The Village Building Convergence is a bit like a conference, a bit like a festival, and a bit like a neighborhood improvement day. Of course, it is uniquely unlike any of those events, but if you are familiar with any of these types of events, you can start to understand VBC. See the invitation video and more info below!
VBC Invitation Video
How is it like a conference?
During the Village Building Convergence, there are workshops and keynote speakers. Many people register to attend the entire event. There are activities from early morning until late in the night. So, in some ways, it might feel similar to attending a conference. Here are some key differences:
- attendees at VBC are integrally involved in creating the "content" (the placemaking site projects), and as such, it is more of a convergence of interested, skilled, experienced and committed people, of both those living in Portland, and visitors from afar.
- although we do have several types of workshops and evening keynote speakers, the reason we gather is to support neighborhood sites everyday. The program of workshops and speakers is complementary to the main focus of the neighborhood projects.
How is it like a festival?
We are like a festival in a number of ways: We celebrate public art and lavishly decorate our central venue. Also, we eat dinner together every night, and feature local bands nearly every night for dancing. There is a festival atmosphere at the central venue, and places to hang out outdoors together. Here are some key differences:
- again, the purpose of our convergence is to support the placemaking sites. Having a community experience every evening is the icing on the cake.
- our central venue is in a family neighborhood, and so we keep to the hours and behaviors appropriate for that context
- a number of our bands contribute their time, and bands are chosen for their compatibility with our values, not necessarily for the degree to which they are currently in fashion (drawing a large mainstream crowd).
- the admission we charge for the evening event is to support our non-profit, which in turn supports the neighborhood placemaking sites with materials and other support.
How is it like a neighborhood improvement day?
During the Village Building Convergence, a lot of work is done to directly improve spaces which the public either owns or has access to. Like a neighborhood improvement day, VBC projects make people feel more ownership of the place in which they live, and upgrade the functionality of the neighborhood in some way. Here are some key differences:
- the planning that goes into a VBC project would exceed the planning that goes into most neighborhood cleanup projects. Sites begin considering their options in the late fall, and submit Statements of Intent in late January. Our Placemaking Team holds weekly meetings to support the sites in their work.
- many neighborhoods are involved at one time! VBC sites are scattered around the Greater Portland Metro area. This links together in common cause people from many different neighborhoods.
- the planning for VBC sites is decentralized. We believe that the more local the decision the better, while we're in the phase of rebuilding vibrant neighborhoods.
For the last thirteen years, we have worked with hundreds of projects all over the city. Projects are conceived, planned, and created through collaborative group participation and support from our core team of placemakers. The process begins for community sites in early February and culminates in late May, when the public event takes place and all of the dreams that have been set into motion become a reality. VBC will include hands-on education in permaculture design and construction, ecological building, and public art. All projects are built through collaboration, community conversations and commitment of a neighborhood to strengthen itself. Everyone is invited to attend evening events at a central location, to participate in workshops or listen to visionaries speak about various aspects of sustainable culture.