By Matt Walsh, PSU Capstone Student
The title of this course is Neighborhood Watersheds, and on my way to the first day of this class I had Googled watersheds in my smart phone to try and get an idea of what I would be spending my summer doing. When I finally figured out what exactly a watershed was, I thought to myself, "Oh, this will be great! I'll get to spend my summer outside, working in a river somewhere." While there was a little of that, one day to be exact, I ended up spending most of my time indoors working on a computer for this class. I am not complaining, it was not a great summer for us Portlanders anyways, but it was completely different from what I had pictured.
In my mind I saw a group of student sweating it out in a river, maintaining and trying our best to bring a river or creek into a healthier state. The idea of bringing a river into a better state of health was there throughout the entire class but what was more important, and what I really took away from this class, was that there was another benefit to be found in doing this work - Community building. Our focus was not only to benefit the river in many ways, but to also benefit it's surrounding community. I was pretty surprised when I first realized this mutually beneficial relationship between creek and community. That idea was never even on my radar, but it became our main focus in this class. Our goal was to get the surrounding community involved in their environment, which will help bring better health to the river and at the same time give the community a purpose/identity/common goal that will keep there community thriving. Although it will always be a work in progress, I really hope that the work I contributed will bring good health to Crystal Springs and it's surrounding people. Thanks CSCC for all your work has taught me.
Here comes the rain!
By: Ian Ritz, PSU Capstone Student
As a member of PSU’s Summer 2011 Neighborhoods and Watersheds Class, I found myself last Sunday at Sellwood Park, assisting with the booth of the Crystal Springs Community Collaborative. I manned the watershed model and tried my best to explain to young and old alike the workings of creeks, rivers, and rain, and the dangers of pollutants (or, as in my model, food coloring) carelessly disposed of in our backyards and around the city. Again and again the colorful toxins poured out of the overturned toy gas truck and the driveways of careless citizens inhabiting Watershedland and swamped the poor crawfish, turtle, and otter hanging out in the nearby ocean. They mixed in the sea to form nasty, black ooze that elicited shudders from even the most stalwart of my visitors. In repeatedly poisoning our dear marine friends, I was able to reflect on how important community is to restoration and protection of natural places.
Like Watershedland, our community plays a role in protecting our watershed. If a resident of Watershedland dumps yellow food coloring in his driveway, when the rain clouds (or giant spray bottle in the sky) come and dump their water, the toxic waste is whisked down into the creek. The situation is the same in the Sellwood area (minus the giant spray bottle), albeit a little less dramatic and visible. This is why community involvement and education are so important. Everyone in the community must get on board to protect and preserve their watershed, and everyone must also know that their actions, even miles from any visible creek, river, or lake, can have drastic consequences on the marine life (both plastic and biological) downstream. And not just marine life, but people too are adversely affected by toxins and pollution in our water.
Because community is so important, it was a great experience to be at Sundae in the Park. People stopped by, curious about our mission (or the toy cars in Watershedland) left with new knowledge about protecting the natural resources in our area. It was an awesome chance to educate, and a fun time was had by all (except for maybe by the plastic crawfish, turtle, and otter).
By Emma Dancer, PSU Capstone Student
Last month, before I had the time to realize what I was getting myself into, I volunteered to guide a troop of Girl Scouts through the Reed Canyon portion of Crystal Springs Creek. The original idea was to put together a short informational video about the springs with a little help from the girls. I should have known that it is nearly impossible to get video equipment, the weather, and a group of little girls to cooperate at the same time. While the sun came out and the girls were very well-behaved, two of my video cameras failed to function, leaving me with only my digital camera. While a little disappointed, I took the opportunity to put the cameras away and have a meaningful discussion with the girls about Crystal Springs. We trekked around the Canyon for about an hour, seeing many Mallards, a Great Blue Heron, and even multiple patches of wild strawberries. We all ended up having a great time, and the Girl Scouts showed a genuine interest in the area. At the conclusion of the tour, I had almost every Girl Scout parent approach me to ask where they could learn more about Crystal Springs.
I think this is a perfect example of why this website was created. While the PSU Capstone participants and the Crystal Springs Community Collaborative members would love to spread their knowledge about Crystal Springs one person at a time, this site will make it easier to get the word out to a greater number of people. So, help us out and tell everyone you know to take a look at our site!
Crystal Springs Partnership members, PSU Capstone students, and Special Guest writers all contribute to this blog.