Living up to Our Vision for Portland

It took me two years of volunteering on the visionPDX committee to understand what underlies Portland’s progressivism: hypocrisy.

The visionPDX report delivered September 19 to the City Council summarizes the wishes of thousands of Portlanders as follows: “We view our diversity as a vital community asset, whether they are differences of race, ethnicity, gender, belief system, political ideology, ability, socio-economic status, educational status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, place of origin, age or geography. We facilitate the inclusion of all Portlanders in our democratic processes and in community decision-making.”

Contrast that with the sentiments I heard expressed by one member at a recent visionPDX committee meeting: The people have spoken. We are a lefty-liberal city. And if people from California or wherever don’t like it, well, they can just go back to Orange County — including all you “free-market” folks.

Some say the comment was meant merely as a joke. Perhaps. But it’s outrageous that a vision committee member would be brazen enough to single out people to, as it were, love it or leave it, given the inclusive statement they took pains to produce.

The visionPDX project is a publicly funded, community-driven process. Most volunteers didn’t join that process to build a city in which individuals with ideas unlike the majority feel a sense of futility when engaging in civic life. A vision for Portland’s future isn’t meant to be a tool for some to justify an exclusionary approach to civic engagement. Some leaders and community activists may feel entitled to choose who gets to participate, who is invited to the conversation, and who wins or loses. But how is that progressive, inclusive or visionary? Is that the kind of city we want?

Make no mistake, free-market folks, even folks from California, aren’t opposed to sustainability or any of the other values put forward in Portland’s vision statement. But the strategies they might employ to realize the stated goals may differ. And I find it hard to believe that in a city full of “progressives” claiming to want a diverse and inclusive community that individuals with different ideas would be isolated from public conversations.

The measure of a great city is less the number of its green programs and more how it embraces freedom and diversity and collaborates to achieve great things for its citizens. A great community is one courageous enough to welcome diversity of thought, to be tolerant of those who are different and to include all people in civic life. Diversity brings great ideas — from rooftop gardens to small businesses that line our neighborhood streets.

My challenge to the progressives of Portland is to make the visionPDX statement real.

Bina Patel, a Portland consultant on issues related to poverty, serves as a volunteer for the visionPDX committee and its executive committee.

  • Jerry

    Anytime you have a publically funded project trying to come up with a vision you already have a problem. The assumption is that there is no vision now if we need to create one. How can some committee of left-leaning wackos create a “vision” anyway? What is a vision? Why does a city need one? Does it follow the one it has now? Oh, I forgot, it doesn’t have one or we would not need to create one.
    What a sad, sad waste of money….

    • Anonymous

      Funny how everybody loves a “vision” as long as they take YOUR money by force (taxation) to make it happen.


    My vision for Portland is an increasingly larger number of shuttered store fronts downtown…………it’s been happening for 10 years!

  • Bob Clark


    Welcome to Portland, Orwell. Where government employee unions rule, and where you are treated as a dimunitive member of the “rank and file” even if you don’t want to join.

  • Charlie

    In attempting to compare the planning establishment’s handiwork with anticipated M37 development I wonder who’s vision our planners and politicians are guided by. From what I have witnessed it seems like perpetual hype with some pretty darn ugly outcomes, costing many millions and hardly preferable to some reasonable M37 development of much lesser densities without public subsidies. Our government agencies continue to go out of their way in tell us how preferrable the status quo is but I don’t see it working out at all. At the same time they cast any and all future M37 development as greedy abandonment of the greater good. I don’t see that either.

    • Anonymous

      no, not any and all. but massive subdivisions would fall in there. i would say anything more than 3 additional homes is greedy. i wonder what would happen if people who filed measure 37 claims actually had to prove what they INTENDED to do with thier land? sure, some could actually show they wanted to divide thier land off and give each child a chunk. but i highly doubt the pumice mine, the rock quarry, the mall, and all those 10 or more lot subdivisions were on the mind of individuals when they bought thier property

  • Jerry

    My vision for Portland would be new slogan. We need one.

  • Charlie

    We Love Trams?


