By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
When looking for tips on how to improve, why not turn to the best?
That’s just what leaders of the Greater Gubser Neighborhood Association did recently, inviting Erika Wilson of the Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood Association to speak at the April GGNA meeting.
Mt. Scott-Arleta was recently named the 2013 Portland Neighborhood Association of the Year, beating out 92 other associations for the honor.
GGNA president Brad Coy, who took over in late 2012, noted his organization has taken big steps to grow.
“It was about to die when I came here,” Coy said of GGNA, which was expanded last summer. “The president at the time had wanted to fold it for a while.”
The meeting was a chance for Coy and others to bounce ideas off Wilson, as well as learn about some new ideas to try. Rhonda Rich, president of the West Keizer Neighborhood Association, also gave an update on her organization, which had its boundary expanded in 2008.
“It’s wonderful to hear everything both neighborhood associations here have been doing,” Wilson said after short presentations from Rich and Coy. “I’ve gotten some new ideas from you. Communication wise and getting the word out, we’re doing a lot of the same things you are. We use neighborhood signs and we’re on Nextdoor. We have about 350 people in Nextdoor and about the same on Facebook. We also have a blog.”
Wilson found an easy way to get people involved with her association that covers 6,000 households: bring the booze.
“We have started doing neighborhood socials, four a year,” Wilson said. “We go out and get donations for a couple of growlers and entice people to come out. It has really worked. People don’t want to go to boring neighborhood association meetings at city hall during dinner time. You can have them at a business and have a business donate food, wine, coffee or beer.
“We have had 50 to 60 people at recent meetings,” she added. “It has been great. Portland has recognized this. We’re now partnering with a neighborhood association that borders us and having socials with their neighborhood association. Our last one had almost 100 people.”
Wilson said having businesses within the neighborhood association’s boundaries has benefitted her group and the businesses alike.
“It gets people inside the business,” she said. “We have a game store in our neighborhood that hosted a meeting. People were so excited they had the opportunity to go in. Now they are getting more business.”
As another example, Wilson said her association will be holding one of its meetings this summer at a local Dairy Queen.
“One of our goals for our neighborhood association is collaboration, who can we bring to the table,” Wilson said. “Other neighborhood associations around us love this idea. We’re collaborating with them and with business owners on projects.”
Wilson noted her association had a mural of the neighborhood designed, with that design used for neighborhood tote bags sold for $5 each. Neighborhood business cards that show the boundaries and where to go for more information were also printed. There are also t-shirts ($15) and bicycle bells.
Wilson told the audience of 10 people to not focus much on how many people attend regular meetings.
“It’s more about how many people go out and do projects,” she said. “Last year we had 15 projects we were working on.”