Building bridges into another year
COLOR COMMENTARY • Twelve months after suggesting municipal goals for the coming year, eight Portlanders return to the Tribune to revisit those ideas and discuss whether significant progress has been made
Suggested 2002 goal: With changes to curbside lanes and intersections, the Burnside corridor downtown would be more friendly, less of a barrier separating neighborhoods and more useful to pedestrians.
Why: It's forbidding and scary to walk along, or cross, West Burnside Street because of how cars command the street. When construction caused the closure of Burnside toward Northwest 17th Avenue, everyone braced for a big disruption, but it turned out to be no big deal. That is testimony to the fact that some of the traffic can effectively be dispersed to adjacent thoroughfares.
How: The curbside lanes should be eliminated, and parking should be allowed next to the curb Ñ just as it is on adjacent streets, such as Alder, Everett and Glisan Ñ and there should be stoplights at every intersection for easier pedestrian crossing.
Year-end update: This was a year of slow, conservative planning Ñ not much growth or support of radical ideas in any area. It seems people want to be careful and keep things the way they are. It's boring how economic recession breeds complacency.
Though Burnside has been made more friendly in some areas, it's still an ominous barrier for pedestrians and bicyclists.
The city does have a plan now to make Burnside one-way eastbound through downtown within a decade.
The Brewery Blocks area is the boldest, most forward-thinking development downtown. The creation of a new 'neighborhood' of businesses and homes in this area validates every other plan for making Portland's downtown dense and multifaceted, and it vitalizes that part of Burnside. Now we must make the street itself useful to more than just cars.
Bruce Carey owns Bluehour restaurant in the Pearl District and Saucebox Cafe/Bar on Southwest Broadway downtown Ñ one business on each side of the ominous Burnside barrier. He lives in a log house in the Forest Park area of Portland.
Suggested 2002 goal: Portland should rededicate itself to the success of its schools, working cooperatively with community leaders to safeguard Oregon's future.
Why: The community's trust in our public schools has been waning. Our local leaders Ñ including city officials and district representatives Ñ need our support and cooperation to provide a high-quality public education in the face of slashed budgets and low morale.
How: Become a partner Ñ not an adversary Ñ in the fight for Portland's children. Rather than complaining about education, go to your neighborhood school to volunteer or join a community task force to make a difference. Help the Portland school board find a district leader who has the will and the tools to make our schools shine. Through your supportive actions, let students and teachers know that they are our top priority.
Year-end update: Today, Oregon's schools are in a direr state than they were one year ago. With the shortest school year in the nation, a possible teacher strike impending, larger class sizes and more outdated books, it's crunch time. When Oregonians consider a tax increase on the Jan. 28 ballot, I hope we ask ourselves: Do we want an educated work force building our economy and leading this state 10 years from now?
Misha Isaak is a Reed College student and former student representative to the Portland school board.
Suggested 2002 goal: We should permanently light up at least three of the bridges over the Willamette River in downtown Portland in 2002.
Why: Because there is no more visible symbol of what holds our community together; because the bridges all but disappear after dark; because illuminated bridges will leave a lasting, positive impression on visitors; and last but not least, because we all need to have our spirits raised.
How: A nonprofit organization, the Willamette Light Brigade, has commissioned designs for architectural lighting of five of Portland's bridges, and both the county and the city want to see them lit. Most of the money has been raised from private sources. A loud chorus of support and a few more dollars should get three bridges lit in 2002.
Year-end update: Willamette Light Brigade expects to light three bridges in 2003. We have been busy slaying the many dragons that stand between us and this goal.Ê However, delays have meant that we can now take advantage of emerging technology that could halve energy costs for lighting each bridge.ÊLearn more at www.lightthebridges.org.
Paddy Tillett is an architect and urban designer with Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership. He lives in inner Northwest Portland.
Suggested 2002 goal: Kids should know they are safe in their neighborhoods, no matter where they live in the city.
Why: My friends and I are most concerned about the death of a young girl who lived in a neighborhood adjacent to ours.
How: Revive the 'Block Homes' program to give kids assurance and protection. Neighbors should take extra care to watch out for one another.
Year-end update: There is more to being safe than the absence of danger. It implies feeling secure and confident in your surroundings. While we may not feel an immediate sense of danger, we do share a definite anxiety about our future. A shaky school system leaves us vulnerable.
