What is Planting Zen in Siskiyou Square?
On a 14-acre former landfill in a low-income and long-neglected part of Portland, a new gathering place is taking root – 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
Cultivating peace, clarity, and compassion in an open, welcoming Buddhist community
A portion of Siskiyou Square will be home to a traditional Zen temple, adapted aesthetically to the Northwest region, and designed for low energy consumption. The temple will include a meditation hall (“Sodo” -pictured here), ceremony hall (“Hondo”), dormitories, office, classrooms and community gardens – allowing Dharma Rain to offer meditation practice, classes and workshops to members and non-members alike.
A Community and Neighborhood Refuge
Working at the grassroots level to improve the safety, livability and beauty of a neighborhood resource
More than 20 neighborhood groups, educational institutions, religious groups, ecological non-profits and government entities have contributed labor, funding or in-kind support for people to meet, walk a meandering path, enjoy open natural spaces (including a fruit orchard and community garden), or visit the temple and school playground.
An Array of Educational Programs
Promoting community, mindfulness and nature-based education
We are building a schoolhouse and playground for our new Frog Song Montessori Preschool and Dharma School – our nationally-recognized Buddhist Sunday school program. The site will also be a “living” campus for area schools (Portland State University, Portland Community College, Madison High School and neigboring elementary schools) to study conservation and ecology, and conduct field research.
A Cohousing Community
Developing a residential community for those committed to sustainable living, spiritual growth and harmony
Siskiyou Cohousing is building a 31-unit residential community on 2-acres of Siskiyou Square that will bring families together with a common interest in sustainability, spirituality, diversity and environmental stewardship. There will be a central community house, social activities and connection to activities on the land.
Facebook: Siskiyou Householder Refuge
An Environmental Cleanup Project
Integrating holistic, innovative environmental systems to deal with residual effects of the site’s former uses
Once a landfill for construction waste, and before that a rock quarry, Siskiyou Square was neglected for decades before 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 top soil to prepare the land for its new uses.
An Ecological Restoration Initiative
Creating vibrant and resilient native habitat and preserving open space at a crucial link in Northeast Portland’s largest green area
After purchasing the heavily impacted site, we started in on a ecological master plan, removing invasive specifies, planting an oak savannah, restoring an overgrown ravine and planting native species. Siskiyou Square will be a vital link in a local greenway – providing habitat, forage, passage for wildlife and a place of refuge from urban surroundings.