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Reflection: A Night at the District Coalition Office Info Session

Last night I attended the fourth and final info session of the District Coalition Office Model transition held at The Portland Building.


At the meeting, arguments were made by attendees that the Office of Community & Civic Life balanced the budget inequitably by making the budget for each of the four district coalition offices approximately even, because District 4 has a reported 33 neighborhood associations, and other districts, like our beloved District 2, only have 14-19 (their purported numbers).

When I pushed back noting that the populations of each district are balanced, a District Coalition Office non-profit leader looked me in the eyes and said "we don't serve people, we serve associations."


Let's unpack that.


Why do we think some districts have twice as many associations serving their like-sized communities as other districts? Associations that are created, staffed and managed by volunteers? I'll give you a hint ... it has to do with opportunity ... which is a polite way of saying privilege.


So when we think about our city investing funds equitably in our neighborhoods, and specifically handing funds over to non-profits who are contracted to support and engage and uplift our communities, holding that the historic privilege - that brought about our current unbalanced system - is what we should ground our modern funding model in is the definition of perpetuating historic injustice.


Why don't we think about the funds it will take to empower communities lacking the support of a neighborhood association to get one off the ground? Or the funds it will take for the non-profit contractors to fill the holes that the lack of associations creates in bringing the resources of grants and events and community development to communities that lack the privilege to power their own associations?


This is a perfect example of why equitable community engagement is one of my campaign priorities.

The quote in this image — “People create a neighborhood. Neighborhoods create community. Communities make a city. We connect the dots.” — is from the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, the District Coalition Office that will support District 2.


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