New Orleans tops Time’s list,
as one could assume, given the problems the city has experienced since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast nearly six years ago. The picture here reveals the problems that prevail, the building structures that remain in shambles and the lack of care for city streets and sidewalks of the town.
But then Louisiana is tops in the category of fun, not environment or health where the state figures last on most lists, and its flagship city simply mirrors what the culture favors most. Yet people who enjoy the history and great culture of this Southern city mourn the environmental issues, like buildings on former landfills
that have polluted whole neighborhoods. So while New Orleans retains its beauty in its historical buildings, great art and majestic boulevards, its environmental problems have seriously detracted from its central focus as a travel destination.
While the worst about our cities often gets the most attention, places like Portland are known for being conscious and conscientious about having a clean environment for their citizens to live. Residents and visitors alike extol the elements of the town that include the large expanse of parks and park-like surroundings intermixed with businesses and residences and its concentration on developing mass transit in order to reduce pollution and traffic problems. For those and other reasons Portland is often on the list of the best places to live
in America because of its emphasis on taking care of the environment.
Oregon basks in its reputation as the place where green is king. Portland is the flagship city of the State of Oregon where having a clean environment is an important value. In fact there are heavy fines for littering
in Oregon, and long-time residents will stop outsiders from tossing trash out windows. Being environmentally nurturing and caring for one’s surroundings became the byword years ago, when Portland ran campaigns asking people to reduce their trash by compactors and stepping on their cans after opening them and recycling glass bottles. That admonition has become virtually a commandment that Oregon folks obey. They are likely to react adversely when someone tosses trash on streets, declaring as they often do how polluting this can be.
A clean environment is an important value for Oregonians, reflecting what is important throughout the entire state. In fact Oregon has received numerous awards for its environmental values
, and Portland is front and center as its top green city and a good example of what the state achieves.
From the downtown section of Portland to its sprawling outlying neighborhoods, Portland is crispy clean. A young man in a local coffee shop remarked recently that the town looks like its citizens arise early every morning to clean every business, home, brush, tree and garbage can until the whole town shines.
Environmental concerns continue to bring travel, environmental and business experts to define Portland a clean, green and beautiful place, that appears brimming with good health. For along with cleanliness, Portland people also value fresh food and exercise. Many people have home gardens where they grow their own food. Health and nutrition bars, shops and stores abound throughout Portland. Even the manager of Chipotle, near Portland State University brags about how fresh the produce is and how clean and healthy are the menu items. Folks describe good living in Portland as represented by the water of Bull Run
, its water basin, which is touted as the very best around and protected by environmental activists who keep abreast of water issues. Portland people drink their water fresh from the tap and extol its clean, good feeling as pat of Oregon benefit. The town’s green, clean environment and the walkability of neighborhoods reinforce the values of keeping fit that go hand in hand with the landscape that citizens value most. In March Reed College produced an extensive report
on just how high Portland ranks in vegetation and walkability compared with other places in the United States.
In the 1970’s, as Californians moved to Oregon, the Portland old-timers used to say, “Visit, but don’t move here, “ but those folks down the coast still did. They came and settled into Portland neighborhoods, along with Hispanic immigrants and other groups as well, each responding to the message Portland gives about its town. Portland likes its reputation as the green, clean place it is; and most new residents are persuaded to conform.
After Hurricane Katrina, many people from New Orleans moved to Portland. They were first welcomed as refugees in desperation , but many former Louisiana folk remained in Oregon to share the joys of living green in Portland. The town inherited many jazz musicians from New Orleans, so jazz and blues sounds can be heard in many parts of town. In July many Louisiana musicians will be coming to Portland for a major blues concert with some of the Louisiana folks who have now made Portland home. The town has good, clean living other cities like New Orleans don’t have, but Oregonians have set a pace with their environment and clean water
others can emulate.
There are folks in Louisiana who share Oregon’s interests in helping to maintain a healthy environment for everyone. Chris Manning, a realtor in Natchitoches, Louisiana, spoke of this recently. She said, “I’m not surprised to hear that New Orleans is on the list of the dirtiest towns in America. And I would believe that Portland would be on a list of the cleanest. I have trouble understanding why people throw trash out the windows and don’t keep the roads and sidewalks clean and in good shape. Every morning when I take my walk, I am always picking up rubbish. I just wish people in Louisiana would wake up and do that too.”
It’s likely Oregon’s former New Orleans residents, like Louisiana resident Manning, would agree.