Tomorrow, August 7, is National Night Out and the Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood Association will be hosting their picnic at Wilshire Park. Join your neighbors at 6:30 p.m for a pleasant evening at the park. BWNA is providing hot dogs, hamburgers, and veggie burgers as well as music and activities for children, and you’re encouraged to bring a side dish to share with your neighbors.
This event will be a great chance for Friends of Wilshire Park to enjoy a pleasant evening with friends and family, so we hope to see you there!
This morning two Friends of Wilshire Park headed to the north side of the dog park for an hour to rake out some of a new delivery of mulch. They put a pretty big dent in the pile, especially considering that one of the volunteers was only four years old!The volunteers will come back over the next week to keep spreading out the pile, but if any other Friends would like to help out, just grab a rake or shovel and head to the park! The mulch needs to be evenly spread out in the are where it was dumped, covering areas where last year’s mulch has worn thin. Any especially sharp pieces of wood can be tossed under the base of a tree to keep them from injuring the dogs’ paws. If you do help out, please leave a comment on this post telling us how many work hours you put in as Portland Parks and Recreation likes to track volunteer hours. Volunteer time can also be used toward community service projects for school or scouts, so students in need of a summer activity can help out! Just drop an e-mail to [email protected] for a verification form for your volunteer time.
Our push for volunteers and donations for the NatureSpace is rolling out! We have secured a grant for about $10,000 from the Community Watershed Stewardship Program and have applied for more, but any extra donations that come in will mean more plants, shrubs, and trees for a vibrant, healthy habitat between the picnic area and the pavilion at Wilshire Park. We also have a site plan. Check it out!
The space will be enclosed by a simple split-rail fence, with a curving path and layers of low, medium, and tall plants to fill the canopy under the mature Douglas Firs already at the park. Here’s the location of the NatureSpace within the park:
We’ve been working with members of Portland Parks and Recreation to develop this plan. Our hope is that the NatureSpace will serve many needs. It will help prevent runoff and erosion into storm drains, provide shelter and food for native and migrating birds, and give bird enthusiasts a great place to spot their favorite flying friends. As it’s adjacent to the picnic area, we know it will provide a pleasant place for children to explore or for families to sit and relax after a meal. We’ve also learned that students from Beaumont Middle School have surveyed the site with their science teachers, taking soil measurements and counting the number of plant and animal species they saw in the home of the future NatureSpace. An ongoing school science project will be to track the soil health and biodiversity of the site. This project is especially gratifying to the Friends of Wilshire Park, as it shows what a direct public benefit the NatureSpace will be.
As Friends of Wilshire Park is a grassroots organization, we are not a 501(c)3 and cannot collect tax-deductible donations. To ensure that we are transparent about how we handle funds and meet every legal requirement for fundraising, we’ve partnered with the Central Northeast Neighbors Coalition, the umbrella group for our cluster of Portland neighborhoods here in Northeast. They’ll hold onto every tax-deductible donation that comes in for the NatureSpace, and donors will be able to see how every penny was spent. A crowdfunding effort will begin soon to augment the grant we’ve secured, which will mean more plants, a more lush space, and more happy people and animals at Wilshire Park.
Our page at friendsofwilshirepark.org/volunteer will always have the latest information on what you can do to help make the park a nicer place for everyone. If you would like to be added to our mailing list for Wilshire Park Volunteers, please drop us a line at [email protected] We will never share your information with third parties and you will only receive information about volunteer projects at the park. You can also subscribe to our newsletter using the form in the column to the right on this page. This will allow you to get all of the news and announcements about upcoming projects, meetings, and events.
In attendance were Barbara Linssen, Julie Bernstein, Oren Bernstein, Eric Rosewall, Reed MacDowell, Mary Jaron Kelly, Mary Collet, Fara Blaszek, Peter Mogielnicki, Nancy Mogielnicki, Tiffney Townsend
Nancy summarized current status of the project. The site plan is almost finalized. We have $9,128 in funds in hand thanks to the Community Watershed Stewardship Program grant. The total estimated project cost will be between $13,180 and $18,180, depending on how much additional fundraising happens.
Barbara Linssen summarized the current status of work with our fiscal agent, Central Northeast Neighbors. We are awaiting final information about crowdsourcing funds and how to correctly handle donation checks. Checks should be made out to Central Northeast Neighbors with a memo noting that the funds are for the NatureSpace account. Barbara also noted that donations to the project will be tax deductible, and that accountability is required from organizations that issue grants, so we will need to report on how the money was spent and how many volunteer hours and hours of public engagement the project entailed.
