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  • Hope in a Time of Hopelessness

    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!

  • Libraries Matter, No Matter What

    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.

  • Our site's first civic crowdfund

    UPDATE: The City of Cave Junction has just announced a challenge to meet their $10,000 contribution to First Chapters! 

    Last week we launched Oregon's Kitchen Table's first civic crowdfund on our new site to raise $40,000 for Josephine Community Libraries children's libraries in Grants Pass and Illinois Valley.  And it's off to a great start with over $15,000 raised and over 100 Oregonians participating!

    The story of Josephine County's libraries inspired us here at OKT: hundreds of community members have ensured that their libraries have continued to operate, despite no source of regular funding through taxes or county funding. The libraries in Josephine County closed on May 17, 2007. Four months later, committed community members formed Josephine Community Libraries, Inc. (JCLI), a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring long-term library services for every county resident. By December 2009, JCLI had reopened all four shuttered locations. In November 2014, citizens placed a measure on the ballot to permanently fund the libraries, which didn't pass. Today, the libraries continue to operate thanks to generous donations and the heroic contributions of more than 390 volunteers annually. 

    If the library district Measure 17-62 had passed last fall, the first thing JCLI would have done is update the children's libraries. But it didn't; so, once again the community is coming together to do right by Josephine County's kids and provide them with the resources they need to be successful. From JCLI: "We need new books—many of our materials are from the 1950s and 1960s. We need shelves the children can reach and furniture their size. And, we need more space—for storytimes, programs, and reading activities for the whole family.   It’s time for us to come together and fund an update for the children’s libraries! "

    Like many Oregonians, Josephine County families love their libraries.  And you can join them in making sure their kids begin the First Chapters of their lives with a strong reading foundation.  Join them today to participate in the crowdfunding campaign!

  • First Chapters: A Lifetime of Stories Starts Here

    Josephine Community Libraries wants to hear the community's thoughts on how the libraries can best serve our youngest readers as they begin their lifetimes of reading.   Share your experiences and opinions about our Josephine Community Libraries children’s spaces, resources, and programs.  The responses you provide will be compiled by Oregon’s Kitchen Table, ensuring all that responses are anonymous, and overall survey results will be shared with the community and JCLI staff this summer.  Josephine Community Libraries will use the results to improve our children’s libraries.

     

    If you live in Josephine County, log in now or if you don't have a log in, create an account to access the consultation questions. 

     

    The consultation will be active until June 29th, 2015. 

     

  • New Oregonian-to-Oregonian Microlending Opportunity!

    A couple of months ago we shared our new partnership with Community Sourced Capitol, a Pacific Northwest B-Corps working with Oregon small businesses and entrepreneurs to access loans from within their own communities. Already, Oregonians have helped two businesses gain funding to expand and grow – Genki-Su and TeaScape. Currently, there are two Oregonians seeking funding from fellow Oregonians who want to invest back into their own communities. Check out Hottie Das and Hot Winter, which is oh so near the goal in the last day of the campaign. You can view all the Oregon crowdfunded micro-lending campaigns on our partner page. We’re excited to see that our partnership has helped raise $27,350 with 87 folks participating so far!

    The owner of Hottie Das, Jason Buckley, is part of A Social Ignition, the groundbreaking entrepreneurship program for incarcerated individuals in transition, is marking its first-ever graduate to launch a business. Jason Buckley has partnered with Community Sourced Capital (CSC) to fund his dream of opening a mobile hot dog cart, coined Hottie Das. Throughout his time in prison, Jason took entrepreneurship classes designed to teach him the skills needed to build the life he’d dreamt for himself. Today, with a businesses plan and supportive team in place, Jason is eager to get his business off the ground—indeed, this is a mobile hot dog stand we’re talking about. A Social Ignition teaches entrepreneurship both inside and outside of incarceration and works to reduce the stigma and shame of a criminal record.

    Here’s Jason’s own words about his start up:

    This funding will help with overall onetime start up costs that include the price of a hot dog cart, licenses, and permits. Funding will also help cover my rolling costs which include my inventory and overhead during the first month. Funding this business with responsible capital with the help of my community and new friends, would definitely mean just as much to me as running the business itself. It would also support the vision I have for my own life. Because I know goals are constant and never without consequence. Please consider buying a square to help me get my business off the ground, it would support me and the community with a new neighborhood friendly eating experience. Recognizing the service needs of my customers, and community is something that will always come first!! I believe hottie das represents a humble quality that chooses to live in the solution, and would be a business the community would really enjoy.

