Gentrification is one of the foremost issues facing cities today, and Portland in particular. The last twenty years have seen the transformation of vast swathes of inner Portland into landscapes for the urban gentry. Transit is frequently colloquially linked to this geography of gentrification, with streetcars essentially justified as a development tool and the frequent transit network being the locus of neighborhood appreciation. At the same time, transit is vital for the mobility of people without a car, who are frequently poorer than the overall population. This raises a potential contradiction in equity—those who benefit from transit those most may be displaced by its provision within a hot housing market. As part of my concentration and my studies at Lewis & Clark College, I undertook an independent study into issues of gentrification and transit in Portland, OR. I have chosen to get involved with the local bus riders union, OPAL, to help focus this research.
I intend to:
- Learn how the local bus riders union (OPAL) functions in relation to both other transit riders and the city government
- Gain a better understanding of how different communities understanding and experience urban change and gentrification, beyond simple platitudes.
- Further develop my own sense of transit and gentrification in Portland through direct outreach, periodically writing about those experiences in conjunction with other academic research on the topic.
- Hone my research skills and focus my understanding of my own concentration, the politics of transportation in gentrifying cities, via an interdisciplinary situated approach.