ReCode Portland Meeting Minutes: Dec 13, 2007

ReCode Portland, Meeting Minutes

Thursday, December 13 from 7-9 pm
Laughing Horse Books (12 NE 10th).
minutes by Levin Nock,

At meeting, distributed hardcopy of ReCode wishlist draft; primary authors: brush and Joshua Klyber.

Action Items
>> We Could submit abstract by Jan 15 to carfree cities conference, in Portland this June. Anybody interested?

Brush will start a blog [forum]. Signup on TLC website. To create new topics, signup then email to Brush, he will give permission, then we all can write comments.

Levin will type up minutes. Brush or Brenna will distribute to email addresses on sign-up sheet.

Next meeting of entire group, third Thursday in January, 17 at 7 pm at Laughing Horse Books.

Before then, each working group meet at least once, the first 2 weeks in January.

Around the room, who's here

Brenna Bell
likes working with media, hone general knowledge into legal wonky stuff, then lobby. Is attorney & volunteer with TLC (Tryon Life Community) farm.

volunteer with TLC Farm, grassroots activist experience, Likes permaculture. Each outcome builds on others, greater perspective, change in social relations. TLC Farm, learned law, wants to use for broader work.

Jeremy O'Leary
from PPG (Portland Permaculture Guild) CNRG, and portland Peak Oil wanted to be here, CNRG meeting overlaps (came late).

Levin Nock
Green building consultant, promote interconnected network of greenways, engineer. Ecobuilding Guild member, did Sustainable Building Advisor program, board member Center for Sustainable Today.

Magy Oriah Nock,
realtor, grad student in Organizational Systems Design and Renewal.
Likes to bring together diverse stakeholders, align vision with actions to achieve extraordinary results.
Create diverse and dynamic dialogue, not polarized, meet in middle, nobody lose, expand perceptions.

Matt Philips,
active concerned citizen, disillusioned engineer, personal environmentalist. How do systems support sustainability? VBC core group. Becoming self reliant, learning natural building. Cohousing, focus on community, not all need to work for money. How to change what's in the way of better system?

Cameron Mclain
Going school oit (Oregon Inst Tech) renewable energy. Works for energy trust (ET), home energy advisor. ET often promotes the least environmentally friendly option. Greywater, water use codes in state are awful.

lawyer, school with Brenna. Three years disenchanted with legal system. Env'l lawyers don't have much clout. Peak oil, climate change, need to act now. Back in school for Leadership Ecology Culture and Learning at PSU. Aim in four years, retrofit large house into household several families. Earthen floors, demonstration project, for peak oil and climate change, can see 'what can I do?' Graywater, design inhouse frig cooled from earth, Retrofit normal frig. Want their house to be prototype, must be legal, to show everybody. Dance the line, push it far without being illegal.

Tim O'Neil,
degree in urban adminstration. Now americorp volunteer for SE Uplift, starting neighborhoorhood sustainability project. Has four neighborhoods now, each neighborhood nas different project.
See if he can sell this (ReCode) to the neighborhoods he's working with. Working on Carfree Cities conference coming this summer Portland.

Amy Tyson
Intern at zgf architects, getting architectural degree. Background in construction, contractor in north carolina, been researching zoning and building codes. There's hope, change is happening. Going to hawaii next week, will write a paper, research for TLC. What is present legal status of sustainable methodologies?

Amanda Rodes
Bought house, doing small things for a year. Now, where are my solar panels? Have a few rain barrels, fill in a few hours. Want to shift house totally next year. There are so many existing houses, must retrofit.
Been working on vision pdx past two years. Is a city planner, just moved over from Vision PDX, is a planner updating our comprehensive plan. Dream come true. Read peak oil, community groups, meet with groups like ReCode, find out what they want. Happy to be a link to planning bureau.

Jeff Holiman,
bioligist and volunteer learning garden, beaumont middle school, water garden now was impervious.
Loves fresh water, use to fullest potential. Also sust living, appropriate energy, natural building etc. ;

Other Groups to network with

You can't build a living building (USGBC Living Building Challenge) in portland because of greywater regulations, but pockets of people looking at. We don't need to create new, just tap into groups already moving.

Existing network. PPG Portland Permaculture Guild
NWEI NorthWest Earth Institute, has a new project center for earth leadership
Dick Roy (cofounder) is a lawyer, "lawyers for a sust future", aim is to write sustainable code.

Goal one.
A primary goal stated in statewide landuse planning is "public engagement". Usually lipservice, not serious. A nonprofit in Eugene ( wants to make that meaningful, not brush it off.

Need to partner with HomeBuilders assoc, Plumbers assoc.
E.g. Plumbers don't want waterless urinals in City Hall. Less maintenance, fewer jobs for plumbers. Need to learn domestic hot solar water, look beyond.

Usgbc in ecotrust.
Greenbuilding association, josh is working on.
NW ecobuilding guild is not very active portland, but some here.

