This week, Larry Bingham of the Oregonian/oregonlive.com has a write-up of the Portland Development Commission’s plans for the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Gateway, and the problems that pedestrian activists foresee with the soon-coming Gateway. Mr. Bingham has done a good job covering North and Northeast Portland for the paper/website in recent months, giving folks in N/NE a chance to be heard on various issues in our local daily paper.
The MLK Gateway project will authorize the construction of a pedestrian plaza on the island where Grand meets Hancock, as Grand curves to meet MLK Boulevard. The plaza will sit behind a steel wall that runs along the island on its Grand Street side; on the wall will be a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Somewhat useful schematics of this hard-to-describe site are here: http://www.activerightofway.org/p/gateway-plaza-at-grand-and-hancock-missing-sidewalk & http://www.pdc.us/ura/convention_center/heritage-markers.asp
Area residents who attended Gateway project stakeholder meetings held by the Portland Development Commission have objected to the design of the plaza, which will also include a small steel wall to be placed across the narrowing strip of land that stretches into the median of MLK Boulevard. Their objections point to the Gateway designers’ intention to direct pedestrian traffic behind the wall, instead of allowing it to flow along Grand Avenue; also, future construction of a pedestrian crossing over MLK Boulevard will be more difficult.
One might ‘read’ the design of the Gateway as a project that prioritizes automobile traffic over all other forms of transit. Folks driving out of the Lloyd District north along the Boulevard will encounter a curved steel structure that gracefully eases them into the neighborhood, suggesting that they are entering a new neighborhood. The neighborhood itself won’t be identified directly, except by heritage markers containing neighborhood historical information; these markers will, of course, be visible to motorists only as ‘steel in the air,’ with the plaques containing historical information readable only by persons who travel into the plaza itself. These markers will eventually be joined by more towers with historical plaques along the Boulevard.
Drivers passing by will be greeted by a quote from Dr. King, inscribed onto the steel wall, “They will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” The lettering will, of course, be visible to the pedestrian or bicyclist as she travels on Grand heading north, until of course she is ‘behind’ the wall.
The attitudes of those objecting to the design of the Gateway plaza site are in marked contrast to those of Peggy Lovell, who writes in a letter to the editor published in Wednesday’s Oregonian (also online here), that “I am a cyclist and a motorist. I don’t know anyone among my many cycling friends who isn’t also a motorist… [T]he sooner we can stop acting like a person is either a cyclist or a motorist, the better. In the end, though we may ride to work or ride for fun, most of us put many more miles on our car per year than on our bike.” This is, of course, not true for me or many of the people I know – I travel almost exclusively by bicycle or foot.
Activists Bozzone and Rudwick seek to remind us (including city planners) that the folks who use different forms of transit have needs that both intersect and clash, and that all voices must be heard. In theory, the city seems to agree; Gateway project stakeholder meeting notes indicate that PDC staff are seeking to schedule a meeting that will include PDC staff, folks from the Portland Bureau of Transportation, and at least one pedestrian activist to “improve communications with the pedestrian community regarding PDC projects (current and future).”
Lovell, in contrast, seems to me to imply that there are no differences among transit users, and that planners have no valid reason to differentiate. Lovell’s privileged viewpoint (in more ways than one, she has the luxury of choosing how to travel) does not recognize that there are people who consciously choose not to drive motor vehicles (by her own account, these people are literally invisible to her), or cannot afford to do so.
If we accept her suggestion that we blind ourselves to the existence of people who are not both cyclists and motorists, we will assume that all transit planning that improves roadways for motorists will benefit everyone equally. It is just this attitude that enables planners to shrug off the very different needs that different modes of transit require, while pretending that their solutions benefit bicyclists and other non-drivers.
As folks who are stepping and riding out into traffic every day, and as citizens of our community, we need to embrace the idea that different transit users have very different needs, and that they cannot all be met, in all situations. Conflict is at least as much a part of creating public policy as cooperation and is to be welcomed, as long as it’s respectful. Accordingly, we must struggle to advocate for the best possible solutions for our own transit needs, encourage transit activists to continue to advocate for us when we need representation to do so and take advantage of all public forums to press our cases.We must also press the city’s various bureaus to invite multiple perspectives to planning discussions at the earliest possible moment.
Photos below were taken at the Gateway site.
