Portland State Magazine Fall 2022

6 TIMELESS TRICKS FOR CRAFTING A TIGHTER COMMUNITY WHEN THE Portland Downtown Plan was completed at the end of 1972 (see “The Plan That Built Portland,” page 20), a pair of its most interested parties, Earl Blumenauer and Ethan Seltzer, worked with 49 other Portland men and women to create a booklet entitled “50 Simple Ways to Make Your Portland Better.”Today, the booklet reads folksy and quaint, but much of the advice still holds true, especially in a time when towns and cities everywhere are facing new challenges. In the spirit of making our Portland—and really any neighborhood—better, we’re reviving six of the suggestions for creating stronger communities that still make sense 50 years later. 1. VOTE: An especially timely reminder. Beyond voting, consider hosting your neighbors to discuss the issues or hear from a candidate. “Every vote counts in an election, and yours—or your neighbor’s—may be the deciding vote.” 2. SHARE MORE THINGS: The sheer amount of stuff that Americans own creates barriers to community and contributes to a cycle of waste. Booklet authors suggest making a neighborhood list of sharable resources or hosting a swap meet—kind of like a garage sale, but where you exchange what you don’t need for what you do. 3. LOVE YOUR PUBLIC LIBRARY: Did you fall out of the habit of going to the library during the pandemic shutdown? The booklet authors would like to remind you that “the library deserves our use, our respect, and our support.” 4. EXPOSE YOURSELF TO MULTICULTURAL ART (AND HISTORY): Even 1970s Portland was self-aware about its “abysmal record” on honoring the diversity of other cultures. Now more than ever, there are many opportunities to learn about the traditions and hear the stories of those with backgrounds different from your own. Read a book, take a class, go to a show or exhibition. 5. ENTERTAIN ON YOUR FRONT PORCH: “After World War II, the front porch went out of style,” laments an entry in the booklet. “America moved to the suburbs and escaped to the backyard.” It’s something that profoundly changed, and often limited, the way neighbors interacted. To encourage community, the authors suggest building a front porch or front yard gathering spot and inviting over the neighbors, or just taking your coffee out and being a part of your block’s morning routine. 6. START A PHONE TREE: In the age of Facebook, Nextdoor, and other social media sites, the idea of a phone tree is pretty adorable, but whether it’s a group text or an online chat, having the lines of communication open between you and your neighbors comes in handy for a variety of reasons from safety to swap meets, not to mention getting the word out about your porch party. —CHRISTINA WILLIAMS 38 // PORTLAND STATE MAGAZINE 50 Simple Ways To Make Your Portland Better