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Readers' letters: It's not easy being a citizen of weirdopolis

I have points to raise concerning your editorial about earnings and college degrees (Portland’s earning power set by degrees, March 21). Portland has gone to great effort to sell itself as an “apex” party town. It’s called “beervana” and “weirdopolis” for good reason.

Young people are coming from across the country to hang out in nightclubs, couch surf and take life easy. They are not the people who intend to work in a cubicle. Their families may accuse them of being “entitled,” but that is the way they grew up.

A young couple on the bus was saying they were studying philosophy and art at Portland State but planned to move to California for a better school. They had no concept of employment.

While graduates with degrees that are “technical, professional or managerial” in nature are much more readily employable, the others generally catch up after a half-dozen years or so of “fumbling around.” Their educations often give them better communication and analysis skills. It just doesn’t seem like it while making pizzas.

What is missing are “liberal arts/technician” programs in colleges. The two tracks don’t coexist very well. Portland has numerous colleges offering degrees in history and philosophy because they are popular and cheap to offer. There are only two small engineering programs and none in pharmacy or aviation. The area doesn’t have a comprehensive university.

When a graduate does mature and want to start a career, many have to move. Portland is known to be very transient. Many turn to community colleges for work skills training.

Portland has been able to get away with not training professional because people move here “cold.” Half of all teachers certified each year in Oregon and Washington were trained in other states (at their expense).

It isn’t easy being a town that young people adore and their parents consider decadent.

Jim Schultz

Southeast Portland

Northwest should be clean energy haven

My husband and I moved to Portland recently to escape the dirty, loud city of Chicago.

I dreamed of a backyard in which to plant and eat from, clean air to breathe and a healthy baby, with an overall better quality of life. We ended up buying an affordable house in Kenton, near the railroad.

When I learned about Ambre Energy and Kinder Morgan’s plans to export coal on these tracks from Montana through the Columbia Gorge, I was horrified. Dirty coal trains will diminish property values and hurt small farms and businesses. If we export coal, we import toxic air not just from coal falling off the trains but also from Asia’s easterly wind patterns. People with respiratory illnesses will see their health worsen.

Rural areas and rail communities can invest in clean local energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal and methane gas from agriculture. We do need jobs, and local energy solutions will put us to work and reduce energy bills. The Pacific Northwest can lead America’s transition from the outdated dirty energy of the past to 21st century clean energy.

Thank you, Gov. Kitzhaber, for your stance on coal and for protecting the people of Portland. I further urge you to stop all coal exports from Oregon by denying all coal export permits.

Natalie Leivant

North Portland