March 19, 2021
As Oregon's Kitchen Table has grown since our founding a decade ago to provide more meaningful opportunities for Oregonians all over the state to participate in public decision making, we've come to identify and embrace a few philosophical frameworks for our work and to hold ourselves accountable in achieving our purpose. We have learned about Popular Education and the work of community healthworkers and those principles and approaches have resonated with us as we think about our foundations here at Oregon's Kitchen Table (more to come on that in the future!). And at the same time that OKT was starting out, Berkeley professor john a. powell began to introduce a framework he calls “targeted universalism”, which has become a significant guide for us as OKT has and continues to evolve. In a 2020 piece published in the National Civic Review, "Take a Seat at Oregon’s Kitchen Table: Adapting Targeted Universalism for Broad and Deep Civic Engagement," OKT Director Wendy Willis shares how targeted universalism informs our thinking about civic engagement and improves our democracy. Read on for more.
August 28, 2020
We're so excited to share with you the recommendations from the first Oregon Citizen Assembly - a group of Oregonians from across the state and all walks of life who came together for 7 weeks this summer (over Zoom) to discuss and deliberate on COVID-19 Recovery. Their report includes both Core Principles and Policy Recommendations. The project was a partnership between Oregon’s Kitchen Table and Healthy Democracy. Panelists were randomly selected from across the state of Oregon, to reflect a microcosm of the state on age, gender, race/ethnicity, geographic location, political party registration, educational attainment, and voter frequency.
The Principles and Recommendations were written by the Assembly’s Citizen Panelists, after reviewing written testimony, hearing from a variety of expert witnesses, and deliberating over seven two-hour sessions. They also reviewed responses from an Oregon's Kitchen Table survey to get a sense of what other Oregonians across the state are thinking about (watch for our full report from that input in the coming weeks!). They represent the words of Panelists themselves without editing from staff.
You can also watch a virtual press conference where OCA members present their recommendations to Oregon State Senator Jeff Golden.
We can't wait to see what future iterations of the Oregon Citizen Assembly looks like. There are plenty more places where the wisdom of groups like the OCA can be brought to help shape issues around the state. Thank you for being with us over the past few weeks!
July 30, 2020
Your fellow Oregonians on the Oregon Citizen Assembly invite you to join them in helping shape recommendations to decision makers on Oregon's recovery from COVID19 and the economic crisis.
This summer we are engaged in an important democratic experiment with our friends at Healthy Democracy: Oregon’s first Citizen Assembly. A Citizens' Assembly is a group of 40 ordinary people with different backgrounds. They discuss public issues and then recommend future policy. They were selected randomly and the group is balanced to match the communities that make up Oregon.
The Oregon Citizen Assembly is discussing the state’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. After their first two meetings (you can watch portions here), they decided to focus on K-12 Education and Rent / Mortgage Assistance. As they look at those two topics, they are also responding to a question from a state senator about how the pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated racial and economic inequities and what might be done to address those inequities.
Now they would like to hear from their fellow Oregonians via Oregon's Kitchen Table. Pull up your seat and share your experiences, ideas, and concerns with the members of the Oregon Citizen Assembly. Please invite your friends and family to fill out the survey, too.
The survey will close on Wednesday August 5th at 12 noon. The following night, Augusut 6, we will share the results with the Citizen Assembly. We will also post results here and send you a link to the results.
Your fellow Oregonians thank you!
June 30, 2020
We want to share with you a new effort we are launching this summer with our friends at Healthy Democracy - the Oregon Citizen Assembly. This summer Oregonians from all walks of life will participate in our state’s first virtual Citizen Assembly to weigh in on what could be some of the state’s most important policy considerations in a generation as the state recovers from COVID.
The virtual Citizen Assembly will meet weekly in July and August 2020. They will discuss, deliberate, and develop a set of recommendations for Oregon’s COVID recovery that will be published online in late August and provided to decisionmakers. The Assembly models the kind of participatory democracy growing around the globe in recent years.
The 2020 Oregon Citizen Assembly on COVID-19 Recovery is comprised of 40 individuals from across the state and from diverse backgrounds. The pool of participants were randomly selected to reflect the demographic makeup of Oregon (you can read about the selection process and watch a video of it here). The Assembly will meet for two hours each week, for six weeks, to consider and discuss key questions put forth by state decision-makers. Partway through the process, participants will have a chance to check in with their fellow Oregonians through a survey conducted by Oregon’s Kitchen Table.
