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ECONOMY «   
EDUCATION «   
ENVIRONMENT «   
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SOCIAL ISSUES «   
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URBAN LIVABILITY «    

ENVIRONMENT:
Sustainability

 



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Portlanders have a sound understanding of sustainability and value it deeply.

Section Summary

Portlanders are overwhelmingly grateful for the city’s commitment to environmental and sustainable practices. Many believe that for some time, Portland has served as a unique national and international model by balancing economic and urban development needs with preservation of the environment. People also think Portland should set even higher standards for growing a more sustainable city and region.

Portlanders also recognize the meaning of sustainability as it relates to our economy, cultural and social issues and environment. With this understanding, people request that all of these aspects be considered in future planning and development of the city. They have innovative ideas for how our City government can support businesses, communities and individuals by securing a sustainable infrastructure that will guarantee a healthy, vibrant future for all. This would include an educational system that incorporates sustainability into curricula.

While people like the easy access to sustainable programs and resources, they are aware that not all Portlanders have the same access to existing sustainable living options. Respondents want to see incentive programs for individuals and businesses to implement sustainable practices. There is also a strong call to share these resources with more people by including underrepresented groups and communities as we move collectively towards a more sustainable Portland.

Summary of Main Ideas

  1. Portland should be recognized as a regional, national and global model for environmental stewardship.
  2. Recognize the link between economic development and sustainable communities.
  3. Educational systems need to incorporate sustainability into their curricula.
  4. The City should offer incentives to individuals and businesses to encourage the use of sustainable practices.
  5. Implement policies and systems to ensure that sustainability is inclusive to all populations.

Summary of Tensions and Disagreements

  1. Should public funds be used to promote sustainability?

MAIN IDEAS

  1. Portland should be recognized as a regional, national and global model for environmental stewardship.
  • Portlanders value the city’s commitment to environmental and sustainable practices.
  • Many people envision Portland becoming much more forward-thinking with sustainable policy and systems for residents. 
  • Portland should prepare for the declining fossil fuel era by collaborating at a local and regional level to implement the use of sustainability practices:
    • Transportation: There should be more public transportation and expanded, accessible use of Flexcar;
    • Farming: Make the regional environment more conducive for local farmers to thrive;
    • Education & Awareness: There should be public education and efforts to grow household recycling;
    • Green Building: Develop mandates for sustainable development of buildings; and
    • Recycling: Expand the City recycling program. Public recycling bins should be placed in pedestrian heavy areas such as downtown and in neighborhood shopping districts.
"Change towards a sustainable future.  Being one of the ‘greenest’ cities doesn't matter if we continue to grow and consume our resources faster than they can be replaced.  Technology is not necessarily the answer.  It would seem our economy has to grow to keep from collapsing.  Perhaps we need to change our economy to be in step with nature."

"Portland should take the lead in green building habits, alternative energy production, and sustainable living.  I'd hate to see the city turn into one big, giant anywhere USA full of chain restaurants, SUV's, and subdivisions."

"Stable school funding, more and eco-friendly mass transit, stronger environmental regulations - lets be the smartest, cleanest and greenest—incentives to promote these values such as more support for homeowners to incorporate alternative technologies."

Sample Strategies:

  1. “[In 2030] Portland is a national leader in promoting sustainable businesses, emphasizing a 'small (and local) is beautiful' approach, instead of, for example, recruiting large corporate relocations…”
  2. In the future, Portland will have exceptional alternative transportation options throughout the city, and the means to ensure they are widely used (e.g., land use plans/codes that support transit, TDM programs, etc.) .
  3. Less emphasis on accommodating cars would save transportation funding, and make us more economically competitive as oil prices rise. Low-income and minority residents feel hopeful, valued and secure in the notion that their families have decent housing and good opportunities."

  1. Recognize the link between economic development and sustainable communities.
  • Invest in emerging employment sectors that offer attractive options for Portlanders, especially in sustainable industries.
  • Support businesses and other employers that create family wage jobs. 
  • It may cost money upfront to invest in sustainable energy options for public and private use but, over time, financial and environmental costs will lessen.
  • Common suggestions for influential companies are to: 
    • Convert their own buildings into green facilities;
    • Manufacture green products; and
    • Implement sustainable practices in the workplace. 
  • There should be more reuse of old buildings as well as the development of new, green and sustainable buildings. 
“Foster economic development around sustainable industries--work with businesses to prepare for the future.”

