Recently I did some synthesis of the responses I’ve gotten so far for my questionnaire regarding the Buckman neighborhood, the area of Portland wherein resides the Washington-Monroe High School building. That beautiful structure will theoretically house my thesis project.
Even though I’ve gotten relatively few responses to the questionnaire so far, the insights gleaned are no less fascinating and helpful. I’m so grateful for a little more direction about what exactly this gathering space I’m designing should include; the last thing I would want to do is create a space (however much in theory) that would not be of use to the local population who might otherwise enjoy its presence!
The majority of respondents have experience in a creative field. The age of respondents varied widely form 20’s to 60’s.
The culture of the Buckman neighborhood seems to be serious, but social and eclectic. Most respondents seemed to think that “giving back” and a sense of community among neighbors is strong within Buckman.
According to these responses, the majority of residents are renters, but many long-term homeowners as well. Those who rent in Buckman often buy in Buckman. There is a wide range of financial conditions from many homeless individuals to middle/upper class families.
SUPPORT AND NEIGHBORHOOD AMENITIES
Most respondents feel well-supported in their personal endeavors. There is close access to many amenities from parks, libraries, coffee shops, restaurants, art spaces, bars, galleries and shops. Respondents suggest that the neighborhood lacks a good grocery store, adult education opportunities, ways to help the homeless, a gym/recreation center, and a church or other place of religious/spiritual recourse.
The majority of respondents approve of a community center space within the Buckman neighborhood. Suggestions in this regard include maintaining the dog-park space which is well-used and provides social connection; free education classes on DIY home maintenance, architectural preservation, sustainability practices, practical and artistic skills like sewing, cooking, computer use, job finding, including locker space for ongoing projects; a bulletin or resource center to provide awareness about community service projects taking place, focused efforts to help the homeless; resources/equipment for those without other access; childcare; community gardens; a community meeting space.
Concerns about the implementation of a community center in the Washington-Monroe High School building include historic preservation, noise pollution from users, parking (the neighborhood was built before cars and his very limited parking for residents as it is), and the current need for more housing as the current vacancy rate is extremely low.
It’s not too late! If you live or work within the Buckman neighborhood, just happen to know it really, really well because you spent summer as a kid moving along the streets at dawn on your newspaper route, or if you know of someone else who might be willing, please feel free to chime in here!