We have just returned from Portland where the sun was glorious, the art galleries plentiful, parks around every turn and the possibilities for exploring constant. Compared to other American enclaves that we had experienced in our stops on the drive down, the Portland resident seems to be either the cause or the effect of an environment that produces slim, healthy, astute citizens. Women in flowered skirts were carefully helmeted but got around the city on bicycle.
Perhaps, all of the “done to the eyes” matrons were up the hills and not mixing with the populous. At any rate, most of the fashion is studiedly casual. Thrift Chic has become looks like thrift chic.
One fair we attended had brilliantly redesigned recycled clothing which was carefully and fashionably restructured. We found this fair thanks to an email from Greg Pitters, a Portlander I met when he selected some of my designs for his modern, edgy wall decor (check out http://www.designyourwall.com). His wife and her business partner helped to organize the event. Even his young son had work on display and has had three one-man shows. The packed-full-of-art event was held at the Doug Fir Lounge. Cameron was very pleased to find his long-sought after lime soap. Three years ago he found lime soap at a high-end design store in Portland and has been yearning for that clean expression to waft in his bath ever since.
Portland has done so many things right that it is hard to discuss them all at once, so I probably won’t. Parks abound. We went on an urban hike up through the Washington Park area that took us up to the look out. The white puff of smoke from the Adams fire was visible and the mountains were hazily visible. People played cards, had pic nics, read books and just sleep on the grass. The feeling of safety, of utility in the public space was wonderful. It was an outdoor livingroom.
Only once did we experience the presence of poor tortured souls who were trying to find happiness in a self-destructive manner. A group of four who were stoned and drunk got on the train and sat around us. The obese, highly flammable (gauging from his breath) man sat next to me… after he asked me if it was alright. Then he apologized for spilling over onto my seat. Even in the depths of what ever depths he had chosen to visit, he was polite.
After returning from hours of walking freely along the river, riding transport throughout the city and visiting over ten art galleries in a four block area, It is easy to see why Portland is considered to be one of the most liveable cities in the U.S. In addition, the people were answering the questions we posited to one another about when or where as we negotiated the city. They are discreetly helpful. No in-your-face questions about hidden tattoos or birthmarks, just a desire to be of use was the motivation.