Making community connections on the Willamette River

by appell 9/29/2015 1:50 PM

On September 23rd, community members had a firsthand experience of Portland’s working waterfront through a boat tour from downtown Portland to the tip of Sauvie Island, stopping at Swan Island Lagoon and Willamette Cove. Stakeholders from Portland’s houseless community and representatives from Right 2 Dream Too, Portland Harbor Community Coalition, Lower Willamette Group, Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group, the Environmental Protection Agency, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Health Authority, the Port of Portland, and many others came together to share perspectives about the lower Willamette River.

The lower Willamette River cleanup links the hopes and dreams of many people. Legacy contamination from past industrial practices prompted the listing of a stretch of the river as a federal Superfund site. A 15-year study process has left many people with questions about the project and concerns about environmental health.

The tour introduced community members to Superfund cleanup issues and future engagement processes. While the trip offered spectacular views, it was also a journey to new relationships and understanding between Superfund regulators, project managers and members of Portland’s houseless community and support organizations. While the boat meandered downstream, so did the conversations – as people exchanged ideas and information on an incredibly complex project.

Pausing at Willamette Cove, Port of Portland and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality staff shared information about the upcoming voluntary cleanup at the site to make it safer for people and wildlife. Owned by Metro, the area is just downstream from the railroad bridge on the east side of the river in North Portland.  Historically, it hosted cooperage and ship repair facilities. Port of Portland briefly owned some of the area, and is pro-actively engaging in site cleanup with Metro.

Currently, the soil contains elevated concentrations of dioxins and heavy metals.  The Port will be excavating and removing contaminated soil along the upland area above the shoreline in October and November 2015. The property is not open to the public, although use of the property for recreational purposes is known to occur.  Metro has placed signs and fences to let people know about safety issues. After the cleanup are complete, Metro plans to preserve Willamette Cove as an urban natural area.

The Willamette Cove project is just one of many cleanups that will occur as the lower Willamette River Superfund project progresses.  DEQ, working with lower Willamette River property owners, has identified numerous areas along banks and adjacent lands that should be remediated to prevent recontamination of the river bottom. The cleanup process is a journey that will navigate the waters of many perspectives that must come together to produce a vison for a healthier river that supports people, jobs and the environment.

Barbara Smith, from the Lower Willamette Group, shared “It was a great tour to introduce community members to the Superfund project. It brought people together who aren’t normally involved in the formal process, and it was wonderful to hear new perspectives on the river and exchange ideas.” You can learn more about the conversations at the Portland Harbor Community Boat Tour by listening to the radio show on KBOO. Additional project background is available by listening to the One River – Many Voices podcast series.

Port invests in students

by bielem 6/9/2015 10:43 AM


The Port is known for investing time, energy and resources in marine terminals, runways and industrial parks. But it doesn’t stop with new infrastructure —the Port also invests in students.

Started in 1995, the Port’s internship program provides students from area colleges the chance to put their classroom learning into action. Developing human capital — through internships and other learning initiatives, such as the Mentor-Protégé program —  is one important way the Port fulfills its mission of regional economic development.

Many interns go on to become full-time Port employees. Former interns work in the Port’s research, real estate and GIS departments, among many others. The wildlife management department boasts the highest concentration of former interns; five wildlife team members began their careers as interns through the Port’s partnership with Mount Hood Community College.

Port interns have gone on to impressive accomplishments in both the public and private sectors. One prominent example is Michael Kaplan, the current director of the Oregon Department of Energy, who interned in the Port’s public affairs department from 2006 to 2007.

There are currently nine interns at the Port. One of them is Kalena Bone, an advertising and marketing major at PSU who has interned at the Port for just over a year. Kalena works in concessions development and helps establish relationships with the retail businesses that give PDX its unique local feel. Besides the hands-on experience, she’s appreciated the chance to make “some really good friends in the office,” as well as all the “cool, supportive people at the Port.”

Another is Tera Hinckley, a PSU Masters in Geography student who interns with the Port GIS department. Tera has had the chance to be involved in several interesting and resume-building projects at the Port, including working with the storm water system data and helping to develop a temporal web map service to display PDXNext projects that will be occurring in the airport terminal. During her internship, Tera says that her “problem solving, time management and cartography skills have improved greatly.”

Student Opportunities Go Beyond Internship Program

The Port’s commitment to students extends beyond the traditional internship program. Since 2003, the Port has employed student consultants from Portland State University’s Community Environmental Services program (CES). CES consultants help the Port manage its waste stream and have helped implement successful initiatives such as the PDX food donation program and the PDX Liquid Collection Stations.

Current CES consultant and PSU MBA student Doug Beyers had this to say:

“Not only do I get help paying for school, I also get to help solve important environmental problems and help the Port of Portland be a leader in its sustainability efforts. I'm working on a very interesting set of problems, and it's giving me the chance to apply the skills I'm learning in the classroom to meaningful, real-world challenges.”

Real Work, Meaningful Experiences

Human Resources Specialist Brenda Patrick helps manage the internship program. She’s proud of the opportunities students have for personal and professional development; “There’s a lot of institutional knowledge in the port, and if you’re willing and have a hunger and desire to learn, you can have a really great experience,” Patrick said. “We pride ourselves on giving meaningful assignments, not just having interns help with catering or getting coffee.”

