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!

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 [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.

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.

Next Meeting: 20 June 2018

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!