Parents were in town for a week, their I think 4th visit to Portland and I’m scraping the barrel as far as destinations go, so we broadened our scope to the region
When I take the motorcycle on non-freeway cross-country drives I’ve been struck by how rural areas contain 50+ salt of the earth types and like, fuckups. At best someone who had a kid at 17 but otherwise holds it together, but it’s really obvious that no one stayed who could otherwise.
And that wasn’t the case with these small towns. Just 1hr out of Portland but with Oregon’s urban growth boundaries that means farmy, but these towns still had downtowns with live stores, people with light in their eyes, all that.
But. It became clear that if these towns were still something they were that because they were performing themselves, their small-town authenticity, for Portland’s benefit. The museums were weirdly well-capitalized and labor-intensive for how indifferently curated they were, speckled with exhibits from all manners of local stakeholder, enthusiastic about promoting themselves for conferences and weddings and finally I was like “OH, these are economic development projects.”
You know how “wine country”, with its vineyards, tastings, wedding venues, B&Bs, incongruously good restaurants, is reliably in day/weekend trip range of the big city? That’s a tried-and-true development strategy driven by land-grant colleges, pioneered by Berkeley with Napa and Cornell with the Finger Lakes.
Anyway, the tour guide at the Frank Lloyd Wright house at Oregon Gardens and I had a connection where it was like “oh God, if I lived in this town we absolutely would’ve dated at some point, huh”. And I noticed her flaws (me? I’m perfect) but they were really a lack of polish, as you see outside of the cities, and not studied malice, as you see in the cities