Thursday, May 17, 2007

A wish list for Hillsdale — and beyond

Mayor Tom Potter's election night comments about the defeat of charter revision disturbed me. He said he no longer would push for change in Portland's form of government although he obviously feels it is needed.

If he doesn't return to the issue, who will? And, more importantly, when? The next mayor likely will be one of the current commissioners. They seem quite satisfied with the archaic, fragmented system we have.

Potter's words remind me of just how achingly long change can take. Increasingly I'm realizing that many of the changes I want to see happen in Hillsdale won't occur in my lifetime.

More and more I am resigned to maximizing the possibility of eventual success rather than actually witnessing it.

I’ll settle for hope and the knowledge that I’ve done what I can to effect change here.

For the record, here’s what I’d like to see happen:

I want to see the mess of utility wires put underground in the Town Center. It will cost $1 million in today’s dollars.

I want to see the Hillsdale plaza with its tiers of sheltering solar panels shading farmers
stalls. That too likely will cost $1 million.

I want to see DeWitt Park extended to Sunset Boulevard to create a plaza fully in front of the library. Another $ million. The kind of money Bill Gates makes in a day.

I want to see Hillsdale (in league with Multnomah Village and Bridlemile and perhaps Hayhurst or Southwest Hills Residential League), represented on a reconfigured and reformed City Council of 20 or so representatives elected by neighborhood coalitions. I have no idea what it will cost, but it won’t come cheap, media-driven politics being what it is.

I want to see our schools transformed into true inter- and multi-generational community learning centers. In this 21st Century maelstrom of change, we must go well beyond “no child left behind” to no person left behind. There’s no telling what that might cost, but the cost will be worth it. My guess is the greatest cost will be measured in volunteer capital, which is no cost at all by current budgetary standards.

I want to entice people to abandon the four to five hours each day they waste glued to their TV sets. I want them to devote that time to helping each other and their community. The regained hours (15 full years in a life span of 80 years) would be a huge investment of the human capital mentioned above.

I want to know by name all of the neighbors within two blocks of my house. Yes, even and perhaps especially, the ones whose dog barks incessantly beginning at 6 a.m. Knowing my neighbors costs only time — time well and joyously spent.

I want there to be one car per household and a small grocery and bus stop within easy walking distance of every Hillsdale household. If zoning allowed it and incentives were in place, it would cost nothing and might just help save the planet.

I want those grocery stores to sell only produce grown in an area no more than 60 miles from Portland. Market forces should take care of that, as we are seeing with our farmers market.

Beyond Hillsdale, I want an America that once again stands for justice, peace, equality and fair play. I want an America that is strong not in its self-righteousness or its military but in its magnanimity, morality and humility as a one nation among many.

I began this by saying I was in a time bind. I am unlikely to see any of these goals accomplished within my lifetime. I have come to accept that. My hope now is to help plant seeds so that future generations will reap the benefits.

Note: For the next four days, I will not be posting on The Red Electric as I will be out of town. I look forward to sharing my thoughts and inviting yours when I return.

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