Two volunteer opportunities

We hope you’ve had a good holiday season and are enjoying the NatureSpace and new toddler play structure at Wilshire Park. Please come to our next meeting on Wednesday, February 13 to see the plan we’ve been working on for continuing to improve the children’s play area.

There are two chances to help our neighborhood parks next week. The first is at Irving Park, which is just down the road from Wilshire Park. A small planting project will be taking place there on Tuesday, January 22 from 9 am to noon. School is out that day, so if you need something do with the kids, come on out to the park. If you’d like to help, please contact Hillary Maurer at [email protected] and let her know you’re coming.

Our second opportunity is happening Friday, January 25 at 9:30 am at Wilshire Park. The recent windstorms have left quite a lot of broken branches laying around our park, and we’ll be helping park staff clean them up. If you would like to volunteer, just send an e-mail to [email protected] and let us know you’ll be there. Dress for the weather and bring some good gardening gloves to protect your hands.

Let’s be friendly to Hazeltine Park

Eric Rosewall, the Ecological Landscapes Coordinator for Portland Parks and Recreation, has done a great job supervising the Friends of Wilshire Park as we’ve put in the NatureSpace, which will be completed on Saturday, November 10 when we finally install the native plants into the garden. He let us know that a similar project is going on elsewhere in Portland, and Hazeltine Park is also looking for some volunteers to improve their native garden.

The Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, and Portland Parks & Recreation have teamed up to install hundreds of native, pollinator-friendly plants and cut the ribbon on the new natural landscape with the park’s guest of honor and namesake, Dick Hazeltine.

Planting will take place Saturday, December 1st, from 9am-12pm. Everyone is welcome. Arrive at 8:45 for orientation, or feel free to join in as a second wave later on. Hazeltine Park is located at 5416 SE Flavel Drive. Street parking is available nearby in the neighborhood. Transit options include nearby bus stops on lines 71 and 75. Dress for the weather. They will have gloves, tools, and refreshments.

Please RSVP to attend the planting here

Learn about the project here

Sign up on Facebook here

That’s easier to read!

This morning we cleaned up the signposts around the off-leash dog park. All of them were quite dirty with a lot of moss and lichen growing in the recessed lettering and the Portland Parks logo. One post had also been marked with some graffiti.

Honest, there’s lettering under there.

Yeah, it’s graffiti, but even by the standards of vandalism it’s not terribly good graffiti.

We discovered that there is still actually quite a bit of paint on the signs, but the main problem affecting legibility was just that the posts are covered in moss and dirt. So this morning we focused on just giving the signposts a good cleaning, and the results were good:

The deep cleaning was much needed, and we’ll schedule another day soon to touch up the lettering as some of the signs have had the paint wear away in places. Even that graffiti came off with soap, water, and elbow grease. We want to coordinate further with the Parks team about properly repainting the rest of the posts so they last longer.

This is the sort of task that we can do. The Portland Parks and Recreation team is made of of great, hard working people, but there just isn’t staff time or budget to take care of every little thing. By taking responsibility for our community park, we can show park visitors what a great neighborhood this is and how much we care about our public spaces.

As we worked, we chatted about last weekend’s mulch party over at the NatureSpace, particularly about the great volunteer turnout and how many children were involved. It really was gratifying to see so many children helping and having a great time doing it. The little ones were proud of themselves and eager to show that they could help their park. Children can do so much if adults will just provide them with the opportunity. We decided that we need to be sure to come up with service opportunities for children at least a few times a year, not only to cultivate a sense of community pride in our kids but also to help them see that they have valuable skills to offer the world.

Dog Park Signpost Painting Party

Tomorrow morning at 9:00 the painting party will convene at Wilshire Park. It’s not too late to join the volunteers who have already committed to helping, and all you need to do is show up. Looks like the weather will be perfect — nice and clear, although it will be brisk so wear a coat. It would be very helpful if volunteers could bring old hand towels or paper towels, small craft paint brushes, and old dish brushes, so don’t forget these supplies as everyone will need these tools to work. Paint will be provided.

We’ll use the dish scrubbers to to clean out the recessed lettering, removing any dirt and moss. After a wipe down the lettering will be ready for repainting.

This is a small project, but an important one, as it will make the boundaries of the off leash area more clear. The top concern we’ve had expressed about the dog area at Wilshire Park is that not enough park visitors are using it, instead allowing their dogs to wander off-leash all over the park. Multnomah County’s leash law (and basic politeness) prohibit this, and parents in particular don’t like to see dogs off leash outside the dog park, as a perfectly friendly golden retriever can be massive and intimidating to a toddler. It’s our hope that repainting the signpost lettering will help people be aware of the boundaries of the off-leash area and be more conscientious about keeping their dogs on leash outside of its boundaries.