    And we want to share another success story from last year in Astoria the Daily Astorian covered about how community members participated in micro-lending to expand a local coffee shop.

  • News, News, News: Honors! Hot Peppers! Portland School Boundaries!

    We've got some exciting news to share this week!

    The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognized Oregon's Kitchen Table this week as one of four finalists for the Roy and Lila Ash Innovations in Public Engagement in Government Award. These initiatives represent the committed efforts of city, state, and federal governments to engage with the communities and citizens they represent and were selected by a cohort of policy experts, researchers, and practitioners. We're incredibly honored to be recognized – and that all of your efforts in being a part of this work are recognized, too. Oregon's Kitchen Table IS the over 13,000 Oregonians who have taken their seats and participated in important discussions, decisions, and projects around the state. You can read more about the award here. We're also not too surprised to see that a few other Oregon-based programs making up the state's tapestry of civic engagement opportunities are also included as Top Ten Programs!

    As part of our partnership with Oregon Business Council's Poverty Reduction Task Force, we are working to support Oregonian-to-Oregonian micro-lending and help reduce Oregon's poverty rate. Our partner in crowdfunded microlending,Community Sourced Capital, has a new Oregon small business seeking funding to expand to new stores around Oregon, Washington and California. Hot Winter – a producer of fermented hot sauce – contracts with growers in the Willamette Valley to grow heirloom varieties not available in most markets. Interested in helping see small Oregon businesses prosper? Participate now in helping fund Hot Winter! Thanks to many Oregonians like those of us around the Kitchen Table, two other Oregon small businesses have already received their funding.

    Tomorrow, May 8th, is the final day for anyone within the Portland Public Schools district – parents, staff, teachers, community members residing in the district – to weigh in on important decisions facing the district, especially around boundary changes. Today's second graders will be graduates in 2025: what do we want their schools to look like between now and then? Give your input now here at Oregon's Kitchen Table.

  • Last Chance to Weigh in on Portland Public Schools 2025

    In 2025, today’s second graders will be graduating seniors, but between now and then, Portland Public Schools will be making a number of decisions that will affect these students.  This week is the final week to weigh in on those decisions!

    Check out PPS Superintendent Carol Smith’s invitation above to the greater community to provide input here at Oregon’s Kitchen Table – a some of those future graduates trying out caps and gowns.

  • Portland Public Schools 2025

    This month we’re hosting the second of two surveys related to Portland Public Schools – and the newest one (Portland Public Schools 2025) asks those of you within the PPS District (whether you live in the district, work in the district, or send your kids to district schools) to weigh in on some incredibly important issues.

    You’ll have the chance to give your input as the district prepares to make important decisions for the future of all its students on boundaries, educational programs, the enrollment and transfer system, buildings, and middle grade placement.

    This is your opportunity as community members to help shape a number of decisions Portland Public Schools will be making as the district continues to grow.  Make sure your voice is heard!

    Log in to your account (or set one up if you haven’t already) on Oregon’s Kitchen Table to answer some questions on these topics. And please share with friends, neighbors, and colleagues. The survey will remain open until May 8, 2015.

    The future of our schools is important to everyone in our community. Share your thoughts today.

  • Oregonian-to-Oregonian Microlending

    We are excited to announce a new development over here at Oregon’s Kitchen Table! In partnership with Oregon Business Council’s Poverty Reduction Task Force, we are working to support Oregonian-to-Oregonian micro-lending. Reducing Oregon’s poverty rate from its current level (16.7 percent) to less than 10 percent is one of the top goals of Oregon Business Council and its allies. Small business in Oregon represent more than 90 percent of all employers and employ over half of the private-sector labor force. By supporting small businesses, we can all pitch in to make our state more prosperous!

    As a first step, Oregon’s Kitchen Table has partnered with Community Sourced Capital, a certified B corporation focused on creating stronger communities through micro-lending. Over the next few months, we will highlight Oregon entrepreneurs that are seeking capital to begin or expand their businesses, giving other Oregonians the chance to help make their communities more prosperous.

