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 Northern Oregon coastline
by Mary Foran

Pristine, rocky beaches, and beautiful State and National Parks and Riverways don’t come easily when you become a tourist attraction.

That’s what “Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism”(SOLV) found out when they “took the bull by the horns” in 1969, under the then-Governor Tom McCall’s leadership, and decided to clean up the beaches of plastics and other litter, and the vandalism of graffiti and other criminal mischief.

The first Beach Cleanup was organized in 1964, with citizens volunteering their time and labor from around the State. The Portland Chamber of Commerce lobbyist, Blanche Shroeder, became Executive Director on a part-time basis in 1976. The idea spread across The States and U.S. Territories, and popped up in more than 100 countries around the world.

Jack McGowan became a local celebrity when he became Director of the group in 1990, leading until 2008. Meanwhile, SOLV had expanded its efforts to include environmental education, the removal of invasive species, and the planting of trees and native species.

In 2010, Melissa McDonald was tapped for leadership, and in 2011, Maureen Fisher took over with a $2.2 million dollar budget. SOLV added an “E” to its name to evoke a “call to action” from citizens. Public participation and conscientious stewardship of public lands, was and is, the main goal of the group, which is based in the city of Portland, Oregon. Some 35,000 volunteers work with the group just in Oregon every year.

Donations from individuals, corporate sponsors, foundations etc. keep their efforts going. The Coastal Cleanups happen every Spring and Fall and have become a tradition in the State.

Hollywood producers and directors often use Oregon scenery as backdrop to their productions, both for the Movies and TV series, since the State is well-known for its natural beauty. (Oregonians like to “tidy up” before the Big-Wigs come “scouting”!)

Credit for such environmental limpieza must go to the Volunteers and Leaders of S.O.L.V. + E, who decided to do something positive about litter, vandalism and graffiti.

To get in touch with them, just email: and “ride the wave”!

Post Script:

By the way, after reading about all the garbage that circulates in the world’s oceans nowadays, I thought of a brand-new industry that, if it could be made commercially viable, would SOLVE that problem: Manned garbage collector barges prowling the high seas for plastics and other crud! Just think of the new jobs that would entail! And the new mountains the refuse could be turned into on barren land! Well, Trump did say something about “jobs, jobs, jobs”! Just a thought…


Featured image/Kirt Edblom, CC BY-SA2.0
SOLV trash bag/Jeff Edblom, CC BY-SA2.0
Volunteers/Jeff Muceus, CC BY-SA2.0

About Mary

Born in Seattle, WA, U.S.A., and a graduate of the University of Oregon in Spanish and General Literature, Mary lived in Madrid, Spain during the 80s, a period in Spanish history which became known as “The Transition”. She taught English as a Foreign Language, and worked as Managing Editor of the Guidepost when it was still a weekly print publication. She did a stint on Spanish Foreign Radio and Radio Cadena, and corresponded for a Financial Times of London newsletter. She still has ties to Spain, loves the people and the country, and has great hopes for the future!