Tomorrow, the eve of the Rose Festival parade, marks the one day a year when conspicuous tent camping is not only permitted, but also encouraged, on the streets of Portland. That way, the reasoning goes, the fine folks who live in Portland's finer neighborhoods and hinterlands can beat the crowds and lay their claims to prime peeping positions along the Grand Floral parade route.
Last year, Right 2 Survive, an advocacy group for the homeless, got clever and used the tent amnesty to send a message about a city camping ban that, every other day of the year, targets Portlanders who sleep outside because they have to, not because they think it's fun. And, starting at 9 am tomorrow, advocates will do it again.
"What kind of message is the city sending?" homeless advocate Leo Rhodes says in a statement sent out by Right 2 Survive. "They are saying it is okay to camp for recreation, but if you are one of the thousands of people in Portland without housing or shelter you will be fined and harassed for erecting a structure for survival."
This year's "Pitch a Tent" event will begin at Right 2 Dream Too, the tent city "rest area" at NW 4th and Burnside that's drawn the ire of city code enforcers. From there, everyone will fan out along the parade route and start picking plum spots. Here's hoping this stays an annual tradition.