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the seattle, san francisco, portland triangle

May 13, 2008


good news from portland and san francisco causes me to wonder why these forward thinking plans are not heeded in seattle as well. is it the politicians? the constituency? the money?

environmental foresight in portland is particularly impressive given that it is the smallest. ranked by metro population*:metro population-city population-urban density (person/sq mi)

  1. los angeles (12,875,587 – 3,849,378 – 8,205)
  2. san francisco (7,264,887 – 764,976 – 15,834)
  3. seattle (3,919,624 – 582,174 – 6,901)
  4. portland (2,337,565 – 568,380 – 4,200)
*i include los angeles here but not above to emphasize the loss of that city permanently to the hegemony of car culture.

i would like to conclude with a rumination highlighted on portland gentrification, lifted from a comment on bikeportland, on the american situation that has brought upon this stubborn system that forwards the power of the few at the expense of the many. power and money are always in the wrong hands. everybody thinks they are right.

I would argue that people drive so much because they are compelled to do
so: the entire urban environment was constructed to make it the main form
of transportation, plus public transportation in this country was 
purposefully made inefficient and shitty inorder to boost the number of
cars and the profit of those who make it....I believe this idea of 
personal choice and freedom, when applied to such scenarios, simply 
reflect certain MYTHS spread out in this country - the myths of 
democracy and the idea of freedom, which, in practice is no more than
freedom of consumption - which is no freedom at all since the choices 
are actually put out by the powers to be.

many chinese counter western claims to impartiality in media and politics by insisting that we are censored by the power of money. each election brings a so-called “better of two evils” choice between ivy league-raised cronies. we live in an aristocracy, but western arrogance prevents us from realizing it.

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