Patrick believes the learning opportunities go both ways: “there’s a lot to be gained from working with young students — people who have new ideas, especially around sustainability. It keeps the managers fresh and up-to-date with what’s happening in the industry.”

The Port spends both time and money to offer a meaningful internship program. It’s an investment that will continue to pay dividends — for local students, for the organization and for Portland.

About the Program

The Port’s internship program draws undergraduate and graduate students from many of the region’s major schools, including Portland State, Lewis & Clark, Willamette University, Portland Community College, Mount Hood Community College, Seattle University, the University of Oregon, the University of Portland and Marylhurst University.

There are opportunities for students from a wide variety of majors. Port departments that regularly employ interns include engineering, environmental management, GIS, public affairs, IT, digital communications, planning, properties and legal.

Learn more about the Port’s community outreach.

Port launches Jobs @ PDX

by bielem 6/3/2015 3:41 PM



Have a friend or family member interested in joining the PDX team? We’ve just launched Jobs @ PDX, a one-stop website for finding jobs at the airport, from barista to baggage handler and everything in-between.


The new Jobs @ PDX site makes it easy to identify opportunities for both prospective employees and current airport workers looking to advance. The project was identified as a high priority need through PDX Workplace Initiative conversations.


The PDX Workplace initiative — a collaboration between the Port, PDX employees, PDX employers and labor organizations— is exploring new and innovative ways to invest in workers and further enhance the PDX employee experience. General principles were agreed on at the April 8th Port Commission meeting and cover three main categories: worker retention, employer-employee relations and a worker benefit group. Specific details will be determined in the coming months through dialogue between members of the previously mentioned stakeholder groups.


Jobs @ PDX is an early product of these discussions. The goal is to make job searching and recruitment at PDX easier, and to give current employees a better way to learn about new career opportunities.


Simple to use, Jobs @ PDX lets applicants filter postings by company, job title or employer type. The site is accessible on all mobile devices, and users are encouraged to share jobs with friends via email, text, Facebook or Twitter. Employers can prepopulate the site with job postings and make them live when ready; job descriptions can be posted as a PDF or linked to the company’s website.

Interested in exploring a different career path or sharing an opportunity with a colleague? Visit Jobs @ PDX

Want to learn more about the PDX Workplace Initiative? Click here




Friends of Trees Honors Port as Community Partner of the Year

by linsta 6/1/2012 11:30 AM

Friends of Trees, a local non-profit organization which plants and cares for city trees and green spaces celebrated another record-breaking planting season at its annual Leadership Award Luncheon in May, naming Port of Portland its Community Partner Award winner of the year. Leadership awards were also presented to NW Natural and the Audubon Society – Portland Chapter.

Bill Wyatt, executive director of the Port, accepted the Community Partner Award, honoring the Port for contributing tens of thousands of dollars to community tree plantings during the past decade. Wyatt noted the Port values its partnership with Friends of Trees so it can give back to the community. “I think we’re going to have a long and prosperous relationship,” he said.

Since 1989, Friends of Trees has planted more than 450,000 trees and native plants in the Portland-Vancouver and Eugene-Springfield metro areas. With the help of more than 3,500 volunteers and hundreds of donors, Friends of Trees has planted more than 43,000 trees and native plants during the 2011-12 planting season, including more than 5,300 street and yard trees, a 15 percent increase from last year, and nearly 38,000 trees and native plants in green spaces, a 36 percent increase from last year.

Related links:

Friends of Trees

Friends of Trees Honors 2012 Award Luncheon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 2012 Friends of Trees leadership award winners and emcee, from left: Von Summers (NW Natural), Scott Fogarty (Friends of Trees), Bill Wyatt (Port of Portland), Bob Sallinger (Audubon Society of Portland), and Tracy Barry (KGW)

Photo taken by Lucia DeLisa

St. Johns Truck Traffic Meeting and New Soccer Field at James John Elementary

by wrayr 11/23/2011 4:47 PM

The Oregonian covers a recent Portland Bureau of Transportation open house on truck traffic through St. Johns, primarily on North Fessenden/St. Louis. The trucks are disruptive to neighbors, who are advocating for pedestrian improvements and for trucks to use North Lombard and Burgard roads, which have had numerous improvements over the past few years.


PBOT will host another public event later this year. Residents can also attend the next Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting, scheduled for Thursday, December 15, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., at BES Pollution Control Lab, 6543 N. Burlington Ave.


In other St. Johns news, congratulations to James John Elementary on its new playground, which was made possible by funding and assistance from Adidas, the Portland Timbers, and many others.


Port staff members visit James John Elementary in St. Johns regularly. Brooke Berglund, marine outreach manager for the Port, takes the “Where in the World” educational program to all third, fourth, and fifth grade classrooms, where she engages kids in fun activities about trade, transportation, and the Port’s environmental programs.


After all that learning, students need some exercise, and the playground includes play equipment and a new soccer field, which was quickly put to test by kids and Portland Timbers players alike at the November 15th ribbon cutting ceremony.