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Portland Engagement Project

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The Portland Engagement Project is working toward a more equitable community engagement model to solve issues of today and into the future. A data-rich neighborhood map and facilitated community discussions will inform Portland's ability to pinpoint, prioritize and solve the root of civic issues.
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Portland Engagement Project Results

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Portland Engagement Project! Whether you came to a listening session or the PEP Talk Summit, took the online survey, or provided feedback on our neighborhood profiles, you input has made an impact on the future of civic engagement in Portland.

The intended result of PEP is to create an equitable community engagement model that will help the Portland community and Portland City government rebuild trust and strengthen our processes to solve issues today and into the future. 

We have completed PEP. Civic Life consultants have summarized the first phase findings in public reports, available below. Our consultant Pregame has designed the facilitation process for the design of the new engagement framework, which will be handled by the City Transition Team.

PEP Reports

Read the Pregame Design Process Report

Part of Pregame's role was to build out the process the City will use in the Design Phase to create the new engagement framework. These include recommendations for the makeup of the project team and advisory group, shared principles, and a timeline.

Read the Pregame Listening Projects Synthesis

Pregame synthesized the results of multiple City-Community listening projects (PEP, Insights survey, etc.) to find common themes and issues, and make recommendations for how the City can begin to address them.

Read the Pregame External Listening Report

Pregame hosted listening sessions, pop-up events, and an online survey to hear from Portlanders across the city to get their perspective - in their own words - on what’s working, what’s not, and what might make engagement better. Participants generated nearly 1,000 ideas!

Read the Pregame Internal Listening Report

Pregame launched the first listening sessions with City employees in Summer 2022 to learn how we are currently working with community. They created interactive sessions where employees were asked to provide feedback on how to improve community engagement structures, what practices are working and what processes need improvement. Nearly 600 employees across 37 City of Portland bureaus provided ideas for engagement and bureau organization.  

Read the Oregon's Kitchen Table PEP Talk Summit Report

In Spring 2023, Civic Life and Oregon's Kitchen Table hosted the PEP Talk, a series of panels and work sessions bringing together international, national, and local leaders to discuss the past, present, and future possibilities of engagement in the City of Portland.

Read the Centre for Public Impact Citywide Equitable Engagement Cohort Report

The City of Portland’s Office of Community & Civic Life united city employees from different bureaus to discuss and share methods of community engagement that center equity and empower historically marginalized residents. The Centre for Public Impact partnered with Civic Life to bring this work to 25 engagement practitioners, creating the Portland Citywide Equitable Engagement Cohort to serve as a space for community engagement practitioners to share tools to build government legitimacy, create cross-bureau relationships, and share methods of equitable engagement. CPI served as a learning partner to support institutionalized trust-building mindsets and practices within Portland to strengthen relationships between the government and the community.

About the Portland Engagement Project

When you see an issue in your community do you know who to reach out to at the City of Portland and feel confident that it has a good process for engaging with your feedback? 

For some of us, the answer is a resounding “yes,” while for others, the City’s public engagement practice and trust between community and government is broken. 

Civic Life’s Portland Engagement Project (PEP) is a multi-year project designed to hear from all Portlanders, to learn how the City of Portland can build upon current successful engagement practices and improve our civic processes.

In Spring 2021, City Council approved Civic Life to use budget savings to lead the citywide Portland Engagement Project because: 

  • Portland’s engagement model is 50 years old, and the City plans to build upon the existing framework through a transparent, public process that integrates today’s technology and engagement concepts.     
  • The 2020 census shows Portland has grown by 12% since 2010 and 70% since 1970, and our growing pains are evidenced by the issues we see today. 
  • Portland is growing rapidly and requires a resilient engagement structure that enables ALL Portlanders to be meaningfully engaged in the decisions that most impact their lives.  
  • The 2008 Community Connect Report and the 2035 Comprehensive Plan need our collective energy to ensure their success.

PEP Timeline

PEP is a multi-year process comprised of four components: 

LISTENING SESSIONS - COMPLETE

Fall 2022 – Spring 2023

Civic Life worked with the independent consultant, Pregame, to host listening sessions with City employees and community members to gather input on how the City can build a better engagement structure to serve all Portlanders. All listening sessions are now complete. Pregame will compile the input gathered during the listening sessions into a public report. The report will be released in Fall 2023.

DATA - COMPLETE

Fall 2022 – Fall 2023

Civic LifeWorked with Portland State University's Population Research Center to build neighborhood profiles for each of Portland’s 94 neighborhoods that provide demographic data like food and housing security, population, income, and more.

This resource will help the City and community partners improve outreach, set programmatic priorities, help Portlanders in need and become more inclusive and equitable when making decisions about communications, programming, funding, and events. It will also help to sharpen our understanding of the unique changes and issues occurring within each neighborhood.

View the Final Neighborhood Profiles

This interactive mapping tool shows users that data as a visual and provides charts helping compare data across the city.

View the Interactive Map

SUMMIT - COMPLETE

Spring 2023

On April 27-29, Civic Life, Portland State University's Center for Public Service and Oregon's Kitchen Table hosted PEP Talk. This three-day event brought together community leaders and engagement experts to discuss the possibilities for the future of Portland's engagement framework.  

In Fall 2023, Oregon’s Kitchen Table will release a report highlighting the themes and outcomes of the event.

Watch PEP Talk presenter Dr. Julia Carboni address important engagement practices:

Final Reflections from Dr. Julia Carboni, PEP Talk - April 29

DESIGN - COMPLETE

Summer 2023-2025

Our consultants, Pregame and Oregon’s Kitchen Table, have summarized their findings in public reports (available above). Pregame is also creating the design process for the new engagement model. When Portland government changes in 2025, the Transition Team, Civic Life and community will use Pregame’s process to design the new model and get City Council approval to begin implementation.

Who are our Partners? 

Pregame designed and hosted listening sessions to objectively gather the best ideas from city employees as well as diverse groups and individuals throughout Portland. Pregame is currently compiling three reports which include: (1) Listening Recap, (2) Listening to All Portlanders: The Results (3) All Listening Projects: Synthesis.

Portland Insights Survey is organized by the City Budget Office and asks Portlanders to share their thoughts on City services, policy decisions, and budget decisions. This survey is one of many City engagement efforts already happening and rather than duplicating data presentation, we’ll incorporate their findings into PEP’s design and outcomes. 

PSU Population Research Center is leading the work on building data-rich neighborhood profiles to help the City and our community partners improve outreach and services. 

PSU Center for Public Service/Oregon's Kitchen Tableled the design for PEP Talk, a three-day event that brought together community leaders and engagement experts to share ideas on how to build equitable engagement for the City of Portland.

Citywide Equitable Engagement Cohort: Civic Life worked with The Centre for Public Impact (CPI), a nonprofit learning partner, to lead an equitable engagement practitioner cohort. Over the course of three months, 25 City of Portland practitioners from 13 bureaus learned best practices from each other, shared knowledge, and built relationships.

The Centre for Public Impact: worked with City of Portland community engagement practitioners across different bureaus to share tools to earn government legitimacy, create cross-bureau relationships, and share methods of equitable engagement to empower historically marginalized community members.

Most Importantly - You: Each one of these activities will rely upon your insight and participation to succeed!