project leader
Melinda M
N Williams/N Vancouver Ave
(Boise Neighborhood and Advocacy Citywide)
latest update rss
Block Party Reminder! and June 2017 Update

the project

"Greening and activating" alleys is a way of reclaiming neglected city infrastructure, with special focus on placemaking, pedestrian benefit, and environmental stewardship.

This renewal is accomplished through vital improvements like benches, bicycle racks, art, garden plots, plantings, surfacing, watershed management, and other features that create a park-like setting. These improvements can also bring about neighborhood retreats, bicycle throughways, ADU communities, or small business and cultural districts.

While this movement is progressing in cities across the country, the City of Portland Oregon has yet to join the effort.

Our project aims to green and activate our neglected and highly public alley, while advocating for relative policy citywide.

the steps

Since beginning our mission March 2016, we’ve gathered $4,670 in-kind assistance. We're working to raise $10,000 toward the cost of professional grantwriting, outreach and technical services for 2016. We’ve carefully identified, researched, and set our sights on five separate grant opportunities available in the next six months. Each of these grant programs focuses either on help advocating for policy change, or funding for activities in keeping with our improvements onsite.

If this crowdfunding campaign surpasses our goal, we’ll share up to $10,000 additional funds with one or more lower income residential neighborhood groups for greening and activating improvements to an alley, or similarly neglected pedestrian-shared roadway; as they meet benchmarks such as cooperative clean-up. See our project updates to learn about sister projects and new in-kind contributions.

why we're doing it

Currently, if a group of Portland neighbors wants to green and activate an alley or similarly neglected pedestrian-shared roadway, it's prohibitively complicated and expensive: with little local precedent, no clear policy to facilitate their effort, and no city incentive for neighboring developers to assist them. Just the professional surveying of a Portland alley can cost over $3,000. The cost of grading and park-like hardscaping of a Portland alley can easily surpass $200,000. The Beech Failing Alley Project is a group of neighbors inspired by the growing movement to green and activate alleys, while facing these local challenges.

We're working to add Portland to the list of cities redefining neglected infrastructure nationwide.


DISBURSEMENT BUDGET (as of 7/18/16):

RAISED = $5,540.00
less ioby Platform Fee  $35.00
less ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) $254.86
less Payment Processing Fee (3%) $152.92

Professional Grant Writing Service $1397.22
Outreach: Videography/Production Service $500.00
Tech: Record of Land Survey $3200.00



Professional Grant Writing Service $1690.00


Videography/Production Service $500.00 Promotional materials and Web assistance $700.00


Record of Land Survey and Topography Service $4160.00

Architecture/Engineering Consultation and Conceptualization $2000.00

Photocopies, office materials and postage $176.86

ioby Platform, Sponsorship, and Processing Service $773.14 (breakdown below):

ioby Platform Fee  $35
ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) $461
Donation Processing Fee (3%) $277

Total ioby Campaign Budget: $10,000


Block Party Reminder! and June 2017 Update

The BFAP block party is next Saturday 6/24! 2:30 – 5:30p

DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid are going to help bring the love. Some of you know they got their start at May Day celebrations more than a decade ago before going on to fire-up local radio waves and dance floors with their cross-cultural joy like no others – and recently gracing the pages of GQ India! ‘So cool they're going to spice our party with their records.

Here are suggested game plans for anyone joining us:

The Good in the Hood Parade is happening nearby in the morning, cheer it on!

This is a family-friendly picnic and hangout, bring family and friends.

Our alley is dirt and gravel, consider taking an old picnic blanket or seats.

Bring a picnic, or buy a super delicious meal right in the alley from the adorable Whole Bowl Truck. Not hungry? Gather around City Repair’s mobile tea house and partake in tea with a spoonful of creative placemaking!

Enjoy the restoration juniper planters and benches that Oregon Tradeswomen and Sustainable NW Wood made happen for this community effort.

What else? Kids needed: We have an asphalt pad in our alley, crying out for chalk drawings. Also, do you know how to sprinkle happiness? Petal toss! Beautiful dried flower petals have been donated by sustainable Flyboy Naturals in Myrtle Creek to add a little magic to our event. Kids, please toss and sprinkle as needed!

