My View: City must take doable steps to relieve stress, hate
People forget that America used to be called the "melting pot" because of the variety of immigrants who came here. And most of them, like my own grandparents, attempted to blend in and adopt the ways and culture of their new home.
But that doesn't always work, especially when certain groups are singled out for negative focus. Is it because of racism or anti-religious ideologies, or is there more to it? I would say there is more to it.
We've all heard of environmental stress affecting nature. The human environment also faces stress, and not just because of what's going on in Washington, D.C. Other stressors affecting Portland and the vicinity are well established and increasing in intensity.
Take a big-picture look at Portland. Stress is everywhere. Gentrification has displaced thousands. The homeless are visible more than before, yet efforts to help are piecemeal. College costs and student loans are reaching new heights, while many with degrees can't find work in their field of studies.
New apartments are going up all over with no landscaping and little to no parking. Traffic congestion is worsening, but street capacities in many locations are being reduced. Vigilantes are filling potholes because the city is so behind in street maintenance.
The city is trying to increase neighborhood density because of failed efforts to provide the "missing middle." Lack of apartment parking reduces neighborhood parking to where many neighborhoods soon may be forced to use parking permits.
Where are neighborhood parks and open spaces to support population increases? Where is adequate affordable housing except outside of Portland? Why is political correctness becoming so forceful in Portland?
According to the Pew Center, only 30 percent of Portland residents are affiliated with a religion. Is that why Salem has a state Christmas Tree but Portland has the Stimson Lumber Tree? Is that why Boston has a Thanksgiving Day Parade but Portland has (or had) a holiday parade? And what holiday was that, anyway?
Inequities and classism are increasing. And the list of stressors people face in Portland could go on.
The bottom line is, we can't blame Trump and Congress for all the stress and hate occurring in Portland. Much of the blame focuses on greed, piecemeal planning efforts, bad city management, classism and change that is just plain happening too much and too quickly.
What can be done to relieve the stress and improve our human environment? A lot of things, including: better leadership, return to comprehensive approaches for growth and development, solve problems holistically and not piecemeal, stop trying to ramp up density in neighborhoods (people are not ants), improve street capacities and maintenance while still supporting multimodal transportation, respect the rights of people to worship and celebrate holidays and culture as they choose (isn't that supposed to be one of our freedoms?), eliminate price gouging for rentals, create comprehensive homeless centers (that provide transitional housing, training, counseling, health care, etc.), increase the minimum wage on par with Seattle, and most importantly, follow the golden rule and "treat others as we would have them treat us."
This isn't rocket science. Most of these are doable and will help to relieve both stress and hate. So what are we waiting for?