What does half a staff member look like?
Howdy, friends! I’m Meghan, Depave’s newest employee. You might be wondering what kind of person works for such a cool nonprofit. Read on to find out.
I didn’t grow up liking the outdoors very much. I didn’t spend summer vacations camping or visiting National Parks. It wasn’t until a college volunteer abroad program brought me out of doors and into the bush (down under!), letting me experience firsthand the power of individual action to achieve a collective goal, that I began to appreciate a connection with the natural world. Over the course of a month, I helped a few different organizations implement hands-on conservation projects. I planted eucalyptus, built dams, and improved habitat for Australian quolls.
Back in the states, I completed my degree in Political Science and headed out into the real world. After working with a national architecture, engineering and environmental consulting firm in San Diego, I explored nonprofit work at a dynamic land trust in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was energizing to work for a mission rather than profit. My work focused on the management of conservation properties and public open spaces. It was this experience that solidified my interest in how people experience and are connected to the places that surround them. I moved to Portland a few years later and found Depave and its unique approach.
I started working with Depave as its Project and Volunteer Coordinator in June 2015. Depave is a small yet mighty group, with only 1.5 full time staff, ensuring donor dollars go to implementing and maintaining projects. I’m the half timer, and typically make a mediocre joke about being short. Maybe this doesn’t translate in writing. This past summer, I coordinated logistics and volunteer activities at our ten project sites. It was—and remains—mind boggling to me how much can be accomplished through the teamwork of volunteers choosing to spend part of their weekends smashing heavy pavement and getting dirty. Dedicated individuals, determined and inspired to make a difference in their communities, continue to show up to make their vision a reality.
It was—and remains—mind boggling to me how much can be accomplished through the teamwork of volunteers.
Depave’s model of utilizing volunteers to instigate radical landscape change paired my love of placemaking with community engagement, ensuring projects are community-driven and sources of local pride for years to come. Placemaking is the concept of planning for, designing, and managing public spaces where people want to be. Through simple (and really badass) acts, Depave creates vibrant, living spaces that inspire outdoor engagement and connection to place. I don’t believe that we must experience nature as “out there”, a destination to drive to on weekends. By removing pavement and replacing it with native landscaping, Depave brings nature back to the city.
I don’t believe that we must experience nature as “out there”, a destination to drive to on weekends. By removing pavement and replacing it with native landscaping, Depave brings nature back to the city.
This year, we’re connecting with new communities and areas around Portland, sharing our model and engaging with folks who might not ever get another chance to participate in such unique projects. Our portfolio contains landscape features that manage stormwater runoff, natureplay and outdoor classroom components for student learning, and native vegetation for areas that lack access to other green spaces. Please join us! If we haven’t yet met, I hope to see you out on the asphalt this summer.
When I’m not overseeing projects, you can likely find me at home with my cat. I’ll be reading, drinking wine, or eating pizza, or all of the above 🙂