I don't believe there has been progress for kids in Portland. Public schools are a vital part of our neighborhood: Both have to be strong for kids to feel secure.
Julia Strang, a sophomore at Grant High School, is a volunteer school tutor and has participated in mock trials, theater, music and sports. She lives in Northeast Portland.
Hector E. Lopez
Suggested 2002 goal: Initiate and establish relationships among the diverse racial, religious and cultural communities of Portland.
Why: Events in 2001 demonstrated how volatile conditions can get when there are insufficient relationships and communication. Yet we also saw how powerful it is when diverse people come together to share grief and love.
How: Initiate and support interfaith, multicultural, multiracial and international organizations by participating in their community events, forums, special programs and activities.
Year-end update: The Interfaith Council of Greater Portland has demonstrated the grace of building relationships, especially during times of international conflict. The council has forged strong ties among Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities, as well as other faith expressions. Close to 1,000 people have participated in interfaith educational events, rallies for international peace and interfaith thanksgiving services held in the last year.
The council hosts quarterly Shuras, which reflect the organization's three goals: interfaith worship, learning and fellowship. The council plans to hold several informal dialogues and other activities intended to strengthen the bonds of friendship and mutual respect.
Hector E. Lopez, 63, is a conference minister of the Central Pacific Conference of the United Church of Christ and a longtime advocate of a multiracial and multicultural community. He lives in Northeast Portland.
Suggested 2002 goal: Listen to, heed and help the voices of the neighborhoods as well as the voice of the development community.
Why: While development contributes growth, neighborhoods make Portland livable.
How: By actively seeking citizen participation, not just making citizen participation an item to check off a list. This means officialdom devotes staff time and requires meaningful effort in the neighborhoods.
Year-end update: For 2003, I would keep the original wish. Citizen involvement is expensive and time-consuming and yields little in the way of a tangible and deliverable commodity. However, dollars spent in meaningful citizen involvement provide citizens and bureau personal with a means of arriving at workable solutions.
Arlene Kimura is a community activist. She lives in the Hazelwood neighborhood, east of Interstate 205.
Suggested 2002 goal: Pass a children's levy to provide $10 million per year in funding to vitally needed early childhood education as well as after-school and child-abuse prevention programs.
Why: With the vast majority of Portland parents working outside the home, high-quality, affordable child care and convenient, enriching after-school programs aren't a frill. They are key to keeping Portland families earning and Portland children learning.
If the city wants to attract and keep families, help its young children arrive at kindergarten ready to learn and keep its school-age children engaged and off the streets between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., high-quality child care and after-school programs must be accessible to all.
How: Come together as a community and make the well-being of Portland children our priority on the November ballot. Seattle and San Francisco already have taken this step for children. We can and should do it, too.
Year-end update: Portlanders stood for children despite tough economic times, passing the landmark Portland Children's Initiative. The margin of victory was 13,400 votes. Stand for Children's Portland chapter was the difference, directly reaching 25,000 voters through phone banks, literature drops and children's services at area congregations.
In an era of reputed citizen apathy, committed citizens won a key victory for children and the community.
Jonah Edelman is a co-founder and executive director of Stand for Children, a nationwide grass-roots voice for children with 1,600 members and six chapters in Oregon. He lives in Northeast Portland.
Susan Stevens Emmons
Suggested 2002 goal: I hope someone will initiate the actualization of a truly beautiful and inspirational piece in our built environment. This could be a park, bridge, building, radio tower, alley, wall Ñ anything. Something to take our breath away by its power and beauty.
Why: The spirit of humanity is recorded by its creations. We speak the unspeakable through form. To be inspired by the work of others can lead us to greater accomplishment. Our community and our civilization should move forward on this basis.
How: Learn from what we know and seek what we haven't yet achieved.
Year-end update: It's too early to tell whether in the past year my hope of the initiation of a truly beautiful and inspirational piece in our built environment has been realized.
Certainly, the opportunity exists.
The Pearl Arts Foundation has persevered, against all odds, in bringing great artists to Portland. Who knows what Maya Lin will contribute to our city? I look forward to finding out, because she has a great ability, if the circumstances allow for it.
All of the hard work going into the North Macadam area will potentially result in something, somewhere that we will be drawn to, excited that it is a part of our city.
The possibility is here. This is our biggest gift. If we are both brave and lucky, it will manifest itself.
Susan Stevens Emmons is an architect and artist. She lives in Southwest Portland.