Thursday, November 03, 2011


They keep calling for an "end game" around OP / OPDX, which I like, because it connects us to chess, a game vested in symbolism and symbolic logic. Keep Portland Cerebral, is a synonym for Weird.

So here it is: a City that Works needs to focus on public restrooms, keeping them safe, operable and open, even if that means paying guards / janitors / interns 24/7. My friend Teresina did duty like that in Tokyo, as a part of her Buddhist training. We have lots of Buddhists in Portland. 1 + 1 = 4.

This commitment to public health and safety might not make sense to some in the Business Alliance. Like AOI, like OPDX, we're talking about a mixed bag of ideologies, a "can of worms" as it's known in the business. However Metro and enlightened urban planners know that public restrooms, their state (status), provide a measure of a city's friendliness, to globe trotters following their Lonely Planet guidebooks, not just to "unemployables" (the "untouchables" of today's USA's central casting system, a leftover from English in some dimensions -- cite "unscannables" in Idiocracy).

The other "concession" won from the City was a commitment to more of those Town Halls, like we were promised in 2004 in connection with the Bucky play and president Obama's victory. Hopes were high back then. But then enlightened civic dialog failed to occur in large degree, because "we the people" were frightened of those "death panels", a social services bureaucracy that seemed out of control, and quite willing to plunge us back into Dickensian scenarios. I understand the Tea Party's chagrin.

Nevertheless, the Wanderers format, also Lightning Talks, Ignite Portland, OMSI Science Pubs etc., prove we're able to self-govern in such formats. We're not complete idiots at the end of the day, or at least not all of us are. We have gorgeous theaters, churches, other facilities, where chit chat may take place, and in more of an integrated space, in the sense of more voices being heard, and also acted upon. Different chiefs, different chefs, different channels. More diversity in other words. What cerebral centers are good at, Cape Town too (we have some back and forth traffic).

And here's the kicker: OPDX might wanna do this again next year and put even more pressure on those poor civic heads. We have less than a year to prepare. The kinds of artifact on display will have morphed a lot by then (better gear!), given all the new investment in civilian sector tech. More toyz (including more sensors), better communications, even broader participation. More democracy.

We need to fix those public restrooms so we can have more democracy. In the meantime, we appreciate what the unions are doing to supply those portable units. Labor is backing this effort, as we're talking about meaningful work, necessary infrastructure, not just digging and filling ditches in some parody USA. The New Deal was the real deal, thank you FDR.

But this may require some serious bulldozing, I don't know. All over Portland, we're beefing up the civic infrastructure. That's already happening, but don't call it a "stimulus". This is normal healthy tissue building.

Look at the Moscow subway system. Look at cities that really pour their hearts into making their streets safe. I could wander Rome at 2 AM as a tween, a tempting target. The Romans know city life better than many. Maybe it's even safer today.

The commitment to cycling and cyclers is outstanding here. For all the talk of "road rage" on both sides, I've also seen a great deal of politeness and civility, and not only from Trimet drivers. Average civilians in large SUVs will sometimes gladly surrender the right of way in an effort to be accommodating.

PDX is just that good at citizen diplomacy.

That's why our Village is more like the petting zoo at The Grotto. Just a lot of cute people, needing to use the bathroom from time to time. We pray for them, and we love them.