Women's March on Washington in Portland

Women’s March on Washington in Portland – This Week Better: Jan 22, 2017

City Issues & Ideas, Take Action

Yesterday was so inspiring. Millions(!) of women and men turned out around the world to stand up and say “hey, we’re still here!”, and that we’re united in the fight for equality and decency for all people. All people. 100,000 Portlanders came out! In the pouring rain, naturally.

This is just what I needed after Friday. Friday was a day of mourning for many reasons. I’ve had trouble putting my thoughts into words and sentences. This is my first blog post of 2017. I started this blog to talk about the positive and what I can do to make things better in my community and on a local level.

The last few weeks had felt disgusting and disheartening on the political front. From Cabinet picks, Affordable Care Act dismantling attempts, to the House setting the stage to mess with public lands, Trevor Noah said it best “almost every single person he’s picked for his cabinet wants to destroy the thing they’ve been put in charge of.

Yesterday was much needed inspiration. This is what democracy looks like. This is what can happen when millions of people make a statement. This is what the future looks like. Seeing my 3 year old niece with her sign “Make America Kind Again”, which she later decided said “Be Kind, Love a Balloon” instead, gives me hope for the future.

We Need Love poster

We need love, indeed.

Now What? We must continue taking action. Yes, it’s great and inspiring to see millions of people marching. 100,000 people in Portland. If we 100,000 continue to take action, think of what we can accomplish! There are more kind and forward-thinking people in the US than not. But we have to keep moving and taking action.

What I’m reading this week:
Voting Should Be Mandatory – “Trump triumphed in a low-turnout election.” “In a compulsory election, it does not pay to energize your base to the exclusion of all other voters. Since elections cannot be determined by turnout, they are decided by swing voters and won in the center. Australia has its share of xenophobic politicians, but they tend to dwell in minor parties that do not even pretend they can form a government.” “There is also evidence that compulsory voting lifts civic engagement over all.”

DO: Here’s where Oregon stands on the National Popular Vote bill. It has died in the Oregon senate previously. Contact your local rep. In North/North East Portland, that’s Lew Frederick and ask them to support it.

4 Big Themes for Cities in 2017 – I love City Observatory’s posts on urban living, planning, policy etc. They’ve outlined some things they’ve learned in the last few years. 1. The growing economic importance of city centers. 2. The shortage of cities. 3. The need to rethink transportation policy. 4. The challenge of segregation, integration, and neighborhood change.

DO: Read through at least one of the links they’ve included in this post. I’ve learned a lot by reading their research and writing, some of which challenges my assumptions. We all have a lot to learn and it’s fascinating.

If the Affordable Care Act Dies, Cities Will Feel It – “Every major city stands to see millions of dollars, and life-giving programs, go away. So do small towns and rural places.”

DO: Our Senators in Oregon already have our backs. Since nothing has actually been suggested by Republicans yet, I’m not sure what we can do, other than staying up-to-date on what’s happening and what smart and informed people like Bernie Sanders are recommending.

Portland Police Launch Tear Gas [Pepper Spray] at Anti-Trump Protesters in Pioneer Courthouse Square – Portland police seemed quite proud of themselves for their use of restraint at the Portland Women’s March. The night before they chose not to use as much restraint. I think we need to be really careful in our assumptions of “right” and “wrong” ways to protest and how different groups are treated by the police.

DO: Ask questions of our leaders. Read and watch video of what has happened. I don’t have the answers here, but I do know that this difference in treatment doesn’t feel right. How do we find the balance between right to assemble/expression and protection of public space from a few destructive people who hide in these assemblies (like what happened in downtown in November)?

This Week’s Actions: This week, I attended the Women’s March on Washington in Portland, emailed my local Oregon Senator for North Portland about the National Popular Vote bill, and read and researched upcoming changes and current issues facing me as a Portland-citizen and on a national level.

