We had a work party today on a cool breezy morning with showers and some sun. We are way behind for years on rainfall so the rain is welcome. The work party was at the Grove. A beautiful location a 5 minute bike ride from my place. The Grove counts 75 mature filbert trees, a remnant of River Road's agricultural heritage.
For years, I have passed the filbert grove on my way into town on the bike path along the Willamette River. Untill two years ago, it was overgrown with black berry and English Ivy. One could hardly walk down the rows without being snagged by the black berry canes which grew up into the branches sometimes 20 feet off the ground. One could find trash, the occasional needle, it was not a place many would want to make a pik nik.
Two years ago, I thought, we need to restore that filbert grove. Personally, I love filberts. They are a wonderful kind of nut and Lane County where I live, produces something like 95% of the filberts grown in the US.
The filbert grove is on public property so I knew it was important to talk with the City of Eugene. I checked with a friend who worked for the city was told that a program with the name "Parks Volunteers" would be a perfect fit for helping restore the filbert grove. Parks Volunteers provides organizational support and tools for work parties. Imagine, a city program empowers people in the community! That fits my ideal of what a city should do - help citizens improve the quality of life where they live. Citizen initiative is the doorway to the house of civic culture.
We have had work parties at the Grove most months since we started. Today's work party was about ten of us. A young couple came from another part of town. Good for them. They are into volunteering also with homeless teens. Another older fellow today came to a work party at the Grove a year ago. He told me his weekly volunteer schedule, just about every day of the week. Bless his heart. He does not hear well and still is right in the thick of working and making friends, asking people to talk straight at him so he can better understand by lip reading.
Another woman was just passing by on her bike and stopped to help. There were friends who lived next door to the Grove at the end of the residential street along with Gabe's [names here slightly changed] 81 year old mom Laureen, who rides a recumbent. She did a lot of work along with Gabe and Jean's 7 year old daughter Cory. Laura, who is the City staff person with Park Stewards had a university intern with her. From Ocala, Florida, Felicity, a senior at the University of Oregon, is interested to do some kind of urban habitat restoration work as a profession when she graduates. I told her about all the permaculture transformation projects in the nearby neighborhood, another kind of urban habitat restoration. She wants to see what transforming suburbia looks like.
So we had a great work party. No one minded the misty showers. The site is beautiful. No cars, near the river with a view of Eugene's trade mark hill, Spencer's Butte rising up in the distance. We accomplished some useful work, made friends, traded stories had some fresh air and exercise.
The Grove will provide more and more filberts for anyone to pick as the years go by, an important local food source. Work parties like this fit my ideal. This is creating a positive culture - people taking initiative, making where they live a better place - safer, more secure, resilient, green. You can see fotos of the grove here.