Check out what neighbors and KairosPDX students planted to replace the weeds, and the art installation that artist Amanda Jagerman worked with KairosPDX students to create on badges cut by ADX fabrication. If we’re lucky, the KairosPDX and Scout Books zine “Our Dream Hood” will be hot off the presses to see. Also take a look at how artist and ecologist Scott Sutton repaired and adorned some of our potholes using rubble, Oregon Decorative Rock donated crushed rock, and local mineral pigments.

Added fun – ever wonder how Portland games company Recreation Dept got going? Well, their crafty prototypes had to happen first; Corn-hole and Ladder-ball to be precise. You can see and play Recreation Dept’s early prototypes in the alley. We'll have a bocce set on site, too.

And last but not least, meet people who like the idea of Portland alleys and unimproved roads bringing more thoughtful housing, place spaces and plazas where neighbors meet – instead of potholes, mud, or concrete.

Our spring has been bustling with more than cleaning up our alley and building partnerships. We applied for two small grants to help with the party and partnership projects (Thank you so much Boise Neighborhood Association for awarding us assistance!) and two big grants toward capital improvement of our alley in keeping with our mission (fingers crossed!).

We got mention in Portland Monthly, the savvy mag that chronicles, challenges, and celebrates Portland, inspiring readers to explore and shape the city we call home.

Also, Commissioner Eudaly posted about alleys and BFAP on facebook, 6/13! Thank you Commissioner Eudaly for diligent community-focused advocacy of all sorts.

Many of you may remember when, in spring 2016, we began asking city government for a cross-sector discussion of why community-based livable capital improvements on and adjacent to Portland alleys and unimproved roadways couldn’t gain traction, and possible solutions... Mayor Hale’s team tried to convene that discussion; but it took over a year of community squeaky wheeling, plus nudges from Commissioner Saltzman’s team, to make it happen. Finally, this week – two days before our block party, a meeting is scheduled including leaders from Portland City Bureaus, BFAP, the Boise Neighborhood Association, the Southeast Cooper Corridor Project, the Concordia Neighborhood Association, ELM Strategy and Research, KPFF Civil and Consulting Engineers, Owen Gabbert, PSU College of Urban and Public Affairs, Portland For Everyone, the Trust for Public Land, the Urban League, and other groups. We’ll be sure to keep you posted.

In this time of often upsetting and divisive current affairs, programming for community-based development models that expand conversation, cooperation and amenities between neighbors can be a step towards more harmony. Thank you to all of you whose interest and encouragement has kept building the momentum – and ‘hope you can picnic with us in the Beech-Failing Alley next Saturday 2:30 – 5:30p!!!!!


April 2017 Update, Spring Activations, and June Invitation

  It’s now over a year since BFAP hit the ground running. Our new update is loaded with current activities plus a party invitation. But first, an anniversary refresher:

  To riff off March 2016 written testimony by Professor Ethan Seltzer to the city on our effort - rethinking alleys matters because livable gathering places in the heart of city blocks sparks neighbor-to-neighbor engagement, and cities grow healthier with more person-to-person interaction in public spaces full of life.

  BFAP is at the nucleus of an area impacted by a past lack of municipal support for community-based development, and where the need for inspiring engagement among neighbors new and old is particularly acute.

  We’re building partnerships, plugging away at our grant applications and looking forward to touching base with PBOT this month. We’re encouraging project supporters to attend BPS Green Loop events at The Redd on 4/23, 4/24, 4/27 and 4/28 in conjunction with Design Week:

  Some of our favorite organizations and companies in town are making multiple community activations possible in the alley this spring, culminating in a block party at the Beech-Failing alley June 24, 2:30p to 5:30p. You’re invited! Check out our lead-up and the party specs below.

