Eleven Reasons Portland Transport readers should come to the 2013 Weston Awards.

a2a56b08339011e3a0a822000a1fbd23_8[1]

Hey, folks! My name is Aaron Brown, and I’m currently serving as Board President of Oregon Walks, the state’s pedestrian advocacy organization that’s been busy working to make streets safer for walking in the state since 1991. I’ll ask you to please excuse my remarkably obnoxious, buzzfeedesque title and format of this article, but I really wanted to extend a personal invitation to readers of Portland’s wonkiest, most wonderful blog to attend our third annual Weston Awards, to be held this October 26, 2013. I thought this enumerated list of reasons might convince you to swing by the North Star Ballroom next Saturday. Here we go!

  1. Every transit trip begins and ends with a walk. I’d imagine many readers of this blog are brought to the table of livable communities advocacy by their interest in transit options in the Portland region. The previous successes and ongoing advocacy of Oregon Walks are an often-overlooked but enormously crucial component of making transit a more effective, more viable, and more desirable option for getting around town. TriMet recently conducted a Pedestrian Network Analysis report highlighting the need for more safety, sidewalks and places to walk, and support of our organization helps us work with TriMet, Metro, and local jurisdictions to stand up for that all-important last-mile, or even last-block.OrWalkLogo_RGB[1]
  2. Making conditions safe for walking is a social justice issue. Thanks to the work of some remarkable, inspiring advocates and community organizers, the topic of safe streets in low-income and communities of color in East Portland has gained tremendous traction in recent years. This was reflected most recently in the unconscionable traffic fatality of 5-year old Morgan Maynard-Cook, who was walking on a stretch of SE 136th without sidewalks. Our organization is steadfastly working to make streets safer for all road users, and our initiative to do so implicitly helps communities that are less-likely to own automobiles, live on safer streets.
  3. Our work for empowerment and advocacy broadens the livable communities tent. As I presented the Oregon Walks letter to City Hall regarding SW Barbur last week, I noticed that I and the other twelve folks who testified were white men. This obviously points to some larger systemic issues about participation in our democracy, especially as it relates to transportation and planning decisions, and I’m proud to say that Oregon Walks is uniquely poised to help bring more folks to the table to stand up for livable, walkable communities. As an example of our work to promote social empowerment be sure to check out…
  4. PhotovoicePIC1-500x352[1]…our Photovoice Project, which will be on display, because it’s seriously rad. Thanks to a grant from the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund,  Oregon Walks has hired the wonderful Casey Ogden to implement a project in partnership with Adelante Mujures, in which Latina Women in Washington County are empowered to take photos of their unsafe streets and present them to elected officials.  The project, titled “Walking: paravida, familia, y comunidad,” represents the epitome of the next generation of walking advocacy, and I couldn’t be more excited to show their work to our Weston Awards audience.
  5. We’re all getting older. When I say that Oregon Walks is bringing new partners to the table, I’m proud to say our organization is partnering with some newer allies who are increasingly concerned with community design, access and mobility. Amongst our Weston Awards winners this year are Donna Green, who ran the City of Portland’s Senior Strolls program, and Bandana Shresthra, the Community Engagement Director with AARP Oregon. With these groups and others such as Elders in Action on board, Oregon Walks is eager to help us design and advocate for communities that will be ready for our region’s ever-shifting demographics.
  6. What better way to celebrate Walktober! We’re in our second year of celebrating Walktober, our monthlong collection of walking. Did you see our recent article in the Oregonian? Why not spend your Saturday evening walking to the Weston Awards? Go ahead and get off the bus a few stops early to enjoy a couple blocks of walking through North Portland.
  7. Did you ever feel so strongly about traffic laws you’ve felt like you practically wear them on your sleeves? If you swing by the Weston Awards, you’ll have a chance to pick up a limited edition, MUTCD-compliant Crosswalk Stop tshirt, as put together by our friends at Lancaster Engineering.
  8. Good Grub! We’ll have food from a handful of restaurants located on Mississsippi Avenue and beer from Thunder Island Brewing, the Cascade Locks-based brewery recently profiled by Michael Andersen over on BikePortland.
  9. We Need a New Executive Director. And your attendance (especially when you bring your checkbook, *cough*) will help us bring new staff on board. If you’ll excuse the pun, we’ve got some mighty big shoes to fill as we look to hire the next Executive Director to succeed the indefatigable, voraciously talented Steph Routh. We’re really excited to begin the recruiting process for our next hired staff, and we won’t be able to bring in the best and the brightest without your help.
  10. 22127a[1]The opportunity to thank a living legend in person. Ray Polani is the wonkiest, most wonderful nonagenarian you could be so lucky as to meet, and Oregon Walks is giving him a lifetime achievement award for his incredible work to support walking-friendly neighborhoods in the region. Check out this August 2013 interview in the Catholic Sentinel, where he calls the Columbia River Crossing “a disaster” and mentions the importance of designing communities for walking. Chris Smith called him “the dean of transit advocates in Portland,” and next Saturday is your chance to thank him in person for a tremendous career of advocacy. We should all be so lucky as to be thinking about transportation in Portland at age ninety.
  11. Biggest reason you should attend? The Westons are fun. Look, I’ve been to my share of gala dinners and events. Last year’s 2012 Weston Awards was, by far, the most enjoyable fundraiser I’ve ever attended. We’re a nimble, scrappy organization doing everything from sitting on planning committees, holding walking events, empowering new communities and supporting legislation all the way up to the state and national levels, and we know how to have a good time. And what better way to celebrate Halloween, the Sidewalk Holiday, than to attend a fundraiser for our state’s pedestrian advocacy organization?

