New York City has Central Park, and Portland, Ore., has an elaborate trail system that extends throughout the city, from Forest Park in the northwest to the southwest hills. Central Park has its nooks and crannies where homeless can hide, but nothing like the camps found in available green spaces in Portland. Portland’s urban woods […]
Pamela Fitzsimmons lives in Portland, Ore., and was a reporter and editor at newspapers in California and Washington state for more than 25 years.
She grew up in Medford, Ore., a working-class town that was once populated with pear orchards and formerly home to lumber mills, fruit-packing houses and excellent public schools (among the required reading in senior year: Arthur Koestler’s “Darkness at Noon”). She worked her way through the University of Oregon as a forest fire lookout for the U.S. Forest Service, stationed on mountains in the Umpqua, Wallowa-Whitman and Willamette national forests.
In the decade of the 90’s, like hundreds of other reporters in Southern California, she wrote about gangs, drugs, deteriorating schools, urban sprawl, poverty and its offsprings: more babies, more poverty, more social problems. In her case, the focus was on San Bernardino where smog obscured the San Bernardino mountains, and there was never a hint of orange blossoms in the air.
By the time she returned to the Pacific Northwest, parts of it were starting to look like San Bernardino, minus the smog. Gangs, strip-commercial sprawl, declining schools, the meth epidemic, illegal immigration – California’s bad dreams had moved north. Didn’t anyone read the news and see this coming?