Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Ford Dealership in Cow Town

Growing up in Salem, Oregon can be difficult for a teenager who has a full summer on their hands, with nothing to do.  Fortunately, there are plenty of nice swimming holes around the area to visit, and socialize with the rest of the bored-out-of-their-minds crowd.  One such place, to which I make attempts at facilitating a yearly pilgrimage in order to relive my childhood, is the North Fork of the Santiam river.  It is a wonderful place, with plenty of dangerous bridges to jump off of, as well as water chiseled cliffs to dive into crystal blue waters from.  A mecca for those who search refuge from the "busy city life".

This past year, as I drove myself down highway 20 toward the city of Stayton from Salem, I saw something I hadn't quite noticed before.  A brand new Ford dealership in the middle of the country, just outside of Stayton, population: 7,765, and spread out over quite a large area of farm country.

It seemed to me quite odd, that a large Ford dealership would be located in an area that was as sparsely populated.  My first thought was to rationalize the methodology of the higher ups in the company, thinking "cowboys need trucks" --but on closer examination of the dealership, much of their inventory are cars. 

It simply struck me as incongruent for a retail dealership of such massive technology to be located in a place where the "corn festival", agriculture, and farm lifestyles are so prevalent.  This disconnect really made me think about what kind of reasons a large corporate conglomerate such as Ford would even think about putting a dealership in a lowly populated area. 

Then I thought, "this place isn't sparsely populated at all--we're on one of the most well travelled roads in Oregon!  The gateway to the east, and cities such as Bend, Redmond, and Prineville." -However it still struck me as odd... less in a practical sense, because many people DO travel right by the VERY visible lot full of vehicles, so in an advertising sense, they are probably getting their money's worth.

That doesn't excuse the aesthetic blunder which exists, and effectively disrupts a travellers spacey gaze out the window over rolling hills, and beautiful pastures.  See for yourself.


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Friday, November 19, 2010

Food Carts in the Portland Area

Portland was recently listed as the "World's Best Street Food" by CNN/Budget Travel.  With over 580 Licensed carts, there's bound to be a pod of delicious carts in your neighborhood!

Here's the list:


PSU - SW 4th and Hall
3rd Ave - SW 3rd and Stark
2nd Ave - SW 2nd and Stark
Lot 91 - SW 2nd and Ankeny
SW 5th - SW 5th and Stark
Alder - SW Alder @ 9th and 10th


North Station - N Killingsworth and Greeley
Mississippi Marketplace - N Mississippi and Skidmore
Mississippi/Fremont - N Mississippi just N of Fremont
Crystal Gardens - N Lombard and Richmond
Lombard Pointe - NE Lombard and MLK
Dreamer's Marketplace - NE MLK and Graham
AREA 23 - NE 23rd and Alberta


E 7th - E 7th and Burnside
Cartopia - SE 12th and Hawthorne
Good Food Here - SE43rd and Belmont
A la Carts - SE 50th and Division
Division and 48th
Ala Carts - SE 102nd and Stark
Sellwood - SE 13th and Lexington

Oh yeeaaaaaah!  Get it!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Interesting Places: The Rose Garden Sports Arena

One of the most interesting places to go in Portland is the Rose Garden Arena. On any given night, attractions might include rock concerts, basketball games, hockey games, rodeos, moster truck rallies, or childrens musicals such as "Disney on Ice". It is interesting not only because of the entertainment acts which it features, but also because of the many functions it can take on as one of the largest public establishments in the state of Oregon.

Built in 1993, and opened in 1995, the Rose Garden arena was mostly funded via Paul Allen and Vulcan Inc. who is also the owner of the Portland Trail Blazers professional basketball team.

The exterior shape of the Rose Garden arena was designed to invoke the shape of a Rose, in congruence with Portland's identity as the "City of Roses".

In particular, Blazers basketball games tend to have the most consistent and largest draws.  With a total capacity of just over 20,000 people, the Rose Garden can be a raucous place when a crowd is excited.  There are no "bad" seats in the house, as the walls of the arena are sloped at such an angle as to accomodate the maximum amount of people possible, and to bring them as close to "center court" as possible.

As one approaches the arena, there are many entrances and exits which open to a large concourse which encircles the building.  Every 50 or so feet, there are vendors stationed against the walls selling clothing, sports equipment, novelty items and gift items.  There are concession stands built in next to the entrances to the arena itself, which offer the entire gamut of junk food fare for the masses. 

On the first level (the 100 level) where the nicer seats are located, it is also possible to gain access (for a price) to the "Lexus Club Level", which includes an "all you can eat" buffet during games, and an unlimited access snack bar which is litterally a parent's nightmare for children pursuing a sugar high.

With as much hustle and bustle as it takes to get people seated in their correct seats, there are plenty of helpful attendants, and the doorways are all numbered with their corresponding ticket and seat number.  There are escalators, elevators, and wide staircases which allow for thousands of people to navigate through the buildings levels.  Traffic is seldom jammed, unless too many people decide to go through the same exit.  There is always another exit close by.

Probably the most exciting thing about the Rose Garden arena is the simple fact that the people who arrive there, are already excited themselves.  Many of the attendants are apt to paint their faces, wear ridiculous outfits, make funny signage, and generally act in such a way as to incite other participants to match their level of enthusiasm for the home team.  High fiving, chanting, hollering, and chest bumping are commonplace here.

All the trappings of a good time.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission Hearing; Why It Mattered

At the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission hearing last Tuesday night, we were all exposed to, among other things, a briefing on the current Portland Plan, by Eric Engstrom and Alex Howard. They addressed the 11 commissioners appointed by the Mayor, and laid out their visions for how Portland might best serve its communities within the next 25 year period.

Presented as "The Portland Plan", it includes nine major policy areas which will be affected throughout phases of the project. These main areas are: Prosperity & Business Success, Education & Skill Development, Sustainability & the Natural Environment, Human Health, Food & Public Safety, Transportation, Technology & Access, Equity, Civic Engagement & Quality of Life, Design, Planning & Public Spaces, Neighborhoods & Housing, Arts, Culture & Innovation.

The first phase of the project was basically to listen to what people had to say about what they envisioned the process being like. They were able to define their needs and values, and communicate to each other the ways in which they would like to see their own communities develop and grow.

The next phase will be to begin implementing some of these plans and achieving the directives they set forth for each area.

While learning of these plans, and seeing how well articulated and prepared the plans are, it occured to me that this system does indeed seem fairly utopian compared to some of the readings I've interpreted over the last few weeks.

In particular, my mind seems to gravitate toward the readings of Davis and his descriptions of the fall of the Los Angeles area into urban sprawl. As and after effect of failing to plan very well, and their obvious inability to come to some consensus before actual groundwork was laid and foundations were built, they ended up having very little green spaces or parks for recreational purposes, and became considerably drab with regard to their aesthetic value as neighborhoods.

WE here in Portland are lucky not to have that problem. This planning process is a prime example of what TO DO in order to avoid our city turning into a gnarly grid of neverending asphalt.