Vancouver couple lived frugally so they could give generously
At 98, Harris Dusenbery has been giving charitably longer than most of us have even been alive. “I’ve given all my working life,” he said, “as long as I’ve had income.” In recognition of Dusenbery’s commitment to giving consistently over his lifetime, he has been selected as a recipient of a new award from the Community Foundation of Southwest Washington.
photo by Anni Becker
The Lifetime of Giving Award, said Community Foundation President Richard Melching, “is intended to recognize people who have a long life history of giving back to the community. It’s a great way to recognize some people deserving of recognition who might otherwise not be known.”
Dusenbery began giving charitably largely at the inspiration of his wife, Evelyn, who died a couple of years ago. “One of my wife’s mantras,” he said, “was that we should live frugally and give generously.”
Dusenbery and his wife both attended Reed College and were married in 1940. He began working for the Social Security Administration in Portland when he got out of the Army in 1945, and they moved to Vancouver in 1951, when he opened and became District Manager of a new Vancouver office for the SSA. “We gave fairly regularly then, what we could. It wasn’t particularly generous during the years we were putting our kids through college, we didn’t have much left over. Really, our giving-as-a-large-percentage-of-our-income happened after we retired.”
On the advice of a co-worker, Dusenbery prepared well for retirement, being sure the house was paid off, the cars were relatively new and paid for, and they had no debt. He retired in 1969, and the couple found that they were able to live comfortably, travel extensively, and still give generously to causes that were important to them.
The Dusenberys gave extensively to nature-related organizations like the Columbia Land Trust, Sierra Club and Nature Conservancy, and to organizations that support women, like YWCA and Planned Parenthood. “I also started giving to the Community Chest in Portland right after I got out of the Army,” Dusenbery said, “and I have contributed to them ever since.”
One of their strong priorities was to support arts-related organizations, like the Columbia Arts Center. When that effort eventually folded, the Dusenberys transferred their fund to the Community Foundation, where they established an Arts and Learning Endowment Fund. “Later, we established a performing arts fund in Evelyn’s name,” Dusenbery said, “and I recently established a fund there for the homeless.”
Dusenbery’s ability to give generously even while living modestly is something that Melching said he finds “remarkable. He makes personal sacrifices and goes without so that he can give to others.”
“I think that’s one of the obligations of citizenship,” said Dusenbery. “To leave your community a better place than when you arrived.”
– Harris Dusenbery
Three park-oriented events will converge as Get Outdoors Day on June 9
Even in the Pacific Northwest, known for its rivers, mountains, forests and of course the Pacific Ocean, most residents still find themselves indoors a large part of every week. National Get Outdoors Day seeks to change that and develop an awareness of the businesses and organizations in each region that encourage an active, outdoor lifestyle.
Vancouver is host to the metro region’s festival, to be held on June 9 at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site’s visitor center. Last year, it was held at the Water Resources Education Center, and this year it is a joint effort of the City of Vancouver, Clark County, the National Park Service, Parks Foundation of Clark County, REI, the U.S. Forest Service and Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation. At press time, additional event supporters/sponsors included Portland Parks and Recreation, Waste Connections, Team Construction, Discover Your Northwest and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
This year, three events will be blended into one full day under the banner of Get Outdoors Day, which will include Northwest National Park Family Day and Brigade Encampment. Everything will be free of charge and open to the public.
Organizers for Get Outdoors Day expect thousands of people that Saturday, as well as a list of participants that will make any kid smile, including Smokey Bear, Ranger Rick and Oregon Caves. Bad Monkey Bikes, and food vendors Vancouver Pizza Company and Ice Cream Renaissance will represent Vancouver, along with Portland’s outdoor gear retailer Next Adventure. REI will offer the grand prize for the day’s contest.
Robin Rose, recreation program manager for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and the Forest Service Regional Office received a small “Service First” grant. It is “seed money to help our new GO Day partnerships grow, get established and succeed,” said Rose. “However, more importantly, it’s a small portion of what it will take to pull off this event. What is really more exciting to me is that all of the partners and participants are coming to the event at their own expense, donating their time, supplies, freebie giveaways, and sometimes prizes to the event, because they all have a common interest in the main goals of the event – connecting with people of all ages and experience levels to the great outdoors and encouraging healthy, active, outdoor lifestyles.”
National Get Outdoors Day 2012:
Your Gateway to the Great Outdoors
Saturday, June 9, 2012, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
1501 Evergreen Blvd. in Vancouver
Stage your home for yourself
photos by joy overstreet
“Why did I wait till I was selling the house to fix it up? Now it looks so great I hate to leave.” It’s sad, but almost every time I stage a home for sale the homeowner says something like this when we’re done.
