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Posts Tagged ‘oregon’


Photo: Rupa Shenoy
Mayor Betty Roppe oversaw Prineville’s transformation after data centers injected new life. “We can keep the small-town feel. I’m sure of it,” Roppe says. “We don’t want to be a big city.”

I’m not always a fan of today’s tech giants, but I have to admit that when they provide jobs where there were no jobs, they are saviors.

This story tells how a dying town proved it was worthy of a tech company’s investment. Rupa Shenoy at Public Radio International reports this episode of PRI’s “50 States: America’s place in a shrinking world.”

“Everything people post on Facebook actually lives somewhere in real life — like a small town in central Oregon that was once decimated by the loss of manufacturing industries. …

“Steve Forrester’s grandparents got here in 1902. When he was growing up in the 1970s, Prineville was idyllic.

“ ‘It was a magical, magical place to grow up,’ he remembers. … ‘And everybody had a job, and everyone did well.’ …

“But when the federal government restricted logging and increased protections for animals … the city’s milling industry was decimated … Forrester took a job with one of the few remaining mills, because he wanted to live in Prineville.

“Eric Klann was driven by the same devotion. He’s the seventh generation of his family to live here. Out of college, he also took a job in Prineville that he knew wouldn’t last. …

“A few years later, the nationwide housing bubble burst and demand declined for housing parts made by the last mills. Lots of people lost jobs and left. It felt like Prineville couldn’t catch a break.

“Both Forrester and Klann felt lucky to land jobs at the city — Forrester as city manager, Klann as city engineer. Their chance to save Prineville came in 2009, arriving in the form of a mysterious email from a company called Vitesse.

“ ‘For the longest time, we had no idea what Vitesse meant,’ he says. …

“Vitesse wanted to build a big warehouse and fill it with rows and rows of servers — servers that tend to get hot. Central Oregon’s cold nights could cool them naturally. Klann remembers the first in-person meeting with Vitesse, and how it felt like Prineville’s last chance. …

“Klann and Forrester decided to outperform the other cities Vitesse was considering. They showed the company their small town could move at big-city speed, by responding to Vitesse’s questions day and night. …

“Their strategy worked, and in 2010, Prineville finally learned who Vitesse actually is. Mayor Betty Roppe was at the new data center’s groundbreaking.

“ ‘They had the big finger with a thumb-up Facebook sign, and we all pressed the button and it lit up, et cetera,’ she recounts. ‘That was the big announcement — it was Facebook.’ ”

More at PRI, here.

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A nonprofit book service in Portland, Oregon, has recognized that “people living outside” are as likely to enjoy a book as people who live indoors.

Kirk Johnson writes in the NY Times, “A homeless man named Daniel was engrossed in a Barbara Kingsolver novel when his backpack was stolen recently, and Laura Moulton was determined to set things to right.

“Ms. Moulton, 44, an artist, writer and adjunct professor of creative nonfiction, did not know Daniel’s last name, his exact age, or really even how to find him — they had met only once. But she knew the novel, ‘Prodigal Summer,’ and that was a start. So, armed with a new copy of the book, off she went. Such is the life of a street librarian.

“This city has a deeply dyed liberal impulse beating in its veins around social and environmental causes, and a literary culture that has flourished like the blackberry thickets that mark misty Northwest woods. It is also one of the most bike-friendly, if not bike-crazed, urban spaces in the nation, as measured by commuters and bike lanes. All three of those forces are combined in Street Books, a nonprofit book service delivered by pedal-power for ‘people living outside,”’ as Ms. Moulton, the founder, describes the mission. …

“ ‘It’s not just a little novelty act — “Oh, that’s so Portland and cute,” ’ ” says Diana Rempe, a community psychologist. “Taking books to the streets, she said, sends the message that poor and marginalized people are not so different from the ‘us’ that defines the educated, literate mainstream of the city, whether in its hipsters, computer geeks or bankers.”

More here.

Photo: Thomas Patterson for The New York Times
Laura Moulton and Matt Tufaro in Portland, Ore. Ms. Moulton founded Street Books, a nonprofit book service for “people living outside.”

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Being reminded recently that Bored Panda was a good place to look for cool stuff, I read about a guy who makes his home in an airplane.

“Bruce Campbell is an inventive engineer who bought a retired Boeing 727 aircraft fuselage and upcycled it into an unusual and innovative home. The huge 3-engine commercial airliner is propped up on concrete pillars in a suburban wooded area outside of Portland, Oregon, and has its own driveway.

“The aircraft features a makeshift shower, but he is still working to install a working lavatory and to restore some of the plane’s original interior elements, like seating and lights. Campbell lives in this plane 6 months every year, and spends the other part of the year in Japan, where he is also looking to buy and similarly re-use a retired Boeing 747 fuselage.”

More here. Lots of pictures.

