Greetings from the air, somewhere west of Salt Lake City and en route to Portland, Oregon. I lived in Portland from 2004 to 2019, a period - or most of it - I've come to think of as steered by the builders. The city began to fray around 2016. There were multiple reasons, including disillusionment with the Portland dream not delivering fast enough, or at all, especially for young people, and resentment and fear of newly-elected president Trump, and what a sizable portion of the citizenry believed he represented: intolerance, institutional inequality, racism and misogyny.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. They're right about that. For example, consider the monumental portrait of an earlier generation of Portland "Builders" that was the subject of a news blurb in the Portland Tribune in 2015: https://www.portlandtribune.com/lifestyle/features/hiltons-prominent-people-portrait-on-its-way-to-historical-society-museum/article_24d4971d-9c9d-5661-b7fc-e30726792d35.html
Now, imagine how many thousands of words it would take to write the biographies and describe the many civic contributions of the 54 movers and shakers pictured in this mid-90s group portrait by the late Bill Papas.
Here's an even greater challenge that should appeal to any journalist with a passion for Portland history and politics: How many of the 54 have more or less similar counterparts today in terms of the type, scope and impact of their contributions to the city? How many of these men and women do not have anyone to carry on their legacy today? In other words, which of Portland's needs aren't getting the attention they deserve from movers and shakers today? Are there new movers and shakers - "Builders," in other words - who are meeting significant needs that didn't exist in the mid-90s?
It was disheartening to hear, on this morning's Smoke 'Em with Matt Welch, that you were not able to add a local journalist to your talk there. That seems like such an obvious thing. Portland's journalists should want to be telling Portland's stories.