The Dream of the 90s Is Not Alive In Portland (Sorry)
This past weekend I traveled to Portland to explore a curiosity I had for a long time - are the dreams the 90s really alive in Portland? Well, sorry, but not quite. There are still plenty of plaid wearing, long bearded, biking obsessed hipsters, but they are a dying breed it seems. However, the city has maintained a sense of charming but still erie timelessness.
My real intention of going to Portland, though, was to explore a city I'd never visited, alone. I've never gone on a vacation alone before. It was exciting and refreshing. After a long, stressful week, it was perfect timing to make an escape for the weekend.
I say the dream of the 90s isn't alive in Portland because it's actually become an incredibly progressive city. I think we all kind of knew that already, but going there reaffirmed my assumptions. My Airbnb hosts told me about some of the amazing initiatives the city of Portland has started to create a more sustainable and less wasteful local environment. The city provides compost bins for all residences to dispose of biodegradable waste. The city of Chicago can barely even get recycling down.
Something else I wouldn't necessarily label an initiative but still great for the overall community are the different types of school systems they have. My friend I went to visit grew up there and told me about how he went to an environmental middle school where each year focused on a different aspect of nature. One year was forests, the next the ocean, and the final year volcanoes. These children are taught about the importance of ecosystems and homeostasis long before they even take a standard biology class. I imagine its what contributes to the city's overall environmental awareness.
One of the weirder, but still very impressive characteristics of Portland, is whenever you want to cross the street, even to jaywalk, all cars stop for you. When was this ever a thing and who implemented this? It made jaywalking - one of my favorite activities here in Chicago - extremely easy. Additionally, a significant portion of cars, working or not, were noticeably not from this century, augmenting the sense of a timeless but still contemporary city.
To go along with the ease of crossing the street, every home in Portland is one cute bungalow after the next, with perfectly color schemed paint jobs. Almost all share similarities in design and structure, but it's the colors that distinguish and individualize each home.
On top of that, each lawn is overflowing with flowers, bushes, and every greenery you could imagine. Since it rains practically 300 days out of the year in Portland, the remaining 65 days of perfection are reserved for the summer, which I was lucky enough to catch at the right time. I've never seen such a lush and vibrant natural environment within a cityscape before.
Animals walk around freely in the streets, without any concern of getting hit or being abducted. I cannot even begin to recall the number of cats and dogs I was welcomingly allowed to pet during my three full days in Portland. They'd lay out on the sidewalk in the closest patch of sunlight, patiently waiting for a passerby to stop and give them well deserved belly rubs. It was definitely a highlight of the weekend.
There were moments where I felt I was destined to visit Portland at this time in my life. Unrelated to my reason for going but still equally as important was the variety and selection of vegan food options I had in Portland. It's still been difficult to fully transition but no matter where we went I always had options and not just a dry pile of leaves known by carnivores as a salad. I ate vegan pizza, ice cream, scones, and more. It was almost too good to be true.
If you have any curiosity or are looking to go on a vacation where everything you look at is lush and vibrant, the food is delicious, and everyone is friendly, go to Portland. There are so many more reasons than simply those, but please, go check it out for yourself.