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Kevin Duckworth Dock - an activism success story

August 12, 2020
An Activism Success Story
Six years for approval, four hours to install
By Willie Levenson, Human Access Project, Ringleader
Seems like so long ago. On September 30, 2014, Human Access Project organized a “Swimming Hole Discovery Tour” on the Willamette River in Portland to influence the City of Portland’s 2030 Planning Process. This was the fourth year of HAP’s advocacy and we were slowly ...   read more


April 7, 2020
“At the catch! Blades in! Power 10! Let her run!”
Kaspar Murer, Past President, Wasabi Paddling Club
Renée Morgan, Calm Water Coalition, Portland Rowing Club
On any day on the Willamette River, you might hear steersmen and oarspersons shouting these commands to their rowing and paddling teams. Portland ...   read more


November 24, 2019
We all know humans have a great ability to screw up nature. Perhaps that is why it feels so good when we collectively take action to undo these wrongs – “unscrewing” nature up a little and seeing humans and nature respond in positive ways.
The tide is turning. Many people in Portland are starting to care about the Willamette River – to participate, feel empowered, and affect change. It’s ...   read more

Birth of a Beach, Audrey McCall Beach {Part 3 of 3}

May 23, 2019
By Ringleader Willie Levenson
In the first two parts of this story about the forming of Audrey McCall Beach, HAP worked to address the creativity gap to unearth a beach (Part 1) that was buried in concrete, rip-rap, and abandoned pilings (Part 2).
The aspect of activism I love the most is cultivating and sharing encouragement and support from peers. Collaborating with peers to solve problems. These ...   read more

Birth of a Beach, Audrey McCall Beach {Part 2 of 3}

April 29, 2019
By Ringleader Willie Levenson
In the first part of this story about the forming of Audrey McCall Beach, HAP worked with inmates from the Inverness Inmate Work Crew to haul out concrete from the beach. With their help and the muscle power of other friends/volunteers, we removed 19 tons of concrete over four summers – all without bringing in heavy mechanized equipment (as required in our permit).
The ...   read more

Portland's 2nd Beach, Audrey McCall Beach {Part 1 of 3}

March 24, 2019
By Ringleader, Willie Levenson
The Big Float’s first year was 2011. Around 1,000 people participated. It was a crazy lift and learning curve to get it together. 
To put on The Big Float we had to find sponsors, pull permits, plan the event, line up bands and vendors, create a website, and hope folks came. It was thrilling to pull it off and experience validation that we were on to something. ...   read more


November 25, 2018
 By HAP Ringleader Willie Levenson  
I send warm greetings and much love to the HAP family. Thank you for being a part of it and helping us get where we are! 
Look what we have accomplished together in our nine years. Two new downtown beaches, 5,000+ people at The Big Float, a thriving River Hugger swim team, and a city slowly but surely falling in love with its river. Our culture is changing right ...   read more

Ringleader wins ASLA Tom McCall Award

October 30, 2018
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has announced the winners of its 2018 Recognition Awards. Selected as winner of the Tom McCall Award is our intrepid leader, Willie Levenson! Major kudos to our Captain!
ASLA stated, “With his leadership, Willie Levenson and HAP set out to raise awareness of the river and ultimately inspire ‘a City in love with its river,’ leading to widespread stewardship ...   read more

Adapting to “The New Norm”

September 1, 2018

Unhealthy air, a warming planet, Harmful Algae Blooms…we’ve been getting the memos and dire calls to action since our childhood. Now the writing is on the wall. It’s actually way beyond the wall - the signs are everywhere.
What do these messages say to you and how does it make you feel?
Once upon a time before science had an explanation for everything, humans feared and revered Mother ...   read more

Ross Island Lagoon - Harmful Algae Bloom - A Solvable Problem

September 1, 2018
Have you been curious why a Harmful Algae Bloom (HAB) has developed in Ross Island Lagoon the last four summers in downtown Portland? Good news is there’s a surprisingly simple solution to this problem.
Why are these blooms happening?
It is very unusual for a Harmful Algae Bloom (HAB) to form on a river. Typically HABs need three things to thrive: little to no water circulation (why ...   read more

