Saturday, December 02, 2006

Portland's visions ecclectic, diverse and welcomed

I spent most of Saturday at the Portland Building plowing through hundreds of visionPDX questionnaire responses. Those who responded were predominantly white (62 percent) but no where near the percentage of caucasians in Portand (79.5 percent).

VisionPDX, an effort initiated by Mayor Tom Potter, largely succeeded in polling the views of the city's growing minority populations.

African-Americans, who make up 6.2 percent of Portland's population, comprised 10.4 percent of the respondents. Latinos were slightly under-represented: They make up 8.4 percent of the population but comprised 7.6 percent of the respondents.

Woman were more apt to respond than men, as were those with higher educations. Twenty-five percent of respondentes had B.A.s and 19.7 percent had graduate degrees.

I was asked to analyze responses in three areas: Higher education, educational opportunity and educational funding. After three hours, I had managed to get through the first of the three. Bottomline: respondents want Portland to have a "first-rate" university, like the University of Washington in Seattle and the University of California in Berkeley. Many want OHSU and PSU to merge into a powerhouse research institution.

The approximately 25 of us who are reading the thousands of responses were told by Portland historian Chet Orloff that we should search for the the values that Portlanders hold dear. He recalled a 2004 visit by famed urbanist Jane Jacobs, who died in April, to Portland. At the time, she dismissed the need for Portland "to vision."

Orloff recounted, "She said that Portlanders need to know who we are and to build on that."

With that in mind, I'm dipping into my share of the 13,000 plus responses looking for evidence of who Portlanders think they are and what they think their city should be in 20 years.

While visionPDX's system is far from perfect (see my earlier post), Portlanders are fortunate we've been asked for our visions, and the city is fortunate that so many have shared theirs.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Huge Hillsdale Book Sale set for Sunday

Hillsdale residents have donated more than 6,000 books to the benefit Hillsdale Holiday Book Sale to be held this Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the old Estby gas station.

Proceeds from the sale will benefit organizations that are members of the Hillsdale Alliance. Member organizations include the neighborhood association, the business and professional association, Hillsdale's three public schools, the library, the farmers market and Hillsdale Neighborhood Emergency Teams (NET).

The books are priced to sell. "Pocket" paperbacks are 50 cents, softcover books are $1, hard-bound books are $2. Oversized or "coffee table" books are $3. Some exceptional books are specially priced.

The Hillsdale Business and Professional Association will also sponsor a chili feed at the sale. School choirs will serenade, and classical guitar virtuoso George Woolf will play.

The gas station is immediately to the east of Baskin Robbins on Capitol Highway.

The Dec. 3 sale follows the successful benefit book sale in July at the gas station. That sale grossed $3700.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Red Electric powers up, throws off "sparks"

I'm learning how to power up the Red Electric by letting others know about it. I recently informed a list of folks who helped with our "Hillsdale Votes!"registration campaign in 2004.Of the several who have visited the site, some want to link with organizations they are involved with. So you should look to the right for additions to the links list. You'll find that I have, enthusiastically, added Neighborhood House, at the request of Rick Nitti, its irrepressible executive director. You will also find a link to the site for Southern Pacific 4449, at the request of Carl Petterson. Rick and Carl live in Hillsdale.

Neighborhood House, located in Multnomah Village, is, of course, a treasure, serving many folks in need in our community. The link to old 4449 is, well, "family" for The Red Electric because "Red" was a Southern Pacific train.

Here is what Carl wrote me: "The historical writeup on the Red Electric link was of great interest to me. I volunteer one day a week in the SE Portland Brooklyn Roundhouse where we maintain the Southern Pacific 4449 steam locomotive (see photo. ed). Currently we are getting it ready for the Holiday Express, a short series of excursions from Oaks Park to near OMSI."

To find out more about the Holiday Express, visit its web site.

Hey, Carl, what's the chance of restoring and running a Red Electric?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hillsdale voter turnout was huge

Of 126 voting precincts in Multnomah County, the precinct at Hillsdale’s core ranked seventh in voter turn-out in the November 7 general election.

Precinct 1224 had a turnout of nearly 83 percent of those registered to vote, compared with 69 percent countywide.

The precinct’s voters remain heavily Democratic, casting three out of four votes for Democratic Governor Ted Kulongowski over Republican challenger Ron Saxton and lesser candidates.

Precinct 1170, which includes the northern part of Hillsdale and sweeps over the hill and onto the OHSU campus, is even more Democratic. There Kulongowski won four out of five votes.

By contrast, statewide Kulongowski won with 51 percent of the vote while Saxton polled 43 percent.

The vote on the Portland school bond measure, 26-84, in the core Hillsdale precinct, 1224, was better than two to one in favor–68 percent to 32 percent. Citywide the vote was 63 percent yes, 37 percent no.

Monday, November 27, 2006

What the Iraq war costs Portland

Portlanders so far have spent more than $407 million on the war and occupation in Iraq, reports The American Friends Service Committee.

AFSC's Portland office is calling on Portlanders to attend a City Council hearing on Iraq this Thursday, Nov. 30, at 2 p.m. to call for a withdrawal of troops. The hearing will be at City Hall, 1221 SW Fourth Avenue.

The money now going to the Iraq war should be spend for human needs at home instead, says the AFSC.

Here's what that $407 million would have paid for here in Portland:


* More than 20,000 4-year scholarships at public universities in Oregon;

* Health insurance for more than 250,000 Portland children;

* Nearly 56,000 Head Start students for 1 year;

* 7,000+ teachers for 1 year; or

* More than 3,700 housing units in Portland.

(Source: The National Priorities Project)