Capstone course promotes community partnerships with Green Streets

Green Street Stewards clean up a Green Streets facility in Portland, Ore.
On Saturday, May 31, Green Street Stewards of Portland, Ore. held a block party to celebrate and foster community partnerships.
Green Street Stewards are community members who have volunteered to help support and maintain Portland’s Green Streets, a program that was started in 2003 by the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) as an environmentally friendly way to manage stormwater runoff.
Green Streets facilities are streetside planters or gardens that capture runoff and feed it into rivers and streams, taking advantage of the natural ability of soil and vegetation to filter out pollutants.
To galvanize community support and raise awareness about the program, the Stewards partnered with a capstone course taught by Thaddeus Miller, an assistant professor in the Toulan School of Urban Studies & Planning. As part of her capstone project, Portland State University student Taylor Balakrishnan helped organize the block party. 
"It was really good for us to gain some experience planning an event like this, and to see a positive outcome,” Balakrishnan said.
The block party was held in the Lents Park area, a neighborhood of southeast Portland. The event’s partners included the City of Portland’s BES and Green Street Stewards, as well as DePave, the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, Green Lents, SurfRiders, and Urban Canopy Group.
Despite their overlapping areas of involvement, not all of the community partners were acquainted with each other already. “A lot of them didn't know each other before, so this gave them the chance to meet and exchange information,” Balakrishnan said.
Attendees enjoyed free food, a scavenger hunt, and a raffle in addition to networking and informational opportunities.
The block party wasn’t the only outcome of the partnership with Green Streets. Other capstone groups in the class worked on promoting Green Streets through social media, and did “knock and talks” with members of the community who live near Green Streets facilities, to gauge their level of awareness about watershed management and to help promote the Green Streets program.
As part of the social media component, PSU student Soleil Rowan-Caneer and other members of the capstone course's social media group created a Facebook page where community members can check in and see the latest events and efforts of the Green Street Stewards.

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