The City of Portland Invites You to Help Shape Our Community Engagement Future

News Article
Four hands hold cutout speech bubbles. The words inside read "Share your Portland ideas."
Public Listening Sessions Begin as City's Governance Structure Changes

PORTLAND, Ore.—The Office of Community & Civic Life invites you to participate in the Portland Engagement Project’s (PEP) listening sessions to share ideas about how to build a more equitable community engagement model.

The last time Portland created a new community engagement framework was 1974. Nearly fifty years later, Portland’s population has more than doubled and faces growing pains including livability, safety, and affordability concerns. PEP is the opportunity for all Portlanders to help build an engagement model that works to solve issues today and into the future.

The new engagement framework will be informed by data-rich neighborhood profiles, announced earlier this month, and community-generated ideas learned in public listening sessions.

How to Participate?
In February, the independent consultant group Pregame kicked off more than a dozen public listening sessions designed to gather the community’s ideas on effective engagement.

Pregame is also offering a Do-It-Yourself training and facilitation kit for parent groups, sports teams, book clubs, and other community groups that want to have these conversations independently, but still participate in the process.

A five-minute survey is also available in more than a dozen languages for those who cannot attend a meeting. The City and County’s 311 team is available to help those needing translation, interpretation, or other accommodations take the survey.

How Does the Portland Engagement Project Work?

Listening Sessions: The City will host listening sessions to gather input from Portlanders. Data: Civic Life is using 2020 Census data to understand who we serve and what they need. Mulit-day summit: The City will host a summit for experts to present engagement models and concepts to Portlanders. City Network: City staff will learn from what other cities are doing. Design + Enactment: Civic Life will make a public report, design the new model, get City Council approval, and implement it starting in 2024.

There are five main components of PEP that will help the City design an equitable engagement model to address civic issues and build stronger relationships with the community. This process brings together best practices from engagement experts and community leaders, dedicated City engagement staff, and robust demographic data from the 2020 Census and other sources to build a better system for all Portlanders.

“We know an informed and connected neighborhood is a safer and more resilient neighborhood,” said Civic Life Interim Director Michael Montoya. “The goal of PEP is to build on what works best today and resolve challenges to enroll Portlanders who normally do not engage in city processes to finally have a role to shape their futures.” 

Currently, the City’s neighborhood associations and neighborhood-based civic leaders are the foundation of Portland’s engagement system. Through PEP, the City is welcoming new ideas to restore trust and expand on the great work done by these groups to build a more proactive engagement model. 

Building Portland's Civic Engagement Power
Civic Life will present preliminary themes learned from the PEP Listening Sessions during a three-day discussion organized by Portland State University’s Center for Public Service & Oregon’s Kitchen Table. This event, PEP Talk, will bring civic engagement experts and community leaders together to explore community engagement concepts that might work for Portland.

PEP Talk will take place from Thursday, April 27 to Saturday, April 29. More event details will be shared in the coming weeks.

For more information about the Portland Engagement Project, please visit the City’s website:

About Civic Life 
The Office of Community & Civic Life (Civic Life) connects the people of Portland with their City government to promote the common good. Our programs create a culture of collaboration, expanding possibilities for all Portlanders to contribute their knowledge, experience, and creativity to solve local problems and make life better in the city we all share.