Portland’s weirdness is celebrated and examined in Pieces of Portland: An Inside Look at America’s Weirdest City. The 250 page book is authored by native Oregonian and 40 yer Buckman resident Marie Deatherage and provides the backstory for many parts of the city. It features notable people from the Unipiper to the man who invented the wiki to Portland’s most recent winner of Project Runway and there’s 400 color photographs of annual events like the Big Float, the Adult Soap Box Derby and the World Mondo Croquet Championship. The text covers topics illustrating both Portland’s quirky appeal, its historical gaffes and the challenging issues it’s facing these days.
The photographs are by the globe-trekking Joyce Brekke and usually include a quilt made by Deatherage or Brekke. The book digs in to explain why it rains so much, how the land got its present shape and why the city developed as it did. It examines the city’s not-so-rosy racial history and the effects government policies and practices have had on minority communities, why the city has been slow to include the zone east of 82nd Ave., and why minority and lower income residents are locating there now.
Deatherage depicts Portland as a city of neighborhoods undergoing change and the book includes an appeal to city officials to consider consequences of official decisions on the city’s psyche.
“Portland has some hard truths to face,” Deatherage says. “I think Portland has an opportunity to face the truth and actually solve problems. We have great success stories to guide us, we’re small enough that people actually talk with one another, and we aren’t afraid of being first to try things. If any place can make things right, Portland can. So let’s get on with it.”
The book is available through the website piecesofportland.com, at Multnomah County Library, Powell’s Books, Music Millennium, New Seasons, and from area quilt shops.