Director’s Desk: October

As the season begins to change to autumn, it has brought pleasant thoughts about cozy clothes, nice long fall hikes, and the changing colors of the trees preparing for winter. The natural world reminds us of this transition and gives us a time to reflect on change and how that shows up in our lives and in our work.  

As Neighborhood Partnerships reflects on our work and the movement to achieve housing and economic justice, one thing is clear: we can’t continue doing business as usual. What we’ve done in the past has not changed the outcomes, particularly for BIPOC communities, and we must imagine and enact new ways of doing our work that get to the root causes of our State’s biggest problems. Our staff is coming out of a retreat where we dug in deeply to the impacts of the tectonic shifts we are all living in, and deepened our commitment to a stance of centering racial equity and being open to the opportunities that come from the often deeply unsettling work of doing things differently.

To move this work forward, we must center those most harmed by systemic social and economic injustice. We know that those with lived experiences of oppression and those most impacted by racist and discriminatory policies are also those closest to the solutions. Yet far too often, these individuals and communities are left out of the policy conversations, the funding conversations, and the planning and implementation conversations. An unsurprising result is that our systems do not function in ways that honor, respect, or respond to the people they say they intend to serve.

Given the multiple pandemics of COVID and racism, the work of reimagining and redistribution is now more imperative than ever. The uprising and community organizing happening in Black and other communities of color show us openings and opportunities for change that we must seize. Solutions are already materializing, community-based, and co-created by Black, Indigenous and other communities of color. Individuals, families, and neighbors who are experts in navigating broken systems are envisioning a better, more inclusive, and more equitable tomorrow.

At NP, we continue to lean into this shift. We are seeing impacts when work is rooted in listening to communities. In 2019, our organization began working with residents of affordable housing to bring them to the advocacy table through Residents Organizing for Change or ROC. These resident advocates are bringing their expertise to housing policy conversations, and to our legislators. Within the IDA Initiative, we have made a number of programmatic shifts, working to remove barriers that savers identify and making funds accessible for emergency financial stabilization critical to BIPOC communities disproportionately impacted by COVID.

We have more work to do! I invite you to join us in finding ways to incorporate and support these changes within our work. Please register and attend this year’s RE:Conference which take place over three days on November 16, 17, and 18. We will be envisioning a better tomorrow, supported by the work and leadership of Oregon’s vibrant BIPOC communities, and other passionate and brilliant voices from across the country. We look forward to this next stage of co-creating an Oregon that truly offers belonging, resources, and opportunity for all.

And lifted by the energy of the changing season, let’s continue to change the way we do business.