Crime Prevention Coordinator Celeste Carey says:
Margaret Mead planted this idea in the hearts and minds of all aspiring change agents: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
The Albina-Killingsworth Safe Neighborhood Commission, organized in 2006, is just such a committed, thoughtful group. Receiving this award today validates the changes that can happen, that have happened with dedicated, collaborative effort.
Unique as an educational, commercial and residential community, with two high schools and a college, two community newspapers, a library and a diverse and robust business community, Albina-Killingsworth neighbors had endured a long struggle with gang and gun violence, drug activity, street drinking and graffiti. Trash, aggressive panhandling and prostitution created an atmosphere of lawlessness and fear of crime. When six teens were shot across the street from the campus, the commission met the challenge, recruiting additional members and focusing on cooperative solutions to transform the area. Multnomah County Deputy Attorneys secured a grant which funded a faith and community based effort to reclaim gang members ready to leave that lifestyle. Jefferson andRosemaryAndersonHigh Schoolspartnered with PCC-Cascade to create a high school to college course. Straightway Services, along withPortland’s School Resource Officers connected with students to keep them engaged in school. Businesses and community organizations adopted various crime prevention techniques to reduce or remove opportunities for crime. The Portland Police Street Crimes Unit, Neighborhood Response and District Officers worked with the PCC-Cascade campus, businesses and neighbors to inform and educate those engaging in public drinking/ drug use that the community no longer accepted that behavior. Those willing to change received support. Those who didn’t, experienced enforcement, and later were offered support to change.
Slowly and steadily, change came, and stayed. Today the Albina-Killingsworth neighborhood, once topping the charts for calls for service and violent crime, now boasts a lower violent crime rate than much of the city of Portland. Today the neighborhood even feels different: a thriving, fresh, multicultural crossroads where people connect, and where dreams and potential live.