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.
The results of our neighborhood poll are in, and the clear choice for the theme of the children’s play area at Wilshire Park is Woodland. About 40% of respondents were from the Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood, with Concordia and Alameda also well represented. Only a few neighbors from other neighborhoods voted in the poll:
We asked two sorts of questions. First, we asked people to rank each proposed theme. 1 for love it, 2 for neutral, 3 for hate it. Voters were lukewarm on the Barnyard and Submarine themes, but really liked the Woodland theme:
So while in the overall vote Woodland won 51% of the vote, the fact that it was the only theme people strongly liked made it the clear winner:
This result came as no surprise, as Wilshire Park’s soaring Douglas Firs remind us of Oregon’s beautiful woodlands and forests. Any of these themes would have been great. Kids really just need something to act as a foundation for their imaginations. But Woodland it is, and any future equipment put in by Friends of Wilshire Park will include items such as an 0ff-road vehicle, a play cabin, logs and stumps, or boulders. Great choice, neighborhood!
The Backyard Bird Shop has made a very generous offer of matching donations to the NatureSpace made at their Fremont Store between October 22 – November 4. Backyard Bird Shop is a great place to get fun, environmentally friendly holiday gifts for anyone on your list and they are a terrific locally owned chain. If you’d like to visit the store and support our NatureSpace project with a donation it would be very much appreciated. We will use the funds to pay for the hundreds of native plants and shrubs we are buying. Here’s a digital flyer that you can share online:
Don’t forget to sign up to volunteer for Planting Day at the NatureSpace on Saturday, November 10! Also, we’ll be celebrating the completed NatureSpace at our November 14 meeting, so be sure to put that on your calendar. Anyone who is interested in making improvements to the dog park or fundraising for the children’s play area should also attend this meeting.
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.
This is an exciting week for Wilshire Park. The city will begin installing a new piece of toddler play equipment thanks to some funds from the voter-supported Parks Replacement Bond. The largest play structure in the toddler area will be removed and replaced with a new, safer play piece along with new poured-in place safety surfacing. Work will take about three weeks, and details can be found here: portlandoregon.gov/parks/76593.
On Wednesday, we begin the installation of the NatureSpace between the pavilion and children’s play area. We have had a positive response from the community on this project, and more volunteers are enlisting every day to participate on October 6 (Mulch Day — bring the kids!) and November 10 (Planting Day — the big payoff!), but we have come up two volunteers short for this Wednesday from 7 am to 2 pm, when we will assist Portland Parks and Recreation staff with building a split-rail fence. Please share this e-mail with everyone you know who cares about vibrant outdoor spaces for everyone to share, and let’s get the job done! Detailed information and our signup form is found here:
Please remember to use our official signup form, located at the bottom of that post. It’s the only way we will know you are confirmed to volunteer and all official instructions, including how to get credit for community service, will only be sent to those who have signed up.
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!