Portland Neighborhood Bureau, Once Nicknamed the “Island of Misfit Toys,” Will Become the Office of Community and Civic Life

Portland neighborhoods still have a bureau. But they'll no longer be in the name.

The Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement has outgrown its name.

The bureau founded in the 1970s to empower neighborhoods has long since become a patchwork quilt of multiple programs that have questionable connection to the original mission.

In fact, city staffers gave the bureau an unflattering nickname: They called it the "Island of Misfit Toys," a city audit disclosed in 2016.

The city's cannabis, liquor and noise issues are handled by the bureau, as well as programs for a wide range of groups, including the New Portlanders program and a Diversity and Civic Leadership Program.

City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and new bureau director Suk Rhee are attempting to rebrand and refocus the bureau. They have landed on a name to try to meld those disparate tasks together and communicate what the bureau is doing.

The new name is the Office of Community and Civic Life.

"It matches the work the bureau actually does," says Winta Yohannes, a policy adviser in Eudaly's office—"'community' to really focus on the fact we're interested in serving all Portlanders, and 'civic' to get to the point of the bureau, which is really to engage the public with government."

The bureau contracted out with Jen Wick of the local firm Fort Wick for the $25,000 rebranding. The logo features a rainbow of different spokes out in three-quarters of a circle. Today is the soft launch; a new website will go up by July 1.

Any fears (or hopes) that the city would disband the neighborhood associations were misplaced.

"We will continue to support neighborhoods associations," says Yohannes. "They are not our only constituents…We're recognizing all the different ways people organize."

Willamette Week's journalism is funded, in part, by our readers. Your help supports local, independent journalism that informs, educates, and engages our community. Become a WW supporter.