October 23, 2014
by Julia Havens

Meet our RARE AmeriCorps Participant: Liz Esposito

Liz Esposito RARE Resource Assistance for Rural EnvironmentsLiz received her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science and Policy from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.  As a student, Liz was a Summer Research Fellow for the Center for the Environment, Ecological Design  and Sustainability, and Landscape Studies Program, where she designed a chestnut orchard for the MacLeish Field Station.  Upon graduation, Liz spent four months as Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency’s Planning Aide before getting promoted to Assistant Planner.  Liz plans to use her year with RARE-Resource Assistance for Rural Environment to gain experience that would be benefit her in graduate school, as well as determine where her academic concentration will be. Liz is placed with the City of St. Helens, where she will coordinate and manage various components of the St. Helens Main Street Program.  Liz will be involved in all aspects including daily administration, long-range planning, stakeholder engagement, and various special main street projects.

The City of St. Helens is located in southeastern Columbia County on the Columbia River, approximately 30 miles northwest of Portland, Oregon.  Near the riverfront, the Old Town portion of St. Helens features a Nationally Registered Historic District encompassing 10 blocks, which includes residences and civic buildings dating back nearly a century.  Currently, the community is in transition shifting from a historic “mill town” to now determining its future.  With a population of 12,895, one defining characteristic is that 70 percent of the workforce commutes outside the county.

October 20, 2014
by Julia Havens

Traveling south along the rockies; Mountain bike in tow

Nick Meltzer P.E. University of Oregon Alumni Masters Community and Regional Planning CRP

What do University of Oregon’s Community and Regional Planning (PPPM) Alumni do after they graduate? Or life after CPW – Community Planning Workshop? For Nicholas Meltzer, it’s a peaceful trip on his mountain bike across the Rockies. According to Nick’s blog, Chasing Fall, the inspiration for this trip came from two places:

#1. The grandfather of a friend to Nick  allotted each of his grandchildren some money to go on a trip. It had to be intentional, and each grandchild had to prove how they were going to become a better person because of it.

#2.  An excellent blog post, Everybody needs a Grand Tour, which is about spending time adjusting to a different schedule.

Interested in learning more about the trip, route and Nick’s thoughts on his journey to become a better person? Check out this very awesome blog at chasingfallonabike.wordpress.com

October 16, 2014
by Julia Havens
1 Comment

The Glamorous Aspects of Natural Hazards Planning


FEMA Region X, OEM, DLCD, Deschutes County Sherriff and OPDR staff at the conclusion of a successful two day NHMP training in Bend

FEMA Region X, OEM, DLCD, Deschutes County Sherriff and OPDR staff at a successful two day NHMP Training in Bend

It’s been an eventful year. Twelve months ago, I had a very limited understanding of planning and an even smaller amount of hands-on experience.  When I started down the road as a planner, I had assumed I would get involved in some of the more glamorous aspects of planning such as transportation or smart growth development. I had never considered natural hazards planning glamorous until January when my Community Planning Workshop group worked with the City of Madras to integrate their Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan (NHMP) into their comprehensive plan. Since starting that CPW-Oregon Partnership for Disaster Resilience (OPDR) project, I’ve gotten more involved with and knowledgeable of the benefits of natural hazards mitigation planning. After my project ended in June, I was sad to think my new found interest in hazard planning had come to an end.

Much to my surprise, I was selected to attend a two-day hazard mitigation workshop this past September.  The workshop was facilitated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and focused on local mitigation planning. Local city emergency managers, sheriffs departments, representatives from Oregon Emergency Management and the Department of Land Conservation and Development, and other organizations across the state and northwest (including Alaska and Washington) were in attendance.

The workshop was very valuable considering my previous CPW project involved all the concepts that were being taught in the workshop. A lot of the information and recommendations that were demonstrated were the same lessons that I had learned through the trial and error of my CPW project.  The training also helped me understand why certain policies are in place. I can now look at planning requirements and understand their importance instead of seeing them as arbitrary boxes that need to check off.

After attending the workshop, hazards mitigation planning is just as much an important and essential planning discipline as transportation planning. That notion was reinforced the next day while working a fair in Lincoln City aimed at increasing residents’ awareness and preparedness for natural hazards. While at the fair, I displayed Lincoln County Risk Maps that showed the potential impact of a tsunami along the Oregon coast, and chatted with visitors, primarily area residents, about our risk maps, the tsunami and natural hazards planning. Because of the training and my previous work experience with my CPW project, I knowledgeably and confidently explain why residents should be aware of potential hazards and why taking a proactive approach to eliminating or reducing the impacts is the best solution for the community. It was a rewarding experience and I was humbled when residents would sincerely thank me for helping their community be more prepared for natural hazards.

Drew Pfefferle OPDR Oregon Partnership for Disaster Resilience CSC Community Service CenterAbout the Author: Drew Pfefferle is a second year Community and Regional Planning graduate student and CPW graduate teaching fellow (GTF). He is from Twin Falls, Idaho and graduated from California State University Chico with a degree and Parks and Recreation Administration.

October 9, 2014
by Julia Havens

Inside the Body of a Resilient City

Cities are a network of interdependent systems, not unlike the human body; each one depends on the next to function properly.

But unlike our bodies, whose integrated systems work together when faced with injury or illness, and which have mastered “safe failure” so that one interruption doesn’t lead to catastrophic malfunction, our cities’ systems are often developed in silos.

When one system fails, it brings the others down with it.

Inside the Body of a Resilient City Oregon Partnership for Disaster ResilienceAs we look toward building more resilient cities, we’re working on new ways to redesign how our water, energy, and transportation systems work together.

Learn more about the vital role of well-designed, well-connected systems in the face of future growth, stress, and shock:


This blog is from 100 Resilient Cities
Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation