PCRI Community Collaborations: Let Us Build Cully Park!

May 21, 2012 · by Staff · PCRI

Community members gathered last month to take soil samples at the future Cully Park site.

A Nature in Neighborhoods $577,000 grant to our community partner Verde will help Let Us Build Cully Park! coalition transform a former landfill into a community hub.

Let Us Build Cully Park! coalition is a collaboration between Verde and fifteen community-based organizations, including PCRI, to build Cully Park at a lower cost. The grant will support four projects: a one-and-a-half mile trail network with fitness stations, habitat restoration, a tribal plant gathering area, and a “green streets” transformation on Northeast 72nd Avenue.

Let Us Build Cully Park! is an opportunity to enliven the Northeast Portland’s Cully Neighborhood, a neighborhood characterized by concentrated poverty and a lack of access to nature and community spaces.

Tony DeFalco, coordinator of Let Us Build Cully Park!, tells Laura Oppenheimer with Metro News that the project will achieve three important values for the community:

“You’ve got the environmental aspect, where we’re doing restoration and creating habitat. You’ve got the economic piece, where we’re putting money in people’s pockets in the neighborhood. And you’ve got the equity piece, where we’re bringing a park to a neighborhood that really is park-deficient.”

Rebecca Wells-Albers from Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Kari Christensen from Oregon Health Authority helped community members handle testing equipment and strengthened their understanding of the environmental assessment.

Last week Lauren Orso, one of PCRI’s new AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers, was able to visit the site of the future Cully Park community garden. Surveys of local residents revealed a high interest in gardening locally, with many residents eager to be able to walk to and grow their own fresh produce.

To address this need, designers worked with students at Harvey Scott school to create a functional community garden, complete with greenhouse and nursery space and even its own micro-orchard. About 90 users will be able to garden at a time, from differently sized plots geared towards individuals and families. The garden will be complemented by gathering space and picnic areas to bring the community together. The garden itself is not located on the landfill site, and its soil has been tested as safe by local residents trained by the EPA.

The park and garden can not come soon enough for Cully residents, who have largely supported and encouraged its development from the beginning. The Cully Park project is an opportunity to bring not only self-grown healthy foods to this underresourced neighborhood, but to build self-sufficiency among its residents, foster a sense of neighborhood responsibility centered around the park, and to allow residents an opportunity to have their voices heard.

PCRI looks forward to continue working with our Let Us Build Cully Park! community partners. For more information, please see the coalition’s home page.

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