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Multnomah Days goes green

Parade and Umpqua Energy Fair on newly-completed 'green street'


The 2013 Multnomah Days street festival will in many ways be a celebration of sustainability.

Stormwater and streetscape project

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: PORTLAND BUREAU OF ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES - A rendering of the completed Multnomah Village Stormwater and Streetscape Project on Southwest Capitol Highway, which serves as the Multnomah Days parade route.This summer, the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) has been doing construction on the Multnomah Village stormwater and streetscape project.

Through this project, taking place on Southwest Capitol Highway between Southwest 35th and 36th avenues, BES has been widening sidewalks, planting trees and rearranging parking on both sides of Southwest Capitol Highway, thereby changing the parking configuration.

The project has also involved installing in the Multnomah Village business district a series of "green streets," landscaped streetside planters or swales that capture stormwater runoff and allow it to soak into the ground as soil and vegetation filter pollutants.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has been chaotic for area businesses. With the street torn up, traffic was blocked off and redirected and pedestrian access was limited, forcing many businesses on either side of Capitol to put up signs in their windows confirming that they were in fact still open.

“Multnomah Village has been so ripped up with all this construction,” said Joan Steinbach, Multnomah Days organizer. “So we’re trying to get people excited about the positive change that’s going to be happening.”

“In the long term, these … projects … will greatly improve the livability of our neighborhood,” said Multnomah Neighborhood Association Chairman Moses Ross. “Additionally, I feel it will establish a precedent for future neighborhood improvements and can be pointed to as an example of a successful collaboration between the city and the neighborhoods.”

Energy fair

Dovetailling with this year’s Multnomah Days theme, “The Village Goes Green!,” will be the second annual Umpqua Energy Fair.

“We saw in the Portland community there might be a lot of questions about going green,” said Joe Haffey, who works at the Multnomah Village Umpqua Bank branch and is coordinating the fair. “We partnered with PGE, a longtime sponsor of Multnomah Days … got a few other key players involved and tried to make it a place where people could go to ask questions about going green, whether it be in their home or at their businesses.”

In this mini-fair outside the Umpqua Bank Multnomah Village location on Southwest Capitol Highway, PGE will have one booth and Umpqua should have three. Umpqua’s booths will showcase the green options made available by local contractors that work with nonprofits such as Clean Energy Works Oregon (CEWO), which provides free home energy assessments and finances qualifying home energy remodels through local lender partners including Umpqua Bank.

Umpqua’s CEWO-partnered loan program is known as GreenStreet Lending.

Though Haffey said the fact that this home equity line of credit and a key aspect of the Multnomah Village stormwater and streetscape project share the same name is purely coincidental.

“There’s definitely a green theme with the space directly in front of our store, and that’s right where the energy fair will be,” he said. “That project … I hope it will be good pairing with that too."

For the Umpqua Energy Fair, the ultimate goal, Haffey said, is “trying to get people from different avenues in going green.”

Garden Tour

Sometimes, however, going green means getting rid of a major form of greenery. Many of the homes on this year’s Multnomah Garden Club Garden Tour feature yards without grass.

“Grass uses a lot of water,” explained Shay Nofsinger of the Multnomah Garden Club. “So if people don’t feel like it and are interested in the environment, they pull their grass out.”

More importantly, she said, “As a gardener … grass isn’t very fun. Flowers and bushes and all that other stuff is much more fun.”