Roll Your Eyes All You Want. Portland Is Going to Keep Being Itself.

Beyond the stereotypes and the hype, you’re never just what anyone expects you to be.

Dear Portland,

There’s no way around it. You’re what everyone thinks you are: America’s most carefully curated city; a hipster paradise; the all-artisanal-everything land of food carts, beards, and tattoos. But I wasn’t lured here by the quality of life or culture. I moved here for a job.

At first, I resented this place for being exactly as advertised. But at some point, I stopped worrying and learned to love this side of Portland. I wake up with carefully brewed Stumptown coffee. Weather permitting, I bike to work in the Pearl District, a hub for creative class jobs like my own. For lunch, I can go kale or I can go pork belly, the ying and yang of Portland cuisine. If we go out to dinner, there’s a good chance we’ll go to Pok Pok or Bollywood Theatre, Asian street fare that goes out of its way to be painstakingly authentic. Weekends were made for browsing the big-city selection (at small-town prices) of Clinton Street Records or catching a repertory flick at the Hollywood Theatre.

But I know your secret, Portland. Beyond the stereotypes and the hype, you’re never just what anyone expects you to be. What makes you special isn’t that you’re unrelentingly trendy. It’s that you’re remarkably confident. You’re a city that’s helping change the way people think about cities, and it has very little to do with being an indie rock band or a regional center. You attract as many professionals as you do underdogs and dreamers. I came to Portland because I had to, but quickly realized that living here was pretty darn enviable.

Even so, no matter how much I sing your praises, you’re certainly not perfect. Though you’re not as white as you used to be, the lack of diversity is a real issue. Since you’re growing faster than expected, traffic can be a real hassle (a major motivation for cyclists, though).

Still, no matter how much you’ve grown and changed over the years, that sense of community is still strong. We get behind independent businesses, freak out about new brunch spots, and support local bands even after they blow up. And everyone is a Trail Blazers fan, whether or not they could care less about any other team or any other sport. It doesn’t hurt that All-Stars Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge are two of the best players in basketball, or that this team could win a title in the next few years. But Portland’s love affair with this franchise goes back decades. There’s a bar called Spirit of 77, after the year the Blazers won their lone championship.

There’s definitely a Portland demographic. But you’re pretty much open to anyone and anything. We’re just a group of people who enjoy living in a friendly, accessible place with a lot of the same culture and perks you’d find in a teeming metropolis. You’re unapologetic about where you’ve been and where you’re going next. What I love most about you, Portland, is that you’re never the city you’re supposed to be. You’re just yourself.

Your humble resident,

Bethlehem Shoals

Bethlehem Shoals is a founding member of the basketball writers’ collective and co-author of the Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History. His writing has appeared in GQ, Sports Illustrated, The Nation, The Awl, and McSweeney’s.


The global climate change strikes on Friday are said to have been the largest protest for climate change in history. An estimated four million people participated in 2,500 events across 163 countries on all seven continents. That included an estimated 300,000 Australians, but a total of zero were in Hyde Park in Sydney, despite a viral photo that claims otherwise.

Australian Youth Coal Coalition, a pro-coal Facebook page, posted a photo showing trash strewn across a park after what appears to have been a large event. "Look at the mess today's climate protesters left behind in beautiful Hyde Park," the photo was captioned. "So much plastic. So much landfill. So sad." The only problem is, the photo wasn't taken after a climate change protest. It wasn't even taken in Australia.

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via GOOD / YouTube

Last Friday, millions of people in 150 countries across the globe took to the streets to urge world leaders to enact dramatic solutions to combat climate change.

The Climate Strike was inspired, in part, by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who has captured worldwide attention for her tireless work to hold lawmakers responsible for the climate crisis.

The strike gave people across the planet the opportunity to make their voices heard before the U.N. General Assembly Climate Summit in New York City on Monday.

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Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

As world leaders meet to discuss new ways to tackle climate change at the U.N. Climate Action Summit, they might miss one very big part of healing nature – nature. In a new short film, youth climate change activist Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot, a writer for the Guardian, talked about how we need to use nature as a solution to climate change.

There's a huge push to curb emissions, but it's not the be all end all of handling climate change; we also need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. While we don't have technology to do that for us, there is another solution. "There is a magic machine that sucks carbon out of the air, costs very little, and builds itself. It's called a tree," Monboit says in the film. Researchers found that we could get rid of two-thirds of the carbon dioxide that we've emitted during the industrial era just by growing trees. That amounts to 205 billion tons of carbon. Right now, deforestation of tropical forests is responsible for 20% of current greenhouse emissions.

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Climate Action Tracker

In 2016, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to combat climate change by taking action to curb the increase in global temperatures. The Paris Agreement requires countries to report on their emissions and what steps they're taking to implement those plans. Now that the countries are coming together again for the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City, it's worth taking a look at what kind of progress they've made.

The Climate Action Trackerkeeps tabs on what each country is doing to limit warming, and if they're meeting their self-set goals. Countries are graded based on whether or not their actions would help limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

According to a recent article from National Geographic, The Gambia, Morocco, and India are at the head of the class. "Even though carbon emissions in The Gambia, Morocco, and India are expected to rise, they'll fall short of exceeding the 1.5-degree Celsius limit," the article reads. Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States, on the other hand, get a big fat F. "Projected emissions in Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States are far greater than what it would take to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

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Screenshot via (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

Greta Thunberg has been dubbed the "Joan of Arc of climate change" for good reason. The 16-year-old activist embodies the courage and conviction of the unlikely underdog heroine, as well as the seemingly innate ability to lead a movement.

Thunberg has dedicated her young life to waking up the world to the climate crisis we face and cutting the crap that gets in the way of fixing it. Her speeches are a unique blend of calm rationality and no-holds-barred bluntness. She speaks truth to power, dispassionately and unflinchingly, and it is glorious.

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