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The Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District will represent the world stage this fall.

COURTESY - Visioning Task Force members with THPRD staff on May 16, 2019. From left to right: Ewnetu Tsegaw, Ronald L Ferguson, Reid Quiggins, Victor Sin, Holly Van Houten, Shreya Jain, Rachel Gowland, Kathi Karumbunathan, Richard Goldner, Nadia Hasan and daughter, Olivia Brown, Holly Thompson (THPRD), Ann Albrich, Jaspreet Chahal (THPRD)

 

 The Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District won two national awards from the International Association for Public Participation.

The parks district, which serves Beaverton and surrounding areas, will go on to represent the United States on the world stage later this fall.

Oregon's largest local park provider earned both the "Public Involvement Project of the Year in the United States" and the "Core Values Award for Respect for Diversity, Inclusion, and Culture for its "visioning process" while planning out the district's Vision Action Plan.

The recognition from IAP2 is significant in the field of public engagement, almost like the Olympics for community planners. IAP2 is an international federation of public involvement professionals, working with 26 countries to achieve better strategies for public participation in local governments.

THPRD board president Tya Ping said the awards mean "more than you can even imagine."

"Our visioning volunteers and staff literally hit it out of the park, reaching thousands of people, leading with intentionality to connect with underserved and BIPOC communities," she said. "We are so passionate about leading with our racial equity values, and to be recognized by the IAP2 for this work feels incredible."

THPRD, which services an area of about 250,000 people, was also recognized for community engagement back in 2018.

It mounted an effort to get feedback from residents who don't typically engage in the district's decision-making processes. District spokesperson Holly Thompson said the park district recruited 13 volunteers of different ages, ethnicities and language ability to fulfill this venture.

Over the past couple years, the volunteer-led task force spoke with 10,500 different community members, held 117 engagement events and collected more than 12,500 ideas, which helped inform THPRD's 2020 Vision Access Plan.

Thompson said the recognition from IAP2 gives the district more "credibility" when pursuing more support and grant funding.

"We can really talk about the community in the area, and the homework that we did that was really cross-cultural, across the age spectrums, and that what we're pursuing is really based and rooted in community input," Thompson said.

Later this fall, an IAP2 panel will evaluate projects from each country. Thompson said that the district will learn the result by the end of October.


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