Why give all the pleasures of an attractive home to future strangers? You could be enjoying them today in the home you intend to keep. After all, who deserves a welcoming and attractive living environment more than you?
The “Stayging” Process
1. Start by imagining you’re putting your house on the market. The first thing a realtor would do is a walk-through with you, pointing out the things that will turn off potential buyers: the dying shrub by the front door, the chipped paint on the woodwork, the cluttered countertops, the faded living room draperies, the stuffed closets. On and on.
2. Get help from a neutral party. Recognize that you may be blind to some of your home’s faults and ask a trusted friend (hopefully with a good eye) to do the walk-thru with you, helping you create a list of problem areas to address. Ask them to look not only for eyesores, but also for positive features that could be played up (or revealed, if they’re lost in clutter).
3. Declutter. It’s highly likely you’ve got too much stuff. Until you do some serious weeding out, your home’s best features may remain hidden. Most realtors suggest you get rid of at least 30% of it (furniture included) to give the home an open feeling that allows the energy to flow. Honestly, you will not miss these things.
4. Make the necessary fixes. You know you’ve been meaning to replace the ripped screen door for years. Do it now. Patch and paint the woodwork. If you don’t want to do the work yourself, hire a handyman. And get rid of those tired towels and the grungy shower curtain – new ones are cheap and cheery.
6. Get your sparkle on. Wash your windows inside and out. Whisk the dust off your baseboards then wash them with a damp soapy rag, using a toothbrush in the corners if necessary to clear out accumulated dirt. Ditto around your bathroom fixtures and faucets. Really.
5. Finally, ratchet up your curb appeal. Use the color and beauty of healthy plants by the front door. Wouldn’t you love to be greeted this way every day?
Joy Overstreet, owner of Joyful Spaces, helps home and small business owners create environments that look and feel great. She offers many tips on using color, design and feng shui at her website, www.creatingjoyfulspaces.com. Or call her at 360-314-2467.
Clark County Home Grown evolving into community facing nonprofit for income-eligible
Kris Potter is a master composter/recycler, gardening educator, and former coordinator for Clark County Home Grown, a program which placed more than 100 raised bed gardens across the county for use by income eligible families.
Between 2009 and 2011, Potter, using a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology, played matchmaker between 14 host sites, gardening mentors and dozens of people who were interested in learning how to feed their families through organic square-foot gardening. Host sites included churches and schools.
Before Potter became administrator of the program, the gardens were installed on the gardners’ personal property. But the host sites have turned the project outward, creating partners in the community.
For example, said Kris, “Maple Grove Middle School wanted to start a school garden and got a garden installed at no cost through the grant funded program. School kids have first choice (for planting) during the school year, and families adopt it during the rest of the growing season when there is still plenty of time to add to it.
The Ecology grant was for $75,000, and each bed came supplied with season plants, trowel, gloves, kneeling pad and the All-New Square Foot Gardening book. Kris also set up composting on most of the sites. The host sites supplied space and water.
When that grant expired at end of 2010, Clark County Home Grown moved out of the county and is now operated privately by Potter. She partnered in 2011 with Americans Building Communities and the Vancouver Watersheds Alliance with a grant from Walmart to install three community gardens along the Fourth Plain Corridor. Five free CCHG beds were offered. The rest were for lease.
This season leaves Potter with no money. Instead, a seed has been planted for future growth. She started the business Family Gardening to administer the Department of Ecology grant, and is in the process of turning it into a 501(c)3 to keep doing the work that has been started. All the host sites have taken over the beds that were planted there, and they are going to various uses. For example, Vancouver Heights Methodist Church continues to offer the beds to low-income families, while Ridgefield Methodist uses them to fund church projects.
Ideally, the program would be “turn-key,” said Potter, where she sets up the gardens on host sites and the sites take them over and continue to do work for the community with them. This has happened with a number of the sites so far.
At Unitarian Universalist Church of Vancouver, volunteers have recruited five families from Martin Luther King Jr Elementary School, which is “adopted” by the church for such projects. Potter is consulting with the coordinator from the church, but the project is now “out of my hands and into theirs,” she said.
Potter also consults with some other schools on their community gardens and loves it, but, she said “I would like to continue to work with income-qualified households.” Community gardens, she said, are “a way to get fresh organic vegetables, family time and community building. The benefits are especially pertinent to income qualified households.”