“You are VALUABLE, POWERFUL, and DESERVING.”
–HRC

What makes great places?

The ‘Perfect’ City: This Week Better – Dec 18, 2016

City Issues & Ideas, Land Use, Take Action

I’ve come across a few interesting articles lately talking about “how to build the perfect city” and “placemaking”, and the above graphic from Project for Public Spaces, detailing what makes a great place – broken out into:

  • key attributes (for example: sociability)
  • intangibles (for example: interactive)
  • measurements (for example: evening use)

Such an interesting way to see what’s in between “Place” and the step we usually jump to: measurement.

What I’m reading this week:

Portland’s cost-burdened renters pushed out of city center – I think we all knew this was happening, but there’s some interesting map overlay data in this article. –via OregonLive

DO: It sounds like the city had a rescheduled hearing on the inclusionary zoning mentioned in this article. There should be an update at some point here?


A “Weird Concept” for Portland
-“It’s a weird concept,” he said. “I’m asking (investors) to just not be greedy.” “The Atomic Orchard Experiment represents a radical approach to providing workforce housing in Portland. The planned 88-unit development is uniquely structured. Sixty percent of the units will be market rate, at around $1,650 per month. Twenty percent of the units will be affordable at 80 percent of median family income, a level set by housing regulators at $1,100 per month, earning a 10-year property tax abatement through Portland’s Multiple-Unit Limited Tax Exemption (MULTE) program. And in an unprecedented twist, approximately 16 units would be pushed far below market rate to less than $600 a month. Cavenaugh is targeting rents of $582 a month.” –via DJC Oregon

DO: Guerrilla Development has done some really interesting projects in Portland. Check out some of their work and their crowdfunding development project. Curious how these projects will look in a few years.

 

Women And Men Use Cities Very Differently – Ask women and men how they, say, use transportation and you’ll get very divergent answers. The women, unsurprisingly, have a much more complex relationship. “Women in general are more likely to combine work with family commitments, cities like Berlin are trying to break up the division between residential and commercial districts, between suburb and office. That means more mixed-use neighborhoods, with homes, shops, and workplaces all jumbled up—something with numerous other benefits as well, like neighborhood character or being able to walk rather than having to get in a car every time you leave the house.” “On the other hand, there is an argument that by doing so you entrench those norms. How could urban design nudge people toward a society in which women don’t do a disproportionate amount of housework and childcare?” — via Co.Exist

DO: Check out the full 10-part series called “How to Build the Perfect City”.


100 in 1 Day
– I came across this project in Canada called 100 in 1 day – Your Ideas. Your City. Your Day. They have a nationwide popup ‘placemaking’ day in the summer to take over the streets. Cool idea to make things visible and coordinated. “100In1Day is your insider’s guide to the best of your city. On June 4, this community driven, city-wide placemaking festival activated 100+ fun, innovative pop-up ideas all over Canada.” –via 100in1Day

DO: Check out their Inspiration Toolkit for ideas of local things you could do.


“Privately owned public spaces” epitomize the dangers of privatizing collective goods
– This one is a long read, but an interesting look at some the history of privately owned “public spaces”. “Real estate becomes the effective law of the land, transforming residents into rentiers, public space into borrowed land, and the homeless into unproductive dead weight. Working-class people inevitably lose out.” “As for POPS, many provide enjoyable and useful space to the millions of people who live in the city. But from their inception until today, POPS have existed to help the wealthy consciously shape New York City and restrict the proliferation of democratic spaces.” –via Jacobin

DO: Do you know some of Portland’s privately owned public spaces?


This Week’s Actions: 
This week, I donated to a local nonprofit through GiveGuide and to IRC to support Syrian refugees, and stayed off Facebook (40 days now!).

“If there were one word that could act as a standard of conduct for one’s entire life, perhaps it would be thoughtfulness.”
–Confucius

This is the last post of 2016, since next Sunday is Christmas. See you in 2017!