How change economic infrastructure: make portland epicenter of new green industry.
Sustainable Industries Journal based in portland, is Biz centered, not workers.
'jobs with justice' has a climate change working group.,
Has links to unions,
We want to create roundtable builders, activists, unions all talk, how work.
Ella baker fitzgerald, van jones, green jobs, in Oakland CA.
Enterprise Communities, affordable housing, promoting green building.
Earthadvantage (mainly new construction, not renovate).

Commercial greenbuilding industry in portland is very strong, good visibility with LEED, big dollars. City bds (Bureau Development Services), hired Debbie Kleek to look at variations to code, what's needed to support greenbuilding. But she's only looked at new development. Low cost residential, refurbish, not as sexy and mainstream. Maybe Debbie will look more at refurbish, someone at ReCode meeting mentioned refurbish to her.

Maybe greenbuilding is not the right word. "Do-It-Yourself Sustainability"? "Dark Green"? "Deep Green"?

Earthadvantage (EA) started doing remodels. But more dollars in new construction, their remodel program is inactive. EA trains ET advisors, but focuses on new construction.
Magy: pitching green/sustainable and profitable sometimes faux pas. How promote sustainability without banishing money. Need abundance. Existing neighborhoods already have connectedness, large trees, etc. Many EA new developments have very few trees.
Green living fairs. Learn about lite bulbs, etc.
Van Jones talks about Green people who are rich and Green people who are poor.
Want everybody on the boat. Interspecies, and all financial levels.
We need to Rock the boat, but don't lose anybody.

Group planning carfree cities in june. Discussion, provide solutions. Put pressure on decision makers.

Greenroofs seattle. Now industry is huge warehouses, want more residential.

The Portland Plan. Comprehensive Plan

Amanda: comp plan and working groups
Periodic review, entering now.
Many doc's are completely out of date. Just finished vision project. Will update the comp plan extensively. Ideas pursued for ten years are not in there yet, needs major overhaul. Nothing yet about watersheds, sustainability, etc.

Easy to plug in on interests. What OSD (Portland Office of Sustainable Development) is doing on global warming, will have central place to plug in.
Osd and planning bureau, internally, have given their vision of peak oil, etc. What are major issues, big ideas, new ways to do things in the city. Have six working groups, plus central city. Goal is done by march 2010.
March, done quick public process for the process, to do the work, next two years.
Issues, now have four.
Global warming
What's a good neighborhood? Topography, responsive to local conditions. Where are we being inconsistent with what we want to see? E.g., planning with nature, with watersheds.
Theres a problem with maintaining infrastructure. Parks, roads, maintenance deferred is a big problem.
Still hiring staff
Hiring public engagement manager, will design a plan to update the Comp Plan.
Will Review engagement plan and work plan by march, is ambitious. Might be april or may.

>> There will be a big summit, april 11, bring in national folks. Afternoon, focus on challenges. They've rented the convention center already. City council will discuss in March.

How to decide what the issues are? City employees will decide? Need somethng to talk about, specific topic?

Food policy council is working with sustainability working group.

Community health folks have 8 page doc.

Amanda will suggest to housing group, consider this. She'll submit the present Recode list.

Technical groups will meet again in January.
Steve dodder, is heading the whole Comp Plan revision. They want community groups to dog the process, tell them when missing something, they are very open to that.
Allison goal, tell us what's coming up.

Will send ecovillage zone, multiple use zoning ideas.

After updating the Comp Plan, then will update the zoning code language. That's a few years out. We might want to work on Ecovillage Zoning before then.

Community: cohousing, or neighborhoods. E.g., how empower people to take responsibility for their neighborhood. Will free up city resources, for more maintenance.

Big reorientation. Overall perspecitve, the only way for portland and society to engage the problem, is to unleash the innovative potential of the entire population.

Shift the fundamental idea.
Old: govt is a few elected/hired people, they do it.
New: Govt's job is to facilitate the work of citizens groups, help groups coordinate their work.

We don't need one set of zones. We need locally based, innovative solutions, assessment infrastructure to see what's working or not, and shift things around.

Big shift for a planning body.

We have greenbuilding technical resources. Also innovative organizing people, but collaboration not centrallized. How recode portland can catalyze these resources:
Shortterm: get rid of obstacles to grassroots sust tech.
Longterm: how can code incentivize creative approaches, info sharing, put this at the core.

Without costing the innovator extra time and money. Do an experiment, see how it works. The gov't should support experiments, facilitate them, make it easier to try something new (instead of more difficult/costly/illegal). When experiment is finished, publish the results for public educ. Whether it worked or not.

We will need to choose issues, what is state and city and county, each issue. For instance, Greywater, pilot project, is at state level. Portland building code comes from state or national level. Comp plan might not address bldg code.

Portland Bureau of Environmental Services can do water inside house.
Water outside is State deq (Dept Env'l Quality)
A Professor at lane communitiy college, one of main trainers of plumbers, said 'greywater systems in residential homes, over my dead body' why, what reasons? We need to find out.

Opponents = future allies, who don't know it yet.

At present, Neighborhood system is a small group of people, focus on my interest, my property value. Negative stigma for sustainability, hippies trash the property values. Reach out to these groups, how this works, will not harm you, it is for us. Neighborhood system can be a good tool.

