Because the Burnside Skatepark is the best example of anarchist architecture, anywhere.
Legend has it that sometime in 1990, a few skateboarders hauled bags of cement to a scrap of unclaimed ground beneath the Burnside Bridge. They built a couple of ramps and started skating. Word spread. More wildcat construction followed—as did successful negotiations with surrounding property owners and even city council.
Today, the Burnside Skatepark is a global icon of skate culture, featured in movies and video games, sustained by volunteer labor and what one regular describes as “a weird lack-of-hierarchy hierarchy.” Its rounded and ever-evolving bowls and walls have a strange, organic beauty: the poetry of concrete, applied with love.
Because Willy Vlautin has already completed his bucket list.
The 47-year-old author and Richmond Fontaine bandleader has had a remarkable year—in fact, he’s had a remarkable life.)
√ Start an alt-country band. Release at least 10 albums. Be big in Europe.
√ Write a novel. Get compared to Raymond Carver and Charles Bukowski.
√ Have said debut novel adapted into a movie starring acting legend Kris Kristofferson. (The Motel Life was released last November.)
√ Write fourth book: Iraq war vet goes into Blade Runner–esque coma-dream. (The Free came out in February.)
√ Start new band with a lady singer. Release album. (The Delines, fronted by Austin’s Amy Boone, release their first album, Colfax, on June 17, and will play a record release show at Mississippi Studio on June 25.)
Because while others seek to escape the city, we find joy in burrowing further in.
Down an old road frocked with blackberries—and a No Trespassing sign—lies this little nook of land carved from the river. At one time a lumber mill—and a dry dock for the city—this lost place now bears only wilting madrones and remnants of concrete, spouting tails of black rebar. Trails wind through the grasses.
You can say it is poisoned, and it is, a legacy of our history. But it is also a place of wild beauty, where native grasses poke industriously through the concrete slabs, and teenagers have splashed paint among the ruins. There are rabbits galore, and ground squirrels, and sometimes a bald eagle comes to soar overhead. A band of homeless people live in mired boats in the river.
This place reminds me of how Portland was when I was a child: a working-class town, perhaps a little seedy, but also a place where beauty existed among the raw, and anyone down on their luck could find a home. When I am here I feel at peace. When no one is around I spread my arms wide, like a child, and run in the grasses.
Rene Denfeld is a writer and private investigator. Her novel, The Enchanted, appeared in March.
Because nudity isn’t just for sex.
In 2004, a ragtag crew organized a naked bike ride as part of Pedalpalooza. More than 125 people showed up. In the summer of 2013, Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride attracted 8,150 scantily clad cyclists. Wherefore the nudity? Consult the manifesto: “We face automobile traffic with our naked bodies as the best way of defending our dignity and exposing the vulnerability faced by cyclists and pedestrians as well as the negative consequences we all face due to dependence on oil, and other forms of non-renewable energy.” This year, Portland rides on June 7—best start getting in pedaling shape now!
Because you can see FOUR massive volcanoes from downtown Portland...
Each of which could conceivably erupt at any second.
So, theoretically, we Portlanders cheat death just by waking up.
Because our urban growth boundary actually works.
12%: Expansion of the area within Portland metro’s urban growth boundary over 25 years
60%: Metro population growth over that same time
375,000: Acres devoted to farm production in counties touched by the UGB, 1978
570,000: Acres devoted to farm production in counties touched by the UGB, today