Newsflash: Newbies Aren't Ruining Portland (But Here's Something That Might)

Comments

1
Nice thoughts Humpy. Thanks.
Has The Mercury ever discussed bringing The Stranger's Genius Awards south? That might throw some much needed monetary appreciation to the people who are getting off their asses and being creative here in Portland. A bonus of appreciation.
2
Have we considered that many of the people who move here to work in industries like software and medicine are far more creative than the hordes of "creatives" who move here to start short-lived, mediocre bands or sell overpriced, pretty meh paintings? Architects aren't more "creative" than vintage store owners, or self-published authors? Aren't we really just pricing out people who don't understand that if you want to live in a desirable city on the west coast, you may have to earn a living rather than just be professionally precious?
3
Hey I'm Serious, the thing is it was all those dirty hippies who wasted their lives making art instead of getting degrees that made Portland a desirable city in the first place. Seems to me like you're saying "Thanks for making this the happenin' place, now fuck off and let the real adults profit off your efforts."

I've got nothing against professionals of all types moving here, but STEM majors who treat creatives like a vagrant underclass can pack their degrees and their startups in their Subarus and drive right back to Silicon Valley, thanks.
4
Dear "I'm serious". Seriously? (:

Dude. I'm both a software programmer and a musician (I was in a signed, touring band before coding for a living)... And NO. Sorry. It's not the same. And no, health care professionals and software developers are NOT making art. Artists don't run around trying to co-opt your hard-won skills, please be respectful of artists and acknowledge they do something different. I'm not saying you can't be creative in your problem-solving or whatever in those other vocations, but just... No.
6
Hey I like the code writers, and the medicare professionals, and the architects, and the accountants, and office managers that work those vital jobs and appreciate them. As one of those dirty impoverished artists working to brighten kids days, and teach those cubicle hive dwellers how to paint pretty pictures I contribute what I can to the economy and to the heartbeat of the city. I support all local businesses, volunteer what time I can, and work my ass off doing somethimg I love, and what I am good at... being a weirdo. Unfortunately because my specific sect of the economy doesn't pay, and I am not one of the powerhouse and very 1% percent of the 1% of artists that make bank doesn't mean I don't deserve equal housing opportunities, healthcare, and a right to pursue my version of happiness. My happiness is providing accessible art for all, not just work for the 'upper class' and produce overpriced art that while would certainly pay the bills would not inspire and make more people, those petty commoners smile. I'm sorry smiles don't pay the bills, but I sleep better at night, and am not near as bitter toward my fellow human beings as I was when I worked as an accountant and construction contractor. But go on doing what makes you happy. I'm not stopping you.
7
Very well put. Thank you for the perspective! I've seen so many people who were so vital to the fashion, arts, and music scene here leave to more fertile ground in the past two years. It feels like a ghost town with more people rather than fewer. And I wonder if a lot of us aren't just running out the clock until the rent is finally too high, the wages too low, the jobs too scarce to make this work any more.

But I'm also hopeful that the newcomers will do something different and equally as unique. They can't all be whiny, arrogant, cider-guzzling bros like a certain WWeek contributor.
8
Don't blame the newcomers... blame the mayor and city council (voted in by Portlanders) who have no qualms about destroying neighborhoods and selling out to developers if it brings in more revenue. And blame the former mayor who was more interested in being mayor of Portlandia than running an actual, livable city.
9
Portland will lose against the developers because of trying to be too kind and understanding and wishful cooperation...
$$$ will trample all over that naive sentiment. "Artists" and "creativity" aren't the point of what's happening. This development doesn't care about "creativity" or "art". It's $$$ after more $$$ with the easy pathway. New people moving here aren't the ones buying up and building up all the development. Ble the city leaders, developers, and landlords who've sold out there community.
10
But Kelly, you're not an artist. You're a common musician like half this city (at least). You're not Jaco, Dizzy, Joe Pass, Bach. Do you know how many people possess your modest artistic ability? There's a reason you're a software programmer. Can we all just decide to be musicians and expect to live downtown? You have a shaky handle on reality, and no handle on math.

