Project Partners

Partnership has been fundamental to whatever success Urban Green has achieved over the last several years. The organizations and individuals with whom we have collaborated have brought, and continue to bring, critical resources to each project, only part of which may be financial resources. They also bring expertise and experience, valuable workplace and social networks, access to decision-makers, tools that can be critical to project work, unique perspectives on problems and their solutions, and in general, the potential to expand the scope of a project’s impact.

Below are short descriptions of some of the organizations with which Urban Green has partnered in the projects described on the site. Some of these partnerships are ongoing as projects evolve and arise.

Portland State University (PSU)

It’s often said that university towns are different – more vibrant, more innovative, more diverse, more active, etc. This is often true, but is likely related fundamentally to the degree to which the university is deeply engaged in the community. The Upper Willamette Valley is truly fortunate that PSU is highly engaged with its community, in a wide variety of critical program areas that enable the institution to be an invaluable resource for community problem-solving, innovation, and development. At the same time, direct community engagement in solving real problems gives the programs’ graduate students real-world work with which to hone their skills as they move toward higher levels of responsibility and impact in their fields.

Two programs in particular have created strong partnerships with Urban Green and the Oak Lodge community over the last several years. We provide an overview here, with more details in the individual project sections of the site. Many communities have such resources available and would be wise to take advantage of the synergies that are the natural result of combining the goals of the community and those of higher education. blockend

School of Urban Studies & Planning
This PSU school has two graduate degree programs of interest to the community that can provide resources for advancing community planning aspirations – the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program and the Master of Urban Studies program. Graduate students from both of these have provided critical expert resources in helping the community to plan a future for the downtown Oak Grove area and the McLoughlin Boulevard corridor. In effect, these critical partners provided professional-level planning and design services, including community assessments, market studies, design option development, community charrettes, community engagement for project feedback, and a comprehensive and detailed report that has served as a blueprint for much of the further work that has occurred since these projects were carried out. blockend

Center for Public Service, Mark Hatfield School of Government

Since 2012, Urban Green has worked closely with the Center for Public Service  (CPS) planning and coordinating a program in Portland for government managers from throughout Japan. PSU has written a case study in describing the relationship between Urban Green, Trimet, and Metro in the Oak Grove community in visualizing, designing and building the forest and ecosystems surrounding the Park Ave Station. This case study used is a study guide for the Japanese participants as an example of how to create local projects that involve their community.  blockend

TriMet

TriMet, as the primary regional provider of large-scale public transportation service, is an essential partner for any project involving public transportation infrastructure. Since the early 1980s, TriMet has been planning and building Portland’s light rail transit system. From a basic set of east-west lines completed in 1986, the system has now grown into a fairly extensive system of rail lines that integrates bus service and the City of Portland’s streetcar system into a network that carries nearly half of the city’s daily commute traffic.

Building that system, beyond the steady expansion of bus service over the past 50 years or so, has been a difficult process at times. From early problems in completing the first part of the light rail system, to the most recent budget and political hurdles associated with expanding the system to the south and north, TriMet has had to contend with inadequate revenues and a less-than-optimal funding model, and with labor issues and the political consequences of the steady rise of the backlash against public spending, generally, in the whole country.

It was in this context that, at the urging of another Urban Green partner, Metro, the partnership began with TriMet to build a radically different kind of light rail station at Park Avenue in Oak Grove. TriMet’s work has always been constrained by budget to design solutions that have been, at best, functional, for the light rail system. These solutions weren’t necessarily optimally functional for the community as a whole (the ultimate alignment of the Green Line is a case in point), and they weren’t very often considerate of  natural systems they displaced or impacted. Most stations and system structures have been mostly an assemblage of concrete and galvanized steel.

