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August, 2022- Vol. 116, No. 12 Scroll down to read this issue! Memories of THE BEE's first 100 years! In 2006, THE BEE celebrated its centennial of serving Southeast Portland! A special four-page retrospective of Inner Southeast Portland's century, written by Eileen Fitzsimons, and drawn from the pages of THE BEE over the previous 100 years, appeared in our September, 2006, issue. Click here to read the special centenary retrospective!
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Sherry Hall, shown here with her granddaughter Juniper, helped plant these trees – in the very first Friends of Trees community tree planting in the city. It was here, on Woodstock Boulevard. In 1989, that she and Terry Griffiths organized the planting of 21 trees. Now, Portland has just discarded its longtime partnership with the local tree-planting nonprofit. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)
Portland abruptly slams door on ‘Friends of Trees’
By ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF For THE BEE
Reed neighborhood and former Woodstock resident Sherry Hall acquired a love of trees and the natural environment at an early age.
Her parents lived near S.E. 119th and Division Street where then there were open spaces, cherry trees, and vacant lots. “I loved climbing trees, picking cherries and sitting in the lots, hunting for four-leaf clovers.” She also went camping frequently with her family.
Her parents later moved to a 20-acre farm in Oregon City, a place that she enjoyed later with her own two sons. When she moved to Woodstock, it was striking to her that there were no trees on the boulevard.
One day in the 1980s, when visiting her parents in Oregon City, her father told her he was going to cut down all of the evergreen trees on their property. “I was horrified,” she recalls. “He said they were worth $35,000 [if logged].”
Plantings began in Woodstock So when the nonprofit Friends of Trees was founded in 1989, Hall joyfully organized the first FOT neighborhood street tree planting in the city with her Woodstock neighbor at the time, Terry Griffiths.
The Woodstock Neighborhood Association partnered with Friends of Trees on Saturday, November 11th, 1989, when 70 volunteers gathered to plant 21 Chanticleer ornamental pear trees along the boulevard. A post-planting potluck lunch became a tradition, for many more years to come. Since that first planting, the nonprofit has planted over 870,000 trees and native shrubs in the Portland-Vancouver, Salem, and Eugene-Springfield metropolitan areas.
This year in April, Sherry Hall heard that the Friends of Trees contract with the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services was ending. She felt the same sinking feeling as when her father said he would cut down all his trees. That night, having a nightmare about a world with a fast disappearing tree canopy awoke her with a jolt.
“I knew after that dream that I would make another contribution from my retirement fund to Friends of Trees. I was very concerned that they would go away. I called them and they said they may do a planting in the fall, but at present their future regarding any partnership with the City of Portland to plant street and yard trees is uncertain.”
City ends relationship Then on Thursday, July 1, the bad news became public. The city contract made in 2008 with Friends of Trees had expired, and the city says it has no plans to renew it. The contract had provided funds and planting permits for an average of 2,800 trees a year. Since 2008, 40,000 trees have been added to Portland neighborhoods, primarily in parking strips, but also with trees planted in yards.
During those 14 years, FOT community tree plantings involved thousands of volunteers – families, friends, neighbors, churches and businesses – in what were frequently festive and educational “getting to know one another” events. And, in some neighborhoods, plantings were led by at-risk youth, in environmental leadership training.
Now with global news of climate change, and the shrinking of the tree canopy in some Portland neighborhoods, the City of Portland has ended its relationship with Friends of Trees, and has decided to “realign” its two Bureaus dealing with trees – Parks & Recreation, and the Bureau of Environmental Services.
A joint statement from the two Bureaus claims they plan to “begin planting and caring for trees more efficiently, in line with the City’s 2018 report on tree canopy.” That 2018 report recommended the city “conduct culturally-specific outreach and education for communities of color, immigrants, and refugee communities, to promote participation in planting.”
The joint statement continues, “Both Bureaus have come to an understanding and scoping of work that we believe will not only be more effective, but will ultimately result in more trees, larger tree canopy, and increased greening of our city.”
Yashar Vasef, Executive Director of Friends of Trees, tells THE BEE that his organization has already been specifically working in areas that suffer from tree canopy loss – and they have been working with environmental nonprofit organizations run by people of color to increase environmental stewardship in their communities.
“We have always been committed to building community through tree plantings,” Vasef says. “Having space to meet strangers who can become friends, that’s what we really believe in.”
