Two months after moving into my unfinished trailer, and returning from my first trip, I was on the hunt for a place to park. What I needed was a place in my home town, close to resources such as my job, building supplies, a wood shop, and overall local access, not to mention my family.
I landed in a shipyard on the Willamette River.
I have been here for 2 years.
There is a lot to say about my experience here and hopefully over time I will be able to tell the story of my life at Green Anchors.
Green Anchors is currently 7 acres of business park. Its property is the ghost of Portland’s historic harbor history. The small bay which has a tendency to pull debris from the river is loaded with artifacts from the days of ship repair; rusty rivets and washers, stakes and pilings revealing themselves at low tide and chunks of epoxy that look like green chert. It’s also part of 11 miles of super fund along the Willamette River south of Swan Island.
The tenants of Green Anchors work from shipping containers, wiring their own electric, designing their own space, making art, making tools, and some, making money. Most are helping others and some are finding freedom to expand and explore in a place that doesn’t judge them. A few have built their own offices and others are growing tasty things. This land is littered with boats and great ideas.
As a group we have made gardens, planted trees, hosted events, cooked amazing meals, and spent countless hours around a fire pit drinking beer and solving problems; Who and what? How much of a mess is tolerable? How fast is a person allowed to drive? Who will decide if it’s good for the river? And who will take care of the rooster when it freezes?
When I first came here, Green Anchors was deciding on it’s personality. It seemed like there was a natural selection happening where those who fit stayed and those who didn’t, didn’t. The yard was learning its potential and standing ground with things that were meant to be. Captain Bob is one of the things meant to be; A 1947 warship with undeniable charisma that rests more or less permanently in the Green Anchors bay. There are people here so unique that no matter what, they will survive here because as a community we need them. We ultimately want to be reminded of the beauty of our diversity. I think in some respects I was meant to be here too, I am part of the establishment.
I don’t think it was ever the intention to have a resident at the yard, but I came at the beginning with a query while things were unfamiliar, and as a result…. I became the night watch….. and so much more.
I have been both inspired and deterred by life here at the yard. On a personal level I was giving it a shot, living in the middle of a community, excited to have a giant handful of good people around me all at once. Isn’t that exceptional? We gather friends our whole lives and keep the good ones close, but they don’t roll in 15 at a time, ever.
After a life of mostly solitude, it was a totally new adventure for me.
This is not the time to reflect on the learning experience that I had. It should suffice to say…it was an epic journey!
What do I know?
I know what I have always known; this life is a trek through ubiquitous challenges through place and meaning.