Monday, October 24, 2005

Context is Everything

This weekend we took a trip to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho for a conference. As can be seen in the above photo, it's a gorgeous place.

However, much of the town away from the lake is like any other town -- small shopping centers and residences.

This led Jaru to note that the only real difference between Couer d'Alene and, say Route 1 in Central New Jersey --

--is that Coeur d'Alene has nicer trees and mountains in the background of its strip malls:

While on the trip we had a sudden urge to check out the other major cities -- and zipped across the state to Seattle, which has a nice international community:

Then down the coast a bit to Portland:

The mayor of Portland figured out that the best way to revitalize the downtown area was to fill it with slacker youth -- and it worked wonderfully.

Portland's downtown has a wonderful vibrancy -- moreover, it feels authentic, not glittery and grating like downtowns designed for tourists, but a place where locals would come regularly, and even live there.

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