Off the beaten trail

More Portlandia – The Commitment to Conscience Health, Environment, Business, Merchandise…and so on…

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Hi Everyone,

I’m still re-capping my trip to Portland and this post has been in the hopper for a few days.  It’s a bit lengthy mostly due to my inability to NOT stop taking photos!  Plus, there was something about Portland that was so unique, something I just couldn’t put my finger on.  I wasn’t even sure I could figure it out and thought maybe by writing a post about this thing that I just can’t put my finger on would help!

Maybe you have had the same experience, or maybe you live in Portland and have no idea what I’m talking about!  Either way, it’s all good.  So here goes!

From my perspective Portland has become an epicenter of conscience.  Or maybe it’s guilt? I don’t know, but let’s just call it consciousness because I think that is what the people, the businesses, the governing bodies, the merchandise, the everything about Portland is trying to project.  To an outsider like myself, my immersion into this strange land of consciousness gave me a guilt trip like you’d never believe!  The guilt, intentional or not, I think is a good wake up call to really THINK about how our health, our lifestyles, and our connection to our planet all work together.  To the locals it’s just another day.

First of all is the environment.  All around Portland you see GREEN.  Green evergreens, green grass, green MOSS.  Oh the MOSS!  It is everywhere!

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Even though the weather is mostly winter gray, it’s green!DSCF7038

The houses and buildings are brightly colored, adding happiness to all the rain and fog and so many gray days…

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There’s a happiness to the place, found in the smallest of details…like these stones at the sidewalk…DSCF7061

and even if you are looking down, you can find the street name…DSCF6833

Main Street U.S.A….

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The commitment, or at least the perception of commitment, to the environment is SHOUTED at you (remember, I’m an outsider) everywhere you look, and even in places you wouldn’t even HAVE looked!

The cars and buses…

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LOOK! WE DRIVE AN ELECTRIC CAR!

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LOOK! OUR BUSES ARE BIODIESEL!

At restaurants…

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LOOK! WE ARE SAVING THE PLANET!

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It goes on, remember I’m an outsider, so to me (even being from Chicago) it was really quite shocking just how much of a need the businesses needed to prove they were part of the consciousness club.  I mean, we get it already.

There is a health vibe here too.

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Portland is home to Columbia Sportswear and many great outdoor activities.

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Lot’s of Bicyclists!

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A CLIMB center?  Is it really about Climbing?  I can totally see this actually being a school about climbing, but it’s actually a very clever acronym (Continuous Learning for Individuals, Management and Business), clever, clever, clever.  See?  See what I mean about this outdoorsy, be healthy vibe?  It just funnels itself into everything.

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Now.  Before I get too far along and before you think that Portland is ONLY about these conscience living choices, there is humanity here after all.  It’s in the open too.

Near so much food, health, and education there is homelessness…

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On the streets…

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Under bridges.

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I’d be saying it mildly if I were to tell you there’s a lot of homeless in Portland.  The homeless of Portland are heard about throughout the U.S. (believe it or not).  I was taking pictures of these three pigs (art) one afternoon…

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…note the name of one of the piggies…

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…when a woman stopped me and asked if I’d seen the statues wearing leg warmers. I might want to get a picture of those too. Leg warmers?  “Why on earth would a statue be wearing leg warmers”, I asked.

She proceeded to tell me she belonged to a local knitting club and they were promoting their club by covering the legs of statues with knitted leg warmers.  She kind of laughed a little, jesting they could cover the statues but not the homeless.  She was actually proud of how Portland was so ‘homeless friendly’.

So there it was, vocalized by a local.  That something I couldn’t quite put my finger on about Portland, or at least I think I’m getting close.

It was that seriousness, that consciousness, combined with the ‘let’s not take ourselves serious’, injected with a touch of guilt.  Looking down I saw it at the statue…

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The sign says “The Pigs Are Just For Fun…all donations go to the Oregon Humane Society…”

It was wrapped up in these kitschy piggies on the sidewalk asking for donations, the note saying ‘hey!  this is just for fun’, an implication that putting pigs on the sidewalk is somehow damning the pigs to pimp for donations or become bacon? We don’t really eat bacon people!  This is just fun!  And the Local reminding the Tourist how much Portland really cares about the homeless (“we are so homeless friendly!”), the guilt.

Ah.  But the irony is Portland really DOES love them some bacon, as well as a plethora of eats words cannot express.  Portland is home to, I’d say, the Food Truck mecca.  Food trucks are everywhere!

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A quirk in the local ordinance allows the food trucks to ‘rent’ a parking space…so as long as the food truck has wheels and can ‘technically’ move they can for all intents and purposes stay put!  Puts a whole new meaning on trailer park.DSCF6911

Oh but the food is amazing!

I didn’t get photos of everything we ate, but look here at this sandwich.  Mmmm!!!

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I ate that slap up.  I could have eaten at these food trucks the whole time I was there, they are really that good!

Being good, if not great, a food truck that catapulted itself to brick and mortar is Lardo…

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Despite all the health and wellness, Portlanders really do break down and get them some pig,

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and some beer…

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and make it all healthy with some sweet potato fries…DSCF6907

and make it earth friendly with some good earth paper containers.DSCF6908

I know, everyone breaks down and trust me, it’s all good, we are all human.  But if you want to get that heart back in shape and clear the cholesterol you can visit Bob at his Red Mill store…

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…and yes, Bob is usually in house.  We did meet him and he’ll be celebrating his 85th birthday this year!

It was amazing seeing aisle after aisle of good healthy grains….

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Love me some muesli!  Or go across the street and meet Dave…DSCF6948

This is Dave’s Killer Bread…a truly healthy amazing bread…

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…and be sure to read up on Dave’s story and how bread became his salvation.  It’s a good one.  But oh!  That bread was great!  Wish we had it here!

So I guess I’ll wrap this up.  There was so much more to Portland, I didn’t even get to talking about Powell’s bookstore…DSCF6847

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…or the local breweries…

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…but I WILL leave you with one last offering.  One last little reminder of this whole consciousness thing.  This guilt thing.  This, I know…we can do better as a society thing.  It was hidden in the souvenir shirt Jim bought at Lardo.

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The tag.

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It says…

“This T-shirt was sewn by 9 people in a sweatshop-free environment in Downtown L.A. where they are paid fair wages and have access to healthcare and benefits.”

I kid you not.

I rest my case…love you Portland!

Now I can move on and sew!

~Cathy

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