Please buy a ticket! The Early Bird Price is in effect through the end of the weekend. If you’re unable to attend the event next Saturday but you’ve found any of this piece persuasive or enjoyable, consider making a donation, from $500 t0 $5. Any help at all is appreciated.

The Weston Awards
Saturday, October 26th, 2013
6:00 – 9:00pm
North Star Ballroom
635 N. Killingsworth Ct., Portland

8 Comments

8 Responses to Eleven Reasons Portland Transport readers should come to the 2013 Weston Awards.

  1. Chris Smith
    October 17, 2013 at 8:56 am Link

    Aaron, welcome to Portland Transport’s authoring corps. And I’ll see you at the Westons!

    Chris

  2. Nick theoldurbanist
    October 17, 2013 at 11:22 am Link

    So what’s wrong with the picture that accompanies this article? The vegetation is encroaching on the sidewalk, and also blocking out at night whatever light put out by our woefully inadequate street lighting. When I go out after dark, I ALWAYS carry a flashlight.
    Just goes to show you how much more has to be done around these parts, despite all the hype about Portland’s walkability.

    • Chris I
      October 18, 2013 at 8:53 am Link

      Some of the obsessive gardeners in this city are really doing a disservice to everyone else that has the walk by their house. As a taller person, I have a particular issue with people that allow their fancy, special plants to grow out into the sidewalk space. I make a habit of de-limbing trees and “pruning” bushes for them as I walk by. Maybe they will get the hint eventually.

  3. Brian Davis
    October 17, 2013 at 12:05 pm Link

    Personally, I’m most looking forward to attending for reasons #4 and #8, but I’m really excited that #7 made the list!

    I agree with Nick that despite our lofty reputation Portland has much room to improve when it comes to prioritizing walking ahead of all other travel modes as we claim to do. It’s terrific to have such great community advocates working hard on this and I’m looking forward to having a nice, cold Thunder Island with you folks next weekend.

  4. Steve
    October 17, 2013 at 12:52 pm Link

    The Weston Awards are always a hoot. 2013 should be no exception. See you there!

  5. Ron Swaren
    October 17, 2013 at 1:36 pm Link

    [Moderator: Rambling comment with references to disagreements with neighbors over trees, a personal swipe at Aaron, and various litanies of racial heritage removed. Hardly worth sifting for anything of value. – Bob R.]

  6. Ron Swaren
    October 17, 2013 at 4:27 pm Link

    Thought you were for safety Bob. [Moderator: I’m also for civil and fact-based discussion. If you had posted this version of your comment originally, it would have been fine. – Bob R.] My sidewalk is very safe for walkers, but there are scores of dangerous situations all over this neighborhood, and others, due to trees that are not cultivated properly. For those of you who didn’t get to read it, I was commenting about how sidewalks can be safe places to walk and Portlanders can be environmentally friendly at the same time. Once again, I would invite anyone who is interested to log on to the UN World Urban Forum, where next summer’s bi annual event will be in Medellin Colombia:http://www.unhabitat.org/categories.asp?catid=672

    I’ve often thought that various aspects of Portland transportation planning might be of interest to the hundreds of civic leaders who attend this forum. But….naaah.

  7. Doug Klotz
    October 18, 2013 at 8:26 pm Link

    So Ray Polani was only 65 when I arrived in Portland and started doing all this pedestrian stuff! Nice to see some more recognition for him!

Leave a Reply

By posting a comment, you are granting a license to Portland Transport for your comment. Please refer to The Rules.