The Office of Community & Civic Life is charged with promoting a culture of civic engagement by connecting and supporting all Portlanders working together and with government to build inclusive, safe, and livable neighborhoods and communities.
This encompassing mission cannot be achieved by doing community engagement the way we’ve always done it: siloed, repetitive, and uninspired “outreach” that frustrates and exhausts communities while leaving staff feeling disconnected and isolated from the very Portlanders most affected by government decisions.
Moving towards equitable outcomes requires rethinking our structures and ways of working. Before taking on de-siloing engagement Citywide, we first had to de-silo ourselves. Thus, in 2019 four one-person programs, with a strong focus on systems and structures of engagement, were joined into one collaborative team:
1) Public Involvement Best Practices Program
2) Disability Program
3) Advisory Bodies Program
4) Mental Health Program
These four specialties, now called Adapt to Impact, examine the fundamental assumptions informing institutional practices and implement adaptive changes at all levels of decision-making and investment. The ultimate objective of strategically transforming institutional structures, policies and practices toward the authentic engagement of communities not well represented, engaged or served in City functioning is the vision for Adapt to Impact.
This calls for our City to adapt the way we do community engagement. We are now partnering with other bureaus to move towards what Portlanders have asked of us:
- Examining the assumptions underlying the way the City of Portland currently engages communities
- De-siloing our systems and working across bureaus so that information is shared Citywide and communities are not tapped again and again to respond to the same questions.
- Authentic and meaningful structures that offer ways for every Portlander to be part of government decision making.
As we lead internal capacity development within City government, we offer broad, intersecting strategies, tools, and resources. We learn and grow from each other, and we look forward to working with you.
The best part is that we get to celebrate more often by sharing our successes with one another, you, and our many communities of Portland.