What an amazing community building activity this has been. What started out as a faint idea, grew into a six-month endeavor – that earned $7,837.34 for Sellwood Middle School, to support programs such as art, music, library, and physical education.
It also inspired numerous art projects, brought the community together, and culminated in a permanent installation of the only intact piece of railing from our beloved, Historic Sellwood Bridge.
Just a little history of the first Bridge. The original Sellwood Bridge opened on December 15, 1925. At the time is was built, the city had just completed the Ross Island Bridge and the Burnside Bridge, and there was not much money or resources left over, so the Sellwood Bridge was built ‘lightly.’ In addition, back in 1925 they did not realize the west hillside above the bridge was slowly sliding into the Willamette River, further destabilizing the ‘lightly’ constructed bridge. It turned out that the building of the Sellwood Bridge was one of the biggest political scandals in Multnomah County’s history. Accusations of graft, kickbacks and corruption led to the dismissal of three County Commissioners. By the time the new bridge was built, the old one had a safety rating of 2 out of 100; buses and heavy vehicles had been banned from it for years and County employees had worked diligently to keep it from crumbling completely.
Our chapter started back in the summer of 2014 while sipping Blue Kangaroo decafe coffee I read in the Bee that Multnomah County was selling the Historic Sellwood Bridge for $1. I went straight to my computer and typed a letter, asking the Sundt/Slayden Joint Venture if they would partner with me to conduct a fundraiser for our local public schools.
They readily agreed, and the next thing I did was deliver seven big empty plastic buckets to the worksite. Five were filled with cement and two were filled with rebar. And soon thereafter my husband Chris Ginocchio and our friend Kevin Hanlon used a diamond-bladed chain saw to extract a 1,200-pound beautiful intact piece of railing was delivered via a telescoping forklift, to my parking strip.
With this, the project started!
By the work of Sellwood Middle School students, the cement was fitted into keepsake boxes. By the talent of Oaks Bottom Forge, the rebar was recycled into numerous conversation pieces – all with their own character and charm. Gavin Mahaley created the marketing materials, and the items were sold at Blue Kangaroo Coffee Roasters and the Portland Bottle Shop. In addition to sales, we fueled a bidding war around the one and only intact piece of bridge railing. Ten lucky businesses, individuals or families won a spot on the plaque, which is mounted by the railing, permanently on display in front of our neighborhood association, SMILE (at SE 13th and Tenino). Throughout the summer, we facilitated art activities for children and adults alike. They created stepping stones, sculptures, mosaics, gnome gardens, and decorated coloring pages with pieces from the Historic Sellwood Bridge.
The Bridge Project participated in Sundae in the Park, Providence Bridge Pedal, Sunday Parkways, and the Sellwood Waterfront Concerts. Our activities were reported in The Bee numerous times, the Portland Tribune, and on KGW. Portland Street Roots and pdx/parent listed us in their holiday gift guides.
Oaks Bottom Forge made nearly 600 items from the old, rusted rebar. If you lined up the items end to end, they'd stretch nearly 2 1/2 football fields long, a little more than halfway across the span of the New Sellwood Bridge, and one door short of stretching from Oaks Bottom Forge to Blue Kangaroo.
Our Bridge project concluded on February 4th, 2017. The ceremony was well attended, Governor Roberts honored us by speaking, and the speakers filled the event with laughter. We thanked over 50 volunteers and partnering businesses, and gave an extra shout-out to the Sundt/Slayden Joint Venture whose willingness to engage made this all possible. On top of that, we gifted Sellwood Middle School with over $7,800 to use to enhance local, public education. All in all, we could not have asked for a nicer ending to our Sellwood Bridge Projects.
There are so many people to thank, I am not sure where to begin! If I have left your name off (or have incorrectly misspelled it), - please let me know! With much gratitude, Rachel Ginocchio, Rumpus Events
Honorable Heros: None of this would have been possible without the generosity and support of Ted Aadland and the crew at Sundt/Slayden.
'YES We Can' Crew: Cindy Wallace, Flo Posadas, Pat Wojciechowski, Gavin Mahaley.
Government Gurus: Mike Pullen and his team at Multnomah County, Brianne Williams and Jenna Scott and their team at the Sellwood-Moreland Branch of the Multnomah County Library.
Local Business Buddies: Zenbu, Portland Bottle Shop, Savory Spice, Collage, Oodles 4 Kids, Cloud Cap Games, Blue Kanagroo, Oaks Bottom Forge, New Seasons.
Railing Wranglers: Don Bolton, Ardy Dunn, Matt Hainley, Bruce and Kris Heiberg, Joel Leib, Elaine O’Keefe, Nancy Walsh, Corinne Stefanick.
Winning Warriors: Caldwell Family, Joanna L. Dorchuck, Rob Margolis of Stumptown Test Prep, Blue Kangaroo Coffee Roasters, Newcomb Ono Family, Ginocchio Family, Grigsby Family, Wes Kasubuchi, Demers Family, Leasia Family, Hainley Family, Heiberg Family
The Educators: Sellwood Middle School staff, volunteers and their families: Brian Anderson, Principal; Cassandra Nicholson, PTA President; Stacey Lovett, Foundation President; Rachel Arant, Issac and Eben Brown; Michelle Easby; Emma Gall; Chris, Rachel, Hudson, Lila Ha Ginocchio; Sherri, David, Jack Grigsby; Sydney Hepler; Arly Holzweissig; Maddy and Ben Howe; Sofie Laos; Annika Lovett; Teague and Rowan O'Hara; Elspeth Weber; Lily Witter; Sasha, Ben, Madeleine, Olivia, Max, Jonah Wright
Creative Artists: Everyone who participated in the art activities and the winners of the art contest: Simone, Lola, Mimi, Isabel, Simon, Lisa and Tamar.
Helping Hands: Bill Berry at BK Engineers, Atlas Supply, Everett Custom Homes, Johnson Concrete
The Historians: All those who purchased bridge pieces in one form and another.