You are hereSome GOOD Ideas for Portland
Some GOOD Ideas for Portland
GOOD Magazine is a collaboration of “reasonable people who give a damn” with an online presence, a print magazine, and many events around the country. Last year, GOOD Ideas for Cities put out a call for creatives in Portland to tackle some city issues. Last week, Alissa Walker, GOOD Ideas for Cities coordinator, flew in town from LA to host the first event in a series of mid-sized urban ideas generators. GOOD has hosted similar events in bigger cities like LA, New York and Chicago, but has realized taking this event to mid-sized cities has some unique implications and problems that can be addressed.
The event space at Ziba was completely packed: filled with students and members of the design community. GOOD helped facilitate six different city entities to propose challenges for design teams, including the office of Mayor Sam Adams, Portland Farmers Market, and Portland Development Commission.
Here is my brief summation of the night's presentations–
Challenge 1: How can our neighborhoods work better to support youth, educational outcomes and opportunities? (proposed by the office of Mayor Sam Adams)
Creative Team: Weiden + Kennedy
Portland is a city where 85% of urban dwellers do not have school age kids. We love our city: the beer, the bridges, the bikes, so why not embrace our schools as well? WK’s response to the challenge was an interesting take: use a fancy marketing campaign to inspire urbanites to support the local school system where currently one third of students don’t graduate on time. WK’s argument was that if we can get people to care so passionately about their neighborhoods, why not the local schools within them?
Challenge 2: How can we create a major new bikeway that helps make bicycling as visible, safe, convenient, and pleasant for as many people as possible? (Proposed by Bike Portland founder, Jonathan Maus)
Creative Team: THINK.urban
THINK.urban recognized that while Portland is the number one bike city in the United States, we are severely falling behind on the global bike scene. Roughly 7% of Portlanders bike, while a whopping 55% of Copenhageners commute by bike. So what are we doing wrong? This team took the bike planning to a whole new level by looking at Portland in zones and creating linkages of existing streets. Their approach was to make biking safer and more legible, not only for the bikers who ride but for the cars who drive next to them by creating two-way cycle tracks separated from the car’s lanes with grassy medians.
Challenge 3: How do we help nurture a stronger, more competitive business climate (and prevent ‘gentrification’) in Lents Town Center? (Proposed by Kevin Cronin, Senior Project Manager at Portland Development Commission)
Creative Team: ADX
Team ADX's solution seemed to be the most thought out but also controversial solutions of the night. As one of 11 Urban Renewal Areas across Portland, Lents is one of the largest but also the slowest growing of these URA’s. Interestingly, many years and millions of dollars have gone into the renewal for this area, but not much has changed. ADX took on this challenge by embracing the existing wonderful things about Lents.
Using a plan created by students at Pacific Northwest College of Art's MFA in Collaborative Design, they suggest repurposing the recently shut-down Marshall High School to create a community hub that could hold summer camps for kids, an urban farm, and café, among other initiatives.
Challenge 4: How do we increase urban dweller’s access to and awareness of locally grown food while ensuring regional farmers’ profitability? (Proposed by Trudy Toliver, executive director of Portland Farmers Market)
Creative Team: Sincerely Interested
Sincerely Interested took on this challenge by presenting their ideas through video format, which was especially powerful. Their use of stop motion video illustrated their solutions: how to weave food into the social realm. One of the team’s suggestions included the idea of a nighttime farmer’s market, which instantly reminded me European farmer's markets. Other suggestions included starting conversations about food systems through artists’ sculptural interventions in urban spaces using food and installations of farmland landscapes on billboards in Portland.
This event left me thirsty for more events like this. Portland is already such an incubator for innovative urban solutions like transportation, biking and city life, but this event reminded everyone in attendance the power of creative minds and community.
If you missed out on this event, the good news is that on March 14 at 6:00, Alissa Walker will be back in town and Portland State University students from the graphic design department will attempt to solve similar urban issues. The event will be held in SE Portland at ADX: 417 SE 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon.