The City of Portland gets it. What a great — and a steadily getting better — American city. I remember being at a conference some years ago in Portland. A friend of mine, Les Hall from Oklahoma, brought his wife along to the conference since neither of them had been in Portland before. While Les spent the first day at conference sessions, his wife wandered the streets of Portland. When they met back at the hotel that evening, Les’ wife said to him, “I’ve found myself a new job.” To which Les replied, “Really, what is it?” And she said, “I don’t know yet, but it’s going to be in Portland, Oregon.” Who wouldn’t want to live here?
A very high quality development is taking place in what is known as the South Waterfront. This is 136 acres for reclaimed industrial land. Ultimately 20 high rises will be built, but a half dozen are there already. All are high quality, well designed (and no doubt expensive). But Portland developers are building the first landmark neighborhood of the 21st Century.
At the other end of the spectrum is 23rd Street. It was probably 20 years ago when I was first on 23rd, and it’s emergence as a cool shopping/dining street had just begun. B
ut it has certainly maintained that character. The vast majority of the shops are small, independently owned, and funky. The area is vibrant and while most of the people on the street are young, there was a wide chronological diversity. Don’t go to Portland without visiting (and eating on) 23th Street.
Another high point of the Portland trip was catching up with a long time friend, Ruth Scott. Ruth started the Oregon Downtown Development Association over twenty years ago. She later ran the Association for Portland Progress the downtown advocacy and management organization. For the last nine years she’s been the president of the Innovation Partnership. This organization is what Ruth calls a “think tank and do tank” bringing together community and political leaders to address Oregon’s persistent problems. The Innovation Partnership leaves the easy issues to others; they only take on the tough ones. Every city should have the likes of an Innovation Partnership and a Ruth Scott.