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Anti-Displacement Efforts and Green Infrastructure Signal Hope in Portland

The Living Cully coalition prioritizes the well-being of long term, lower-income residents with future-building revitalization projects.
July 19, 2019, 8am PDT | Lee Flannery
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Northeast Portland, Oregon’s largest and ethnically diverse Cully neighborhood is the setting for a case study in community-led efforts to fortify the ability lower-income residents to withstand gentrification and displacement. “Many green infrastructure project teams flounder when trying to couple social justice with their environmental goals, but in Cully green infrastructure provision is linked explicitly with wealth building and anti-displacement goals through a coalition called Living Cully,” reports Barbra Brown Wilson, adapting a chapter from her book Resilience for All.

Living Cully, a collective project of Verde, Native American Youth and Family Center, Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East, and Hacienda Community Development Center, was formed to address the lack of infrastructure and services available to Cully residents. Central to their mission is investment “in local residents through leadership development and job training that allow lower-income residents to contribute to positive change in their communities, while also building their own capacity to stay as revitalization occurs,” Brown outlines.

Since the coalition’s formation in 2012, partnering organizations have successfully launched initiatives to champion policies to protect renters, supply affordable housing, develop Cully’s transportation infrastructure, provide job training, and improve community safety. The immediate impact of these efforts is felt widely, but it remains to be seen what long-term effects will remain in terms of “adaptive capacity of resident leaders engaging in these organizing and job-training efforts, the culture change beginning when a generation of youth see walking and biking as important to their community, and the impact of young leaders actualizing many new professional techniques to better their community as part of their middle school skills set.”

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Published on Monday, July 8, 2019 in Next City
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