Opportunity awaits us at every corner

Editorial from the Sept. 18 edition.

The world is a very daunting place. From war to health care, the environment to the economy, and the H1N1 flu – people are feeling the squeeze. Locally, it’s no different. From the front page story on this edition of Street Roots to unemployment rates in Oregon to young Oregonians coming home in body bags; like we said, it’s a daunting place.

Saying that, we also live in a beautiful city, among amazing and innovative people, rich and poor, with a will to make the world we live in a better place.

Both big and small contributions are being made daily to make the city and region we live in a healthy and sustainable environment. From Metro’s stand on urban sprawl to the Portland Trail Blazers’ “Make It Better” Campaign, from the Reed College students raising money for sex trafficking victims to the vendor selling you this newspaper, amazing things happen.

Watching many of the newly elected officials in Portland navigate the recession while trying to improve the quality of life for Portlanders and Greshamites is assuring. You get the feeling that with the political intelligence and craftiness of many of the commissioners at the county – something special is on the horizon.

Nick Fish is finding his way. It’s not easy being the housing commissioner in Portland. He has taken shots from the left, including from Street Roots, while balancing a frozen market, a housing bureau reorganization and an increase of homelessness. And still, it feels like he’s just getting his engines started and that we have yet to see what he has planned for affordable housing and people experiencing homelessness in the region.

While City Hall does feel more strange than Street Roots has ever seen it (and we can’t quite put our finger on it), there’s still great things happening. Commissioner Randy Leonard can’t seem to get enough of creating more public restrooms. And we can’t get enough of cheering him on. Sam Adams and Amanda Fritz may pull off the unthinkable on the sidewalks issues – and make both advocates and businesses happy. So, geez, it’s not all bad.

When President Barack Obama was elected into the Oval Office in November, Street Rooters, like many other Portlanders, had a sense of renewed optimism. It’s time to channel that energy. It’s time to stand up. No sitting on the sidelines. (Sidewalks are OK.)

There’s hundreds of non-profits and/campaigns working for the greater good in the region. Environmental issues, poverty, agricultural and immigrant movements, civil and human rights, there’s no shortage of great things to contribute to. No engine can ever pick up steam without a single spark to set it off. So be it pedal power or political engagement, there’s an important place for you in this town’s future.

Lastly, treat yourself right. It’s contagious. Then maybe, that daunting world, will have to take a back seat to the change we are becoming. There’s no time like now. The chance won’t come again.

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