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3.09.2015

Crafting a Community Identity

In the realm of science fiction, the city represents the pinnacle of technical prowess. We watch films like Metropolis (1927) and Blade Runner (1982) and bear witness to these labyrinths of concrete skyscrapers while a backdrop of pounding, humming industrial machinery executes the work of the system. It's the kind of busy, monotonous, disconnected "utopia" that might have inspired George Tooker to paint this little dandy:


Portland, Oregon, doesn't fall into those traps, though. Portland's motto: The City that Works. That's a clever little turn of phrase, evoking both its blue-collar roots in the shipping industry and its non-traditional approach to urban planning. In the 1970s, visionary Oregon Governor Tom McCall asked that all Oregon cities draw an urban-growth boundary around their periphery. This allowed farms and other agricultural concerns to maintain some autonomy, while also requiring cities to plan development carefully. Portland was sprawling at the time, and McCall's edict led to a Renaissance in the downtown core. A beautiful public park was built along the river. Neighborhoods reinvented themselves. Portland grew cautiously, designing a city that is pedestrian and biker-friendly. Even though this message recently was ordered to be removed, it's an apt visual metaphor for my hometown:


I love Jacksonville, Florida. It's been an awesome place for us, and it's exciting to see how the near future will shape up. We love it for the beaches, fishing, golf, camping, and climate. The people are friendly and the town is growing quickly. There's a ton of great food here, and many of the elements that made Portland so livable (arts and entertainment, chief among them) are evident in our city. Take a look at the city that Jaguars' owner Shad Kahn envisions for our future. While nothing is set in stone on how quickly this may come to pass, Kahn is energetic and he gets results. I expect that this will, in large part, take place, bringing that final element into the identity that Jacksonville sorely needs: the downtown core.


As Kahn loves to say to the local media when it comes to breaking news, stay tuned!

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