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North Portland, let's meet and move forward

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 20th, 2007 at 11:11 pm

In light of recent events, I feel (and so do many others) that there is a great need for us to come together and discuss how to make our North Portland neighborhoods safer and more livable for everyone.

I realize we cannot solve all the problems, but I know there is vast potential if we can get together as a community and take some of the emotion seen on this site in the last few days, then organize it, delegate it, and turn it into action and solutions.

I'm not satisfied with blog comment activism and I'm curious if we can take this outpouring of online energy and turn it into real-life action. We cannot sit back and expect the city and law enforcement to take care of everything for us.

The idea of a community meeting would be to simply come together, get to know one another, discuss safety and livability issues, and then form plans for action. I would hope for a representative cross-section of the community to attend as well as representatives from the city, law enforcement personnel, and other neighborhood leaders.

Regardless of who shows up, I will be there.

I don't have a date or location yet, but ideally it would take place near the Vancouver/Williams Corridor and I think a church or community center would the best place to do it.

So what would we talk about? Here are a few of my ideas...

I would like to discuss the formation of a volunteer, community bike patrol club that would be mentored and/or trained by existing bike patrol officers. Another idea might be to establish monthly neighborhood bike rides and walks that get people out of their homes (and cars) and into the streets in constructive, productive ways.

I'm sure you have your own ideas.

What do you all think?
Would you show up?
Would you be willing to help make North Portland a better place to walk, bike, drive, live?

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Comments
  • Ethan January 20, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    ONI, the City's Office of Neighborhood Involvment, has an existing "foot patrol" model. What you are describing would merely be a bicyclized version of this well established effort. I have participated in the patrols in my neighborhood on two occaisions last year. Participants are issued distinctive vests and are expected to report problems, and specifically instructed not to attempt to take matters into their own hands.

    Much of the "work" is pretty sedate, reporting abandoned cars and grafitti etc, but obviously once the patrols reach a certain frequency, they can act as an effective deterant to crime, violent or otherwise. I am not sure who at ONI works with N & NE neighborhoods, but I would contact them and see if there is precedent for the bicycle idea.

    So:
    What do you all think?
    I think it's a great idea, properly run

    Would you show up?
    Yes

    Would you be willing to help make North Portland a better place to walk, bike, drive, live?
    Sure, I already do. I am very active in the NET (Neighborhood Emergency Team) program, so that will ultimately limit the amount of time I spend on other community involvement. What about NE?

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  • question... January 21, 2007 at 2:31 am

    I'm angry at irresponsible police.
    I'm angry at the money taking over my north portland neighnorhood.
    Why would I cooperate with these "foot patrols" when ultimately all they are doing is trying to make the neighborhood a safer haven for the forces of gentrification?

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  • NEPcyclistic January 21, 2007 at 3:29 am

    Jonathan, i support this. Nothing more said. I don't know if you have been following the emails that have been sent through the CM email list. But, that is just what we have been talking about. I think this is a positive step toward coming up with a solution to the problems, if not the solution. Thank you, I will be there.

    Timmy-

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  • Scott Mizee January 21, 2007 at 6:05 am

    Sounds like a great idea! Go for it. I'm trying to limit my "extra" activities other than those I'm already involved in, so I don't think I would be able to attend, but I definitely support the idea.

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  • Scott Mizee January 21, 2007 at 6:07 am

    You should make a post about this on Portland Online's Back Fence Forum under the Community Policing section. There are folks on there that are already looking to participate in this type of thing.

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  • peejay January 21, 2007 at 7:11 am

    To question:

    I am curious why you would want a less safe neighborhood - just to spite some of the new people moving in. do you think that makes your quality of life better?

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  • Jonathan Maus January 21, 2007 at 7:16 am

    Ethan,

    thanks for the tip about the ONI's foot patrol. That would be great if you could either get someone from their office to come and talk or just find out some info and share it with us yourself.

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  • janis January 21, 2007 at 8:57 am

    Count me in Jonathon. I think bringing in neighborhood associations would also be a good idea.

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  • tonyt January 21, 2007 at 9:08 am

    Hey "question,"

    I think that if nothing else you might want to join the foot patrols to discover the nameless faces behind what is so easy to demonize as "gentrification."

    I moved to Portland 7 years ago and started my first job as a bike mechanic. Is that "money?" I'm no trustafarian, I assure you.