      Better yet ” We love scams”.

  • Former PDX’er

    I like the tout “We are a lefty-liberal city. And if people from California or wherever don’t like it, well, they can just go back to Orange County”

    Message to Lefty-Oregonians:

    “Most Californians are even more left leaning than you!”

    Another Message to Lefty-Oregonians:

    “Its better for your left-leaning BS to have former Californians here becaue they think like you.”

    Another Message to Lefty-Oregonians:

    “Obviously you’re too stupid to realize that former Californians help all your liberal causes.”


  • Terry Parker

    From my prospective, the Vision PDX report delivered to City Council while claiming to embrace diversity in reality does just the opposite. What the report actually attempts to execute is lay the foundation for increased socialistic policies thereby controlling individual lifestyles, housing choices and transportation preferences. The socialistic strategies that have already been implemented have not only increased the cost of living within the city, but as reflected by declining inner city school enrollment, the tactics have also driven middle and low income families to live in the suburbs. To me. as a fourth generation Portlander on my dad’s side, it is not about telling Californians to go home; it is more about rejecting the all controlling concepts propagandized by the influx of single yuppies moving into the City and now attempting to tell the long time residents how we should live, conform to what they want and financially support/subsidize all their must haves. They want everything right now delivered to them on a public financed silver platter while refusing to tax themselves for everything from paying for the bicycle infrastructure they freely use, to paying fares that would fully fund the transit systems they want to be developed, to in many cases expecting to receive government services without paying property taxes. If anybody should leave town, it should be these rhetoric spewing yuppies that want to tell everybody else how to live while refusing to accept their own financial responsibilities. A good choice for them might be the Pennsylvania Amish Country, some of the un-developed nations of the world, and/or any other place that has yet to be touched by the industrial revolution.


      I think the people who believe we all should pay taxes for a minority of people too use services such as the Tram, Street car, Max, Bicycle paths, etc…. but not pay to fix or pave roads the majority use should move away. Regardless of whether they believe that living here for multiple generations gives them some kinda extra right to decide how they city is run, from what I can tell they’ve done a pretty half-assed job as it is.

      I have no problem paying taxes for infrastructure improvement that benefit the entire community. I do have a problem paying for a Tram so OHSU employees can ride up from a parking lot for $10 a month………….but it costs a ctizen $50 for a max ticket. I have a problem paying for a Tram to drive the downtown elites around on my dime. I have a problem funding the Max at the cost of our road infrastructure and allowing the downtown elitists to ride around free on “fareless square” once again on my dime. I have a problem paying prperty taxes while the rich condo owners have an abatement because they live downtown.

      No, many of us have no problem paying for our city services, it’s paying for other peoples we don’t like!

    • Administrator

      I am so glad that we all have an opportunity in this town and in the greater nation to voice our opinions with out fear of retribution.
      As a Project Coordinator for visionPDX, the goal of visionPDX is noble, novel, and perhaps too vast for this time and desired outcome [as can be seen by how defensive people react about the project].
      visionPDX was designed to include even the underrepresented populations so that Portlander’s pay for goods, services, and civic developments that harbor creatvity and diversity. The cost to remedy is at least 4 times the cost of planning ahead…planning ahead really is a savings in $s and productivity in the long run. Planning Portland to fit only one groups needs, and not consider the needs of others that cannot speak, use a computer, have fear of retribution, or are nonambulatory would not be serving society in its entirety.
      As part of the Portland community, I am proud that our civic leaders want to create a Portland that ALL Portlanders can benefit from. It is diversity and creativity that makes Portland beautiful, innovative, and all socialeconomic level benefit from inclusion in the long run.
      My apologies if certain people are defensive because they feel like well-educated, good looking, middle-income, caucasians, without disabilities who naturally benefit from society’s biases…visionPDX counts you as part of Portland’s future, just like everyone else.

  • Ted Kennedy’s Liver

    The Vision PDX project is a sham. The committee is composed of far left wackos hand picked by Tommy Pothead. You must have fooled them Bina or they never would have let you on.

    The summary statement alone illustrates the soft-headed thinking involved.