On the Streets Where We Live

By Nancy Tannler, Editor

Dear Readers:

The other day I was sitting in Monti’s Cafe, speaking with a writer about the newspaper. It’s places like this, one of our advertisers, that bring this publication into 26,500 homes and businesses every month. The advertisers pay our writer, all the other writers, the A & E person, the printer, the post office, the delivery guy and myself.

Our mission statement of being “the community campfire, a place for everyone to gather”, is a good way to weave businesses and residents together. There are many other forms of advertising available these days, mostly for specific audiences. The Southeast Examiner gathers the news of our neighborhoods, the stories, events, letters, opinion, entertainment and wellness and shares them with everyone in this community every month.

In the age of social media and instant everything, I occasionally begin to doubt the relevance of the printed word, except online, but then I realize that, like the campfire, the newspaper is a place for both the young and older generations to share stories, relay information, and directly connect us to each other. The symbolism of this was never more profound than when we stopped at the petroglyph/pictograph called Newspaper Rock in Utah last month. This rock has been a recording place for the people of this region for thousands of years and only in 1964, when Canyonland was made into a park, did the writings cease.

Our slow-paced journey through south central Utah gave me time to observe and learn about the Ancestral Puebloans and to witness the effect a church-influenced state like Utah has over all the communities in the state.

I had skimmed Bryce Canyon and Zion as a child but never experienced first hand the powerful presence of rock formations, color and expansive landscapes that make this state one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

So many artifacts, ruins, petroglyphs and pictographs are still preserved from the early tribes – Utes, Paiutes, Goshutes, Shoshone, Zunis, Hopis, Navajos–now described as the Ancestral Puebloans. The dry high desert keeps things as they were a thousand years ago.

As is witnessed by the security of their dwellings and the skeletal remains, these early tribes were not a peaceful lot. Before the white-man ever arrived, they were busy bashing each others brains out and capturing slaves. Still, they did have incredible building skills, agricultural techniques, pottery and art, tool-making abilities, community life and some form of communication via the rock carvings.

Newspaper Rock

It still baffles archaeologists why there was a mass migration from this area and many others like it  around 1300 AD. Still the preserved antiquity has a profound effect upon the tourist who is walking in the steps of these early civilizations, marveling at the beauty.

In Utah, one can’t help but be motivated to learn about early pioneers who settled here. Back in the early days, settlers were predominantly of the Mormon faith, today 62 percent of the population still has an affiliation with the church.

There is physical evidence everywhere of the prominence of the church in all the cities and communities with the recognizable spires that identifies the congregation. It was sad to see that in Salt Lake City the main temple is being obscured by progress. I read that this state is the third fastest growing in the United States. Everything seemed new in the hour and a half that it took to drive from the northern outskirts of SLC to the southern.

The people I have known over the years who are Mormon do tithe faithfully and see themselves as responsible for their fellow parishioners. This philosophy was very visible in all the small towns we traveled through. Instead of being all down at heel like we are used to seeing in some small towns in America, there was a neatness and pride of place despite being in the middle of nowhere. [It might have something to do with the dry air that keeps old buildings looking good through the years.]

The idea of how this group of ideologically-connected people support each other made me think about some of the phenomena of a shared community happening here in Portland. As a part of the baby boomer generation, we tried communal idealism but eventually morphed into “normal” –  every person for themselves. We didn’t consider sharing with anyone that wasn’t family unless we were exhibiting acts of charity to the less fortunate.

The idea of a sharing community seems to be getting a new start again here in Portland with organizations like the Tool Library,  Rooster that organizes and shares resources amongst the people, yard sharing, house sharing, Kailash Ecovillage – the intentional community that shares living space, garden and kitchen close in SE. We all know of the different ways people are reaching out so the burden of doing and owning everything doesn’t have to be just on one person or family.

Perhaps this cultural shift is one of the reasons our City has become so popular with the young – an intentional community that helps one another. How cool is that?

I am currently reading excerpts from a book titled The Growth of a City –Power and Politics in Portland, Oregon 1915–1950.  It was the infrastructure immediately following this era – fifties-sixties–seventies that most imprinted my sense about our Portland. It’s interesting to realize that we have had our share of boom and bust periods in the past.

Ralph B. Lloyd, the oil magnate from Ventura, CA who wanted to develop the Lloyd Center area and Irvington neighborhood back in the twenties was disappointed with the Portland business and financial community.  They were cautious about growth and did not want to borrow money from outside investors or tax the people. Consequently they did not grow like LA did during the 20’s and 30’s. Lloyd thought it was because they felt inferior and were insecure about the potential of the area.

Lloyd eventually returned to California with his dreams of a downtown area on the eastside never realized. If he were around today, he would see that it was only a matter of time before Portland got its stride. In ways I think it was the fact that our predecessors developed the land more slowly that has added to the charm factor that attracts so many of the newcomers today.

What I find most contrasting while perusing this old book is the architectural designs from yesteryear and today. The modern apartments that are all glass, steel, concrete and very angular almost have a primitiveness compared to the older structure. There’s no extra frills either inside or out. It’s like were back to the settlements of the Anasazi with strictly function as the prime directive.

I am sure that is why neighbors are practically strapping themselves to houses in front of the wrecking ball in order to save some of these graceful old details.

We do indeed live in interesting times–a blessing and a curse according to Asian philosophy.

On the Streets Where We Live

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