    Right now, there are two great Oregon companies seeking loans to expand their businesses – Genki-Su and TeaScape.

  • PPS Successful Schools Survey Extension and Raffle

    Portland Public Schools is extending the deadline for parents and guardians to complete the PPS Successful Schools Survey to March 6th, so if you are a PPS parent / guardian and have not done so yet, join Oregon's Kitchen Table and share your experience at your student’s school today!  Thousands of parents and guardians have already weighed in, but we want to hear from as many of you as possible.

    For anyone who takes the survey – either online through Oregon’s Kitchen Table or via a paper survey – you’ll be entered into a raffle PPS is holding! Prizes donated by PPS partners include a soccer ball signed by the Portland Timbers, a jersey signed by the Portland Timbers, Portland Thorns tickets, Adidas employee store passes and Qdoba meals.

  • Results for December 2014 Early Learning Consultation on Kindergarten Assessment Results

    In December 2014, the Oregon Department of Education in partnership with Oregon’s Kitchen Table conducted an online consultation with key stakeholders across the state of Oregon. The consultation was conducted to help inform the efforts of the state’s Early Learning Hubs, which are working across the state to make resources and supports more available, more accessible and more effective for children and families that have historically been overrepresented in the opportunity gap and underrepresented in services.

    Early Learning Kindergarten Assessment Results Consultation

    In Spring 2015, ODE will hold a series of in-person deliberative events to discuss how the assessment can help parents, K-12 educators and child care providers improve coordination and partnership.

  • Update to Our Privacy Policy

    We have revised our privacy policy to reflect some of the changes – like the new log in system – we’re implementing at Oregon’s Kitchen Table and to more clearly reflect both how we collect data and how we use that data. We’ll be sending out an email notification to all of you once we’ve completed transferring new emails to our email system. You can view the Privacy Policy here.

    We’re very grateful for the thoughtful feedback from an Oregon software developer, Bill Fitzgerald, who volunteered his time to help us review the policy and think through how to improve Oregon’s Kitchen Table’s commitment to safeguarding the information you share with us. Thank you, Bill!

    You can find the updated Privacy Policy here.

  • Questions about Portland Public Schools Successful Schools Survey? Answers here!

    We’re heading into the third week of the Portland Public Schools Successful Schools Climate Survey – and nearly 3,000 parents and guardians have shared their school experiences through Oregon’s Kitchen Table!

    Portland Public Schools has put together a Q and A document to clarify some questions that have come up. You can also view it below.

    Because we’ve switched to a login system and we’ve made some adjustments over the past 3 years of conducting consultations, it’s time to review and update our privacy policy! We’ll be announcing updates / changes soon – both via the website and email.

    And don’t forget to set up your login if you haven’t already!

    PDF icon Successful Schools Survey - Frequently Asked Questions
  • PPS Successful Schools Survey Launches today

    Our first survey of 2015 (and the first one using our new login system) is live today!  Oregon’s Kitchen Table is hosting the Portland Public Schools Successful Schools Survey Jan 20 – Feb 28.

    The Successful Schools Survey will focus on school climate – such as whether a school feels welcoming and safe and in what ways teaching and learning is supported. The survey comes at the request of the Portland School Board and Superintendent Carole Smith.

    The survey on Oregon’s Kitchen Table is available to PPS families of all students at all grade levels. The survey will be available in English, Chinese, Somali, Spanish, Russian, and Vietnamese. Later this spring PPS will ask for additional input on your vision for the future of PPS. Help chart the course for the next 10 years at Portland Public Schools. Create your login and once you’ve completed that process (or simply log in if you’ve already created one), click on “Live Surveys” to access the Successful Schools Survey.

    As with any survey or consultation on Oregon’s Kitchen Table, your personal information (email, name if you choose to provide it) are not shared with anyone and your responses are and not tied to personal identifying information.  When you join Oregon’s Kitchen Table, you are assigned a unique identifying number that tracks the surveys you take.  All responses are aggregated together and will be published under our Results section later this spring.

  • Happy New Year, Happy New Login System!

    Happy New Year from Oregon‘s Kitchen Table!