The problem is not creatives, it's indignant snowflakes. If you're all so creative, quit whining and create some solutions. Or go back to selling terrariums when you don't have band practice.
11
"and teach those cubicle hive dwellers how to paint pretty pictures"

You do realize that many hive dwellers are much better painters than you?
12
This the sauciest post I've read in awhile. Thank you. Happy you are still with the Portland vibes I dig while still so far away in LA. I live on Division and was gone over the end of fall and winter. When I left there was fuck tons of construction, and when I came back there were many local attractions with people spilling onto the side walk to eat pie, ice cream, and delicious Indian food. I complain sometimes about the change, but I only moved here 5 years ago and I can't imagine living anywhere else for the time being.

Portland has helped me discover more about who I am. I know it sounds cliche but I grew up in Texas and my hometown can suck it. Portland is FUCKING RAD. How willing are you to dip your feet into unknown waters that you feel drawn too? Sometimes I bitch because I can feel confused about life blah blah blah. But when I really look at the people I've met, the conversations I've had, and the things I have done, I realize Portland has inspired me to be bold, curious, and more in touch with my true identity.
13
"I'm serious", you sound like you're on the wrong coast and failing to connect to those around you. Have you looked into moving to more indignant parts of the United States, like Boston or D.C.?
14
Barf.

In a word, Burnside 26. That's what newcomers have brought along with them. This is my fucking city. I was born at OSHU and have been raised all over Portland. As a person of color all I see are white people coming in with small mentalities that push a white agenda. If people came to this city and lived among the people here, wonderful, bring your friends. But that's not what's happening. The neighborhood I grew up in, filled with Black and Latino families, is now filled with white 30 somethings, 8 of them in a house. These aren't needed changes, this is the loss of a culture to fit the needs of rich white people, or people living with a shit ton of others.

If you don't want to help find a solution, well then you're part of the fucking problem. Everyone wants to blame the government but the pigs buying into it are just as much to blame.

So newcomers, fuck off.
15
I love how people shit all over musicians and artists for not being rich and famous... Every artist has to develop their talent and skills in front of an audience that appreciates that process and we aren't all born with tech bro silver spoons in our asses. The great artists of history werent born great and they didn't become great by living in some back-woods, podunk, town where it's super cheap to live and where all artists congregate to circle jerk each other in some kind of impoverished artist bliss. It's the self entitled bro culture that kills everything good, they only want rich and famous artists to move to portland, go figure.
16
@Portland_born - This is not YOUR city. It's not a thing you can own. You were lucky enough to be born here and enjoy it, but things change and evolve, it's natural. You might not really like it that much but if you think of yourself as progressive and intelligent, I would probably drop the casual racism and xenophobia.
17
The "cool" inner SE and N/NE Portland neighborhoods increasingly just feel like tourist attractions(with new condo-dwellings being almost like Cabo San Lucas timeshares). Look how quick Division went from semi-trendy strip with a few restaurants and bars to being a must-see on every traveler's itinerary for stops at Pok Pok and Salt and Straw. And that's sort of the future of the market for making a living from art in Portland, entertaining or selling to the tourists.

Sure, there always be some artists and musicians here(there's still artists who manage to stay or move to much, much more expensive cities in the US), but the boom years for cheap living and just doing your own weird thing ended a while ago. Portland doesn't have a nearby place like Oakland that all the creative types are going to flock to either--people will move further out to the outer neighborhoods but plenty will just move on rather than looking for cheaper rent in the suburbs. Though there's such a revolving door of transplants to replace anyone who leaves these days.
18
I think this article conveniently circumnavigates the reason that fewer people want to be entertained than to entertain. Doing your "own rad thing" requires a fair amount of disposable time.
Rent goes up, you must work more to pay it. Less time for weirdo stuff.
Get real buddy are you really that simplistic? Creative culture in Portland in directly proportionate to trust fund income anymore. And NO ONE is having that conversation.
19
This article conveniently circumnavigates the main reason why creative culture is suffering in Portland. It take s way more money to live here than it did 20/10/5 years ago so those with the luxury of time to "do their own rad thing" is dwindling. Portland's creative culture and "creative type" status is directly proportionate to independent wealth anymore.
Just saying that people need to "get off their asses" and do creative stuff is somewhat of an insult to those of us who have to get off our asses and fontina job with hours and pay for our shit first.
Obviously the majority of people who can afford to rent a home, a studio and manage to pay for their lifestyle as an artist are getting dollars from some other sources in the sky. I wish we could all acknowledge this reality and have a real discussion about art and class.
20
I make a living writing and performing comedy. It's doable. I'm not going to be going to Vale this year, and a lot of my 'vacations' are for stand-up jobs. But I have a house, a car and food in the fridge. I am also a native to Portland, but I love all the new people. It's the new people coming into town that allowed me to work doing things I like. I am worried about the rents going up exponentially and not having the latitude to live on comedy, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. Right now, I'm too busy being 'precious artist and snowflake.'
21
Yeah, i make $60K a year at a middle class job when i'm not creating stuff. I can't afford to live in any of my old neighborhoods anymore and have a nickle left over to do anything creative or fun. And i'll say it again... 20 YEARS AGO THERE WERE NO CITIES WHERE ONLY WEALTHY PEOPLE COULD LIVE. NOW THERE ARE MANY. THIS IS THE ERA OF "HAVES AND HAVE NOTS" CREATED BY REAGANOMICS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
22
Thanks imserious. What an elitist article that smacks of the faux "I'm too cool for everyone" attitude that is a big problem with this city right now. How is this article / attitude any different than some racist old timer in Texas who is stereotyping a whole group and decrying "the Mexicans" coming in and bringing crime, not being able to speak English and bringing down property values? Exact same thing, except here people are saying "go back home" to people who are annoyingly standing in line for brunch, don't speak the same art and culture language as them, and are choosing to live in higher rent buildings and raising property values with their home purchases. Absolutely no argument can be made that the ignorant spirit of those two is any different.

