Portland, Oregon. Critically acclaimed by some, including Tim Egan of the New York Times, the city is one of the “brain” cities in the Pacific Northwest. Some call this the final frontier, where new and old ideas can resonate together in a melting pot to create a very “do it yourself” atmosphere. Even further, a community that does it right, plain and simple. Although, this in-fatuous of a place can turn on itself, tackling issues that contradict the very core of its environmentally friendly and sustainability fronts that might as well be placed on the city limit sign saying, “hey we are all posers.” There are some, if not many Portlanders that stand higher than the crowd. One of these people is a man by the name of Bob Sallinger.
Representing the Audubon Society of Portland, Sallinger has spoken aloud to the public to raise awareness of the negative effects of marine industrial development on Hayden Island. With his help, this policy issue has been delayed for fifteen years. Sallinger doesn’t want the subject to only be delayed, but not happen at all. Just the fact that this project is an issue shows the lack of commitment and community awareness our city has as a whole. This is a place representing the last 4% of intact forest on the Columbia River, over 100 acres of grasslands, and home to 81 species of birds. Before the city moves forward with any progressive ideas on being green and sustainability, it should take a look at its natural environments first. The river that flows through the city, the Willamette, is tainted with waste and filth right at the edge of our fingertips. Bob Sallinger agrees. “One specific concern that I have is that we increasingly focus on the technology and green building to sustain our green reputation while ignoring natural resources. Both are important but one is not a substitute for the other. Any real definition of sustainability needs to include natural resource protection,” says Sallinger.
Just below the bluff in our own backyard in North Portland is home to a couple of superfund sites, where concrete jungles are polished in the industrial part of town. These are places that provide space for marine cargo use, and should be one of the alternative plans to the Hayden Island Project. Sallinger believes we have a few bridges to cross, “Portland has a well earned reputation for being on the cutting edge of being green and sustainable. However, we are increasingly living on our past reputation and other cities are passing us by. We have some big challenges in front of us that will determine whether or not we retain our leadership position.”
Portland is a mecca full of progressive values that coincide with the attitude and culture here. However, have our ambitions as a community for economic growth surpassed our care for such values? Anticipated future economic possibilities are driving competition between Portland and Vancouver, when they should collaborate facilities together. Future growth and opportunity should not come at the expense of sustainability and morality of the environment.