If you’ve ever walked or driven through the intersection of SE 72nd & Woodstock Boulevard, you probably noticed an unusual street pattern. A wide, sweeping curved road creates a triangular island of land. On that space are trees and plants as well as a decorative wall with a canopy.
If you’re like me, you probably passed this spot and wondered, “Who is in charge of this space?”
The answer is: you are. And now is the time to help make it even better.
The reason all neighborhood residents are stewards of this site goes back decades, to the time the Mt. Scott streetcar line still used that sweeping curve in the road. Streetcars can’t make 90-degree turns, so an island was constructed for the streetcar. When streetcars disappeared from Portland in favor of gas-powered buses and a more auto-centric city, the City of Portland acquired responsibility over that island. A neighborhood plan from 1996 assigned maintenance of the Triangle to the Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood Association. Most of us living in the neighborhood didn’t even know we had any stake in what happened on that island.
Until spring 2005, it sat, unused by anything much beyond but abandoned shopping carts. In 2005, a group of neighbors who met at a neighborhood association meeting decided to transform it into something new.
A group of neighbors had asked the City of Portland to paint a crosswalk across that curved street, but were told that a crosswalk would imply that walking across that street was safe. Which according to the City, it wasn’t.
Rather than be discouraged, some in the group thought that making that site more pedestrian-friendly would bring car traffic speeds down. If people driving cars expect a pedestrian-scale environment where people walking or biking will be present, they will usually go slower.
It’s now more than 10 years later and this place, the Arleta Triangle, still needs our help. A small group of volunteers is still working to make it a signature feature of our neighborhood. This spring and summer, several tasks are planned for the site, including maintenance of the decorative wall, building an information kiosk, planting food and other landscaping plants, and basic upkeep.
You are invited to join in. We’re working with a landscape planner this year to make the landscape more resilient and beautiful. Work parties on the site are also planned for every last Saturday of the month starting in April, through at least September. Help plant, maintain, or give guidance to the future of this site!
Like the Arleta Triangle on Facebook for notifications about volunteer days and planning meetings!