    Should I, the poster-child of gentrification I suppose, not have been allowed to buy my first house in North Portland 6 years ago? Should I have not been allowed to spend practically every weekend and penny I had for four years, gutting and rebuilding that house? Should I not have spent 5 days in the summer sun re-roofing my house? Should I not have gotten involved in helping to rid my neighborhood of meth heads, making it safer and more appealing for people with families and kids to move in?

    Hmmmm, meth heads or people pushing strollers. Those mean stroller pushers.

    If you don't know me, it's really easy to just look at me and use that really broad (to the point of being useless) term "gentrification." But I, like pretty much anyone else, am a person, an individual just looking for a place to live. Get to know your newer neighbors, who include not just me, but Jonathan, the guy who works really hard to bring you this site and many, many others.

    But I warn you, it might be harder generalize and hate on us once you realize that we're not so unlike you.

    This is not to say that gentrification doesn't have its challenges. But scratch the surface and there are countless complex issues at work (free-trade? the gutting of our manufacturing base and middle class?). None of these issues will ever be addressed if you stand back and refuse to get involved.

    Thanks!

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  • Andrew January 21, 2007 at 9:55 am

    Please don't turn this into another forum for debate like this. Jonathan is trying to organize this thing right now. Everyone chill out and save it for another time.

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  • Christopher January 21, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Jonathan,
    I feel, with some qualifications, that a meeting such as this is a good idea, or at least a good starting point.

    But, it needs to be done effectively. There has to be some comprehensive outreach, to community leaders, to police, to neighborhood associations. To gang outreach programs. To anyone who can effectively represent the other side of the equation. But, I do fear that such a meeting has a high potential to be just a bunch of white bikers getting together to figure out what to do about the "neighborhood black kid problem."

    I believe that you are a very effectual person, and if anyone can bring together the disparate elements necessary for this to be an effective conversation, you're the one.

    But yeah, depending on how things shape up, depending on who's going to be there, depending on whether it will actually be a discourse between the various stakeholders involved, I would be happy to show up.

    Thanks.

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  • Ethan January 21, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    "question" brings up a viewpoint that is not uncommon up here in N & NE. The idea that some residents would prefer the conditions that prevailed in past decades is admittedly hard for a white guy like me to get my head around (especially given the stories I've heard about what it was like), but that does not make it any less present.

    My African-American neighbors, almost all long-time homeowners, seem kind of torn about it all. Those with the longest history in the area actually moved in when the nieghborhood was mostly white, so they have already experienced the kind of community that is, in effect, returning. They themselves installed the steel bars and grates on windows along my block, 5 of which are still on my home's basement windows. As home owners with a vested interest, they share the exact same desire to have nice yards and neighbors on their street as white's do, so they welcome that change. But I get the sense that in their heart of hearts, they would rather not see so many whites (and hispanics in my particular neighborhood) buying homes that come on the market.

    Personally I am excited to live in a multi-cultural neighborhood. I pick up a friend's kids from school and I really like what I see . . . kids of all racial and economic backgrounds playing and learning together. It makes my childhood's lily-white rural school look pretty Melba Toast. My recent involvement as a member of my neighborhood emergency team has clearly illustrated that apathy is not a black thing, plenty of my caucasian neighbors cannot be bothered with invlovement in anything beyond their carefully landscaped yards.

    What is really happening, if you step back from the whole race thing, is that POOR people are being priced out of the area. The last section-8 renter on our street left over a year ago, and most of the homes are now owned by their residents. The same thing happened in SE years ago, but it wasn't a majority black area, so there was comparatively little hue and cry about it.

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  • Jim O'Horo January 21, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    Jonathan,

    I suggest you contact CCC & NOPO Bikeworks to see if they have any interest in getting involved. If nothing else, CCC has a huge e-mail list, is already involved with the local community & it would be in their best interest to see a safer neighborhood for cyclists.

    Jim o

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  • janis January 21, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    I have to say that this is NOT just about cyclists. Since I have been talking to people about this issue, I have been told that pedestrians have also been confronted/attacked by groups of teenagers.

    I really think that this is a community issue bigger than just them vs. cyclists. Not exactly sure of "them" are.

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  • Jonathan Maus January 21, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    Janis,

    I am very aware that this is not simply about cyclists and cycling.

