Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Portland Timbers and Hands On Greater Portland stewardship volunteers pay Tryon Creek a visit

Stewardship volunteers from the Timbers and Hands On strike a pose before hitting the trail
 The forest at Tryon Creek State Natural Area is continually under siege from the threat of invasive species, particularly English ivy. To help fight the continuous battle against invasives, The Friends of Tryon Creek invite volunteers to come to the park and participate in stewardship activities around the year. On August 7th, 2013, an army of stewardship volunteers from the Portland Timbers and Hands On Greater Portland descended upon Tryon Creek, donned work gloves, rolled up their sleeves and hit the trail.

Master Stewardship Guide Phil Hamilton shows group where they will be pulling ivy
 As the group prepared to leave the Nature Center, cross the creek and pull ivy near the Cedar Trail, the Friends' Master Stewardship Guide Phil Hamilton explained about the trail and some potential but unlikely hazards (such as an errant bee or loose soil). The Timbers' and Hands On volunteers ventured safely to the work site.

Phil shares information on tree plantings with volunteers
 Along the way Phil stopped to point out both a caged cedar and a cedar stump cut by a beaver. In about 20 years, the alders in the area will die of old age: the cedars were planted to establish future shade in their place.

This English ivy pile continues to grow... and grow... and grow...
The forest at Tryon Creek benefited from the great efforts of the Portland Timbers and Hands On Greater Portland stewardship volunteers: their hard work resulted in the removal of approximately 30 - 40 yard debris bags' worth of English ivy.

The Timbers' awesome mascot, Timber Joey, shakes hands with a young fan on the Cedar Trail
On a side note, the battle against English ivy is ongoing. With the help of countless volunteers, the Friends have cleared 200 acres of Tryon Creek State Natural Area's 670 forested acres. However, all it takes is for a single bird to leave a single ivy berry behind for the plant to take root and grow a Jack-in-the-beanstalk-style vine that chokes healthy trees and damages the tree canopy. The Friends can't fight invasives alone - we need your help to keep the forest alive and well. Please consider joining us for a Stewardship Saturday work party, or call Stewardship Coordinator Sarah Kreisman at 503-636-4398 to get involved with other opportunities to protect and support Tryon Creek.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Summer Nature Day Camp with a Photographic Twist

This year the Friends of Tryon Creek added Nature Photography to their Adventure Camp series. For the first time ever, campers in grades 5 – 7 had the opportunity to spend their week of Nature Day Camp capturing the colors, textures and natural beauty of the park  and nearby environs using digital cameras.

With camp counselors "Fungi" & "Clover" leading the way, Nature Photography campers explored how to use light, composition, landscape photography, and close-ups in an effort to capture unique images. The experience was decidedly positive. As one excited camper reported, “I didn’t know the forest could be so beautiful!”

Over the course of the week campers hiked on numerous park trails and took field trips to Washington Park's Rose Garden and George Rogers Park, among other places. They covered a lot of ground on their expeditions and discovered a variety of flora, fauna and fungi. Snails and slugs were frequent subject material, as were the sweeping trunks of trees towering high above. Campers photographed the occasional bird, bright berries, colorful flowers, and the gnarled bark of some of Tryon Creek’s oldest trees.
At the end of the week, campers selected their favorite photos. We think they are remarkable and are pleased to share them with you:

"I chose my picture because I liked how carefully I had to use zoom, and how it was unique to the other pictures that my fellow campers chose." - Eliana

"I chose this duck picture because it looked best and because it was the only picture of my top five that had an animal in it." - Ethan
"I chose this picture because I like the vivid colors and detailed background. The colors remind me of a sunset and the rose is of a variety that are particularly lovely to me. This picture was taken at the Rose Garden at Washington Park." - Edme

"I chose my landscape picture because I like the relationship between the fern cluster and the logs and the creek. This picture was taken on a bridge over a creek in Tryon Creek State Natural Area." - Lucy

"This is a fern fiddlehead. I didn't expect to see one that was still curled up so late in spring, and it was really cool looking with all the tiny leaves in a spiral shape. The green color was also vibrant against the darker brown forest floor." - Anna
"I chose this photo out of my favorite five because I think it represents my mom. She's bright, blossomed and pretty. I also took the picture because my mom loves the color yellow. I took this photo at the Washington Park Rose Garden." - Selina

"I chose this photo as my favorite because of all the shades of green with the red spores on the fern at the center. It shows the textures of the different leaves and since the leaves overlap you can see through the fern. This picture was taken in the Shakespearean Garden of Washington Park." - Zoe

"I chose this photo because the grey in the stone and the green in the bushes and grass makes everything pop out. Also, it has a creepy graveyard theme with the rock color." - Lindsey

"I chose the picture of the flower because it had a cool spiral thingy on it and it was pink. I took the photo at Washington Park Rose Garden." - Logan
Summer Nature Day Camp campers engage directly with the natural world around them. This connection is a key element in cultivating a lifelong relationship with nature and with the Earth. The Friends of Tryon Creek believe that a healthy environment is essential for the wellbeing and sustainability of ecosystems and inhabitants and are pleased to provide opportunities for children, families and adults to connect with the natural world using Tryon Creek State Natural Area as a living classroom. 