KairosPDX Learning Academy, which attacks Portland’s persistent achievement and opportunity gaps through innovative teaching, community collaboration and family partnership, is bringing life and learning to the alley:

  Kindergarten students have collaborated with artist and educator Amanda Ichihashi Jagerman to create a public art installation with fabrication help from ADX Portland. First grade students are urban-gardening in planters built by Oregon Tradeswomen from Sustainable Northwest Wood restoration juniper during two field trips. Second and third grade students are meeting the neighbor longest residing adjacent to the alley at the home of her family history going back over 60 years for a storytelling field trip -  and envisioning better future neighborhoods for a zine to be printed by Scout Books. The entire Kairos Academy student body is contributing material for a time capsule on the Beech-Failing block, to be covered with a public chess table.

  Thank you, KairosPDX, Amanda Ichihashi Jagerman, ADX Portland, Oregon Tradeswomen, Sustainable Northwest Wood, and Scout Books.

They’re all awesome:

  Scott Sutton, ecology-focused artist and educator, is lending pollinator stewardship to the effort and using land-art to address erosion impacts, with material help from Oregon Decorative Rock. Thank you, Scott Sutton and Oregon Decorative Rock.

They're awesome too:

  Then, the block party!

  Saturday June 24th

  Cheer the Good in the Hood Parade ( that morning, then join our party any time 2:30p - 5:30p to celebrate community-based development options for infrastructure like alleys with picnicking, music and art installation in the right of way. The City Repair T-Horse and DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid will rally; and another hearty thanks from us to them.

Yes, awesome:

  And don't forget to get more Good in the Hood later at Lillis Albina City Park, nearby!

March 2017 Update

After twelve months of hurdles, persistent engagement, and written testimony to the Portland Bureau of Transportation, BFAP Chair Melinda Matson was welcomed by the office of Commissioner Dan Saltzman to meet with several key personnel from Portland Bureau of Transportation Right of Way Programs and the Livable Streets Strategy, in February.

This is a very grateful shout-out to Commissioner Saltzman’s team and these new PBOT contacts for their meaningful attention to our input, advocacy, and the resource archive we built at

In this time of concerted local attention on transportation funding and affordable housing, the meeting was an opportunity to personally remind key team leaders that livable alley development is a means to auxiliary pedestrian connections, safe school routes, and affordable green housing.

Melinda pointed again to $16 million the Dubuque IA Green Alley Program has culled from state and federal sources in 16 years, and to affordable green housing incentivized by the Austin TX Alley Flats Project, which also encourages neighborly interaction by turning accessory residential frontage toward the heart of city blocks.

We believe Portland would make great waves if it became the first city in the country with livable alley programming to facilitate watershed stewardship funding in tandem with incentives for development of green, affordable, accessory housing - and we’ll keep advocating for that. We look forward to watching for new advances being made by PBOT Right of Way Programs and the Livable Streets Strategy - and sharing community input more directly with those teams. Soon after the meeting, attendees helpfully facilitated an official letter of support for BFAP from PBOT Director Leah Treat. Thank you Director Treat!

Our project is also appreciative to have recently connected with ELM Research and Strategy for assistance with our spring grants applications and general guidance moving forward. ELM is distinguished in crafting interdisciplinary, collaborative approaches to achieving enduring results - and in bringing social science and business expertise together to help clients succeed while staying true to their core values. BFAP is lucky to have their support. Thank you so much ELM!

Our plans for a community event in June are moving forward with a slew of awesome partnerships including equity-focused Kairos Academy, artist and educator Amanda Ishihashi Jagerman, Oregon Tradeswomen, artist and ecologist Scott Sutton, Sustainable Northwest Wood, and others. ‘More on that next month.

Links to BFAP supporters and partners, as well as our catalog of official letters of support and other letters for livable alley policy are at

Please check back in April for news on the upcoming community event and other public activities we have in the works.

February 2017 Update

It’s a tumultuous winter in current affairs; and that has further stoked our and others’ actions toward basic policies that build both community and sustainability.

January 17, BFAP Board-chair Melinda Matson presented to the High School Environmental Leadership Project. HELP is working to raise the bar on local policies for climate education, limitation to temperature increase, and preparedness for climate impacts. We’re proud to work with these ambitious young activists every time we get the chance.