Willamette RIver - Here We Come

May 29, 2018
There’s a lot of talk going on about culture these days. Regardless of your ethnicity you have one! Your culture is who is in your circle - it’s your friends, your family, your co-workers, your neighbors - all these groups individually and together help form the perceptions we hold about things.
It’s time for the culture of our group of HAP members to step forward to help influence our own sub-cultures. ...   read more

Action Alert - Sample Letter

May 28, 2018

Deborah Kafoury, Chair 503.988.3308
Sharon Meieran, Commissioner-Dist.1 (Downtown) 503.988.5220
Loretta Smith, Commissioner-Dist. 2 503.988.5219
Jessica Vega Pederson, Commissioner-Dist. 3 503.988.5217
Lori Stegmann, ...   read more

One City/Many Futures: The Portland We Are Making

March 19, 2018
March 26: Greening Portland
Architecture, city planning and community/environmental activists come together to define a sustainable vision for the future of Portland. How many bioswales and bike lanes are enough? What about widening I-5, or increasing mass transit? How many highrises, parking spaces, and how high is high? There's talk about equity, but is anyone creating it, and how are they doing it?
The ...   read more

Sewer Overflows and the Willamette River

February 11, 2018
I will never apologize for a Sewage Overflow into our city’s river. When it happens I feel a collective shame for our community. I wish it would never happen at all. But how often does a sewage overflow happen? In 2017 there were a grand total of seven - that is an occurrence of less than 2% of the year!When a sewage overflow does happen it is typically 80% storm water and 20% sewage.
This Valentine's Day Portland ...   read more

Swim on Portland!

January 23, 2018
We MUST tend to our individual flames and seek out things that stoke our optimism.
What is the alternative?  
For many, including myself, 2017, and continuing into 2018, has felt like a pile on.  Did we take the eight magical years with Obama for granted?  Did Obama make it look too easy?  Did we become complacent and expect progress would continue to happen without active public participation? ...   read more

Attention Army Corps of Engineers: Give Fish the Water They Need!

December 3, 2017

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently released its proposal to allocate water stored in Willamette Basin reservoirs and is taking comments on the plan through December 22. Your voice is needed! Please act now and ask the Corps to give more water to fish and wildlife and to prioritize threatened fish populations in low-water years. 
The Corps has proposed allocating 962,000 acre-feet to fish and wildlife, 254,000 ...   read more

Kon Tiki Fundraiser

November 3, 2017
A fund/funraiser for Human Access Project
Thursday, Dec. 7  6:30 pm
Hollywood Theatre with after-party at Popina Swimwear
Aye, it is true that you can change your world while sitting on your butt – on a raft or theater seat. Support the Human Access Project and put an oar in the Portland “riverlution” by watching one of the most amazing ...   read more

Offseason Training

November 3, 2017
We have officially hit the HAP offseason. What an amazing season it was! Thank you for being a part of it! So much accomplished, so much fun. I feel like I am witnessing an awakening in our community – can you see it too?
As Ringleader I tested my limits and pushed myself as far as my body and mind would allow. It feels great knowing I gave it all I could, that the work yielded positive results, and so many ...   read more

The 6-Year Path to Audrey McCall Beach

October 9, 2017
In May 2011, Human Access Project, in an effort to create an improved access point to Portland's largest public open space, the Willamette River, began a project to re-envision what HAP viewed as an excellent potential beach park. The site had many pros - great access off the eastside esplanade, a walkable distance from the central eastside, great views of downtown and sunsets, and just off a major bike commuter route ...   read more

Tad McCall on “Audrey McCall” Beach

October 8, 2017
Audrey McCall, the wife of Oregon Governor Tom McCall, loved to swim. Now she may be lucky enough to have a beach named after her right in Portland on the Willamette River. And knowing her, she would invite all Oregonians to share it, enjoy it and mostly, swim from it.
My mother, then Audrey Owen, grew up in Spokane, an area dotted with lovely lakes. Her parents would take their three daughters ...   read more

