KNOCKS! Speaks! Listens

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Rockwood Speaks are community conversations for Rockwoodians, those who live, work, play, and pray in Rockwood, to come together, tell our stories, learn from each other, and respond to the community’s struggles and successes. Residents participate in Rockwood Speaks to learn about changes happening in the neighborhood, generate shared ideas to improve the community, and gather information about city and county resources. December 2015 – June 2016.

Rockwood Speaks is how we and our neighbors build our skills in civil discourse, community based dialogue, and working collaboratively on issues of concern for the wellbeing of the community. The RCDC holds about 10 sessions each year. To date, more than 300 adults have participated in a Speaks! event.

Would you like to host the next Speaks! session for your neighbors or group? This is a free service to you, because Multnomah County underwrites the cost of your event. Incentives are $10 gift cards to the first 15 individuals or family groups per meeting. We can provide an interpreter for most of the languages that are spoken in Rockwood. Simple finger foods and childcare are provided. If this sounds interesting to you, then contact Lynn Ketch at or call 503.847.9163 ext 701.

One-page report back from 2016 Speaks:

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What is the theory behind what we do?

There are three levels of conversation that we can have – Level I, Level II and Level III.

Level I focuses on “connecting” with each other.  First-order goals of issue learning, improved democratic attitudes and skills, and improved relationships. The meetings are structured around a 90+ minute timeframe and can be held when and where is most convenient for you. These initial conversations are limited to 20 people and are conducted as small table discussions with 4-5 people per table. We pose a series of questions that will explore in broad terms your group’s beliefs and understandings of the Rockwood community.

Level II events work well when you and your neighbors are ready to start acting on Second-order goals of good neighbor relations, discovering your hidden assets and putting them to work, and combining forces with others. Here is an example: The residents of an apartment complex were getting on each other’s nerves. During a Level I conversation, they decided to create a voluntary Community Covenant so that standards of behavior could be understood and agreed to. They held a Level II meeting to create this covenant and sign it.

Level III events are for when you and your neighbors are ready to pursue Third-Order goals of discovering community-wide solutions, or partnering with the larger systems (government, education, faith, healthcare, business) that serve you. Level III efforts are not one-time meetings, but instead are several weeks of study and action. Here is an example: In 2014 an elementary school was making plans to move into Rockwood. They asked Rockwood neighbors to design the lunch program, and even the layout of the Kitchen, around the unique needs of Rockwood kids. The team held six Level III meetings to create the Kitchen plan.

How does the RCDC use the information from these sessions?

We gain understanding of the felt needs of a broad and diverse cross-section of Rockwood residents, and report this understanding out to our partners. (We do not pass along any information that someone else could use to identify you or your neighbors). This information become the foundation for developing ongoing conversations that achieve “action”. Click to read the report from the Rockwood Speaks and Listens Report V.4.1 sessions. Click to see the Rockwood Listens.TableCharts.5.2014.esp or Rockwood Listens.TableCharts.5.2014.eng.

Another way that we use the information is to act on issues that cut across broad cross-sections of our community. Here is an example: The #1 need that Level I conversations reveal is a new community center. When the opportunity to create the Sunrise Center came along, the RCDC knew that we should do it.

Why does the RCDC do this?

One of the core values of RCDC is community engagement. The people of Rockwood are living with multiple, convergent factors related to social, educational, relational, legal, and economic issues, and need to have a direct role in determining the type and level of responses needed.

Community Engagement Values

Space is created for the maximum amount of creativity, collaboration and diversity. We want to:

  • Have dynamic interaction, through deep dialog
  • Build “whole” and transformative community relationships
  • Coordinate collaborative action with community members
  • Catalyze creative discovery of previously unrecognized resources
  • Connect people, organizations, institutions, and associations
  • Facilitate and host opportunities for mutual learning across cultural groups
  • Develop teams that produce and deliver effective community-transforming projects
  • Advocate for social, economic, physical, political, and spiritual equity and justice
  • Coach leaders and teams to produce measurable, transformative outcomes

What other resources are out there for building community?