There’s also inspiring news from our sister project, SCCP. Brentwood-Darlington’s Southeast Cooper Corridor Project aims to create a park-like boulevard from a ten block length of severely neglected SE Cooper St - and has been chosen as a Portland State University engineering capstone project! A team of engineering students will turn their skills to engineering conceptual plans for the Southeast Cooper Corridor Project. Congratulations Brentwood-Darlington!


Meanwhile, BFAP is seeking grant funding to administer a 2017 Livable Infrastructure Research and Activation Team of Portland State University Master of Urban and Regional Planning graduate interns, working with partner organizations and BFAP to rapidly build capacity and momentum for the issues addressed by BFAP to the City of Portland.


To further our outreach and partnerships, BFAP has become an Interwine Alliance Partner. Take a look at their good work.


BFAP also continues to advocate directly to city government, and seek grant funding for activation and on-site improvement to broadly demonstrate alleys as assets for building community and sustainability in comprehensive planning.


On that note, our website is now live, check it out! Thank you again to Prodigitude and all our supporters for making it possible. Citizens and municipal staff everywhere can peruse accomplished livable alley projects, programs, and resources compiled there; including a catalogue of community input to Portland government on needs for livable alley policy since March 2016.


And lastly, the Portland Bureau of Transportation is polling community input on placemaking in Portland streets. You can them know there’s a conflict and void in alley improvement requirement and opportunity when it comes to PBOT aims for livable streets:


“Public rights-of-way are ultimately more livable when their potential for community and environmental benefit – beyond the foundational infrastructure they provide – is actualized in the hands of citizens by the laws that govern and facilitate their enduring improvement."

BFAP Chair, Melinda Matson

December 2016 Update

Our project has been keeping active!

Here’s highlights on efforts we made, and assistance we received, since October:


- 10/11, BFAP organizer Melinda Matson conferenced with the Trust for Public Land to learn more details about their growing and inspiring green alley projects around the country.


- 10/19, as a part of our partnership with the HighSchool Environmental Leadership Project through Create Plenty, BFAP was invited to the Environmental Educators Teacher Fair, at the BES Water Pollution Control Lab. It was a forward-looking gathering in setting with significance, where we were able to talk with some community members and potential partners. We were also invited to join a HighSchool Environmental Leadership Project (HELP) meeting 11/15, at CENTER - which happens to be located at the innovative One North Courtyard green alley. The students working with HELP are a real inspiration and motivation to keep working toward more livable and sustainable infrastructure.


- 11/4, BFAP sent a proposal to the PBOT Development Permitting Group, urging them to change the current design standards for alley entrance improvement requirements, from entirely impermeable and car-centric design – toward a community and environmentally friendly standard including features such as partial areas of TurfStone and/or rain gardens, reduced lane width, and preservation of trees. Please let the PBOT Development Permitting Group know if you agree with BFAP’s proposal for an alley entrance improvement requirement standard that doesn't facilitate maximum asphalt/concrete, or removal of trees and minimum green space.

PBOT Development Permitting and Transit: 503-823-7441


- 11/7 - 11/28, BFAP sent letters of testimony and inquiry regarding alley programming, especially as it relates to green affordable ADU housing opportunities and livable urban landscapes, to the Portland City Council Commissioners, Commissioner-Elect, Mayor-Elect, BPS Residential Infill Project, and Office of the Director of the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. Please feel free to reach out to City Council and weigh in, if you see fit!


- 12/5, we received a letter from the Director of the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, supporting our project and encouraging grant-makers to take notice. Thank you very much to the BPS leadership team.


During December, BFAP registered as a domestic nonprofit corporation. Nine neighbors adjacent to the Beech-Failing Alley became the project Board of Directors. A five person Advisory Board was also formed featuring community leaders involved in Open School, The Equity Atlas,1000 Friends of Oregon, and the Boise Neighborhood Association; including an advisor holding a Master of Environmental Management degree. We’re lucky to have such a wealth of good people on board.


