The City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services is planting trees this week at the east end of the Morrison Bridge with the support of Central Eastside businesses and people experiencing houselessness. This planting is a collaboration between the City and the Central Eastside Bioswale Program, a pilot program of the Central Eastside Industrial Council (CEIC) in partnership with Ground Score Association, a peer-led initiative of Trash for Peace.
The event is part of an ongoing collaborative effort offering paid opportunities for people who are unhoused to participate in restoring stormwater bioswales in the Central Eastside. The program aims to create a healthier green space to benefit the community and Willamette River while offering paid stewardship and skill-building opportunities for people who are unhoused.
Currently, because of camping that compacts the soil and trash dumping, the bioswales aren’t able to perform the function they were created for. The program promotes environmental stewardship, leading to better functioning bioswales and, as a result, a healthier Willamette River.
The three partners organized the two-day event that is planting more than 50 trees and shrubs on April 29 and 30. COVID-19 safety precautions will be in effect and participants will wear masks, use hand sanitizers and practice distancing.
“This tree planting and the long term program behind it brings people together to creating lasting relationships, lasting opportunity, and lasting stewardship,” says Commissioner Mingus Mapps, who oversees the Bureau of Environmental Services. “Together, government, business, and people who are unhoused are repairing our infrastructure and repairing our community ties.”
“Central Eastside Together, our Enhanced Service District, is focused on providing innovative, solutions oriented and trauma-informed programs that benefit all residents and businesses in the Central Eastside Industrial District,” says Kate Merrill, executive director of the CEIC, which oversees Central Eastside Together.
“CEIC has been our strongest supporter from the beginning - starting with Ground Score’s first event on Earth Day 2 years ago in the Central Eastside. And like the life of a tree, we hope that this partnership continues to grow into the future,” says Barbra Weber, co-Founder and Coordinator of Ground Score Association and Director for the Board of Central Eastside Together.
The Central Eastside Bioswale Program provides low-barrier workforce development opportunities to the most vulnerable in our community, co-creating solutions to the challenges the region faces, as seen in the Central Eastside Industrial District. Ground Score Stewards are paid $20 and coordinators $25 per hour, and are connected to the Ground Score Association and ongoing job opportunities.
The Central Eastside Industrial Council has a two-year commitment to fund this program and is also seeking in-kind support from local businesses. The Bureau of Environmental Services - the City’s stormwater and sewer utility - is supplying the trees, materials, and staff for the tree planting and has committed to provide support in navigating City and County requirements as well as education for program participants.
Looking ahead, the Central Eastside Together Bioswale Program has the goal of being a sustainable model for outreach and stewardship to support the cleaning, maintenance, and design of green infrastructure.
About the Central Eastside Industrial Council (CEIC)
CEIC is a non-profit, volunteer organization representing property owners, businesses, residents and makers in the Central Eastside. It operates the newest Enhanced Services District (ESD) in Portland, Central Eastside Together, and is currently pioneering new ways to help businesses survive the pandemic and set them up to thrive. Learn more here.
About Ground Score Association
Ground Score Association, a program of Trash for Peace, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, is an association of informal recyclers, dumpster divers and other environmental workers who create and fill low-barrier waste management jobs. Trash for Peace seeks to build a more environmentally and socially aware community, while also changing society's perceptions of what and who is considered valuable. Learn more here.
About the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services
The City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services - your sewer and stormwater utility - provides Portland residents with programs to protect water quality and public health, including wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration. Follow on Twitter - @BESPortland. On the web: portlandoregon.gov/bes/news.
Diane Dulken, Bureau of Environmental Services, City of Portland
Barbra Weber, Ground Score Association
Laura Kutner, Trash for Peace