Photo: John Brecher
Says plane denizen Bruce Campbell, “Shredding a beautiful and scintillating jetliner is a tragedy in waste, and a profound failure of human imagination.

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Kai sent a link to a story about a guy who has his mother living in a tiny house in his backyard.

I had to laugh. The house is about the size of my garage, and as much fun as it would be to live in a child’s playhouse, I can’t imagine what a born pack rat would do with all her clutter. (Not to mention, how many grown children want a parent living in the backyard?)

Sandy Keenan reports in the NY Times, “In most cities, adding a second house to a single-family lot would be illegal or would set off an epic battle with the neighbors that could drag on for years. But not in Portland, Ore.

“There, this kind of housing — referred to officially as ‘accessory dwelling units,’ but better known as granny flats, garage apartments or alley houses — is being welcomed and even encouraged, thanks to friendly zoning laws. And additional living spaces are springing up everywhere, providing affordable housing without changing the feeling or texture of established neighborhoods the way high-rise developments can. …

“Eric Engstrom, a principal city planner, has seen these small structures become increasingly popular during his 16 years working for the city. And as he put it, ‘Given the low vacancy rate, when they’re done, you can rent them out in about an hour.’ Which means that adding an accessory dwelling unit, or A.D.U., increases the value of a piece of property. …

“It was in 2010 when the biggest changes took place. That was when the city relaxed the limitations on size and began offering the equivalent of a cash incentive by waiving the hefty fees usually levied on new development. Other cities in the Northwest have been moving in this direction, but Portland is the first to offer a significant financial benefit and one of the few that does not require owners to live on the site, provide additional off-street parking or secure the approval of their neighbors.” More.

I know of at least one resort community that allows accessory apartments for family members. It’s a good idea, but there’s always the worry that in the season, some folks will just rent them out to tourists and still need a place to stay.

Photo: Laure Joliet for The New York Times
A 480-square-foot garage, now a home: one of many small dwellings encouraged by the city of Portland, Ore.

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Got this from SmallerCitiesUnite! on twitter.

Rachel Walker writes at PeopleForBikes.org, “How do you get more people on bikes? Go to where they are, open up a ‘shop,’ teach them to build and maintain a bike. Help them earn a bike. Repeat.

“This is the philosophy behind the myriad of community bike shops sprouting up in inner-city neighborhoods throughout the country. Non-profit organizations that cater to the underserved aim to destigmatize and popularize cycling among communities that have probably not heard of Strava or clipless pedals. In these neighborhoods, bicycle lanes, racks, and, most importantly, riders, are noticeably absent.

“And that, according to the forces behind community bike shops, must change—for multiple reasons.

“ ‘For our core constituents, getting a bike and learning how to maintain it is about economic mobility,’ says Ryan Schutz, executive director of Denver’s Bike Depot. ‘Owning a bike lets them travel farther to find work and spend their money on food, instead of on gas or bus fares.’

“Like the majority of community bike shops, Bike Depot puts bikes into the hands of people who otherwise couldn’t afford them or may not choose to buy them. The organization accomplishes this through earn-a-bike programs and by selling low-cost refurbished bikes. They also teach members bike safety and maintenance skills.” More here.

Sounds like a variation on Bike Not Bombs, which started in the Greater Boston area several decades ago, refurbishing donated bicycles and sending them to poor countries.

Here’s what Bikes Not Bombs says on the website: “Bikes Not Bombs uses the bicycle as a vehicle for social change. We reclaim thousands of bicycles each year. We create local and global programs that provide skill development, jobs, and sustainable transportation. Our programs mobilize youth and adults to be leaders in community transformation.”

All good stuff.

Photo: People For Bikes
The Community Cycling Center in Portland, Oregon, offers bike camps to local kids.

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Eben Horton, a glassblower with a studio in Wakefield, Rhode Island, loved hearing how glassblowers in Lincoln City, Oregon, had hidden special creations on a local beach for a community treasure hunt.

Inspired to do something similar, he settled on the idea of glass floats, the kind traditionally used on fishing nets.

The Block Island Tourism Council helped Horton launch the Glass Float Project. The council’s site has details.

“WHEN: The hunt begins June 2nd, 2012, and continues indefinitely. It only ends when all the floats have been found!

“WHAT: 200 Glass Floats (glass orbs about the size of a grapefruit) will be hidden on Block Island. Floats will be dated, numbered and stamped with the shape of Block Island. All floats are clear glass except for 12 (because it is 2012), which are special colored orbs. One super special float is made entirely out of gold leaf.

“WHERE: 100 floats on beaches and 100 floats on Greenway trails. Floats will be hidden above the high tide mark but NEVER in the dunes or up the bluffs.”

Understandably, they don’t want people walking on the dunes, which protect the island in storms.

Check the council website for the bio on the artist, too: “Eben creates custom one of a kind pieces on an individual basis out of his studio that he calls ‘The Glass Station’- a converted 1920’s gas station.” More.

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