Learn to open your mind a bit (just like the old Texan) and realize that not everyone chooses the poor artist path in life...some people have chosen to go the path of a higher paying career. There are downfalls to both choices....the working stiff might only be able to pursue her hobbies on the side (but has more disposable income and often enjoys her job contrary to popular belief), while the artist lives a presumably more fulfilled life but sacrifices income, ability to live in more popular and swanky places, etc. Very few have it both ways, and that's just reality.

Finally, is anyone really shocked that portland has finally caught up (although still the most affordable major city on the upper west coast) with comparable cities from a cost of living standpoint? Our economy is shifting in necessary ways toward a more tech and service based economy, which is good and critical to the long term viability of the city. If you really want to see what happens to a city that fails to shift into the next century and it's inner core loses all interest, look at Detroit.

It's funny how all of these chest pounding self proclaimed natives hate portlandia so much (btw, it has very little to do with people moving here - it's the economy, outdoors, food, old charm, relatively cheap cost of living) are walking billboards for the "dream of the 90s". Except, much to their chagrin, the dream of being able go "retire" on a barista's salary at the age of 25 and live in a sweet close in location is over. It was rad while it lasted, but the shift we are going through as portland grows was bound to happen...and I argue had to happen unless the city (especially our older close in neighborhoods) wanted to go to shit from an infrastructure and property value standpoint.

Portland has caught up to the rest of the west coast, and like it or not, that is a good thing long term.
23
Will Portland even be on the West Coast in 2030? I'm not being seismic- the reason PDX (sort of) shows up now is to be cute and different but primarily, to host an influx of urban refugees trying to flee liveability issues elsewhere.
However, after the newbs settle in they realize Portland is... An Island. It is not connected to anything. The "port" is suffocated by teamsters as well as being 100 miles up a river constantly in need of dredging. Portland, has lost most of their port traffic to Seattle, Oakland and Tacoma (!) and is ignored by international shipping traffic.
And try to fly here The airport is great, clean and efficient but is that because it is terminus and not a hub. Ever notice the lack of direct flights anywhere real?
I may be underestimating the people who move here but are they thinking the next closest city (Seattle) is a quick trip up the 5? It's 3.5 hours to bubblegum alley. You won't be commuting to your contractor job at Microsoft.
I want to believe the cheap(er) water and electricity that brings data centers here also matters in portland but it does not. We failed to make the A List for google fiber and have to pay (let alone never mention the T word) to keep Intel from leaving Beaverton.
Long story short if I am a 21st century industry why do I come here and is portland actually a first tier west coast metropolis or is it Sun City for the liberal arts kids and pearl-district-or-bust landed gentry?
24
what portland needs more than anything is a wider array of housing choices, all at different price points. the reason central neighborhoods have become so unnaffordable is easy, too many people, not enough beds. while the west side condo boom was in full swing 15 years ago, developers all but ignored the east side. and dont blame developers for destroying your neighborhood. developers respond to market conditions, ie demand....so review some econ 101 then we can talk. fast forward to today and we have the psycho real estate market of 2015. most of the old central neighborhood homes have been fixed up, but demand for them is strong and prices reflect that. thankfully we are having an apartment boom so that should leverage rising rents a bit in the coming years. if portland is to get serious about affordability, and also wants to retain its creative and middle classes, a third option needs to happen, high density owner occupied units, and lots of them. nimby's hate condo and townhouses but ultimately, they still help increase their home values as well. were starting to see some infill but the great tundra that is east portland should be where new development takes place. its got room to grow and good transit.
25
also, portland is actually in a slow growth cycle right now. considering the following census data.