“Recruit manufacturing businesses that focus on green products.”

“Better, good, sustainable jobs programs. City sponsored daycare (to model for state and fed. government.)”

“Can we invest in sustainable technology and industry?”

"[In 2030] Portland will compare favorably with the best U.S. cities on the proportion of employees in 'high end job positions' with comparable salaries. This will allow for a virtual cycle of benefits to citizens, the attraction/retention of a well educated and high skilled workforce, and profitable industries who are willing to pay taxes and invest in Portland as a model of sustainable 'urban development.'"


  1. Educational systems need to begin to incorporate sustainability into their curricula.
  • Students should learn about global environmental problems and "best practices" for sustainability.
  • Curricula on sustainability should take into account unique approaches to learning that engage youth in real world settings.
“[I would like to see] more education on sustainability (our youth especially seeing as they are the future of Portland), and more opportunities to recycle as well as to reuse.  In addition, I would love to see a more holistic approach to the education of our youth - the University Studies Program for our youth - to get the kids out of the classroom and out into the real world - to include environmental sustainability as equally important and math and science and literature."

“[In 2030] we've found a way that our local economy is sustainable yet continues to lead in a global economy. There are jobs for people of all education, but the public schools are leaders in making an authentic, progressive education for all kids to contribute to democracy and capitalism."


  1. The City should offer incentives to individuals and businesses to encourage the use of sustainable practices.
  • Create incentives to encourage the public to use sustainable practices, such as fuel efficient cars, cob or live buildings (eco-roofs, etc.) and ways to employ sustainability in all areas such as energy, materials, water, indoor quality and design. 
  • More support for environmentally-friendly development and buildings.
  • There needs to be continued urban planning that promotes protection of farmland and urban green spaces.
  • Encourage higher density development as much as possible. 
  • Support the development of newly emerging sustainable industries.
  • Prioritize attracting more environmentally friendly businesses and industries.
“…Support growth and provide incentives for sustainable businesses.”

“…Give incentives to build new construction in sustainable ways and to convert old construction to sustainable functioning, and do it by allowing the wealthy to subsidize what the poor can't afford to do.  Shrink the gap by making poor neighborhoods attractive and healthy without driving out the people who live there, just bringing them up into the new standard of living."


  1. Implement policies and systems to ensure sustainability is inclusive to all populations.
  • Portland should include all underrepresented, minority groups when expanding sustainable/environmental programs. 
  • Find ways to allow people of lesser economic means to have access to healthy, local and/or organic foods.
  • Ensure that all youth have access to healthy foods in school.
  • Create real benefits for the public to use public transportation and other alternative forms of transportation in low-income areas of Portland.  
  • Plant more trees and create community gardens in neighborhoods that have higher rates of poverty.
“…Why should 'organic' cost more?  If more poor people could afford to eat organically, we would have a healthier city.  It doesn't make any sense for a healthy lifestyle to only be affordable for the higher economic status people."

“The whole city has the resources to be environmentally sustainable how and where people live and work and play.”

"Preserve good urban planning, with zoning laws and environmental protections designed to reduce energy use, limit sprawl, reduce traffic, and encourage use of public transport and other alternative forms of transportation.”

“More trees and community gardens in neighborhoods, especially poorer neighborhoods.”

TENSIONS AND DISAGREEMENTS

  1. Should public funds be used to promote sustainability?


  2. Respondents disagree over the extent to which the City should foster sustainability. Many people who support sustainability believe the City doesn't go far enough in promoting the use of renewable energy and materials, public transportation, local food, etc… (many point to San Francisco as leading Portland in this regard). They would like to see tax incentives to promote sustainability as well as greater investment of public funds in items such as bicycle infrastructure, green building, community gardens and environmentally-friendly public transportation.

    Others do not think the City should spend public money to promote sustainability. These Portlanders believe that consumers and producers will move towards sustainability of their own accord if it serves their interest to do so. They would prefer to see public funds spent on items such as road improvements, public education and creating a friendlier climate for big businesses. 

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