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The Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association presents a meeting on safety open to all neighborhoods...

DAVID F. ASHTON - Andre Miller, Community Justice Organizer with Portland City Councilor Jo Ann Hardestys office speaks (center) while panelists Nadine Salama and Matchu Williams of the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood (left) listen - as do facilitator Dunja Markum, and PBOT Pedestrian Advisory Committee member Josh Roll (right).  A "Brentwood-Darlington Community Meeting", held on Tuesday, March 29, at the Brentwood-Darlington Loyal Order of Moose Lodge 291, at S.E. 52nd Avenue at Flavel Street, was all about public safety.

Although several people drifted in after this meeting began, eventually there were 28 people in attendance. The meeting was hosted by the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association (BDNA), and was facilitated by Ms. Dunja Markum.

Setting the stage, Markum explained, "We're not necessarily assessing things the way they are, but we're looking forward to discovering things that we can do to increase safety in our community."

After self-introductions, members of the panel shared their experiences and why they were attending the meeting.

Also present was Josh Roll, of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Pedestrian Advisory Committee. He remarked, "Since August, we've been working on ways for the city to install new traffic control devices, without increasing the risk to motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians, causing crashes." But that was not the only safety issue on people's minds. The topic quickly turned to gunfire.

Mt. Scott-Arleta neighbors share experience

Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood Association Chair Matchu Williams described the problems encountered there, with "almost nightly shootings". These had caused neighbors to reach out for help.

Nadine Salama, a Mt. Scott-Arleta neighbor who led the effort to create a pilot program on their streets involving orange traffic barrels [previously reported in THE BEE] was also on the panel. "I consider this entire area of Southeast Portland to be my 'neighborhood' – so public safety is as much a concern for those living in Brentwood-Darlington, as it is outside my door.

Salama recounted how encouraging PBOT to place the traffic barriers and signs on the road, restricting the ease with which vehicles passing through their streets near Mt. Scott City Park could leave the area, did reduce the volume of shootings. "Although most news reports have focused on 'putting barrels in our streets', that's missing the point," Salama declared. "This is only one activity, one approach, to improving community safety."

The person from whom Mt. Scott-Arleta neighbors received help in obtaining the barrels from PBOT Andre Miller, introduced himself as Community Justice Organizer in Portland City Councilor Jo Ann Hardesty's office.

Miller said, in part, "Growing up a black man, my friends and family have been directly affected by gun violence. You're talking about gun violence, I know all about gun violence! My family, my friends, are being murdered."

Says bullet paralyzed her neighbor

Pam Hodge, who said she's been a BDNA neighbor for more than 60 years, told how she's been impacted by shooting violence. "I've heard gunshots, sometimes several of them within a short period of time.

"One of those times, after hearing gunfire, I found that my neighbor, who was out in her front yard, had been, and is now, paralyzed in a wheelchair [by a stray bullet]," Hodge stated. The meeting continued with reported incidents, and ideas for informal mitigation.

After the meeting, THE BEE checked in with the facilitator, Dunja Markum."There were some really good ideas coming from our brainstorming," she said, "Including green space landscaping, with edibles, fruit trees, and bushes along the streets; and taking the lead to install traffic calming measures, such as barricades or street painting.

"These, and other ideas were tied to the notion that we need to take whatever actions we can – not waiting for 'permission' from the City of Portland.

"Overall, many people expressed that they were grateful for the meeting; and several stayed and chatted for a while about some of the concerns and solutions that were discussed.

She concluded, "If I were to organize future such meetings, it would focus on coming up with action-based ideas and strategies; rather than creating opportunities for people to complain without offering solutions."


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