How could CNU be a more supportive community?

Mary Vogel's picture
Mary Vogel Photo

In honor of Labor Day, the Social Justice Minister for First Unitarian of Portland* had three people tell their stories about how this time of transition has affected them and how they’ve been handling it. If they were still looking for work—and one was—they could advertise their skills and ask for help from the whole congregation. Each one mentioned how critical the support they felt from First U has been in their time of crisis and hardship.

The congregation also has a “First Share” produce sharing table; an Emergency Fund for Members; a Job Board Yahoo Group ; “Resilience Circles” to find ways “to increase the real wealth among members of your group while increasing your own ability to adapt to changing economic times.”

I mention all this because it seems like a model for a supportive community and—as one who has been in income crisis for a long time—I wish we had a similar model in CNU. I bet I'm not the only one.

My original intention when I started my business, PlanGreen, was to work with other New Urbanists to help them bring ecosystem services to what was otherwise excellent urban design. Except in all-volunteer working groups like the Sustainable Urbanism Ratings Group that we had going for a little while here in Portland, I haven’t gotten to do any of that. (I also put in a lot of volunteer time nationally on the ITE manual, the Transportation Summit, the Light Imprint manual, the Smart Code manual and the budding Stormwater Task Force, oh, and Gentilly/District 6. Those have been satisfying intellectually though not financially rewarding.)

It’s been hard to get a foot in the door anywhere here in Portland. Perhaps that’s partly because as someone with an ecological education, I “live alone in a world of wounds that are invisible to the layman.” (Aldo Leopold)

I still feel disappointed when I see our LEED buildings using mostly alien ornamentals in whatever landscape they manage to fit in—when they could be using plants that perform so many more ecosystem services instead of plants that are STILL bringing catastrophic diseases into this country. I’m still disturbed when I see our landscape architecture firms here in eco-city Portland spec plants that are invasive, or likely to become invasive, in stormwater planters along a major wildlife corridor like the Willamette River. Still they are awarded LEED NC and ND!!! If we are the nation’s greenest city(as the plaques say we are), I’m even more deeply concerned for the rest of you. . .

I diverge from my main message. Can we all take a leaf from First U and try to think of ways we can be more supportive of each other?


* This same Minister is having an Econvergence ( next month to address the financial and ecological crises we face—with Noam Chomsky keynoting and other internationally known speakers. (You can get in free for volunteering to be a speaker buddy—so you can bet I did that!)


Mary Vogel's picture

Anyone have suggestions to shrink the photo?

I want the photo to be about a third the size it appears on my screen. Anyone have suggestions?

Mary Vogel
Toward a Sustainable Urban Ecosystem
Bringing ecosystem services to great urban design

Try adding your photo as an "avatar"

When logged in, go to My CNU and then in the sub-menu choose "Edit Account/Profile." If you scroll down to where it says "add picture" and add your photo there, it will display as a small photo whenever you post a message. You won't need to add it again when you contribute a blog post. In fact, you may want to submit another image at that time to illustrate the point you're making.

Let me know if this tip works for you.


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