Wednesday, December 12, 2007

let's dance to joy division

(and celebrate the irony, everything has all gone wrong, and we're so happy)

well, that made sense at the time, so we'll just leave it there and hopefully the broken clock will do its thing and be right again, as it always does...

the calendar year closes, the enterprise goes on hiatus, and the mail is forwarded. good times and hard times to be remembered and celebrated, heads to shake in wonder as how we possibly made it thru such things, and controls to be set to cruise so we can drive with one finger

when we return, we'll start something new, thanks to our friends at SOLV. They want us to start working on steep slopes, removing invasives without also falling into the river, Willamette or otherwise.

So, guess what we got to do, even tho - as we discovered - we're all scared of heights:

Many thanks to Kenny and the other good folks at the Portland Rock Gym for their time and instruction, and to SOLV for footing the bill.

(There were pictures of me doing this stuff too, but they were mysteriously deleted)

We'll see on the other side. Best wishes to you and all you care about.

Monday, November 26, 2007

How Long Will It Take

(...I've been waiting for a long time).

Seems we've lapsed into the never before seen and completely unprecedented, let's-take-a-weekly-blog-and-umm-say-we-really -decided-it-functioned-better-as-a-monthly-you-see-ahem

hey, we've been busy, we're all changing our names to cesar chavez, and you can't stop us; lose many, win some, winsome. Here are some of our wins, lately (losses to be shared later on the page):

  • Labor Hours Sold: slow december begins, and we're proud to say we've sold verde's services every available day from July 1st to the end of the calendar year. The sincerest gratitude and credit to the Verde Native Plant Nursery Crew, regular and temporary, for embracing this hardest of work and doing it better than well, for working in the rain and the cold and the hornets and the heat to make these kinds of transformations:

NE 38th & NE Tillamook Green St. filtering stormwater in Portland's Hollywood neighborhood

Lovena Farms, SE Portland, in the Johnson Creek Watershed, invasive plants removed and ready for native plants

  • Revenue Sharing: Yes, by gum & land o' goshen, we did it. Because we met our goals, we'd excess revenue, and we distributed half of it, also known as $4649, in the form of cash bonuses to them hard-working crew members based on hours worked (if you know a better way, lemme know/keep it to your damn self). Yee-oouch, hurts good. It was a big day, and a promise kept.
  • Community Members on Verde's Board. In November, Maria Gastelun and Brenda Reyes, mother and daughter, community advocates and leaders, and long-time residents of Hacienda CDC housing, joined Verde's Board of Directors. There to teach and to learn and to teach, their experiences will guide Verde and the Nursery as we share our lessons with our community, building awareness that plenty of people make a good living protecting the environment, so why can't we?
OK, so, here's what's not working as well as we'd like. We're walking, but we'd like to run. We're not low-skilled, we're semi-skilled, and it's the highly skilled that earn rates which support the kind of wages we must pay.

So, we now begin the hardest part of our life-so-far.

We've got to keep the work coming in, even if it doesn't pay $35/hour, even if it kills our margins.

We've got to subsidize the margins however we can, because we have to keep the crew together so they continue to build skills and cohesion.

We've got to keep them together and build these skills because we've got irons in the fire, people in affordable housing, in greenstreets, in on-site stormwater management, in environmental groups who want want want to work with us, and we're turning the wheels to get there, and one day one or two or lots of those well-paying gigs are going to pop out and...

...and we need to be ready

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Prince of Turbulence

Well, that was fun. Who knew that greenhouse construction was a complete pain in the ass (well, except most nursery folk and such). But, it's done, we're excited, and you can see it unfold:

Hole Digging - using a 2-man auger, shovels, picks and gloved hands to get 2 feet down into this rocky, missoula flood soil:

Setting and Cementing the Posts
- mixing quick dry cement, then staking the greenhouse support posts:


Setting the Arcs:

Completing the Frame:

Stretching the Poly:

Installing &
Cutting the Corrugated Plastic

Hanging the Sliding Door:


Oh and Hey: Happy Birthday to Us (10.19.2007)!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Tennessee's Not the state I'm In

so, greenhouses ain't so easy to construct

well, at least and for sure, digging 2 foot anchor holes in rocky NE Portland/bretz flood soils really sucks, even when you use a 2 man auger, also known as the back killer, according to reputable industry sources:
but, it was fun and exciting, there's no doubt about that. we worked all day, ate some good food per our usual wednesday routine, and were greatly energized by the late afternoon arrival of our greenhouse, and by some hands-on training provided by their driver/installer. like always, we took a lot of pictures, so we'll let them do the talking...