Tiffney Townsend reviewed the status of PR materials. She has completed flyers and small handouts summarizing the scope of the project with concept visuals and web addresses for more details. They will be posted at friendsofwilshirepark.org/resources the moment we get the go for fundraising. All of the PR materials can be downloaded and printed at home, or taken to a professional printer. Two versions are available including 8 1/2 by 11 posters suitable for hanging in shop windows and four-to-a-sheet small handouts that could be given to friends and neighbors.
The question of how business donors would be recognized was raised. Peter was under the impression that parks would not allow signage of this type on Park property but Eric thought some sort of temporary short-term signage would be possible to acknowledge major donors. In either case, there could be recognition of business donors in the Beaumont-Wilshire and Alameda Neighborhood Newsletters which go to many neighborhood residents.
Mary Jaron Kelly shared her experience with fundraising. She suggested the potential value of tabling at Fremont Fest on August 4 and offered to sign up volunteers and help Tiffney with PR materials.
Eric Rosewall felt the budget range and flexibility was reasonable and that that supervision of volunteers would not be difficult since the tasks at hand were fairly straightforward. Eric said a preliminary schedule for work days – soil preparation, constructing hardscape and planting – would be available soon. Eric noted that inkind donations (plants, hardscape materials, refreshments for work crews) could be accommodated but would need to be integrated with the work schedule. Eric also mentioned that the CWSP grant was dispersed on a reimbursement basis meaning that materials would need to be paid for out of a source other than grant money initially and then reimbursed by CWSP through the fiscal agent at a later date.
Mary Collet said that it would be helpful if business donors could be offered the possibility of purchasing specific items. Eric responded that this might be difficult with regard to financial donations but that if a business wished to donate a product – for example a hardware store or feed store donating fencing or a nursery donating flats of native plants – this would be possible to accept and integrate into the work and accounting. Mary also reminded the group that some businesses had employee volunteer work programs and that this could be a source of some of the community volunteer labor.
Fara Blazak has already spread the word to some of the leaders of local Girl Scout troops that they and their Scout troops could expect to participate in planting and other activties when they occur in the fall. She will also seek volunteer involvement from the Alameda Girl Scout troops.
Everyone was asked to give some thought to businesses and individuals they might approach to donate towards the NatureSpace. One way of presenting this idea is that the project already has $9125 in grant support but needs matching funds of about this same amount to achieve its full potential. Members of the group listed prominent bankers, realtors, and other businesspeople who would have an interest in improving the neighborhood and may be willing to display our posters or even make a tax-deductible donation.
There were two important concluding notes to everyone helping with the NatureSpace. First, do not begin asking for donations yet as there isn’t anywhere for the money to go and we don’t want enthusiasm to fizzle. As soon as we clarify the details of how we will work with out fiscal sponsor, the PR and informational materials will be released and you can go for it. Secondly, when you intend to contact a specific business, please let Peter know so we can avoid having multiple requests sent to the same business.
This morning six Friends turned up at Wilshire Park despite the threat of summer showers to help spread new bark mulch. Most of the mulch had already been spread at the bases of trees and alongside the jogging trail, but a little help was needed to finish off the job. We patrolled the off-leash dog park and removed large or sharp chunks of wood that might hurt running paws, and then spread out some piles of mulch that were still heaped up on the north side of the park. About 9 volunteer hours later, the park was in just a bit better shape and we had all become better friends.These kinds of small, simple projects will do a lot to help make Wilshire Park more enjoyable for everyone as well as provide chances for neighbors to get to know one another and have some fun outside. Our next mini-project will be cleaning and repainting the sign posts marking the perimeter of the off-leash area. If you are interested in hearing about upcoming projects, subscribe to our newsletter or e-mail [email protected]
At last night’s meeting, we had the chance to speak with Mike Grosso, the Parks Maintenance Supervisor. In addition to our big, exciting projects such as the NatureSpace and the replacement of equipment in the toddler play area, Friends of Wilshire Park also want to do a series of small, simple service projects that can quickly fix problems. This will provide members of the community with the chance to put their gloves on, gather together, and do some good. Mike told us that while wood chips were recently delivered and spread at various areas around the park, many of the piles were still too high and some of the wood chips are still in large, hard chunks that need to be broken apart to make them safe to walk and run on. Mike currently doesn’t have any staff hours to allocate to smoothing out the bark chips.
We can do that!
The first Friends of Wilshire Parks service project will happen this Saturday from 9 to 11 AM. Volunteers should wear good gardening gloves and protection from whatever weather Portland decides to offer up that day. Participants should also bring water. All ages are welcome, but parents will need to supervise their own young children.
