Portland, OR, September 10, 2017 – Between 9am and 3pm on October 7, 2017, the bleak pavement and gravel parking lots aroundM&M Marketplace (Multicultural Marketplace) at 346 SW Walnut Street in Hillsboro will be transformed with trees, garden spaces with native plants, a rain garden, several murals, a café pergola, and a permeable patio, thanks to the combined efforts of volunteers from nonprofit Depave and the community, funding from Metro and Clean Water Services, and support from R&H Construction, Superior Hardscape Specialists, and Dinsdale Nursery.
“The new community green space will not only improve water quality, but it will make M&M a more inviting place for the community, hopefully attracting new customers, vendors and community members and show people the value of bringing nature into the urban environment”, said Eric Rosewall, Executive Director of Depave.
Volunteers of all ages are still needed to help with removing pavement, digging, planting, placing rocks and other greening tasks. Tools, training and safety gear will be provided, as well as snacks and lunch. Long pants are recommended and closed-toe shoes arerequired. For more information on volunteering, log on tohttp://depave.org/event/mandm . The project is part of Hillsboro’sHillsDoer Day.
Spearheading the project is Depave, a volunteer-driven Portland nonprofit dedicated to engaging and connecting diverse groups to replace paved surfaces with living green spaces that build community and reconnect landscape with nature. The organization has completed nearly 60 projects in Multnomah and Clackamas counties, but M&M is the organization’s first project in Washington County.
A vision of community and entrepreneurial opportunity for immigrants
The M&M Marketplace is the brainchild of Jaime Miranda, the son of Mexican immigrant farm workers. The idea was to create an authentic “tianguis” or Mexican swap meet, where vendors could sell inexpensive items and food, and where the Latino community could gather on weekends. It started in 2000.
The number of M&M vendors has grown from 10 to 80, now drawing more than 2,000 customers every weekend throughout the year. Besides food, M&M vendors sell everything from music, clothing, tires and household goods to services such as an automotive repair and computer repair. Miranda added Hillsboro Futsal next to M&M in 2008 to provide sports and recreational activities.
Where people from all nationalities can come together
From the start, creating entrepreneurial opportunities for immigrants of all nationalities has been as important a goal for Miranda as fostering community and community pride:
“We initially wanted to provide a way for people to integrate into the American lifestyle and also enjoy and share their own cultural traditions,” said Miranda. “We also knew that many individuals wanted to start a business of their own. Because of the political climate today, it seems more important than ever to have a place where people of all nationalities can come together, have a chance to build a business and have a good time.”
Miranda is hoping to attract non-Latino vendors and customers. In partnership with the Hillsboro Economic Development Partnership, the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce and Mercy Corps, Miranda provides information and advice on business development for M&M entrepreneurs.
Metro’s Nature in Neighborhoods grant
The M&M Depave project received a $30,000 Nature in Neighborhoods grant from Metro. To qualify, competing projects must support community partnerships, protect fish and wildlife habitat, improve water quality, and connect people to nature close to home. According to Heather Nelson Kent, program manager, winning projects have to involve the community, foster diverse partnerships and be innovative.
“Depave has a proven model of community engagement and this project brings it to Washington County for the first time. The results will deliver meaningful social and economic benefits. It’s truly amazing what the community can do with a little support”, said Kent. The grant was possible thanks to voter support for the Metro parks and natural areas 2013 levy.
The Clean Water Services Clean Water Hero program
Clean Water Services is providing support through its Clean Water Hero program, which offers technical assistance and construction experties for rain gardens. For this project, Clean Water Services is contributing permitting assistance, construction and plant materials, and staff time to excavate areas to be planted after pavement removal and prepare the landscape beds. Clean Water Services is a water resources management utility aimed at protecting public health and enhancing the environment in the Tualatin River Watershed.
“This is Depave’s first foray into Washington County, and hopefully it will inspire other local businesses, schools, churches, and community groups to work with Depave,” said Laurie Bunce, project coordinator. “Depave’s expertise is in engaging and organizing communities and a wide range of partners in these complex projects. We are proud to support Depave in this project to improve public health and streams by replacing pavement with permeable, green space.”
For more information on how you can get involved with Depave on the October 7, 2017 M&M Marketplace greening event see depave.org/event/mandm or to contribute otherwise to the project, email email@example.com.