was conducted. Staff will make arrangements. Generally – committee members thought the memo was useful and can help inform the creation of the update.

Community Engagement in the Climate Action Plan:
Tim Lynch introduced the topic area, including an overview of the discussion including community involvement, as well as outreach and education. The meeting will focus on both of those action areas (community involvement, and outreach and education). The committee will discuss the action areas in small breakout groups.

Breakout Discussion – Community Involvement:
Key questions discussed in the small breakout groups included:

  • What does effective community engagement look like in climate change policy/program development?
  • Are there existing models that could/should be replicated?
  • What is needed from local government to do this well?

Notes from Small Breakout Group A:

  • Really hearing and understanding the priorities and concerns of a community is a challenge. How do we get government staff to get that?
  • Meeting communities where they are at; approaching existing leaders in the community (with maybe a little additional education to get the leader prepared to engage in the topic). Each community has a different way of engagement.
  • How important is the initial “making the case for action around climate change?"
  • How do we hear from groups that aren’t traditionally heard from? Is it a different process of relationship building?
  • “Climate change” “Global warming” – these terms don’t mean anything. It needs to be translated into something that means something to a person – energy bills gone up, riding transit, why aren’t you interested in riding your bike in the park, etc. It’s about breaking it down – “what is your lived experience around this issue” – connecting it to the lived experience.
  • Need support from government to help build capacity for leaders in the community to help facilitate this conversation. Need more opportunities like these equity working group grants, etc.
  • The language barrier is very significant for several communities, especially immigrant community. Small workshops in other languages would be effective to relate the topic to these communities. Using bi-lingual leaders is a good approach too.
  • Similar challenges exist when talking about environmental justice. It requires a lot of education to make the connections. For a good majority of people you have to meet them where they are at on a particular issue – then expand out from there to link other topics under the larger frame of climate, environmental justice, etc.
  • Is there a role for govt. to help community organizations with this?
  • The Bay Area andOakland– popular education done through a graphic novel. It is very accessible for youth, and is good for people that don’t have a high educational attainment – it is accessible to everyone. This is a good example of something that should be replicated more and more.
  • Climate change is a long term – schools are important. Need to work with youth to start the conversation and education. For example, inVietnamthe youth learn about preparing for weather/disasters, etc.
  • When looking at areas of the city that are already resource deficient, you really need to work with the existing places (e.g. churches, community centers, etc.) because these are often the only connections that exist.
  • A lot of the organizing that the Slavic community does is through their churches. For some communities there are trust issues with govt. and for others there aren’t. Working with community organizations can help facilitate this dialogue – however it is critical to connect the conversation around climate to existing community issues and priorities.
  • How do you build long lasting, trusting relationships? You need to do it right several times to build those relationships. Government can’t just come in and expect those relationships to materialize.
  • Community members want to see themselves reflected in the representatives from government.
  • What does an ongoing community engagement look like through the implementation of the CAP? Build off of the equity working group – a little bigger – and get some fast, easy wins in the book to have a successful track record in the community. “We should really be involved with this because it’s really meaningful” – we have to prioritize those actions that are going to demonstrate progress to communities.
  • Internally, staff need to figure out how to be more creative and not be initially constrained by time and money – and to involve community at the start of the process.
  • For the next update of the CAP – what needs to be in place to be able to incorporate these concepts as part of the core work (rather than a separate working group). Between now and then – how do we build the relationships, partnerships, and capacity to be in that position then?

Notes from Small Breakout Group B:

  • There are issues regarding policymakers not always wanting feedback in certain areas. There is a need for clarity about where there is not necessarily a community role.  However, the point was made that this could potentially lead to disenfranchisement.
  • It seems that there are two conversations occurring, the community conversation and the government conversation.
  • In many communities there is a lack of trust for government/the system and negative perceptions due to past interactions.
  • There is a definite need for a long-term trust building process between government and communities.
  • There are also trust issues surrounding the topic of climate change
  • CBOs should be funded to do outreach to communities due to their familiarity with the community and high degree of cultural competency.  Support was expressed for a model that is community driven with City support.
  • Youth programs and job training potential for programs such as tree plantings. These programs should be made available without need for documentation.
  • What defines good input?  Benchmarks should be utilized, there is also a need to go to where people already are (churches, etc.)
  • What expertise can the City lend to CBOs?
  • Importance of publicizing metrics, potential to increase level of interest
  • There are issues with trust building due to turnover, trust is formed between individuals, but not between institutions.
  • How do we create a positive dynamic between government and CBOs?
  • Important to advertise grant opportunities to communities.
  • Specific models such as “Latino Promotoras” in the Latino community, “trusted advocates” in White Center (Seattle), and “living room forums” were noted as being successful community engagement efforts.
  • The importance of leadership development beyond the usual organizations.  How do we get more people to the table?  How do we reach people not associated with CBOs?  Is this an appropriate role for government? Generally, agreed that this is an appropriate role for government.

