What is Portlandia?

It means different things to different people. For some it is a big bronze statue that looks down at you as you enter the Portland Building, a building that is constantly under repair. For others it is a wonderful or annoying TV satire show about Portland’s quirks. For me it means almost the same as folks think the “Keep Portland Weird” slogan means. The difference is those folks moved here after Portland had develop its weirdness and did not experience what made it weird. Both refer to a vibe or spirit that Portland has developed. The vibe began back in the Portland Cultural Creative Renaissance. This was back in a time when artist and crafty entrepreneurs flooded into the old run down, cheap rent warehouses that is now what we call the Pearl district. Those early creative settlers formed a community that did not conform to the old manufacturing, resource extracting Downtown Portland that lay just on the other side Burnside. This community wanted to be creative, innovative, unconventional, entrepreneurial, where being different was OK and not a 9 to 5 corporate group but wanted to work with corporate but on their terms and be their own boss. They set out to build their own businesses and their own creative economy. From this came humanist attitudes, tolerance, understanding and lots of fearless energy that only youth and maturing hippies could bring. The suit and tie was out – unless it was worn with colorful boxers and high top logging boots. You could do your thing just as long as you don’t get in the way of my thing. And it was all fueled by a lot of coffee and later micro brew beer. This community has moved on from the Pearl and all the new high rise condos.

Today there are some little pockets of Portlandia and those early creatives settlers still around Portland. Others finally got their homestead out in the woods by Alsea. Some I hate to say got old and are in nursing homes (I’m headed that way). The Creative Renaissance is over but some of that vibe still lives on in Portland.

For this site I hope to be able to find some of lingering remains of the old Creative Renaissance that is still around and show you where to find them. I am also hoping to show visitors how that period of time has left a lasting impression on Portland and how some of Portlandia still lives on in the everyday. I also want to explore what happened to bring Portlandia into being and what is causing it to dissolve away in the Oregon rain. But first I have to wait for virus lock down to end so I can leave my house to look for all of that.