Connected to the Eastbank 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 (VFP) 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 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 the 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.
The new park will be entirely replanted with perennials, shrubs, and native pollinator-friendly plants. There will be a large sculptural element for sitting, contemplating, enjoying the views, and taking photos. The park will also be updated with super energy-efficient lighting and irrigation, decorative fencing, standard park benches, bike racks, and some special concrete work.
We will also reach out again to community members, students, residents, and BIPOC communities to help us design the interpretive panels that will tell the interwoven story of the space, peace, and habitat and neighborhood protection.
Through 2021 and 2022 we’ve been having a series of park events, including regular neighborhood cleanups. Some recent highlights include:
Join us in picking up trash along the northern half of the Eastbank Esplanade and the areas around the Convention Center and Moda Center in the Lloyd neighborhood. Other tasks could include removing graffiti, repainting park fences/walls, removing invasive blackberries, and helping with other landscaping maintenance available to volunteers. Learn more and register here. We can’t wait to see you out there!
We are so thankful for all the Friends of Peace Memorial Park that have supported the work at the park. Learn more about who the Friends are here and become one by making a donation by clicking the link at the bottom of this page or by clicking here. When filling out you’re information please add the note “for Peace Memorial Park” when given the option to “Add special instructions to the seller” (or email us after making your contribution) and we’ll make sure your donation is directed towards our work at the park.