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Brentwood-Darlington neighbors envision better future

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Longtime BDNA volunteers and leaders Gale Kiely, Dick Hazeltine, and Malcom Handcock share experiences during in the visioning session.More than forty neighbors streamed in to the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association (BDNA) meeting at their Community Center on April 3 – ready to find ways to improve this part of Inner Southeast Portland.

Before the meeting started, the participations fortified themselves with coffee, water, and snacks, including delicious pastries and cakes donated by Mehri’s Café and Bakery.

“What we are trying to do is get input from our neighbors to learn more about their interests,” BDNA President Eric Wikoff told THE BEE.

“This is a very diverse area, with about 5,000 residents,” Wikoff continued. “Part of this neighborhood visioning process is to help build and strengthen the community, so our association better reflects our neighbors.”

Acknowledging that some people still refer to the area as “Felony Flats” [this reporter is a 23-year resident of BDNA], Wikoff pointed that the association is working “to take advantage of our multi-cultural community and take advantage of the diversity and vibrancy this gives. We are trying to create a strong image and voice for our neighborhood.”

As neighbors were introducing themselves, Southeast Uplift Community Outreach Coordinator Ashe Urban confided that she enjoys leading this kind of meeting.

“I'm always hoping to see people get excited about their neighborhood,” explained Urban. “Sometimes people ask what their neighborhood association can do for them. I hope they leave tonight with ideas of what they can do to improve BDNA.”

Key ideas discussed included:

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  • Leading community outreach activities, such as picnics in the parks and neighborhood block parties;

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  • Working to create a modest business district;

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  • Promoting traffic and pedestrian safety, particularly through encouraging sidewalk installation and street paving, and through speed limit reductions and enforcement; and,

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  • Encouraging efforts to improve the appearance of the neighborhood by organizing volunteers to pick up trash, and by promoting the neighborhood clean-up.

    "Hopefully, with this information," Wikoff observed, "we will be able to encourage neighbors to become more involved, and help take an active part in changing our neighborhood for the better."

    The Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association holds its public meeting on the first Thursday of the month at 7 pm, in the Brentwood-Darlington Community Center, 7211 S.E. 62nd Avenue. Stay in touch via their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/brentwood.darlington