Letters: Unhappy, crowded animals
In a recent letter, Tammy Goesch expressed her negative feelings about the fact that Portland's population density will increase with the tall residential towers proposed for downtown's Riverplace neighborhood — "Zookeepers know you can only crowd the animals so much, and then they begin to fight and turn on each other. Please keep in mind that humans are also animals."
If this argument is correct, high density will inevitably lead to Portland being a place of "unhappy crowded animals."
Portland is becoming more dense because there are more people living within a fixed area; its current population density is 4,740 people per square mile. People in Portland seem to be fairly happy overall (there are problems everywhere). Lots of people are moving here, and not because of the "good ol' days."
By many measures, the happiest people in the world are Scandinavians. Denmark's capital city, Copenhagen, has a population density of 17,400 people per square mile, about 3.75 times denser than Portland. Sweden's capital city, Stockholm, has a population density of 12,900 people per square mile, about 2.75 times denser than Portland. Both are much denser than Portland, and yet they both have happier people. Incidentally, Paris is 12 times denser than Portland, and they're not miserable.
Some cities, like Phoenix, grow by annexing more land, so their density stays relatively stable; their policies encourage endless suburbia. Portland has a strict urban growth boundary, so as its population grows it will, of course, become more dense. Some people are moving here partly because Portland's getting more dense, i.e. more urban.
I'm challenging the myth that increased density leads to unhappier people.
Whether developers are to blame for our current housing difficulties is a more complex and separate question.
I don't particularly like the towers either, but for other reasons.
Changing education around the world
Thanks for the Feb. 20 article in the Tribune ("Changing attitudes one child at a time"). The groundbreaking efforts of Brett Bigham and David Smith in helping special-needs and other vulnerable children in Bangladesh are wonderful. As Bigham noted, even small amounts of money can have a large impact.
As a former special-education teacher, I agree — and we can do even more. Currently 263 million children aren't able to go to school. Recently, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) held its fundraising conference but didn't meet its goal. (The United States has given in the past, but didn't this year.) GPE is badly needed.
Dollars directed to the world's most vulnerable children not only help our fellow human beings, they yield large dividends in terms of health, peace and the economy (think future trading partners). Over 110 members of Congress already have co-sponsored the GPE resolution.
What can we do? As Oregonians, we can thank Reps. Peter DeFazio, Suzanne Bonamici and Earl Blumenauer for co-signing the GPE resolution and urge Reps. Kurt Schrader and Greg Walden to give their support. Our calls and letters go a long way toward making this happen.
Help make the dreams of millions of children come true.
Can you afford the justice system?
To some, the justice system is a casino. To most others, it has become, like education and health care, a commodity. How much of any can you afford?