Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Did It All For You

ok ok computer fine fine fine!! we have to change the website, we know this, ok ok fine fine fine!!

(we're having a strategic planning session on Monday, Board and Staff and Advisors, and that'll affect Verde's structure and message and mission so we might as well wait until that's all done before we make any updates)

But, just because we're technological lunkheads doesn't mean we haven't failed to fail (a fruitless diagramming exercise there), and it does mean that we have somehow let down our own predictions of backsliding

Recently, Verde Landscape took a nice step forward, working alongside more established and experienced landscape contractors, securing installation work and the opportunity to train Verde Landscape Crew Members in new skill areas.

Project 1 was an office landscape remodel for NW Housing Alternatives, where 2 Verde Landscape Crew Members worked alongside 2 Crew Members from ProGrass. Verde and ProGrass began working together earlier this year, and this was our first project together, and we look forward to many more opportunities. ProGrass was a formal subcontractor to Verde, and also helped Verde Landscape prepare the bid (and a big thank you to Jason King, LA, for preparing the landscape plan, and to NWHA's Maggie Palumbo, for reaching out to Verde in the 1st place):

Project 2 was a parking lot landscape installation for the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, where Verde Landscape Crew Members worked alongside Crew Members from ProLandscape, a long-time Verde partner. This was our first chance to work together, with Verde as a formal subcontractor to ProLandscape on the job. Thanks to the folks at the District for supporting Verde as we create environmental job and job training opportunities for low-income people.

Well, that's all, see you later, lots of good stuff happening we hope and think, good stuff about to hope we think and happen, going home again soon which of course cannot and must be done, the past is never dead it isn't even past, good-night-misses-calabash-wherever-you-are

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Automobile Noise

Good Morning Beautiful:

Early showers in Portland, the ground softens, the roots let go easier, windshield wipers stretch themselves and groan..., and thoughts turn to a friend whose windshield wipers won't turn off so everyday she prays for rain

So the times for a change, for transition, for going to bed late and getting up early, for leaving things behind and moving forward moving on, for completely remembering but not returning completely to your February self, and Verde moves. We'd like to share with you, whoever you are and if you are, an August experience:

For several days, together with our partners from SOLV's Team Up for Watershed Health and the Portland Rock Gym, Verde Landscape Crew Members put their working-on-steep-slopes training to its 1st use at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

SOLV's Steve Kennett, Portland Rock Gym's Ken Ristau,
and Verde Landscape's Jose Velasco get things started

Getting it just right

Protecting the Rope and the Tree


Verde Landscape's Jesus Nuñez Sr double
checks Jesus Nu
ñez Jr's setup

And, we're happy to say, other than some serious run-ins at the end with very angry, very persistent and numerous representatives from the bee world, everything went smoothly and good work was done. Check out the show:

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Grand Central Lush Life Raggedy Ann

Here's a question: Have you ever let something just haaang out there - like returning somebody's phone call - let it hang out there so long that with every passing it day it just made less and less sense, and became more and more embarrassing, to make that call?

Like, you knew you should, and you probably had some stuff you wanted to say, in a good way, but you felt kind of like a joke?

Well, today, we pick up the phone, we push the buttons, we sweat and gulp our way thru the ringing in our ears, and say we're sorry we're such a joke, but we really did mean to call but we fell in love with an elbow and anyway we think we have something good to say...

When the summer started, we had a fun day, our 3rd time at the Columbia Slough Watershed Council's Explorando el Columbia Slough. It's an annual celebration and outreach event for the area's Latino community, and Verde was out in force with 6 Landscape Crew Members present to share information in Spanish and English with their friends, neighbors, and community.

Jesus Nunez Sr discusses photos of Verde projects

Pedro Moreno talks about native plants

The Adventure of Samuel Martinez

As for you and me and this blog?

Really, we should stay friends, it's-not-you-it's-me, let's keep in touch,
I swear I'll do better in the future, sometimes I just get a little stuck in my own world

Friday, May 23, 2008

Pictures of Matchstick Men

Almost June, Almost June, they say the sun will come out soon(er or later), but we've heard that before and pay what it's due

you know what? we're busy, very busy,
almost too busy, almost too much work for our workers, too many workers for our trucks, too many people living in a secret world...

who cares and why care? ______________________________________________________________________ last saturday, saturday may 19th, was a very good day: mulch was made, blackberry roots were dug, native plants were freed, stinging nettle did its thing, and somebody managed to inhale over 10 cookies-in-a-15-minute-span-while-also-stashing-another-five-in-her-hat.

