Weston Award Winner #2: Brentwood Darlington Neighborhood


 

The Brentwood Darlington neighborhood is located in outer SE Portland. Much like East Portland and Cully neighborhoods, it was annexed into the city without the same level of infrastructure - and has been neglected for far too long. The signature of Brentwood Darlington streets are the giant potholes that are often referred to as 'lakes'.

Residents decided that they would take this matter into their own hands.

 
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Sidewalk gaps in SE Portland west of 82nd - Brentwood Darlington has a glaring lack of connectivity.

Spearheaded by two Brentwood Darlington Neighborhood Association members, Meesa Long & Lesley McKinley - they set their sights on a Metro Regional Flexible Fund (RFF) grant proposal, put together by the City of Portland, for $5 million of sidewalk infill in their neighborhood

It was the first time in Portland history that PBOT received over 1,000 handwritten signatures on petitions to a guarantee a spot in the running of RFF grant proposals put forward by the City.  After the application made it to the list of projects up for consideration, residents (including many schoolchildren) sent nearly 300 postcards to Metro describing their unsafe treks to schools and asking for more sidewalks. 

"Many neighbors testified, but Meesa also testified in front of TPAC and JPACT and fearlessly and courageously championed the neighborhood in the face of dismissal, disregard, and statements that included "never in your lifetime". I focused on securing letters of support from state Senator Kathleen Taylor, Representative Jeff Reardon, Impact NW, Rose Community Development, and a host of other non-profits and advocacy agencies, our local Principals, and the Franklin Cluster Senior Director.  We were featured on local news multiple times and used our postcard campaign by students to highlight the inequity neighborhood children face walking in ankle deep water to get to school, or while waiting for public transportation.  Both Meesa and I spent exhaustive hours at her house pouring over our strategy and while it was often discouraging, we were buoyed by the love and support of our community."
 

- Lesley McKinley, former BDNA chair

 

Mike Rowell, assistant principal at Lane Middle School shared, "To watch my students come to school with wet shoes -- knowing that those are their only shoes -- because they have a journey to school that involves walking through water is heartbreaking to me. I think it’s an assault on their basic dignity to have to live like that, because there aren’t amenities that most communities take for granted."

This was truly a grassroots success story because so many people in the neighborhood did at least one small thing to move the needle.  Whether they got signatures during the petition drive, made online comments to Metro (which also set records for the highest public participation they'd ever seen), collected postcards from the local schools, or took videos and uploaded them online for others to view - this effort could not have achieved such a monumental feat without each and every one of them.

"Lesley and I joke that we are just a bunch of moms... who care about our kids and pushed forward a $5 million grant," Long said.
 

 

 

Join us at the Weston Awards!

Join us on Friday, November 3rd to celebrate the Brentwood Darlington Neighborhood and the innovation, leadership and activism of all our Weston Award winners - while supporting Oregon Walks and our mission to create walkable communities for everyone.

This year's fundraiser will take place in the Atrium Ballroom at The Hilton in downtown Portland, and your ticket includes a full dinner and drinks for the evening. 

Tickets are available here - make sure to get yours today!
 

The 2017 Weston Awards
Friday, November 3rd
The Hilton Portland: 921 SW 6th Ave., Portland, OR  97204
6:00pm-9:00pm