    We’re excited to start 2015 with some improvements in how we engage with you! One of the first improvements – already up and running – is a new login system that allows you to create a username and password.  We’ve heard from a number of you that you want to simply be able to go to the site and take an available consultation, rather than have to dig through emails or try to find a link. We also want you to be able to let us know if you’ve moved to a new zip code so we can make sure we’re contacting you about consultations and other engagement opportunities specific to your community and region.  Make sure to head on over to http://consultations.oregonskitchentable.org/ and create your login. You’ll need to have a login to access consultations, so set yours up to take your seat at the table.  You’ll be asked to set up a log in and some demographic questions and then you’ll receive a confirmation email with a link to set up your password.

    If you have any problems at all with the new system, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

    We’ve got a few local and statewide consultations brewing (if you’re a Portland Public Schools parent or guardian, Oregon‘s Kitchen Table will be hosting PPS’s Successful Schools survey starting Jan 20th). And even more exciting, later this Spring we’ll be rolling out additional new features that we’re still developing, so stay tuned for more!

    Set up your log in now by going to http://consultations.oregonskitchentable.org/

  • Closing out 2014 – from one Oregonian to another

    We’ve had a busy past few months at Oregon’s Kitchen Table, preparing for a number of statewide and local consultations in 2015 (the Successful Schools Climate Survey for Portland Public Schools families and a statewide consultation on poverty and prosperity in Oregon) and working on some new developments here that we’re very excited to share with you all soon.  Stay tuned.

    In the meantime, if you’re an early learning provider or advocate, K-12 teacher or administrator, or other early learning resource, the State’s Early Learning Division wants to hear from you! Share your thoughts about how to communicate and use the data from the Kindergarten Assessment.

    Para la encuesta en español, haz clic aquí: Encuesta sobre la evaluación de kinder de Oregon

    Envíe por correo la encuesta completa a más tardar el 30 de diciembre a la siguiente dirección:

    Oregon’s Kitchen Table
    506 SW Mill St., Urban Center 720
    P.O. Box 751, Portland, OR 97201
    O escanear y enviar el formulario completo a info@oregonskitchentable.org

    And, as 2014 draws to an end and we prepare to start 2015, we want to share with you another way to engage with fellow Oregonians – Oregonian to Oregonian giving. Check out some of these stories of Oregonians and consider helping another Oregonian leverage funds to help their small business prosper this holiday!

    Wishing all you Oregonians a Happy New Year!

    PDF icon Encuesta Sobre la evaluación de jardín de niños de Oregon.pdf
  • One for The Annals of Hope

    “We are a people capable of self-government,
    and worthy of it.”
    – Thomas Jefferson

    So here we are:  Day 9 of a partial federal government shutdown.  5 days from a possible default on the national debt.  No solution in sight.  Plenty of finger-pointing and blame-slinging.  But no clear path forward.

    It would be easy to think that the grand experiment of democracy has failed—that we are too divided as a people to govern ourselves, to guard the public good, to create a space where real problems are solved.

    But despite all the handwringing and despair, around Oregon’s Kitchen Table we’ve had quite a different week.  We’ve had a week of tremendous hope and possibility.  Yesterday marked the end of the Build Gateway Green campaign, and it’s been quite a trip.  Just to remind you—Gateway Green is an unused parcel of land between two freeways in East Portland.  Two incredibly visionary Portlanders imagined it could be repurposed—recycled (excuse the pun)—into a world-class bike park with amenities for everyone, cyclist or not. Over the past eight years, those two people have gathered a group of supporters, partners, and volunteers.

    And this summer, they brought it to Oregon Solutions and Oregon’s Kitchen Table.  529 Oregonians joined the movement and weighed in with their dreams and aspirations for this unused parcel of land through an Oregon’s Kitchen Table Consultation.  Then, in Oregon’s first major civic crowdfunding effort, 756 people contributed to the project, raising nearly $124,000.  Literally hundreds of people gave time, money, and good ideas to a project that benefits the whole community.  The project isn’t over.  Gateway Green still has a ways to go before there are shovels in the ground, but suddenly a huge team has emerged to work side by side with the founders and Friends of Gateway Green.

