At the Agora Journalism Center, we believe that when you include those most affected by a problem in the conversation, better solutions can emerge. And through this value, the concept of the Doers Gathering took shape. The first Doers Gathering in April 2019 was a collaboration between Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s Office, the Office of Community & Civic Life, the city-wide Neighborhood District Coalition Offices, and the University of Oregon’s Agora Journalism Center.
The inspiration for the Doers Gathering was a response to what we’ve heard time and again: a desire to participate in grassroots community efforts helping to creatively transform housing and address the effects of the housing crisis in Portland. The public was tired of attending town halls and other public meetings to simply “talk” about solutions and were yearning to hear from changemakers and meet actual doers from the community. The organizing team co-designed a participatory event based on shared values and principles of diversity, collaboration, and humility.
In ancient Greece, there was a gathering place where the public could come together, present new information, deliberate, and find solutions together. That place was called The Agora. At the Agora Journalism Center, we believe that the health of journalism is inextricably linked to the health of our democracy and that both depend on more deliberate engagement with the public. Our projects create on-ramps for public participation and transform how journalists inform and relate to their communities.