River Hugger Report

September 21, 2017
The record-breaking heat of this summer only added to the enthusiasm with which our city embraced the mighty downtown Willamette. The River Huggers Swim Team had a fantastic season, logging 62 swims during our regular season (June 15 – September 15), and drawing record numbers: Most swims included thirty-plus participants, and new members continued to join through the season.
Thanks to some important groundwork ...   read more

Willamette River Renaissance

September 21, 2017
It has been an amazing Cinderella summer for Human Access Project (HAP) and our mission of Transforming Portland’s Relationship with the Willamette River. We are now approaching our eighth year of advocacy.
The first six years were marked by slow, but steady, incremental success. Politically speaking, HAP spent our first three years fighting for a seat at the table and the next three developing relationships with ...   read more

Humans wanted for City Council meeting

May 16, 2017
Humans wanted for City Council meeting
Are you a human who happens to love the beautiful Willamette River that flows through our city? Would you like to see beaches along the shores of downtown Portland, with safe places for you and other humans to access, swim and play in the water? Then we’ve got an opportunity for you on June 7th from 2-4!
HAP and others who support ...   read more

Esoteric ramblings from the Ringleader

May 16, 2017
Esoteric ramblings from the Ringleader
I am looking to take on a vocabulary change. I have grown tired of the word “partnering” being thrown around today. I prefer the word “cooperation”.
Partnering feels like a box you check when filling out a grant application. Partnering is so 1980’s. I am not at a swinger’s party tossing my keys in a bowl. I ...   read more

Mayor Embraces River In State Of The City Address

April 14, 2017
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler came out strong in support of the river and public access – and included several of our HAP talking points – in his recent State of the City address. Ted also gave a shout-out to our swim team, the River Huggers! High fives, Mayor!
Excerpt from Mayor’s address below.  For the full speech go to:
“We Portlanders ...   read more

March - From HAP Ringleader Willie!

April 14, 2017
I had the awesome experience of participating in my first paid speaking gig as Ringleader of Human Access Project. Well, no cash necessarily, but Friends of Chicago River bought my airfare and a hotel room to speak at their 2017 Chicago River Summit.  Two HAP Board members and close friends Tommy “T- Bone” Vandel and Jonny “Motown” Ostrander, picked up their own tab and came along to ...   read more

Willamette River Awakened

February 18, 2017
Portland is entering a new age in how it relates to the Willamette River. It is an awakening, the forming of a relationship that is sacred and personal.
Once upon a time when Portland was first settled, the Willamette River was viewed as a jewel, an asset, a natural treasure. There were swimming houses, swimming clubs and active bathing in our city’s river.
As Portland’s ...   read more

Bridging the Past to the Present to Build a Great Future

November 5, 2016

There are a total of 12 bridges that cross the Willamette River, with the most recent being the Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People, added in 2015.

 By "bridging" the past to the present, Human Access Project encourages you to learn about the local architecture and its’ connection to our rivers.  
In familiarizing yourself with the history, we hope that you see the importance of ...   read more

HAP ballot measure endorsements

November 5, 2016
HAP is strongly in support of the following three ballot measures. If you agree, please share with friends and help spread the word!

Protect Our Natural Areas – vote YES on Measure 26-178 

Measure 26-178 will provide cleaner water, wildlife habitat preservation and opportunities to connect to nature across Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. It will help protect 17,000 acres of ...   read more

Sharing HAP's Vision

November 4, 2016
It has been very rewarding to develop a relationship with new mayor Ted Wheeler and his staff.  Ted is the first Mayor that has come out publicly, stating both in words and through action, that creating improved access to the Willamette River is important to him. Very encouraging!
Words are important and it’s very easy to talk about things you would like to see happen or things that ...   read more

2016 Achievements

October 15, 2016
Get on board and help turn the tide after decades of abuse and neglect of the Willamette River. If you dig what HAP has done, dive in and join us! And have a whale of a time doing it! Get into your river!
HAP 1st Annual Mayoral Swim with Ted Wheeler

HAP made history this year by inviting our new Mayor Elect Ted Wheeler to join 250 other river lovers in a swim across the Willamette River. Forming ...   read more

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