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Portland, Oregon: Why Being Weird is Good for People

intersection

Share-it Square in Portland, OR

In Portland, Oregon, they bike naked in the streets, hold laundromat happy hours, and neighbors adopt their intersections. The place is weird – which is a boon for the people who live there.

I learned a lot about the City of Roses, along with planners, politicians and policy makers, at the International Making Cities Livable conference. In his keynote, Portland mayor Charlie Hales ticked off some of the many ways his town makes its people the priority.

  • Spending $1 billion on the Willamette River so it’s clean enough for swimming
  • Giving every high school kid a free transit pass
  • Removing a riverfront highway to make way for a park

Hales says Portland’s land use and transportation policies “render freedom less dangerous.” With less time worrying about being hit by a car, Portlanders appear to be spending more time coming up with new ideas.

One such resident is 26-year-old Morgan Gary. Continue reading