Dharma Rain Zen Center purchased this 14-acre former landfill in a low-income and long-neglected part of Portland in 2012 and, since then, has transformed it into a place where people can walk in tranquil native habitat, take up residence with spiritually-minded people, work in community gardens, bring their children to school or study, and practice ancient contemplative teachings.

A Zen Training and Study Center

Dharma Rain has created a space for cultivating peace, clarity, and compassion in an open, welcoming Buddhist community. A portion of the site has become home to a traditional Zen meditation hall (Sodo), adapted aesthetically to the Northwest region and designed for low energy consumption. Two duplex residences have been moved to the site and repurposed for use as dormitories and a home for our full-day Frog Song Montessori Preschool. A double-wide modular building serves as an office and library. These facilities allow Dharma Rain to offer meditation practice, classes, and workshops to members and nonmembers alike.

A Community and Neighborhood Refuge

The community has strongly supported Dharma Rain’s transformation of an abandoned brownfield in their backyard into a space for contemplation, community connection, and native habitat. Neighbors often join volunteer work parties engaged in native-habitat restoration and other projects on site. Every day, parents pushing strollers, kids on bikes or skateboards, dog-walkers, birdwatchers, and “just curious” visitors make their way along the public pathway wending through the grounds.

A Space for Mindfulness and Nature-based Educational Programs

We have created a space and a playground for our Frog Song Montessori Preschool and our Dharma school – a nationally-recognized Buddhist Sunday morning program for children. The site also serves as a “living” campus for area schools to study conservation and ecology and to conduct field research. See Our Partners to learn more about our partnerships with local schools and universities.

An Environmental Cleanup Project

The Dharma Rain site is at the former location of a landfill, which received demolition debris from nearby freeway construction until it closed in 1982. Before that it was a rock quarry. Aside from a brief tenure as a driving range, the site had sat vacant for over three decades when Dharma Rain purchased it in 2012. Working with grants from the EPA and others, we have invested in stormwater management and methane mitigation systems, and improved the topsoil to prepare the land for its new uses. Land Stewardship Practice at Dharma Rain describes in more detail the restoration work that has been completed.

An Ecological Restoration Initiative

After purchasing the heavily impacted site, we started in on an ecological master plan to create a vibrant and resilient native habitat by removing invasive species, planting an oak savannah, restoring an overgrown ravine, and planting native species. Our site has become a vital link in Northeast Portland’s largest greenway – extending from Rocky Butte and the Grotto to the east to Glenhaven park and the Rose City golf course to the west – providing habitat, forage, and passage for wildlife and a place of refuge from urban surroundings.

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