Paradigm Park

Three generations of one family create and maintain
a special place in nature that they share with their community

One of the articles in Rediscovering The North American Vision (IC#3)
Originally published in Summer 1983 on page 54
Copyright (c)1983, 1996 by Context Institute


SMALL BEADS OF perspiration accented the lines of satisfaction on Kathi’s face. She finally straightened up from her task of weeding to survey her work. No sooner had she looked up than she spotted a bottle cap, and she was quickly off on another excursion of picking up glass, picnic debris, cans and other items left behind by unthinking picnickers. Undaunted by the thoughtlessness of those before her, she saw only the effect of her efforts. Again she straightened to survey her work. The beauty of the sun shining through the trees, the sound of the creek bubbling nearby, the brief touch of a summer breeze on her warm skin brought a smile to her lips, and she turned to see what Jim was doing. He was busily working in the "shop" repairing that old tractor he had managed to salvage, loving every minute of it. Businessman during the week, on his days off he was the "master mechanic" for the park. At that moment Jim looked up to enjoy the loveliness of the park, and to see what Kathi was doing. They smiled and waved to each other, happy to be working on their dream, enjoying the songs of the earth, trees, creek and wind.

The family business had already encompassed three generations, but they all felt a need to expand, to further their horizons, to explore the possibilities of including their extended families – their closest friends – in their working/living plans. The countryside around Portland, Oregon, seemed to beckon to them, offering possibilities of working together as a family in a community-oriented manner. In 1977 Jim and Kathi Hoag first returned to Wilsada Park with thoughts of purchasing the property. They were enchanted. They remembered their dates there as teenagers; memories of picnics, swimming parties, the gathering together of children and adults into one happy place with room for both to feel at peace with nature and themselves. It seemed to be the perfect place for them. It had not actually been used as a park for several years and consequently needed loving grooming. They were eager to begin. But the timing was not quite right and it was impossible for them to buy the park right then.

Kathi still dreamed about the park, though. She knew that the park had always been owned and operated by a family, one that was concerned with the personality and beauty of the park itself. William and Sadie Mumpower had loved the area as a family park so much that they had opened it up to the public in 1928. Except for a brief closing in 1939, the people of Portland and the surrounding areas flocked to the park to enjoy the cool stream, the view of Mt. Hood, the hiking trails, the ball field, picnic areas, and just plain snoozing under the majestic trees. And now a corporation had purchased it. It just wasn’t right. The park deserved much more.

The ties of the park to family tradition, to the hopes of the dream of community sharing and enjoying the beauties of nature were not to be easily destroyed, however. In 1979, with nary a twig on the park touched by the corporation, Wilsada Park was again up for sale. By this time Jim’s mother as well as Jim and Kathi’s son and daughter were interested in the park, and negotiations were again in full swing. Oh, the joys of learning first hand how our legal system works! Amazingly enough, the negotiations danced along with comparative speed and ease. Wilsada now belonged to the Hoags.

With hope, determination and many friends, the initial cleaning process began. Dead limbs were removed, picnic tables were repaired and painted, debris was collected and hauled away. Jim began the long process of learning just exactly which pieces of large equipment were necessary for the operation and repairing of the park, and how to mend those golden oldies whenever they broke down. Underground pipes had to be repaired or replaced and additional drainage systems were added. The rest rooms were repaired and refurbished. Wiring throughout the park was repaired and improvements on the entire electrical system were begun. A footbridge built across lovely Clear Creek linked up the ball park with the picnic area. Re-landscaping around the caretaker’s home and public parking areas changed the entire drainage of one end of the park. Ferns, flowers, mushrooms and mosses again bloom in profusion instead of being swamped by the overabundance of water. And the roads. Yes, the roads. To repair, maintain, and create roads is a chapter that might require an entire book, but the roads are now progressing nicely. One never stops to realize the amazing ability of mother earth to reclaim her own until an effort is made to create a road through an untamed area. Perhaps it is true – if all of humanity were to suddenly disappear from the face of the earth, within 50 years there would be no traces of our great roadways when viewed from the air. Mother Nature would have planted her trees, grasses and underbrush.

The character of the park slowly changed to meet the improvements of Jim, Kathi, their family and friends. Kathi thought that a change in the name of the park reflecting the changes that were occurring within it would be a significant event for everyone concerned. Thoughts, dreams and conversations later, Paradigm Park seemed to emerge as the winner in the name contest for the changing park. Paradigm is defined by Webster as a model, example, pattern; an outstandingly clear or typical example of an archetype. At the moment of paradigm, however, is the moment of the possibility of change, called the paradigm shift. It seemed to fit – the searching for sharing with family and friends, the longing to continue growing in understanding of universal truths, the willingness to change o accommodate both of those goals. So Paradigm Park it was.

Being in an historical setting, it is easy to imagine the Native Northwest American Indians or the first settlers enjoying the beauties of this locale. Since Paradigm Park is a family venture, it is interesting to think back on other communities of the area. The American Indians viewed their involvement with community first from a family level. Their importance and status within the community was often measured by their status within their families. Indeed, many communities were comprised of one large family. Family members needed to work together in order for the unit to maintain an equilibrium. It enabled them to survive, sometimes with relative comfort because they helped to provide for each other. This would apply, of course, not only to the American Indians, but also to the first settlers from Europe. The families were the physical means to survive. Families also provided emotional support. Since the family unit consisted of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins as well as parents and siblings, there was usually someone in whom one could confide or from whom one could receive assistance and advice.

In our desire to become more autonomous, to break away from the confines and control of family, we have somehow alienated ourselves from each other. The trends to form specialized communities in the past fifteen or twenty years seem to be pointing out that many of us are no longer satisfied with this system. We seem to be longing for the closeness that comes with the commitment of time, love, and energy. We want this commitment to be long-term since too many things in our rapidly-evolving technological age are only temporary. It appears that many of us are unwilling to put our emotions into a throw-away package. We want more satisfaction, more growth, higher ideals.

Paradigm Park is that kind of a project. Jim, Kathi and their family feel as though they have just begun on a project that will change and grow in many ways with time. For example, they are already linking themselves up with the food chain of the Northwest by adding a small fish hatchery to their creek. Clear Creek already provides fishermen hours of pleasure and the hatchery insures good fishing for years to come.

Paradigm Park is more than a beautiful place on our lovely planet. It is a dream, a dream of family and community, a dream of unfolding possibilities. It is a project taking hours of labor and commitment, not only to the Park, but also to the concept of family and community. And it is meant to be shared. The Hoag family, working as a community unit, are endeavoring to share their park with others. Since there are actually four individual parks within Paradigm Park, it offers a wide variety of activities. The first park has sandy beaches along Clear Creek, waterfalls and picnic areas. The second park is wooded, has hiking trails, and enjoys a wonderful view of Mt. Hood. Without too much effort one could easily imagine a lovely village nestled among the trees on this park. The third park has an open-air lodge, concession stand, covered picnic areas with fireplaces, rest rooms, volleyball and basketball courts. The fourth park is a large field edged with fruit trees. Deer and other wildlife frequent all areas of the park. It is truly a place to be cherished and shared.

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