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The Geography of Opportunity: Mapping to Advance Racial and Social Equity in Portland, OR

The Geography of Opportunity: Mapping to Advance Racial and Social Equity in Portland, OR
2011Opportunity Communities

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Since the early 1970s, the Portland region has been setting the pace in environmental sustainability policy. What began with the institution of urban growth boundaries under the leadership of Governor Tom McCall and the support of local farm, environment, and urban advocates, has progressed into a system of development patterns and multimodal transportation infrastructure that promotes stewardship of the region’s environmental resources in an unparalleled manner. This track record of success would not have been possible without the coalition building that took place across the narrow interests of stakeholders representing various concerns related to the natural and built environment. It is this same key to success that Portland must draw on by realizing a shared vision for the environment, the economy, and social equity, in order to develop a comprehensive sustainability policy structure, and continue to be a model of regional health and prosperity.

As local advocates continue to grow in their understanding of the need to build strong opportunity structures, and about the concept of having regional goals with strategies targeted towards the needs of particular community needs, the region will develop a greater appreciation for what sustainability consists of. This paradigm shift has been a ground-breaking catalyst for collaboration in the region’s sustainability movement over the past year. As equity and environmental leaders have come to see that their causes are linked and that neighborhood equity matters, the challenges to working together have been slowly diminishing, allowing for a more cooperative approach to planning for the future health of Portland’s communities and residents.

The spatial analysis represented in this report is designed to be a starting point for more discussion about equity sustainability, and to be a tool that will foster more collaboration around establishing policies that place all people in the region in the context of a rich network of opportunity.