Presentation Title

Engaging the houseless community in tree planting and maintenance

Presenter(s) Information

Matt KruegerFollow

Start Date

7-3-2022 2:30 PM

End Date

7-3-2022 2:40 PM

Abstract

The Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) manages Portland's wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and plants trees to protect public health and the environment. BES maintains two traffic circles that function as stormwater facilities at the east end of the Morrison Bridge. This area in the Central Eastside Industrial District (CEID) has limited tree canopy and greenspace. In recent years the soil and vegetation in the facilities have been negatively impacted by campers.

The Central Eastside Industrial Council (CEIC) has partnered with Trash for Peace, a non-profit organization that employees houseless individuals to organize routine garbage removal and cleanup services. This partnership sought to expand to include the traffic circles.

After two years of community engagement, CEIC and BES co-produced an action plan. During that time, BES developed a relationship with the houseless community and learned of community interest in increased tree canopy. BES organized a tree planting for the sites. In spring of 2021, 70 trees were planted by members of the houseless community, with assistance from city staff and partner Friends of Trees.

A team of trained stewards from the houseless community has maintained the trees and worked with the city to restore the stormwater facilities. The stewards are paid an hourly wage. Maintenance of the site will continue for two years through an agreement between BES, CEIC, and Trash for Peace. This project demonstrates the importance of relationship building, community engagement, and the involvement of marginalized communities in environmental stewardship. We hope to expand this model to other BES-managed sites around the city.

Subjects

Climate Change, Environmental education, Land/watershed management

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Mar 7th, 2:30 PM Mar 7th, 2:40 PM

Engaging the houseless community in tree planting and maintenance

The Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) manages Portland's wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and plants trees to protect public health and the environment. BES maintains two traffic circles that function as stormwater facilities at the east end of the Morrison Bridge. This area in the Central Eastside Industrial District (CEID) has limited tree canopy and greenspace. In recent years the soil and vegetation in the facilities have been negatively impacted by campers.

The Central Eastside Industrial Council (CEIC) has partnered with Trash for Peace, a non-profit organization that employees houseless individuals to organize routine garbage removal and cleanup services. This partnership sought to expand to include the traffic circles.

After two years of community engagement, CEIC and BES co-produced an action plan. During that time, BES developed a relationship with the houseless community and learned of community interest in increased tree canopy. BES organized a tree planting for the sites. In spring of 2021, 70 trees were planted by members of the houseless community, with assistance from city staff and partner Friends of Trees.

A team of trained stewards from the houseless community has maintained the trees and worked with the city to restore the stormwater facilities. The stewards are paid an hourly wage. Maintenance of the site will continue for two years through an agreement between BES, CEIC, and Trash for Peace. This project demonstrates the importance of relationship building, community engagement, and the involvement of marginalized communities in environmental stewardship. We hope to expand this model to other BES-managed sites around the city.