On February 1-4, Portlanders converged at the OMSI waterfront and satellite locations to experience light-based installations during the second annual Portland Winter Light Festival. The art lantern parade was the highlight of the final night despite the pouring rain. The glowing procession of light, color and music was led by the drum beat of the Misty Krew of Nimbus. A tribute to the event logo, Mayer/Reed’s five glowing balloon “clouds” floated above whimsical creations along the parade route. We are proud to be a festival sponsor and the lantern parade co-organizer for an event that brings the community together to celebrate creativity and innovation.
Over the past 58 years the iconic Paul Bunyan statue – the original Portland hipster – located in the historic Kenton Neighborhood, has weathered all manner of changes. Now, a new neighborhood identity installation creates his backdrop. Mayer/Reed’s design was inspired by the color and pattern of tree bark, interpreted using plasma-cut weathering steel, reminiscent of a giant felled sequoia. The modern geometry and steel fabrication references the neighborhood’s industrial underpinnings, while establishing an identity for Kenton that is firmly in the “now.”The mythical lumberjack, built for the Oregon Centennial in 1959 was meant to last only a few months, yet the neighborhood landmark still stands tall (31’ to be exact!). Although community groups have spiffed him up over the years, Paul has seen better days. PaintPaulPDX is raising funds for repairs and fresh paint. A restored Paul Bunyan may soon be the finishing piece in an ongoing effort to revitalize this North Portland district. It’s heartening to witness our city reinvesting in existing landmarks and special places, keeping them relevant for future generations.
Due to overwhelming interest in the Pints from the Past community event featuring the Willamette Falls Legacy Project’s cultural landscape report, an encore will be held on January 10, 2017 at Lake Theater & Cafe in Lake Oswego. All are welcome, admission is free, no tickets required!
Laurie Matthews, Director of Preservation Planning and Design at MIG, will present her work to create a cultural landscape report for the Willamette Falls Legacy Project which will inform the riverwalk design process.
This year’s Rail~Volution Conference in San Francisco was particularly timely and ambitious. The conference grabbed the housing crisis by one ear, public transit by the other ear and pulled them into a room for a little talk—for a week. What ensued, Congressman Earl Blumenuer called Rail~Volution 2.0—the next revolution.
After attending numerous presentations and experiencing first-hand the results of the Bay Area’s overloaded transit system and housing crisis, it was clear to me there were lessons to be learned. Much like the Bay Area, exploding real estate values in the Portland metropolitan region have displaced many with lower and middle incomes to the urban fringe. In these peripheral communities there is a critical need for transit to help people reach their jobs, which tend to cluster in regional centers. In this case, public transportation isn’t a fringe benefit for the sustainably-minded, but a necessity.
While at the conference I saw how affordable housing was incorporated into transit-oriented developments in Oakland and Fremont. These investments did not come easily. Community groups, transit agencies, developers, municipalities and financial institutions each played a critical role in sharing responsibility and leveraging public-private partnerships. Yet the most affordable transportation choices—walking and biking—were not always embraced in the projects. The transit station may link to jobs in the city, but walking to the store is still risky.
As we grow, let’s not repeat this mistake in our region in the Pacific Northwest. Let’s look beyond buildings and recognize that issues of affordability and geographic equity don’t end at the front door or even with a nearby light rail station. All residents, but particularly those with low and middle incomes, benefit from pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods that provide safe daily connections to schools, daycare, services, shopping and parks. Our cities should adopt holistic policies that plan affordable housing together with improvements to sidewalks, neighborhood greenways, safe route to schools, traffic calming, separated bicycling facilities, recreational trails and the like. Partners in active transportation are well positioned to elevate the conversation from rote affordability to measures of livability. If there is to be a revolution, let’s design an urban environment that sustains it.