For more information on the Friends’ Nature Day Camp Program please visit www.tryonfriends.org.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

One Week Job's Linda Chase visits the Friends of Tryon Creek

Linda Chase spends Week 42 at Tryon Creek
For the past week Linda Chase has been working with the Friends of Tryon Creek. She is on Week 42 of working 52 jobs in 52 weeks. I sat down with Linda to learn more about the unorthodox path she took to working with the Friends. Here is a nutshell version of her story, as well as some of her words of wisdom…

Linda was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California (and she still yearns for the beach). After attending grad school at the University of Oregon, Linda moved to Portland with her partner Emmett in 1985. They had two children, Laura, who is now 23, and Alec who is 21.

Linda worked in the nonprofit world until getting laid off when the economic downturn hit. She found herself unemployed “for too long” and facing a number of crises, including the loss of her partner to brain cancer; her dog losing a leg to cancer; and her house facing foreclosure. Linda decided to pay her mother a visit in Santa Barbara. On the return flight to Portland she found herself sitting next to Sean Aiken, a dynamic young man sporting dreadlocks.

Sean shared his story about graduating from college and not knowing what he wanted to do with his life. He created the One-Week Job Project, working 52 jobs in 52 weeks in Canada to find his passion and ideal career. Sean and Linda concluded that Linda’s experience was the middle-aged American version of Sean’s. By the end of the flight the two agreed to collaborate on a similar project for Linda.
Initially, Linda thought she might take her 52-week challenge “to follow her passion” to other regions. She realized that her passions – her children (“her heart”), nature, and her animals – were in Portland. This is where she decided to concentrate her effort.

For the past 42 weeks Linda has worked at an incredible variety of different jobs. From working with Guide Dogs for the Blind (a true highlight, for, as Linda observes, “your heart melts seeing a service dog providing such great help to a person”) to helping the owner of Cascade Naturals make tempeh burgers by hand  (the owner is the sole employee and she works 14 hours a day creating a product she loves), Linda has grown and benefited from the experience. What has she learned?

·         Ninety-nine percent of the people she’s worked with love their jobs. This was unexpected.

·         “If it’s not fun, what is the point?” (This realization is beautifully captured in Linda’s blog, “My Song and Dance”.)

·         The greatest discovery she has made was realizing the importance of nurturing a sense of wonder in life: “It is an important part of life, of staying young, and staying engaged in the world around us.”
Linda also shared some advice for finding a path with fulfillment: “Talk to people who do what you love to do and find out how they got started. Spend time with them. Find out if it’s really what you want to do.”

Linda has enjoyed her time working at Tryon Creek and engaging with nature. Spending time at the park has energized her “passion for being green and fostering green spaces and being around people that advocate for the environment. It’s wonderful to get out of the car and be in nature, to experience the wonderful sights, sounds and smells of Tryon Creek State Natural Area.”
What does Linda have in store next? “I don’t know. I’m going to experience things on a weekly basis and it is changing every week…it’s important that there be camaraderie among the team I work with, a connection, chemistry, and a sense of kinship.”

We at Tryon Creek greatly enjoyed having Linda be part of our community. She is inspiring and engaging, and we wish her well on whatever path she chooses next. To learn more about her past and future adventures please visit One Week Job.

-Jessica Sweeney

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Phil Hamilton, 80, honored for 20,000 hours of stewardship work at Tryon Creek

Long time Friends' volunteer Phil Hamilton
On May 18th, 2013, southwest Portland resident Phil Hamilton reached a huge milestone: He completed his 20,000th hour doing stewardship work at Tryon Creek State Natural Area (TCSNA).

Phil Hamilton recognized for his 20,000 hours of stewardship work
Phil, who has been volunteering with the Friends of Tryon Creek for 20 years, has filled many roles at the park. His activities include invasive species removal, trail maintenance, Friends of Tryon Creek Board Member, and Chair of the Stewardship Committee. Phil runs the field aspect of TCSNA's  Restoration Program.

The completion of his 20,000th hour marked two decades of dedicated, hands-on stewardship work in the forest at Tryon Creek.

Friends' Volunteer Coordinator Sarah Kreisman MC'd the event
The Friends and OPRD acknowledged Phil's incredible achievement with a celebration in the Nature Center on June 24th. Friends and OPRD staff, including Volunteer Coordinator Sarah Kreisman (above) and Park Manager John Mullen, congratulated Phil, to the enthusiastic applause and appreciation of his family and the fellow volunteers and park personnel that have seen Phil's dedication in action.

