The Green Living Guy

From the outside Mayor Charlie Hales’ first term might appear to have been a huge success: He has spent the summer jetting to the Vatican for Pope Francis’s historic encyclical on climate change and to the White House for the unveiling of Obama’s Clean Power Plan, but back home Portland residents are increasingly voicing concerns that their green city is losing its pride of place.

As they wrote:

For decades, Portland had a vision: Long before green issues and sustainability became a national buzzword, the Pacific Northwest city of 600,000 had seemed to speed past other U.S. cities on solar-powered jet engines when it comes to environmental issues:

Colorful lights reflecting off the Willamette River in Downtown Portland, Oregon

In the 1970s the city ripped out a highway along the river and replaced it with a 36-acre park. Moreover in 1993 it was the first major U.S. city to enact a plan to reduce carbon emissions. Portland’s light rail system, known as the MAX, became a model for other cities, and progressive bicycle policies have nudged the city’s bike commute rate to 7.2 percent, the highest in the nation.

Explore all “What Works” coverage, including last month’s focus on Minneapolis at

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