Verde and Hacienda CDC participated in SOLV's Down by the Riverside event along Beaver Creek, a Verde-SOLV restoration site in Troutdale. But, Expresiones is the main story, 20+ middle school students from Hacienda CDC's affordable housing learning about the environment outside their neighborhood:

about the connection between stormwater at their apartments and the water in Beaver Creek:

and about different ways to protect the environment and make a good living at the same time...

And, how to get their hands dirty:

Expresiones student digging blackberry roots to protect native plantings

hauling mulch

Learning about native and invasive plants

An exciting day, the first of many to come, so thanks to everyone who helped out, esp. SOLV's Steve Kennett for bearing the extra heat that comes with running the grill so the growing kids can get fed
(don't answer that)

Friday, April 18, 2008


Portland is cold, yes, very cold, unseasonably/irredeemably cold, wetter-than-ezra, even the long-time-locals are grumpy.

But, aqui a Verde, our gear is good, our feet are dry, and we're out in it.

Recently, we finished a project for our good friends at Our United Villages, at their project-known-as The Rebuilding Center. Brothers and Sisters with us and others in the so reasonable as to be life-affirming idea (a.k.a. Shouldn't Poor Folk and People of Color Make Some of the Green Money?), their Rebuilding Center was recently remodeled, a remodel which included 4 new stormwater planters to slow and filter on-site stormwater runoff...

They reached out to us for a Corrective Action, fixing up their stormwater facilities after a period of deferred maintenance. This is a very common thing - stormwater facilities are still pretty new, and maintaining them is a new responsibility for many property owners, a responsibility the City of Portland expects them to meet.

2 things are especially cool here:

1. When we spoke with the Rebuilding Center about the City's expectations for stormwater facility maintenance, we found that everything the City was telling the Center, we'd learned about in our Weekly Classroom Training on Operations and Maintenance Plans, provided by Jason King from Greenworks, so we knew what the City wanted to see and what we needed to do. Hell Yes!
Operations & Maintenance Plan Training

2. Check out these very nice before and after photos, which provided good feelings to all concerned (Verde, Our United Villages, the City, Neighbors)

Ooh, look, sunshine...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Is It Like Today

not to go all John McCain on y'all, but these, my friends, are busy and interesting times. Not operatic in grandeur or significance, but certainly an ever-bigger load on the wagon - of course and then, onward thru the fog...

A good thing happened to us recently, something we planned on for a long time, longer than we've been alive-in-the-corporate-sense. Nestor Campos (that's him, with Denis Obrien from the City of Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services), Production & Facility Manager at the Verde Native Plant Nursery, passed Part 5 of the 5-part Landscape Contractor exam.

This is a big deal. To simplify things a bit, you ain't a landscape contractor unless you pass the exams. If you ain't a landscape contractor, you can't install more than a small number of plants. If you can't install more than a small number of plants - well, it's hard to pay good wages/make much money if you're just maintaining. I mean, think about it, what do you pay more for - somebody to install your lawn, or somebody to mow your lawn?

This is not an easy deal. Hell, I'm a lawyer, and a 38-year (give-or-take) speaker of English, and I get confused by the State's Landscape Contractor Laws and its Administrative Rules. Nestor, a Venezuelan newcomer to the English language, is therefore a bad-ass...

ok, dassall, pictures of outreach and education next time (who could wait for that!).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Strange Magic

9 beds in 9 nights, 10 hours of sleep in a 72 hour period, a funeral, a wedding (yes, that's the same chapel), brain surgery, midday fog you could touch, a clueless bellhop, parachuting, plane-ticket-as-impulse-buy, crying and almost crying, a birthday and a porch swing. Did I leave anything out - yes.


You know, I was looking forward to this trip to Houston and NOLA. Now, I can't remember who I was before I left, this is going to take a bit.


Oh, yeah, Verde, sorry. Well, the conference, the Policylink conference, Regional Equity 08, was a very good thing for us. Like mentioned sometime before that will never come back, we were on a panel with our fathers and mothers, and to our very great surprise found we'd a story to tell that almost belonged next to their stories, and fell thru a hole in the universal chair when we realized where the hell we were, humbled by the chance to serve.