nice, huh? more to come...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

your hand in mine

[I'd say don't ask, but it doesn't really matter (nothing's gonna change...)]
so, Oregon Valley Greenhouse is going to deliver our courtyard greenhouse tomorrow, Wednesday September 26th, and we'll spend parts of tomorrow and Thursday putting it together. It'll start with a good ol' fashion hole-diggin' (well, 6 hole diggins, actually), followed by equally exciting adventures with quick-dry cement, levels, and such.

and then, on Thursday, the fun really begins. we've to let the cement dry, and then we start sticking pipes into cement, drilling holes in metal, bolting stuff, stretching opaque plastic - the works. we love to take pictures, so we'll post 'em next week.

we're going to put this greenhouse (but smaller) right here:

oh and hey: last week, we had a board meeting. 2 community members, Maria (the mother) and Brenda (the daughter) attended. Long-time residents and leaders in Hacienda CDC's resident community, they're interested in joining our board of directors, which would be a major good thing for Verde and for our outreach and education activities.

other than that, not much to say, lots going on, scientific progress goes bonk (bw's c&h)


Monday, September 17, 2007

jailbird crossing over

happy monday(s)...

You know, if we don't succeed, it won't be for lack of trying - or, well, lack of sorta trying.

Last week, we put in 2 grants and 2 bids, tho, thankfully, ProLandscape and the Latino Network did much lifting on the heaviest bid and heaviest grant, respectively. But, it was an interesting and busy time, 4 real/sure, and it reflects this goofy-ass blend that is Verde and its Verde Native Plant Nursery project.

With ProLandscape, we responded to a Request for Proposals from Hacienda CDC, an RFP to install a new plaza for the Clara Vista Townhomes (a property we already maintain, so we've a pretty good idea of the site's needs and challenges). It's a great site, oriented around a central courtyard, and with numerous environmental attributes, and also with somewhere north of 3o kids beating the crap out of the grass on a regular basis.

It's been planted twice, a change is needed. Hopefully, we'll get this gig, rotate a couple of guys through a 4 person combined Verde-ProLandscape crew, build some new skills in paver installation, irrigation, planter boxes, and drainage. And, do a project in our home community, providing great opportunities for outreach and education because we'll be there all day, every work day, for 2 weeks.

On that note and with Latino Network, we submitted a grant proposal to the City of Portland's Diversity & Civic Leadership Organizing Project, part of a broader Office of Neighborhood Involvement effort - spearheaded in part by Jeri Williams, former Ass Kicker/Exec. Director of the Environmental Justice Action Group - to connect low income and people of color communities to City decision-making. Well, Portland's an environmental/sustainability town, so if you're not participating in the City's environmental decisions, then you're missing out on a pretty fundamental aspect of civic engagement in these parts. So, this opportunity was a natural for us, and we'll see what happens.

In the shell of a nut(case), that's what we'd like to do: earn money from customers so as to put our constituency to work protecting the environment while earning a good living and benefits, then use that income and grant income to take that story - "there are good jobs in the environment, but mostly this low-income Latino community ain't getting any of 'em so what are we going to do about that?" - out to our vecinos...

We also put in a bid for wetland restoration, including annual maintenance, for the Blue Heron Park Home Owners Association (they paid for revegetation about 5 years ago, but haven't done adequate maintenance so the site is about to tip to the invasives, and it looks like this/that/that thing over there to the left:

Lastly, we've applied to the City's Watershed Investment Fund to expand our work at Smith & Bybee Lakes, restoring Columbia Sedge meadows (I know this picture used to be at the top of the blog, but it's so good - you can see the trees across the lake).


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

way down the river (where the blues began)

Well, it's been a while, and we've been busy working and playing (and a-playing and a-working...)

another couple of weeks, and - fortunately - another thing we wanted to do that kinda worked out. last week, we visited OR Valley Greenhouses in Aurora, OR, so we could learn how to assemble the Verde Courtyard Greenhouse (funded by a grant from Metro's Nature in Neighborhoods Grant Program). We hope to grow 500 native plants per year, providing the Crew with their first lessons and experiences running a plant production facility, lessons which will still apply as we move to larger-scale production in the next fiscal year.

Nursery Crew Members had many questions about greenhouse construction, and we took many photos of a constructed Quonset-style greenhouse, so we can use them as a reference for this or that aspect when we construct our own greenhouse in the next few weeks (today, the Crew is preparing the courtyard). Thanks to OVG's Jenny for her time and consideration.

Recently, we also moved a little further in our goal to be the contractor-of-choice for the many Portland-area groups active in wetland restoration, watershed protection, and the like. We did our first project with the Johnson Creek Watershed Council - an invasives removal project at Lovena Farms, an urban farm adjacent to Johnson Creek. Here some before and after photos:

and, please, be kind enough to check out our front page, because we've posted a new photo there, too (can you tell we got a new memory card for the camera?), an installation we did for the city of portland, where we were able to - get this - put 6 people to work...

yep yep