Portland, Oregon

In a few days I am moving out to Portland. I will be attending Portland State University through participation in the National Student Exchange. Apparently I am the first UNC-Wilmington student to go to PSU in eleven years, so I am definitely very fortunate to have this opportunity. PSU has a 1-1 exchange program, meaning for me to go there a PSU student must come to UNCW. PSU is also on the quarter system with a unique approach to education offering more night and weekend classes than traditional universities. I’ll be there for a minimum of 9 months and will be taking whichever classes catch my eye.

At the moment I’m enrolled in Environmental Sociology, Global Sustainable Development, Social justice in Film, Intro to Literature, and Intro to Philosophy; though that might change. Classes start the 27th of September.

Why did I decide to come to Portland?

Just a few reasons..

  • In 1979 Oregon adopted the “Urban Growth Boundary” which limits large scale development in each metropolitan area in Oregon. That is the reason why if you drive 15 minutes outside downtown Portland you find more forests and farmland, instead of endless suburbia. This has also resulted in one of the most vibrant cities in our country, as more emphasis has been placed on developing vertically rather than horizontally. There are ongoing urban renewal and revitalization projects, creating numerous parks and sustainable buildings. This model has been extremely successful for Portland and other cities in the state and has real potential to be implemented across the United States.
  • Public transportation is the norm in Portland, driving a car couldn’t be more inconvenient with state-of-the-art light rail trains and an abundance of bike paths. Approximately 8% of commuters bike to work, the highest proportion of any major U.S. city and about 10 times the national average.
  • It doesn’t get much greener than this. According to Grist magazine, Portland, Oregon is the second most environmentally-friendly city in the world trailing only Reykjavík, Iceland. Portland launched its climate change initiative in 1993, when it became the first local government in the U.S. to adopt a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The plan included elements addressing: land-use planning, transportation, energy efficiency, solid waste and recycling, urban forestry, renewable energy. In October 2009, the Portland City Council unanimously adopted the Climate Action Plan that will cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. On campus, sustainability projects and initiatives have taken off under the Climate Action Plan initiated by PSU president Wim Wiewel, which sets PSU on a course to become carbon neutral over the next 30 years.( http://www.pdx.edu/sustainability/climate-action-plan
  • It is really green. With literally hundreds of parks, forests, and wildlife refuges in the area it offers the outdoor enthusiast a divine variety of places to get lost and unwind. A few worth highlighting: Forest Park is the largest wilderness park within city limits in the United States, covering more than 5,000 acres. Portland is also home to Mill Ends Park, the world’s smallest park (a two-foot-diameter circle, the park’s area is only about 0.3 square meters). Washington Park is just west of downtown, and is home to the Oregon Zoo, the Portland Japanese Garden, and the International Rose Test Garden. Nearby is Council Crest Park, the highest point in Portland.
  • Issac Brock, Black Francis, and Johnny Marr all call Portland home, front-men and guitarist for Modest Mouse, The Pixies, and The Smiths, respectively. The city is saturated with music and the arts.

Viewed from across the Willamette River in SE Portland.

In June 2007, Portland State University (PSU) joined the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). The commitment challenged the University to begin tracking greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and develop a climate action plan to reduce emissions. PSU’s most complete emissions inventory was for fiscal year 2008 (July 2007-June 2008). Using this 2008 data as a baseline, this Climate Action Plan (CAP) aims to provide a framework for advancing PSU’s climate stewardship over the next 30 years.


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