Cleaning Portland, one block at a time

Special Reports

SOLVE trains volunteers, who find value and worth in the effort

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — How do you begin the enormous task of cleaning the mountains of trash and debris now littered throughout Portland? Assigning blame and fingerpointing won’t work.

So you dig in, one block at a time.

Specially trained SOLVE volunteers carefully pick up trash and debris from the tiniest specks to large items like broken furniture and old carpet.

SOLVE has designated dozens of spots a “High Need Cleanup Site,” including one along Southeast Powell.

“Portland has the reputation as one of the most trashed cities in America now. It’s heartbreaking,” said one of the trained volunteers, Carole.

She is not alone in her heartbreak or her efforts to turn it around. Carole is recruiting her friends and neighbors to take back the city.

At the Southeast Powell location, the cleanup is supervised by a SOLVE staff member whose job is to keep volunteers prepared and aware of the safety hazards they encounter.

Celeste, who has been a SOLVE volunteer for 5 years, said “quite a few people drive by and honk at us, which is a pickup for those of us doing it.”

“It’s very rewarding to be a volunteer even if it’s just a once-in-a-while thing,” she said. “Like I said, we’re going to see this when it’s all cleaned up, 2 hours worth of work and that’s going to keep me going for a month or two minimum — and happy feelings every time I drive by this area.”

This is just one small section of Southeast Powell. But the work goes on, one block, one street, one sidewalk at a time.

Is Portland over? Not if you’re a SOLVE volunteer, because you care enough to give a damn about the place you call home.

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