Health and Environment

Cully Neighborhood is disproportionately low-income and people of color, and suffers from a poor environment: 26% of residents live in poverty; 51% of residents are people of color; almost 9 in 10 students qualify for free/reduced lunch. These children lack places to play and experience nature, and are isolated from Cully’s open spaces by aspects of the built environment (e.g., unimproved streets) that create barriers to physical activity. Living Cully works to address these barriers to healthy, active living and access to greenspaces, through the construction of Cully Park, and through Living Cully Walks programming.

Cully Park
Living Cully’s first Signature Project, the Verde-led Let Us Build Cully Park/LUBCP! project, set the template for Living Cully’s braided approach by addressing multiple disparities in a single development. In the year 2000, Portland Parks and Recreation acquired a 25-acre former landfill in Cully, designating it as the location for a future Cully Park. A Master Plan was completed in 2008, but PP&R’s shrinking budget left no funding to implement the Plan. Community action, outside resources and a new park development model would be needed to bring a park to Portland’s most park-deficient neighborhood. In 2010, Verde organized the LUBCP! coalition to build momentum for Cully Park’s funding and construction, directing our outreach and advocacy efforts toward realizing a community-led development model: a public-private partnership, whereby Parks would hand over Cully Park development rights to Verde. 2012, Portland City Council approved the partnership agreement. Since 2012, Verde has secured $5.8M for Cully Park.

By building Cully Park, Verde transforms a brownfield into open space that restores habitat, supports cultural expression, educates youth, provides economic opportunity, and establishes a community-based model for green infrastructure development. Construction will conclude in 2017 and Cully Park will open spring of 2018!

Native Gathering Garden at Cully Park
Beginning in 2010, a committed core group of Native and non-Native community leaders turned to our Portland Urban Indian community to define a Tribal Garden design feature. Initially sized at 20,000 square feet, the Native Gathering Garden at Cully Park has grown to over 36,000 square feet and now provides the unifying design theme for the entire Park. It is the first feature of its kind at a City of Portland park.

This innovative project is based in traditional indigenous wisdom, and will create a place to:


Cultivate indigenous foods and materials for cultural practices and traditions

Revitalize the associated knowledge, skills and ethics in an urban landscape

Planting of the garden began in November of 2015 & Cully Park will open spring of 2018!

Eco-Cultural Restoration Area
NAYA family Center leads the Eco-Cultural restoration of their 10.6 acre campus in the Cully Neighborhood.  This is a Living Cully signature project that leverages social, economic and environmental justice goals.

Wayfinding/Living Cully Walks: Health Impacts
In 2012, Verde and partners launched Living Cully Walks in response to park, habitat and active transportation disparities in NE Portland’s Cully Neighborhood. The goals of the program were to enhance pedestrian and bicycle access to Cully’s open spaces through community-based planning (access to such open spaces decreases obesity rates, improves nutrition status, and increases exercise). The community responded: 21 group pedestrian, bicycle or transit trips to local parks (e.g., Cully Park), with 142 participants (90% Latino, 85 youth, 57 adults). Participants identified significant barriers to walking or biking to local parks. Living Cully is working to implement phase 2 of the Living Cully walks program which increases physical activity for Cully children and families via multilevel, culturally appropriate strategies including activating the Living Cully Wayfinding System.