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So what are your dreams for the City of Portland? A Woodstock resident really wants to know about them

BECKY LUENING - We caught up with Anna Weichsel at New Seasons Market in Woodstock. Are you a dreamer? A visionary? Do you perceive your surroundings through a lens that strives always to make things better?

Woodstock resident Anna Weichsel – an architect, a university instructor, and a Southeast neighbor who herself exhibits these qualities – has developed a community project to collect Portlanders' big and small ideas for positive change, in the places they frequent in the course of their daily lives.

This community project is explained online, and is called "Active Cloud". Her project strives to first amass a "Collection of Urban Dreams" – to account for the diverse desires and needs of many different individuals – and then, to help make some of those dreams come true!

As a transplant from Germany who lived for a while on the East Coast before relocating to Portland with her photographer husband, Anna has puzzled over cultural differences between cities – and the way in which communities develop and adapt over time, based on human activity.

She feels that the urban environments of European and East Coast cities more successfully encourage human interaction with the types of spaces and features that enable people to make the casual connections that enliven public life, and eventually lead to familiarity and perhaps friendship.

Now, as a member of the Woodstock Neighborhood Association's Land Use Committee, Anna has found herself critical of the lackluster design of some recent developments in that neighborhood, and has been surprised by the lack of community vision shown by those in charge of overseeing redevelopment of Portland's neighborhoods. Her concern arises from an understanding of the huge impact that city design has on the quality of the lives of its inhabitants, and vice versa.

Changes within our urban growth reality that have tended to overlook concerns of many residents are what led Anna to dream up "Active Cloud" – a proactive process by which regular Portlanders can exchange dreams and visions of future urban design, related to their own routine activities here within Portland. Some of the resulting collected ideas may even come true, since her goal is to compile a selection of "urban dream" submissions into actionable designs – and into recommendations to be presented to the City of Portland.

The project is open to YOU, and invites no-holds-barred brainstorming -- offering great latitude in terms of expression. "I hope for a wide variety of contributions," Anna explains, "from drawings and writings to music, dancing, even baking – whichever creative outlet one finds appropriate for [explaining their] urban dream.

"It is important for me to work with this collection in a way that elevates voices out of the ambient noise of marginalization, and supports a multitude of cultural visions within our city's bureaucratic processes."

This summer, Anna launched the website to broadcast the project to the greater Portland community, while actively reaching out to local schools and community organizations. She looks forward to receiving idea submissions from people of all ages, cultural backgrounds, and income levels.

Again, any and all Portlanders – including YOU – are welcome to share their urban dreams. The only stipulation is they be affirmative! The submission deadline is October 22, late this month. For more information, you are encouraged to visit the project website – www.activecloudpdx.com


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