I had a chance to drop by the new Emerald Village development during a recent open house. Somehow the folks at the non-profit Square One Villages managed to orchestrate a low income tiny house neighborhood and spawn a new community. What an impressive accomplishment!
These are the same folks who created Opportunity Village, which has helped many folks get off the streets and find a place to stabilize and get their lives turned around. But Emerald Village takes their work to the next level! The huge list of architects and developers who contributed time, energy, and designs to the project is a testament to how people can come together for the benefit of those in need. I bet they had a small army of volunteers.
Even though all the houses are not yet completed, the village is officially open and I met a few of the folks who have already moved into their new homes. Everyone seemed quite satisfied with their tiny houses, which often have less than 250 square feet of space inside. I was impressed by many of the innovative designs that combined space saving features to create surprisingly livable homes in such small spaces.
Residents of Emerald Village are members of a housing cooperative and buy a share in the village which enables them to create an asset that can be cashed out when they choose to move out. They have a community agreement which outlines the basic code of conduct that all residents agree to, and requires that each resident participate in helping to manage the village. Residents pay $250 – $350 per month, which covers all maintenance and operating costs. Very cool!
I hope we are exiting the era where state and local governments are in the thrall of developers looking to turn a quick profit rather than be more socially responsible. It is nice to see grassroots efforts solving affordable housing issues today, and it would be great to see more of a movement at the city, county, and state levels to support these kinds of innovative projects. The greed of society has left many people out in the cold and it is time to find our hearts and mend our ways so that nobody has to worry about basic necessities, such as shelter and food, which many of us take for granted.
Posted By: Joshua Kielas, 07.19.2018
For the next year or more the City of Eugene has its eyes on the River Road and Santa Clara neighborhoods with the intention of updating the Neighborhood Refinement Plan that has been guiding development in the area for approximately 30 years.
What this means is that neighbors in the area have a rare opportunity to give input and be a part of the process. All neighborhood residents are encouraged to become involved to help shape our future.
Interested folks are asked to join focus groups that are looking at land use planning, economic development, transportation, parks and natural resources, and a catch-all category called community.
We just finished the second round of focus groups on Tuesday May 20th. The meeting was preceded by two rounds of email letting folks know what was going to be covered and where to find the information that would be helpful to prepare. The city provided some food so the first order of business was having a bite to eat. Then there was some initial discussion before we broke out into groups and worked to identify common themes that have begun to emerge after looking at input from hundreds of residents and the previous round of focus groups. The event flowed well, and I left feeling good about having been able to join in the process.
The hope is that folks from all walks of life have input so the resulting neighborhood plan will reflect the values of as many residents as possible. Project manager Zach Galloway reiterated that these meetings are open to all residents of both River Road and Santa Clara. There is another meeting on April 23rd and you don’t have to have been at the first two to participate!
Posted by: Joshua Kielas, 03.23.2018
An Overview by Clare Strawn, PhD
What is Resilience?
Resilience is the capacity to adapt to changing conditions and to maintain or regain functionality and vitality in the face of stress or disturbance. It is the capacity to bounce back after a disturbance or interruption.
Resilience anticipates interruptions and a dynamic future. Responding to change is an opportunity for a wide range of system improvements.
In these days of fires and storms, few people dispute that we are experiencing climate change and that our near future will be very different than the past 50 years. How does this reality impact our planning and development perspectives? While climate change may seem too big an issue for us as individuals to make an impact, we are embarking on a neighborhood planning process to enact the community infrastructure for the coming decades of environmental and economic change. In designing these plans, we should keep two concepts in the forefront of our decisions:
- What can we do, at the neighborhood level, to mitigate climate change by transforming the systems and lifestyles that contribute to global warming?
- How can we re-design our community life to increase resilience and quality of life in the face of dramatic shifts in the environment and economy?
These questions should be addressed in each of the four focus areas for planning (economic development, land use, transportation, and open space) as they both frame and intersect these issues.
In addressing these questions, there are a few core principles that should be considered:
- Provide for basic needs — food systems, water, energy, waste management —as close to home as possible and with diverse and redundant ways to access these needs.
- Community and collective action is key to resilience. How can we enhance our local social and human capital?
- We have opportunities to innovate solutions with appropriate technology and we can also borrow solutions from around the world. Transforming our built environment can be a tremendous economic engine.
- How can we build on our core identity as a community to contribute to the resolution of larger problems? How can we implement the sustainability and development goals outlined in Envision Eugene in our neighborhood?
Focus on Feasible Implementation Strategies
- Community education and collaboration to implement individual and household level changes that do not require city and/or systems changes. Examples: home food production, solar power installation, transportation choices.
- Identify concrete measurable five and ten-year goals, such as: target a percentage of households not dependent on EWEB (redundant power systems), aim for 50% of food consumed produced within 10 miles, build integrated food system (connected with Eugene farm to table systems), increase person powered transportation, develop locally sourced water capacity, establish systems for neighborhood disaster coordination and communication, shift the mix of housing types and diversify land use, increase community participation and neighboring.
- Research obstacles to implementing these goals and plan for their remediation.
- Identify limitations imposed by city and county codes and policies (such as requirements for parking and curb paving that increases rain water run off rather than channeling it to better use).
- Identify gaps in social and economic infrastructure (such as lack of available of places for groups to meet and informal social spaces).
- Identify through market analysis why we have empty storefronts. What economic development opportunities would better serve our community?
- Inspire the community with examples of possibility that expand our horizon of possibilities. For example, how do we increase housing density and affordability while preserving productive land for agriculture? How do we creatively reduce and slow traffic?
The Green Paper has many ideas and proposals that can be considered.
Also check out “The Resilient Design Principles” from ResilientDesign.org