by: ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - Attorneys Keith Swensen (at left) and David Gray do a double handshake with WNA's Becky Luening at the site proposed for a community informational kiosk.Becky Luening, Chairperson of the Woodstock Neighborhood Association’s Sustainability Committee, recently announced the committee’s plan to build an informational kiosk, including a community bulletin board, next to the Woodstock Community Center.

The idea for a public information kiosk was first suggested by Sustainability Committee member Kenny Heggem during a brainstorm last fall. In January, the City of Portland and Southeast Uplift’s Neighborhood Small Grants Program awarded WNA $750 for the project.

“Our project can be seen as small vehicle for strengthening community. The kiosk's placement at the front edge of the Woodstock Community Center lot will provide a first point of contact and help draw attention and energy to the Center,” says Luening. The Community Center hosts a preschool and a number of recreational classes, as well as provides a meeting place for the neighborhood association and other community groups. Some have compared this project to the informational kiosk constructed by the Sellwood-Westmoreland Business Alliance (SWBA) on the corner of S.E. Bybee Boulevard and Milwaukie Avenue in Westmoreland, with support from SMILE. However, that kiosk cost some $12,000 to build and install, and it seems likely the Woodstock equivalent may be a bit less ambitiously budgeted.

The proposed location for this kiosk is close to the public sidewalk, next to the law offices of Swenson and Gray, and across the street from BiMart. Luening says it will help publicize events and information for many Woodstock community groups, including the Woodstock Community Business Association (WCBA), which partnered with WNA’s Sustainability Committee to win the grant.

Not everyone may be aware of the organizational structure that enables neighborhood and community groups to get help with small projects designed to enhance community.

During the late 60s – those famously and infamously “revolutionary” days of social change – some Portland neighborhoods began to agitate for their own version of revitalization. To give neighborhoods a voice in city government, in 1973 newly-elected Mayor Neil Goldschmidt proposed a Bureau of Neighborhood Organizations, now called “ONI” (Neighborhood Office of Involvement).

Today, there are 95 officially-recognized Portland Neighborhood Associations, each working under one of seven neighborhood coalitions established for different areas of the city. The non-profit neighborhood coalitions partner with the city to provide technical and logistical support to neighborhood associations.

Once a year neighborhood and community-based organizations are encouraged to apply for grants to help with projects that will enhance their communities. Funds granted range from $300 to $5,000, and are administered through the neighborhood coalitions. This year, Southeast Uplift – the coalition serving the part of town covered by THE BEE – granted a total of $22,000 to fifteen different projects. The Woodstock kiosk project received a $750 grant.

Now, the WNA Sustainability Committee plans to perform outreach, seeking to involve Woodstock residents in a project-design process. With the help of partner WCBA, they will be looking to the local business community for in-kind services and construction materials, as well as refreshments for volunteers.

Next-door attorneys David Gray and Keith Swensen have granted permission for the kiosk to be on their side of the property line. The final design will be determined at a community meeting to be announced. Woodstock resident Jabez Manning, a self-described “green” builder and owner of Manning Enterprises, has volunteered to serve as construction manager for the project. When the project is finished, a plaque affixed to the kiosk will acknowledge the grant from the city and from Southeast Uplift, as well as the monetary and in-kind contributions and volunteer labor that will have made it possible.

Woodstock neighbors interested in participating in the community kiosk project by contributing time, materials, or ideas for the design, may contact Becky Luening at 503/774-9197, or via e-mail at: HYPERLINK "mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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