The Backyard Habitat Certification Program is partnering with a local social justice organization to explore how urban habitats can help support healthier communities in Southeast Portland's Jade District.
Backyard Habitat Certification Program (BHCP)* staff were honored this winter when the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) invited them to partner on a pilot project in Portland’s Jade District. APANO, a grassroots organization uniting Asians and Pacific Islanders to achieve social justice, has identified conservation education and environmental justice as organizational priorities.
BHCP recently worked with the Asian-Pacific Islander community and APANO to design and install habitat-friendly gardens in two prominent community spaces, Harrison Park Community Garden (at Harrison Park School) and the Jade/APANO Multicultural Space (JAMS). This area of Southeast Portland along the busy traffic corridor of 82nd Avenue, which has been identified as “under-natured”. The installations represented an opportunity to add needed green space.
During a workshop in January, community members discussed the values of ecosystem services and the potential for native plants to make neighborhoods healthier. A few weeks later, members of the local community planted hundreds of native plants across the two sites. In addition, the group picked up trash along SE 82nd Avenue and created a beautiful habitat garden in what was once a vacant lot. Neighbors came by to help, including an entire apartment complex near Harrison Park School. Kids were thrilled by the countless worms they found, which they took as a hopeful sign of habitat to come.
With guidance from APANO, BHCP is exploring how to create landscape-scale change by expanding wildlife corridors in racially and ethnically diverse areas. It’s a question with no easy answers or quick remedies, but this pilot partnership and project represents a unique and valuable opportunity to learn and co-lead.
While the pilot partnership with APANO officially launched in January, the relationship emerged from years of collaboration and shared learning opportunities. Moving forward, APANO will be engaging its networks to complement the recent installations with habitat spaces in their own backyards and community spaces. In addition, Land Trust staff is working with APANO to support their broader efforts in the development of green spaces throughout the Jade District that will support daily connections to nature for the Asian-Pacific Islander community.
We’re grateful to APANO for helping lead the effort. We’d also like to thank Metro’s Nature in Neighborhood’s program for their support and funding for the pilot.
*The Backyard Habitat Certification Program is a partnership between Columbia Land Trust and The Audubon Society of Portland.