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!

Megaregion Commutes

Megaregions and Public Lands: This Week Better – Dec 11, 2016

Climate, Parks & Open Spaces, Take Action, Transportation

With only three weeks left in the year, I’ve been thinking about how I can best use my project time in 2017.

What I’m reading this week:

Four Million Commutes Reveal New U.S. ‘Megaregions’ – “As megaregions grow in size and importance, economists, lawmakers, and urban planners need to work on coordinating policy at this new scale. But when it comes to defining the extent of a megaregion, they find themselves running into the same problems geographers and cartographers have always had when trying to delineate conceptual areas. Because megaregions are defined by connections—things like interlocking economies, transportation links, shared topography, or a common culture—it’s tough to know where their boundaries lie.” –via National Geographic

DO: Check out the “megaregion” map for your area. Is where you live and work in a region that makes sense from a transportation planning funding perspective?

 

Let’s Not Be Divided. Divided People Are Easier to Rule. – This is a great, short read by Trevor Noah. “the vast majority of Americans, both Republican and Democrat, wanted many of the same things: good jobs, decent homes, access to opportunity and, above all, respect.” “When you grow up in the middle, you see that life is more in the middle than it is on the sides. The majority of people are in the middle, the margin of victory is almost always in the middle, and very often the truth is there as well, waiting for us.” –via The New York Times

DO: How can we focus on more nuance in our daily life?


Sally Jewell on the Future of the Department of the Interior
– Interesting interview with Sally Jewell, our outgoing Secretary of the Interior on climate change, public lands and advice for incoming Secretary. “We all come with a set of skills, and those are useful but not sufficient, so surround yourself with people that help fill that gap. Second, this job is about listening deeply to different points of view. You can’t go in with a fixed frame.” “the first outdoor-industry study based on hard data showed that the recreation economy is almost as big as pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles, and motor-vehicle parts combined. That is extraordinary. That narrative has been lost, oftentimes, to the value of public lands for extractive purposes. But what the REC Act begins to do is to monetize the value of lands in conservation. This is an industry that employs millions of people. It supports rural economies. The legislation will ensure that it continues. “–via Outside Online

DO: Keep your eye on Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Washington State, she’s expected to be Trump’s Interior pick.

 

Real Christmas Trees Or Fake Ones — Which Are Better For The Planet? – Since it’s December, I was thinking about Christmas trees and the impact on the environment and community. In the Pacific Northwest, it seems like real Christmas trees are the way to go since it supports the local economy – the trees are grown for the purpose of being Christmas trees and trees are “recyclable” back to nature. Things I hadn’t thought about: buying a fake try can make sense in areas that don’t have Christmas trees local or if you keep it for a very long time (8-20 years). — via HuffPo

DO: Consider the pros and cons of real versus fake as you decorate this year.


Vancouver’s Multi-Modal Success Story
Gordon Price (urban planner and influential in a lot of transportation and land use success for the City of Vancouver for several decades) was our final lecture for my Traffic & Transportation class. This video shows some of the more resent work the city has made to reach 50% sustainable mode share (bike, walk, transit) a full four years earlier than goal (2020). –via StreetFilms

DO: How can we help reach a more sustainable split of driving versus walking, biking, transit here? This week, if you’re going less than 1 mile, try walking.


A policy that works: Raising the minimum wage
– Higher minimum wages result in greater earnings for low wage workers, and no loss of jobs. “The key argument against raising the minimum wage is that it would somehow cause employers to reduce the hours of work of employees subject to the minimum, and thereby lower the total number of job opportunities.” Such a strange phenomenon that the going thought is still that raising minimum wage reduces employment, when research and real examples has proven otherwise. –via City Observatory

DO: Read up on Oregon’s minimum wage rates that will increase to $14.75 by 2022.


PBOT moves forward with carfree ‘Sullivan’s Crossing’ bridge over I-84
– I’m super excited for this new bike and pedestrian crossing over 84 in the Lloyd area to connect NE Portland to SE via 7th Ave. Sounds like construction will be starting in 2019! –via Bike Portland

DO: Check out PBOT’s Project website to keep up to date on the project and give feedback.

 

This Week’s Actions: This week, I did more thinking than acting! I donated to a local environmental nonprofit through GiveGuide, and stayed off Facebook (33 days now!).

What are you reading and doing this week?