Powellhurst-Gilbert and Lents neighbors form tree-planting partnership

Discover why – thanks to a whole lot of folks, including a Portland City Commissioner – outer East Portland’s tree canopy expanded during one January morning …

One of the event’s prime organizers, Powellhurst/Gilbert’s John McDonald, finishes bracing a newly planted tree with Friends of Trees crew leader Rachel Larson at Gilbert HydroPark.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For the first time ever, the Powellhurst/Gilbert and Lents Neighborhood Associations sponsored a two-neighborhoods-wide planting event with Friends of Trees on January 17.

“We’ve planted 15 trees at the Gilbert HydroPark alone,” said Friends of Trees crew leader Rachel Larson. “Overall, throughout the neighborhoods, we’ve planted 50 trees.”

Friends of Trees is important to Larson, she said, “because the activity provides a sense of community. People working on tree-planting projects together get to know their neighbors. It gives people a feeling that they can do something positive for their city, for their neighborhood, and for their block.”

Additionally, getting kids involved “helps encourage the younger ones to think about how they can help, and be part of their community in the future,” Larson added. “It’s exciting. I love it.”

“Hurry up and take the picture,” urged many of the happy, energetic, and cold volunteers who planted trees on this clear – but freezingly chilly – Saturday morning.

John McDonald, the Powellhearst/Gilbert board member and land use chair, said he contacted Friends of Trees and arranged for the planting. “This has been quite successful, almost more than I expected. We’re already planning to do it next year.”

In all, McDonald said, about 50 volunteers showed up on a crisp, cold, and windy-but-sunny morning.

Better together
Portland’s newest City Commissioner, Amanda Fritz, helped out at the Gilbert HydroPark planting. “I love Friends of Trees plantings. This is the 17th or 18th that I’ve participated in.”

Fritz said, in spite of the cold weather, she came out because “During my campaign, I promised this neighborhood association that I would come back to help out in their community. This is a wonderful project, especially near the park.”

Her other reason for coming out to help, Fritz said, was to participate in Mayor Sam Adams’ “Better Together” program.  “Mayor Adams encourages everybody to see what they can do to help out their community and help out their neighbors.”

The newly-planted trees will improve the appearance of the park – and the neighborhood in general, Commissioner Fritz said.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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