Just about every community in the state of Oregon is hunkering down for snow, snow and even more snow. Levels range from 1 to 3 inches along the south coast to 7 to 10 inches in areas east of the Cascade Range. The National Weather Service says the cold weather will last through the weekend and transition to milder and wetter conditions (a.k.a. rain) by the middle of next week. With that in mind, the Resource Assistance for Rural Environments-RARE AmeriCorps participants took a moment to share photos of their community’s first winter wonderland conditions before the rain washes it all away.
The mission of the RARE Program is to increase the capacity of rural communities to improve their economic, social, and environmental conditions, through the assistance of trained graduate-level participants, from across the US. These RARE AmeriCorps participants live in and serve 25 rural Oregon communities assisting in the development and implementation of projects for achieving a sustainable natural resource base and improving rural economic conditions. The markers on the map represents the 25 RARE placements throughout Oregon for 2013-14.
Special thank you to Andrew Barbier, Aubrey Erwin, Jeremy Goldsmith, Laura Goodrich, Maggie Hanna, Julie Havens, Katherine Hayes, Blake Helm, Rebecca and Jason Sergeant, and Titus Tomlinson for sharing their photos with us.
Where were you born and where do you call home? I was born in Santa Cruz, CA. I still call Santa Cruz my home—much of my family still lives there. But I lived in San Francisco for years, so it’s sort of easier and truer to myself to say the Bay Area.
What would I find in your refrigerator right now? Tortillas, pickled jalapenos, a big block of cheddar and leftover cranberry-
In which graduate program are you enrolled? Area of concentration? I’m earning a master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning. My focus is on sustainable transportation.
What Community Service Center program(s) are you working with? I’m working with the Community Planning Workshop (CPW) to monitor parking and transportation mode splits for the Matthew Knight Arena. It’s part of a conditional use permit to evaluate the impacts of games and events on the neighborhood. I’m also assessing consumption and demand for locally-produced foods for the Willamette Food and Farm Coalition. We’re developing indicators and acquiring the metrics to understand if local food consumption is rising, and to get a clear picture of why.
What are some of the outcomes you hope to gain when your project ends?
I hope that working with the Matthew Knight Arena will give me some transferable skills around transportation planning and to better understand the habits, incentives, and politics around sustainable transportation options.
How does your involvement with the Community Service Center relate to or inform your education?
How doesn’t it? I believe that transportation and land use are intertwined and that increasing density can make cities more livable for urban populations. I want to see more transportation options for communities because the current paradigm of automotive culture is killing us, socially and physically. My work with the Matthew Knight Arena studies these ideas and should help inform me about behaviors and barriers in regard to sustainable transportation.
What advice would you give to your younger self just beginning the
CSC program? Advice will only get you so far. Experience is worth its weight in gold, so strap in and learn through your successes and failures.
Sleep in or get up early?
Well that depends on a lot of factors, and I’m not about to get into the specifics. But generally, I burn the candle at both ends.
I admit it, I love conferences. Fluorescent lights, windowless rooms, and sometimes-questionable food aside, the synergy of passionate, like-minded individuals uniting to share ideas and learn together. We come to conferences from the day-to-day reality of our work, maybe feeling embattled, overwhelmed, or in need of a recharge. By the end, everyone leaves bleary-eyed, over-caffeinated (maybe that’s just me), and eager to get home, but carrying with them a renewed spark of passion for their work.
Coming to the Oregon Main Street Conference as a complete novice representing a Main Street program that, in many ways, is still in its infancy, I was floored by the wealth of innovative projects taking place across the state. But more than that, I realized for the first time that there are a LOT of components involved in revitalizing and preserving a city. I mean, that goes without saying, right? It’s a bit too obvious to call it a realization. But seeing the topics in all of the conference sessions laid out in front of me, I think I really comprehended it for the first time. Preservationists, retailers, developers, property owners, tourists, community members, service organizations, parking specialists, disaster preparedness planners…all of these components and countless others work in sync (ideally) to make up the physiology of a community.
What amazed me most about the experience was the overwhelming spirit of collaboration and community present in every project, every presentation, every conversation between programs. All of the aforementioned moving pieces in a community are manned by individuals who want to invest in their collective future. They are the reason that these projects exist, and their investment is the crucial ingredient for the success of the projects. And the wonderful work showcased at the conference came to fruition because of their passion and expertise.
The opportunities for partnership and collaboration in Main Street are plentiful, because so many people can contribute, and so many will benefit from the program’s success. Seeing these successful models of collaboration, pulling together as many stakeholders as possible to capitalize on their energy and skills, which is the ‘spark’ that I carry with me from this conference; the one that fuels the fire for my work. The people in these communities want their cities to succeed, and it’s our job to build the infrastructure needed for them to achieve that goal.
Oregon Main Street works with communities to develop comprehensive, incremental revitalization strategies based on a community’s unique assets, character, and heritage. This year’s Oregon Main Street Conference was held in Astoria, Oregon on October 2-4, 2013
About the Author: As a RARE AmeriCorps participant, Aubrey Erwin is the Main Street Coordinator in Sandy, Oregon. She received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Environmental Studies from Albertson College of Idaho, and plans to study urban and regional planning in graduate school. Her free time hobbies include bicycling, gazing lovingly at Mount Hood, and exploring the natural and man-made wonders of the greater Portland metro area.