Monday, August 31, 2020

The truth about Portland, August 31 2020

Warning: liberal political content

Art on the boarded up door to Tiffany and Company, 2 blocks from the Federal Courthouse

The reason I am writing this is that astrologically I have a lot of planets in Libra, and I react to injustice.  As a long time citizen of the city of Portland, Oregon, it is impossible to miss the fact that our fair metropolis  has been in the headlines lately.  Images of a chaotic city in flames show up all over the media making Portland look like a dangerous mess on the brink of anarchy.  The president has made the largest city in Oregon in to a political flash point that only he can resolve with authoritarian crack downs.

Headlines in the BBC

So I got on my bicycle today and rode downtown and took these photos, to see for myself what the city center of Portland is really like right now.  By far the most noticeable thing besides the homeless population about downtown during the day is how quiet it is.  Covid 19 had brought the closure of many businesses and most offices.  Boarded up windows have become canvases for a great deal of meaningful art that is sensitive to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Artwork on the front of the Apple Store, a few blocks from the site of nightly protests.

And then this happened: Donald Trump paints a grim picture: "President Donald Trump has spent the past few weeks criticizing the civil unrest in cities like Seattle and Portland and this week he declared that if federal law enforcement officials had not gone to Portland, Oregon, the city would have been “burned and beaten to the ground.” This article New York Magazine explains the situation fairly well:

SW 3rd and Main, Downtown Portland

This is the street where the heart of the nightly protests occur as I found it today.  Its very clean, so people must volunteer to sweep it all up afterwards.  Fox news isn't going to show you this.  I've read that some of the images used in media and for political purposes have been from protests in other cities, including Barcelona, Spain and Seattle.  Any car on fire will work.  It creates a dramatic apocolyptic picture of what is allegedly going on.  When federal troops were sent in by Trump the number of peaceful protestors in Portland grew 10 fold.  The now famous "Wall of Mothers" made headlines as they linked arms to form a protective barricade for the crowd. They were teargassed nightly by the federal troops.  My very sweet next door neighbor, the Mother of two toddlers left her kids with her husband and rode her bike downtown with a good friend who is also a Mother to join in the protests.  It felt so powerful to me.    We here in Portland feel as if we were being occupied by an oppressive force for political reasons.  The injustice drew large numbers of peaceful protestors to downtown around the Federal buildings on SW 3rd Avenue. So I rode my bike downtown for the first time in a long time to see for my self and take photos to show what it looks like in reality.  No burning cars to be seen. I participated in 3 marches that came close to my home, a moving gathering with speakers in Irving Park, and another in Unthank Park.  I started to do research and learned about the history of racism in Oregon.  In its inception, Oregon did not allow black people to live in the state. It wasn't until World War II that labor was needed that black people were allowed to enter the state.  They lived in an area called Vanport, at the time the second largest city in Oregon near the Columbia River.  In 1948 a flood breeched the dyke that surrounded vanport and 10 feet of water  swept in and destroyed it.  So Black Lives Matter is a long time coming.  I know the police target black people.  I've lived in this hood 36 years and I've seen it.  My black friends are conciously afraid of the police because they have had or know people who have stories to tell.  You hear them at the rallies.  Racial injustice, it does us no good.

The Mark Hatfield Federal Building has been the center for nightly protests.  This is a photo of the building I took this afternoon.

This weekend there was a Proud Boy rally of Trump supporters who came in to town from conservative outlying areas.  They were encouraged to conceal their weapons rather than do a display of open carry, which is a frightening trend used in places like Lansing, Michigan when protestors occupied the State House.  In Portland they did not have permits but the caravan of vehicles with large flags drove in to the city center after roaring around out 82nd way.  They were met by indignant citizens and Portland's dysenfranchised, who were shot at with paint balls and sprayed with pepper spray by that sector of society I like to avoid.  A man with a history of violent rhetoric wearing right wing clothing was killed in an altercation that has yet to be resolved.  A black woman who was downtown working as a medic attempted to help him and was apparently clubbed by police and her medical equipment kicked away.  I hope none of this really happened.  She might have been able to save his life.  Shouldn't we be treating people with compassion rather than contempt?  Its all brought to you by the news sources of your choosing.  I was treated to a lone Proud Boy who showed up late or wasn't ready to go home revved the engine of his giant truck and accelerated a little more than makes sense when the lights change so slowly.  I was the only person walking on the block so I resisted the temptation to flip him off.

Another view of SW 2nd Avenue today in front of the Mark Hatfield Federal Building

Portland is notorious for the injustices inflicted on the Black Community historically.  Entire neighborhoods were demolished to clear the way for the Colesium, Emanuel Hospital and Interstate 5.  I wasn't able to get a bank loan in Oregon when I wanted to buy my house in NE Portland because the entire area was redlined by banks, and that didnt end until 1995.  The lovely neighborhood along Alameda Ridge east of me was designated a whites only development to get people to build there in the early 1900's..  So we seriously have to put an end to racial discrimination, and we can if we realize we are all made of the same stuff.

