Working With the Portland Harbor Community Coalition
As students of Lewis and Clark College, specifically in the Environmental Studies program, it is imperative that we learn, and practice, successful engagement with a diverse range of individuals and parties in our community and beyond. In actively doing so this semester, we have officially begun creating partnerships with organizations in the Northwest Oregon regions that represent/advocate for different voices on various environmental issues, One of these is the Portland Harbor Community Coalition (PHCC), a group actively working to represent minorities and at-risk individuals in the fight to clean up and restore the Portland Harbor Superfund Site.
PHCC’s mission is to elevate the voices of communities most impacted by pollution in the Portland Harbor Superfund site, including Native, Black/African American, immigrant and refugee, and houseless people of all backgrounds, and to ensure that impacted communities benefit from and lead the cleanup, restoration, and redevelopment of the harbor.”–PHCC
This organization is one whose main focus is outreach and advocacy for community members. Their biggest strengths, and weaknesses, however, lie in the ways in which they are able to communicate with and involve a diverse community. While PHCC has created and maintained many partnerships, there are still certain demographics being left out of getting to have a voice. Thus, through brainstorming collaboration opportunities between PHCC and Lewis and Clark students, there seems to be opportunity for a wider range of individuals to be reached through up-to-date technological outlets!
What Can We Do?
As we examine ways in which to successfully engage with PHCC, and other stakeholders that they interact with, the importance of understanding their goals as an organization is most important to allow us to then grasp an understanding of their greatest weaknesses/insufficiencies in the accomplishing their goals. Thus, what we can do to collaborate. In understanding this, the topic of effective action becomes rather pertinent, as well as the balance of looking at those left out of the majority/quantitatively significant party.
In the most general way, effective action is seen as individuals or groups taking action in the most efficient and meaningful manner that makes it so the outcome is the most beneficial to the greatest number of people.”–Splashing in With the Coalition
Current methods of outreach and engagement have been successful in igniting effective action, but additional communication methods could allow for an even broader spectrum of individuals to be reached; strengthening the voices of their missions and values, as well as spreading word of their action in the community.
Getting Every’who’ Involved
The communication and outreach strategies of PHCC are the key to being able to represent them properly. PHCC has partnerships with many other representative organizations (Lewis and Clark now being one of those), allowing for a vast amount of networking in the area. However, as strong as their outreach efforts have been, certain demographics (specifically certain age groups) aren’t as well connected with PHCC as they could be. Younger crowds (under 30) are not being reached and heard as well as they should be, especially given the validity of them as stakeholders to the river clean-up. Through partnerships, many families and minority groups have been connected to PHCC, but outreach to younger groups has not been focused on up to this point. An up-to-date Instagram and website, two easy and commonly used/easily accessible public, online platforms, would allow for the coalition to reach audiences under 30 (those who represent the majority of Instagram users) at home, in user-friendly ways, allowing for a broader communication of their mission and values to younger community members.
Instagram, as a social media site, provides a great way to share information. The most active point to PHCC is outreach; spreading the values and mission of the group as a whole to community members and other stakeholders. The coalition currently has a website and Instagram, but neither are kept up-to-date, thus lacking a representation of current work. Through up-to-date posts of fun facts, things people of the Pacific Northwest should be aware of, and important meetings and other happenings, the PHCC could begin better outreach of these messages. Instagram allows for businesses to post their information, links to their website, and personally track page viewings and other statistics. Through this, we and PHCC can gain momentum, and track it, for the successful clean-up and remediation of the site and all stakeholders.
“Introduction to Effective Altruism,” Effective Altruism, June 22, 2016. Accessed February 26, 2020. https://www.effectivealtruism.org/articles/introduction-to-effective-altruism/.
“Our River,” n.d. Portland Harbor Community Coalition. Accessed February 20, 2020. http://ourfutureriver.org.
Profita, Cassandra. “Portland’s Toxic Harbor Cleanup Enters The Who-Pays-For-What Phase,” OPB, April 30, 2018. Accessed February 26, 2020. https://www.opb.org/news/article/portland-harbor-superfund-cleanup-oregon-epa-tar-globes/.