Play areas for children are still mainly closed, but the Wilshire Park NatureSpace has been a great place for kids to explore all season long. Should you visit the park, remember to keep a safe distance from other groups and bring along a mask. Right now you can see new growth on Oregon grape and watch the curling fronds of native ferns unfurl, or go slug hunting under a log. The fun of spring is still here!
Mr. Rogers would have been pleased. November 23 was a “beautiful day in the neighborhood” as a group of enthusiastic rakers and weeders spent a couple of hours working together and getting to know one another at Wilshire Park. The excuse for the event was the need to weed the NatureSpace to help its array of barely year old native plants get established without competition, but first the carpet of fallen leaves needed removal to reveal the interlopers. Several hundred – possibly thousands – of baby Douglas Firs and Oaks were removed from the fertile, hospitable soil by the energetic crew. That was important but an equally valuable function was the opportunity for public-spirited individuals to chat and get to know each other and for oldsters to model community volunteerism for the upcoming generation.
Workers ranged in age from preschoolers to others well past retirement and there because they’d read about the event in the previous edition of the BWNA newsletter, seen it publicized on the Beaumont NextDoor website, gotten a Friends of Wilshire Park e-mail or heard about it through Quiet Clean PDX – a group devoted to replacing the health and environmental hazards of two cycle, gas guzzling, noisome yard maintenance equipment with cleaner quieter alternatives. This work wasn’t powered by fossil fuels. Instead it was fueled by an offering of delicious breads and pastries donated by Grand Central Bakery !
Of course that’s not all that’s happening at the park. The campaign to raise funds to replace the playhouse still has a way to go to reach its goal. Given the number of youngsters using that playground there should be little difficulty getting there. Checks (which are tax deductible and should say “For Wilshire Park Playground” on the memo line) can be sent directly to Central Northeast Neighbors 4415 NE 87th Ave, Portland, OR 97220.
Finally, conversations continue with PP&R about water and more fencing at the off-leash dog area. FoWP member Audene Walraven kicked off the fundraising for that initiative with a wonderful piano recital of show tunes and classical pieces at her home in early November. There’s no shortage of talent in the neighborhood! All other ideas about how to fund park improvements will be enthusiastically received.
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.
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 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].