"I have a mind like a steel... uh... thingy." Patrick Logan's weblog.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Portland Confidential

Phil Stanford is a local columnist for the Portland Tribune. He keeps a pretty good tab on the local government, their past and present shenanigans, especially their involvement with the seedier side of Portland over the years.

See: "Did a city ‘hit team’ lower the boom on Cindy’s?"

He turned a collection of his Portland Confidential columns into an entertaining book, whether you are from Portland or just enjoy reading about the real underbellies of society that many folks would just assume you ignore.

See: "Portland Confidential"

What happens when all of Old Town becomes New? Currently it appears the underbelly is headed about 80 blocks east of downtown and beyond. Is that any better? I guess for the real estate developers downtown, it's out of sight and far away for a while. Does a healthy city need something of an underbelly?

I remember moving to Portland 20 years ago and all that is hip in the Pearl District and what's fast becoming hip in Old Town was really very rundown. Still in spite of all the improvements every block displaces more people living on the edge with few options. It's easy to say getting rid of this one adult bookstore is an improvement, but most likely, as Stanford lays it out, the builders and real estate developers are the low-lying movers and shakers in city politics, and they are on a mission that considers little more than how to keep their gravy train flowing. Another former "house of prostitution" closer to Powells' City of Books, if you know where that is, is about to become a McMenamin's hotel. Well, that could provide an entertaining motif.

One group of folks my family, friends, and I have helped with every now and then for the last 15 years or so is Potluck In The Park. David Utzinger works his butt off every week making sure everyone who can get downtown can get a good meal; every Sunday. No one knows the last time he took a week off, looking back well over a decade. Plus they throw a party every Christmas day, and a huge barbecue every summer. There's no better group I know of that's just bare-bones, keep people fed and give them a place to socialize every week of the year. Most people in this kind of need aren't homeless, but if Portland continues revitalizing its Old Town, and similar blocks, there will most likely be more people on the street who currently at least have a roof.

Oh yeah, the small O'Bryant Square, the original "Paranoid Park", they've barely been able to hold on to for their Sunday dinners is also up for "revitalization" and PLitP has been trying to maintain some visibility in the "visioning" process. PLitP had already been moved out of the nicer park blocks several years ago. There were no problems, it's just such a large, weekly gathering of so many people in need, is just a bit "unseemly" for many people.

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Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.