6.26.2014

The Myth of Innovation

Remarks given by Sarah Iannarone, Assistant Director, First Stop Portland to 1000 Friends of Oregon Tom McCall Gala, June 20, 2104.

I want to debunk for you what I'm calling The Myth of Innovation, the idea that anything other than the relentless hunt for the next best game-changing idea is synonymous with complacency, stagnation, and decline. As Wayne Gretzky put it (please forgive the hockey reference in the midst of the World Cup), the mandate that we must "Skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it's been." Don’t get me wrong, change is inevitable and we must continue looking for creative solutions to problems that arise. However, I’m here to tell you that--based on the feedback I’m getting--we’re doing something right here and we need to keep our eyes on the puck at our feet.

So, who am I to tell you this?

What I’m sharing with you is based on 5 years hosting over 5000 visitors who’ve dropped by Portland to see what’s so special about this place. As the Assistant Director of First Stop Portland, I occupy an interesting position in an important conversation--learning what matters to leaders from around the globe, hearing the questions they’re asking, the answers they’re getting, and capturing their sometimes very frank feedback about how things are working here.


Debriefing visiting leaders from DaNang, Vietnam

Like it or not, we’ve become a model for the world.

As I speak:
  • 6 Oregon mayors are in Dallas, Texas presenting to a conference of mayors from around the country on the transformative power of collaboration…. spreading the message "There are no republican forests to protect; no democratic jobs to create."
  • Brookings economist Bruce Katz is applauding how "weird and crunchy" Portland just happens to be one of America's most global regions with the third-highest export intensity in the US
  • College educated individuals under 40 (the ever desirable "creative class") are migrating here at remarkably high rates--in good economic times and bad--along with affluent empty-nesters and retirees
  • The New York Times' love affair with our artisan culture continues week in and week out they gush over our "rules-be-damned style…divorced from old-school notions of propriety, service and polish"
  • And I stay extremely busy at First Stop Portland hosting the hundreds of people—from the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to the Planning Czar of Auckland, New Zealand—who visit each year to see for themselves whether what's really going on here lives up to the hype
So, does it? 

5.09.2014

My afternoon with Auckland's Regional Planning Czar

Submitted by: Soleil Rowan-Caneer
First Stop Portland Student Ambassador

We meet in the lobby of the Marriott Waterfront and hit the pavement. I'm with Dr. Roger Blakeley of Auckland, New Zealand. We stroll down to Tom McCall Waterfront Park, seat ourselves on a bench overlooking the Willamette and open a window into the street level experience of Portland. After a quick intro about our interests and concerns, we walk south along the river towards the South Waterfront District, enjoying the teeming life and vitality of the park and the activity along the boardwalk on a beautiful, sunny day in May. Perfect Portland spring weather.

Roger came to Portland after participating in New York RPA's World Cities Regional Planning Workshop. He was one of 13 experts that were invited from around the world to advise on the most recent iteration of their regional plan. Roger tells us their goals were to “share world best practices on Regional Planning, give advice on the preparation of the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut Regional Plan, and be an ongoing international peer review group as the plan is prepared, and prepare a global manual on Metropolitan Regional Planning.”

In 2010, the Auckland region boldly merged all of their local governments into a single entity, The Auckland Council. Roger Blakeley is the Chief Planning Officer on the council, and one of his main roles is to develop a 30-year “Auckland Plan” before the end of the year. This is a visioning plan, similar to Metro's 2040 Concept Plan, that will guide future development for Auckland.



3.18.2014

Oregon’s 'One Tough Mother' shares wisdom, humor with FSP students and Lanzhou MBAs

Submitted by Soleil Rowan-Caneer
Student, Community Development
Portland State University

“Work hard. Always tell the truth so you don’t have to bother remembering the lies. And always trust that if you have your heart and soul in it you will be successful,” Gert Boyle tells us. She is speaking to a crowd of Chinese businessmen and women who are hanging on her every word. “Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill,” she advises with a wry smile.



Business leaders in the MBA Executive Leadership training program from Lanzhou University in China have returned for their annual trip to Portland. They come to experience first-hand executive leadership in practice and to learn more about collaborative models of governance and sustainable business practices in cooperation with the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University.

EMBA Leadership Training Program is a partnership between Lanzhou University and Portland State University's Center for Public Service in the Hatfield School of Government.
On the final day of their two day tour with First Stop Portland,we were fortunate enough to meet Gert Boyle, the businesswoman behind the successful Columbia Sportswear Company. When the company faltered after the death of her husband, she refused to sell it for the $1400 that was offered, saying she would rather run it into the ground herself. Today Columbia Sportswear is worth over $2 billion. Scott Welch, Corporate Outreach Coordinator for the company, explains that it is largely through her bold leadership that, against all odds, Columbia became one of the most successful businesses to ever come out of Portland.