We saw good friends, good friends, good friends, good friends, made new good friends, and left thinking that, if we keep doing our work, doing it well, and speaking the truth - well, things will work out the way they are supposed to...

goodbye forever Jim, congratulations forever Ken and Rhianna, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye for however long that has to be.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dead Melodies

My oh (2x) My

Too much coffee, man, and I suppose that means that we're learning how to be happy. Somebody has to do it, so it might as well be us. It's not like g-d's decided to share the rules, anyway..

This is a good time to be Verde, so we enjoy it as long as it lasts. Last week, we took another very important, very small step toward the vague something we daily pursue, we put plants in the greenhouse! Take a look, ain't they purty (clearly, I've more learning to do on this whole camera exposure thing):

Something else is happening, something we've kind of hoped for but weren't sure about, but the first reviews are in and so far so good.

So, in communities like ours, low income communities, where a lot of people don't speak english and really aren't familiar with the notion that others folks give a crap about their ideas and needs and hopes anyway, changes can come to the neighborhood without anybody knowing about them or having a chance to say what they think.

This neighborhood has almost no parks, local folks load up the kids into a van and take them a couple neighborhoods away to play soccer, to run around, to have a picnic. There's a big site right here in the neighborhood, a 25 acre capped landfill formerly known as Killingsworth Fast Disposal (see pg 14). Now, a master planning process is underway for the Thomas Cully Park, a new park to be located over the landfill. It's a pretty standard process, with periodic workshops/open houses at a local church where folks talk about what they want from a new park.

Well, despite the fact that there's a largely Latino affordable housing community with 321 units, many with large families, only a few of these residents attended the open houses - tho, oddly enough, they did manage to get photographed and placed on the project's website

(hey! that's not right! making fun of the consultants for putting the 4 brown people who attended the session on the website! - I'm just saying...)

Well, we tried something different. We laminated the 11x17 final concepts (Concept E and Concept F), and made many photocopies of the questionnaire. The next morning, Nursery Crew Members reviewed the maps and questionnaire, then incorporated outreach into their time spent maintaining Hacienda CDC's affordable housing properties. In one week of sharing this information, we collected, translated into english, and forwarded to the the consultant team 25 questionnaires, connecting community folk to a process which is going to have a great impact on their daily lives and which, to date, had failed to secure their participation.

We're going to try this some more, with later phases of the Thomas Cully Park Master Plan process, as well as with a new project coming into the neighborhood, the Cully Green Street planning process

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

staying alive

well, wherever we go, here we are...

Most of the year stretches out before us, and so we might permit ourselves a brief - if delayed - view of anticipation, the things we'd like to achieve in 2008 for ourselves, nuestra comunidad, and our organization-called-Verde.
This year we're going to grow our own plants, and we're going to install them in our own projects:

This year we're going to participate in new affordable housing construction projects, multiplying the effect of these dollars - not only will they create places for people to live, but they'll create jobs for the people who live there

We're going to take the mountain to Muhammed. Where local environmental decisions could affect out community, could help solve community problems, we're going to take the process to them so their voices can be heard, so the decision can reflect their needs.

And, we're hitting the road, along with our brothers and sisters (mostly sisters) from the Latino Network, to
Policylink's 3rd ever National Summit on Equitable Development, Social Justice, and Smart Growth (whew.). Verde will be presenting as part of the Workshop Series 5: Strategic Alliances, Building Public Will, and Community Organizing (Friday, March 7, 12:30 to 2:15 pm). No, we won't be on the panel discussing The Green Economy and Jobs. Instead, we'll be on a panel named "Environmental Justice Partnerships," which f'n rocks. Why, because we'll be sitting next to such EJ Ass Kickers (of the Fantastic, ahem) as:

Robert D. Bullard, Director, Environmental Justice Resource Center, Clark Atlanta University

Beverly Wright, Founder and Director, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Dillard University

Donele Wilkins, Co-founder and Executive Director, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice

You know, I read Dr Bullard's stuff when I was in law school, I use his definition of Environmental Racism in the class I teach now, and I've read time and again of the Deep South Center's and the Detroiters' work, so I'm like my daughter in a candy store.

ok, see you when there's more time to kill...