I miss the old Portland

The internet is the place where people go to express opinions no one has asked for.

On a recent instagram post one of our followers commented “It’s sad to see a local company built in Portland taking this stance instead of a positive tone. Why not a shirt that inspires pride or hope instead of one like this. And this social media post just allows people an opportunity to bitch.” For what it’s worth he would go on to bitch and even share our post with another local apparel company in hopes of a “more loyal” sentiment reproduction. Another user wrote “The irony of this shirt” referring to the notion that we, as a brand, haven’t been here long enough to qualify as a participant in local sentiment.

The post is of a t-shirt I designed called “I miss the old Portland”.

Our post came on the heels of a series of national news articles and New York Times opinion pieces that cover our struggles with homelessness and decriminalization of small amounts of hard drugs. When it comes in droves it can feel like an assault on our city and it’s understandable Portlander's are feeling defensive. It’s because the truth hurts and people are fed up with being talked down upon.

As national sentiment goes we’ve taken our lumps. A nosedive from media darling to an example of what not to do. It’s hard to go downtown and see it as a shell of what it once was. Leading into the pandemic I’d argue it was one of the most vibrant, clean and thriving downtowns in all of America. Now you’ll observe people in creepy ski masks making open air drug deals in broad daylight, bashed in windows on new buildings, great local small businesses gone and vandalized buildings. There’s good stuff too, it’s just not a layup like it once was, we had it very good for a long time.

I’m naturally an optimistic person and moved here with rose colored glasses on. These days I prefer to take them off. And a say that because my truth is important and I want that represented in my work…love it or hate it. For me “I miss the old Portland” reflects an exciting and vibrant time in our city. One we can have again, but that will look very different. Personally I’m good with change. Especially if that means shaking off the moniker of “Keeping It Weird” because it’s unoriginal. That was bootlegged from Austin and we deserve better and more importantly our own identity. “A place where young people come to retire” doesn’t fit the bill either. It’s too expensive. Finding a new identity is where our greatest opportunity currently exists.

I’m no civic policy expert, but by the looks of things our rebound is gonna take time and lots of it. From an economic standpoint I think there’s more pain ahead so I’m viewing it as more of an endurance race vs. sprint. The optimist in me wants us to come out stronger and more united. The cynic in me thinks those with an abundance of resources will be the primary beneficiaries with most being left behind. History repeats itself.

Missing something while striving to make it better are two things that can co exists. Weather I qualify to say so depends on who you ask. I remain inspired just not in the way that’ll be approved by everybody and I’m good with that.

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