PORTLAND, Ore. -- Skateboarding and miniature golf. The two don't have anything in common. Except two Southeast Portland families are separately working on using those sports to build a stronger community.

"We're new here, just a couple years, so we wanted to meet more neighbors and have something fun to do, so the mini golf course," said Donna Pluta.

Her family's side yard in the Montavilla neighborhood was just sitting empty, when her boyfriend had a vision over the winter. They were able to snag artificial turf, bricks to border it and some of the obstacles for cheap or free.

"The windmill was a major score because every mini golf course has to have a windmill right?" Pluta said.

The 6-hole putt-putt course came together, and so did the neighborhood.

"I sort of was like, 'This is up for a couple months and then you're taking it down!' But now it's sort of part of the home and what we're doing here," Pluta said.

KGW is not revealing the name they've chosen for the course or the street Pluta and her boyfriend live on, so they don't have mobs of people showing up. But anyone who finds it, is welcome to unlock their community locker next to their fence, grab a putter and ball, and play. The lumpy and bumpy imperfection of the yard can make the greens hard to navigate, but Pluta says it's just for fun.

They've met so many neighbors who were strangers at first, and now have turned into friends since the course opened just a month ago. Pluta doesn't have plans to expand it, but does hope to have a fun, charity tournament in the fall.

Just a few miles away, another mom has a similar, but much bigger idea.

"Make a space that's welcoming to everyone," said 30-year-old Allison Waters, who has been skateboarding since she was a kid in the Midwest.

When she moved to Portland several years ago, she was shocked at how many people still skated. Waters has always had a vision to build a huge, indoor skate park in Portland and name it Stronger Skatepark.

Now, she's on track to do it. After quitting her nanny job and raising her son, she's now working on the dream full-time. Stronger will be only the second indoor skatepark in Portland.

Allison Waters plans to open an indoor skatepark in Portland
Allison Waters plans to open an indoor skatepark in Portland

Waters is looking to lease a large industrial building somewhere on Northeast Columbia Boulevard. But before she hands over the big investment she's already got, she's trying to raise $25,000 more to build the ramps themselves. Waters launched a Kickstarter campaign and it closes July 12.

Stronger will have rails, stairs, ramps, ledges, a skate shop, a work shop and a lounge. She says Portland desperately needs this during the winter.

"It's not ideal, it's not southern California, we don't have sun year-round," she said. "We have sun in parts of the summer and then that's it."

She said skating gets kids out to participated in challenging sport, where many who have never fit in find a place.

"Seeing a kid, especially when they learn to drop-in for the first time, and they realize that that big scary thing is something they can work hard and overcome, can change so much for them."