The East Portland Community Office: Place-making and community-building through the renaming of our District Coalition Office

Why did EPNO change its name?

The East Portland Neighborhood Office (EPNO) changed its name to the East Portland Community Office (EPCO) to better represent the work that we do and the ways we support and engage with the diverse East Portland communities that organize based on geographic connectedness or their identity through our programs.

EPCO oversees two areas of work: East Portland Community and Advocacy Programs (CAP) and East Portland Action Plan (EPAP). It’s important for our brand and name to reflect the ways our programs have expanded in recent years. We have been actively working to eliminate barriers to engagement for communities that have been historically under-engaged and under-resourced by our Office and the City.

Was there something wrong with the old name?

EPCO was created over 40 years ago, with the goal of supporting public involvement through neighborhood associations. Since then, our organization has transformed from a neighborhood-association centric program and office to a community-centric program and office. Presently, EPCO provides resources to support over 200 community-led projects annually. We make resources available to 28% of the city’s population, of which one in four identify as immigrant – that’s nearly 160,000 people within 26 square miles of Portland.

Although our commitment to neighborhood associations remains strong, we are changing our name to embody our transformation to support even more groups of people so that all community members can see themselves reflected in our programs.

What does the new name represent?

Our new name aims to represent the neighbors who come together based on their geographical connectedness, as well as community members who engage based on their identities, such as ethnic streams, immigrants, and refugees. It also represents the policy changes and evolving community needs that will ensure our programs and services are more accessible and inclusive to the diverse communities of East Portland. Our hope is for all community members who walk into our office to see themselves represented in our brand and name.

What was the process leading up to the new name?

Back in August 2017, we created a community survey to gather input on how various community members in East Portland engage with our office. We translated the survey in Spanish, Russian, and Arabic, and starting January 2018, we made it available on our website, social media, e-newsletter, East Portland Neighbors’ print newsletter, emails, and meetings. We closed the survey on March 15, 2018 and, based on the results, we narrowed down the name change to five possible options. In April 2018, we presented these options to those in attendance at the East Portland Action Plan monthly meeting and invited the diverse community representatives present to vote on their top picks. Based on their feedback, in May we further narrowed down our name choices to three possibilities. In June, we ran the final three options by an ad-hoc focus group for final approval.

After all the votes were counted, the name that was the obvious top choice was the East Portland Community Office, officially announced on July 2, 2018.

How much did the name change cost?

So far, the costs have been an estimated 80 hours of staff time for the Operations, Communications, and Community Outreach Coordinator, totaling $2,080, and $415.00 in survey translation services. The rest of the costs, such as business cards, letterhead, and brochures, will be absorbed by the Office of Neighborhood Involvement. The cost of the front door and garden signs is TBD.

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