We’re finally done with 2020. Let’s embrace the lessons we’ve learned, the challenges we now face as individuals and as a community, and the new tomorrow that will result when we work together to solve problems.
Let me start by thanking you, my neighbors for the 34 years I’ve lived in Portland, for all your support over the 12 years I’ve served on the City Council. It hasn’t been easy. Whether you’ve given me encouragement or challenged me to change my thinking, I’ve appreciated your engagement to improve outcomes for Portlanders and our community. Thank you.
2021 brings many challenges. We are in a horrific surge in the pandemic. Individuals’ and families’ lives are greatly
impacted by the deadly coronavirus. Many Portlanders grow weary of isolation, while frontline workers continue
facing significant risks providing basic services. Economic and health impacts have devastated so many Portlanders. Racial justice is a clear priority. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities along with white allies are exasperated over the delay in achieving equity and safety for everyone in our city. Public safety is critical, with the inability of Police to respond to 9-1-1 calls due to staffing shortages and People of Color continuing to experience disparate impacts from both law enforcement and lack of availability of first responders. Racist attacks, vandalism and anarchy are affecting businesses, neighbors, and elected officials. Houselessness is an even more urgent challenge with winter weather upon us.
Now more than ever, we need an effective, inclusive community engagement network in Southwest Portland and throughout our city to help us unite. I am confident that the 2021 Council, with the most diverse membership ever and a new Commissioner in charge of community engagement, will find an inclusive, respectful, equitable way forward for Neighborhood Associations and other communities and individuals with affinities beyond geographic boundaries to engage in civic discussions. Neighborhood Associations, District Coalitions, and the Diversity and Civic Leadership partners provide essential services, and they do it by stretching taxpayer dollars with fundraising and volunteer work. The new Council understands their value. Mistakes and omissions should be addressed and corrected, with contract requirements, education, and support. I know Southwest Neighborhoods, Inc. (SWNI) staff and volunteers are eager to make community involvement more welcoming, inclusive, anti-racist, equitable, transparent, collaborative, fiscally responsible, communicative, and accountable.
No single route to community engagement appeals to everyone. All volunteers serving needs within their communities should be respected, supported and included in decision-making. We must be open to new ideas, fresh perspectives, different ways of organizing, operating and accountability. Let’s focus on this work in the New Year.
We are all on this journey together. We are Portlanders. Let’s look for ways to find agreement and support each other. Let’s address problems objectively, creatively, constructively and collaboratively. Let’s brainstorm - welcoming and considering ideas from new participants. We won’t find solutions by arguing, or by berating people with different viewpoints. Neither being defensive nor aggressive is helpful or productive. We won’t move forward by adhesion to the status quo, or by seeking to smash it. Our neighbors want SW community leaders to stop attacking, defending, and arguing, and start figuring out how to move forward – in the pursuit of happiness, with liberty and justice for all. Let’s each commit to that. Let’s commit to mutual respect, community-building, kindness, compassion, understanding, and curiosity about differing perspectives.
We endured 2020. We turned the corner and it’s a New Year, a new opportunity, a new hope. Let’s learn from the past, accept that we are all flawed and make mistakes, open our minds to a new future, and build back better.
Commissioner, City of Portland