By Midge Pierce
In 2015, activists climbed rooftops and tree limbs, neighbors sparred with bulldozers and walkers crossed the Willamette on the nation’s first pedestrian bridge.
On Mt. Tabor, the reservoirs were decommissioned while neighborhood leaders persuaded Portland’s Water Bureau to fix the crumbling, iconic basins and continue to fill the them with water at historic levels.
Everywhere, change was the constant. A steel-girded Division Street reopened beyond recognition with raingardens, tapered girth and slick storefronts reflecting whimsy and plaid-covered wanna-bes queueing for ice cream. Memory keepers sang truth to power.
In the Industrial Zone, artist warehouses morphed into start-ups that edged out the creative class.
Developers and residents rubbed angry elbows in residential zones. Small, affordable homes were ground into toxic rubble. Mega mansions and skinny houses sprouted. A developer boasted that the classic bungalows of Richmond would soon be gone.
As trees were axed and codes seemed too lax, the Lorax camped out in a giant sequoia in Eastmoreland. A national TV producer materialized to help turn the property into a pocket park.
A new center of development emerged at 50th and Division where traffic, bike lanes and community outrage merge and a food cart holds on for dear life.
Tilikum Crossing connected SE with the South Waterfront. The carless “Bridge of the People” sports a Portland touch – colored LED lights that turn with the tides.
Sometime during the year, something significant shifted. The City turned its attention from hipsters coming during the next 20 years to the needs of those already here. Plans percolated to move the Right to Dream homeless camp to inner SE.
In December, drought gave way to flooded basements. The displaced sheltered in nooks and crannies. City staff took a break from rubber stamping building permits.
And snow flurries frosted the capricious hills of SE Portland.
The year turned.
Photos By Midge Pierce