To see community-building in action, look no further than our neighbors to the south. The Our Happy Block Coalition, a project created by the residents of Mt. Scott-Arleta, has begun transforming a church parking lot, once host to prostitution and drug dealing, into a vibrant and ecologically friendly, neighborhood hub.
Beginning in July, 2010, when the Our Happy Block initiative was submitted to the Portland Development Commission (PDC), Terah Beth, the driving force behind the project, along with neighborhood residents and community activists, set the wheels in motion for the reclamation of a church parking lot, oft-used for prostitution, drug dealing, and as a short cut between SE Woodstock and Martins, just off of 82nd. The site, once open to through traffic, and an easy access point to Woodstock and 82nd, created a livability issue for neighboring residents, as safety and environmental distress became prevailing concerns.
When enough was enough, all it took was one concerned resident to initiate the change that was needed. And since the voice was raised, and holes dug, a two-block stretch of SE Woodstock and Martins has been reclaimed by the neighborhood, as well the lot’s owner, Calvary Lutheran Church. In that time, 29 street trees have been planted, one of the entrances has been blocked off to prevent through traffic, 4,300 square feet of asphalt has been depaved, and a community mural was painted.
This truly has been the work of the community; a mix of neighborhood residents teaming with city agencies and nonprofit groups.
Their work is not done, though.
The depave project that occurred in June, which cleared over 4,000 square feet of asphalt, made way for the planting party that will take place this Saturday, 10/22. Our Happy Block, and all their community partners, will be planting over 1,000 plants in the site’s green space, helping culminate months of planning, volunteer work, and intensive labor. The Our Happy Block Coalition is seeking your help to get these plants in the ground, as well as to show support for the community. If you so choose, volunteer coordinators will be on site starting at 9:00 am, and all tools will be provided. If you can’t offer your labor, food donations are also being accepted to help feed the volunteers.
For more information, check out the Our Happy Block blog.