This post is a contribution from GreenWorks Landscape Designer Kelly Stoecklein.
Every Monday morning at GreenWorks we have a meeting to kick off the week. A portion of this meeting is dedicated to ‘sharing’ which can include anything from photos people have taken while on vacation, family and personal updates, images of projects through the phases of design and construction, events and conferences attended, or stories of how people spend their time volunteering. This last part is something special at GreenWorks; as individuals and as GreenWorks employees, we are dedicated to our communities and the environment in so many unique ways.
Here are a few ways people at GreenWorks volunteer their time:
“I volunteer at OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) a few weekends a month in the Chemistry Lab. The lab is a place where scientists of all ages can come and try out different experiments using real chemicals! My role in the lab is making sure everyone has all the supplies they need to perform the experiments, making myself available for any questions, mixing any new solutions for the experiments, and making sure all those goggles are nice and clean.
If you catch us in a super fun moment, you might be able to see myself or another volunteer do an exciting demonstration (like these). Twice a month there is a soap making workshop where we discuss how soaps are created and bond with oils. Then the scientists get to make and take home their very own custom soaps! If my help isn’t needed in the lab you might find me working in the front lobby or in the special exhibit, handing out tickets and directing people towards the nearest bathroom.”
“I prefer my volunteer hours to involve dirty boots, remote locations, and breathtaking views of the Pacific Northwest countryside. Each year there are numerous opportunities to team up with the region’s outdoor enthusiasts and maintain or construct new trails.
These trail-focused communities have a lot of overlap and dedicate themselves to each other’s projects. In addition to the obvious benefit of providing more access to trails, the best part of working with these people is the shared culture of environmental stewardship, acceptance of all people, and the promotion of healthy activity. A shared day of working in the woods provides some serious positive mojo.”
At Depave, I helped on a fence-building project at Inukai Boys & Girls Club in Hillsboro and I’m volunteering some of my design time for the Powell Butte Elementary school nature-play area. I am also looking forward to the Depave Powell Butte event in October!
At Green Schoolyards Collective, I volunteer on the Project Development Committee. We, along with three other committees, are in the early stages of developing a framework for a schoolyard greening initiative in Portland.
I’m also the Communications Co-Chair for the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association. I help publicize neighborhood events and businesses on social media platforms and am currently in a Laurelwood Park Redevelopment sub-committee. We’re working with Portland Parks & Recreation to make recommendations to the Regional Arts Council on public art that will incorporate native American narratives and/or artists to be installed when the park is redeveloped.
And most recently, I volunteered some time to co-teach introductory landscape design and native plants to Confederated Tribes of Siletz Youth during their natural resources summer program. I partnered with the Yamhill Soil and Water Conservation District and led botanical garden field trips, immersive drawing exercises, and two of the three charrette days that culminated in two conceptual water-color collaged plans for an ethnobotanical garden at the administrative headquarters in Siletz.
The drawings were presented to natural resource administrators and will hopefully help with continued efforts for organizing and funding the garden’s eventual construction.”
“I live in St. Johns and help the St. Johns Center for Opportunity (SJCO) with their database of community businesses. I’m now going to start meeting and connecting some other business owners in the neighborhood which should be fun!”
“My wife and I do a plant sale (almost) every spring to benefit the Oregon Food Bank. I usually start raising plants from seed in February so they are big enough by our sale on Mother’s Day. I have a series of shelves with lights in my basement where I start a few flats. As they grow I transplant them up to larger and larger pots. I’m busy every weekend, during the growing season, moving them in and out of the house to take advantage of spring warmth and sunshine. We have gardening friends who also start seeds or divide plants from their yards as well and donate to the sale. It’s a lot of work but great fun.”
“In keeping with a tradition started over 25 years ago, I join local volunteers who go out every third Saturday of the month to clean and maintain the McLoughlin Promenade—a wonderful little slice of sublime landscape that spans the bluffs over Willamette Falls. Residents of the adjoining McLoughlin Neighborhood perform the labor while the Oregon City Parks and Recreation department provides essential resources. Working together, we have maintained existing vegetation and infrastructure, planted native species, cleaned-up waste and graffiti, and organized group activities in this historic space.
Over the past 5 years, my family and I have coordinated and participated in these volunteer maintenance crews whenever possible. By doing this, we have not just done our part to steward public space in the neighborhood, but have also found a way to form relationships with neighbors that we may never have met otherwise. It’s a win-win.”
“I am currently volunteering as the sectary of the ASLA Executive Committee where I maintain a record of business proceedings, events, and commitments recorded at the monthly meetings. This year I have served on two new committees including the Improvement Progress Task Force, where we are working to make the meetings more efficient and productive, and the Standards of Conduct Committee, where we focused on language that will be included on all documents, contracts, social media, and the website; stating our commitment to providing a safe and welcoming environment where we refrain from engaging in discrimination or harassment.
Previously I have volunteered for Depave removing asphalt at Astor Elementary School and I continue to support Depave by attending fundraising events. I have also volunteered with the Clark County Public Utility Stream Team where I volunteered during numerous planting events.”
“I have been a member of the Milwaukie Park and Recreation Board (PARB) for the past two and a half years. The PARB advises Milwaukie City Council on issues and policies that impact Milwaukie’s recreational programs and facilities. Milwaukie is a small town, compared to Portland, so being on the PARB has allowed me to get to know a lot of wonderful people in my community, including volunteers, City Staff, City Council members, the Mayor, and staff from the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District (NCPRD). The City and NCPRD do not have landscape architects on staff managing park projects so it’s rewarding to be able to contribute my experience towards Milwaukie’s future.”
“To balance all by riding my mountain bike on great trails, I help improve a variety of trails, some specifically for bikes, and some shared by hikers, horses, and bikes. It’s a great excuse to hang out in the woods and the mountains, and to give back to a sport that’s a big part of my life.
Depending on the project, the work can include reconnaissance and design for a new trail, clearing vegetation, or moving dirt, logs, or boulders to create drainage, flow, jumps, and technical features. I also recently helped with a concept plan for an urban mountain bike trail through North Portland. My favorite type of project though is a rowdy trail in steep terrain. Sometimes I’ll lead a crew for bigger projects, but often it will be a smaller group effort, or just myself, a six-pack, and a shovel in the trees. I’ve worked on trails in the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic monument, the Tillamook State Forest, Washington State Department of Natural Resources land, a small city park, and private timber company land.”
“Over the years I have volunteered for various organizations ranging from trash pick-up, Ivy pulling, planting projects, to teaching kids how to ride bikes, and kicked off a non-profit that introduces underserved youth to snowboarding. This year I have a little less free time so I have donated to organizations like Surfrider Foundation and Access Fund that focus on protecting and maintaining our beaches and climbing areas.
This September I am most excited about running in the Walk, Roll ‘n’ Run 5k hosted by the UCP of Oregon, where proceeds will support people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities live a more independent, productive and full life.”