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Eclectic stories are so Portland

'Our Portland Story: Volume 2' winds across Rose City life


'Our Portland Story.'The greatest challenge of “Our Portland Story: Volume 2” is simply how to define it.

Featuring 77 authors and 77 designers, the book is a visually stunning assault, in a good way. It is not a graphic novel, though there are some comic strips. It is not a history, nor travel guide to Portland, though you certainly learn a lot about the Rose City from reading it. The best way I could describe “Story” is as a scrapbook. That does not completely fit, but it is close enough.

“Story” is edited by Sarah Koch, a second- and third-generation Portlander, who is a professional freelance proofreader and copy-editor. The book is an ongoing community project founded in 2008 by Melissa Delzio, who is also the project’s director; Volume 1 was published in 2010. Delzio, a North Portlander, is an independent graphic designer. She has more than nine years of experience creating print and interactive design for international and local consumer brands, education institutions and museums.

The book, listed for $29, describes itself as a representation of “the insights of a variety of authors, each with a story to share.” The book features an eclectic mix of stories, poems and anecdotes from Portland’s love of hamburgers to a poem about the Steel Bridge.

Some of the stories I found most interesting were a story about the 24-Hour Church of Elvis, and a story about the origin of the slogan “For you a rose in Portland grows.” There were several other interesting stories and doubtless another reader would find a different lists of favorites.

This book is as much about the page design as it is about the words. Each writer is paired with a designer who puts their stamp upon the story with color, graphics and format. Some of the page design was stunning, some interesting and some gave me a headache looking at it. While most of the page designing added a great deal to the story, there were some page designs that detracted from the story. Occasionally designers chose a font that may have been pretty, but made the words difficult to read.

Overall, though, the design was of a high quality and even if I did not like the design, it was as fun to turn through the pages and see the design as it was to read the stories.

There were certain things about the format of the book which could have been improved. When I first opened the book, I was excited to see the usual table of contents with a list of story titles, so I could flip to the ones that interested me the most. There was no table of contents, though. Instead, there was simply an alphabetical list of the authors and on what page number their story appeared. That required me to flip through the book and doggy-ear the pages I wanted to come back to first.

I also did not understand why the authors had only their names listed and the designers had six pages in the back of the book that featured their pictures as well as a short biography.

But, these are minor complaints about a book that taught me a lot about my home city and did it in a visually captivating way.

“Story” is planning a third addition and it will be fascinating to see what new stories it tells and the way the designers present those stories.