Park Manager John Mullen acknowledges Phil's dedication and service
Originally, Tryon Creek was so overgrown with nonnative invasive species that it was doubtful whether the ecosystem could recover. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers such as Phil, more than 200 acres - nearly 1/3 of the park's overall acreage - have been cleared of invasives.

OPRD volunteer Dave Johnston and OPRD Director Tim Wood

Friends' Board President Gary Pagenstecher

Celebrating Phil's achievement with a party in the Nature Center

Lively music by Curls and Scruff
Phil averages an astonishing 1000 stewardship hours per year at TCSNA. "The urban forest is an important ecosystem niche", says Phil. "I'm helping to save the forest. I love hanging out in the woods and I always have. I don't like to hold still."

Phil Hamilton, English Ivy conqueror
The Friends applaud Phil Hamilton for his outstanding achievement and appreciate his dedication and stewardship work. He has made a significant, positive impact at Tryon Creek. Thank you Phil!

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Friends Welcome Mexican Professors to Tryon Creek for World Environment Day

World Environment Day (WED) was on Tuesday, June 5, 2013. The UN selected Portland as the host city for this international event and the Friends of Tryon Creek (FOTC) partnered with the City and other local organizations to showcase the environmental education and stewardship programs that have earned Portland its preeminent “green” reputation.

The Friends, PSU Capstone Instructors, and visiting Mexican Professors at Tryon Creek
One such WED event happened on a sunny day at Tryon Creek. The Friends, joined by PSU Capstone instructors, welcomed a group of professors visiting from Mexico.

The Friends have a longstanding partnership with PSU, and Matthew Collins, the Friends' Education Director, teaches eighteen credits a year through the Capstone program. Because of the success of Matthew’s courses as a model for service learning, PSU proposed that the Friends host the Mexican professors as they participate in a week-long course to learn about integrating the community into coursework and the education processes that relate to service activities.

Matthew Collins and FOTC volunteer Terry Gibson, who teaches classes in sustainability at Marylhurst University, co-lead the visiting professors in a park ivy pull, and FOTC and OPRD staff shared Tryon Creek's history.

Pulling ivy at Tryon Creek for World Environment Day service activities
As the Friends and the professors discussed the importance of environmental preservation and community involvement it became clear that although we are from different countries and cultures, we share the same ethic of stewardship and belief that a lifelong connection to nature is essential for a healthy Earth and its inhabitants.  The Friends support this connection to nature through a variety of environmental programs for children, families and adults, as well as volunteer and stewardship opportunities.  
The Friends are honored that these Mexican professors came to Tryon Creek to learn from us and support us. We hope they will take what they learn and share it with their own communities.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cultivate a relationship with nature with the Friends' Summer Nature Day Camp

Human health depends upon a healthy environment. That is the underlying principle which has guided the Friends' mission - to connect people to Tryon Creek State Natural Area and cultivate a lifelong relationship with nature - for more than 40 years.

The Friends believe that we need to "know" the land upon which we depend for survival. We need to understand how its ecosystems function and how they work together. We need to recognize the relationship that inhabitants have with the land, be they the fox, the robin, the newt, or the human being. If we know the land, we can understand it. When we understand it, we are compelled to conserve, protect, steward, and respect it.

Access to that knowledge begins the moment each of us first sets foot upon a forest path, in a mountain stream, or in a country meadow.

Tryon Creek State Natural Area is the ultimate outdoor classroom. In this classroom, knowledge of the land is awakened and encouraged. With regular cultivation that knowledge flourishes. It grows and expands and fills the human mind and heart with inspiration, peace, energy, and a sense of connectedness to the natural world. Connectedness becomes familiarity. Familiarity becomes "knowing". We experience a sense of purpose that helps ground us as we experience the awe, majesty, and transcendence that occurs when we realize that everything - all of it - is interwoven. We realize that each of us plays a part in it and each of us has a responsibility for the part we play.

Every summer, the Friends of Tryon Creek share the experience of Tryon Creek as a living classroom with children through our Summer Nature Day Camp program. Each child that participates, be they four or 12 years old, comes to the forest innately ready to connect deeply to the natural world around them. Through play, activities, hikes, and hands-on experience with nature, campers gain a sense of themselves in the wild world, of their sense of place and their relationship with all living things.

Give your child the experience of a lifetime and enroll them in the Friends of Tryon Creek's Summer Nature Day Camp today: www.tryonfriends.org

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wanted: Earth Ambassadors

From May 9th - 11th, 2013, a number of Friends and OPRD staff members attended the Environmental Summit with the Dalai Lama in Portland. The Dalai Lama was joined by religious leaders, politicians, and prominent environmentalists to discuss the importance of environmental stewardship, education, protection and preservation.
The event was a success: Venues sold out, audiences were given a wealth of information on the environment, speakers received standing ovations, and participants felt energized and empowered. However, the issue of environmental advocacy – specifically, how does one compel and inspire others to take action – was a question that largely went unanswered.

