“My next-door neighbor bought his house in 1963 after trading the extreme racism of Arkansas for the slightly less extreme racism of 60s Oregon and Portland. Three generations down from him used to come and regularly visit until he died at 96 a few years ago. I miss him…“
Welcome to the Comment of the Week, where we highlight good comments in order to inspire more of them. You can help us choose our next one by replying with “comment of the week” to any comment you think deserves recognition. Please note: These selections are not endorsements.
If you can step back a bit, the current controversy about PBOT’s traffic circle at Tillamook and NE 7th captures Portland in a nutshell. Say you had a friend who wondered what our city was like, Tempers flare around Tillamook Street tree removal as neighbors press for changes would go a long way toward describing Portland to them. Make sure they read the comments!
The 57 comments manage to express most of our simmering tensions, conflicts and biases. They’re hanging out for all to see.
Toward the bottom, one comment stood out to me because it was such a loving description of the neighborhood. That, and a good primer on how markets work. It is easy to get abstract, and to find in every controversy evidence of some larger principle, or the final blow in some long-running argument. Squaremen dropped all that, got specific and personal, and wrote a an even-toned response about why he likes where he lives.
The comment is long, I’ve selected only about half of it, but it is worth reading the whole thing. Here is part of what Squareman wrote:
Sometimes people don’t move. I’m in the neighborhood (7 blocks away) and there are an awful lot of homes on my block that have been owned by multiple generations of NE’ers, a significant portion of those are made up of black families and other POC. Please don’t erase them. And where they’re not multi-generational, they have been occupied for decades. My next-door neighbor bought his house in 1963 after trading the extreme racism of Arkansas for the slightly less extreme racism of 60s Oregon and Portland. Three generations down from him used to come and regularly visit until he died at 96 a few years ago. I miss him, as I used to get some seriously old first-hand Portland history. The house is currently still in the family.
Yes, the values of the homes are still very high in the neighborhood. The two houses to the south of me are owned by an elderly black couple who also live in another home nearby. They took advantage of a real estate investment plan the same way people complain about white people doing it. Their middle-aged daughter lives in one of the homes. I could never afford the house I own anymore if I were to buy it today, but I don’t intend on leaving. It’s what I consider my “forever” home unless something necessitates me changing that. Just because the value is high, doesn’t mean that homes are constantly trading hands. As far as home turnover goes, I usually see the same collection of houses in my neighborhood come and go on the market (i.e., house flippers trading up over and over).
Lisa Caballero has lived in SW Portland for 20 years. She is on the Transportation Committee of her neighborhood association, the Southwest Hills Residential League (SWHRL) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.