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Estacada floats into Portland

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: GLORIA POLZIN - The city of Estacada entered a mini float in the Grand Floral Parade on Saturday, June 11. In a tribute to all of the areas recreational opportunities, the float features many elements found outdoors.

Estacada may be known as a small town, but its goals were expansive when entering a mini float in the Grand Floral Parade during the Portland Rose Festival.

This year’s Ford Leadership Cohort wanted to share all that Estacada has to offer with the greater Portland community and beyond, so the group set out to create an entry for the Parade’s “La Petite” section, which features mini floats.

Every other year, the cohort works on a project that represents the culmination of its leadership training.

“The goal of the program is to learn new skills, and then put those skills into practice with the project,” said Gary Stewart, who teaches the leadership class.

Cohort member Andrew Voss thought the project was timely because of the city’s recent rebranding efforts.

“It’s a great way to utilize the rebranding and correct any incorrect assumptions that people have about Estacada,” he said.

Gloria Polzin, another member of the cohort, was eager to present the float to all who watched the parade.

“(The float) represents such a positive vision for Estacada,” she said. “I’m so excited that we accomplished what we wanted to.”

Small communities on the big stage

In 2011, the Ford Leadership program came to Estacada. To facilitate the program, the Roseburg-based Ford Family Foundation contracted with Rural Development Initiatives in Eugene to bring the leadership development classes to rural communities in Oregon and Siskiyou County, Calif.CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: LISA BROOKSHIER - The front of Estacadas float for the Grand Floral Parade features a campfire, tent, mushrooms and flowers. Ford Leadership Cohort member Andrew Voss sat in the tent as he drove the float through the parades 4.2 mile route in Portland.

“We focus on having complex and meaningful conversations in the community, and searching for solutions,” Stewart said.

Topics of discussion in the rural development classes included volunteerism, communication strategies and group decision-making.

This year’s cohort raised $5,000 for its project, and the Ford Family Foundation provided a grant of a matching amount.

Stewart praised this year’s project for its collaborative nature.

“They came together beyond their group and created a community-wide opportunity,” he said. “Through collaboration with folks in the community, the project tells a positive story about Estacada.”

In order to create the float, the team reached out to other groups in Estacada, including the city’s art community. After putting out a request for design proposals, they chose one from local artists Kerrie Hubbard and Brenda Scott.

The design celebrates the city’s proximity to nature and features a waterfall, campfire, tent, mushrooms and fish. The city of Estacada’s new logo is also displayed.

The float began as a golf cart and over the course of the cohort’s work was transformed into one-of-a-kind representation of the city. Festival rules dictate that the majority of the float must be covered in organic material, so the float was decorated with everything from flowers to dyed coconut.

The waterfall was decorated with blue delphiniums, and the campfire was decorated with roses. In order to keep many of the supplies local, the flowers came from the Bloom Cafe, 355 Broadway St.

One of Scott’s favorite aspects of the float is the tent, which was created with burlap and coconut that was crushed and dyed orange.

Voss sat inside of the tent as he drove the float on the 4.2 mile route, which started at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum and ended in downtown Portland.

Rich Jarvis, public relations manager for the Portland Rose Festival, praised the design of Estacada’s float.

“It’s really cool looking,” he said. “I like that it displays the richness of Oregon so well.”

Festival officials started “La Petite” section of the Grand Floral Parade last year in order to allow smaller communities to participate in the event.

“Mini floats are an easy way to bring other communities into the festival,” Jarvis said. “We want to make it a tradition for communities outside of Portland to showcase who they are.”

Jarvis believes the opportunity is valuable for people from across the county to learn about Oregon’s communities.

“The Rose Festival attracts tour groups from all over the country, and visitors want to know what else is going on in Oregon,” he said. (“La Petite Parade”) is a great way to showcase how great all of the communities in Oregon are.”

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: LISA BROOKSHIER - Community members who collaborated to create Estacada's float for the Grand Floral Parade on Saturday, June 11, stand proudly next to their completed project.

Although Estacada’s float didn’t win any of the parade’s awards, spirits of cohort members remained high on the day of the parade.

“We looked great,” Polzin said. “(The float was) such a fabulous representation of Estacada.”

Community members also praised the Ford Family Foundation’s involvement in both the project and the city.

“(The Leadership program) has been a very successful experiment in empowering rural communities,” said Katinka Bryk, a graduate of one of Estacada’s previous cohorts who helped facilitate lessons for this year’s cohort. “Ford’s investment is invaluable.”

When the Ford Family Foundation and Rural Development Initiatives began the leadership program, they sought to bring it to every city in Oregon and Siskiyou County with fewer than 30,000 residents.

Now, 13 years and 300 communities later, they’ve met that goal. They’ll continue to be involved in rural communities, but the leadership program will come to a close later this year.

“We’ll support communities based on their individual needs rather than with a prescribed program,” Stewart said.

Future efforts will invest in community development and focus on the the well-being of children, youth, adults and families.

Bryk is eager to see the organization’s continued involvement in Estacada.

“Together we can make things happen,” she said

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