In Parkrose, volunteers refresh ‘Portland Immigrant Statue Island’

INCLUDES VIDEO Fortunately, many willing hands made quick work, on this Saturday morning – replanting the now iconic Parkrose ‘traffic triangle island’, home of the Portland Immigrant Statue …

Volunteers at the ‘Portland Immigrant Statue Island’ prepare the soil, before the replanting begins.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

At the western end of the Parkrose Neighborhood Business District, the community effort a decade ago transformed the large traffic island near Interstate 205 into the home of the Portland Immigrant Statue. It was formally dedicated on October 1, 2011.

> To see an article, filled with photos and links,
about the statue’s dedication and the Parkrose Centennial Celebration,

The volunteers who came to replant this traffic island encircle Joe Rossi (left) to get their instructions.

However, the leader of the effort to create and place the Portland Immigrant Statue, Joe Rossi, didn’t just walk away from it after its dedication ten years ago.

On June 19 of this year, a group of volunteers came to the traffic island to install 120 Blue Fescue plants (“Festuca glauca” is a colorful ornamental grass).

“The Portland Immigrant Statue Island’s ‘welcome’ signage, statue, and grounds, get regular monthly maintenance, but we mount a community group effort to replant here every five years,” Rossi told East Portland News.

While some used a power auger to dig planting holes, as did William Keller CPA (center, standing), other volunteers followed behind to begin installing the plants.

Elevate Oregon ambassadors – and Parkrose High School juniors – Kuvarie Penn-Harris and Tre Crawford help out with the project.

“This year, we had about 30 volunteers from five local groups – including those who helped me with a cleanup and the ground preparation a few days earlier,” Rossi enumerated.

“As a lover of Parkrose, I feel like the site is important, because it is the first thing people see as they enter our business district,” remarked Rossi.

As the volunteers dig in, the planting on the Portland Immigrant Statue proceeds briskly.

Here’s Bryan Atkinson, from, putting in another plant.

“And, the project is greater than Parkrose itself, although we are the statue’s host community – this unique sculpture honors past, present, and future immigrant contributions to our city,” Rossi pointed out.

“This monument shows local folks, and international travelers arriving via Portland International Airport alike, that we recognize that Portland was built by immigrants – people from many different nations – perhaps, even some of their own ancestors,” he added.

The group of volunteers pauses for a photo, with Joe Rossi and Gabrielle Rossi.

Recently-elected Portland City Commissioner Mingus Mapps digs and plants beside Historic Parkrose Community Outreach Coordinator, and Parkrose Neighborhood Association Chair, Annette Stanhope.

One of the first people on the site was Portland City Commissioner, Position 4, Mingus Mapps. “This is one of my favorite ‘micro-events’ of the year; and it feels very great to be out volunteering, post-Covid, among people again – even if some of us are wearing masks.”

Having served as the Executive Director of the Historic Parkrose Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative, Mapps pointed out this wasn’t the first time he’s worked to refresh this particular traffic island. “I do miss working with, and being around, Parkrose people,” he reflected.

Cheering a job well done, standing with the Portland Immigrant Statue, are the volunteers who helped out that day.

Within hours, the project had been completed.

So, when you are driving through the triple junction of NE Killingsworth Street (Portland Highway), Sandy Boulevard, and the I-205 freeway – if you are stopped at a traffic signal there, look over and consider the meaning of the Portland Immigrant Statue, as you pause on your journey.

© 2021 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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