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More Dignity Villages are needed

by: JIM CLARK, What began as a group of tents has become a collection of homes built from recycled items at Dignity Village. A letter writer is in favor of creating more Dignity Villages in outlying areas of Portland so the city’s homeless have a place to go.

The all inclusive 'those of us' statement implies that the author (Monica Beemer of Sisters of the Road Café), is homeless - which she is not (It's not a crime to be homeless, Two Views, July 2).

I find this at the very least disingenuous.

Having been homeless, and I am - at least for today - 'homed,' I believe my personal experience gives me an honest viewpoint. I was homeless because of my choices in life.

Let me backpedal just far enough to say that I was not raised in a traditional, nurturing setting. What I know now is the lack of training in societal assimilation gave me a feeling of being on the outside looking in, of being apart from society and a victim. The decisions that led to my homelessness were based on a victim's point of view.

What I had to do was transcend this viewpoint. No one could do this for me. When I was humble enough to admit to myself that maybe my outlook on life was the thing hindering me, I found help - more than I needed.

Misery loves company. Entitlement breeds righteous indignation. These traps keep homeless people in perpetual victim-stance. They also give well-meaning people an issue and purpose.

Lumping the homeless condition into one generalization distracts; it strips away the invaluable insight an individual can gain into oneself.

I am against entitling a group of layabouts with the 'civil right' of blocking public sidewalks and private doorways. I am against giving a group of malcontents the 'civil right' to be a public nuisance. I am in favor of creating more Dignity Villages in outlying areas of the city. The panhandling might be less rewarding, but the boost in self-esteem gained by being proactive in one's own destiny is priceless.

Mike Smith

North Portland

Ordinance will save businesses

I believe the sit lie ordinance is an important tool (It's not a crime to be homeless, Two Views, July 2).

There are businesses downtown that are trying to stay afloat. They provide products, services, jobs and a tax base. When people like me find it unpalatable to go downtown due to numerous homeless people obstructing the sidewalk, and when we feel like we are walking through a gauntlet of beggars, we have plenty of other options to choose from.

With children in tow, the decision to go to a suburban shopping center is even easier. Who wants to drag a family through squatter's camps? When enough of us go away, businesses close. Is that what writer Monica Beemer wants?

Less business downtown equals less of a tax base, which means less opportunity for social services for the very people she seeks to protect.

No, being homeless ought not be a crime, but public loitering is - and there are logical and humane reasons for it. Extend the ordinance, please.

Carmen Lohkamp

Gresham

Industry puts people to work

The thought processes of this city stagger me (River plan draws groans, July 2). We encourage the city to build condos and townhomes and little niche bistro-type restaurants along the waterfront without so much as a 'mother may I,' then we turn around and give them all kinds of tax breaks.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but even without the tax breaks, a condo or a waterfront townhome is only going to put just so much into the city's coffers in terms of tax revenue.

Now, on the flip side of that, we have industry that will provide living wages, revenue and take people who are looking for work and provide them with jobs.

If we relax some of the requirements for business, we bring in more jobs and more revenue for the city to hire people to clean up some of the places that need it.

I like having things nice and green too, but if we keep treating potential industries like some kind of evil, the only thing Portland is going to be good for is a history lesson in how not to run a city.

Don K. Hogan

Hillsboro

Landscaping won't benefit industry

The goal is to open a number of community gardens in the middle of the industrial sites? (River plan draws groans, July 2) Who will pay to maintain all this landscaping that provides no benefit to the industrial sites, and how does it make sense to reduce our industrial space by 15 percent? I can understand a requirement for beautification along roads and other public areas, but that is far less than 15 percent of the land.

Overall I have been disappointed in the city's lack of leadership. Pandering to special interest groups is not a solution. We need leadership that is willing to force logic and sensible compromises back into the system.

The government should not be the largest employer in town unless government agencies are going to start paying more taxes.

Elijah Schutz

Southeast Portland

Stop negativity on sustainable topics

We definitely need to find a way to make this work - it's good for business and it's good for the environment (City has no space for food waste, June 18).

I'm always curious, however, about how negative the headlines come across relating to sustainable topics in the Tribune. While the options might not be as plentiful as we hope, reading the article shows there are interested parties, and that's what we need to encourage rather than headlining that there is 'no space.'

Nothing is that black and white.

Aimee Fahey

Northeast Portland

Composting plant was a failure

Jennifer Anderson's article on Portland's continuing quest to site a composting facility that could handle its commercial food wastes was well-written, with loads of facts (City has no space for food waste, June 18).

Missing, however, was the fact that this effort goes back at least 20 years. Around 1988 or 1989 a European-style composting plant, complete with a 'digester,' was built in North Portland....

This grand experiment was derived from the Metro's reports from its own staff and/or officials who had toured such composters in Europe.

Alas, the result, even after a couple of years of tinkering and modifications, was far different from the European experience. Metro's composter never produced anything but a rotting garbage smell and was unceremoniously shut down.

Clifford Clark

Forest Grove