Final message as Beaumont-Wilshire President

Albert Kaufman

I've been posting my president's messages to my neighborhood, Beaumont Wilshire on BlueOregon for a while. This will be my last of these as I'm movin to Laurelhurst...

One year ago, in my first message as president of the BWNA, I wrote about a book and website called Food Not Lawns. In the last year I've become even more convinced that it's time for everyone to rip out their lawns and plant vegetable gardens and fruit trees. I've noticed that there has been movement in that direction in our neighborhood and that's exciting. The sooner we learn to grow and eat our own fruits and vegetables the better off we'll be as we run out of cheap fossil fuel. Last night I saw a lecture on the slow food movement which convinced me further that for my own health and the health of the planet nothing can beat me growing and eating my own organic strawberries.

Over the past year in the neighborhood we've had a Friends of Trees Tree planting, many new businesses have moved into our midst and Fremont Has seen significant traffic changes. My life has been exciting with a New position, a new love, and now a new home.

I've decided to move out of the neighborhood and therefore will no longer be the president of the BWNA. At our next Board meeting we'll pick a new president and you'll be hearing from that person on our e-mail list and in the newsletter.

I'm excited for Beaumont-Wilshire. There are some interesting Projects in the works and some great people on the neighborhood association, newsletter team and business association. I encourage you to get involved in an existing organization or instigate something you'd like to see happen - a book club, farmers market, community dance, movie night, poetry readings, garden club. We have one life to live - by creating community around us we make our lives richer and more exciting.

Keep in touch,

Albert Kaufman

  • (Show?)

    I actually just agreed to take on my neighborhood association out here in Gresham. It's been inactive for quite some time.

    It's an odd neighborhood, because more than half our area is taken up by Mt. Hood Community College, Mt. Hood Hospital and the clinics, Hall Elementary, Hall Park, and the Golf Course. Since it's small in land mass already, that's a lot of area taken up that's not residential or commercial.

    Then there are tons of apartments and condos. We have more rental units than any other neighborhood in the city, apparently.

    So obviously we're going to need to look at creative solutions for the issues here. I've already seen one issue come up -- the lack of recycling opportunities.

    I already started a web site to get my neighborhood association online, and am hoping to get the others on there as well. Since summer's coming, it's going to be hard to set up a meeting right away, but we were looking at just before school starts as a kick off meeting.

    The city of Gresham has been great in helping out, since they'd like to see us reactivated as well. I'd hoped to just get involved, but since it's not active and I have organizing experience and some free time, it only made sense for me to take it on.

    I'd love to hear any ideas, suggestions, etc. you have. Since I grew up in the unincorporated rural area surrounding a small town in Texas, I don't exactly know a lot about neighborhood associations.

  • (Show?)

    In the last year I've become even more convinced that it's time for everyone to rip out their lawns and plant vegetable gardens and fruit trees.

    I can't take credit --my wife is the Master Gardener-- but all our lawn is virtually gone. Our small inner-SE lot now produces not just tomatoes, my favorite thing to grow. but apples, pears, grapes, figs, veggies, salad fixings and olives. Not to mention the native plants and 30plus varieties of roses. It is such a wonderful thing to sit in our garden, surrounded by the cycle of growth.

    No pesticides, no lawn chemicals, no barkdust...but "volunteers" spreading out all over, mint and thyme and lavender, and busy, busy bees, friendly ones, just hard at work. So much more interesting than grass, and so much fun to pick some mint for a mojito, or some asian pears for dessert. And our three olive trees...who'd have thought you could grow olives in Portland?

  • (Show?)

    I'd love to hear any ideas, suggestions, etc. you have...I don't exactly know a lot about neighborhood associations.

    Come to a meeting, Jenni. Our Hosford-Abernethy Neighborhood Association (HAND), which includes the Central Eastside Industrial District, is in the thick of issues: East Side Streetcar, condo developments gone wild, Milwaukie MAX line, Hawthorne and Powell street issues. I'm the Land Use and Transportation Chair and on the agenda Tuesday is how best to support the City in demanding Springwater Trail connectivity for some new proposed development on the River. The streetcar is also on this agenda, as is our annual elections.

    The neighborhood association "system" really is an important way citizens get to have an impact on policy-making. Email me if you want details.

  • (Show?)

    I'd love to come to a meeting, but right now until my leg heals I am trying to limit the number of meetings I attend. Sitting or standing for any length of time can make my leg swell up, which becomes quite uncomfortable. It's meant missing a lot of meetings lately, but the less often it swells, the quicker it'll heal. And I really would like it healed by the end of summer, which is when our Neighborhood Assoc. meetings will start as well as PTA meetings and the like.

    If I can fit it in, I'll definitely come. I'm trying to do no more than a meeting or two a week, which means I skip a lot of general meetings and go to planning type meetings.

    I think it's going to be interesting doing the neighborhood association here, since things are so different here than many neighborhoods.

    I wish we could grow more edible foods. But most of us have no control over the landscaping and grounds. Plus there needs to be room for the dogs (last thing we need is them going on the vegetables -- people don't pick up as it is) as well as all the kids here in the complex.

    I do have multiple containers, though, which have strawberries, tomatoes, and various herbs in them. I usually grow a few flowers, too, which makes Abby happy. I can't wait to have a yard of my own where I can have a real garden and some fruit tress.

