Memorial Day & Peace Memorial Park

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By Joshua Baker

On Memorial Day, we had the privilege of volunteers coming out, equipped with rain jackets, to join us in our efforts to makeover Peace Memorial Park. It was a special day for me in particular, as it was my first time visiting the park in person since I started working with Lloyd EcoDistrict last year. In the summer of 2021 I interned with Lloyd EcoDistrict through Lewis & Clark’s sustainability internship program. However, my position was fully remote so I was never able to participate in any events at the park. Having recently re-joined the Lloyd EcoDistrict team and now living in Portland, this Memorial Day was the first time I got to participate in a Peace Memorial Park makeover. I’ve been learning and advocating for the community-building and resiliency that is promoted through events like these cleanups. But in personally participating, I became overwhelmed with joy at the conversations I overheard between volunteers and their excitement over being in the park. I loved being able to talk to people who live and work in the Lloyd, and hear their gratitude that this space is being reactivated.

If you are not familiar with Peace Memorial Park, it was established on Memorial Day by Veterans For Peace as a public place to honor victims of war, both military and civilian. Since Lloyd EcoDistrict joined in partnership with Veterans For Peace, the vision of the space has expanded to honor the intersection of conflict, climate and social justice. We are working on a multi-year resign and construction project at the park. While we await breaking ground on some of the significant changes at the park, this Memorial Day week we spent time giving the park a refresh and makeover, not only doing some trash cleanup, but removing graffiti, repainting fences and walls, and adding temporary artwork throughout.

Specifically, thanks to our partnership with SOLVE, volunteers were equipped with trash bags, gloves, and litter grabbers to pick up 400 total pounds of trash. Also a big thank you to the Oregon Convention Center for disposing of all this trash. But we specifically need to call out our volunteers for their hard work. In addition to picking up trash, our volunteers spent the morning mixing paint, adding a fresh coat of paint to the walls and fences, and scrubbing of graffiti. Out in the park’s green spaces, our volunteers also helped remove invasive plant species, cut back weeds, and mow the lawn.. We also finally had the opportunity to put up the artwork of the 3rd graders of Sabin Middle School. Head over to Peace Memorial Park to see the pieces of pollinator artwork they created that now brightens up the community. 

In addition to putting up the student artwork, temporary chalk art work was drawn throughout the park after the sun came out. Nancy Hiss, with Veterans For Peace, joined us again this year and beautifully wrote out “peace” in different languages with colorful chalk around the peace symbol. 

Last year, we had the honor of having local artist Irene Ramirez meet us out in the park to decorate the sidewalk with her beautiful pollinator chalkwork. We were lucky enough this past Memorial Day to have her activate Peace Memorial Park again with her art. Irene strives to make her artwork accessible and likes making it messy and human. She brought color and beauty to the park, and neighborhood, with her drawings of bumble bees, butterflies, and other native plants. 

We are beyond thankful to the 33 volunteers who came out to support us this Memorial Day, and your combined efforts resulted in nearly a 100 hours of volunteer hours. This dedication left the park with a fresh coat of paint on the railways, cleaner sidewalks, and the gratitude of the community. It was beyond amazing for me to finally participate in a volunteer event at Peace Memorial Park, and I cannot wait to make more connections and continue to makeover this beautiful community space.