In every city, there are, in fact, many cities, many different versions of a place. Portland, Oregon takes that multiplicity to a different level. There’s the city that some residents praise as a kind of eden: full of bike paths, independently-owned small businesses, great public transportation and abundant microbreweries and coffeeshops. It’s the kind of place that’s been attracting young, college-educated, progressive hipsters in droves. And then there’s a whole other city. It’s the city where whole stretches of busy road are missing sidewalks, and you can see folks in wheelchairs rolling themselves down the street right next to traffic. It’s the city where some longtime African American residents feel as if decades of institutional racism still have not been fully addressed. It’s the city where getting a job is not as simple as posting your handmade leather bracelets on Etsy. In this episode of SOTRU, we spend time in both Portlands: the paradise, and what could be called… the purgatory. We ask: how did Portland get to be a hipster mecca? Who’s benefiting from that—and who’s getting left out? What’s being done about that? Who’s finding a way to join in?
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