  • (Show?)

    For anyone who lives in Portland, keep the community garden program in mind. You can rent a garden plot at a very reasonable cost. Great for apartment dwellers or those with very shady yards like mine. Plots are in high demand so you might have to get on a waiting list in your neighborhood.

    The parks department sponsors a tour every summer through a number of gardens around the city if you are interested in seeing how it works. I went last year and it was very impressive what people were doing with their gardens.

    The tomato plants I planted a week ago are looking good, with any luck I'll be supplying quite a few households with fresh tomatoes again this summer.

  • (Show?)

    I can't take credit --my wife is the Master Gardener-- but all our lawn is virtually gone. Our small inner-SE lot now produces not just tomatoes, my favorite thing to grow. but apples, pears, grapes, figs, veggies, salad fixings and olives.

    Olives? Really? I wasn't aware they grew here. Cool.

    I love this food not lawns thing. Slowly but surely (slowly because we still have three kids who are using our small patch of backyard grass to kick a ball around), we are also adding food-producing plants to our yard. Last weekend we put in an apple tree. I can't wait until the kids are hungry and I can say "Go outside and pick yourself an apple," instead of opening the fridge.

  • (Show?)

    Nice sentiments, but it conflicts directly with the new urbanism / density movement.

    I have a nicely sized garden, but feeding even a tiny portion of my family of six on our 50x100 lot is simply impossible.

  • (Show?)

    I have a nicely sized garden, but feeding even a tiny portion of my family of six on our 50x100 lot is simply impossible.

    Well, we certainly don't graze cattle on our 5,000 sq ft lot --that includes our house and detached garage-- but I'm amazed at how much stuff you can fit in, and how productive a garden you can create with such a relatively small amount of land. And I don't see that this conflicts at all with the "new urbanism/density" ethos, at least as we define it.

    As Doretta points out, community gardens are a great adjunct for condo and apartment dwellers, and we need to support creating more of them. In the meantime, we can use whatever available spaces we have, to create not just productive, but beautiful landscaping.

    And, yeah, we seem too far north to imagine olives, but we've now three very productive trees that have made it through 4 seasons, and they're a heck of a lot more interesting in our yard then the hedge they replaced.

  • Rebel Dog (unverified)

    Great ideas! A reminder, though, how far we have to go...

    There are over 200 community gardeners from the Reed Garden, which have been forcibly evicted and their plots razed for the construction of new dorms. Not that there was any on-campus debate. Seems the DEA's deal with the Administration to kill Renn-Faire by raising tuition has had the desired effect. The new fad of living on-campus to avoid "the other" far outweighs the only surviving WWI and WWII victory garden, the single largest contributor to the food bank, an Audubon site and hundreds of peoples' sustenance. The city handlers are a disaster. It's a little clique, run with primary school values. I propose a work-share arrangement with those that own and rent. Share some of your space with someone that will do the hard work/teach you the ropes. Let's get some ads going in the local rag sheets!

    More disturbing is the difference in perception among those concerned. You all are looking 10 years ahead, and I'm literally, right now, watching people grovel over a 1904 house, two 11x11 bedrooms, no central heat, one bathroom, and it's listed at 1/4 million. How do you make people unaware of the unsustainability of our course, when their level of consciousness lacks any awareness that 1/4 million should at least mean not sharing the bathroom in the morning?

    No, there's just too many duds. Shopenaur was right. You have to reduce population to increase value/individual. Great ideas, like I say, and I do strive to practice them. But if you've decided that you just really have to breed anyway, skip it. There is no action- nothing even close- that any single individual can do that offsets the cost of having a single child, in terms of environmental footprint. Do the math. Take some varible and figure what the best you can do is with you and one child. Then calculate only for yourself, and look at the limit where that function equals the previous. Conclusion: an average consuming individual without children pollutes less than a very fastidious individual with only a single child. Beyond three, the yield curve starts to look exponential. Over five can only be called environmental terrorism. Think about that next time you call Nancy Pelosi a progressive concerned with sustainability.

    Unfortunately a lot of this is being used by people to make themselves feel better about their bad choices. Hell, impress me. Show me someplace I can garden where I don't have someone directing their dog to poop on my lettuce! Example is great, but a more confrontational attitude is needed as well. In the 5 years I was at the Reed Garden, we were unable to garner support from anyone. We started a petition drive in 2002, dealing with the issue of dog parks. The City ignored us until the Laurelhurst debacle, quickly rushed our prepared comments into a city council meeting to support their agenda, thanked us, and never spoke to us again. After investigating us as suspects, of course. Portland, the City that over!

    If I sound a little miffed it might have something to do with just having bought my first bay leaves in 10 years; ditto hops. Soon I'll eat my first vegetable in 50 years from a grocery store (that I prepared, at least). I've been growing since I was three. I proably won't do it. Some things just aren't worth it.

    (for the record; i produced 40% of my food, 100% onions and spices, 60% yearly hops from a 20' x 20' plot)

  • (Show?)

    Growing food in the city is not an all-or-nothing proposition. The suggestion wasn't that we can all be self-sufficient on a 5000 foot lot, just that it makes sense to grow food where you can. I've seen the Dufay's garden and it is truly amazing.


connect with blueoregon