Grad students capture Portland residents’ walking experiences for PedPDX

Story and video by Jeff Collet

Over the last nine weeks, graduate students in the UO School of Journalism and Communication’s Portland-based Multimedia Journalism Master’s program have been working to produce a series of videos for the Portland Bureau of Transportation.

A public screening of the PedPDX video series will be held March 20 on the first floor of the University of Oregon Portland campus in the White Stag Building.

PBOT is developing a 20-year update to Portland’s citywide pedestrian plan, PedPDX, with plans to implement by next winter. The videos will inform the public and the PBOT advisory council about the broad range of experiences and concerns facing Portland’s pedestrians.

The class producing these videos is called Reporting Within Communities, taught by Multimedia Journalism Master’s program co-director Andrew DeVigal. One of the students in that class is first-year grad student Elaine Uchison.

“The whole idea of Reporting Within Communities, or engagement journalism, is to be a collaborator with a community, spending time in that community and understanding what is important to them in terms of stories,” said Uchison. “The PedPDX project fits into that because the city is trying to get community involvement around improving walking in Portland, instead of coming in from the city’s perspective or an urban planning perspective. Our class is an extension of that.”

Uchison and her classmates followed eight Portlanders, representing a diverse range of locations and abilities, and asked them to narrate their walking experiences through the city.

Uchison partnered with downtown resident Matthew Denny, who is worried about the considerable amount of construction in his neighborhood and whether the city is properly enforcing when and how barricades are used to block sidewalks. Denny’s experience navigating around and through construction barriers is amplified by the fact that his use of crutches requires more room on sidewalks than the average pedestrian.

Uchison’s goal was to visually communicate all of Denny’s challenges to a wider audience that may tend to overlook such difficulties.

Jeff Collet is a first-year graduate student in the SOJC’s Portland-based Multimedia Journalism Master’s program. He has been a content creator for the SOJC Communication Office in Portland since November 2017. Jeff studied visual communication design as an undergraduate at Western Oregon University. Prior to that, he served over nine years in the U.S. Army as a combat photographer/videographer and multimedia illustrator. See more of his work at Follow Jeff on Instagram @colletasyouseeit.