    And throughout it all, no one was pointing fingers or slinging blame.  Everybody just pitched in, worked together, and did what they could to make a difference.  We’re proud of the Gateway Green team and our little corner of the Republic.  And it sure gives us hope that we have a thing or two to teach those in our nation’s capitol about governing ourselves.

    – Wendy Willis

  • Help Make Gateway Green a Reality

    Eight years ago, Gateway Green was just a wild idea. These 38 acres between I-84 and I-205 in East Portland once housed a jail. Now, the community is on the verge of turning this unused space into a great outdoor recreational and mountain biking destination right in the city.  Over 500 of you in the Portland metro region already took a step to make this happen by taking your seat at the Kitchen Table and weighing in on features of the park to help complete the design work.  We’ve got a high level summary of the results of the Build Gateway Green consultation with a more complete report coming next week.  We’re really excited to bring you another experiment in civic engagement – this time the chance to help build Gateway Green by directly contributing to the project.

    Tomorrow – on September 5th  – the Friends of Gateway Green are asking everyone to help reach the goal of $100,000 on crowdfunding site Indiegogo to make the vision for Gateway Green a reality.  The money raised will be used to complete the design work for the park.  Contributors will receive a thank you gift, ranging from a Build Gateway Green t-shirt designed by artist Mike Klay to a VIP guest pass to a fall celebration at outdoor biking venue Lumberyard.  If you’re not able to make a contribution, you can still help by spreading the word.  In fact, sharing the Build Gateway Green page on Indiegogo – or posting it on Facebook and Twitter – and asking other people to share it, too, is the key to making the crowdfunding campaign a success.

    On September 5th, give at www.indiegogo.com/projects/build-gateway-green (click on the big Contribute Now button on the right hand side of the page) and join us in this experiment linking public input and crowdfunding to help build a great public space!

    PDF icon Build Gateway Green Consultation Summary Report
  • Build Gateway Green

    Over the past year, we’ve tackled tough issues throughout the state with the Governor’s budget priorities and the 2013 Oregon Values and Beliefs survey.  We did our first county-wide consultation in Curry County with residents weighing in on options to address their county’s budget.  Now the Kitchen Table is set for those of you in several counties (Clackamas, Columbia, Hood, Multnomah, and Washington) to help turn an overlooked parcel of land in East Portland into a vibrant, off-road bike park in a gateway to the region.

    A hidden treasure sits in the hub of East Portland’s Gateway area: 38 acres of unused, partially wooded land.  Nestled between I-84 and I-205, this is a perfect spot for an off-road biking park! The City of Portland has already committed to operate the park once we all come together to build it, but now the Friends of Gateway Green needs grassroots input and support to continue to design the space based on the public’s dreams for Gateway Green.

    Share your thoughts here at the Kitchen Table about features you want to see in Gateway Green.  The responses you and others provide will be compiled and presented to the park’s design team as they move onto the next round of design.  This is your opportunity to help shape a regional asset  that we can all enjoy for generations to come.

    The consultation will be open until August 23rd.

    Give your input into the next round of design work to make the most of this space for the whole region. To learn more about Gateway Green and the project  to date, visit the Friends of Gateway Green.

  • Celebrate Independence and Self-governance with Oregon’s Kitchen Table

    What better way to celebrate independence and self governance, Oregonians? We’re extending the consultation to give more Oregonians the chance to sign up for Oregon’s Kitchen Table and take the 2013 Oregon Values & Beliefs survey!

    With nearly 600 Oregonians taking their seats at the table for the first time in just this past week, we’re extending the 2013 Values and Beliefs consultation until the end of this month.  If you haven’t already, you’ve still got a few more weeks to respond to the survey (make sure to check your email for a link from Oregon’s Kitchen Table with the subject line “2013 Oregon Values and Beliefs”).  As always, if you experience any technical difficulties, please contact us and we’ll tackle them together.

    We’ve partnered with the sponsors of the 2013 Values and Beliefs survey because all of us want to give all Oregonians the opportunity to weigh in on this historic survey – this is your chance (once in a decade!) to let decision makers know what is important to you about Oregon and our future as a state.  Take a few minutes to invite your family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and fellow Oregonians to join you in celebrating independence and self governance at the Kitchen Table!

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