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Neighborhood Associations and Business groups are changing how they meet, during the pandemic

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - A pandemic change for the Woodstock Neighborhood Association is that even if and when coronavirus restrictions are lifted, WNA meetings will not be held at the Community Center, because PP&R has announced all Centers (and its public pools) will remain closed until at least June of 2021.The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has forced major changes on Southeast Portland neighborhood and business associations. Few, if any, have had any in-person meetings since March; and the neighborhood associations – which are required to have Board Elections in May – have each found different ways of discharging this important obligation while meeting online, mostly using the popular ZOOM application.

The Woodstock Neighborhood Association (WNA) has shared in all these challenges, and in addition has decided to make permanent changes in its schedule and number of meetings as well. At the May general WNA meeting, which was held virtually via ZOOM, nineteen people attended online, and the schedule and number of meetings for the year was changed to accommodate busy schedules. There will be nine General and six Board meetings per year from now on for the WNA. The General meetings will remain on the first Wednesday each month – but will no longer take place in the months of January, July, and August. Its Board meetings will be on the second Wednesday of these six months: January, March, May, July, September, and November. All General and Board meetings will be at 7:00 p.m.

At WNA's June 3 General meeting, elections were held via ZOOM, with the assistance of Southeast Uplift staff liaison Mireaya Medina. The election resulted in every position being filled for the year except Chairperson; the service of Sage Jensen as Chairperson for two years was applauded, as she steps down. And, for now, meeting facilitation will be rotated among members. Anna Weichsel, who has been the WNA liaison with Southeast Uplift for one year and will continue in that position, said she would be willing in October to be elected chairperson for the remainder of the term until June 2021. The vice chair position will be shared by Sonja Miller and Elisa Edgington.

Attendees emphasized that it is important to let the community know that anyone who lives (rents or owns) or works in Woodstock is eligible to be a member of the WNA. Board position terms are for one year. Any member can volunteer for a Board position if they wish. All WNA meetings are open to the public, and will be held virtually on ZOOM until further notice. To log in, see the link at – www.woodstockpdx.org. An additional significant change for the WNA is that it will soon become a 501c3 nonprofit. For over two years, beginning in 2018, a committee of seven WNA members, guided by outgoing chairperson Sage Jensen, met twice a month in pursuit of this non-profit status. The process included changes in the bylaws with the help of The Center for Nonprofit Law. The new bylaws were presented in May and voted on in June. This fall, when the edited bylaws are submitted to the IRS for consideration of the 501c3 status, the process will be complete when the application is approved.

The last of the neighborhood associations in THE BEE's service area to have its annual Board Election this year is SMILE, the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League – already a 501c3 nonprofit, which will be holding its election at its August 5 ZOOM online meeting at 7:30 p.m. SMILE has worked out a plan for online voting with Southeast Uplift – following the meeting with a 24-hour online voting period – and also providing a designated time on the following day at SMILE Station in Sellwood where written ballots can be cast in person, supervised by Southeast Uplift, for those lacking computer access.


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