Is Portland Over? ‘Absolutely Not!’

‘Portland is not over. It takes every single one of us’

It’s easy to say “Don’t worry, we’ll recover quickly.” But it’s hard to ignore the destruction and vandalism that continues to eat away at Portland and its reputation. It’s hard to see a once-vibrant downtown wounded, still boarded up and vacant.

And it’s difficult to be optimistic when it seems everywhere you look your eyes land on graffiti, trash, garbage, filth. How does Portland recover when it’s this bad?

Red tape

“Well, we are dying,” said former Mayor Sam Adams. “We will cut through the red tape or die trying.”

Adams is now the Trash Czar, the man in charge of digging Portland out from under the tons of garbage choking the city.

“We’ve got an enormous task ahead of us so we cannot afford to have disconnected department and governmental efforts to clean up the city or red tape standing in the way,” Adams said.

There’s a lot of red tape to cut through.

Unlike almost every other major city, Portland has no city-wide sanitation service. More than a dozen departments and agencies are involved. It is a governmental garbage mess that wasn’t a priority before the pandemic.

Now it’s a disaster.

Trash in one spot is PBOT’s problem. Filth and debris in another spot is TriMet’s job. The garbage and human waste next to the homeless camp is Metro’s responsibility.

Asked about the graffiti and filth along the roadways leading into the city, Mayor Ted Wheeler said, “That’s not the city. That is the state. Those are ODOT right-of-ways and that’s their responsibility.”

When you’re trying to clean up Portland, it’s easy to pass the buck.

Adams is already cutting through the bureaucratic mess. He’s working with ODOT and other agencies, organizing business groups, volunteers, community leaders to come together to just get the job done.

The phenomena of trash

“I have never seen the trash problem this bad,” said Chris Carico, the head of SOLVE. “I’m a native Oregonian. I was born at Good Sam and in all my years here I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Carico has mobilized hundreds of volunteers and groups to meet the challenge and working with Adams as a key part of the solution.

It’s overwhelming. Once trash piles up it attracts more trash.

“There’s another phenomena happening right now with people dumping their household trash in encampments of the homeless,” she said. “So once again you see where people are littering because there’s already trash.”

A company contracted by Metro to cleanup garbage sites is required to sift through every pile, every bag, checking for used needles and biohazards. It’s not the kind of work well-meaning volunteers are equipped to do without training and precautions.

“It’s got to be a staff-led event because we are the ones that know what we are doing,” Carico said. “We are discouraging volunteers from going out on their own for some of these areas that are a little bit rough.”

Trash can be picked up and the results are instantly seen. But the long-term damage to Portland’s downtown can’t be undone quickly. It’s difficult to bring boarded up businesses back and make people feel safe again.

Portland’s tarnished reputation

How do you restore a city’s heart, its reputation?

“Some people think the solution to a bad reputation is a public relations campaign,” said economist Bill Conerly.

Conerly wrote a scathing article about Portland in Forbes Magazine earlier this year titled, “Death of a City.”

“The solution to a bad reputation is to stop doing the things that gave you a bad reputation,” he said. “Portland needs to address these really significant issues.”

The issues include ongoing vandalism from repeat offenders. Wheeler recently took a firmer stand on arrests and put pressure on Multnomah County DA Mike Schmidt to follow through with prosecutions.

Adams agrees with Mayor Wheeler’s tougher stance.

“This is about stopping self-described anarchists who just last week said, ‘Maybe we should, you know, start another fire inside the Multnomah County Courthouse,’” Adams said. “This group of self-described anarchists with their quote-unquote direct action is a code word for ‘destroy property.’ That’s a crime. And our job is to stop that crime and to prosecute, to arrest and get the DA to prosecute those that are guilty of it.”

Time to re-think downtown Portland

Jim Mark heads up Melvin Mark properties. His family has been in business 75 years owning, operating and managing buildings, many in the downtown core. His buildings have been damaged. They’ve been boarded up. He’s waived rent for the last year for many of his tenants.

But he continues to invest in downtown Portland and remains optimistic.

“Protests and violence over the past year has put us in a very difficult spot and it’s going to take some time to get it back,” Mark said. “I think leadership comes from all of us. So we’re all responsible for where our future is in Portland.

“I’m not quite on the ‘Let’s blame the mayor or let’s blame the council.’”

If Portland wants a last recovery, Mark said it may be time to re-think the downtown like the city did in the 1970s and 1980s — a time when downtown Portland was a model other cities admired and copied.

“Portland did have to reinvent itself. It had to give people a reason to come down, whether it was retail or just the urban environment,” Mark said. “We’ve got to re-think the way that works again.”

Can Portland work again? Can the city did out from the current mess? Can it recapture the spirit and drive that made Portland such a special place to live, to raise families, to grow businesses, to dream?

Or is Portland over?

“Absolutely not! Portland is not over,” Carrico said. “We’re still a wonderful community. Everytime I’m out at an event and I see my community members, my neighbors, it gives me hope everyday.”

Sam Adams, former mayor and currently part of Mayor Wheeler’s team, also believes things will turn.

“Portland is not over if people lean in to helping to recover. It takes every single one of us.”

By: Jeff Gianola | Source

Portland Business Finds Niche Building Book Bikes

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Icicle Tricycle’s book bike has found a solid place in the line-up next to the company’s ice cream and coffee trikes. (All photos courtesy Icicle Tricycles)

Books and bikes are powerful tools that have helped improve people’s lives for ages. A local company combines them in way that makes the sum greater than its parts.

The “Book Bike” from Icicle Tricycles has become a staple in libraries across North America. First offered in 2008, these human-powered bookmobiles have become a hot seller for the company headquartered in Portland. Owner Ryan Hashagen says there are hundreds of them in use and the pandemic has boosted demand even higher.

For some customers, the trikes double as promotional tools and mobile units that can take books outdoors. Others use them exclusively for street-based book sharing services. And they’re not just for libraries. Icicle Tricycles has sold book bikes to bookstores, nonprofits and museums.

One of Hashagen’s favorite customers was the Canada-based, First Nation nonprofit Yukon Literacy Council. They use a book bike to reach people in remote villages. “They put one of our trikes in the back of a pickup and pedal it into villages to restock reading shelves in community centers and schools,” Hashagen shared.

Hashagen has been pedaling, building, and selling trikes for 22 years. He runs two locations in Portland; one in Old Town and one in the Central Eastside (Icicle Tricycle also has a location in Victoria, BC). Many of you might know him as a dedicated transportation activist who has taken leadership roles with Better Block PDX and as a member of the Central Eastside Industrial Council transportation advisory committee.

Icicle Tricycles has refined the design each year and Hashagen says the 2021 model is “Our best design yet.” Each trike is built to the customer’s specs and custom graphics are a popular option. The company prints the vinyl wraps and builds the wooden boxes in their workshop where the bikes are designed, assembled, and shipped.

The latest version comes complete with a built-in chalkboard, a front shelf to use as a laptop workstation and/or payment center, and of course tons of book storage space. There are shelves inside the cargo box and on the side door that swings open. The bikes come with a 7-speed drivetrain and my personal favorite option: An umbrella holster. Depending on the configuration, each bike can carry around 150-300 books. If you’re worried about the weight, they have an electric-assist option available.

Prices range from $2,500 to $3,500 for a turn-key book bike (add $1,200 for the e-assist). Follow the company on Twitter at @IcicleTricycles or at IceTrikes.com.

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The article can be found here.