First of all, if you're new to Portland (even within the last few years), WELCOME! As a relative newcomer myself (since 2000), I mean that with the utmost sincerity. New people are great and necessary, because they turn over the garden, remind the rest of us of what the city still lacks, and have a genuine enthusiasm for living here. I only ask newcomers one thing: Bring something to the game.
[Skip this next paragraph if you abhor self-gratifying stories of personal history.]
As mentioned before, I came to Portland in 2000 after spending 10 years in Seattle helping build our sister paper The Stranger. And by the end, I was REALLY ready to skip town. I arrived in Seattle during "the grunge years" (HA! So cute!), and while I practically ignored Nirvana for my passion of the time—which was '80s funk and disco... I'm a weirdo—it was a super fun time to live there. Lots of young folks were pouring in to the city based on Seattle's creative reputation, and it seemed everybody was doing something. Music, drag shows, guerrilla theater, public access TV... at the time, it seemed all forms of creativity were worth exploring and fucking with. And... of course... things change. In the mid-90s, tech companies like Microsoft and Amazon moved in, rents went up, and developers went crazy. (Is any of this sounding familiar yet?) And slowly, almost imperceptibly, things began getting a little less creative, and a little less fun. FOR ME. (Things have really popped there in recent years, especially in Seattle activism which is on FIRE right now.) However, at the time, it seemed the pervading attitude was no longer "Let me entertain you!" but "Why don't you entertain me?" That's why when I was asked to help start the Mercury here in Portland, I had heard what was going on here—and I hopped at the opportunity like a dog snapping at a Beggin' Strip.
One reason I love Portland is that our creativity reminds me of those early eccentric Seattle days. However, I have to admit I'm feeling a bit of that "Why don't you entertain me?" attitude seeping in. We're internationally famous for our Portlandia-style shenanigans, which naturally is attracting a lot of people here... and again... GREAT! WELCOME! The more the merrier! I would just encourage all of us—the newcomers, the old-comers, and especially me—to not just sit around and expect to be entertained. People come here for a reason: it's a city filled with people doing what they love to do. So do it, already. Be creative. And for those who don't feel that particular passion, you're welcome here, too—but please be patient, encouraging, and do everything you can to keep our creatives here. It's proven: Creativity brings money and jobs and fun to a city. And if developers want to make money off of that... fine. But maybe don't murder the cow that furnishes the milk?
As noted here, the Mercury is 15-years-old this month (WOOT! WOOT!), and while it's not always easy or successful, we try every single week to do something weird, fun, and fucked up. So if you're new (or old) to town and you're doing something weird, fun, and fucked up, too? Tell us and maybe we'll write about it! Or just do it because your heart tells you to. Because right now, you're in the perfect place. And it's within each of us to keep it that way.