Verde Outreach addresses a divide that exists between sustainability and low-income communities, a Green Divide:

Cully ParkCully Park prior to developmentIncreasingly, Portland’s communities are defined by environmental benefits, by whether a community has meaningful environmental assets: parks, habitat, investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, stormwater management facilities, environmental education opportunities, green jobs and green businesses. Portland's growing sustainability movement makes purposeful investments in certain places and people, in certain businesses and institutions, creating vibrant, healthy and environmentally beneficial communities.

This movement does not prioritize equity, does not build environmental wealth in low-income people and people of color, in their neighborhoods or in their businesses and institutions. Portland’s low-income people and people of color spend their daily lives in places that suffer disproportionate environmental impacts, in environmentally-deficient places like NE Portland’s Cully Neighborhood.  They are environmentally marginalized, excluded from the routine opportunities that build environmental wealth for other people.

Verde's Outreach-Advocacy activities bridge this Green Divide. Through Living Cully: A Cully Ecodistrict, Verde and partners bring new environmental investments to the Cully Neighborhood. Through Policy Advocacy, Verde and partners create a policy framework that empowers low-income people and people of color to drive environmental resources into their neighborhoods, in response to existing community needs.

Click on the headers below to learn more about specific projects and be sure to visit the Living Cully website for the most up-to-date information on that aspect of our work.

Working in the Neighborhood – Living Cully: A Cully Ecodistrict

Verde, Hacienda CDC and NAYA are strong Cully-based organizations with common values, a history of working together, and complementary programmatic strengths and activities.

Cully Community Graden Work PartyCommunity Garden Work Party2010, Verde, Hacienda CDC and NAYA established Living Cully: A Cully Ecodistrict. In Living Cully, we reinterpret sustainability as an anti-poverty strategy, introducing new environmental assets to Cully in response to existing community needs: health, employment, education, housing.

We are having success, our model is driving environmental investments into Cully. Now, we build on Living Cully’s success in a timely manner - institutionalizing our relationships, building our capacity as community-based intermediaries, securing greater environmental investments:

Living Cully Vision Statement

Verde, Hacienda CDC and NAYA establish a Vision Statement to guide our collaboration. This Vision Statement will reflect our shared commitment to community engagement, community benefit and environmental wealth.

Living Cully Workplan

Verde, Hacienda CDC and NAYA develop a Workplan, including:

  • Roles, responsibilities, and capacity-building needed to manage our collective impact work.
  • Mechanisms by which the organizations can participate in each other’s signature projects.
  • Barriers to full participation in signature projects.
  • Local and regional policy advocacy needed to realize the Living Cully Vision Statement.

Living Cully Performance Indicators

Through the Vision Statement and the Workplan, Verde, Hacienda CDC and NAYA institutionalize our inter-organizational relationship. Our work becomes explicitly linked, our outcomes interconnected. Working with PolicyLink, we establish Performance Indicators in order to evaluate progress toward the Workplan’s goals, indicators which each organization can utilize, producing data which can be easily shared between organizations and with other communities.

Living Cully Signature Projects.
Since 2010, Living Cully has delivered environmental projects which directly benefit Cully’s low-income people and people of color. Now, Verde, Hacienda CDC and NAYA design and implement environmental projects of a new and greater scale, Living Cully Signature Projects:

  • Verde’s Let Us Build Cully Park! project, creating jobs, educational opportunities and open space by converting a 25 acre brownfield into a new park for the Cully neighborhood.
  • Hacienda CDC’s Rebuilding Clara Vista project, incorporating green building into the rehabilitation of 133 units of affordable housing.
  • NAYA’s Whitaker Restoration project, creating habitat and additional facilities for NAYA’s community development activities, consistent with the site’s Native American history.

Working outside the Neighborhood – Policy Advocacy

Environmental policies create more than environmental benefits or environmental winners and losers.

Environmental policies also create economic benefits, and economic winners and losers.  With the rise of sustainability, environmental policymakers pay more and more attention to creating these economic benefits.  Verde wants them to pay more attention to the economic winners and losers.

Verde works with many partners to educate environmental policymakers about practices which help ensure that the green economy creates economic opportunities for low-income people and people of color, and which build environmental wealth in disadvantaged communities.

Current policy activities include:

Clean Energy Works Oregon

Clean Energy Works OregonClean Energy Works Oregon is the next stage in Clean Energy Works Portland/CEWP, a pilot program to weatherize up to 500 qualified Portland homes through on-bill financing.  CEWP was guided by an innovative Community Workforce Agreement, developed through a collaboration of community groups, labor, trainers, and contractors.

With a $20 million grant from the US Department of Energy, Clean Energy Works Oregon/CEWO expands the CEWP model, and will serve thousands of Portland-area homes and other Oregon jurisdictions. Verde's Executive Director serves on the CEWO Board of Directors, working to achieve the following policy goals:

  • Application of the Community Workforce Agreement's standards to CEWO's scaled-up local and statewide activities
  • Greater participation by low-income and people of color homeowners in CEWO-driven weatherization projects
  • Greater diversity in CEWO staff, board and professional services contractors

Portland Bike Share

Portland has a bike economy. A 2008 study found that: Economic activity generated by bike-related industry in Portland totals approximately $90 million, a 38% increase since 2006; and that the bike economy provides between 850 and 1150 Portland jobs. Equity policies have not been part of Portland’s bike economy, despite public investment in promotion and bike infrastructure, and despite low barriers to entry for bike jobs and businesses.

2011, Portland City Council voted to allocate $2 million toward a public-private partnership to launch Portland Bike Share, a large-scale bike sharing program, made available via a City-issued Request for Proposals/RFP. 

Advocacy by Verde and partners successfully added equity criteria into this RFP, including standards for participation by minority-owned and women-owned business, for workforce diversity in the program’s design, construction and operation, and for promoting accessibility for low-income people and people of color.

With the 9.2012 award of the bike share contract to Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share, Verde and partners begin the hard work of turning equity policy into equity practice…