What do we do now? This Week Better – Nov 20, 2016

Take Action, Transportation

Week two. Did you know that the average person spends 50 minutes per day on Facebook (and Instagram)? We spend more time on Facebook per day, than we do reading (19 min), exercising (17 min), and at social events (4 min) combined. Source

That’s almost 6 hours per week of scrolling and tapping through our friends’ lives. As you can see, I’m having a bit of a love/hate relationship with social media this month. I tried to spend more of those six hours doing something – learning, creating, participating, but I also probably spent too long on Twitter. Ha!

What I’m reading this week:

Guerrilla Bike Lanes: San Francisco Makes Illicit Infrastructure Permanent – good reminder that sometimes just taking action gets results from your city. The video at the end will make you grin. –via 99% Invisible

DO: We actually have a lot more power than we sometimes think. Know of a bike lane or pedestrian area that is a safety concern or needs work? Be vocal. Let the city know. Here’s PBOT’s Traffic/Safety reporting form.


In election aftermath, Blumenauer resolute on transportation agenda
– here’s a great interview with Earl Blumenauer, our congressman on his current agenda and the future of “livable communities”. “If we can connect with people on things that matter to them and we can engage activists and advocates, than people can be persuaded to support the things we care about.” –via Bike Portland

DO: Have a conversation with someone about what matters to them from a transportation perspective.


Leaving Women out of Donald Trump’s Cabinet is Not Just Wrong It’s Dangerous
 – Justin Trudeau, Canada’s new prime minister, appointed a 50:50 ratio of male and female to his cabinet. Obama’s was 35% female. Trump’s is currently projected to be less than 10%, the lowest representation since the 1970s. “Group problem-solving abilities significantly improved for mixed-sex groups compared with all-male groups. Duke University researchers similarly found that women reacted to decision-making under stress by making safer, surer decisions, while men reacted by making riskier, go-for-the-big-win choices.” –via Newsweek

DO: Trump’s transition website is asking for you to “Share your ideas” (red link at the bottom of the page). Tell him you want more women and people of color represented in cabinet positions.

Oregon side-note on the above article: On the state and county level my current representatives are 43% female. On the city level, it will be 40% for the new year (city council will be an even split male/female and mayor is male). But, only one person of color, so 8%. Not sure how those stats look on a state level, but that’s the breakdown for my districts living in North Portland.

John Oliver Quote

John Oliver: How did we get to this point? And what do we do now? – “It is going to be too easy for things to start feeling normal, especially if you are someone who is not directly impacted by his actions. Keep reminding yourself ‘THIS IS NOT NORMAL’. 2016 has been the fucking worst”. –via John Oliver

DO: As John Oliver said, donate if you can: Planned Parenthood, Center for Reproductive Rights, NRDC.org, International Refugee Assistance Project – Refugeerights.org, NAACPLDF.org, thetrevorproject.org, maldef.org will all need help. Give money in the name of your relatives! Support actual journalism: propublica.org etc. Here’s a website that’s cataloging them.


Resist: How Donald Trump Threatens Portland—and Why You Must Fight Back 
– A look at how Portland and Oregon could be impacted in 2017 and beyond with Trump as president and very different national policy decisions. It’s a good start at looking at potential threats and what we can do on a local level. –via Willamette Week 

DO: Read through the list of possible predictions and identify your top 1-2 fears or concerns. How can you help?

 

This Week’s Actions: This week, I donated to a local cause through Give!Guide, shared what I’m working on with a few people, went to my Traffic and Transportation class at PSU, presented my project to the class (I’ll post about it soon), stayed off Facebook (12 days now!), I’m using Twitter to share my thoughts and @-ing political representatives, I also followed all my local reps so I can easily see what they’re putting out on social, and followed a dozen people that are different than me to see a different perspective.

“Good ideas don’t matter if people don’t hear them.” –President Obama

What are you reading and doing this week?