Back Yard Bird Shop is a Friend!

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.

Volunteers needed!

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:

Site of NatureSpace within Wilshire 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 friends@friendsofwilshirepark.org. 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.

Meeting Notes: 20 June 2018

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.