The Foundation is in the midst of a campaign to build a footbridge over Burnside where the iconic Wildwood Trail crosses from Washington to Forest parks. Local attorney and philanthropist Charlie Swindells recently joined the effort to chair the Footbridge Over Burnside campaign. We asked Charlie to describe his passion for parks and why he supports the footbridge project.
How have Portland’s parks played a role in your life?
A couple days after my family moved to Portland in 1974 (my summer before 5th Grade), my mom took me to Hoyt Arboretum. She wanted to ease my shock of "moving to the big city” by exposing me to the extraordinary beauty there. I decided maybe Portland wouldn’t be so bad after all!
Since then, my lifelong enjoyment of Forest Park has been measured in dog years — three dogs have been my personal trainers on the Wildwood Trail since high school, and my newest hiking partner is named Marsha. Her ecstatic first day on Wildwood after moving from a kennel in San Francisco is probably my favorite park memory.
Why did you decide to chair the Footbridge Over Burnside campaign?
I am excited to serve as the campaign chair for the Footbridge Over Burnside because my wife and I drive through the Wildwood-Burnside intersection daily. Even from inside our cars we can feel (and share) the fear and frustration of trail users waiting to "make a run for it." With current traffic levels, the Wildwood Trail is now effectively closed at that intersection for most trail users most of the time. The Footbridge is an elegant solution that will be a destination in its own right for generations to come.
What do you think a robust park system does for Portland?
Portland's parks mean different things to different people, but the connection they provide to our Pacific Northwest natural heritage is something we all share in common. The Portland Parks Foundation is vital to enhancing our parks network by leveraging private financial resources while serving as a focal point of critical public support.
Why do you support the Foundation?
Parks can be too easily short-changed when diverse constituencies are lobbying aggressively for scarce public dollars. As our region becomes more intensively developed, we can’t afford to neglect this community life support system. Support for the Portland Parks Foundation ensures that our invaluable park system is maintained and expanding to serve future generations.