So, this week my boss encouraged me to head outside and frolic in the sunshine. I was very amenable to that suggestion. I spent most of the week travelling, on foot/bus, around the greater Portland area. If you find yourself at any Portland park any time during a week day there is probably a 97.3% chance I will be there taking pictures and talking to people. In general though, I get directed toward Metro sponsored projects and I take pictures of them and ask people to talk about how much they approve or disapprove of the project.
A notable project I worked on this week was the Pier-Chimney pedestrian bridge in north St. Johns. Yesterday morning I caught a bus (shout out to the 4) that took me within a mile of Pier Park and I walked the remaining distance. In between Chimney and Pier parks is a railroad and because the two parks are rife with dogs, kids, and Frisbee golfers the train tracks present a safety hazard. In response to this issue Metro recently constructed an elegant (40 or so foot) lattice truss bridge (pictures below).
I talked to a bunch of people who were walking across the bridge and I got a lot of great anecdotal quotes, “its great!” and “really useful”. Unsurprisingly the bridge didn’t stir up any strong feelings either way. Nevertheless, in this day and age, if the overwhelming opinion about your government agency is “passively happy” you’re doing pretty damn well.
This may seem tangential, because it is, but I’ve also gotten to work a lot on the state of Metro-Farmer’s markers relations. Metro wants to help promote its projects via booths at local popular farmers markets so I have compiled a pretty exhaustive list of farmers markets and their contact info. Today and Monday I am going to call/ email about the prospective price of renting a booth for a day to help disseminate information about Metro’s programs. I am looking forward to the warm friendly responses that are nigh ubiquitous when people who run small businesses get a call from the government. The good news is I’m not calling to audit them so hopefully after they recognize my intentions they will be nice. “Or maybe I should call under the pretenses of auditing them and use fear to grease the wheel?” (Mental dialogue disregard).
In all seriousness I am not taking this task lightly. I am calling these markets on behalf of an organization that stakes a lot in its public reputation. I do not plan to sully that reputation and I am prepared to be as diplomatic and non-confrontational as humanly possible. Hopefully I can get out of this thing without getting the Sunnyside Farmers market to hold a grudge or anything. I’m sure it will all be fine though. Seriously, don’t worry about me I’ll be okay. Its all good. Anyway that’s pretty much it for this week. Thanks for reading and I’ll check in again in a week! (Also I can't upload pictures anymore apparently? I'll figure it out later.)
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Hey, so I’ve been really busy all week. I’ve been working at Metro, which is our elected regional government. My boss got promoted the work day before I showed up and Metro has yet to fill her old position so the work load is very high for her and I’m basically doing anything I can to help alleviate some of that pressure. First I’ve been writing a bunch of social media posts for Facebook and Twitter so if you check out that Metro Facebook and Twitter pages some of that is me J. I’ve also been working on writing two pieces. For the first, I’ve been analyzing this map that has the voting record of people in the Metro regional area relating to how much they favored a recent tax that helped increase funding for some of the natural areas owned and operated by metro. So far I have mostly worked on learning how to analyze a voting map because prior to this week I had no experience with that. The second piece I’ve been working on is about a program called the Youth Ecology Corps. The Youth Ecology Corps is a program that pays students to work in Metro parks and helps them get their GED’s and take classes at Mount Hood Community College. On Wednesday I took the 20 for like an hour all the way to Mount Hood Community College and then I got in a van with the students and we drove to Oxbow Lake. We spent the (beautiful and sunny) day clearing an invasive species called dame’s rocket. During the day I helped clear the plant, took a bunch of pictures on a SLR I borrowed from the office, and interviewed all the students who were on the crew that day. All the students were great and really open to talking and explaining their circumstances to me so that was a pretty special experience. I’m hoping to go work with that crew again next week. I anticipate writing more pieces and conducting more interviews over the coming weeks. Working in the office is great but I like to use it as a home base and place for writing and typing stuff up while I go out and work outside. To get around I’ve been using public transport, so a lot of MAX (shout out to the blue line) and a lot of bussing (SHOUT OUT to the 20). I like commuting via public transport because you just get to see and interact with a lot of interesting people. For instance, the other day I spent half an hour talking to a guy about kangaroo leather and the American Military industrial complex. That was pretty fun. I’m having a good time. As the weather improves this next week I am planning on being outside a lot so I am going to see what angle I can work to make that happen. Maybe I’ll write a review or Portland hiking trails or something? Any thoughts would be appreciated. (Pictures below of Youth Ecology Corp and Oxbow Lake Natural Area).
We recently spent three class periods watching the documentary Making Sense of Place – Portland: Quest for the Livable City. The film detailed Portland’s system of urban planning, the history of the urban growth boundary, and the function of our Metro government. We learned that the urban growth boundary was instituted with the passage of state Senate Bill 100 in 1973, and Metro, a tri-county regional government that now regulates that boundary, was established shortly afterward. We came to appreciate how unique the Portland metro area is in its approach to planning. Few cities pay such close attention to the type of growth they want to see, nor is livability often such a high priority as it is here. The film touted the Portland’s planning as the force that shaped a city that people want to live in, with efficient public transportation, pedestrian-friendly multi-use neighborhoods, abundant green space, and well-preserved nearby farmland. It also described some of the contention around the ballot measures 37 and 49, illustrating the discontent some people have with the urban growth boundary and Metro’s system. Although proponents enjoy the healthy lifestyles and environmental benefits that dense urban planning encourages, others think Portland’s growth is too controlled. Some people feel that what happens to property should be up to owners’ judgment, not to the city. As enlightening as the film was, we did want to see more perspectives from people in lower income brackets who suffer from the high housing prices that have accompanied Portland’s urban planning. Almost no minorities appeared in the documentary, and its message was almost overwhelmingly positive. Overall, Making Sense of Place gave us a better understanding of how Metro and urban planning works, but left it in our hands to dig for a deeper sense of balance.
If you want to learn more, here are some links worth visiting:
http://www.lincolninst.edu/subcenters/making-sense-of-place/portland/ (information about the film)
http://www.metro-region.org/ (Metro's website)