As a park provider with three boat ramps and multiple parks featuring lakes or rivers, water safety is a priority for Metro. Life jackets are on display and free to borrow at the entrance to Broughton Beach and Blue Lake Regional Park’s swim beach. At Oxbow, the easiest way to find a good spot to access the Sandy River is to look for the colorful life jacket stands on the side of the road. These free-to-use life jackets help ensure everyone taking a dip at a Metro park can do so safely.
Metro needed to go a step further to make life jacket access equitable. Drownings happen disproportionately to people of color. In part, that’s because Black and Brown communities have less access to outdoor gear. Over the summer of 2021, Metro purchased 500 life jackets and worked with community organizations to get life jackets to their community members. Building on that success, Metro distributed 3,500 over the 2022 swim season.
For Metro, achieving racial equity in greater Portland means that race would no longer be a reliable way to predict a person’s life outcomes on measurements like education level, health or wealth, which are currently very closely related to race. In the process of creating racial equity, every group and community in greater Portland would see its well-being improve.
This means making sure people of color feel welcome and safe when they visit Metro destinations. It means creating job training and mentoring for people of color so the department’s workforce looks like the people it serves, which isn’t true now. It means Indigenous people, both those with close historical and cultural ties to the region and those with tribal roots in other parts of the country, will have more meaningful and easier access to cultural resources on properties that Metro protects and manages, all of which are on land ceded by regional tribes in the early years of colonization. It means contracting with more certified minority-owned, women-owned and emerging small businesses.
It means working with community organizations to get people of color life jackets.
Blue Lake remake
Renovations at Blue Lake Regional Park began earlier this year, with crews preparing to install a new water line and boost fire safety. Now preparations are underway for the next phase of improvements at the park, starting with the demolition and replacement of the Curry Building, which serves as the home base for most of Metro’s park maintenance operations.
It’s a big step forward for the renovations plan, and an even bigger step forward for Metro. This project will be the first at Metro to employ the Construction Career Pathways framework, a plan to increase access to the trades for women and people of color in greater Portland.
“We launched the Construction Careers Pathways Project to make a leap forward for an equitable economy while supporting our construction industry,” said Metro Council President Lynn Peterson. “We're excited to see that work get underway."
The Construction Career Pathways policy framework outlines seven critical strategies to provide reliable career pathways for women and people of color in the construction industry. These strategies were developed by a workgroup of 16 public agencies, and included significant input from industry and community stakeholders. Currently, six agencies across the region have formally adopted the framework.
“What we want to have is a job site where anybody who comes on that job knows that they have a welcoming place to work,” Gerry Hein, a project director with Hoffman Construction, told Metro. “That they’ve got a fighting chance of learning what they’re supposed to be learning, earning a good paycheck [and] developing their careers.”
From “Metro’s Construction Career Pathways efforts will start with Blue Lake Regional Park”