Sunday, October 16, 2011

Living in the city by Lezlie bugg

            I love living in the City.  It seems to have everything!
            When thinking about exactly why I love living in the city I look back on my childhood and some of the memories that I have from a more innocent and naive time. 
            I can remember several times that it snowed.  The first time I was about three and my older sisters went out to the side yard and build a snowman out of the soggy snow.  They came back into the house freezing, but proud of their accomplishments.  Alas, the snowman had so little structure that the cat was able to jump on him and knock him down!  Another time it snowed I was a teenager.  This snow was a true blizzard.  My family spent the evening huddled around our fireplace trying to keep warm.  The next morning we went outside and saw that the snow had drifted up the front of the neighbor’s house.  What could have been a disaster quickly turned to fun when he let all the kids go to the upstairs back window, climb up on the roof and slide down the drift. 
            I never wondered how the city was able to cope with so much snow.   
            As an adult I hear the grumblings when the de-icing trucks have to be deployed for the occasional freezing weather we get.  Non-Portlanders mock the worry we feel and the miniscule ‘fleet’ of trucks we have.   The city of Portland would certainly have a difficult time coping with a major protracted blizzard.  It is, on the other hand, completely able to ‘pause’ commerce and afford a few extra snow days to its citizens (young and old!)  The people of Portland have developed an accepting and cheerful demeanor when it comes to natural phenomena. 
            We have not been as indulgent with our infrastructure.  None of us enjoy having a dirty river, and we insist on mitigating problems that have come about due to our population growth.  We quite sensibly instituted an Urban Growth Boundary, put in an Open Vistas declaration in our city plan, and have worked tirelessly to upgrade our sewage system. 
            Portland is home to many fine restaurants and less elegant food carts.  We have a policy of encouraging organic gardening in our communities as well as our front yards.  We love bike culture, regular commuters as well as the clowns that ride double and triple tall bikes, an all the weirdness that goes with it. 
            We also have a height restriction on our downtown buildings.  I think this is a good thing.  If we need more office space, let’s go out to the commercial and industrial areas that need some revitalizing! 
            One of the things I truly love about Portland is the spirit with which people get involved!  We can go to the symphony on a Friday evening and tour chicken coops Saturday morning.  We can join a conservation group pulling ivy from Mt. Tabor on a rainy weekend morning and attend a traveling Broadway Show the same evening.  While other cities have 150-1500 protesters against corporate greed and government collusion with big business, Portland has a mega-rally of over 5000 people taking over two city parks! 

            What I like most about living in THIS city is that we thrive on collaboration.  Our police force uses community policing techniques, such as working with the biking community to put on safety training for motorists.  Our transit authority communicates openly with its citizens and the municipalities necessary for getting projects completed. 

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