Connected to the East Bank Esplanade, intersected by one of Portland’s busiest bikeways, and graced with expansive views of the Willamette River and the downtown skyline, Peace Memorial Park was established as a public place to honor victims of war, both military and civilian. Since we have 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 also honor the complex history of this land as ancestral lands of the Cathlamet, Molalla, Willamette, Multnomah, Clackamas, Tualatin, Kalapuya, Chinook and several other groups both recognized and unrecognized; and as part of the historic Albina District, a culturally significant neighborhood of the African American community in Portland.
We envision a small public park that has a multiplicity of narrative layers happening at once—just as all places do—and that these layers weave together to help tell a story that explains, validates and offers hope for our collective future.
In 2006, Veterans for Peace designed a simple peace symbol in flowers to memorialize Peace in the way that other memorials honor war. As the upkeep of the park was labor-intensive and VFP’s membership became less able to do regular maintenance over the years, the park became overgrown.
In 2019, Lloyd EcoDistrict reached out to VFP to collaborate on revitalizing the park and enlarging the current park’s message to tie together the messages of peace and pollinator protection. Since then we have we hosted work parties to clean up the space, maintain the landscape and redefine the peace symbol. Soon we received input from community partners and supporters like PLACE to help us re-design garden, and Xerces Society, an international invertebrate conservation nonprofit based right in the Lloyd neighborhood. They helped us expand the scope of the park to include ways that incorporate pollinator friendly plants and options for public art, while keeping the original peace symbol.
What became apparent in our ongoing outreach, is that the underlying history of this place also creates a message for the future. This humble space reveals how the intersection of conflict here and abroad, the destruction of habitat (defined as neighborhoods, settlements or pollinator habitat), and the desire for peace and justice through climate action can and does come together. We hope that this space can become a focal point for these public and contemplative stories to be told.
We are finalizing the plans for irrigation, lighting, native plant choices, signage, and cost estimates through generous funding from the Jubitz Family Foundation and local meter revenue. We are excited about the opportunity for temporary artworks to be located in the garden through the Regional Arts & Culture Council in situ PORTLAND program. In situ will be a terrific opportunity for community artists to help reveal layers of the history and meaning of this place. Also, this year we will reach out again to community members, students, residents, and BIPOC communities to help us design the interpretive panels that will tell this interwoven story.
In the meantime as we social distance, we will also be organizing small work parties to maintain the current park pending breaking ground on the final redesign. If you are interested in trash pickup or mowing, learn more about the opportunities here or contact us for more information.