There is a lot of art to see downtown right now painted on window and door coverings.  Louis Vuitton actually gets PC in Portland.  I encourage you to check it out.

I dont know if anyone who is voting for Donald Trump has gotten this far with my rant, but here are some more photos from my bikeride downtown today.

View of the Fremont Bridge from the Broadway Bridge

The North Park Blocks

The saddest part of Portland right now is the number of homeless people their are.  Areas around social services downtown are like villages of tents on the sidewalks.  There is one block with socially spaced canopies with facilities in a fenced parking lot.  There are hundreds of people living on the street right now.  And its going to grow very soon.  Unemployment will run out for many people in the near future, and evictions will be commonplace.  Affordable housing is rare to nonexistent.  I couldn't afford to buy my house for what it is worth now.  The fact that Covid has removed most of the workforce from downtown reduces the conflict that might arise if you start camping on the sidewalk with fewer passersby.  Its a percentage of the population.  More billionaires and millions of homeless people.

Tents on the sidewalk on NW 3rd

An organized camp in NW Portland

O'Bryant Square

Parks are looking unmaintained with lots of weeds.  O'Bryant Square, with its bronze fountain is fenced off and abandoned looking.  Two kids were inside with skateboards.

The Galleria

The messages everywhere downtown seem to want to bring solace during trying times.  There is plenty of angst some of the protest graffiti, but artists have been encouraged to paint the plywood window coverings all over town creating a gallery of statement art.  

Looks hopeful

Nordstroms is open

Courthouse Square with social distancing spots

Pioneer Place

Ground Zero for the protests.  
The center of protest activity has occured around these buildings on SW 3rd for a while now, although marches have crossed many parts of the city.  People at the protests are good about wearing masks, which is so important with so many people in proximity.  We were able to social distance at the rallies.

The Justice Center

The Edith Green-Wendall Wyatt Federal Building...looks unmolested, its too pretty to molest

Just a block away from the Federal Buildings the grass is green.  There was only one person in Terry Schrunk Park.  It used to be a place to eat lunch for office workers.  I saw Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro speak here during their campaign in 1984.  It was hopeful.

Terry Schrunk Park

One of my favorite places to visit downtown is the Ira Keller Fountain.  Designed by Angela Danadjieva with the firm of Lawrence Halprin, who also worked on the downtown bus mall and Freeway Park in Seattle.  It is sculpturally significant enough to still be beautiful when it is dry, which it sadly was.  Its hard to social distance in places like this when its hot out.  During normal times this would be full of people on warm days.

The Ira Keller Fountain

The Edith Green-Wendall Wyatt Building across Terry Schrunk Park

City Hall


Waterfront Park is 3 blocks from where the protests are held.  It seemed pretty quiet for such a nice day.

Waterfront Park (no scorched Earth to be seen here)

The Hawthorne Bridge

Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park

The Maritime Museum

Canadian Geese seem to like downtown

Some food carts are open

A Raman place

There is still a line at Voodoo Donuts

The Republic never changes

I rode over to Northwest Portland to check on a couple of gardens I've built.  One garden was a very recently finished one, and the people moved out after their car had been broken in to twice.  There was some plant mortality from infrequent irrigation, sigh.  On the way back I thought I would ride by the Chinese Classical Garden.  Its open with a timed reservation.  I wish the president would start a program to help the homeless instead of sending in strongmen to harrass us.  That tactic won't work in Portland anyway.  I moved here because this place is special.  The people are kind and involved and there is a great deal of vitality that makes the quality of life here wonderful.  Covid 19 has certainly made a dramatic change to the city.  That is when Nature comes to the rescue.  This is a city of trees, and parks, within a region of great beauty.  We're not America hating libtards, which I think one of my Gardens by Jeffrey Bale page followers called me!  I'm a libtard!  And I will never support fascism, so off you go!  Because we need someone who wants to help us solve our problems, not create more.  Portlanders are the largest per capita library card holders in America.  Powell's Books is here for a reason.  We've been reading,  So we are less likely to want to be conned.  Leave us in peace and love and harmony with Nature.  Its all I ask.

There are maybe 8 to 10 tents around the Chinese Garden

I believe there is only one principal gardener working inside these walls right now.  Sanctuary in the heart of Portland.

Peeking through my favorite screen in the south facing wall of the Chinese Garden

 Well, its an election year, so whoever you vote for, hope they love this planet, because right now except for a few exceptions it aint getting any prettier.  Thanks for reading, Jeffrey