Beaverton Downtown Equity Strategy
In March 2021, VAN was awarded the contract for the Beaverton Downtown Equity Strategy, and now serves as prime convener on a multi-disciplinary project team, which includes four culturally-specific community-based organizations: Adelante Mujeres, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), Bienestar, Coalition of Communities of Color and the economic consulting firm, ECONorthwest. All of the project team members have substantial histories of partnering with local jurisdictions to develop strategies and tools that advance racial equity. During the project, we will consistently engage residents and businesses in the project area, especially Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) community members.
VAN’s work on this project will provide the City of Beaverton recommendations on how to prevent and mitigate involuntary displacement of residents and businesses, to create an inclusive downtown with amenities desired by communities of color, and to center racial equity in the City’s decision-making processes and community engagement.
Updates on BDES
Project planning for the BDES was completed in the spring, and over the course of the summer, the project team focused on the task of Training for Staff and Decision-Makers.
The team led training for City of Beaverton staff and elected leaders on:
- Cultural competency – understanding the concepts of equity, diversity, inclusion, and intersectionality
- Applying equity tools in real life situations
- Using a Racial Equity Strategies for Reviewing and Developing Policy
- Authentic community engagement
Cadence Petros, Development Division Manager at City of Beaverton, shared this:
“You created an inclusive space for our team to learn, grow more comfortable with the concepts, and really think about how we can use the tool in our work. I really appreciate how you created the container for being together…that’s so valuable.”
We reached a significant milestone on July 27, when project partners Dr. Andres Lopez from Coalition of Communities of Color, and Dr. Jade Aguilar from ECONorthwest led a conversation with the Beaverton Urban Redevelopment Agency (BURA) about the City of Beaverton and BURA’s progress along the continuum toward becoming an anti-racist, multicultural institution. This was an important step in the City’s ongoing equity journey to transform its overall policies and practices for the benefit of Beaverton’s residents and businesses.
The consulting team is leveraging its relationships to enlist the support of community “ambassadors” who are conducting outreach to downtown area business owners from the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities. Two gatherings were hosted in early December 2021 with Latine business owners, and additional conversations are taking place throughout January with Black, Chinese, Korean, Muslim, Native American, Thai, and Vietnamese affinity groups to hear what they would like to see happen with respect to improvements to the city’s downtown region.
Also in December 2021, about 140 residents attended two virtual gatherings hosted by the City and facilitated by the REC partners. For many, it was their first time participating in such an event with the City. Together in small groups, they shared their ideas about how to create a downtown where everyone feels like they belong, and to discuss ways to avoid pushing residents out of the area, as often happens with urban redevelopment projects.
On Wednesday, January 26, 2022, we invited the business community to help guide the process and strategies by joining us to discuss their experiences as a business owner, share their vision of a thriving downtown, connect with other business owners, and take away some information to support their business.
VAN’s consultant team presented at the February 22, 2022 meeting of the Beaverton Urban Redevelopment Agency board. They shared best practices research and the results of their outreach to business owners and residents on how the City of Beaverton should invest $100 million in its downtown area.
Learn more and follow the project updates at Beaverton Downtown Equity Strategy.