Portland Should Welcome Growth, Not Run From It

Plant growing from seed to sprout

Portland Should Welcome Growth, Not Run From It

Metal Toad recently shared an infographic on Facebook that illustrated the influx of people to Portland split by geography:

Top 50 MSA Migration into Portland Metro

This growth has me very excited for Portland's future but, to my surprise, almost of the comments were not only negative, but some were even borderline racist or extremely xenophobic.  Here are just a few of the more than 50 comments posted:

F***ing Califonians, and New Yorkers. They waste their resources, poorly plan their cities and create unliivable and/or unaffordable neighborhoods and they are now here to do the same.

Portland, you're better than that.

I moved up to Portland 9 years ago from San Diego, a city that has seen more than it's share of new faces. During this growth, San Diego made some bad choices by ignoring what was happening - something that Portland can learn from.

To their credit, a few people were a little more introspective in their responses:

NY,LA,SF have the highest rent in the country and the truth is that people In those cities can't even afford their own apartment. The reality is that people in those cities live in a small apartment with two-four families living in the same apartment cramped, overrun and I'm sure the conditions are very desperate and dier- that's the real truth that no one knows and talks about up here- that is what every transplants has told me personally- I also meet transplants who expressed to me that they lived in LA all their lives and this the first time ever they where ever able to buy a home, up here in our state. The ugly truth is- gentrification destroyed their communities and as Oregonians we have to do everything in our power to stop gentrifying Portland and Stop those Yuppies in turning and developing PDX into a YUPPIE San Fransisco Jr!

People are moving to Portland. The population will continue to grow and house prices will rise. This means an increased tax base for education and infrastructure, new challenges, and new responsibilities. I, for one, am very excited about the opportunities this provides and look forward to the chance to get things right.

Let's learn from the mistakes that were made in California and do better, not turn into crazy xenophobes. Let's welcome growth, not run from it.

Comments

just remember that you are not from Portland. The perspective on Portland's growth is going to be much different between someone who lived there before all the migration and "progress" and from someone who is part of that migration. I can't stand the "progress" and growth, but I have finally accepted that the city I love, the city of my youth, is gone forever. Destroyed by hundreds of thousands of strangers who had a completely different vision of our city than most of us who were actually from there.

Not being from Portland doesn't mean I don't know what change is like.  I've been a part of a growing city and seen it change (often for the worse) over time.  I was too young to participate in the choices that were made during the boom years, but to think that Portland is the only city that has ever seen change like this, is to lose out on what history can teach us.  Change is inevitiable, but how we deal with it is something we have control over.

Labeling someone else's point of view as 'racist' or 'xenophobic' is the #1 thing Portlandians love to do in a policy disagreement. When you can shut down the debate with social shaming, you win every time. The mysterious passive-aggressive ways of our town have rubbed off on you well. The transformation is complete. Welcome to Portlandia!

Joaquin is making a good point here (get ready, it's coming and one can choose to be optimistic and prepare) and people are so quick to attack him (you haven't been here long enough to have an opinion), perpetrate a Portland stereotype (we're passive aggressive), or burrow into the black hole of angst-ridden and gloomy acceptance (my city is gone ...). Get over yourselves, people. Attacking the messenger isn't going to solve your woes nor should it provide you with any pride. Take your trolling to the O-Live comments section where you'll be in good company.

I grew up here, went to our schools, swam in our rivers and learned to kill, clean, cook and eat my share of trout, pheasants and geese (have at that one, folks). I left in disgust at a young age in the mid-80s when PDX was overrun by skinhead white supremacists, shaking my head at how it appeared that my city had been reduced to a bunch of milquetoast quiverers. I spent almost 15 years in Los Angeles and while I learned one hell of a lot about the value of cultural diversity and garnered a lot of experience in navigating a town with sharper elbows than PDX, it wasn't for me in the long run. I'm back here, have a family, own a mortgage, pay above market salaries to my employees and do my part to participate in shaping the future of our/my city.

Technology is here whether you like it or not. So are a number of other growth industries we seem to do well. Good work, comparatively affordable living and a state that isn't 80% pavement are going to appeal to people (good, bad and simply tagging along). Lots of people. Looking at Joaquin's chart, a majority are simply pointing the U-Hauls North and hitting the road. So, do we lament and shake uncontrollably at "the horror" ... or embrace the fact that we're popular, got a pretty good thing going and can participate in making the most of it as it grows and changes. I for one am willing, able and ready to see what we can do right.

Who knows, maybe we'll even get some of those potholes fixed along the way ...

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About the Author

Joaquin Lippincott, CEO

Joaquin is a 20+ year technology veteran helping to lead businesses in the move to the Cloud. He frequently speaks on panels about the future of tech ranging from IoT and Machine Learning to the latest innovation in the entertainment industry.  He has helped to modernize software for industry leaders like Sony, Daimler, Intel, the Golden Globes, Siemens Wind Power, ABC, NBC, DC Comics, Warner Brothers & the Linux Foundation.

As the CEO and Founder of Metal Toad, an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, his primary job is to "get the right people in the room".  This one responsibility is cross-functional and includes both external business development functions as well as internal delegation and leadership development.

A UCLA alumni, he also serves in the community as a Board Member for the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce, and Stand for Children Oregon - a public education political advocacy group. As an outspoken advocate for entry-level job creation in tech he helped found the non-profit, P4TH, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of entry-level jobs in the tech industry, and is in the process of organizing an Advisory Board for the Bixel Exchange, a Los Angeles non-profit that provides almost 200 tech internships every year.

 

Ready for transformation?