In the next couple months, we’ll continue pursuing grants, exploring community partnerships, and planning for a community event in the summer. Thank you all for your interest and support. 'Very best wishes to everyone this holiday season and in the new year!


September 2016 Update

 Check out our end of summer activity!

 During August, BFAP organizer Melinda Matson communicated with Portland Neighborhood Associations and Coalitions regarding alley policy issues, and gathered community input to represent in dialogue with the city. The Boise Neighborhood Association, the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association, and the North East Coalition of Neighborhoods in turn wrote letters to Portland’s Director of Transportation on the topic. BPAP also sent input to city planning testimony and to city advisory committees, and started an archive of alley advocacy letters. Thank you Neighborhood Associations and Coalitions!


 Our professional grant writer hired with funds raised on IOBY continued work on grants applications to fund construction and activation at the Beech-Failing Alley site.


 When BFAP discovered that funds budgeted and raised on IOBY for topographical survey fell short of market bids, the talented and creative team at W.B. Wells & Associates Inc surveying, engineering, and planning saved the day by making up the difference as in-kind project support. W.B. Wells & Associates has excelled in efficiency, design, and attention to detail since 1924; and we sincerely appreciate their help and expertise in the crucial step of surveying our site topography.


 Late August, two meetings for owners of properties adjacent to the Beech-Failing Alley were convened, and a number of owner occupants met to share concerns, ideas, and information related to the project. BFAP organizer Melinda Matson connected with three supportive community groups that have special focus on equity: Kairos Academy, the Portland High School Environmental Leadership Project (HELP), and City Repair; to discuss partnerships in working toward a future alley activation community event. These exceptional organizations inspire us, and we’re and thrilled to have the chance to work with them.


 On Aug 31st, Melinda attended a multi-bureau meeting at city hall, including other project advocates, PBOT City Engineer and Development Review Manager, and other key staff from PBOT, BES, BPS, and the Mayor's office. While the meeting mainly addressed paving materials used in green alley design, Melinda pushed forward in introducing issues broached by the Neighborhood Associations’ and Coalition’s input, and made a good case for the need for more comprehensive discussion of policy issues. In the following weeks, project liaisons in the Mayor's office began work to try to convene a more comprehensive meeting focused on alley policy issues.


 In September, we began seeking project advisory board members, and we’re happy to have several admired community organizers already sign on. In addition, the Beech-Failing Alley Project was accepted to receive administrative 501c3 umbrella services by North Portland Community Works, which helped kickstart the North Portland Tool Library – a unique community resource, and are fiscal sponsors of the innovative and inclusive Harper's Playground at Arbor Lodge Park. We're really excited to have such an outstanding local organization facilitate our grant applications for funding.


 While our project keeps moving with support and progress, challenges also persist. It is possible the rising pressure of impending development adjacent to the Beech-Failing Alley, and current PBOT policy for standard required alley improvements triggered by new developments, could impede the scope of our goals on-site before funds can be raised for green alley construction. We’re working hard to waste no time in continuing building on your support, and to inspire new policy.


 You can add your voice by asking PBOT leadership to put greener, more livable, standard design options for alley improvements within Portlander’s reach. PBOT is now on NextDoor, where they take messages from the community!


 Thank you as always for your support. Enjoy autumn, and check back late October for another project update!



Moving Forward With More Great Help

 There's continuing positive project news since the close of our seeds fund campaign and beginning to move forward. 

 Barg Law, providers of experienced counsel, with the mission to provide practical, cost-effective, thorough, and responsive advice to clients on real estate and business matters, have kindly stepped up to contribute funds for a portion of initially budgeted professional grant writing services which were not raised during the campaign. This is a big help. Thanks Barg Law!


 Professional grant writer Lyndsi Lambert has been hired to complete BFAP grant applications for 2016. Lyndsi has over 10 years programming experience in Project Management including expertise in grants administration. She's recently relocated from Baton Rouge LA, where she successfully authored, coordinated, and awarded grant programming with special focus on children's health, food equity, and sustainability; in Parks and Rec, mayoral initiatives, and the public school system. She currently works with Health Care Without Harm, global champions for environmental health and justice. We're proud to have Lyndsi on our team.