We’ll see you at the park!

Great turnout on Mulch Day!

Our volunteers are amazing! Yesterday was Mulch Day at the NatureSpace, and we had about 40 volunteers turn up — half were children, and most of them five or younger. The little ones not only got quite a lot of work done but they really enjoyed being out in the park on a nice fall day. Even quite small children understood that their efforts made a difference. They brought gloves, toy buckets, and a lot of fun. We had so many helping hands show up that we completed the job early, applying a thick layer of mulch to the perimeter of the NatureSpace both inside and outside the new split rail fence. This will conserve moisture and prevent grass and invasive weeds from getting into the habitat.

We did notice one unfortunate thing — one of the fence rails is already broken, likely from a park visitor who sat on it. Split rail fences aren’t meant to bear weight, so please discourage your friends from sitting on the NatureSpace fence. However, we’ll get that rail fixed as soon as we can.

The site is all prepared, with nice rich planting compost inside the habitat and the mulch framing the site with the fence. Logs are in place, and the boulders and path will be installed soon. Over the next month, the remains of the struggling lawn will break down under the mulch and compost, and the soil will soften in preparation for Planting Day on November 10. This will be the big payoff! We still have room for more volunteers on Planting Day, so spread the word.

Four volunteers brought large wheelbarrows, which made the work go very quickly.

Everyone can help in their community, no matter how small.

Mulch needs to be applied at least three inches deep in order to prevent grass and weeds from growing back. We went even thicker, as in a public park mulch will eventually be disturbed a little.

The littlest volunteers were the most enthusiastic. Everyone can do something to help their neighborhood, whatever their age or ability.

A few happy, dirty volunteers at the end of a job well done.

The fence, logs, mulch, and planting compost are in place. All that’s left to put in are the path, boulders, and plants!

Volunteer Instructions for Mulch Day

We are just a few days from Mulch Day, where we will prepare the NatureSpace for Planting Day on November 10 by spreading mulch over the site. We completed the split rail fence enclosing the site last week, and it looks great. Check out photos here.

Volunteers should check the weather and come dressed accordingly. It currently looks like there will be no rain (hooray!) but the morning will be cool. Each of you should also wear gloves, as mulch should not be handled by bare hands. If you have wheelbarrows, hard-tined rakes, buckets, and shovels, bring those too. Don’t forget a water bottle and a sack lunch.

While we want anyone interested in volunteering to come help out, we especially hope that families with children — even babies and toddlers — will come out because the Friends believe that it’s never too early to give children a chance to serve their community. It’s their park too, so come on out and bring those toy buckets and shovels with you! Even if little ones only have the ability to help for a little while, their contribution matters. Older children can receive credit for their volunteer time to use toward scouts, school service awards, or other volunteer programs. Just send an e-mail to [email protected] to get a form verifying service hours.

Please remember to sign up using our official volunteer form:

Spread the word about this service opportunity however you can. This is one day where we can say the more, the merrier. Volunteers who stay until 12 should bring a picnic lunch, and we can all eat together when the work is done.

See you on Saturday morning!

This month’s volunteer days

This Saturday is Mulch Day at the NatureSpace! Now that the fence is in, we need to spread mulch over the site to smother out grass and weeds and prepare the soil for Planting Day on November 10. Tell everyone you know — whatever their age or ability, there will be something do do. Parents with little ones are especially encouraged to come, as it’s never too early to provide children with an opportunity to serve in their community. Also, playing with mulch using toy buckets and shovels is really, really fun. Even if your family can only stay a little while, the Friends of Wilshire Park will be very happy to have you.

We will get started at 8 a.m. and likely finish up around noon, depending on the number of volunteers that show up. Bring a picnic lunch, as we’ll all eat together at about noon. All volunteers must wear gloves, and please bring buckets, shovels, hard-tined rakes, and wheelbarrows to help distribute the mulch over the site. Please do not forget to sign up on our official volunteer form so that you can be counted and receive up to date information. All volunteer hours can be used for scouts, school, or other official programs.

We have another volunteer opportunity coming up next weekend — repainting the lettering on the sign posts around the dog park. The words on the posts are pretty much illegible, which isn’t helpful as we want dog owners to know the boundaries of the off leash area as well as provide a reminder that dogs should never be off leash elsewhere in the park. One of the top complaints at early meetings of Friends of Wilshire Park is that many dog owners fail to keep their dogs on leash, and when dogs bolt through the children’s play area they frighten little children or even knock them down. Additionally, many older children and adults are not comfortable around unleashed dogs, so repainting the sign posts will help remind dog owners to have good park etiquette.

