2011 Clackamas River Cleanup presented by We Love Clean Rivers!

20 09 2011

All photos by Mark Gamba.

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the 9th annual Down the River Cleanup on the Clackamas River took place. Organized by We Love Clean Rivers, the event mobilizes an array of groups in a collaborative effort to clean 15 miles of the Clackamas River. I’m on the board of directors.

With a Staj Pace as our new event coordinator, new branding initiative completed including logo, new website, stationery, etc., we hit the ball out of the park this year! Participation was up over 60% with a record 421 registered volunteers. We also removed record amounts of trash from the river – 3.4 tons!

We had LOTS of FUN! Folks met up at Barton Park before 9:00 a.m. for coffee and bagels, registered, then organized into 15 pods (each cleaning one river mile), and after safety briefings, set off to clean the river.

Pod pre-launch briefing

Pods are made up of kayaks, drift boats, rafts, and some divers. It was a HOT day, over 90 degrees. I saw more red neck flotillas of inflatable mattresses and beer coolers going on the river than ever.

Cleaning in the river means collaboration amongst different recreational groups. Divers go below. Snorkelers are utilized. And bank-based cleaning is performed, too!

The emphasis is all about fun. Participants set off in a festive mood. Kids are definitely part of the collective cleanup muscle!

Youngsters taking ownership

Each pod rides the river to its assigned section and begins to clean.

Some rafts or drift boats are designated “garbage scows,” and folks bring trash to them. Some become quite laden with tires or metal objects.

By far the most numerous items are beverage cans. There is no question that cans are being dumped by river runners into the river.

Just look at this dumpster!

Holy Garbage!

The garbage is sorted by kids and recyclers. Further, it is picked over by artists, who will convert some into art or jewelry. This stuff will be sold at the RiPPLe PDX event on October 6th!

The day is book ended at the conclusion by a party/picnic celebration! Participants enjoyed music, a catered, organic picnic, three bands, Sierra Nevada beer, and the chance to win outdoor gear at the silent auction!

Nice job everyone! THANK YOU!

We enjoyed some really upbeat music!!!

60 feet of deliecious catered food!

RiPPLe Effect PDX 2010

9 10 2010


Crowds build!


If you know me, you know I’m a river steward. I actively put my life’s energy into restoring rivers like the Clackamas and Willamette. I’m an Advisory Board Member of We Love Clean Rivers. So for them, I work HARD to get donations for the silent auction, their main fund raiser, and I also work other events like Willamette Riverkeeper’s Great Willamette cleanup. But one event that gets special attention is the follow on event to the Clackamas River Cleanup – it’s called RiPPLe Effect and there, we sell art created from trash collected from the Clackamas River Cleanup!


Clackamas River Basin Council Crew!


RiPPLe 2009 was a bust because the location wasn’t ideal, and even worse, the date changed – all causing dwindling attendance. There was resentment amongst the artists. Bringing it up again this year was uncomfortable for Jenn Reilly, the RiPPLe organizer.


Jenn Reilly with Chris Enlow of KEEN


But I wanted it to succeed, and hatched a plan where I brought in KEEN Footwear, one of our primary sponsors and located in the Pearl District, into the scene. I’d been to events at KEEN Footwear’s Great Room – it’s a wonderful, fun, appealing, fully configurable open space available for events! Further, every first Thursday in the Pearl is “First Thursday Art Walk” when thousands of Portlanders are out looking at the galleries in the Pearl.


Creative paddler!


I put forth the idea that we put on RiPPLe PDX at KEEN Footwear on First Thursday in October. Jenn totally went for it. KEEN also went for it. One challenge we wrangled with was the fact that KEEN’s Great Room is on the 2nd floor – and it might hinder attracting street walkers. The hallway on the first floor was end to end of the building and empty.  We got permission to use the ground floor of their building – closest to the street walkers – for the event. It is just perfect. Jenn worked HARD to get this event going – and it paid off. Way to go Jenn!


Kristin talks about the Clackamas Cleanup...


We busted out all the works for RiPPLe PDX 2010! 14 artists, 5 bands, slide show of 8 years of river cleanup photos, a YouTube video contest, three kegs donated by Sierra Nevada, food, and the KEEN Garage, where they sell shoes, would be open right next door, and KEEN would donate 10% of all shoe sales that day to We Love Clean Rivers!


River trash now art!


Set up, the show, and take down was an all day affair. OMG a ton of work went into the event. But it was a blow out success!

I hatched another plan to send out a team of people onto the First Thursday street scene to generate buzz and attract guests! The idea was to dress up in brightly colored paddle tops, life jackets, helmets, festooned with KEEN stickers and grab attention to get people to come!


The street crew heading out


I even had us tow my Pyranha Burn whitewater boat, with lots of KEEN stickers on it, and fill the cockpit with beer cups and fliers for the event. It was perfect. People stopped and stared and we used that as an ice breaker to tell them about the show!  I had NO idea that 13th, their street, was the main closed off street for First Thursday! WOW.

It was so much fun – music, art, even the KEEN Garage was fun. They even had a little keg of beer in there! Chris and I were in there and he actually sold his first pair of shoes to a guest!

Their “Garage” retail shop is a good example of branding. The KEEN brand is about using both new and recycled materials in everything, and the Garage follows that idea. They have used high school bleachers for seats and used library ladders to get to shoes.

This event pulled in a wide demographic. Art lovers, executives, seniors, kids! It was terrific and a win win for everybody!

The “graffitti wall” leave your mark!


Interactive art!