3.13.2014

First Stop's "fine-grained" approach informs Thailand's Smart Growth efforts

Submitted by: Edward "Cody" Kent
PhD Student, Urban Studies and Planning
Portland State University

The pressure put on natural resources by the increasing human population and rising standards of living is the defining challenge of the 21st century. This challenge is both local and global in scope, specific and universal in nature. The new and shifting character of these challenges means no single group has a monopoly on solutions. We are all learning from each other to solve our own local problems and the global issues. I recently became involved with First Stop Portland as a course requirement for PSU Professor Charles Heying’s "Green Economics" class. As a term project, students are required to step out of the classroom and work with a business, non-profit, or public agency to develop a solution to a sustainable development problem. I was immediately interested in working with First Stop Portland on their task of assisting with the sharing of sustainable development knowledge between Portland and other cities around the country and world.




Although I’m currently a first year PhD student in Urban Studies at Portland State University, I started as an undergraduate studying geology. As clichéed as it sounds, there are two kinds of geology programs: those that focus on field methods and those that focus on computer modeling. My program was one of those programs which focused on field methods and I spent a refreshing proportion of my undergraduate education hiking over the country side to map geologic structures. The value of feeling the texture of different sizes of mineral grains between fingers or the distance between features by how long it takes to walk from one to another cannot be overstated. This is the same kind of experiential knowledge provided by both the community-based learning project and First Stop Portland. For my project, I helped plan and lead a tour for a delegation of public officials and representatives of companies from Thailand, primarily from Koh Samui City.

2.27.2014

Portland's own "Emerging Young Leader" connects with ELEEP Delegation

Submitted by Lauren Patton
Student, Masters in Urban and Regional Planning
Portland State University

My first experience with First Stop Portland gave me a glimpse of what cities need to be successful: individuals who care about true progress. Organizations may proclaim their green inclinations, but the everyday actions of individuals who make up those organizations are far more important. The Emerging Leaders in Environmental and Energy Policy Network (ELEEP) is a self-selected group of leaders who want to influence policy within their organizations. The delegation I worked with consisted of Americans and Europeans living all over the world who have taken it upon themselves to push for a green revolution within their organizations. I met a lawyer working for the EPA, an Austrian working on transportation in Mexico City, and a dozen other professionals from a variety of locations and organizations.

While riding the Yellow Line MAX train with them, I realized that the world needs people in every profession looking for game changing solutions. Getting off at the next stop, we came across one small example. We learned that the chains that act as a barricade at the MAX stations are actually made of recycled milk jugs instead of metal. The practice saved the project a ton of money, not to mention conservation of resources. The ELEEP delegation wanted to know where that idea came from-- at what point in the development process did someone think of that?  It was not an order from someone at the top of the project, our tour guide told us, but rather someone involved in the construction process in touch with the day-to-day details.

It all comes back to discrete actions taken by individuals; we can all continue to do our jobs as normal or we can find ways to incorporate innovative green solutions. 

The ELEEP delegation was in Portland to learn about our successes, but in reality there were just as many things that we could learn from them. Their time in Portland was really a two-way dialogue: they spent a day giving presentations to Portland's leadership at City Hall and spent another day hearing from our experts. I was fortunate to spend a day with them, because now I have a better idea of what it takes for cities to succeed. Cities need professionals who will take it upon themselves to innovate because bottom up solutions can mean just as much as top down ones.

12.12.2013

Spotlight on China: Portland seize opportunity

Submitted by: Nancy Hales
Winter 2013

When I travel to other cities I count two things 1) building cranes and 2) bikes.  To me, building cranes mean economic activity, and bikes livability.

I know, it’s an imperfect measure.  But by this metric the bustling Chinese cities I visited recently as part of a diplomatic mission from Portland--Shanghai, Suzhou, Kunming, Chenggong, Xi’an, Changsha and Huangpu River District--are exploding with activity... and opportunity.

Street market, Shanghai

8.06.2013

Trade/Scientific Partnership between Portland and the Brazilian city of Jaraguá do Sul

Guest columnist: Regina Scharf
Deep Brazil

Portland’s Mayor, Charlie Hales, and Dieter Janssen, his counterpart from the Brazilian city of Jaraguá do Sul, signed a pioneer memorandum of trade and scientific partnership to exchange sustainability expertise and urban planning strategies. The event happened in late May, after a five-day visit of a delegation led by Janssen that included other authorities from Jaraguá do Sul: Benyamin Parham Fard, president of the Jourdan Institute, the municipality planning agency; Elson Cardoso, Secretary of Education; Márcio Manoel da Silveira, Director of Economic Development; and Douglas Anjo M.D., Director of the local hospital. The study tour was led by Altair Assumpção, from Brazilian consulting firm Sustainable Hub, and organized by First Stop Portland.

From left: Douglas Anjo, Benyamin Fard, mayors Charlie Hales and Dieter Janssen, Altair Silva, Elson Cardoso and Márcio Manoel da Silveira.
Located in the Southern state of Santa Catarina, Jaraguá do Sul has a population of 148,000 and an Economy strongly based in the textile, food and the metallurgic industries. Annually, it hosts important festivals, such as one of the biggest classical music festivals in the country and the Schützenfest, local version of Munich’s Oktoberfest, that also keeps some similarities with Portland’s massive Rose Festival.