Neighbors in the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood have been trying to save a little piece of wooded property adjacent to the Wilhelm Memorial near SE Bybee and 14th. For many decades this property, formerly Portland Memorial, was a cornerstone of the neighborhood. Perched on the bluff above Oaks Bottom, the property has a parklike feel that includes what neighbors call the Moreland Woods. People walk their dogs there. A few years ago the mortuary helped support the creation of an enormous mural that stretches across much of the west and south faces of the building, celebrating the flora and fauna of Oaks Bottom. On hot summer days the trees shade the vendors at the Moreland Farmers Market held in one of the parking lots across the street from the Memorial. But in 2016 all these neighborly gestures evaporated when Wilhelm was sold to a Florida Company, Foundation Partners Group, who immediately proceeded to sell off parts of the property. When residents discovered that the woods was up for sale they fantasized about buying the property; they also approached a Portland Parks, Metro, Portland Public Schools, etc.) to see if they were interested in getting in on (or perhaps spearheading) some kind of deal. But after lots of meetings, but nothing came of it.
Now the trees are on the chopping block while the neighborhood continues to search for a way to save their little woods. On this episode of Locus Focus, we talk with a couple of the leaders of this movement to save Moreland Woods: Nanci Champlin, the fundraising chair for Friends of Moreland Woods, and Colin Berry, the group's Communication Chair.
Nanci Champlin has dedicated her nonprofit career to championing civic and environmental causes for more than 25 years. As a serial volunteer, she has led neighborhood efforts to create pollinator habitat on public lands. Nanci serves as the fundraising chair for Friends of Moreland Woods.
Colin Berry is an author, activist, and nonprofit marketing consultant. Born into a family of neighborhood defenders, he lives just 60 feet from Moreland Woods, where he sees eagles, sapsuckers, treecreepers, and other Oregon wildlife. Colin is the group’s Communications Chair.