The Portland Harbor clean-up is critically important to our region, yet many of us are not aware of the discussions taking place on our river’s future. Superfund work has been going on for more than ten years, and the time is right to broaden the discussions to include more members of our community. We all should be part of the decisions that will affect us for decades to come.
The Partnership seeks to engage broad and diverse groups in the Superfund conversation. We share EPA’s desire to include a wide spectrum of Oregonians in the decisions that affect the Willamette River’s future. We are coordinating with EPA’s outreach so that our effort adds value to EPA’s overall process.
Partnership Engagement Goals
1. Raise awareness about the existence of the Superfund Site.
2. Provide basic information about the Superfund Site.
3. Provide an opportunity for the public to share its vision for the future of the river.
Summary of Engagement Effort to Achieve Goals
Portland State University has summarized the engagement effort and produced a report that is downloadable.
The Partnership shared the report with EPA at the end of May 2012. Here is a brief summary:
— Participated in 11 public community events from August 2011 to January 2012 to raise awareness about the Superfund Site, provide basic facts, and solicit input through a survey.
- Information booths and materials created over 25,000 direct impressions for participants at events
- Captured more than 1,600 event participants on photos and produced over 500 photos with project information
- Held approximately 1,300 conversations with event participants
- Collected approximately 350 surveys
- Event list, photos and other information available under *Past Events*
— Grass-roots engagement through individual outreach to existing organizations.
- Developed a short presentation in coordination with Portland State University and Oregon State University that describes basic information about:
- What is Portland Harbor?
- What is the Superfund Site process?
- What are the contamination issues?
- What are the risks to people and the environment?
- How did the contamination get there?
- Who will pay for the cleanup?
- How can the community get involved?
- Presented this info to 54 groups and interested parties from November 2011 to March 2012, including 14 neighborhood associations in the vicinity of the Superfund Site.
- Encouraged community members to get involved and take the survey.
— Collaborated with Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), Latino Network and Urban League to design culturally appropriate engagement plans specific to their communities. The three community groups designed and led the outreach programs, collecting input from over 500 community members. Their programs included the following:
- Organizing and facilitating focus groups (in native languages when appropriate)
- Outreach at cultural events
- Organizing presentations and information sessions (in native languages when appropriate)
- Distribution of surveys to community audiences (in multiple languages when appropriate)
- Translations of the input received from native languages to English
- Summary reports of all their work
The Partnership compensated the Community Organizations for this work.
— Established Charity Challenge to increase awareness of project and increase survey responses. The Partnership established $10,000 to be shared by Friends of Trees, Oregon Food Bank, Oregon Historical Society, and The Freshwater Trust based on the percentage of votes each charity receives on the completed surveys. The four charities promoted the surveys to their members, which increased the number of surveys submitted on-line. Over 650 completed surveys include votes for the four non-profits.
— Developed the On the Waterfront monthly speaker series to increase interest and awareness about the Willamette River and Superfund Site, and direct people to learn more through the Portland Harbor Partnership website. The January kick-off event had a standing room only crowd of 230 people.
— Website, Facebook, and Email Listserv (as of June 7, 2013)
- Over 46,000 page views of the Partnership website
- Over 730 likes on Facebook
- Over 400 people signed up to receive email updates
— Surveys: Through all of these efforts, over 1780 surveys were completed through March 31, 2012. Portland State University summarized the results in the report linked to above.