To spread out the chips, you’ll need your hands and a hard tined rake like this:
Do not bring a soft-tined rake that you would use for leaves, as the wood chips are too heavy and will damage your rake. If you don’t have a rake, come anyway and wear some heavy gloves as many of the chunks of wood chips can be broken up by hand.
We will meet at the northeast corner of the park, right by the sign that says Wilshire Park. Volunteers who wish to log hours for community service credit can receive a signed form from a Friends of Wilshire Park board member. If you wish to participate, please e-mail [email protected] to let us know you’re coming. See you there!
On June 20, 10 Friends gathered for our monthly meeting with our new President, Gary Hancock, presiding. In attendance from the City of Portland were Evan Callahan from the Parks department’s bond team, Park Supervisor Mike Grosso, Partnership and Development Coordinator Jessie Bond, and Ecologically Sustainable Landscapes Coordinator Eric Rosewall.
At this meeting we were able to hear the good news that Wilshire Park will receive some funds from a bond passed by voters in 2014 for the repair and maintenance of equipment in Portland’s parks. The bond had passed with 74% of voter support and initially allocated $48 million for improvements and maintenance at parks all over the city. $28 million of the bond remains, and Wilshire Park has been given a slice of these funds to replace the largest of the toddler play structures. This was great news for the Friends, as the sad state of the children’s play equipment has been one of our primary areas of concern.
Furthermore, Jessie Bond will work with us as we raise funds privately to replace the other smaller pieces of play equipment. As we move forward, the Friends will need to make a formal agreement with the city that lays out how the funds will be raised, the amount of time allotted for fundraising, and the exact equipment that will be installed. At the next meeting of Friends of Wilshire Park, a formal Children’s Play Area Team will form to begin working on fundraising and planning for this project, much in the same way that the NatureSpace Team has functioned so far, with separate e-mail communication and in-person meetings from the main Friends group.
The Friends were also informed about the Adopt-a-bench program, which allows private donors to install seating in parks. A new park bench costs $5,000, and a refurbished bench is $3,000. At first glance this may seem like a high cost, but this amount covers the purchase of long-wearing, sturdy seating, in addition to its installation and maintenance. Unfortunately at all of Portland’s parks vandalism is common and costly, and even a bench that isn’t vandalized periodically needs cleaning, repainting and treatment for rusty parts.
The meeting then turned to Eric Rosewall, who gave an update on the NatureSpace. The site will be located just east of the picnic area, filling a disused patch of ground that covers about 10,000 square feet. It will be surrounded by a split rail fence and feature a gravel path with boulders and logs for seating. There will be between three and six volunteer days in fall and winter, which are the optimal time for installing native plants. Each planting day will require the work of 20 to 40 volunteers. The plan is nearly finalized and at this point there would likely only be minor tweaks to the design.
Oren Bernstein provided an update on fundraising for the NatureSpace. The project has already secured a grant of nearly $10,000 from the Community Watershed Stewardship Program, and the team is applying for a second smaller grant of $2,000 from another source. The NatureSpace team also plans to solicit donations directly from the community through a crowdfunding site. The Central Northeast Neighborhood Coalition is acting as our fiscal sponsor for this project, and as soon as details are finalized with them, we’ll begin a big push for donations, using printable flyers and graphics that can be shared online to spread the word. More donations means more plants, a more lush space, and a stronger ecosystem in what we hope will be a pleasant area for parkgoers and healthy habitat for birds.
We have heard from the city that it’s possible to replace the rotting children’s play equipment, but we will need to do some fundraising and do it before next spring. This is tricky as we are about to launch our NatureSpace project, which will bring native plants and seating to a less used area of the park, and we don’t want these fundraising efforts to conflict. The NatureSpace has been issued a generous grant by the Community Watershed Stewardship Program, and our crowdfunding effort will bulk up this budget to make a truly beautiful space. This first fundraiser will be smaller in scale and will provide good practice for the big push we’ll need to achieve the much larger goal of $50,000 to rebuild the baby and toddler play area, which hasn’t been updated in over 25 years.
This news makes it particularly important that anyone who wants to get directly involved in the NatureSpace or in the revitalization of the children’s play area should attend our meeting on Wednesday, June 20 at Bethany Lutheran Church. We also have a flyer for you to print out and post anywhere you can — local businesses, your front yard, your car window . . . anywhere you can! If you post it in a shop or cafe, cut the bottom into a fringe so people can tear off the pieces of paper with our web address on it. The fringe can also just be cut off if you wish to post it inside your car window or in another place where people would be unable to tear off the strips. You can download it here and you can also find the flyer and other downloadable items at our Resources page.