    I realize this is a much bigger issue. My feeling/hope is that we (cyclists) can put our energy and ideas to a greater cause, beyond this site, and maybe make our neighborhoods better.

    Also, if nothing else, I hope that this issue and site will help activate more people into getting involved with their existing neighborhood activism infrastructure... like churches, neighborhood associations, schools, etc...

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  • Hopeless Cynic January 21, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    Sorry, but anyone that hasn't already learned that beating cyclists to a bloody pulp isn't a nice thing to do probably isn't going to be all that impressed with you earnest folks "getting involved," "riding for peace," "having a dialogue," etc.

    Go ahead and give it your best effort, but your volunteerism seems to have been lost on these anti-social types.

    What can be done about it?

    1. More police enforcement.

    2. More behavior-based gentrification to remove those with behaviors considered unacceptable (beating up cyclists, racist slurs) and increase those with behaviors considered acceptable (not beating up cyclists, pottery).

    3. More income-based gentrification, which is a reasonable proxy for #2.

    Some won't like #1 because it means Portland has turned into a "police state".

    Some won't like #2 because it disproportionately affects those who, for whatever reason, find themselves trapped in a cycle of misbehavior which is surely society's problem more than their own.

    Some won't like #3 because even though they benefit from such forces, they feel really guilty about it, but what can they do, they really like organic cafes.

    Pretty much the only solution is to have another beer.

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  • "the other" steph January 21, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    thanks for bringing this up, Jonathan. what a great opportunity to open a concerted dialogue with the NoPo community at large to move towards a social contract in which residents' needs are addressed and respected. i've had some fantastic conversations with short- and long-term members of the neighborhood about issues such as the exponential success of last thursday and its subsequent effect on residential neighborhoods, et al. this is a perfect time to talk about such concrete issues as well as a longer-term visioning process.
    Christopher, I think you're right on about outreach. count me in for helping with any cooperative steps i can.

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  • Chris Sullivan January 22, 2007 at 7:48 am

    The North Portland Crime Prev Prog Coordinator from ONI is:

    Havilah Ferschweiler
    (503) 823-4098
    hferschweiler@ci.portland.or.us

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  • Jonathan Maus January 22, 2007 at 9:23 am

    Police Chief Sizer is coming to North Portland on Weds. night for a meeting of the N. Portland Public Safety Action Committee.

    Here are the details:
    ==========
    The North Portland Public Safety Action Committee will meet from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24, at the Historic Kenton Firehouse, 2209 N. Schofield. Special guest will be Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer; topics will include the proposed realignment of the North Precinct under the Police Bureau's 2007 budget. The public is invited to participate in discussion of this critical issue for community policing in our neighborhoods.

    Other topics will include future committee leadership and changes to PSAC's mission in the event of precinct realignment. Be sure to bring any crime
    and safety concerns to share with your neighbors and with representatives of the Portland Police Bureau, the City's crime-prevention team, the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office, and other officials.

    For more information, contact Will Crow at (503) 247-9424; email wandkcrow@earthlink.net.
    See you there!
    =========

    I cannot make this meeting. Anyone planning on being there?

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  • Donald January 22, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    In response to Chris' note about the North Portland Crime Prevention contact:

    I believe Havilah's territory stops at I-5. The NE crime prev fellow is Tom Peavey, tpeavey@ci.portland.or.us, and his beat includes some North Portland areas.

    He has been very responsive and helped us get street dealers off of our little bit of N. Mississippi (not the cool part, the little residential bit down here by Lombard).

    And remember: A little situational awareness goes a long way. Keep your heads on a swivel, folks.

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  • West Cougar January 22, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Something to consider...

    It is not so much the case on this thread, but certainly the one's leading up to this that there has been some tremendously tactless soul saying bluntly the various attackers are racists. One or two or three hot-heads shout him down and go on to give a raft of alternative explanations for why the attackers may be anything EXCEPT racists.

    So I have to ask, what is gained by denying the attackers are racist?

    I will say this, if the attacks are instigated by race and the attackers are racist, the Bike Community coming out to NoPo to embrace the locals isn't going to do a whole lot of good. I think the civil rights movement of the 60's are instructive. What broke Jim Crow was not northern blacks coming to the south to help MLK Jr. and the NAACP in their fight (though that did occur), what broke Jim Crow was northern whites coming down and fighting the southern whites on the black's behalf.

