Tuesday, 24 November 2015

A twenty first century city

Prior to the trip I had read a lot of articles that praised the planning efforts in Portland, it was easy to see how people could quickly judge the city based on its layout and transport infrastructure. There were however a few issues which clouded the sparkling reputation of Portland. The rates of homelessness were astounding, especially in a city that was so cold and rainy. There was an interesting support network for the homeless community created through things like the ‘Street Roots’ magazine which gave the community a platform for their voices to be heard. There was also an obvious effort made by not for profit organisations like the Salvation Army and other smaller organisations. Despite their efforts there are still people sleeping rough on the streets. Through a discussion with our host Nancy Hales I found that there had been a considerable amount of funding devoted to the issue by the Mayor’s office. Nancy described the homeless community as having three main categories the have not’s, the can not’s and the will not’s. This was an interesting perspective which seemed to adequately  simplify the very complex issue. In terms of public transport, I was quite surprised by the unreliability of the network which came to a standstill due to heavy rain on Halloween eve. I was however pleased by the infrastructure itself. The city has a logical pattern of street car and MAX lines which allow citizens to travel to almost all corners of the city. The system was also easily navigable, and the colour system simplified the whole operation for visitors. The best part of Portland was it’s huger for innovation and determination to be different. Portland has delivered so many vitally important social, political and environmental innovations that the world is lucky to have developed, it truly is a prime example of the twenty first century city.

Harriet Noall