Friday, February 20, 2009

Another kind of testimony - City Council

I testified at a recent Portland City Council meeting that was held in East Portland, not the usual downtown council chambers. The city council was voting to accept a special report on East Portland. Here is my (very short) testimony. It goes remarkably well on a religion and spirituality blog since its all about equity. Warning, there is some wonk talk in among the equity talk! It's my secret side.

After thanking the council I said:

The East Portland Action Plan has a whole section on equity. The plan asks for equity reporting and audits. We want our fair share of investment in our neighborhoods and opportunities for the children and adults in East Portland.

Equity is about fairness and our desire to improve our neighborhoods, but it is also about our desire to be fully and wholly a part of Portland. You are familiar with those t-shirts that say, "this is what 50 looks like" and "this is what 60 looks like", well this is what Portland looks like. As proud as we are to say East Portland, we aren’t just East Portland.

Equity is one of those concepts that can come across negatively as "getting ours", but equity in the positive sense is about connections, about being a part of the larger whole. There is a sense of being cut off, when equity isn’t there. This symbolic city council meeting, like the earlier events of Sam Adam’s and, even before that, Ted Wheeler’s Parkrose inauguration, builds connections. The new East Portland swimming pool addition to the East Portland Community Center builds connections. I believe, that if the connections are there equity will automatically follow.

I invite you to continue to build connections with this part of Portland; and one way to do that would be through equity reporting. The equity audits and reports that are recommended in the East Portland Action Plan, need to become a part of the decision making culture at city hall. I was delighted to see Mayor Adams linking neighborhood equity reporting to the bureaus and to the future Portland Strategic Plan in one of his earliest announcements as Mayor. Someday the East Portland Action Plan will be old and outdated, but it won’t matter if you are systematically using equity in your decision making.

Thank you Mayor Adams: thank you Counselors, it was a pleasure to serve on the East Portland Action Planning Team.

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