Large Group Debrief:

  • Need to work on building trust and relationships.
  • Moving into implementation, a group like this (slightly larger) should be established to keep pushing this work forward and getting some early wins.
  • Use the Bay Area work as an example of how to approach education and outreach – their use of graphic novels and other creative media approaches.Chicagoalso has some great work like this.
  • Community members and residents are trained on the important health issues in their communities and then go and talk to their neighbors and community members. That has been an effective preventative approach. Funding them to do this work. This is a good model.
  • Education in the schools on these topics is a great approach – a required curriculum around climate change, maybe supported with youth lead clubs.
  • There was a lot of conversation about relationship building and transition plans for when people in those relationships leave.
  • Government can/should play a role in leadership development around the topic of climate change. While working with leaders of community organization is key and should continue, how do we bring more people into the fold (those folks that aren’t connected to the community organizations).
  • Language is a key barrier – listening circles is a good approach. Government should help resource these efforts – but the approach needs to work toward building trust and longer term relationships, not just a “one off” event.
  • Having information centralized can help – rather than expecting the community to access the information from multiple bureaus/departments across the City and County. While this is challenging – it is a worthwhile conversation to continue having.
  • Intentional relationship building is important – often, the approach government takes does not reflect this as a priority. Government operates in a particular way – it is hard to break out of that unless we are intentional about that.
  • What are those worthwhile things for the community and government to engage on? What does meaningful engagement look like?
  • Need to be working with and visible in the community – consistency and follow-up. Need a long-term strategy of community engagement and it needs to be resourced. Feedback back to the community – this is what we heard, this is what we did with what we heard, etc.
  • Some of the responsibility is on the community – in order to do that there needs to be capacity building. This must be resourced – time, mentorship, funding, etc. Need to build leaders.

 Breakout Discussion – Outreach and Education:
Key questions discussed in the small breakout groups included:

  • What are effective messages for the community?
  • How are they best delivered to foster behavior change?
  • What is needed from local government to do this well?
  • What resources exist outside of government that could be leveraged or supported?

Notes from Small Breakout Group A:

  • The messages aren’t always going to be the same across different communities; Some messages can be isolating or alienating for many (e.g. “keep Portland weird,” “local”, etc.); Having other voices included can help be the “check” on messages. The devil is in the details – and often we don’t have enough input.
  • Portlandis very hyper PC – it’s okay to have things that aren’t the same for everyone. It is okay to have targeted messages and communications for different communities (e.g. single moms, immigrants, refugees, etc.).
  • When we make things really broad, then typically often default to mainstream culture.
  • Are there examples of this working well? One example was HIV testing in bathhouses (mobile testing), and training staff that were accessible.
  • When there isn’t good diversity of the workforce, then staff can struggle to identify good approaches and/or recognize misguided approaches.
  • The fluoride campaign was a good example of developing messages through the community – they were all different. It was a good model of a mainstream organization giving the resources to community organizations to work with and through their community to develop the messages.
  • InVietnamthere are community meetings – information is shared, people knock on doors, the meetings are small, everyone has to attend. It gives everyone the opportunity to express their concerns. In theUS, it might be more challenging because there is less of a collective community and more individualistic.
  • Sending out information ahead of time (e.g. fliers to a neighborhood) before people canvass and knock on doors – residents were more prepared for the discussion, had questions, and were more open to the discussion.
  • What are effective avenues?
  • It’s fundamentally about holding someone else’s priorities as equal to your own. How can government deconstruct our priorities to better support and align with the various priorities of different communities?

Notes from Small Breakout Group B:

  • How do we change voluntary behavior at the community and individual level?
  • Metrics can be useful.  It might be more interesting to present specific information about energy usage in a particular community, rather than speaking about climate change broadly.
  • It is important for youth to be involved,CampFirewas mentioned as an example
  • Re-education is important in empowering individuals to alter behavior
  • The link between issues such as smoking cessation and climate change action was made.  The potential for inspiring moments, which inevitably vary from community to community, serving as a catalyst for action was mentioned.
  • There is no one size fits all approach, engagement efforts must be tailored to specific communities.
  • It is important to have elders or other respected community members on board.  Everyone should share the same over-arching goals, but the message/messenger should change depending on the particular community.
  • CBOs need the resources to integrate climate change education into existing programs.

Large Group Debrief:

  • The messages need to be unique to the community – and the best approach is to engage with the community connectors. There is a potential role for government to play to equip those existing organizers to link climate to the issues they are already talking to the community about (e.g. health, transit, etc.).
  • It’s hard to do a broad campaign that will resonate with everyone. Targeted approaches are led by the community with a cohesive core or foundational message are key.
  • There are some good local examples and maybe some national examples of communities really designing and driving the messages (e.g. local fluoride campaign).

Meeting Close:

  • The worksheets have been sent out for Community Engagement, as well as a PowerPoint presentation that will be reviewed during the conference call.
  • If there are thoughts around what community engagement around policy development could look like, committee members are encouraged to provide those ideas – since that element is largely missing from the worksheet currently.

Grantee Check-in:

  • There are still some missing worksheets, please send them ASAP.
  • Amanda has organized an opportunity to engage with the Wisdom Council of Elders. Are there other opportunities? If so – please let us know.