THE Cultural ECOLOGY Project
This project began as a collaboration with Friends of Tryon Creek (FOTC) in 2020, a regional leader in efforts to decolonize environmental education and reclaiming natural areas for Black, Indigenous, and Peoples of Color (BIPOC) communities. After Clackamas county transferred ownership of 80 acres of land to PCCFS’ private ownership, it opened up many exciting opportunities for the land. Together with FOTC, we decided to focus on restoring the land to be an ecologically and culturally functioning site as a trauma-healing opportunity for the youth, the community and the land.
These 80 acres in rural Oregon City feature mixed coniferous forest, an upper grassland prairie, Parrott Creek and one of its unnamed tributaries, as well as a large wetlands area. Parrott Creek is itself a tributary to Beaver Creek which in turn is a tributary to the Willamette River, flowing in just above Willamette Falls. Historically, these subwatersheds have been known to have populations of juvenile cutthroat, steelhead, coho, lamprey and other anadromous species. Besides providing a home for fish, our project area is also used by amphibians, beavers, coyotes, birds of prey, water fowl, deer, elk and small mammals.
We recognize that this area is the ancestral homelands of several bands of the Chinook, Kalapuya and Northern Molalla peoples, and we want to honor this legacy through a place-based approach to the healing work we, and our partners, do with highly traumatized children and families. After millenia of careful land management, gathering, and harvesting, there exists today very limited access to natural areas for cultural use. This project will provide such a space, as well as public access for outdoor therapy, environmental education and community engagement centering a culture of environmental stewardship.
This project aligns with our overall organizational goal of providing culturally responsive services by ensuring that this work be guided and led by the people and communities who are the experts. Together, we wish to restore the ecosystems at this site to accommodate whole families for gathering, learning, and healing. This plan will be built with the goal of establishing an intact natural area for community use by our social service collective and the BIPOC communities, with a particular focus on the Indigenous community of the Portland Metro area.