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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Portland Is Still Beautiful

With so much crazy in the world, a lot of the news is being focused on my city of Portland, Oregon, making it look like a war zone and and city on fire. Believe it or not, this simply isn't true. Our people are passionate and willing to fight injustice. While the evenings are focused on protests and police/unwanted feds waging war against them with military-grade weapons, this is a small part of a bigger story. 

The news only shows you two blocks of our entire downtown area. Portland is vast, and these two blocks are small percentage of the area. Not only that, we have volunteers going through picking up trash and police debris to keep our city beautiful. During the day, you will see a complete different view of the city than you will from night time (and even several blocks away at night, you will see a different view). 

The park directly across from the Federal building is home to a place called Riot Ribs. These people are in the park 24/7, running a donation-only, volunteer food operation. They feed the homeless and the protesters, and they also supply homeless with things they need, like medical supplies and clothing. The police and feds have damaged their supplies and grills many times since this started, yet they've returned. One of their volunteers was shot with a rubber bullet and suffered broken ribs, yet they returned. The police went through and took many of their supplies, yet they returned. This is the spirit of the people of Portland. They don't give up in the face of hopelessness over doing what they think is right. 

This is one block away from the photos above.

If you've been following my Instagram, you'll have seen some of these photos already. It's day 60-something now of continuous nightly protests, and Portland isn't letting up. We've grown to include moms, dads, vets, and even grandparents. There were riots the first night, because that is inevitable, so many downtown businesses have plywood covering their windows. If you saw the protests in other cities, you know this is common. The difference here is that local artists saw this as a different opportunity: to create amazing murals that showcased words of hope, awesome city landscapes, beautiful art celebrating Black lives and also those we've lost. 

The city is back to business as usual, as much as possible with Covid, with people shopping and dining out, enjoying the sunshine, and exploring all these new pieces of art. Many restaurants are open for carry-on. Some have added outdoor dining. Our food trucks are open. 

We planned to walk around and grab brunch/early lunch at a food truck, but saw how far apart the tables at one of our favorite restaurants were spaced outside on the sidewalk, so we chose to support them. We kept our masks on when not eating or drinking. We sanitized our hands after touching the menu. The experience was awesome, especially with how nice the weather was. 

Many people who live here are complaining about how our city has been ruined. I have several things to say about that:
  • Go downtown and see it for yourself before you make these claims.
  • Realize that most of these places were shut down due to Covid and some still aren't allowed to reopen. 
  • Restaurants aren't going to look the same if you can't eat inside (a lot of our restaurants are very small, so take-out is their only option). 
  • Support those shops and restaurants that you love so much instead of complaining how they might have to close forever.
  • Realize that not every business is going to make it out of Covid. This is not the fault of protesters, since they don't start protesting until most of these businesses have closed for the night. 
  • Please stop trying to scare people away from the downtown area by repeating things you don't have proof of. Many of my friends have gone downtown (or work there) and have a very different experience than what the news is showing. Again, this is just two blocks of the entire area.
  • Know that volunteers have asked to remove graffiti (from courthouse and surrounding buildings) and the city has repeatedly told them no. This graffiti you see is not happening night after night, as the news wants you to believe. It is the same graffiti that is being added to and will eventually be painted over.

Black lives still matter. Listening to the people still matters. Police who decide to teargas unarmed people instead of having a dialogue are not good (at the very least). You can watch live feeds from independent reporters on Woke.net. These are the same feeds the police watch. Equality and representation is important. The people have the right to protest. If you want to learn more about the protests and the government, check out this long, but informative article.

I'm sorry if you don't agree with this, but I hope that it gives others some perspective on what our city actually looks like and that it's not dangerous or in ruins or full of roving gangs of looters. We had a lovely day out admiring all this fabulous new artwork, since there are many things we still can't do and all festivals & gatherings have been cancelled until the foreseeable future. If nothing else, it was a very affordable way to see the city and gave us some much needed exercise. 

I hope you will still consider visiting Portland when this is all over and it's safe to travel again. What do you think people are seeing about your city that aren't true?

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