Portions of the Citizen Assembly will be open to public observers via livestream on Healthy Democracy’s YouTube Channel. The public sessions will also recorded and available here. Join us in this opportunity for Oregonians to share their needs and priorities for the recovery.
You can read principals and recommendations from the Oregon Citizen Assembly on COVID19 Recovery here.
June 4, 2019
If you live in, work in, or own a business in Multnomah County, now is the time to help shape important decisions that will affect our region! Along the Columbia River - from Smith and Bybee Lakes near Historic Vanport to the Portland Airport and to the Sandy River in Troutdale - a levee is protecting us from flooding.
A group of over 20 organizations that has been working on making sure the levee system meets federal requirements to prevent flooding, wants to hear from you. From June 3 to July 5th, go to Oregon’s Kitchen Table to let that group, Levee Ready Columbia, know your thoughts about the future of the Columbia River Levee. The online survey is available in English, Spanish, and Russian. We will also be holding listening sessions in Spanish, Russian, Somali, Chinese, and Vietnamese during the month of June.
The areas around the Columbia River Levee are home to neighborhoods, businesses, natural areas, major highways, trails, airports recreation, parks, and one of our region’s main sources of drinking water. Share your values and hopes for this important part of our region. Your input will help Levee Ready Columbia work with the community to plan the future of the levees.
Survey responses will be received until July 12, 2019 and compiled by Oregon’s Kitchen Table to ensure their anonymity. We will share a summary of responses later this summer. So pull up a chair today at Oregon’s Kitchen Table – and share widely with your friends, neighbors, and colleagues in the area.
October 30, 2018
Water and water supply affects all aspects of life in the Mid-Coast region - and now's your opportunity to weigh in on planning for the region's water. The Mid-Coast Water Planning Partnership is made up of people with many different water interests from Cascade Head to Cape Perpetua and is working to balance a number of water needs and factors in our region. And now - they want to hear your thoughts and ideas.
Most of the region's water falls as rain during the winter and most of that water is not stored for very long. During the summer, when there is little rain, the Mid-Coast faces water shortages and droughts like other places in Oregon. In 2018, Lincoln County was in a severe drought for most of the summer. Starting today, people who live in, work in, own a business in, or often visit the Mid-Coast (from Cascade Head to Cape Perpetua) can weigh in at Oregon’s Kitchen Table (https://consultations.oregonskitchentable.org/water) to help make decisions about how to best prepare our region to meet our water needs.
Tackling water issues will take everyone. So, it’s time to hear from you! We need as many people as possible who live, work, own businesses, or often visit the Mid-Coast to share their opinions.
August 9, 2018
April 9, 2018
This winter and spring, we've been spending lots of time with Central Oregon communities and our partners Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council and Let's Talk Diversity Coalition. Thanks to funding from Meyer Memorial Trust, our partnership group - led by COIC and also including the Ford Family Foundation’s Ford Institute Leadership Program alumni, the communities of La Pine, Sisters, Madras, and Prineville, as well as other partners - has been supporting Central Oregon communities to increase and broaden community engagement around economic development issues, priorities, and projects in each city.
In winter, Oregon's Kitchen Table hosted an online consultation on people's hopes for the future of downtown La Pine. Over 700 people shared their thoughts and ideas to help inform decision the City of La Pine is preparing to make about downtown and about a vacant lot purchased by ODOT for a transportation use. Participants were asked about their current use of downtown La Pine followed by a series of questions about what they would generally like to see more of. The next section of questions focused on the particular property that would have a transportation use but also has the potential for other uses; these questions tested out preferences for what kind of a space people would like to see as well as what particular uses they would like to have. Read the report on the results here.
Next up: We're in Sisters in April and May to provide support to Sisters Country Horizons, a visioning effort for Sisters and surrounding areas. If you live in, work in, or often visit Sisters Country, help shape a vision for the community's future - attend a community meeting, share your input via an online survey, or host your friends, neighbors, or family members in a discussion from the comfort of your own table. Check out all the ways you can get involved.
Image - Patrick Davenport, Sisters
January 29, 2018
On January 30th, Oregon’s Kitchen Table is launching a crowdfunding campaign for the restoration of the iconic network of trails that are around Multnomah Falls. The trails include the Multnomah Falls Trail to upper Benson Bridge, the Wahkeena Falls Loop, and Angel’s Rest Trail. We're working with the U.S. Forest Service Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area as well as a number of other partners in helping to restore those trails damaged during last fall's fire - and we're inviting you to join us and Be There for The Gorge!
