Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Portland: the Providence of the west

For marketing training, I joined some fellow pacific-northwest colleagues in Portland, OR. I had never been there before, so I was excited to check out this green-lifestyle city. Its quest for carbon neutralizing, its attraction to young entrepreneurs, and its organic scene has been covered by magazines, featured in home design shows, and touted alongside the likes of Bloomberg’s NYC green initiatives, Hickenlooper’s tenacious green infrastructure and green space dedications, and Schwarzenegger’s eco-charge my Hummer example setting.

Green. The word barely describes this urban nirvana. The clouds gave way to hillsides bright with new spring leaves: populars and birches were abloom along side dark evergreens, creating an undulating palate decorated by few powerlines and skirted by mass transit. The downtown corridor is home to local markets on the weekends, riverfront public areas, and a marina that features intramural dragon boat racing. The dedicated bike lanes along each roadway, bridge, and promenade, featured cyclists of every size, shape, color, and their rain-ready accessories.

My office was Andersons’ former location (before Enron went under). The eco-friendly wooden cubes (as opposed to plastic or metal) were topped with planter boxes of greenery. Each trashcan was co-located with not only recycling, but a compost option. Our conference rooms used ambient light, and our bathrooms’ lights are motion-sensitive.

Nearby restaurants featured locally farmed, fresh produce, locally grown wines, vegan and vegetarian options, and consumer-conscious meat products on every menu (e.g., wild salmon, grass-fed beef).

Each evening, my boss, Jon, and I walked around the riverfront. Being an east coaster himself, he nodded in agreement when I remarked, “This place reminds me of a more well-appointed Providence.” To me, Seattle acts as the west coast’s Boston (with LA being our NYC equivalent). Providence and Portland are the smaller city to the south with the same following and principles yet a wee bit more relaxed with prettier countryside. The downtown areas have both been revitalized, the draw bridges that span the waterways add ambiance to the landscape, and the people are really friendly. There is an affiliation with Seattle, and there is a respect of the military presence in the area (Fort Lewis and McChord AFB are an 1.5 hrs drive north). And even Portland’s airport is more user-friendly (I’d fly out of TF Green as opposed to Logan given the chance).

My marketing class went well, and I learned a lot about techniques and networked with other colleagues about upcoming federal pursuits. On my last eve in the eco-urban nirvana, I dined on pate, Beecher’s cheese selections, and sipped on Tre Nova. I interviewed a colleague who had willingly left Anchorage and transferred to Portland. Let’s just say, I liked the color of her answers…

1 comment:

Flo said...

I JUST saw this article a couple days ago and thought of you, I really hope I get to visit there someday!