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Native Ecoscape Installation & Maintenance at Sabin CDC, a Portland Nonprofit

As a value driven company, serving community causes is a built into the framework of SymbiOp.

One Friday a month, our garden shop donates 10% of sales to a local nonprofit, such as the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) and Afro Village PDX, and on July 29th we will be supporting Wild Diversity.

Our garden shop and staff members donate plants to causes, such as Hygiene 4 All and SE Uplift, and, for staff member birthdays they decide whether SymbiOp donates to a non-profit or are paid to volunteer with a nonprofit of their choosing.

For our landscape team, we offer non-profit discounts and a recent organization we served is affordable housing provider, Sabin CDC, where we had a three month intensive maintenance and installation partnership where we also worked alongside a team of AmeriCorps NCCC.

This AmeriCorps program is for young adults wanting to explore hands on experiences by volunteering full time with community based organizations for over 10 months, while being deployed to three different regions over that timeframe and Sabin CDC was awarded a team to work with them from April through June to help maintain the landscapes at their housing complexes.

Sabin CDC, a Portland nonprofit, works toward social equity by stabilizing and improving the livability of culturally-diverse Portland neighborhoods by assuring the availability of long-term affordable housing for low and moderate-income residents, with a special focus on African American households, by encouraging community partnerships for local economic development, and by offering youth and senior programs.

With the Black community facing decades of disinvestment and discrimination in Portland, resources can be tight and having the AmeriCorps volunteer crew come in to support with repairs and landscape maintenance help Sabin CDC to be more effective in their mission.

A national nonprofit called the Independent Sector estimates the value of each volunteer hour being $29.95, which means that the AmeriCorps team of 9 serving full time for three months equals $150,000 being invested at Sabin CDC. 

SymbiOp and AmeriCorps crew stretching, the bridge pose here, to prepare for a day of landscaping.

For SymbiOp’s role with Sabin CDC and the AmeriCorps team, landscape lead Kirk was deployed to work daily with the team on stewarding 14 properties and training the crew on landscape skills and familiarizing the team with Pacific Northwest and edible plants.

Other Symbiop landscapers would tag in for special training, like Holly (top photo, left) who led a rainwater garden planting and Raymond who trained the team on tool maintenance and repair.

AmeriCorps crew member Mitike planting lupin into a rainwater garden.

Kirk also supported the Sabin staff and community in informing the AmeriCorps team in social and racial justice history and issues in Portland, to be grounded in why this work is being done and the impact of the service.

Sabin CDC has long been committed to transforming their properties into more than just conventional lawns and has been developing naturescapes and edible landscapes with the goals of building habitat, creating beautiful gathering spaces and access for residents to grow their own food, including culturally specific food such as ጤና አዳም/tena adam(or rue in English) which Sabin residents from East Africa use. 

Crew member Stevie finding fashion while clearing cleavers.

Each week the team worked at various Sabin CDC  work on weeding, invasive plant removal, laying mulch, some planting and other landscape upkeep.

Once a week, the AmeriCorps crew served at an additional community based organization to gain more perspectives on causes in Portland, including Afro Village PDX who are working to develop villages for unhoused Black Portlanders, Alder Commons which is a community space where kids and adults alike can attend workshops and classes, and spend their time freely, and Friends of Noise who are dedicated to transforming the culture of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth access to the music industry by providing youth-focused programs, teaching industry skills, developing resources, mentorship and professional development.

AmeriCorps crew member AJ pots up garlic and mustard greens to give away at an Afro Village Earth Day Event.

SymbiOp is grateful to have served Sabin CDC and cherished our team with the AmeriCorps crew. Much love to Amber, Olivia, Michael, Adna, Mitike, Stevie, Ella, Emma, and AJ! From moving 60+ yards of mulch to mowing thousands of square feet of lawns to planting hundreds of native plants (and so much more!) we had a fun and meaningful experience!

The landscape team! Kirk from Symbiop in front, AmeriCorps on back steps (left to right) top row: AJ, Adna, Olivia, Amber. Middle row: Mitike, Emma, Michael. Bottom row: Ella and Stevie.

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