For donors outside of the United States, please make your donation to Be There for The Gorge through PayPal (your donation will be processed through Oregon's Kitchen Table's non-profit 501(c)3 arm, the Policy Consensus Initiative / Kitchen Table Democracy).
Let us know some additional information by filling out this form once you've made your donation.
January 19, 2018
The City of La Pine wants to know how people who live in or visit La Pine often use downtown now and how they would like to use downtown in the future. Oregon’s Kitchen Table will be hosting a public input survey online from January 19 – February 19, 2018 for people who live in or around La Pine or are visitors to La Pine to share their thoughts on downtown.
Also, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the City just bought a vacant lot where Highway 97, 4th Street, and Huntington Road meet. That property must be used in some way for public transportation for the City. But we can use that space for more things like food, greenspace, or other kinds of uses. The survey will also collect what the public would like to see there.
The City wants to hear what hopes you have for downtown La Pine as a whole and for this lot. But, reaching that vision will take all of us. We need as many people as possible who live in and around La Pine to share your opinions. So please fill out this survey at https://consultations.oregonskitchentable.org/la-pine. We value your opinion!
October 24, 2017
Hood River is facing one of the most serious housing shortages in Oregon. This has been an issue for some time, and the City is looking at a variety of policy options to continue to make housing more affordable and available. As part of this process, the City wants to hear about your values and hopes for housing and our community as a whole. If you work in, live in, or would like to live in the City of Hood River share your thoughts on housing in the county on Oregon's Kitchen Table from October 24 - November 22, 2017.
Actualmente, Hood River tiene uno de los déficits de vivienda más graves de Oregon. Este problema persiste desde hace algún tiempo y el gobierno de la ciudad está analizando diferentes políticas que ayuden a que haya más viviendas disponibles a un costo más accesible. Como parte de este proceso, el gobierno de la ciudad desea conocer qué es importante para usted y cuáles son sus expectativas en cuanto a la vivienda y nuestra comunidad en general. Nos interesa conocer las opiniones de las personas que viven, trabajan o quisieran vivir en la ciudad de Hood River. Esta encuesta se realizará hasta el 22 de noviembre de 2017.
June 12, 2017
June 2, 2017
Like many communities in Oregon and around the country, John Day is considering its economic future. Recently, a team of community leaders came together to consider possible strategies to help make John Day and all of Grant County as economically strong and vibrant as possible. As part of that process, the team is considering a number of ideas to strengthen and diversify the economy. They want to hear from you about your values and priorities!
John Day is the most populous city in Grant County. As of the 2010 census, there were just over 1,700 people living in John Day, down from a high of just over 2,000 people in 1980. John Day—like all of Grant County—has a proud heritage as a natural resource-based economy. Over the years, that economy has receded, and Grant County’s population has declined as a result.
Today, John Day is considering how to create a vision for the future that both supports the traditional economy and creates opportunities for Grant County residents to innovate and expand into new economic frontiers. The community leaders working on this project imagine a future in which Grant County residents create lasting prosperity for their families and community by both respecting tradition and taking advantage of future opportunities in new and emerging markets.
This effort was made possible in part by a grant from The Ford Family Foundation. The City of John Day, Grant County, Grant School District #3 and the Blue Mountain Hospital also contributed for the project.
Photo: Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives
November 18, 2016
Whenever we hold a public consultation with Oregonians here on Oregon's Kitchen Table, we bring you into a conversation with elected officials, public agencies, or other community leaders who are making important decisions. Often, your input on those decisions is one step in that decision making process, and we know it isn't always easy to see how what you had to say played a part in how that decision comes out. That's why we bring you the results of every public consultation and - even better - we try to bring the leaders back into the conversation to share with you what they heard and where they're going next. Over on Meyer Memorial Trust's blog this month, you can read what the Educational Portfolio team heard from you this spring / summer on the foundation's educational priorities and investments and where they're going next.
June 22, 2016
This spring, our home base at Portland State University, the National Policy Consensus Center, worked with the City of Hillsboro to engage and prepare a diverse group of residents to serve in a range of civic leadership capacities within the city.
The group of 12 participants came together for six weekly sessions to learn new skills and insights as they also collaborated on an project important in their community, a housing report to the City. The goal of the Hillsboro Leadership Academy was to learn about the role of government and public issues in the Hillsboro community, figure out how participants might take on some form of civic leadership within the City, and forge new relationships and connections with fellow Hillsboro residents.
