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On July 18, 2018, Portland City Council approved an ordinance officially changing the bureau name from the Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI) to the Office of Community & Civic Life (Civic Life). Civic Life, with a diverse portfolio of civic and community partnerships, has built on past successes to drive a mission of inclusivity for the common good.
The current city code, known as Chapter 3.96, defines the work of the Civic Life. This code - last updated in 2005 - should reflect and align with the current portfolio and vision of this bureau. City regulations must drive services and changes relevant to all Portlanders in our rapidly changing and growing city.
An updated code will aim to redefine civic engagement and create a culture of collaboration by drawing upon the experience and the collective expertise of a rich cross section of Portlanders. This process will also shape relationships with existing bureau partners and with those whom we aim to better serve.
Please consider subscribing to Civic Life Updates to receive the latest news on our code change process.
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Below are a few short videos from community presenters to Portland City Council on July 18, 2018. The presenters offer varied perspectives and insight on the necessity of the code change process:
Antonia McSwain, Multnomah Youth Commission Co-Chair for 2018-19:
“… All people, including youth, have the constitutional right to make change but often youth of color are left simply critiquing local government versus having the ability to actually make a difference. When your community is not reflected that just furthers the issue of misunderstanding and alienation. To actually make long lasting change, every community deserves to be heard.”
“… I identify as a young black woman. Three identities that are often overlooked in our society. Growing up I was always proud of my identities and that never changed even when society told me otherwise. The only time I am dissatisfied with my identity as a youth of color is when adults tell me what they think is best for me. Because they refuse to believe that I actually have the capacity to understand what is best for me.”
Heather A. Hoell, Executive Director, Venture Portland:
“... change is never easy, especially when it impacts a city full of stakeholders. But words matter and are important. They signify intention, purpose, and values. ONI's name transition to the Office of Community & Civic Life signals an intention to engage and include all Portlanders - a critical message that got lost with its common usage acronym. As our city continues to grow and wrestle with all of the resulting change brings, it is essential that all Portlanders feel that they are reflected in this office. I'm also here as a partner with a vested interest in any proposed changes to chapter 3.96.
This code last updated 13 years ago - no longer reflects the reality of Neighborhoods and particularly Neighborhood Business Associations function. As noted in the recent ONI audit, Venture Portland incentivizes best practices in ways that are outside the code that is currently written, I strongly recommend that we bring that we bring the code up to current standards and think about incentivizing the kinds of inclusionary practices that we would like to see in our Neighborhoods through different activities.”
Olivia Ellis, former Montavilla Neighborhood Association Board Member (neighborhood organizer):
“... while I was a delegate to SE Uplift, I joined a committee to revise the mission statement for the coalition. In this committee we intentionally threw out exclusive language that we felt limited the parameters of our partnerships. Instead, we chose a philosophy of inclusion, participation and well-being that we felt better encapsulated both our work and potential.”
“...as neighborhoods we are already re-examining and adapting. Many of us are already asking ourselves how we can better become an open door that we claim to be.”
“...how can we build the cooperative economies that we claim to love. How can we seat everyone at the table in decision-making, not just in word but in practice.”
Chloe Eudaly, Portland City Commissioner:
“...We, as council members, need to have the courage to say that we believe our civic engagement bureau has a moral and practical responsibility to engage with and recognize all Portlanders, regardless of how they identify and organize. We need to be clear that this basic principle is not up for debate, so we can begin the hard work of paving the path forward, together.”
Ted Wheeler, Mayor, City of Portland speaking in support of the resolution:
“…the resolution is common sense, very straight forward, it speaks to increase and enhance representation and it has a focus on those who historically have not been included in conversations about our City’s strategies.”
“… the resolution does not come at the expense of others but to me, is a more expansive vision of civic participation, inclusion, and democracy in our city.”