July 13, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Whatever your interest, connect with your neighborhood association

5 min read
Neighborhood associations are advisory to City Council and other city boards and commissions on matters affecting their area. Much like the New England town meeting, the Eugene neighborhood meeting is the foundation of our democracy.

It’s that time of the year. Neighborhood associations are recruiting candidates and conducting their board elections. Why is that important? Because, according to the city of Eugene: ‘Neighborhood associations are advisory to City Council and other city boards and commissions on matters affecting their area.’

Wherever you live, you are empowered to advise Eugene’s elected and appointed officials. Much like the New England town meeting, the Eugene neighborhood meeting is the foundation of our democracy. Speaking at City Club March 29, the chair of Jefferson Westside Neighbors:

Ted Coopman (Jefferson Westside Neighbors): I’ve been involved in neighborhood associations since 2016. And we have the infrastructure in Eugene right now to do outreach and engagement. It’s just the biggest bang for your buck. And if you really want to reach neighbors, they should be reached by other neighbors, people that live in the same neighborhood. Physicality matters. Neighborhoods matter. And neighborhood associations can be the foundation of our democracy in Eugene, and can go out there and do that outreach.

[00:01:03] John Q: Southeast Neighbors say: ‘We want you.’ At the March general meeting, a member of the Friends of Tugman Park (also known as the Tugman Tuggers), Southeast Neighbors Board Member John Ostrum:

[00:01:16] John Ostrom (Friends of Tugman Park, Southeast Neighbors Board of Directors): Hi, everybody. We have one overarching message for all of you tonight: We want you.

[00:01:24] We are one of 18 active neighborhood organizations, and as the ebbs and flows go in neighborhood organizations, there are times when we really need to recruit, and other times when it’s not as important.

[00:01:36] Well, this is a time when we want you, we want you, we want you, we need you.

[00:01:45] So we have an election coming up on May 14 for our next SEN (Southeast Neighbors) board election. We have five open positions. If all five positions are filled, that will take us to a full slate of 10 board members, and that’s what we would really like.

[00:02:03] So I’m going to spend just a few minutes talking about what it would be like joining our board and or joining one of our committees. We do have five active committees currently:

[00:02:15] We have Environmental Stewardship and we tackle items such as planting trees along Amazon Creek or looking into phasing out of gas-powered lawn equipment or hearing what the city and the county and the state is doing on ecology issues and pollution issues. So a whole host of things.

[00:02:36] Next is Friends of Tugman Park, which I see a few Tuggers here tonight, which is awesome. We’re a very dedicated group of volunteers who show up at least twice a month. And we’re involved at Tugman Park in an overall way of enhancing biodiversity and renewing the native plantings at the park. That’s not all we do, but that’s our main mission.

[00:02:58] Ready Southeast does everything around disaster preparedness. of course, Ready Southeast deals with everything from ice storms to fire, also Cascadia earthquakes, whatever our community needs and the city needs to be more prepared.

[00:03:14] We have an active Transportation Committee who handles anything you can think of transportation, from mass transit at the county level, LTD, down to bike safety, pedestrian safety, road maintenance, traffic issues. They’re a very active committee as well.

[00:03:29] The last committee is our Picnic Committee. It is not a year-round committee. We meet four or five months of the year to plan the annual picnic, which again will be this September (date to be announced) at Tugman Park.

[00:03:42] Please visit our website for a lot more details on the committees. You can read everybody’s mission, our goals, our work plans, see a few photos. So please check out in way more detail what these committees do.

[00:03:55] Typically we fill our pipeline by folks coming on to our committees and then coming on to the board. So what are the expectations of the board? You probably want to know what we do and what we expect if you choose to do this.

[00:04:08] We do meet once a month year-round, usually the first Tuesday of every month. One of those 12 monthly meetings will be a board retreat. We started doing board retreats last year. This year we’ll have our board retreat in June.

[00:04:23] We’ll be on Google Meet, so we will continue on with a hybrid approach for meetings—if you don’t want to be in person, even as a board member. We start at 7 p.m. We usually go for an hour to an hour and a half.

[00:04:33] And all we really ask is to show up with ideas and perspective and be prepared and engaged.

[00:04:40] On top of the 12 board meetings, we have general meetings. We actually have four, but one of them is our picnic. But outside of the picnic, we have three general meetings per year.

[00:04:51] General meetings typically have outside guest presentations and we ask all board members to participate on at least one committee. You don’t have to be a chairperson, but we want participation on one of our committees.

[00:05:05] So we are recruiting! This election is May 14, 7 to 9 p.m., right here and remote.

[00:05:14] All positions are elected as an at-large member. I am currently an at-large member. We serve two-year staggered terms.

[00:05:23] If you’re at all interested, the formal request to run and obtain the candidate questions are available by emailing us at soeast.eug@gmail.com. There are a few candidate questions that we do ask people to answer and those responses will be available for viewing at our website, southeastneighbors.org, approximately the first of May.

[00:05:49] Those are the candidate questions if you want to run for the board. We also have a list of questions in the back tonight just to get you thinking about what you might want to do for the Southeast Neighbors, not necessarily the board. Lucy (Bambrey, Transportation Committee chair) has so kindly come up with a list of questions.

[00:06:05] So on May 14, after the election, we will all take a few minutes and then internally select who will be the four officers—two co-chairs, a secretary, and a treasurer.

[00:06:16] If you’re interested in getting our monthly digital newsletter, please make sure you all sign the sign-in sheet. We are a really engaged neighborhood organization and we want you!

[00:06:30] John Q: Whether you’re advising the city, socializing at the picnic, planting at the local park or creekside, or preparing for the next disaster, you can get involved and contribute your skills and experience and time, in your own neighborhood. Learn more at the city’s website.

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