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PACE EH, Oregon

Multnomah County Health Department, Portland, Oregon

Trusting the Community to Lead

The Multnomah County PACE EH (Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health) Community Coalition is a union of agencies, government, nonprofit groups, and community organizations intent on revitalizing the participation of communities in the Portland metro area (population 600,000) around environmental issues that affect their health.

The coalition organized community partners, generated excitement and possibilities for collaborative work, fought diligently for resources, and organized a steering committee and a community assessment team. The coalition has largely rewritten a long history of "uncooperative government" coupled with "apathetic community" perceptions.

The coalition used the PACE EH methodology to:

  • Establish data identifying five environmental justice communities across the county;

  • Hire community connectors to facilitate, connect, and organize both community and coalition partners, and

  • Complete an ambitious community health assessment for an initial pilot project.

Ongoing efforts build upon focus groups, door-to-door surveys, and informal gatherings around key environmental health issues in multifamily housing units. The Coalition created a community newsletter, a Web-based "events and alert" list, and a local PACE EH Web site.

Coalition recommendations and findings from the assessment team will be presented at future community meetings where the team will seek approval on current and future community action plans.

The Multnomah County Health Department, lead partner of the local PACE EH work, relinquished control in the process and assessment in favor of a coalition effort focused on the voice and concerns of the affected citizens. For more information, visit Multnomah County Health Department, Portland, OR.