But there are many creative and energetic people at TriMet who could easily be inspired to do better, with the right partners and sufficient budget for the projects involved. In the end, given the nature of the Park Avenue Station, it’s clear that TriMet can do amazing things under the right partnership circumstances. And they did many amazing things as part of the construction of the new Orange Line. Check out the Park Avenue Station project page for details of how this unfolded. For information about TriMet, visit their web site at http://trimet.org/about/ .  blockend

North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District (NCPRD)

Formed in 1990 by a vote of the people of north Clackamas County, the NCPRD is a service district with its own taxing authority and provides park and recreation services for the unincorporated areas of north County, and the cities of Happy Valley and Milwaukie. It also operates the aquatic park adjacent to the Three Creeks natural area. It built and maintains the Trolley Trail, a major pedestrian and bike thoroughfare through the heart of the communities of Oak Grove and Jennings Lodge. It has a nine-member citizen advisory board, but its governing board consists of the five members of the Board of County Commissioners. Because of the importance of the Trolley Trail and its connections to the light rail system’s Orange Line at the Park Avenue Station, NCPRD was a partner in the Park Avenue Station project.  blockend

Metro

As the country’s only elected regional planning entity, the Metro Councilors oversee a highly professional group of planners whose work it is to integrate the transportation and land use planning activities of the region’s various city and county governments. They oversee the implementation of statewide planning goals in the Portland metro area, and also provide for natural areas and green space, and operate the Portland Zoo.

Because an effective public transportation system is a foundation of our sustainable mobility future, Metro has an interest in the success of TriMet’s bus and light rail systems. When Urban Green was looking for a way to leverage Metro’s Integrating Habitat work in 2009, Metro suggested applying the core principles to the new Orange Line extension that would bring the light rail network to our community. They suggested applying for a Nature in Neighborhoods grant, and the rest of the story is in the Park Avenue Station project section of the site.

In fact, Metro provides grants for all kinds of innovative transportation and development projects that support the region’s comprehensive plan and its vision for a sustainable future for our community. If your community has a great project that would support the vision of a more sustainable transportation system or neighborhood redevelopment  plan, visit Metro’s web site to check it out.  blockend (http://www.oregonmetro.gov/tools-partners/grants-and-resources)

Oak Lodge Sanitary District (OLSD)

This independent service district serves all of the Oak Grove and Jennings Lodge area. It provides critical wastewater treatment services, and more importantly for community partnerships, it has jurisdiction over surface water management for the community. The geography of our community – an upland oak savannah forest ecosystem – makes this job challenging. Much of the area is underlain by fractured basalt, which complicates the pathways by which rainwater makes its way, inevitably, to the Willamette River. There are five different smaller watersheds in our community, and each has been adversely impacted by development over the last 150 years or so. OLSD has undertaken a number of key projects to restore the ecosystem functions, including surface water management, that have been degraded in the past. Stringfield Park, on the south side of Naef Road, is an excellent example of what can be accomplished in neighborhood watershed restoration.

Because our many mature trees and our oak savannah ecosystems are so critical for managing surface water runoff, OLSD is a natural partner for the kinds of projects undertaken by Urban Green. They were a key partner organization in the Park Avenue Station project. OLSD was able to expand the ecosystem services portion of this project by arranging for the re-grading and re-planting of a storm water management easement behind the Elks Club. This allowed the natural treatment of significant amounts of rainwater runoff from the Elks property using new plantings associated with the Station project. They also provide technical support for creating the extensive storm water treatment facilities that are a major part of the project.

Whenever a community project might involve the management of rainwater runoff or might impact the riparian areas of our urban watersheds, OLSD can be a valuable partner in improving these critical ecosystem services. Check out the surface water management section of their web site at http://oaklodgesanitary.com/.  blockend

Relationships are the pathways to the intelligence of the system. Through relationships, information is created and transformed, the organization’s identity expands to include more stakeholders, and the enterprise becomes wiser. The more access people have to one another, the more possibilities there are. Without connections, nothing happens. Organizations held at equilibrium by well-designed organization charts die. In self-organizing systems, people need access to everyone; they need to be free to reach anywhere in the organization to accomplish work. ~ Margaret J. Wheatley