We are facing a future of unprecedented global threats to the environment. On Saturday, May 11th, the front page of the newspaper carried the headline, “Carbon dioxide levels hit new milestone”: the article went on to note that, “Worldwide levels of the chief greenhouse gas that causes global warming have hit a milestone, reaching an amount never before encountered by humans, federal scientists said Friday. Carbon dioxide was measured at 400 parts per million… the last time the worldwide carbon level was probably that high was about 2 million years ago.” The following day, Sunday, May 12th, the newspaper’s A section carried another ominous headline, “Common species at risk, climate study says.” According to the study’s lead author, Rachel Warren, “…the average plant and animal will experience significant range loss under climate change.” The study looked at 50,000 common species and determined that “…more than half the plants and a third of the animals could lose 50% of their range by 2080 if the world continues its current course of rising greenhouse gas emissions.”

What do we do with such bleak news?
Paralysis is one common response. When we encounter unsettling or worrisome news and information, a seeming inability to take action, to even know where to begin in addressing the problem, can take over.
Those that are able to process the news and are motivated to take action often find themselves facing an additional challenge: How do you inspire people to rally around a cause that is freighted with gloom and doom scenarios?

The Friends found an answer in This Green Life, Sheryl Eisenberg’s monthly journal, in a post titled, “Becoming an Earth Ambassador: The art of persuasion”.
Eisenberg's post below is valuable because it provides a blueprint for how to approach the subject with people in a constructive and productive way. There's no pointing fingers and no lecturing - and your audience will be inspired. We hope you will read and share with others.

Becoming an Earth Ambassador
The art of persuasion                                                        

If you follow environmental issues closely, you may often feel the urge to share your knowledge with those around you for the sake of the common good. You think: if only Gina and Joe knew about the Sargasso Sea of plastic trash in the Pacific, they'd stop buying bottled water. Or: tomorrow's the last day for public comments on fracking. I'd better get the word out.

In theory, educating family and friends about these issues is a great idea. In practice, it's a hard trick to pull off.

If you've tried it, you know. Your lessons rarely go over as well as you'd hoped. Inexplicably, your friends yawn and change the subject or argue the points. However they react, the upshot is the same: no conversions to the cause.

At least, that's often been my experience.

There is a simple reason, and we all know what it is. Outside the classroom, people don't like being lectured to. Even less do they like being told how to live, except perhaps by real preachers, and then only on the Sabbath. At worst, they're offended; at best, they write us off. ("There's Sheryl going on about the environment again...")

So how can we get our message across more effectively to our family and friends?

We begin by being mindful of the nature of these relationships. Our nearest and dearest are not potential recruits, but people who trust and care for us. To speak to them otherwise, even in the service of a good cause, would distance them from us, which can't be good.

We consider each person's interests, just as we do in ordinary conversation. (None of my friends would think to talk to me about sports, nor would I bring up Victorian literature with many of them.) If there's no point of connection on an environmental issue, we don't bring the subject up. If there is, we make it as relevant to the person as possible.

We avoid talking doom and gloom at get-togethers where our seriousness would be out of place. It never pays to be a killjoy.

When it comes to green practices, we talk about what we do, not about what others should do. And to the extent possible, we rely on our friends to see what we do, rather than make a point of telling them. After all, our reusable water bottle and cloth napkins don't really need commentary, nor does our habit of biking to the store. These things really do speak for themselves.

When raising a particular issue, we explain why it matters to us. Do we want to save forests because our father loved trees? We tell that story. Do we fight for clean air standards because our child has asthma? We tell that story too. Was it an essay by Thoreau that got us living more simply? A film about factory farming that made us stop eating meat? The memory of once common butterflies that have disappeared from our garden which got us campaigning for a carbon cap to rein in climate change? When we relate these stories, we dwell on our eureka moments, knowing they will make a greater impression than a recitation of facts alone.

Of course, we bring facts to the table too, solid ones we're sure of, but not too many at a time. People will ask if they want to know more.

If a friend disagrees with our position, we ask why and listen with an open mind, remembering there is something to be learned on both sides from every exchange.

We are not strident and we know when to stop. If we've described the issue, tied it to the person's interests, told our personal story, and got no reaction, we put the subject to bed.

But if we see a spark of interest, we fan the flame.

In the end, we let the other person decide whether he or she is interested. And we respect the person either way, just as we hope to be respected in turn.

We know there will always be another opportunity for conversation. We keep the doors open.

—Sheryl Eisenberg