The City of Portland’s commitment to public involvement is part of a long history dating back to the late 60’s.  Portland’s current and historical issues related to systemic and institutional disparities reveal that the many underserved and marginalized communities are not adequately represented.  Central Northeast Neighbors (CNN) is one of seven district coalitions that participates in Portland’s civic engagement structure which includes neighborhood associations, diverse community organizations, groups, and engaged neighbors.   In order to work towards equitable outcomes we must first begin to engage with those who are not at the table and create new spaces to learn from each other grounded in understanding.  Acknowledging community inequity is paramount to this effort.  Community connection, inclusion of many backgrounds, and interdependence are the impetus for this project.

Hacienda CDC, Feb. 2018

With this partnership between CNN LUTOP (Land use, Transportation, and Open space committee) and the BPS NE District Liaison we seek to broaden the discussion by adding new and more tables for creative change together.



Our Purpose

The Community Conversations Project is to promote cross-cultural and cross-issue communications and relationships supported by community, local food, and engaging conversation.  Providing adequate space to build relationships is fundamental to learn about and support each other in the work of community development and livability.  We recognize that potentially more fundamental and less immediate tangible outcomes may come from building resiliency one conversation at a time over time.

NAYA, Dec. 2017

Our goals

  • Collaborate with community groups to create meaningful opportunities for diverse neighbors to participate in community development efforts.
  • Support community and neighborhood impact on public decisions.
  • Create opportunities to expand community resources.
  • Promote equity and reduce disparities within the CNN area.
  • Build community capacity and strengthen relationships between groups in the area.
  • Identify and to work on common goals addressing complex, inter-connected issues.
  • Build civic power through cross-cultural, cross-issue sharing and adaptive decision making.


It is a collaborative relationship with community groups and organizations that are interested in co-hosting a community conversation to reach mutual benefit.  The community group or organization participates in defining the nature, structure, and location of the conversation.  The events are created through planning meetings and mutual cooperation with the host organization.  Together we create the space with local food and an informal atmosphere supporting culturally responsive, genuine, and communal small group conversations.  Each group of dinner guests are guided by table hosts culminating in community conversations on current livability topics.  The topics align with the interests and opportunities of diverse groups and co-facilitated by the host group.  WorldCafé, Popular Education, Just Transition and other formats can be explored as it is suitable to the group that is co-hosting.

A window into the first Conversations

Thus far, there were on average 5 table hosts at each event.  Targeted outreach was shared by the host and CNN to reach about 20 participants for an event.  Table conversation questions and topics were inspired by sense of community and place based organizing with IRCO AFC; cooperative power structures and the environment with NAYA; and community safety and livability with Hacienda CDC.  The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability provided reimbursement for food.  As well, CNN applied for funds through the Office of Neighborhood Involvement for interpretation.  The event has been held on the 2nd Thursday of the month (even months) from 6-8PM.  


For more information please contact   503-823-2780