By Lisa Loving of NECN
Keith Jones represents the Lloyd neighborhood on the North East Coalition of Neighborhoods Board of Directors and recently became president of the Lloyd Community Association. As executive director of Friends of Green Loop, he’s advocating and activating the community-based development of the six miles linear park around the city known as “The Green Loop.” Hey! Neighbor chatted with him about the Green Loop, the groundbreaking partnership Lloyd has forged with Right 2 Dream Too, and how it all could improve the city’s resilience in a natural disaster.
NECN: The Lloyd neighborhood, the Green Loop and solutions to our housing crisis are all on the table with your work! Talk about how these pieces fit together.
When I joined Lloyd Community Association as a board member — I knew I wanted to get involved with some sort of positive contribution around houselessness in my neighborhood. I represent the residents of Lloyd. Lloyd is kind of a funny little area to be a resident because it’s traditionally been a more business-centric district, with office buildings, the mall and the Convention Center — and the Moda Center is acres wide! With developments like Hassalo and Louisa Flowers, there’s more and more people moving into the neighborhood. So, I had a small group of residents that I conferred with about ideas.
Then we found out in press that the city was relocating Right 2 Dream Too (R2DToo) into our neighborhood. I thought, “hey, this is a great opportunity!” I knew a little about them from when they were downtown by the Chinatown/Old Town Gate. But I wasn’t aware that they had been moved and also that they had been selected to move into the Lloyd. So I immediately went to the residents that I’ve been working with and asked: “How do you feel about this? And is there a way that we can support this in some way?” And everyone I talked to said: Absolutely! I think this is a great addition to Lloyd! However, I knew that, to make this a success and to be really welcoming, we would also have to have the approval of the business community — or the buy-in. That’s what made the Lloyd Community Association the perfect place for that conversation, because it was made up of both residents and businesses.
In our discussion, there were lots of questions, only because we had no details. So, I reached out to Right 2 Dream Too, with a list of questions from residents and businesses. Things like, “where will it be located? “What is R2DToo?” “Who runs it?” And so, I went back to the LCA with not just answers, but a full analysis on how this could benefit our neighborhood — and they were supportive! Like, “let’s do this and do it right!” This was very surprising to the city, you know, they weren’t really prepared for us to be supportive. R2DToo had already been bounced around the city for a site location with varying levels of resistance. So they were also kind of incredulous, like: Oh. There’s not any real issues here!?
That in a nutshell is what Lloyd really is about: businesses and residents working together to make the neighborhood a welcoming place.
For Green Loop, I have plans to build on some work in the Lloyd, to make sure that we include houselessness in our design plans. To directly build off of R2DToo, I’d like to develop peer run rest areas along the Green Loop that allow people to sit, rest and maybe store items in community lockers. We’ve also discussed forageable forests and community pantries also along the Green Loop to address hunger and food insecurity.
NECN: What about the emergency services connection?
JONES: Let me tell you something I think is really interesting. So again, with Lloyd there’s no real houses and most of the housing is in the form of apartments where people come and go. It’s hard to keep people engaged, in some ways. At one point I was looking at doing an emergency management team with Portland Bureau of Emergency Management for earthquake resiliency. I’m kind of a geology nerd too, so I knew about the Cascadia earthquake potential. As part of the PBEM program, you create a base of operations where you have ham radio equipment and water and medical supplies stored for people in the event of a larger earthquake.
I was looking at all the apartment buildings thinking — where would we even put that? Well, why not put it at R2DToo? And not only that, in the event of a major earthquake, all of us might become houseless. So when you have one of these already in your neighborhood, as a place where you could deal with a huge catastrophic event, it’s totally an asset.
Find out more about NECN Board Member Keith Jones’ work online at www.pdxgreenloop.org.