November 7, 2023

Convening East County community based organizations on climate resilience

The Multnomah County Office of Sustainability hosted the first East County Climate Resilience Summit in October.

Community based organization representatives and staff from Multnomah County met in October 2023 at the East County Resilience Summit in Fairview, Oregon.

The summit gathered various organizations from the East County Resilience Network, including Rahab’s Sisters, Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon, the Slavic Community Center, IRCO, Oregon Chinese Coalition, Rockwood CDC, Latino Network, and Yasuke Pharm. These groups also participated in the Community Resilience Initiative (CRI) and helped create its framework. The Office of Sustainability, Office of Emergency Management, and Health Department also attended.

The goal of the summit was to define the next phase of implementation of an East County resilience framework, created as part of the Community Resilience Initiative, a two-year effort spearheaded by Commissioner Lori Stegmann’s Office and facilitated by We All Rise that launched in 2021.

Nicole Buchanan, a Senior Policy Analyst with the Office of Sustainability, provided an overview of the framework goals and updates on their implementation.

JR Lilly, who is the Director of Multnomah County’s Office of Community Involvement, led the discussion for the remainder of the summit. Community-based organizations discussed the mission, structure, and funding of the coalition. They wanted to help East County residents dealing with heat, smoke, and housing problems. They also wanted to assist residents in getting ready for, dealing with, and recovering from climate events. 

The group shared ideas to fund and build a Resilience Hub in East Multnomah County. 

Commissioner Lori Stegmann, whose office helped organize the summit, noted that, "Resilience Hubs can save lives, protect communities, and increase our residents' sense of wellbeing. That is why I am so excited to continue to expand this work through our Office of Sustainability, and learn more from our community based organizations on how we can build more resilient and interconnected communities,” Commissioner Stegmann said. “I know because of the deep commitment we’ve established over the last couple years and the partnership with our county departments that the possibility of creating a Resilience Hub in East County will become a reality.”

At the end of the summit, Alice Busch and Lydia Ledgerwood-Eberlein from the Office of Emergency Management presented. They shared how organizations can help their own communities get ready for cold weather and other emergencies.

This Winter, the group will meet again to make the East County Resilience Network stronger. They will also talk about ways to build community resilience and create a Resilience Hub.

The Community Resilience Initiative

The goal of the Community Resilience Initiative (CRI) was to bring together community based organizations and define what community resilience means for East Multnomah County. For the purposes of this project, East Multnomah County is defined as the cities East of Portland, including Gresham, Wood Village, Fairview and Troutdale. 

Through CRI, there is a better understanding of gaps in services and resources, and actionable goals to increase community resilience and connectivity between community members, community based organizations, and local government. The CRI’s final report outlined a three-pronged resilience framework that addresses digital, physical and social resilience.

Buchanan was encouraged by the passion shown by the members of the East County Resilience Network and the direct response of Multnomah County staff, sharing that, “Under the leadership of Commissioner Lori Stegmann, the County has made significant progress in all three pillars outlined in the framework. We’re continuing to build off of that momentum, in partnership with the East County Resilience Network by way of the new East County Resilience Summits, a monthly community newsletter, and ongoing explorations of a Resilience Hub in East County. There’s a lot of excitement around this work and we are grateful to have such an engaged group driving the effort.”