We are making things happen! Let’s keep the momentum going.
Friends of Wilshire Park will have its next meeting on June 20 at Bethany Lutheran Church at 7:00 p.m. The church is located at 4330 NE 37th Ave, Portland, OR 97211, at the northeast corner of Wilshire Park.
May’s meeting was attended by three representatives from the City of Portland: Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz, Community Relations Manager Jennifer Yokum, and Ecologically Sustainable Landscapes Manager Eric Rosewall. The Friends were grateful for their attendance and willingness to hear the group’s concerns and ideas. Commissioner Fritz had let the Friends know that there was a small amount of bond money available to make improvements to the children’s play area, and this presented a small window of opportunity for the group to do some fundraising which could enhance the budget for such a project.
At our June meeting, a city representative will be on hand to tell the Friends about the bond funds and what the possibilities are for their use. Members of the community who have a strong interest in the children’s play area would benefit from participating in this crucial discussion.
Also on the agenda is the NatureSpace, which has been issued a generous grant from the Community Watershed Stewardship Program and will happen this summer. Now that a baseline budget for the project has been established, the Friends will begin crowdfunding to make the project even better. When a timeline for the project has been set, the Friends will begin organizing the volunteers who will clear the site, install the path and fence, and transplant native shrubs and plants.
The last agenda item (for now) is making a list of very small, simple projects that could be done in a single day, such as cleaning and repainting the signposts around the off-leash dog area. The paint in the engraved signposts has long faded away, and one can of paint and few people handy with sandpaper and small paint brushes could make them legible again. If you have other ideas for very small, simple, inexpensive projects that could be done at the grassroots level, leave a comment!
Friends of Wilshire Park met on Wednesday, April 23, with 17 Friends and three representatives of the City of Portland in attendance. This was a big meeting for our group, as we were able to speak with officials from Portland Parks and Recreation: Commissioner Amanda Fritz, Community Relations Manager Jennifer Yokum, and Ecologically Sustainable Landscapes Manager Eric Rosewall. The Friends were very grateful for the time these representatives were willing to give after a long day’s work.
Jennifer Yokum expressed thanks to the Friends for their enthusiasm and willingness to volunteer, explaining that Portland’s parks are greatly enhanced by work done during more than 500,000 volunteer hours every year. Commissioner Fritz was able to provide an overview of the situation with Portland’s parks at present. There are over 200 parks in the city, with about $400 million dollars in maintenance needs and another $400 million in improvement needs. During the recession, cuts to the parks budget were deep, and although we are now in recovery from that period, there is a lot to do. The city has chosen at this time to focus on the problem of homelessness as its key issue, as well as cost recovery and financial sustainability.
All of this means that the parks budget is limited, and there isn’t any money or staff time to give to Wilshire Park. The city is midway through an equity plan, in which all parks funds are devoted to geographic and racial equity. There are large areas of Portland, particularly in the east, where there were no parks at all, so the city decided to devote its entire budget for improvements to these areas. An impressive facility went in recently at Luuwit View Park, with a sculpture garden, play area, off-leash dog area, community garden, teen area, amphitheater, picnic grounds, and plenty of green space. These projects were built to serve the thousands of families that didn’t have any park at all, but the bottom line is that Wilshire Park will receive no funds or staff time for planning projects from the city, and our group is on its own if we want to see anything happen in our neighborhood. There is a possibility that some of the children’s play area equipment may be improved soon, and this may open a small window of opportunity to fundraise to allow for even more improvements to be tacked on.
This is challenging information to hear, but members in attendance at the meeting made the case for why their park deserves a little attention. As a large, flat space in the heart of Northeast Portland, it serves a fairly diverse population as it connects more and less affluent neighborhoods, and its varied facilities make it a big draw. The play area is the only one for miles with play equipment suitable for toddlers, although this equipment is over 25 years old and beginning to decay.
After the meeting, the city representatives were kind enough to walk over from Bethany Lutheran Church to the play area to see the state of the children’s equipment and provide further advice on the best way to work with the city, raise funds, and implement improvement projects. For now, the most likely scenario is that any large project will need to be entirely funded by our group.
Friends of Wilshire Park will meet again soon. Please subscribe to our newsletter for updates and information about meetings and projects. We will soon be putting out information about our NatureSpace project, which will bring a sustainable native landscape to a disused area of Wilshire Park. We also have ideas about simple projects to improve the jogging trail and dog park, so volunteers should get their work gloves ready.