    What needs to happen in NoPo is the black middle class wherever it may be to come in and shame and fight the black thugs that have made NoPo a dangerous place relative to the rest of the city and surrounding suburbs.

    Obviously the above is not a perfect analogy. It is good enough that I am convinced any well-intentioned community "outreach" is going to meet rather limited success.

    But hey, if it makes the well-intentioned feel good about themselves for trying to "make a difference" who am I to stop 'em. As I like to say, it's a free country.

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  • Ashley Gorman January 23, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    I have just read through everyone's responses and of course we are not all going to see this the same way but the people that would like to put their "positive" foot forward are the one's that are going to make a difference. It will take some extra attention out of all of our daily routine, but you sure don't accomplish much knowing there is a problem and doing nothing about it. I will attend the meeting we will set up as a community. I have taken down some of the contacts people have thrown out and will do my best to make contact and post my findings. thank you to all of you who support a resonably safe, cultured community.

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  • Lisa Guardian Angel January 23, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    I was reading the blogs, I am very new to the whole blog thing so please bare with me. My name is Lisa Campos I am with the Portland Guardian Angels. We are a all volunteer group whose main purpose is to serve as a deterent to violent crime. I do feel very bad for the people that have been assaulted or intimidated. I do beleive that there can be at least some kind of resolution. I patrolled that area for 10 yrs. We will have no problem meeting with any one to discuss how we can help. Let me know what you think. We are open to any suggestion not to mention we have done bike patrols before. I would really like to know the area it occurs in please be specific, and let me know of the time of day when possible.

    Best of luck to all of you

    Lisa Campos

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  • Kate Crow January 24, 2007 at 7:56 am

    I've participated in an official Foot Patrol training sponsored by the Office of Neighborhood Involvement and conducted by the N Portland Crime Prevention Coordinator (Ms. Ferschweiler's predecessor). The most important thing I learned was this:

    Call the cops if you see something suspicious.

    How do you know it's "reportable" behavior? The tip we got was that if it feels weird, it probably is weird. Report it.

    The backup message I got from the cops is that they NEED our help. They can't be everywhere at once. They need our eyes and ears to help know what's going on.

    For crimes in progress or immediate damage to life or property call 911.

    For non-emergency calls, use the non-emergency number: 503-823-3333. Couple of additional tips when calling non-emergency:

    You'll get voice mail right away (of course)
    --Soon as you hear the voice mail pickup, dial "2".
    --The voice mail will then say "Please hold, you are being transferred."
    --Soon as you are transferred, hit "2" again. This will get you to the dispatcher. Sometimes there is a bit of a wait.
    --Dispatchers are people, too; they are sometimes harried and curt. I've had dispatchers say to my seemingly unimportant report "Well what do you want me to do about it?" Best strategy here is to remain calm and say something like "I'm just making a report of an activity that concerns me, I want there to be a record." I've also said "I'm reporting something that seems wrong to me, just like my neighborhood officer told me to do."

    Fortunately most of the time I haven't had any problems with the dispatchers, and I see a patrol car coming around pretty quickly to check things out.

    Oh - and in case this hasn't been clear - you don't need to be part of an "official" patrol group to make these kinds of reports. Individuals on foot, in their cars, on their bikes, or just watching from a window at home can report concerns.

    Portland should pride itself on citizens who watch out for one another. The reports last summer of average citizens coming to the aid of crime victims tells me we have a good base of concerned, responsible residents. No one wants to be a crime victim - regardless of the length of time you've lived in the neighborhood. Let's help ALL our neighbors have a safe place to live, work, commute, and play.

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  • joe adamski January 29, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    oh, i LOVE this dialog. If anything, it shows that while there isn't one answer, there are a zillion folks asking related questions.

    I echo Kates comments. There isn't a need to reinvent the wheel. A ongoing committment to building a strong community, inclusive and connected will do more to prevent crime than any other effort. Its not simple,but achievable if the culture allows it. Smoking used to be everywhere,but attitudes have changed. on a more local basis, the attitude shift demanding connected caring community is equally achievable.

    That same safe, caring connected community WILL require some questioning of beliefs and attitudes on our parts.. and a lot of talking with each other.

    Yet I know its possible.

    So count me in.

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