covering our community

In defense of local

What’s so great about local anyway?

by Enid R. Spitz

The local trend of Portlandia’s chicken notoriety has both skinny-jeaned proponents and fed up critics. Ford-driving residents who patronised the real local businesses around Portland long before anyone put a bird on it are justifiably annoyed by the new localism.

Oregon pride at Bull Run Distillery, a small-batch company from Portland. Photo by Enid Spitz

Oregon pride at Bull Run Distillery, a small-batch company from Portland. Photo by Enid Spitz

Can’t we all just enjoy Stumptown together?

For just one rosy moment let’s put aside the cut of our pants and the thickness of our bike tires and glasses frames. Let’s take it back to before it was cool, seriously. There is actually something there; delve beyond the hype and you might find:

Ice-cream from a truck takes you back to childhood

…yes, a Tillamook pint from Fred Meyer is local too. There’s just something sweeter about the cream when it’s scooped the old-fashioned way and enjoyed outside a pod.

Food carts at Greeley Ave. and N Killingsworth St. Photo by Enid Spitz

Food carts at Greeley Ave. and N Killingsworth St. Photo by Enid Spitz

Coffee tastes better when you roast it yourself

…or at least it’s more rewarding, worth a laugh with your roommates, and makes your kitchen smell like caffeinated popcorn. Mr. Green Beans at 3932 N. Mississippi Ave.

Mr. Green Beans lets customers take home green beans to roast themselves. photo by Enid Spitz

Mr. Green Beans lets customers take home green beans to roast themselves. photo by Enid Spitz

Running is easier when you’re not alone

…or when there’s a free pint at the finish line. Every First Thursday, Fit Right NW on 23rd Ave. hosts a local urban scavenger hunt sponsored by the surrounding businesses.

MLK Dream Run, August 2012. Photo by Enid Spitz

MLK Dream Run, August 2012. Photo by Enid Spitz

Big boxes don’t have fire dancers

…liabilities aside. Little boxes legitimately want to built a relationship with people to draw them in. Sometimes that’s street fairs with flaming nun-chucks or free fun nights.

Last Thursday on Alberta. Photo by Enid Spitz

Last Thursday on Alberta. Photo by Enid Spitz

It’s a lot easier to open physical doors

…seeing a place/space/brand in real life offers information beyond the wikipedia page. When I worked at a local fine art company, artists and students would visit to see how the oil paints on Wayne Thiebaud’s famous cakes are made. Next day air misses some of the context.

A worker labeling tubes at Portland's Gamblin Artists Colors. Photo by Enid Spitz

A worker labeling tubes at Portland’s Gamblin Artists Colors. Photo by Enid Spitz

The cheering is louder in real life

…surround sound still can’t quite get that floor-vibrating rumble of home city fans.

Portland Timbers fans are notoriously spirited. Photo by Enid Spitz

Portland Timbers fans are notoriously spirited. Photo by Enid Spitz

Forgive the sentimentality as I say that local life has community, heart and personality. And it really doesn’t care if you have ironic moustache-print socks. Of course there are the downsides to small companies and physical outings. But life is ultimately better off of the couch and out in your neighborhood (I say that even living in the crime-riddled netherlands of North Portland). Did I mention the ice-cream and fire dancers?

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