Where do other conversations on urban issues happen?

Where are there (Portland-specific) discussions going on about transit? Housing? Land use? Are there similar institutions to BikePortland for these topics that I’ve just never been aware of? I know Jonathan covers parts of many of these issues, but it seems there could be more close coverage/discussion of some of this to build more awareness and advocacy around these issues.

For example, one thing that currently concerns me is how poorly balanced the benefits and burdens are of TriMet’s A Better Red (Red Line Extension) project. Who if anyone is discussing this and elevating it to pressure TriMet to consider designs that better balance things, broadening their perspective beyond “there is an operational problem and this is a solution to it”?

What’s going on with Rose Lanes right now? Southwest Corridor and its peripheral projects? Who has done the post-mortem on the Metro-run SW Corridor (and Powell Division) process so we get less harebrained and ineffectual transit projects? How’s the Get Moving 2020 bond measure?

I hope I’m just not fully plugged in and there is a community of folks aware of and tracking these things in fora as accessible and democratic as BikePortland can be at its best! Are others interested in seeing these topics discussed as well?

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Deep sigh.

Your question really gets at my gut. These are all such important topics that you’ve mentioned and I want very much for BikePortland to cover them more often and more in-depth.

In the past we have covered them, sometimes very comprehensively. I think at one point BikePortland was doing the best housing/land use and transit coverage of any outlet in the region by far. That was possible was because we had a very capable and smart reporter on staff named @michaela Michael Andersen. His “Real Estate Beat” column and knowledge of transit was outstanding and it brought a whole new reader base and set of rich discussions to BikePortland. Those discussions (and readers) then cross-pollinated with other topics and… well… the rising tide lifted all boats as they say.

In 2016 we were hitting on all cylinders and actually won two journalism awards!

Michael is no longer on staff and as a result there’s a lot of very important stuff not being covered.

With only one reporter (:wave: :wave:), our capacity is extremely limited. And then consider my personal skillset, perspectives, and editorial opinions/style and the result is what you see now - a mix of stories but nothing like the depth and breadth we were once able to pull off when there were two of us.

In a perfect world we’d have the revenue to find another great reporter and keep them on staff. BikePortland can scale very very well and we have excellent fundamentals for growth, but at the end of the day it takes money.

It’s an interesting paradox: BikePortland could be so much more with more regular staff and writers… But it’s probably true that one of the reasons we have survived is because we are so lean and we don’t have staff bills to pay.

No excuses! I need to raise the funds to build a team. That’s been my achilles heel for years and it remains so. I appreciate this nudge as I’ve added those stories/projects you mention to my list to look into. I will do the coverage I can to hopefully spur some much-needed discussion and info-sharing about them. It might not be the best coverage or enough coverage, but I’ll try to do something.

(If anyone is reading this and wants to write anything about any topic, please drop a line. I am always open and looking for good writers/reporters and you never know… You could end up being our next news editor/staff writer).

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Jonathan is, characteristically, very nice to me but a little too hard on himself - he’s got an extremely unusual array of skills, among them being a good boss and editor, and BikePortland is the inspiring model of deep/narrow independent policy-focused local journalism that it is because of them. I had the time of my life reporting for BikePortland, and I was motivated to do so because of the remarkably informed, engaged audience of readers that have gathered around Jonathan’s 15 years of hard work.

As a reader, I love when BikePortland is able to broaden its scope a little bit, but I also value that it’s great at what it does and can’t do everything. Before Jonathan and I teamed up, I had a vision of trying to create a rainbow of other topical newsrooms that could work beside BikePortland to take on other issue areas like the ones you mention and more. I spent three years on one such startup (called Portland Afoot, about public transit) and did some good work but it was really, really hard. I couldn’t build either the skills or audience Jonathan has achieved.

I hope other entrepreneurs will keep trying things, and I hope BikePortland will find a way to scale up again at some point. (It’ll need to if it’s ever going to survive its gifted founder.)

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City Club of Portland and the PSU College of Urban & Public Affairs come to mind. And neighborhood associations, of course.

I hope you’ll continue commenting on BikePortland, too, KanaO!

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Thank you for your detailed response, @Jonathan_Maus. @michaela is right: you are way too hard on yourself!

My original comment was in no way meant to be critical of the crucial community forum you’ve made BikePortland. And I’m glad to see you have detailed thoughts about the future and growth of the platform; the forums are a great addition!

I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect one platform to cover everything city-related in the same depth with which you cover all things bike. Growing up and going to college in Seattle, there was (and is!) a thriving ecosystem of blogs and other news outlets covering urban issues—fora which have been absolutely crucial as sandboxes for advocacy and Overton Window-shifting that has led to and guided billions of dollars of active transportation investment. I was hoping I had just missed out on a similar ecosystem hiding somewhere during my several years living here.

I’ve been thinking for a long time about how best to put my own shoulder to the wheel of providing space and content for dialogue on issues I feel are important; it’s great that it seems there is still space to fill, though by the sounds of it, filling that space has been challenging for two immensely talented and resourceful people such as yourselves.

Thank you, @Alan_1.0! For those resources (I totally forgot about the CUPA Friday Transportation Seminars!) and your encouragement (the BP comment section can be a tough crowd!).

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There used to be a decently active community on PortlandTransport but it’s been dead for 5+ years I think. The person who ran it (Chris Smith) has been busy with community activism and various boards. He’s currently busy running for the Metro Council, so I think we can forgive him for letting it fall by the wayside.

Still, I do miss having another venue to discuss public transportation projects.

Also, I’ll agree with others that have said it. I do love when BikePortland can cover other important topics such as land use, urban design, and transit, but I don’t want that to come at the expense of the current content.

I don’t know if there would be interest, but maybe an occasional forum post to discuss those topics? Sort of the like the Monday headlines, but with more emphasis on some of the non-bike headlines?

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Sounds like a great idea. But don’t wait for someone else to start the thread.

I encourage you and everyone else to take full advantage of these Forums. Also keep in mind that if discussions about these projects/issues get started here we can use those to help build a story. That is, we can use the leads and sources generated here to ask agencies better questions, hit the ground running on research, etc…

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