I believe in hometowns. I believe that I am a native Oregonian, a native Portlander even though I spent my childhood in New York. When people ask if I am from Oregon I say yes. Yes. I believe that being from somewhere is more about feeling than fact.
I know my city’s spirit because my job has taken me all over. Criss crossing from industrial HW 30, Mcmansion Forest Heights, funky gentrifying SE, and North Portland pulling itself up from its sketchy past. The variety and evolution of this city keeps me spellbound. Sometimes I cannot help but pull over and wander through tiny Indian grocery stores or stop to watch the rambunctious tumbling in a dog park. And I have grown right along with the city, in a way Portland has been my parent.
My belief crystallized recently while listening to Morning Edition. A guest on the show claimed that Denver had more going on in craft brewing than anywhere else in the country. That Denver was the “napa valley of beer”. His assertion made me so indignant I squealed at the radio “liar! It’s Portland”. I was instantly fired up to defend my city’s reputation. Portland is the home of craft brewing with more microbrews per capita than any other city. We have the largest craft beer festival in the country. Brewing came to Portland 150 years ago with sailors and sea traffic and grew with beer making at its heart. And I knew at that moment why I love Portland so.
Micro brewing is an emblem of my city’s independent quirky spirit. Craft beer is the concentrated labor of many hands from the hops painstakingly trellised on Oregon farms to the brew master with years of practice. To me micro brewing symbolizes Portland’s homespun local products-Pearl Bakery bread, Ancient Heritage cheese, Gathering Together farm’s produce, eggs from Raynblest farms. All equally available to upscale restaurants and farmers marker shoppers with food stamps. I love being part of a chain of hands that extends from the farm’s dirt right into my kitchen.
In a way I believe in this city because it is literally a part of me. And it is my belief in Portland that makes it my hometown.
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