Friendly Area Neighbors Mediation and Dialogue
January 14, 2013

Present:

Friendly Area Neighborhood (FAN) Association board members: Carlos Barrera, Nancy Classen, Bernie Corrigan, Andrew Fisher, Greg Giesy, Marv Glover, Deb Jones, Kristina Lang, Nancy Ellen Locke, Rex Redmon, Bruce Strimling, Christine Thompson

Other neighbors: Jason Blazar, Jesse Donohue, Jean Jancaitis, Eric Jones, Alison Marcus, Holly McRae, Jim Patterson, Joby Patterson, Laurie Trieger, Bob Walker, Jim Watson; Bob Kaminski, Village School principal; and Mike Kinnison, City of Eugene Neighborhood Services manager.

Facilitation team: Lysbeth Borie and Beatrice Dohrn, Community Mediation Services.

Introduction:

This meeting grew out of two prior processes involving the City and the Friendly Neighborhood. First, a public participation process, intended to improve bicycle access on 24th Avenue, led to strong feelings and disagreements on the part of some neighbors, including some FAN board members, about both the process and the resulting project. A subsequent dialogue process last fall between the FAN board and City staff highlighted the need for further dialogue between the FAN board and other neighbors, which resulted in this meeting. Tonight’s purpose is to consider how communication in the neighborhood, particularly between the FAN board and other neighbors, can be improved in order to help the board better represent the neighborhood, thereby building a stronger neighborhood association and a stronger neighborhood.

Note: Use of an asterisk (*) indicates that the comment was made by more than one person.

Vision:

What is your vision for an ideal neighborhood association?

- Neighbors willing to get involved, attend City and neighborhood meetings and volunteer
- Forum facilitates two-way communication
- Takes care of neighbors such as the elderly, etc.
- Comes together and forges consensus
- Board understands we are a diverse neighborhood and individuals have diverse interests
-  Board reaches out to neighbors to find out what is important on particular issues
- Board is a conduit for the whole neighborhood, represents the neighborhood as a whole
- Understands its role in the city as a whole
- Is aware of livability issues in the neighborhood, watches/monitors those issues and works persistently to address issues
- Promotes safety
- Promotes collaboration
- There is a space for youth to be involved.

FAN board:

What would you like your members (neighborhood residents) to understand about how you approach communicating with the neighborhood and how you make decisions?

- Usually addressing problems
- Examples: reservoir, speeding on W. 24th Avenue
- Role is one of advocacy
- Sharing information
- Sometimes we need to be aggressive
- If we don’t agree with you, understand that we are also talking with other neighbors who may have other views
- On W. 24th, tried to balance relative safety
- Being accessible by name, phone, email, being listed in the phone book, coming to meetings
- Outreach has included visiting businesses
- We have limited time as volunteers
- Meetings are open
- New Friendly Neighborhood Forum on Facebook increases accessibility
- Providing information to the broader neighborhood
- Newsletter gets the word out
- Representing the neighborhood
- Interface between neighbors and the City

Neighbors:

What are your hopes and expectations for how the FAN board gets input, makes decisions and communicates with you?

- We appreciate your service
- Newsletter and website are great*
- Tone in meetings should be respectful and avoid sparring
- Listen with an open mind and a desire to include and learn from diverse views
- Understand that change may not be a problem
- Understand that people may give input in different ways (e.g., through other avenues such as city councilors, city staff, or other city committees)
- Facebook forum is great
- Would like to know in advance when FAN board is weighing in on major issues
- It is difficult to represent the neighborhood when not everyone participates.

How can we (board and neighbors) best work with differencesdivergent views on issues facing the neighborhood?

- The executive board never votes for the general membership
- When people email City staff, please email the FAN board co-chairs
- I am uncomfortable with an “us-vs. them” attitude regarding the association’s relationship to the City—we should be collaborating
- Sometimes a watchdog is needed
- Learn from other places about how a community can be really effective at community democracy at the neighborhood level
- Gather data*
- Use technology and don’t represent just the majority; for example, share what percentages of the neighborhood share different views
- Provide a voice for all neighbors
- Share how the board votes
- Conversations happen openly, over time; continue to do outreach
- Stay in tune with shifting demographics
- Represent the whole neighborhood
- Neighborhood association wasn’t on my radar as a place to give input—more people need to know about neighborhood associations
- Raise profile of neighborhood associations
- Board do better outreach to let people know when a major vote or hot issue is coming up*
- Electronic surveys

Representing the Neighborhood’s Interests:

What principles or guidelines could help guide Friendly Area neighbors and the FAN board in how best to engage with one another?

The group brainstormed principles/guidelines as well as specific actions that could help the FAN board and neighbors to engage with each other. The group reviewed the Friendly Area Neighborhood Association charter and the Neighborhood Organization Recognition Policy (NORP). During the discussion, it was clear that information, outreach and engagement are connected; clear and timely information is necessary for good outreach and engagement to occur. All are necessary for the board to fully represent the neighborhood as a whole.

Key themes that emerged from this discussion included:

- Understand that we are a diverse neighborhood, and value that diversity
- Build a culture of interaction and feedback
- Reach out to neighbors both in person and electronically
- “Get the data,” for example, using surveys to gather neighborhood opinion
- Listen with an open mind and a desire to include and learn from diverse views
- Use common respect and civility in all interactions
- Represent the neighborhood as a whole

Specific ideas included

Communication principles:

- Build a culture of interaction and feedback
- Avoid labels
- Use common respect

Outreach—“Get the data”:

- Better agenda planning, so hot topics can be anticipated
- Publicize agendas well in advance
- Do better outreach to let people know when a major vote or hot issue is coming up*
- Use electronic surveys*
- Find better e-tools
- Advertise
- Use consistently
- Quarterly surveys?
- Include fun/playful survey questions
- Provide context for data/survey questions
- Recognize that we are privileged to be able to attend meetings, complete surveys, etc.
- Work to reach out to the under-represented
- Use FAN Speak listserve
- Publish photos of board members
- Suggestion boxes around the neighborhood
- Use geography students and professors—ask for help
- If the neighborhood association makes a big effort to gather input, the City will pay more attention to the resulting opinion/recommendations

- Use other forms of engagement and outreach:

- Find where people gather
- Talk to people on your block, etc.
- There are neighborhood matching grants
- Use the City Neighborhood Services office as a resource
- Have the City help define best practices and engage neighborhood associations in public engagement processes, through meetings, surveys, etc.

Information:

- Get the data and use the data: are there block-by-block trends? Silence?

Engagement:

- Get subcommittees going

Next steps:

What are our immediate next steps to act on these principles?

- February 5th there will be a meeting to discuss changes to South Willamette Street (repaving of Willamette from 19th to 24th).
- The next FAN general meeting will be January 24, 7 p.m. at the Washington Park Community Center, 2025 Washington Street
- Eric will contact Andrew about quarterly surveys; Deb will collaborate to work on them.
- Jason will contact a geography professor at UO.
- These meeting notes will be posted to the website and announced in the newsletter.
- The FAN board will consider how best to move forward on the input provided this evening, including the following unresolved questions:

- How can the board represent the neighborhood—geographically, in terms of age, and including both renters and homeowners?
- How to coordinate with other City processes?
- How to deal with the fact that people have different levels of ability to participate?

Meeting notes respectfully submitted by Lysbeth Borie, training and facilitation programs manager at Community Mediation Services of Lane County.