Application Summary for the All-America City Awards:
One example is the Voices of Beaverton project. The project uses stories of Beaverton residents to illustrate issues associated with housing affordability that face many members of our community. This effort acknowledges that while data informed decision-making is crucial, housing begins and ends with people. It also highlights potential solutions offered by community members based on their life experiences.
Beaverton’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan, which was adopted by the mayor and city council, is currently in the process of being implemented and focuses on opportunities to enhance equitable practices city-wide. The City of Beaverton is also a partner in a community-based research initiative led by Washington County that will study the state of racial equity in communities through data-driven storytelling, community histories, community priorities, and community strengths.
1.) Beaverton Community Vision
Beaverton is one of the most diverse communities in the state of Oregon. One in four residents is foreign-born. For a time, this diversity was not reflected in local government or community involvement. Community members became disgruntled, and as a result, the four-term mayor was defeated when up for re-election. From there, the City began to understand the need to adapt its approach to public involvement.
Under new leadership, the City recruited a community steering committee, known as the Visioning Advisory Committee (VAC), hired a vision advisor, and launched an unprecedented public engagement program.
The city council unanimously adopted the action plan in 2010, and over 60 community partners adopted new practices to see the plan through. The VAC was most recently updated in 2016.
It has already transformed the City-community member dynamic. It has also facilitated projects that seemed controversial just a few short years ago. The early accomplishment of vision actions speaks to the broad-based support earned through the project. As of 2017, 84.6% of current action items are underway.
More information: Community Vision
2.) Equity and Inclusion Initiatives
To further incorporate the diverse members of the community into local government, the City developed an official community advisory board focused on equity and inclusion strategies that strengthen connections among diverse populations in Beaverton. The Diversity Advisory board spearheaded the creation of a local Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan adopted by the city council in 2015. This plan serves as a community roadmap for advancing the City’s overall equity and inclusion work. To implement, the City has hired two full-time staff to lead these efforts and subsequent programming.
One such program is BOLD (the Beaverton Organizing and Leadership Development Program). In partnership with the nonprofit Unite Oregon, the City developed a free leadership program targeting immigrants, refugees and people of color intended to promote civic engagement and encourage diversity in city leadership positions. The program includes three full days of hands-on sessions focused on building leadership, community organizing, advocacy skills, strengthening cross-cultural understanding and providing a hands-on orientation to city government and opportunities for engagement.
BOLD is a key strategy of the Cultural Inclusion program to boost engagement of underrepresented communities in city government. BOLD brings together an incredible cross-section of the Beaverton community, with as many as 15 different countries represented in a single cohort. The cohorts are also intentionally intergenerational, with participants ranging from high school to retirement age. Since its founding, more than 100 people have participated from 5 cohorts.
More information: BOLD
3.) Beaverton Community Policing and Restorative Justice
Beaverton has embraced community policing and restorative justice practices to ensure community members are safe, grievances are heard and acted upon, and police and public safety officials are viewed as partners in problem solving. There are four exemplary programs in place to carry out this vision:
The Beaverton Victim Advocate Program is a volunteer program centered around providing emotional support for victims of a variety of crimes. Police felt like they were unable to provide adequate 24/7 support for victims in the aftermath of a crime. Now, trained victim advocates respond to the scene upon request of a victim within 20 minutes, providing emotional support and information about community resources.
B-SOBR is an intensive multidisciplinary outpatient court program for repeat DUI offenders. Since the program’s launch in 2011, 82 participants have completed the program and only one graduate has re-offended.
The Beaverton Dispute Resolution Center is a voluntary victim-centered process in which victims actively participate in the justice process by being given the opportunity to ask the offender questions, share the impact of their crime, and propose a restoration plan.
The Youth Peer Court operates in a similar manner- juvenile offenders are given the opportunity to be tried by a legitimate court system of their peers. The attorneys, clerks, bailiffs, and jurors are volunteers from 12-17 years of age. This process educates the community’s youth about the legal system and respect for the law, lowers the number of cases tried in juvenile court, fosters connection and respect between volunteers and police, and promotes the importance of personal accountability for all involved.