Bond Refinement Environmental Justice Lens

Greater Portland, Oregon

Knot Studio has delivered a range of services in support of Metro’s refinement process for the Protect and Restore Land program area of the 2019 Parks and Nature bond.

Collaborating with Metro on an approach to synthesize information gathered for the program area, Knot Studio built custom assessment tools to measure project opportunity performance against the Bond’s Program and Climate Resiliency criteria. Knot Studio developed the Environmental Justice Lens to support equitable prioritization of investments. With Metro demonstrating its commitment to racial equity and environmental justice principles by centering community engagement, equity, and climate resilience criteria, Knot’s work has resulted in organizational strategies and data modeling to fulfill these criteria.

The Environmental Justice Lens is an indexed spatial model for the Metro region built from four primary components: the Community Need Index, the Environmental Burden Index, the Flood Risk Abatement Index, and the Access to Nature Index. These four components contain multiple terms; for example, Environmental Burdens Index incorporates the density of toxic sites, poor air quality, anthropogenic noise, and factors that predict the distribution of urban heat islands during extreme heat events. The Community Need Index models the distribution of demographic factors such as race/ethnicity, poverty, linguistic isolation, and access to healthcare and education that indicate communities that carry disproportionate historical trauma and often have less capacity for resiliency in the face of environmental harms. While the Flood Risk Abatement Index models the potential for reducing impacts on flood-vulnerable BIPOC communities by protecting upstream watersheds, Access to Nature maps the amount and quality of park and natural areas relative to population density.

The results of this Synthesis were a primary resource for the acquisition plans approved by the Metro Council in January 2021. They were adopted as content for multiple phases of focused community engagement.

Investing Equitably in Conservation