She approaches community with creativity
By Nancy Varekamp | CNews Editor
Jordana Leeb has had a difficult time with all of the changes to her block in her eastern Concordia neighborhood. So she’s reaching out to others of similar mind.
“I love my neighborhood and feel passionate about Concordia, the smaller houses, the people who live here, and its walkability,” said the Portland native.
“There have been a lot of changes to the built environment,” Jordana added. “I’ve spent the past 10 years watching house after house be demolished. They were much more affordable as they were, and the larger, new houses aren’t necessarily increasing density.”
That’s why she attended a community conversation at Cerimon House last December – to hear what others had to say.
As someone drawn to expressing herself creatively, it inspired her to turn to one of her favorite mediums, collage. The result was an artful mixture of photos of the new houses that had replaced demolished houses in her neighborhood.
But there’s more she wants to do. “I think a lot of people look at development in black and white terms. I feel there’s much more gray in the conversation.”
So, she’s leaning into the skills of her 20-plus-year career in community outreach, education and project management, as well as her graduate degree in community planning. The result is the Concordia Neighborhood Project.
Jordana has devoted countless volunteer hours – and enlisted the help of friends, neighbors and local organizations – to create a three-phase approach to understanding change:
- “A Diary of a Street,” a short film focused on interviews with neighbors from her block
- The Jan. 12, 3-5:30 p.m., Community Conversations event at Cerimon House (details at tinyurl.com/ConcordiaConversations)
- A juried community art show next summer
“Through all of these activities, I want people to respond to the statement, ‘What neighborhood change means to me,’” Jordana said.
A small grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council is paying most of the bills for the film production, room rental, and art show prizes and exhibit costs.
Jordana is especially excited to secure Cerimon House for the winter event. “It’s a beautiful space with a sense of history, and a community-minded mission. And that’s where I was when I decided to find new ways to continue the community conversation.
“The project has been a lot of work, but it’s really fun, and I thrive on creativity and community.”