Some code, maybe translate, expand, examples, sell our code, or educate others. To promote change, we must be really clear. Regulatory people would freak out if they read the ReCode wishlist draft. Their mind will read these notes differently than we meant. Opponents. Think about leverage. They can have a different opinion, but if we find one point to see their perspective, is dynamic. Need to find words with consistent, positive meaning for different groups.

Working groups
Focus on areas or functions. This is a campaign. Part of movement building.

1.Code research and development.
What Existing, and what we want. AZ has good greywater code, a few states have cob code already. Building and zoning. How do we permit the stuff we want?

2.Networking group.
Keep in broader context, bring people in, cross-pollinate, contact allies.
get stakeholders on opposite sides, facilitate roundtables, understand the heart of issue. Networkers talk to people with concerns, not just ready-made allies. Also nationally, to bolster effort.

3.Practices and goals
Natural builders, how implement. Work with code folks. What do we actually want to get?

4.Public education
Imagine Greywater guerrilla movie, balaclavas. There are plenty graywater systems here, illegal, not publicized. Make it absurd, that this is illegal. Media work. Sustainable life section in tribune.

City and State.
How can gov't better serve people? What concerns do gov'ts have, why they doing this? Why were codes made in first place, and how can we address those concerns in a more sustainable fashion now?

Discussion about working groups
Training: Seven years to install PV. Full electrical license, then three years apprentice. Response to systems in the 80s, poorly designed and installed.

Each working group is autonomous, come together once a month general meeting, empowered of particular thing.

Must research codes, before talk to people about. Research on codes, Amy doing now, done very soon.

Fundraising: maybe add another group, if people interested. Don't want to wait for funding. Go forward, and could write grants, e.g. Community action grant, from vision process. Wanted equitable, sust, community.
Virtual group, until someone steps into it. Maybe have a paid organizer, to keep things moving.

Who wants to participate in which ReCode working group:

Brush: networking
Levin: practices and goals
Magy: networking: diverse stakeholders and visioning
Matt: wants understand code, public educ
Cameron: code research and devel
Julie: research, what will look like, and public educ.
Tim: code research, address concerns of different bureaus. Also networking.
Amy: done/doing research
Amanda: public educ, video. Practices and goals. Als govt liaison. Practical visioning.
Jeff: how tailor code to oregon and portland, and educ, spread the good word.
Brenna + Jeremy: lobby

29 people from PPG, how move forward?

Brush will start a blog on TLC website. To share doc's, can post on TLC website, or maybe a google group.

Possible next tasks

revise and expand the Recode List
Pull info out, how references are done. Format. Already a Living machine in oregon, at clatsop community college. Could do field trip, how did they get it?
Will do Blackwater system at port of portland HQ. Not permited yet.

Liaison with traditional envionmentalists.
Willamette riverkeepers sees Pollution permits.
We had a huge cso event, even with the big pipe, two weeks ago.

Ole Ericson flaunts the law. Humanure composting. No code says 'you can't compost your shit'. But you can't have a flush toilet that dumps on the ground. And you must have a flush toilet. He uses his as a planter. If he created a public nuisance, could be illegal. But he doesn't, it doesn't smell, his neighbors don't even know. Public health expert name?

Now: ReCode is a campaign, part of the TLC (Tryone Life Community) nonprofit. If write grant proposals, can go thru tlc.

Need a point person for each group:

Who take roles to shepherd process? Send email, be contact person for people. Brenna and Brush will coach people.
Code research and visionary practices and goals.
Cameron and Julie: code research.
Visionary practice: Magy and Levin will consider.
Public educ or networking or lobbying, prefer someone else besides Brenna or Brush.

Next: each subgroup meet, and whole group.
Big meeting, third thursday in january, 17. Note, conflicts with CNRG is third and fourth thursday.
Code research: Recode at
Laura dvorak paper, humanure trip thru seven chakras Resources.

Other Events coming soon.

At Gray to green event, sam adams said he loved the idea, he will sit down with us, to see which concerns are city level. We can get state level issues into city pkg given to state. Followup meeting, maybe this Tuesday Brenna and Jeremy, Lisa Libby in Sam Adams' office three pm tuesday. Been talking graywater, will broaden. Setting stage. They submit to the state in march.

Brush, eco-zoning. Goal: build allies, who can use it? What concerns, how are good codes used by nefarious entities to undermine best interests. How do faster track than 2010?

Lowhanging fruit: graywater, and eco-zone? Article in tribune this week, kenton neighborhood, urban graywater. Sera architects. Living buildings. Without greywater system, can't do a living bldg.

Courtyard housing competition, family friendly. Peoples choice award. Open house this weekend.

Conditional use, four unrelated people in one unit, must pay ~$5k for a conditional use study. In portland law. Not usually enforced, but can be.

Keep awareness open: we will need a much faster, dynamic, all hands on deck approach to transforming our relation to built space. Transform the dynamic, over the next decade. Whole game will change in the next few years.

Laughing Horse books, all-volunteer staff, gave space for free. They need customers.

TLC farm, holiday open house on sunday First public composting toilets in Portland.

Feedback and participation welcome! Please send bug reports to