Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Down the River Clean-Up; Recreational Restoration at it's best.

With 350 eager volunteers, the 7th annual Clean-up on the lower Clackamas River last Sunday was a huge success.  Not just because the river is now cleaner than it was last weekend, but because this year marks the hopeful beginning of something more...Something bigger.

The people came out in force!  Bright orange buckets tightly clenched by glove covered hands were filled with shards of broken glass.  Big hunks of metal, plastic, and rubber were piled high on rafts, drift boats, and canoes.    

As in years past, people gathered together along the banks of the Clackamas River last weekend with the common goal of cleaning up the garbage left behind by the masses.  A near constant barrage of overheated Portlanders flood the Clackamas River Basin each summer in search of relief from the sweltering heat.  When the hoards of overly intoxicated inflatable k-mart coffin riding tubers go home, not all of of the beer cans, used prophylactics, and busted pool toys make it home with them.      

The presence of abnormally oppressive summer heat this year meant our work was cut out for us, but what makes this year's clean-up stand out is not the magnitude of the task before us, but the birth of a new non-profit called  With the creation of this new entity comes the possibility of expanding the effort to new rivers and even new watersheds here in Oregon and beyond!  

People rose before the sun.  They ventured out beyond the comforts of their respective lives to slog shoulder to shoulder through the muck and mire...not only did they show up in mass and put forth amazing effort to clean the river, but they had a great time doing it!  That's just what is all about..."Turning Restoration into Recreation"

Kristin Dahl, one of the three original eNRG kayak instructors who got things going with a simple river trip including 60 volunteers and a bunch of trash bags back in 2003, was announced as President of the new organization. Sam Drevo, another original kayaker, serves as the vice president, with further support from board member Kate Ross, Community Outreach Director for Willamette River Keeper and Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe, and Jacqui Bishop, who provides legal counsel.

We Love Clean Rivers hopes to expand the scope of the effort and bring a river clean-up to your watershed...SOON!  Look forward to the Willamette River Clean up happening this October 3rd.  Visit Willamette River Keeper to find out more!

In addition to the new non-profit, The Ripple Effect has spread since last year.  They are the group of artists that take some of the garbage found in the river and turn it into works of art.  They then have an exhibition where they sell the art to benefit the cause.  There are 17 artists this year!!

The Ripple Effect mission is to "Inspire sustainable lifestyle changes through individual, innovative artistic efforts. The RIPPLE Effect is a movement supporting individuals who embark upon sustainable artistic endeavors. They believe that art is inspirational alone, and through artistic exhibitions they hope create an annual event that will resonate through the community for years to come."

  Be sure to check out the show October 24th at Roof Top Studios at NW 14th and Burnside from 4pm -9pm and be ready to buy some clackamas river clean-up art!!  
"We put together a team of diverse artists to work with recovered river debris with the hopes of inspiring a community to make sustainable lifestyle choices. You don’t have to be an artist to inspire change. It is through the reformation of the thought process, getting people to think outside of the blue recycling bin, and becoming an active recycler." 

If you missed this year's event, make sure to get it on your calendar for next year!  Better yet, visit to find out how you can help make next year's even even better!!                                                                                                                   
Check out some of the photos from this year below.  I am working on setting up a photo sharing account, but for now I have selected a bunch of my personal favorites from the day.

Brent Dahl (event organizer) already hard at work.  - 6 am  Yes, it's dark...completely dark.

Kate and Patti help Brent prepare H.Q. as the sunrise emerges through the trees. 
Grand Central Bakery donated breakfast and Jacqui made the delivery.  The bag was big enough that it made anyone who carried it look like a bagel Santa. 
Sue digs into the huge Santa sack O' bagles and starts slicin and dicing

 Each pod got a standard issue bucket full of supplies for the day.

We had an awesome T-shirt design this year by Jenn Huckinns being shown off by Kristin Dahn. (left)  Brent Dahl (right)

Safety first!!  I was the Safety Coordinator for the event this year.  This is me giving the safety chat to the pod leaders the morning of the event.   
Bob and Kristin work to make sense of all the changes due to no shows.  It's always crazy trying to sort everyone out.
The main event site was at Barton Park this year 
Lianne, Corey, and Kate enjoying some laughs
Brent addresses the huge crowd of volunteers.   All the first timers are raising their hands in this shot.   

350 volunteers showed up this year!! 
  Kristin tells it like it is.  She is being interviewed by Randy with Channel 8

 If you look hard enough you are rewarded with river booty.  This one was un-opened and found at the put-in!  He was just opening it to pour it out of course. 
Pod 3 representin'
Each pod consists of several kayakers, rafts for passengers and garbage boats.  

Picking up trash is fun for everyone...

...even river dogs!

While everyone was off cleaning the river the event staff at HQ found a few moments of peace before the crowds returned 
 Some found more peace than others. 

After people came trickling in, the band got things started at the Bar-B-Que

 The silent auction was a great success thanks to all of Rod's hard work.  There were some great deals out there on some sweet gear!
Such good deals infact, that Rod needed to physically remove some of the more enthusiastic bidders 
Next Adventure was supporting the event with the traditional post clean-up Bar-B-Que.
Sam getting his fill 

 Some of the younger participants this year...super cute!!

  At the end of each section garbage sorters and artists sift through the dumpsters sorting out what is trash and what is potential beginnings of a master piece. 

Whoa!  Check out the sweet Michael Jackson move over the trash pile!  
 At the end of the day we packed everything up and left the park as we found it...only cleaner.  Just like last year, only ONE can of garbage was generated by the 350 volunteers who attended this year's event.  By making efforts to compost and recycle almost everything, event organizers have managed to reduce the impact of the event dramatically.  
The clean-up is sure to grow and expand to a river near you.  Go to to find out how you can get involved!   
See ya next year!!

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