Over our 30 years history, Neighborhood Partnerships has played a convener role helping to bringing people together to talk, to share ideas, and to build relationship with one another. Prior to the pandemic, we met for in-person meetings, had coalition convenings at our office and welcomed everyone to RE:Conference in Salem to exchange ideas, ideate solutions, and advocate for programmatic and policy change.
This face-to-face time is important because our work is built on trusting relationships and the human connections we have with one another. This taps into the biggest strength we have, our people and community. We all know how we it feels when we are welcomed and we belong: we feel more open, at ease, and connected to others. This enables us all to be more expansive and tap into our creativity and authentic selves. NP has strived to support environments where these connections are fostered, strengthened and lead to long-term trusting relationships. This is not only the place where we can strategize for the future, but also candidly discuss our struggles, mistakes, and provide support and feedback needed to work thorough difficult and challenging times.
Unfortunately, after almost a year since the lockdown and subsequent physical distancing requirements we still have many unknowns about when, if and how we will be able to come together in person and in healthy ways. One of the things we at NP have recognized is the major shift to virtual spaces for convening and doing our work. We have had to shift our thinking and grapple with how we continue make those connections with one another, with staff and more importantly with community given these realities and ongoing uncertainty. Additionally, we’ve had to recognize and work to mitigate how these changes are impacting our community and work to make sure there is full access to these virtual spaces.
As we begin to see lower COVID-19 cases and vaccine rollout, we are all grappling with how we might go back to in person work and convenings. I believe our collective task will be how we do this in a healthy way, to foster healthy connections, and ensure our most vulnerable are kept safe and healthy.
Additionally, our organization is coming up on the end of our office lease this summer and have been contemplating how we might continue to do our mission driven work given these changes. We’ve heard from some organizations that have downsized their office space and others that have gone completely office-less. As we continue our journey, I would love to hear how others are working through these questions. Please reach out and connect if you have thoughts, ideas or would like to share how your organization is working through these questions. It would be great to hear from others and compare notes on how you all are handling these transitions.
As we work through these ongoing transitions and shifts, NP will continue to think about creating a safe and welcoming space to come together and build relationships. We want to seize on the opportunities that this shift to remote and virtual work has created, including enabling us to engage our partners and community members from across the state. Our work moving forward is to think collectively about how we harness those opportunity to support continued collaboration and movement toward collective action for housing and economic justice.