Mission and History
Big Village is a coalition of diverse stakeholders working to reduce youth and young adult substance abuse in the Portland area through: education, engagement, and advocating for policies and community norms that promote health.
We are community members with varied backgrounds and we bring different expertise and perspectives to the table. We love Portland’s vibrant culture and seek to celebrate what makes Portland unique while ensuring that all community members, including young people, have the opportunity to be safe and thrive.
We are doers and problem solvers. We are committed, capable, neighborly, kind, caring, helpful, diverse, resourceful and trustworthy. We involve ourselves in community work because we understand, we care and we live in it.
The coalition formed in December of 2012 to address high risk drinking among young adults in Portland’s nightlife district, a neighborhood with highly concentrated bars and nightclubs that were experiencing high rates of alcohol related assaults and noise and livability complaints. Although Big Village started with the goal of reducing binge drinking and increasing safety in the nightlife district, the coalition quickly attracted diverse stakeholders, gained momentum, and began addressing alcohol policy issues, underage drinking and youth marijuana use throughout Portland.
Portland has a vibrant beer and wine culture and emerging legal marijuana industry. Youth in Portland report that alcohol and marijuana are fairly easy to get. Further, our community events and festivals often feature alcohol and marijuana, promoting all of the positive aspects of use. While Big Village acknowledges and appreciates the economic and cultural benefits of these industries, we are increasingly concerned that the rates of binge drinking and marijuana are well above the state average. We seek to strike a better balance and reduce youth use and the harmful effects associated with use.
The coalition is currently 100+ strong working to reduce youth use through providing education and support; advocating for policies that support prevention and fostering positive norms within the community. Big Village has received funding from Multnomah County, the State of Oregon and from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, through a Federal Drug Free Communities grant.
Big Village members formed two active committees to carry out the coalition’s work:
- Educating youth, parents, schools and communities about substance use and effective prevention approaches.
- Advocating for increased prevention services, including upstream, asset building strategies that build resilience among youth.
- Reducing promotion of alcohol and marijuana to minors.
- Reducing underage access to alcohol and marijuana.
- Advocating for fair, appropriate and non-punitive but effective and accountable best practices that enable robust intervention and treatment options for underage users.
2) The Youth Action Committee is:
- Raising awareness about the dangers of substance abuse amongst youth
- Increasing youths’ perception of harm that alcohol and other dangerous drugs have on their lives
- Helping expose youth to healthy social norms by delivering statistics that show everyone is NOT drinking and using drugs
- Helping youth take the initiative for their own health and healthy decision making