The numerous Friends of Trees plantings in Inner Southeast Portland over the years have brought many people together in a “community of caring” for the environment. It remains to be seen if and how this new turn of events involving the various city Bureaus can increase Portland’s tree canopy and continue to foster community.
“Friends of Trees” still planting Kathy Armstrong, the Friends of Trees Development and Communications Director, confirms to THE BEE, “Contributions are welcome. They support our planting and natural area restoration events throughout the region – which are continuing and growing, thanks to numerous other municipal partners. That includes a new community tree planting project next season in Northeast Portland in partnership with local organizations including Verde, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, and Cully Air Action.”
Pamplin Media news partner Oregon Public Broadcasting has examined public records, emails, and other documents, in search of the reason for this surprising turn of events. They conclude that it mostly appears to be the result of a rivalry between two City Bureaus.
“Critics of the Commission system [of Portland’s city government] say it discourages collaboration and encourages Commissioners to prioritize their [own] Bureaus over broader city needs. The fight over trees offers a case study, in which two Portland Bureaus – the Bureau of Environmental Services, and the Bureau of Parks & Recreation – are competing for the power that comes with managing trees. The end result appears to be fewer trees being planted and cared for in the coming years, even as temperatures continue to rise.” That Commission form of government could be changed by Portlanders in the upcoming November election.
For more information on Friends of Trees, or to make a donation to this still very active tree-planting nonprofit, go online to – http://www.friendsoftrees.org
You can also mail a check, if you prefer – to Friends of Trees, 3117 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Portland, 97212.
From front to back, this parked car one of several flattened by a falling tree at Creston Park. Although some of the cars that were hit by the tree contained children, amazingly, nobody was injured. (Courtesy of KOIN-TV-6 News)
Towering tree falls at Creston Park, crushing cars in parking lot
By DAVID F. ASHTON For THE BEE
Although Creston-Kenilworth neighbors, and users of Creston City Park -- just south of S.E. Powell Boulevard – have said they’ve complained about the condition of trees there before, their concerns apparently did not reach Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R).
If heard, their concerns about trees and limbs falling had not resulted in any action taken by PP&R. That is, until Monday evening, July 11, just after the Creston Outdoor Pool and closed, when people were heading back to their vehicles in the parking lot
On that warm and windy evening. That was when a huge tree snapped just above the ground, crashing down onto several parked cars, crushing them on the park’s west side.
Although some of the vehicles were occupied by children at the time, by great good fortune no one was injured. A witness told reporters, “A branch went through one of the windshields, and the car itself was bent in half.”
Voters approved a PP&R Parks Levy, in part, to pay for proactively maintaining trees. However, PP&R officials told reporters that the Bureau has not yet been able to hire enough skilled arborists to attend to the 1.2 million trees under their care.
If you see a tree on City property appears to pose a risk, report it right away by email to – firstname.lastname@example.org – or call 503/823-8733.
After the garage fire was extinguished, this PF&R Fire Investigator walked in to begin his survey of the charred area inside, which was filled to the top with empty soda cans – evidently collected by the man who was living in the garage. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Woodstock home’s ‘garage dweller’ saved from fire
By DAVID F. ASHTON For THE BEE
A fire broke out on Friday morning, July 1, in the back of the attached garage of a house at 6105 S.E. Insley Street, at the east edge of the Woodstock neighborhood..
Dispatched at 7:54 a.m., the Woodstock Fire Station’s Engine 25 arrived in less than three minutes, and found smoke seeping from the garage door.
As they got to work on the apparent blaze, seven additional PF&R apparatus and crews arrived; some firefighters hooked up water supply lines and fire hoses, while others used a powerful circular saw to cut open the garage door to reach the fire.
To their surprise, the garage was filled, floor to ceiling, with bags of deposit-return Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper pop cans. Fire crews entered the front door of the home, surprised two napping dogs, and reached the fire from the door that connected the garage to the house.
“An individual was living in the back are of the garage, close to the main house,” later reported PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Laurent Picard. “In the garage, crews found extremely cluttered conditions; they had to awaken the dweller, and assist him out of the garage.
“This person refused medical evaluation by our paramedics and also transport to a hospital by ambulance.”
The fire was extinguished in about five minutes and did not extend to the attached house, Lt. Picard noted, adding that the cause is under investigation. There is no information in the report to indicate whether or not the owners of the house were aware that a person, with an enormous collection of empty soda cans, was living in their garage.
