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Portland's 'Community-Led Urbanism' Tackles Displacement and Sustainability

A grassroots plan seeks to cultivate a sustainable, affordable center of Black culture in the neighborhood of Albina.
July 12, 2018, 8am PDT | Elana Eden
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Tony Webster

As the city of Portland launches new housing and investment programs, a coalition of community organizers, urban planners, and design professionals has proposed its own vision for inclusive economic development in the Albina neighborhood. The Right 2 Root plan fuses housing affordability, environmental sustainability, and the preservation of Black history and culture, Patrick Sisson reports in Curbed, calling the initiative "a framework for community-led urbanism."

The proposal would establish an ecodistrict—the city's sixth—where new community assets would foster health and wellness. It calls for walkable corridors connecting needed facilities like a food market, a community education center, and a daycare. "Other ideas include tiny home communities built around a shared garden plot, and the introduction of small accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to provide extra space for larger families and multigenerational living," Sisson writes.

Over the decades, planning policy has driven out Albina's historically Black population through a variety of means, Sisson explains. The neighborhood was targeted for urban renewal in the post-war era, paving the way for redevelopment at the end of the century. Today, revitalization programs are raising housing costs and fueling displacement.

Later this year, the collective plans to release a blueprint aimed at connecting Albina with its displaced Black residents throughout Portland.

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Published on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 in Curbed
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