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Lately Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler cited 'Adopt One Block' as part of the solution to cleaning up Portland

COURTESY OF RYLEE OBRIEN - The corps of Adopt One Block volunteer Block Ambassadors include the Branstrom OBrien family of Woodstock, pictured here - who show stewardship and care for their block and neighborhood by regularly picking up litter. With the year 2020 having been marked with strife, stress, negativity, and tragedy, it was a small spark of light to discover the work of a new Portland nonprofit – "Adopt One Block".

In mid-September of last year Frank Moscow, a native Portlander, decided he wanted to make a difference in the city that he loves. Seeing litter in the streets, he created an online entity to address it – www.AdoptOneBlock.org

He told THE BEE in an e-mail, "Launching a unique solution to a problem many communities face is an interesting challenge to solve. I have been very fortunate to make a living, and now I want to make a difference. With all of us working together, we hope to make Portland a cleaner and happier place!"

Joan Fleishman, who lives in the Sellwood-Westmoreland neighborhood, has adopted her own block. In January, she explained what she knows about the new nonprofit.

"In the beginning Frank was personally delivering supplies to porches, and thanking people for their service. But the response has been so fantastic – over 700 blocks adopted, as of January – that he has now partnered with an online distribution system to get people their supplies. It can take a little over a week to get the supplies to you now."

These free supplies include a trash-picker stick, bags, and gloves. "We are funded by people who really care about our beloved city, and are intrigued by a scalable solution to a growing challenge in many cities," says Frank. "Funding from people and companies who share our mission and passion is always welcome." His new nonprofit is an all-volunteer organization, including himself – except for part-time administrative/social media support. "Imagine! No meet-ups, no driving to volunteer, no fundraising, no organizations to join!"

Cathy Jones, another Sellwood-Moreland resident, explains her reason for signing up for "Adopt One Block": "All you have to do is walk your block weekly, and pick up any trash you see. My adopted block is pretty clean, but there are always bits of garbage that get blown around – cigarette butts, et cetera. It's so easy, and gets me out of the house." Founder Moscow shared an observation he has made about people during the pandemic, similar to what Cathy Jones expressed. "People have spent more time in their blocks and neighborhoods [during the pandemic], and realized their blocks could benefit from some extra TLC. We wanted to make it easy for everyone to provide that care for the block they love and care about the most."

Some neighbors, like Sherry Davis who lives on the boundary between Woodstock and Mt. Scott-Arleta, have been picking up litter for years, making it a part of a daily routine while walking dogs. Corinne Stefanick in Westmoreland says "I have my own PikStik, and work the Oaks Bottom Bluff every couple of weeks while birdwatching. I carry a paper grocery bag with handles, and recommend doing this when you're out walking your dog or just getting exercise. Makes me feel good!"

In Woodstock Lucien Dallaire is serving more than just his own block. "I started picking up trash from 46th to 52nd Avenues on Woodstock Boulevard, and lately it seems much cleaner around all these blocks, so it's good to feel people are responding."

Rylee O'Brien agrees that keeping trash off the streets can, over time, make people more proud of their blocks and less likely to litter. "We adopted our block at 55th and Holgate, and have had a great experience. Frank and his team sent us a bucket, picker, and gloves, within days of signing up. We chose one morning to go out as a family. Each week the amount of garbage we collect has gotten considerably smaller. We've also been taking a shovel to clear leaves from the grates in the street."

As for Frank Moscow himself, "The growth [from 500 to 700 blocks in just a few weeks in December] is amazing, and shows how people really want to do the right thing. We are merely making it easy for them to do that, and care for the block they love."

You can claim your home or work block for cleanup, or find out more, at that website – www.AdoptOneBlock.org


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