Neighborhood Leaders Council Meeting 6/27/23
This meeting was devoted to hearing from City of Eugene Neighborhood Associations on the following topics.
- I’ve always seen neighborhood associations as infrastructure for action. They allow you to interact with different agencies, mostly government. When neighbors’ issues come up, or when neighbors have problems or desires, they have some place to go that can facilitate them.
- You develop contacts over time. Then people don’t have to go through the process of trying to find somebody; you can direct them.
- I think the most important thing is that when you interact with the city and staff is that you get them on your side. Understand their constraints. Build relationships.
- The primary purpose of our board is to distribute helpful and useful information.
- We facilitate civic engagement on decisions affecting our neighborhood.
- We foster rich social networks and relationships among neighbors. move towards a more resilient neighborhood.
- The board stands in solidarity to fight for equality and justice for communities of color.
- Our hope is to be proactive and identify issues and avoid that rise and fall of problems.
- You know, we’re the ones that can implement what needs to be implemented.
- You just have to make the effort to reach out. A lot of times you start at the bottom; you work your way up. Have to be kind of relentless about it.
- We started a park centric process for the neighborhood. If you don’t have control over your parks, you can’t control your neighborhood. You get crime and unwanted activity.
- Our biggest win is the affordable housing complex at the Naval Reserve site. We built a coalition and were proactive. When the city was ready to move, we were right there. All we need is $44 million. But that’s their problem. And that’s a tribute to the very intense public process that we went through.
- We have been most successful working through active committees rather than individual board members. We are in regular contact with our city councilor to keep abreast of COE entities.
· One success was dealing with a company, Zippo Laminator, which is not in our neighborhood. It would start work at 4 in the morning, and send low energy, low frequency pulses into the neighborhood, that kept people awake. At first, the City said that the ordinance doesn’t speak to vibrations that are below the hearing level. But by advocating with our city councilor we were able to get the ordinance modified. Zippo Laminator fought it for 2 or 3 months, and finally gave up.
- The other success I would point to is our collaboration over homelessness and low income issues. We now have a navigation center on River Avenue, a program that’s designed to take up to 75 people at a time who are chronically homeless.
- I’m envious of the lightning speed of those accomplishments. When our board formed 12 years ago, we had a goal of getting a park at Striker Field. Sure enough, 12 years later, it’s being built. It takes persistence and having city councilors on your side. And board continuity.
- We usually mail 4 newsletters a year. Color newsletters if possible. People tend to read them more than if they’re in black and white, though that adds to the price tag. So we always have to ask Cindy, ‘Can we be in the red for a while?’
- You can put ads in now. So that’s another way of funding.
- We have set mailings that we do based on our budget. Twice a year a 4 page newsletter and once a year a shorter one, usually ahead of the picnic in June.
- We have 3 different online newsletters. One that goes out every month is the Friendly Flyer. Another is from our emergency response preparedness group. And we have an equity action team that puts out online newsletters when they have something to talk about.
- A digital mailing is sent to all email subscribers the week following the monthly meeting. Each committee is asked to include a link to the summary of their last meeting as posted on the SEN website; the summaries are also included in the monthly meeting minutes. Committees are strongly encouraged to generate written informational ‘articles’ to include in digital mailings.
- We send our email newsletters every single month. I’ve been getting a lot of things from the library, so people are looking for that. And things that are going on with the rec center, Petersen Barn. And I try to make sure that we’re all aware of the city council meetings.
- We found that posters were a lot of effort for probably not much return. So we limit our posters to places that are highly trafficked.
- We are a small neighborhood, about 700,000. We usually send out a newsletter 4 times a year.
It’s 4 pages. We do have an email list, although it’s old and we don’t do much with it.
- it’s a funnel. You have a newsletter that goes to everybody, but if you invite everybody, you invite nobody. Nobody feels special. So you find somebody who’s interested at an event. They join a group. They volunteer. You have one on one conversations. They’re on the board.
- I think word of mouth is the best.
- We have around 850 people on our list. Half of them open it.
- We have about 900 getting our monthly emails and up to 34% opens and 24 clicks. So we have a pretty good following.
- We’ve got about 100.
- We have just short of 800. We get 450 as a high opening number.
- Getting sign-ups is tricky. Every time you have any event, you’ve got to get sign-ups. For years now we’ve been accumulating them, and we’ve only got 600 or 700 people on it. Meanwhile, our mailing goes to 3,000 people.
- We build the email subscriber list slowly, slowly. Every opportunity. When you meet in person you always have to sign up. You funnel people through the doorway past the table where someone snags them to sign up.
- We started using a laptop to sign in. Nobody can write any more, apparently, so you can’t read it right? So we’ve went to the computer. And that made it a lot easier.
- There is a sign-up portal on our website.
- We have a link to sign up, either with a QR Code or a button on the website.
- With iContact or Mailchimp, you know what the number means. With Facebook, you have no idea.
- We have a neighborhood Facebook page which has been really successful. It has 600 people in the Facebook group which, given that we’re 700 households, is pretty amazing.