Some thoughts from the Hillsboro residents themselves (above, holding the street signs with their names that they received upon completion!) on the Hillsboro Leadership Academy:
From the first night we met, I was excited to see that passion for our Hillsboro community was a shared value amongst the diverse group that has been selected to participate in this inaugural program. Passion and diversity were necessary components of the product we are presenting to you tonight.
I would like to be more involved in my community so that I can encourage other Latinos to do the same. We can be a voice for those that are afraid or shy to participate. Leading by example is the best thing I can do to encourage them.
I was interested in getting more involved with the City and I applied to the Academy to get a feel for what would be involved with being on a Board or Commission or City Council. After experiencing the academy, I am more aware of the level of commitment it takes and I am tremendously grateful to all those who commit their time to serve our City. I have recently volunteered to help on the Hillsboro Transportation System Plan Steering Committee.
If your community is interested in bringing a similar training to your city or county, let us know!
April 28, 2016
Today we're sharing a blog post from Meyer Memorial Trust’s Matt Morton, Meyer’s Equitable Education Portfolio Director, about our latest project to get your input. Head over to Meyer’s blog or check it out below.
Since arriving in January, I’ve been focused on developing Meyer’s investment strategy to improve educational equity in Oregon. Now I’m hoping you will weigh in at Oregon’s Kitchen Table. The survey is available in both English and Spanish.
To Meyer, equitable education is defined as improving outcomes so that students of color, first-generation students and students living in poverty all achieve educational success. It also means identifying and reducing the disparities in how our most underserved students experience education. In early 2017, we will begin inviting organizations to submit proposals on educational equity; your input now will ensure that Meyer’s strategy represents the views, and articulates the needs, of stakeholders across Oregon.
It’s important to Meyer to have feedback about Oregonians’ values on equitable education. Meyer wants to hear from people at educational institutions, coordinating councils, school districts, early learning hubs, municipalities, institutions of higher education, government, foundation partners and other Oregonians who care about education. Your insights will help Meyer as we work to develop strategies that improve Oregon student achievement and close gaps in educational opportunities and outcomes.
Your feedback will be compiled by Oregon’s Kitchen Table, and all responses are anonymous. Following an inclusive engagement process with stakeholders, a summary report will be shared later this summer.
Go to Oregon’s Kitchen Table, pull up a chair and share your thoughts now. We want to make sure all Oregonians are heard! And please share with your friends, neighbors and colleagues. Oregon’s Kitchen Table will be collecting input for Meyer through 5 p.m., Wednesday, May 25th.
Thank you in advance for participating in this process, and please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions.
March 6, 2016
The public comment period closes midnight September 6, 2016. You can give your comments to the EPA directly here and review the Proposed Plan here. You can also view the EPA’s Proposed Plan Fact Sheet here.
Portlanders, pull up a chair and share your values and beliefs with the City of Portland about some important decisions coming up for our community about an important part of the Willamette River.
Later this spring, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will release a proposed plan to clean up the Portland Harbor Superfund site in the Willamette River north of downtown Portland. EPA will accept official comments after the release of that plan. Now, it’s important to the City that it has feedback about Portlanders’ values about the cleanup as the City prepares its comments to EPA. This is our opportunity to share with the City what we value most about the cleanup.
The City will use your input as it develops the City’s comment to EPA on the proposed cleanup plan. The responses will be compiled by Oregon’s Kitchen Table, ensuring that responses are anonymous, and overall results will be shared with the community in early April.
Go to to the City of Portland - Community Engagement about Superfund Cleanup and share your thoughts.
We want to make sure all Portlanders are heard! And please share with your friends and neighbors. We'll be collecting input March 7 - March 31, 2016 in English, Español, Tiếng Việt, Русский, 简体中文. and Somali.
Later this spring, EPA will have its official process for you to give comments about the cleanup plan. We encourage you to participate. We will send an email reminder to you when the EPA plan is available for your comments.
August 24, 2015
With the help of over 217 Oregonians and friends from across the nation, we successfully completed our first civic crowdfund here at OKT. We are thrilled to announce that Josephine Community Libraries Inc. met their goal, raising over $40,000 for First Chapters and making it possible for JCLI to update their children’s libraries in order to better meet the needs of the smallest readers!
When we first heard the story of Josephine County's libraries, it inspired us: hundreds of community members have ensured that their libraries have continued to operate, despite no regular source of public funding. At one point, the library system had to actually close down due to lack of funding. More than 82,000 people were left without access to books, programs, or a safe space to be. It was a devastating time for their community members. With resiliency, hope and determination, volunteers banded together and brought the four branches that make up Josephine Community Libraries Inc. back in force! Much like 2007, community members showed in numbers this past month for a unique online fundraising opportunity, putting children at the forefront of their hearts and minds.
