Portland | Seattle

Well, it’s finally here.  This month, starting early November, after 16+ years in Portland, I’m relocating to Seattle (which also explains my posting absence).  It’s a bittersweet moment, as i am attached to my adopted hometown (after fleeing the cold of North Dakota), but excited about opportunities in work and professional growth, as well as a change of scenery in my move the north.


The reasons are manifold, but i’ve checked out of school (my ongoing PhD at Portland State) and have joined forces with a great Northwest firm Herrera.  It’s a great professional and personal opportunity to expand my horizons and truly practice landscape architecture infused with science and an interdisciplinary team approach.

Portland, OR skyline

I love Portland for many ways (it’s simplicity, beauty, and spirit of community; the food, the Timbers, the accessibility, the 1/2 degree of separation) and why I’m excited to leave – (the over-nostalgic commitment to the weird, the passive aggressive do-gooder one-upsmanship, ; the smallness; the show Portlandia).


This was brought up recently in a HuffPost article “Love Letters: Portland” captured so beautifully the good and the grating of this fairest of large towns.  While most folks i know loved this tribute, i kind of felt it was so much self-delusion, much without knowing why i felt that way.  Again, it’s not without tears, but not without a bit of relief as well to move.

Seattle is a tough city to grasp, both geographically and in personality.  It’s bigger for sure – not just in population but in sprawling immensity and height.  While Portland has water running through it – Seattle is truly a town on the water – with visual and physical access at every corner.  Traffic is crappy, but their bus system and other transit options aren’t bad.  I’m curious to find out more – but this is far from many an unlivable metropolis – and pretty green both figuratively and literally.  And also, pretty weird itself.


While i take a cue from Tiebout and vote with my feet in this move northward for economic opportunities, it is not without a little bit of sadness and a fair amount of trepidation.  That said, they are both relatively liberal cities in the Pacific Northwest with similar climates, politics, and people – so it’s not like moving to Mars.

There have been no shortage of city comparisons (i.e. NPR; Travel & Leisure; SunsetCNN; City Data; GeekWire; on food, livability, hipsters, and of course, soccer.  Take a quick read, there’s a lot of civic pride, with tons of vitriol and humor in between.  We live where we do, and move to other places for a variety of reasons.  If i had my choice I’d probably live in Mexico and write books, but the lack of independent wealth leaves me with needs for fruitful and fulfilling work, and quality of life, amongst all other criteria.   As with most things, rating cities is kind of a pointless exercise.


But anyway, be prepared, not in a comparison of city v. city, but rather of a observational diary from time to time on the differences.  Maybe ranting, nostalgic, or pining… it will be interesting to note the differences


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