- That’s the public part of it. We require that somebody approve people to be able to post or comment. You do have some control.
- If you post about a city council meeting where something is being discussed, you might get 30 or 40 comments. And 5 or 6 people might show up.
- We’re considering pivoting more heavily into Nextdoor, but that’s an ongoing discussion. Facebook is a much more cordial focus than Nextdoor.
- Our events have been on Nextdoor for the last 3 years. Last year I was for a part of celebration with 300 views, with 150 attendees. We also showed a photo of the mural in West Moreland Park, with over 600 views.
- Over in Whitaker, there is the Whittaker Neighbors Open Group, which is huge. It was started by a board member to have more discussion of issues in the neighborhood. Council members participate in it. It’s separate from the Whitaker Community Council, which has a Facebook page that is more for announcements and information.
- In our neighborhood, there’s a whole bunch of online groups that we are not involved with.
- Facebook seems to be the Boomer generation thing now. Younger people have migrated to Instagram and other platforms, and so I think we really need to keep peddling to keep up.
- It takes a lot of labor to do it right. Doing it not right can sometimes be worse than not doing it at all. Do you use it as an announcement platform, or do you use it as an engagement platform? Because consistency is important.
- it can work against you. If people hijack your system they also hijack your image in your neighborhood. And on all the platforms you get toxic behavior.
- We need a meeting or workshop on social media outreach.
- We post all our committee reports every month. Instead of taking up meeting time, we board members have access to the website. Transportation and other committees. It’s for outreach too, because we send out a Mailchimp every month, and on it is the link for people to click on to go to that specific committee report. It also has an active calendar on it.
- It’s a great place to store information. You can direct people to it. and it’s just much easier than sending them documents. It’s just a matter of trying to keep it up to date.
- We hold board meetings once a month and general meetings every 3 months. We’ve done Zoom all through Covid and are going in-person starting next month. I think we’re all ready to recognize each other at the grocery store.
- Monthly board meetings plus one retreat.
- We have general meetings every month except for summer and December because nobody goes. Recently we’ve split those meetings between Zoom and in person. Zoom when it’s cold and dark and rainy.
- We have had many meeting guests: Beyond Toxics, Quiet Clean Eugene, Bloodworks, Homeshare Oregon, Nightingale Hosted Shelter, City of Eugene Crime Analyst, EWEB, etc. At the annual picnic, foot trucks are invited and many non-profits and several businesses set up tables.
- We bring in our local civic leaders. Our county commissioner. Our city councilor. We also have two special districts, a water district, and parks district. We also bring in EWEB.
- Our city councilor is a member of the association; she generally will come to meetings. Also I regularly meet with Randy Groves because we share a lot of the same policy concerns.
- We hold our elections in October, and in addition we also make sure to put a high draw on the agenda to give us a big general meeting.
- The Board has started holding community ‘Meet & Greet’ events. So far, these events have taken place at local restaurants. Board members meet informally with SEN residents to socialize.
- OECE encourages hybrid because it makes the meetings more accessible. People work or cook dinner for the kids, So it’s a bonus you get with hybrid.
- We have 7 on our board right now.
- Our board is right now down to a small group.
- We have 6 people on our board.
- We currently have 11 board members.
- There are just 6 of us. We held a general meeting, pretty successful, about 50 people for a homeless forum. We’re not doing a picnic this year; we don’t have the energy with just 6 people.
- How do we find new board members? A lot of times I invite them from postings that they’ve done on Nextdoor or our Facebook page. When they act interested, I invite them. Also at different events that we’ve had.
- I talk at every single public forum that I can. That way they all know me and understand our concerns with our Bethel visioning.
- When someone shows interest, we reach out and invite them to be more involved, whether that is jumping onto a committee, or coming to a couple of board meetings. That personal touch.
- We hope to build our committees up to the point where they can be incubators for board members. But that’s been a challenge.
- We have an annual retreat after our elections in March, and we try to bring on new members and decide what we’re trying to do for the next year.
- The leaders meet separately with every board member after each election cycle.
- I have been among our board leaders for 10 years. The good thing is that you know everything. It does take a long time to figure out how it all works. It’s good to have a resource like that. They don’t have to be the chair.
- Some of our leaders have been on for years. That was a very good thing for managing during the pandemic.
- Reactivation kicked off with a town hall forum dedicated to Bethel specifically where we gathered our elected officials representing different levels of government. We’ve turned that into an annual event, and now ABC runs that forum. Over the first six months I had a total of 17 meetings to go to get us to be able to hold an election. Neighborhood Services helped us through this phase. Then Lin showed up, and from day one took on event planning, and that really built us into a new group.
- Our most effective subcommittee is Ready Northwest Eugene, working to get a structure in place, so we can deal with whatever disasters we have to look forward to.
- The other successful group is our Social Justice Committee. Unfortunately, there have been enough things going on to generate the need for them to interact with neighbors.
- Disaster Preparedness and Transportation have been very successful, advocating for resident needs and holding events.
- What stimulates involvement is a perceived community crisis or big community events.