We will paint the signposts on Saturday, October 13 at 9 am, staying as long as we need to. If we are rained out, we will try again on Saturday, October 20. Volunteers should bring old kitchen dish brushes to clean out the recessed lettering and small craft paintbrushes if they have them. Paint will be provided. If you wish to help repaint the signposts, please send an e-mail to [email protected].

The Fence is Up!

On Wednesday, September 26, six Friends of Wilshire Park and a team of employees from Portland Parks and Recreation installed a new split-rail fence to enclose the new NatureSpace. We had absolutely perfect weather — not too hot, so we only got extremely dirty instead of extremely dirty and extremely sweaty.

The Friends wish to thank everyone from Portland Parks and Recreation, who worked just as hard as the volunteers, for helping us realize our very first big project.

The NatureSpace site before: just some dirt, leaves, and a big ol’ pile of gravel.

The first fence post is in! Now just about a hundred more to go.

We were happy that Portland Parks and Recreation brought in an auger, especially once we realized just how compacted the heavy clay soil was.

Making progress, one rail at a time . . .

The team hits the home stretch, motivated by civic mindedness . . . and the fact that pizza is on the way.

Success! All ready for Mulch Day on October 6 and Planting Day on November 10. We’ll see you at the park!

Get your buckets, shovels, and gloves!

Friends of Wilshire Park are pleased to announce the installation schedule for the NatureSpace at Wilshire Park. This project is being done in partnership with Portland Parks and Recreation, and their official information can be found here. Here is our finalized site plan:

Whatever your age, ability, or knowledge of gardening, you are wanted and welcome. We have been particularly happy to see how many families want to get involved with their children, because it is their park too and it’s never too early to find ways for little ones to make a difference in their community.

Here is the schedule for volunteers. There will be other installation dates, such as when the site is marked out and when the gravel and boulders are installed, but these tasks will be done by Portland Parks and Recreation and Verde, an organization that helps to build native landscapes because they require special knowledge and equipment or just don’t really require volunteer work.

Wednesday, September 26 from 7 AM to 2 PM: Let’s Build a Fence!

We need 4 to 6 adult volunteers to assist Portland Parks and Recreation with the installation of a split-rail fence. Volunteers should bring their own gloves and a water bottle, dress for whatever weather Portland decides to throw at us that day, and either bring a bag lunch or a few bucks to pool for pizza delivery. Volunteers should be in good health and able to lift rails, dig with shovels, and move dirt and gravel.

Saturday, October 6 from 8 AM to 12 PM: Mulch That Grass!

This is the volunteer day that is particularly aimed at families who wish to involve their children. We need many people of all ages and abilities spread wood chips over the site. Every volunteer should dress for the weather that day, bring lunch and a water bottle, and wear gloves (even the little ones). Kids are encouraged to bring their toy buckets, shovels, trowels, and rakes. Older volunteers should bring hard-tined rakes, large buckets, and wheelbarrows to help move bark mulch and spread it to a depth of 3 or 4 inches to smother out the grass underneath the planting site. There will be a kids’ area set up in the pavilion for stroller parking, coloring, and diaper bags. Volunteers are encouraged to stay for a picnic at noon. In the event that the mulch hasn’t been fully spread by lunchtime, volunteers who can are asked to stay until the job is done. Volunteers with physical conditions that make it difficult for them to spread mulch are still needed to help with handing out coloring pages for kids, directing volunteers to the right place, and helping students and scouts with their paperwork confirming their volunteer hours.

Saturday, November 10 from 8 AM until we are done: Planting Day!

We’ll need plenty of volunteers of (most) ages and abilities needed to install native trees, shrubs, and plants. Volunteers should dress for the weather, wear gloves, and bring trowels, hand rakes, shovels, and other tools for planting items of various sizes. Those who participate in planting should be in good general health and be able to dig, lift plants of various sizes, carry them from a truck to their planting site, and lift bags of soil. There will be large and small plants, so we will match you with activities that fit your abilities. Volunteers who are unable to help with planting are still needed to help with paperwork and organizing volunteers. Children are encouraged to come, but parents should consider age and maturity before deciding to participate as we don’t want plants to be damaged during installation. Volunteers should bring a lunch or money to pool for pizza delivery.

If you have questions, just drop us a line. Please sign up for our newsletter using the form to the right in order to stay up-to-date on volunteer opportunities and improvements being made to Wilshire Park. We look forward to seeing you on our volunteer days!

Grab a rake

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.