With their community’s continued passion, coupled with our uniquely tailored platform and fundraising tools, we reached our goal and made a few friends in the process! Thank you to everyone who participated. Stay tuned for future civic crowdfunding opportunities throughout the State. And if you know of a civic crowdfunding project that might be appropriate for OKT, be sure and let us know!
August 7, 2015
By Wendy Willis, Director
We know that public mistrust in government is at an all-time high. In fact I read today that only 13% of Americans believe that Congress is doing a good or very good job, though that is up from a low of 7% a year ago. Despite the circus atmosphere that surrounds national political coverage and the run up to a presidential election year, most Americans believe that politics could be more civil, respectful, and functional if elected officials put their minds to it.
And last month—at a Marriott Hotel in Dayton, Ohio—there were strong signs that the public is right. Over 450 people from around the world gathered in that hotel for the Kettering Foundation’s annual Deliberative Democracy Exchange to consider the question “What Does It Take to Make Democracy Work?”
Among the participants were fifteen state legislators from both parties who met over three days to discuss civic engagement, collaborative governance, and civil discourse. It was a pleasure to be with them as they traded stories, offered advice, and brainstormed ways to improve legislative governance in their own states and across the country. Over the past few years, Kettering has brought together dozens legislators for similar exchanges. Many of these legislators have forged relationships, experimented, and applied their learnings back in their home states.
These are the kind of public servants we can be proud of. These are the kind of public servants who give us hope!
July 24, 2015
Today we're sharing a blog post from Josephine Community Libraries volunteer Jennifer Sherman Roberts about the story of how Josephine County residents lost their library system and then brought it back. Head over to her blog (where she's got a number of pieces about libraries) or check it out below. It's an inspiring story of a community's resilience and love!
Libraries Matter, No Matter What
Jennifer Sherman Roberts
In May 2007, all four branches of the library in Josephine County were closed due to lack of funding. More than 82,000 people were left without access to any library whatsoever.
(Over eight years later, I still feel a little shocked writing that.)
A past library levy had been absorbed into the county’s general fund. When the federal government failed to renew a decades-old subsidy (meant to reimburse county governments for the loss of income from logging on federal lands) and voters (mistrustful of county government) failed to pass a measure establishing an independent library district, the libraries were closed.
I was there, and I was devastated. I kept thinking about how a whole generation of kids would grow up receiving the message–from their own community–that books, literacy, and knowledge don’t matter. That learning about the world outside their borders doesn’t matter. That libraries don’t matter.
In August 2007, a group of concerned citizens banded together to form Josephine Community Libraries, Inc. (JCLI), and after 18 months of fundraising—stuffing envelopes, staffing information tables, and begging councilors and commissioners for money—volunteers reopened the Grants Pass branch of the library. Committed to providing library services throughout the county, the board of directors made it a priority to reopen the other three rural branches as soon as possible after the opening of the main branch.
I’ll never forget the opening of the Children’s Room on that cold December day in 2008. I was standing at the circulation desk so I could take pictures. On the other side of the ceremonial ribbon stood crowds of excited and curious kids. When the ribbon was cut, the kids streamed into the room. When it came time to check out, they had stacks of books in their arms and magic in their eyes.
On that day, we sent a message to the kids in our community: we care. We care about their education and imagination. We care that they have a future in the larger world.
Last fall, citizens placed a library district on the ballot in Josephine County that would have provided long-term, sustainable funding for libraries in Josephine County. Sadly, it didn’t pass. If it had, renovating the Children’s Room would have been one of the first priorities.
However, despite our disappointment in the results of the election, JCLI remains determined to provide quality library access for the children in our community by launching First Chapters, a project to modernize and enhance the Children’s Libraries in Grants Pass and Cave Junction.
The project will fund updated books, mobile bookshelves kids can reach, and furniture that actually fits them. It will provide technology that matches their need to learn and resources that fit their need to play.
JCLI has also partnered with Oregon’s Kitchen Table, a group of non-partisan, non-profit community organizations that is helping JCLI with crowdfunding, so that as many people as possible can donate to the project, to feel ownership of the amazing work libraries are doing in our community. If you’d like to help out, you can make a donation here.
By reopening the libraries, we transformed the message we were sending to our kids. Instead of telling them that books, knowledge, and culture are expendable, we taught them the importance of lifelong learning and connection with community and the outside world. With First Chapters, we can reinforce that message. We can teach them that libraries matter, no matter what.