Waterlink Web gives back

Earth Day 2023 Recap

Earth Day is the day we gather with neighbors, acquaintances, and complete strangers to work together and give back to this planet, this place we call home.

In Oregon we are lucky to have SOLVE, a state-wide nonprofit that helps support volunteers who are restoring habitats, removing invasive plants, picking up litter, and much more. On Saturday, April 22nd, I partnered with Friends of Pier Park and SOLVE for the 17th year to organize and promote the Pier Park Pick-Up.

Thank you to the 50 volunteers — some I’ve known for years and many who I just met — for coming out to work at Pier Park, 75 acres of beauty in North Portland.

Removing invasive blackberries
Two volunteers pulling invasive blackberries at Pier Park.

This is what we accomplished:

  • Removed about 10,000 square feet of invasive plants,
  • Mulched about 8000 square feet of native gardens by spreading 48 yards of wood chips,
  • Planted close to 30 native shrubs and trees,
  • Picked up six bags of litter,
  • Made improvements on the Pier Park disc golf course to further protect native plants.
Mary Ann Aschenbrenner and Tom Herring from Benefit Corporations for Good.
Mary Ann Aschenbrenner and Tom Herring from Benefit Corporations for Good

In particular, I want to thank:

  • Stumptown Disc Golf whose members came out to improve the course
  • Benefit Corporations for Good for promoting the Pier Park Pick-Up among their members
  • Friends of Pier Park without whom this whole event would not be possible
  • SOLVE for providing garbage bags and gloves and an easy way for volunteers to learn about the event and register in advance

If you live in Oregon and want to organize an event to help nature on Earth Day, or any other day, I recommend you contact SOLVE to get started. You may have heard of the Beach and Riverside Cleanup. SOLVE is behind that as well.

Until Earth Day 2024, continue to take care of our home. Earth is the only one we have.

Dirty gloves and boots at the end of the day.
My dirty boots and gloves at the end of the event.

Learn more about Waterlink Web, how this business got started, and my commitment to Friends of Pier Park.

Waterlink Web gives back

Four Reasons Every Business Needs a Charity of Choice

Every business, even a small business, even a business just starting out, needs a Charity of Choice. It’s not a scheme to garner charitable credibility. It is a way to hold yourself accountable for working to improve your community while making a living.

In this post, I will go over four advantages of selecting a Charity of Choice for your business.

Waterlink Web gives back

Earth Day 2018

Volunteers gathered at the 2018 Pier Park Pick-Up organized by Waterlink Web
Volunteers from Waterlink Web, Starbucks, Portland Brewing Company, Friends of Pier Park, and U of O Portland Alumni joined together to celebrate Earth Day at the 2018 SOLVE Pier Park Pick-Up. The event was organized by Waterlink Web to improve and protect Pier Park.

Waterlink Web proved once again that our ethics include giving back and helping our community. On April 21st, working with Friends of Pier Park, we spearheaded the SOLVE Pier Park Pick-Up event, resulting in:

Waterlink Web gives back

How Do You Decontaminate a Polar Bear?

Greenpeace protest on the St. Johns Bridge with protestors dangling from the Bridge
First morning of the Greenpeace protest with volunteers in place on the St. Johns Bridge.

Last week was a hot one in St. Johns. The temperatures exceeded 100 and the St. Johns Bridge, which never takes a bad photo, exceeded the usual expectations of beauty with the addition of dangling Greenpeace volunteers, pennants waving in the breeze, and blue lights shining through the night. If the Bridge were a woman, she would have been Halle Berry dressed for the Oscars.

I walked down each morning and each evening to see and to marvel. I work from home, designing websites for small businesses and nonprofit organizations. My skills are in demand, and it’s not often that I take time during the work day for a walk. Still, for this event, I took the time.

I went even though I am conflicted. Yes, I walked there in sandals made, at least in part, from petroleum. Yes, I own a car. Yes, my home uses oil to heat. Of course, I am conflicted.

Waterlink Web gives back

Gone Green

Waterlink Web is a green company partially powered by a solar array and located on a Gold Certified Backyard Habitat property. This is not a new thing for us, nor is it something we have “advertised” in the past. It is just our way of life and another example of our commitment to the community.

Solar panels at Waterlink Web
Solar Panels on the Waterlink Web roof supply clean energy.
Certified Backyard Habitat
Yes, Waterlink Web is in a Certified Backyard Habitat.

Controversy surrounds “green washing” or as Wikipedia puts it, “… when significantly more money or time has been spent advertising being ‘green’ … than is actually spent on environmentally sound practices.” Another excellent resource about green washing is, a site sponsored by Greenpeace.

Waterlink Web is green because it inherits the philosophy and practices of my husband and myself, Mary Ann Aschenbrenner. We went “green” over 20 years ago when we stopped using chemicals and pesticides in the garden and lawn, choose native plants for landscaping and began composting kitchen scraps.

Today we operate a small apiary of organically tended honeybees, raise chickens for eggs and, just over a year ago, put up the money to install a solar array on our roof. While it will take about six more years for our solar array to completely pay for itself, we see the results every month in a smaller electric bill. Some months the solar array contributes half of the electricity used, more frequently one-third, but even in the winter months, when we see short days and rain in Western Oregon, it still contributes.

As a green interactive agency, Waterlink Web is proud to build websites for small businesses and non-profits that share our values of sustainability and community involvement.  We know that how we treat each other and the earth is the legacy that counts.

Waterlink Web gives back

The Rewards of Consistency

When I first imagined the Pier Park Pick-Up in 2008, it was with a ragtag board of volunteers, all members of Friends of Pier Park. We are dedicated to the protection and improvement of this North Portland Park and knew it would take more than just our members to tackle the invasive ivy that covered an entire hillside along one sheltered valley and was established at the north end of the park as well. We knew we needed help.

Trilliums at Pier Park

The encroaching ivy was a threat to the native understory of ferns, wood violets and trilliums, a threat that could eventually rise to choke the Douglas firs that dominate the Park. One member suggested we call SOLVE to get help. SOLVE staff suggested we schedule our event to coincide with the SOLVE IT Earth Day event sponsored by Portland General Electric.

It was a brilliant suggestion. Over the past six years that we have pulled ivy, blackberries, holly and even Japanese knotweed, it has always been with the help of volunteers from companies across Portland. One year it was Boeing who showed up with 50 volunteers including spouses and children. This year it was a law firm, Perkins Coie, who arrived early and prepared with gloves and tools.

Mary Ann and other volunteers at the 2014 Pier Park PickUp
Mary Ann Aschenbrenner and other volunteers at the 2014 Pier Park PickUp

Along with our own volunteers and the support of Portland Parks staff I am proud to say that we have beaten back the ivy and the blackberries are at bay. The knotweed is nowhere to be seen and the holly starts that came up over the past year are removed. In fact, even the amount of litter picked up seems to decline each year.

This is the reward of consistency. In North Portland, in a neighborhood park that features a Sequoia grove and a forest of Douglas Fir, the ivy that is taking over so many of our public forests is virtually gone. Thank you SOLVE. Thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who have come out over the years to Pier Park for the annual SOLVE IT event. You have made a difference!

Volunteer group at 2014 Pier Park Pick-Up
Volunteer group at 2014 Pier Park Pick-Up