Through Partners in Nature, Metro staff collaborates with culturally-specific organizations to provide culturally-relevant opportunities to meet the following goals:
- Increased utilization of Metro parks and natural areas as places of stewardship, learning and recreation by youth from low-income families and communities of color
- Increased capacity within partner organizations to lead educational and culturally-relevant programming in Metro parks and natural areas
- Increased opportunities for relationship-building and learning by Metro staff.
Metro already has effective partnerships with a range of organizations cultivated over the years to achieve agency’s conservation and education goals. Partners in Nature is distinct in several key ways:
- The outreach is focused to engage culturally-specific organizations
- Metro’s approach is rooted in listening to partners and understanding community needs
- Outputs and outcomes are co-created by Metro and the partner CBOs
- A focus on developing relationships and to building trust
- A commitment to new approaches, taking risks and new perspectives
Similar to the Nature in Neighborhoods grants programs, these partnerships aim to connect communities with nature. Partners in Nature partnerships differ in a focus on activities at Metro-managed parks and natural areas and a commitment to relationship building that leads to learning opportunities for both Metro and partner staff.
Between 2013 -2015, five pilot partnerships were formed with the following organizations: Center for Intercultural Organizing now known as Unite Oregon (2013), Self Enhancement, Inc. (2014), Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (2014), Groundworks Portland (2014), and Latino Greenspaces, a partnership with both Hacienda CDC and Latino Network (2015).
Near the end of 2015, Metro held an open call for new partners. Metro Parks and Nature staff are pursuing potential partnership opportunities with the 23 organizations that submitted letters of interest. Please see below for a list of potential partners and their ideas.
This work is made possible by the region's voters, who approved a parks and natural areas levy in 2013.