Learning Portland

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 by Sam Winston

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With all of the over-stuffing on turkey, cranberry sauce, football and hectic travel during the extended Thanksgiving weekend, one may not have seen an extremely insightful article about the future of New Orleans and how the city chooses its urban rebuilding strategies.

"Two cities: One in the midst of a decadelong real estate boom; the other, devastated, depopulated and wondering who will come home. What can they learn from each other?"

The above mentioned cities are New Orleans and Portland. The article was written for The Oregonian, Portland's daily paper, by a former Oregon state representative that spent

the past year in New Orleans as a consultant to two non-profits involved in rebuilding efforts. The author, Chris Beck, also co-wrote a NY Times Op-ed piece about deconstructing homes in New Orleans to reuse valuable parts instead of wasting them by demolition.

"New Orleans could learn a lot from Portland's urban planning and citizen-involvement successes. Portland, increasingly at risk of self-adulation, could benefit as much from understanding the many lessons learned from more than 200 years of an evolving racial and social struggle, of which Katrina is only the latest episode."

While it is at times painful to hear New Orleans described by Beck in such stark terms, it is also clear that he caught the romantic bug that is "charming New Orleans." All the more reason to take seriously, and to be flattered by, a comparison to one of America's greatest recent successes in urban planning in Portland (city plaza mentioned in article pictured).

Click here for the full article.

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