Best quotes from Street Roots interviews in 2011

“I don’t think we’re in the buggy whip business just yet. But I sometimes wonder if we’re going to be the last. I’m not nostalgic, but I enjoy, and still think most people do, the printed book. It’s a question of how much you have to accommodate the new technologies and how much you continue to make what you do important to people.”

— Michael Powell, former owner of Powell’s City of Books, on reading and books, Jan. 20

“The plans that are now called Cadillac health plans are what we used to call adequate health plans. There’s been a trend in this country over and over, to blame segments of the population for our health care costs rising out of control. And the truth is that the blame lies in the fact that we don’t have a health system. We don’t allocate our health resources or make decisions in a rational way, based on what the needs are and what our resources are. Instead we have this for-profit industry all trying to eat from our health-care pie.”

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Physicians for National Health Program, doctor, activist, on the health-care system and reform, Feb. 4

“The reality is, to be successful on the housing front, locally and at the state level, we need a big coalition. Part of this is about the confidence and maturity of a movement, and its willingness to build a big tent.”

— Nick Fish, Portland City Commissioner, on resource development for housing and homeless services, March 4

“They created a casino beyond my imagination with our loans. To do this, the old system had to go. Many of the notes were shredded and destroyed.  The Wall Street bankers seemed to think they were invincible and could rewrite real estate law in America in the name of greed and profit. To a great degree they were successful, but now that empire is crumbling around them.”

— Nancie Koerber, Southern Oregon Homeowner Support Group, on Oregon’s real-estate collapse, March 4

“Anything that calls attention to Portland is good to a point. But what I don’t want to happen is for one day people to say, “Oh, Portland’s so over.” We’re not a flash in the pan. We’re not a trend — we’re a city.”

— Courtenay Hameister, host of LiveWire! Radio, on Portland’s media and television attention, June 10

“Government is invisible for many people. We forget that it’s government that gives us sidewalks and street signs as well as invisible infrastructure like the Federal Communications Commission and services like animal control. Government is also disconnected in our minds from community. We need to name and illuminate the vital systems and structures in government that are how we live together in community, and how we reach our communal vision.”

— Janet Byrd, Executive Director, Housing Alliance on how to change the way people look at government, June 23

“Gangs, to me, are a reflection of vacuums, empties: social, economic, political empties. If you have vacuums, the kids get taken in. If you have decent long-range relationships with adults and youths and teachers and students and even the police, you’re going to find that gangs will have a hard time getting a foothold in those communities. Those are the long-range non-expedient policies we have to start looking at now. Everything else is making the problem worse.”

— Luis Rodriguez, former gang member, journalist, activist, on how law enforcement approaches to ending gang violence are counter-productive, Aug. 5

“People are welcomed back as heroes, but the different kinds of injuries that exist make it difficult for them to get hired; (and) there is a huge problem with the economy — all of which is causing homelessness. So it’s changed. Homelessness: It’s happening more when they come back, as opposed to Vietnam, when that was largely five and 10 years after the war was over that they become homeless.”

— Bob Woodruff, journalist on homeless veterans today, Aug. 19

“One of the biggest problems that we face, I think, is a culture of playing it safe. I really do believe in terms of solving our problems both locally and nationally, we’ve got to do things differently. We’ve got to look at things differently. When you think outside the box, when you try something new, you might fail. But why are we doing this unless we are willing to fail? It’s actually something I think that government can learn from the entrepreneurial culture that we have in Portland.”

—  Jeff Cogen, Multnomah County Chair on risk-taking and government, Sept. 1

“Getting a diagnosis with cancer is like getting slapped in the face. What it does is stop your life. When you get the diagnosis, everything you had planned to do is thrown out the window. You feel like everything you have worked for is being taken away. Everything is upside down. You know your health is being taken away; that next week when you go into your first treatment, you’re going to feel like hell. And you’re going to feel like hell until you get through this, and you have no idea how long that will be. You have to grieve and still face each day.”

— Jenny Conlee, musician, on finding out and dealing with breast cancer, Sept. 29

“In terms of style, I’m more inspired by Caravaggio and Rembrandt, because their style is more realistic. Like I said before, you can identify with realistically painted people. You know them. That’s important to me. In terms of Goya and Picasso, it is the subject matter of Goya’s ‘Disasters of War’ and Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ that inspired me and, more importantly, gave me ‘cover’ in the art world of today, where painting political subjects are avoided and even disdained.”

— Max Ginsberg, painter, on realism and politics in art, Oct. 27

Compiled by Street Roots staff

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