At the first of the free SMILE Summer Street Concerts, on July 9th, the band “Kim Field and the Perfect Gentlemen” had the crowd up and dancing in the street! And don't miss the video at the end of this story! (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Sellwood-Moreland free ‘Summer Music Concerts’ continue thru August
By DAVID F. ASHTON For THE BEE
As had been announced, summer entertainment organized volunteers from SMILE – the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League neighborhood association -- with help from the Sellwood Moreland Business Alliance (SMBA) kicked off on Saturday, July 9.
The free Summer Street Concert Series found neighbors arriving early to find a good place to set up lawn chairs and blankets on S.E. Bidwell Street at 13th Avenue, there to enjoy a free concert by “Kim Field & the Perfect Gentlemen”.
While SMILE Board Member – and Chair of its Events Committee – Jim Friscia was helping the first concert get underway, new SMILE President Elaine O’Keefe shared her thoughts with THE BEE.
“I am thrilled to have our concert series back,” O’Keefe smiled. “The concerts were successful and well-received in the last two summers, and I’m really happy we can do it again this year – a little bigger and better.
“I think it’s really important for us to have activities in which neighbors can actually come together! In this case, coming together in a joyful setting that the concerts provide.”
Individuals, families, and small groups streamed into the street concert area before the performance began. Some of them brought coolers, and food from home; but many attendees had picked up to-go meals from the many restaurants that line S.E. 13th Avenue in Sellwood.
“One of the things these events do is help build a sense of our neighborhood,” O’Keefe pointed out. “We all know this is a wonderful place to be, but concerts like this build on a sense of our neighborhood and neighborliness.”
As the live music began, concert-goers were soon nodding their heads in time with the music, applauding the performance – and even dancing in the street.
But wait – there’s more! The concerts which began in July continue into August, in Westmoreland, and still on Saturdays beginning August 6, from 6:30 until 8:15 p.m. The August venue is the parking lot on the south side of the Windermere Building at S.E. 16th Avenue just south of Bybee Boulevard.
Here’s the list of performers in August:
August 6 – Red Bird (“soulful Americana”)
August 13 – Jet Black Pearl (“Live-looping accordion songstress”)
August 20 – Padam Padam (“French cabaret, klezmer, tangos, and Latin”)
August 27 – Rich Layton & Tough Town (“swampadelic roots rock”)
A young man paddles toward the finish line. Incidentally, it wasn’t just humans who enjoyed this year’s races – a mother goose and her goslings stayed in the water throughout the boat races, and seemed to enjoy it all. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
MilkCartonBoatRaces return to Westmoreland Park
By DAVID F. ASHTON For THE BEE
In one of the last events of the Portland Rose Festival season, the Milk Carton Boat Races were held in the midst of the summer’s first heat wave – on Sunday, June 26, in the historic Westmoreland Park Casting Pond.
Soaring temperatures encouraged adventurous boaters, paddling vessels made from milk cartons and milk jugs, to test both their craft, and their own sea skills.
26 boats had registered for the event; 23 of them had already checked in as the day got underway.
“Our organization took over this event as part of the Portland Rose Festival several years ago,” remarked the Royal Rosarians’ Royal Regent Korrie Hoeckendorf. The fun was sponsored by Alpenrose Dairy this year.
“But this is a big way to bring the community together, because it’s very family-oriented,” Hoeckendorf pointed out. “At the end of the day, everyone gets a medallion, and some people get prizes – we also have a ‘People’s Choice Award’ and the winner of that gets the team’s name on the official Milk Can trophy!
“Because the Royal Rosarians are the official ambassadors and greeters for the City of Portland, we love events like these that bring the community together to participate in a fun way,” Hoeckendorf commented.
When the races were over, the First Place winners were:
Lincoln Graham, in the Class 1 single rider category in “Juggernaut” (age 7 to 12)
Eli Mallow, Graysen Lopez, and August Noethe in the Class 2 multi-rider category, in the D&D Bros. boat (age 7-12)
Cassandra Walters in the Class 4 adult single rider category in “aka Hot Chocolate”
Jennie Smith and Ruth Dittrich in the Class 4 multi-rider category in “Weinermobile”
Kenney and Archie Otley in the Class 7 mixed ages category in “Alpen-Rows”
The D&D Bros. boat was elected for the “People’s Choice” award this year
Adam Baker, along with KATU-TV-2 weatherman Dave Salesky, served as the Masters of Ceremonies for the Milk Carton Boat Races this year.
The high heat of that sunny day did keep a few spectators away, but the many who did come obviously had a good time, and are no doubt already looking forward to next year!
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