Lents is culturally diverse, rapidly gentrifying, and historically disinvested neighborhood in East Portland.
The seeds of Green Lents began at a Johnson Creek cleanup in 2009 when someone said "you can't do green in Lents."
Several volunteers left that day determined to build a more focused organization that could carry out projects to provide leadership, education, and environmental assets for the Lents community.
Initial projects began in 2010 - creating pollinator habitats and establishing little free libraries in the neighborhood. On October 3, 2012, Green Lents received its 501(c)(3) designation. That same year, we established a free-to-use Community Tool Library that now serves more than 1200 members in 7 different neighborhoods. We also began working with residents to transform a city-owned vacant property filled with invasive plants and garbage into an abundant food-growing community orchard. Over the years, we've enriched the soil, cultivated a variety of plants and trees, installed drip irrigation, a tool shed, a covered gathering space, benches and an accessible gravel path. Monthly work parties have been held for about 6 years and counting.
From 2015-2019, we engaged in deep community listening to guide our work. We engaged communities most impacted by the neighborhood's emerging housing and homelessness crises. Our engagement in 6 different languages revealed the importance of improving livability while preserving affordability. We acknowledge the gentrifying impacts of our work, and sought to organize around housing issues such as projects that addressed expensive flood insurance, home repairs, and community-led advocacy to win an additional 30-50 affordable housing units in the Lents Town Center.
In recent years, we've made more efforts to increase equitable access and leadership over environmental resources and benefits to those most impacted by gentrification, development, climate change, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Examples include:
1) Creation of pollinator habitats at the Latinx-serving church of San Pedro
2) Spanish-language workshops on Renter's Rights, Worker's Rights, home repairs, weatherization, air pollution, Tool Library tours, Malden Court Orchard work parties, Russian-language Tool Library tours, printed materials in Lents 6 most common languages. 3) Intersection painting designed by NAYA Generations affordable housing residents who are mostly Black and/or Indigenous/Native American.
4) Distribution of hundreds of N95 masks and DIY home air filters to help houseless and housed residents protect themselves from air pollution.
5) Expansion of our Garden Swap to be ongoing at the Tool Library, providing free garden resources like soil, compost, seeds, and plants after our COVID-19 survey showed 80%+ of residents planned to grow food in 2020.
For over a decade, Green Lents has worked to build resilience in the greater Lents area through extensive community outreach, engagement, education, and resource sharing. We look forward to growing and continuing our work - and are thankful to all our wonderful community members, volunteers, partners, and funders over the years.