Innovative participation in the urban green – links to PDX organisations and projects

WCMT Fellowship 2016 research: innovation in participation in public urban green space.

With thanks to artist Erica Meryl Thomas in Portland OR for providing many of the initial connections for my research in the city, in October 2016.

A list of projects, organisations and artists encountered, recommended or relevant to the research in Portland, Oregon, USA:

City Repair: facilitates artistic and ecologically-oriented placemaking through projects that honor the interconnection of human communities and the natural world. The many projects of City Repair have been accomplished by a mostly volunteer staff and thousands of volunteer citizen activists. City Repair provides support, resources, and opportunities to help diverse communities reclaim the culture, power, and joy that we all deserve.

Friends of Trees: Founded in 1989, Friends of Trees empowers people to improve the natural world around them through a simple solution: Planting Trees. Together.

Portland Fruit Tree Project: a grass-roots non-profit organization that provides a community-based solution to hunger, food insecurity and lack of access to fresh, healthy produce.

Portland Urban Coyote Project: a project dedicated to understanding the relationship between humans and coyotes in the urban environment, with an extraordinary interactive sightings map documenting coyotes in the city, and collecting sightings through ‘citizen science’.

The Green Loop: an urban design concept proposes a 6-mile signature linear park and active transportation path that will bring new life and energy to the Central City. The Green Loop concept will promote more walking, biking, rolling, jogging and public transit trips helping contribute to a smaller city-wide carbon footprint.

The Audubon Society of Portland: promotes the understanding, enjoyment, and protection of native birds, other wildlife and their habitats. Founded in 1902, the society has volunteer, education and conservation programmes, runs nature sanctuaries and Oregon’s busiest wildlife rehabilitation center.

ReWild Portland: with the aim to promote cultural and environmental resilience through the education of earth-based arts, traditions, and technology, Rewild Portland is a non-profit organization running educational workshops, community-building events, art shows, and ecological restoration.

Portland Ecologists Unite: a network and group that works to improve the resilience of the community of ecologists by coordinating discussions, transfer knowledge, and build networks that create a foundation for quality ecological land management.

Forest Park Conservancy: The Forest Park Conservancy restores and protects Forest Park, Portland’s 5,200 acre urban forest. Guided by the Greater Forest Park Conservation Initiative, it maintains trails, restores habitat, and inspires community appreciation for this Forest park.

Portland Parks and Recreation: The mission of Portland Parks & Recreation is to help Portlanders play – providing the safe places, facilities, and programs which promote physical, mental, and social activity. PP&R aim to get people, especially kids, outside, active, and connected to the community.

Senior Recreation programme for Portland Parks and Recreation

Summer Free for All – Movies, concerts and playgrounds – free, accessible, family-friendly summer activities.

Environmental Education – Classes, guided walks, camps, volunteer opportunities, and special events focus on the forest, grassland, and water ecosystems available in neighborhoods throughout the city.

Portland Parks Foundation: works to support parks in Portland. Through leadership and partnership, they raise friends and funds for Portland parks.

Living Cully: an innovative collaboration that formed in 2010 between Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East, Hacienda Community Development Corporation, Native American Youth and Family Center, and Verde. Through its work in NE Portland’s Cully Neighborhood, Living Cully reinterprets sustainability as an anti-poverty strategy by concentrating environmental investments at the neighborhood scale and braiding those investments with traditional community development resources.

Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC): receives funding from a variety of public and private partners to serve artists, arts organizations, schools and residents throughout Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties. RACC provides grants for artists, nonprofit organizations and schools and manages an internationally acclaimed public art program. RACC helps to manage the abundance of public art (mainly sculptures and installations) in the city – a trail with its own phone app and guide.

PICA The Portland Institute for Contemporary Art: showcases artists that are striving to reach beyond traditional forms and subject matter, and programmes and produces the annual Time-based art festival TBA amongst many other exhibitions and arts events.

Disjecta: produces innovative arts programming in Portland – a catalytic platform for forward-thinking work by visual and performing artists. Dynamic programs showcase new ideas and engage new audiences while fueling collaborations, as well as running the Portland Biennial.

Newspace Center for Photography: a nonprofit resource center and community hub. Through course offerings, exhibitions, digital lab, darkroom and lighting studio access, public programs, and more, Newspace makes a wide spectrum of enriching photographic opportunities available to the Portland Metro communities.

C3 Initiative: a non-profit arts organization dedicated to the production of contemporary art, social concepts and conversation, connecting disparate communities and makerships through four distinct residency programs, a project incubator, and integrative public programming.

Portland Art Museum: Founded in late 1892, the Portland Art Museum is the seventh oldest museum in the United States and the oldest in the Pacific Northwest. The Museum is internationally recognized for its permanent collection and ambitious special exhibitions, a significant collection of Sister Corita Kent‘s works, of native peoples’ artworks, and a public engagement and education program.

