BLC’s origins can be traced to a string of conversations held during the Corridors of Opportunity process between community organizations representing the corridor’s impacted populations. BLC saw this as an opening for long-term strategic collaboration that could influence the line and leverage benefits for our communities. BLC organized its first day-long retreat in 2013 to develop a corridor-wide strategy and develop a structure for working together. Some BLC members also visited local community leaders in Portland to learn more about the Communities of Color Coalition and their achievements. We learned there that diverse organizations had to be intentional to build trust and overcome differences.
The coalition jumped in to community engagement as well as engagement with the decision-making bodies in the corridor. An early success was securing two seats for community members on both the Corridor Management Committee and Bottineau Community Works Steering Committee, groups that had historically limited their membership to government agencies.
BLC has been a consistent presence in the corridor ever since its formation. BLC member organizations are a critical bridge between corridor residents and corridor decision-makers. By gathering and sharing community feedback, BLC has influenced government agencies to change their decision-making, contracting, funding, and planning processes to be more inclusive to underrepresented and marginalized communities. BLC members have also continued to develop their own skills through participation in trainings, conferences, and workshops.