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Like any good dreamer, Dick Fagan spent time writing, listening, and staring out his office window, a detail which is important to this story.

More than 70 years ago, from his desk on the second floor at The Oregon Journal, Fagan noticed a small, round concrete traffic median on top of which a traffic signal would be installed. Construction eventually wrapped up on the median, but no light or traffic signal ever went in.

Soon, the bare space grew thick with weeds and neglect.


After watching the space go unattended, Fagan went down to the median himself, cleared the weeds and trash, and planted some flowers.

Mill Ends Park from above. Photo by Don Ryan/AP.

He called it Mill Ends Park, after his popular newspaper column of the same name ("mill ends" are the odd, rough pieces of lumber often left over and discarded at mills).

On St. Patrick's Day in 1948, Fagan held a dedication ceremony and declared Mill Ends to be the World's Smallest Park.

Fagan, a proud Irishman, used his column to describe the "goings-on" at the tiny park, sharing whimsical tales of an active leprechaun colony led by head leprechaun, Patrick O'Toole.

He continued writing about the park and its fantastical inhabitants until his death in 1969. Shortly before he died, the city held a rededication ceremony for Mill Ends, complete with city council members, a ribbon cutting, an Irish pipe band, and an Irish dance group.

A local group gifted Fagan a permanent cement enclosure for the park, complete with stadium turf and a handmade leprechaun statue. Fagan was too ill to attend the ceremony and passed away just a few weeks later.

Mill Ends Park lives on to this day and has even earned international recognition.

Since 1976, Mill Ends has been an official Portland city park.

At 452.16 square inches (about the size of a laundry basket) it holds the Guinness Book of Records title for the world’s smallest park.

Mill Ends Park in 2007. Photo by brx0/Flickr.

Though it was moved briefly for roadwork, Mill Ends Park still sits in the median at the intersection of what is now Naito Parkway and Taylor Street.

The city looks after it, replacing the small tree and plants as needed, just as it would any other public park.

Mill Ends Park in 2017. Photo by Erin Canty/Upworthy.

Tourists and locals alike are encouraged to visit.

Just keep an eye out for traffic.

Photo by Erin Canty/Upworthy.

Over the years, the park has seen improvements like a butterfly swimming pool, a tiny ferris wheel delivered via full-size crane, and even dinosaurs.

Last stop of the trip. Someone filled this tiny park with dinosaurs!

A post shared by TC Harrison (@tcorama) on

After all these years, it's still a great spot for the occasional picnic...

...or even a protest.

In 2011, the leprechauns  joined forces with demonstrators and hosted what is likely the smallest Occupy Portland event on record.

Mill Ends Park during Occupy Portland. Photos by Another Believer/Wikimedia Commons.

What began as Fagan's simple effort to beautify a forgotten space has now become a world-class (albeit odd) landmark.

Yes, it's one of the many things that "keeps Portland weird," but it's also a living tribute to ingenuity and creativity. Never doubt what one dreamer can do with a little potting soil and a lot of imagination.

Allison Wildman crouches low to get a photo. Photo by Don Ryan/AP.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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