Portland Community Media (PCM) is a nonprofit, public benefit organization dedicated to promoting local, non-commercial media developed and produced in the community, by and for the community. Since 1981 PCM has provided equipment and training courses for individuals and organizations to utilize cablecast and other forms of media distribution as a means of communication, civic involvement, artistic and cultural expression and community development.

Portland State University – The John Yeon Center for Architecture and the Landscape: devoted to preserving Yeon’s legacy by inspiring future acts of visionary design and conservation.

First Thursday Art and Gallery Walk: every first Thursday of the month, many art galleries open from 6 to 9pm to the public to view new art exhibitions from small artist spaces to the larger city art institutions.

Last Thursday on NE Alberta St: happening all year round, but closing the street during the summer months, artists, musicians and performers line the street from 15th through 30th Ave.s, galleries hold their monthly openings and restaurants and bars hang new artwork for sale.

Zoobomb: A weekly downhill bike race down Portland’s west hills, from the zoo to the city centre using children’s bikes or minibikes.

ReClaim It!: a nonprofit arts and reuse retail store that salvages materials from the “dump” (Metro Transfer Station operated by Recology) for artists, homeowners, and DIYers to Reuse, Repair, and Reimagine.

Portland – My Story: Working to put a human face on the City’s changing demographics, a local arts-related organization called My Story developed a project—”We Are Portland”—to teach communities the fundamentals of photography. Using these new skills, community members took family portraits, simultaneously presenting how they see themselves and documenting the diversity of Portlanders.

Houseguest: a public art intervention and artist residency at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Downtown Portland, Oregon.

Signal Fire Arts: builds the cultural value of the natural world by connecting artists to the remaining wild places. Their projects foster self-reliance, creative energy, and interdisciplinary collaboration, and utilize public lands to advocate for equitable access to, and protection of, these vital places.

Creek College: an experimental school in Portland, Oregon that takes place on Johnson Creek environmental sites, and combines art classes with environmental restoration. It’s free for people to take classes and in return they have to do a form of restoration on the Creek.

Portland State University Arts and Social Practice MFA: a 3-year, flexible residency program that combines individual research, group work, and experiential learning, and the course is led by Harrell Fletcher.

Artists who I met up with, spoke to or connected to about my research:

Erica Meryl Thomas: Artist, curator and producer. Erica’s work explores relationships, intimacy, and public/private presentations of the self through designed experience, for audiences of one, and audiences of hundreds. Current work includes her ‘self-declared’ Artist in Residence opening up her domestic life and personal space as a site of experiential research, experimentation and engagement. Projects include: Urban Ecology Tour Series, Pillow Talk, and Dreamland.

Sharita Towne: ‘Our past burdens give shape to what worlds we may build, now and in the future‘. As an artist Sharita Towne is interested in unpacking these burdens, in understanding how they mold our present selves, and in trying to give rise to a collective catharsis. She works in education, printmaking, video, stereo-photography, translation, and social practice, with one of her most recent projects being Our City In Stereo.

Ariana Jacob – Public Wondering: makes artwork that uses conversation as a medium and as a subjective research method, exploring experiences of interdependence and disconnection, questioning her own idealistic beliefs, and investigating how people make culture and culture makes people. Projects include: Conversation Station, The American Society for Personally Questioning Political Questions, and Houseguest residency S.A.D. Park.

Peg Butler: Peg is a systems thinker and interdisciplinary artist/designer whose work often relates to issues of cultural and ecological health. She has worked with many organisations and individuals on projects that instigate engagement and interaction with the urban environment, placemaking and ecological thinking. Projects include: Bucket Brigade, Dekumstruction, and the Skyline Tavern Project which integrates art, ecology, health (and beer) on a six acre site next to Forest Park in Portland, with land and space for experiments and public participation.

Blair Saxon Hill: Artist and co-founder of Monograph Bookwerks.

Taryn Tomasello: Artist, in particular her work Ross Island Residency, a renegade self-declared residency and a ritual-relational witness of trespass. Taryn is currently researching social housing projects, extraction and mining, and humanetics.

Adam Kuby: makes art works that are collaborations with the built and natural world that foster a sense of connectedness.  Each site offers the chance to explore how human and non-human ecologies can better coexist through parallel layers of meaning and purpose, and contemporary place-making.  Adam has made many public artworks in Portland.

Linda K Johnson: For over three decades as an Oregon native, Linda has been contributing as a maker, performer, academic, somatic educator, Contemporary Alexander Technique teacher, mentor, curator, and arts administrator.

And lastly …

Mill Ends Park, Portland Riverfront: the smallest park in the world.

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