1860 2,874 —
1870 8,293 188.6%
1880 17,577 111.9%
1890 46,385 163.9%
1900 90,426 94.9%
1910 207,214 129.2%
1920 258,288 24.6%
1930 301,815 16.9%
1940 305,394 1.2%
1950 373,628 22.3%
1960 372,676 −0.3%
1970 382,619 2.7%
1980 366,383 −4.2%
1990 437,319 19.4%
2000 529,121 21.0%
2010 583,776 10.3%
Est. 2014 619,360 6.1%
26
JTR, seriously shut the fuck up. You are so heartless and compassion-less. You don't embody the ethos of this place at all. Stop worshipping the almighty market and understand that there are working people of average local wages who are getting the pinch. It's not all about hipsters and retired young people, you ill-informed, narrow-minded moron. Maybe if you weren't in some stupor of smug complacency and overstuffed with overpriced sushi, you'd understand.
27
Oh, I completely understand loveanddeath. I understand that you seem to prefer laying around and bitching alongside your new age xenophobic-like tendencies rather than realizing that things change. Sometimes one has to be a little industrious to get what you want (see my last few sentences below).

I never said that it is easy to be "working person of average local wage", nobody did. But guess what, it is not easy to be one in any medium to large size city experiencing growth right now. That is a much larger issue, and is well beyond the scope of the original blog post or my response. I made the portlandia quip as a reference to those that think we can freeze the culture, rents, population, etc. in Portland. And how absurd that is.

And talk about "smug complacency"...you are towing the very ignorant and ill-informed "fuck the outsiders / economic growth" line pretty nicely. Pull your head out and realize that the world grows and changes, as it must. Adapt to the change, or do what all the artists and other cool kids have done for generations before you...move to an ungentrified area and begin gentrifying it and making it your own. The driver of all of these great below market rents you are missing from your dream of the 90s was a willingness to live in what were at the time less desirable areas. Good thing that there are several such neighborhoods not all that far from close-in Portland that fit this bill.
28
What infuriates me is that Portland has been packaged. You can now move here and buy Portland off the shelf. Every asshole that comes here for a week thinks they "get it," goes home and sells some other asshole on it. That asshole tells another asshole. And before you know it, character gives way to caricature, and the city just becomes a giant amusement park for rich millennials. A copy of a copy of a copy.

Now, some people move to Portland and it really speaks to them. They see it's political, and they get involved. They have an opinion. They see the craft culture and understand that Portlanders aren't doing it to be "different" or to be featured in yet another New York Times fetish feature. They do it because they fucking want to--because they're industrious and interested people. Imports who understand that are the ones we need to keep (and cultivate) our vibrance. There was a really exciting groundswell here and there will be again, right about the time everyone decides they're bored and moves on to the next thing.
29
listen you dopes, by the time escape from new york pizza was opening up shop, and my own private idaho and drugstore cowboy were being filmed here, portland had already been "discovered". in fact it had already been discovered 100 years earlier too, when lumberman, outlaws, chinese railroad workers, folks on the lam and on the run made their way west and moved to good old portland. its not anything new. really..i repeat, noooothing new. its the same old cycle of urbanity. creative types move to a downtrodden area, do the heavy lifting and make things a bit more vibrant. people take notice and start to move there when things get nicer, eventually even more well heeled interests take notice, buy up property and start even larger operations. rents rise and it all becomes expensive. shake, repeat in some other neighborhood. new york city 1976. the city was near bankruptcy and told to go to hell. real estate was cheap in the early 80s and now those people have made a mint. clinton street, 1999. buy a house for under 200k. 2015, more like 350k or higher. real estate is a boom and bust cycle, and right now were in a boom. if you want to see divey old portland at its finest, well there is an entire half a county just waiting to be explored, east of 205. go there sometime......