Thursday, July 29, 2010

Monocle World Metros: We're #22!

So I got my latest edition of Monocle magazine, and was pleasantly surprised and puzzled by Monocle ranking of Portland al;ong side such cities as Muchen, Geneva, Vancouver BC and Kyoto as one of the world's most inviting metropolis.

To be sure, Portland is tops on livability- if you are employed and making a good median wage for your profession. You can reinvent yourself, and newcomers have high levels of education. The farming sector is thriving here, and enjoy excellent support. We have a direct connection to Asia and Europe, and are enjoying modest investments from German and Scandinavian countries. We have Mayor Adams, who is devoted the city and has taken the mantle of responisbiliy for the metro area. To incorporate and start a business here is quick, efficient and of low cost. Environmental responsibility is very key here, with people walking the walk instead of merely talking about it.

However, wages are low, outright stagnant in some cases. The cost of living has risen; and Portland metro area is going a time of very high unemployment. There is a huge disconnect between Portland Metro and the rest of the state that can be contentious, and the city was incredibly unfair to ask working class Oregonians of all backgrounds to fund, via taxes, condo and co-ops for rich while forgoing funding for the schools.

Despite these issues, people are happy to be here. I wonder about the issues in the other metros that are listed in Monocle.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Janelle Monae turns rhythm and blues into science fiction

Janelle Monae turns rhythm and blues into science fiction

This is someone who I have been rocking to this summer. A perfect intersection of pop music and film.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Is Oregon the Hokkaido of West Coast?

As I was doing research on my doc project, I came across some blogs on Northern Japan and it's industry- or rather, the slow contraction of the industry found there. There is an educated and well connected urban population in Sapporo and Hokadate- and then there are successful small farms and some well to do harbors. But then , there are many abandoned villages and quite a few struggling towns where people struggle to make the minimum for their lives, where people see schools and community centers close due to lack of young people and money.

I wondered: "Is Oregon the Hokkaido of the West Coast"? Having only experience Sapporo, which is a lot like Portland, I could not say for sure. For one, our sheer land mass and tiny population (about 4 million, maybe) makes for a difficult comparison. However, the insular, selfish thinking, the over reliance on extractive economy and a stubborness towards outsiders has made Oregon backwards in ways that one would not see if you all thought of Oregon was beer, bicycles and mountains.

In this state, there is still- still!- bitterness over the listing of the Spotted Owl. And instead of immediately coming up with new farms and bioscience so that loggers could still have a excellent wage and quality of life, there was plenty of protesting and bitching and brooding and as a result entire towns went down the drain. There is belated recognition of this, only to now result in the chase after the next big thing.

There is a chase after trends, after what's new and what next, after what can be done with minimum discomfort and maximum ease. This is a desire to become Silicon Forest after Seattle metro area and Northern California, but without any investment in education funding that is necessary and without sustained outreach to outside business and personnel. There no support for minority owned and supported businesses and a great deal of resentment towards educated outsiders.

There is consumption here, but very little significant inputs, in general. This could describe a great deal of Hokkaido.

But how does a state like avoid this slide and pick it self up again? I don't know, really- it will depend on the citizenry deciding that education, bold retraining of the rural areas and investment in bringing in sustainable business is worth something more than getting a kicker check in the mail.

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