Kris Potter is seeking volunteers to help coordinate gardens, mentor families and manage compost on sites. She can be reached at email@example.com or 360-695-5627.
Preserve Diversity and Provide Links to the Past
When Biological Science Technician Robert Goughnour came to work at the Washington State University Vancouver Extension in 2000, his job was researching apple maggots and cherry fruit flies in collaboration with the USDA Agricultural Research Foundation. The goal of his research was to find out what kinds of plants and trees fruit flies lay their eggs in – vital information for Washington apple and cherry farmers.
As Goughnour traveled into the fields around Clark, Skamania and Cowlitz counties, he often found himself at old homesteads where he discovered some unusual varieties of apple trees. Research into the history of apples revealed, not surprisingly, that there were many more varieties grown in the 1800s than there are now. An interest in anthropology and archeology fueled Goughnour’s desire to save these heritage trees for future generations.
“We still don’t know what some of the varieties are because it’s so costly to find out,” Goughnour said. “And, when these trees are gone, they’re gone.”
Historic trees get a new future
With the help of Blair Wolfley, former WSU Extension District Director and current 78th Street Heritage Farm manager, and other members of the Master Gardener Foundation, Goughnour formed a committee to begin plans for a heritage orchard in 2003.
The WSU Heritage Orchard got off the ground with a grant from the Master Gardener Foundation to purchase tools and root stock for the original tree grafts. They were given permission to use space at the WSU Heritage Site on the Salmon Creek campus, and in 2004, the WSU Heritage Orchard was dedicated.
According to Goughnour (pictured), several well-known community members have supported the WSU Heritage Orchard, including former educator and state legislator, Al Bauer, who contributed cuttings from two trees from his property originating in the 1920s, and Clark County Commissioner Mark Boldt.
The WSU Heritage Orchard is planted along a public walking trail that winds through the Heritage Site. The orchard was recently moved and replanted due to a salmon preservation project on the nearby banks of Mill Creek. According to John Benson from WSU facilities operations and a Clark County Master Gardener, invasive reed canary grass and Himalayan blackberry bushes were removed from along the creek. Native riparian plants were then introduced to address soil erosion and other factors contributing to the decline of salmon populations in recent years.
“The heritage orchard is a living repository,” Benson said, “It’s a part of preserving the history of the area, and it adds interest on the walking trail.”
There are currently 50 to 60 heritage apple and pear trees planted in the WSU Heritage Orchard. They bear modest tags stating their type and which pioneer homestead they came from (see sidebar). Goughnour says there’s room to expand the orchard at this site, and he hopes to someday replace the tags with plaques to identify the tree type and its origin. The trees in the orchard are intentionally low maintenance. The cuttings were grafted onto semi-dwarf root stock, so they’ll grow only about eight to 10 feet tall. The most mature trees in the orchards are six years old and just now beginning to bear fruit.
Goughnour’s vision for the future of the WSU Heritage Orchard has evolved beyond the preservation of fruit trees. There are several lilacs near the old homestead ruins at the WSU Heritage Site that he’d like to see moved to the orchard. He imagines adding heirloom flowers and other perennials someday as well.
A site for research and demonstration
Extra cuttings from WSU Heritage Orchard were planted in a small orchard at the 78th Street Heritage Farm, where Goughnour conducts his fruit fly research. This became the Experimental and Heritage Orchard where Goughnour also grows ornamental shrubs, currants, grapes, blueberries and cherry trees among the heritage trees. Many of these come from the same pioneer homesteads as the heritage apple and pear trees.
“This not only utilizes the space between the trees but allows me to continue my research on how fruit flies interact with different shrubs and fruit bearing plants,” Goughnour explained.
There is currently no walking trail at the Experimental and Heritage Orchard, but it can be viewed by appointment. The WSU Vancouver Extension also offers several public workshops on site. Goughnour hopes that when his research is finished, the Experimental and Heritage Orchard will continue to be utilized as a demonstration site for backyard growers.
Washington State University Heritage Orchard
WSU Vancouver Barn at Salmon Creek Avenue, Vancouver
The WSU Heritage Orchard is a repository of heritage fruit trees from area pioneer homesteads. An on-site walking trail is open daily, dawn to dusk.
Experimental and Heritage Orchard
WSU Clark County Extension / 78th Street Heritage Farm
1919 N.E. 78th St., Vancouver
The Experimental and Heritage Orchard contains heritage fruit trees from pioneer homesteads, and other shrubs, bushes and trees for demonstration and research. It is open weekdays by appointment.
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