 If BFAP succeeds in raising funds to move forward with construction at the Beech-Failing Alley site, our project has been pledged valuable in-kind assistance drafting a construction contract and development agreement, from the outstanding global law firm Holland & Knight, with a strong company heritage of business and civic leadership, and community support. This is a major pledge. Thank you community partners Holland & Knight!


 Furthermore, if BFAP secures funds and permitting for pervious paving of the Beech-Failing alley, our project has been offered another substantial pledge of thoughtful in-kind contribution from trusted local company Mutual Materials, an industry expert that helps people build better, more inviting communities by providing appealing hardscape and masonry products that stand the test of time. Thank you Mutual Materials!


 Meanwhile, BFAP is working earnestly at advocacy for relative policy, including recent networking with Portland Neighborhood Associations and an upcoming meeting with other community organizers and key persons in related city bureaus.


 Check back in September for an update!


Thank You!

Warm Thanks

warm thank you to everyone as we wrap things up.

 In the last week, our campaign benefited from a significant contribution by Owen Gabbert LLC, the Portland real estate development, construction and consulting firm that creatively transforms spaces with a community focus, and co-developer of the innovative One North Courtyard and East and West buildings. Owen Gabbert LLC is also assisting our project with valuable consultation and neighborhood advocacy. Thank you to this leading-edge firm and community partner.


 In the last day of our campaign, an anonymous supporter made a significant contribution which surmounted remaining funds needed to employ a land survey of the Beech-Failing Alley site - a crucial step in technical services needed for upcoming grant applications. We greatly appreciate the thoughtful help of this anonymous contributor.


 Web services company Prodigitude has generously offered in kind assistance establishing a website related to our project advocacy for alley greening and activating: is now under construction. Thank you, Prodigitude, and every person who has given our efforts encouragement and support.


 Last, we would like to gently touch on unrelated, distressing circumstances: the past month of progress for our project sadly coincided with a month of overwhelming, violent losses of life across the United States and globe. As we begin our scheduled next steps, we do so tempered by deep hope for human empathy and peace. Peace.


What's a Woonerf? + Home stretch!

 As BFAP heads into the last week of our crowdfunding campaign, positive action keeps rolling.

 N Williams District’s new neighbor, the bike-friendly Peloton Apartments, is supporting BFAP with a significant contribution; and this makes perfect sense - because in the heart of the Peloton there's a woonerf.


 What's a woonerf?


 Woonerf (pronounced vone-erf) is a term originated in the Netherlands that means “living street”: a roadway often shaped by park like features, where motorists carefully share the right of way with non-motorists at pedestrian pace. A green activated alley is a living street or woonerf; and the Peloton woonerf is a part of the public alley that includes Beech-Failing Alley, two blocks south. The Peloton will host a neighborhood celebration at its new public space in August.


 Big thanks to Security Properties’ Peloton for progressive alley design, community engagement, and significant contribution to our project. BFAP’s success could set a precedent and tone for smart improvement on the passage between our two alleys, moving toward a park like throughway which would benefit the entire neighborhood.


 July 7, BFAP was featured on Portland KGW-TV Channel 8, 6p News, and in the Portland Tribune Newspaper! Check out the features here:


 Our project also appeared this week in the Portland Alley Project Wordpress, a valuable community voice and resource which has encouraged and assisted our project effort since early spring:


 Please keep spreading the word in our crucial last campaign week. All contributions will fund our project, policy push, or sister project - even if the funding goal is not met.


 In the home stretch of crowdfunding, July 14th, project organizer Melinda Matson will be on hand at The Waypost Bar and Venue to share information, answer questions related to the project, and raise a glass to BFAP’s invaluable supporters. Please join us to trade ideas on living streets, green and activated alleys and effective related policy; and to toast civic engagement!


Green Alley and BFAP Meetup

Thursday July 14, 6-8p

The The Waypost Bar and Venue

3120 N Williams Ave


Come kick your heels up!



This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


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