With the renovation of the decrepit Boxlift Building underway, our little Northeast nightclub-on-the-edge, Dunes, is gone – hopefully, not forever. As a thank you to Dunes for its many years of putting on fascinating and unexpected performances, here’s video of a Weird Viction projection set, from 2009, at Dunes:
Weird Fiction’s website describes it thus:
Weird Fiction has been described as an interdisciplinary arts group operating on the innards of the technocultural imagination. Based in Portland, OR, regionally and intergalactically, Weird Fiction has produced speculative fiction blogs, multimedia performance, videos, interactive installations and book works since their inception in early 2009. Exploring the possibility spaces between fact and fiction, hype and horror, residual media and networked technologies; Weird Fiction traverse the outer regions and ramifications of today’s pervasive information environments.
Beyond these looming theory-objects are figures of evident pictorial intent, though the expressionistic ficto-quizzicism forbids a very clear idea of its nature. There seem to be humanoids dressed as monsters, monsters dressed as humanoids, or humanoids representing a monster of a form which only a diseased fancy could conceive. If, by way of a somewhat extravagant imagination, one yielded simultaneous pictures of an owl, a two-frame GIF animation and telecommunications detritus –this would not be be unfaithful to the spirit of Weird Fiction.
On May 12, 2010 Keaton Otis was pulled over by Portland’s “Hotspot Enforcement Action Team” (HEAT) for looking like a gang member and driving a nice car (his mother’s Toyota). Officers punched him in the face and hit him with a Taser three times; one officer was hit by a bullet they say came from a gun Otis pulled from the glove compartment. A hail of 32 bullets was fired at Keaton, hitting him 23 times and killing him.
EVENT: Thursday, May 12, 2011 6:00 PM
A Celebration of Life: Keaton Otis, Jan. 4 1985-May 12, 2010
Miracles Club, 4069 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland For more information check the Justice for Keaton Otis Facebook Page
The Conga Club has nothing to do with the Invisible Conga People, a band I first heard of today. (Conga convergence & serendipity.) ICP is signed to the very small but well-reputed Italians Do It Better label, which releases Italo Disco, including music put out by sometimes-from-Portland bands Glass Candy & the Chromatics (both led by Johnny Jewel).
Check out this clip of LaRhonda Steele performing the fab track ‘Ain’t Nobody’.
The Safeway at King Boulevard & Ainsworth is billing itself as having undergone a remodel that necessitates a ‘grand reopening’:
Once you get inside, you find that the main difference between the old Safeway and the new one is that there are balloons everywhere…
..which really is wonderful. There were hundreds of balloons to choose from, gawk at, or ignore; this store has really become a Mylar wonderland, and I’m sure neighbors for miles around are relieved and excited about this newfound proximity to such a variety of balloons.
I suspect that much of the signage in stores is designed to make you feel stupid (in a variety of ways – depthful thought is antithetical to shopping, and no retailer is going to go out of its way to encourage it, to say the least). Here’s an example that lets you know, straight up, that you can’t even choose between 15% fat hormone-laden, drug-resistant-staphylococcus-infused ground beef, and its less-juicy 8% brethren, without some advice:
Wandering over to the ‘fresh from the oven’ section of the store, we find ourselves staring at a… pig cake? and pig cupcakes? Can it be? I can’t be sure… all I know is that while these designs are both ugly in theory and wretched in practice, they lack the special panache that would qualify them for Cake Wrecks. Let’s call them wanna-be cake wrecks:
In the aisles, things look much the same, except for more stupid signage than before (“One Chip For Mankind!” in the snack aisle was my favorite). And then there’s this puzzlement:
A blown-up image of the cover of Fitness magazine, hovering over the Ruffles chips, screaming BLAST MORE FAT! Gentle readers, I wonder if, seeing this, your minds wandered back to the by-gone days of Olean…
An unbroken line of plastic water bottles under the ‘meals to go’ sign. I don’t think any comment would do this justice.
Before we move to the outside of the new & improved Safeway, I want to give you a look at the current egg display. I wonder if Annie finds this display easier to use:
In the telephone booth outside, there a picture of the puppy that was stolen from outside the store a couple of weeks ago, aww:
Down with puppythieves!
Meanwhile, all those plastic bottles, and other recyclables? They end up in the rivers, or the oceans; or behind the Safeway in bins, if we’re lucky:
You can smell the odor of this bin just from the photo, can’t you:
I leave you today with One Last Thought. The gentleman who entered the store at the same time as I wore a jacket with a patch with this band’s name on it. This is a strange and beguiling world we live in!
Come and see Mark paint! Meet the artist as he celebrates Oregon’s local leaders in a live art show, Thursday March 31st, from noon to 7 pm, at Elevated Coffee, 5261 NE MLK (in Vanport Square).