Editor's Note

Nothing Was the Same

Editor-in-chief Marty Patail reflects on a changing Portland

By Marty Patail June 1, 2020 Published in the June 2020 issue of Portland Monthly

I got an email this week saying the new business cards I had ordered back in January were finally delivered to our office. Business cards? I thought, remembering that ancient custom of putting little paper germ carriers right in strangers’ hands. What were we thinking?

Yeah. The last time I sat down to write one of these editor’s notes, I was in our seventh-floor office downtown, looking out at Powell’s Books and Living Room Theaters and Sizzle Pie, seemingly immovable pillars of our city’s tourist-clogged core, as permanent and unquestionable as the faces carved into Mount Rushmore. The weather was getting better then—the classic February fakeout—and as my mind defrosted my summer calendar was already filling up: weekend trips to the coast, to Chicago, to my favorite car campsite out past Estacada. (No, I’m not going to say where it is.) The Weeknd was coming to the Moda in July, hell yes, and just how many Timbers games could I make this season?

Now: Will we ever have meetings in that downtown office again? Will we ever feel comfortable spilling beers on each other at Providence Park again? Will the crush of warm bodies at a concert, once a source of energy, now always inspire fear? And as an affectionate Cancer/Enneagram Type 6, I wonder what’s to become of hugging. The unemployment rate is unfathomably high. Restaurants and retailers we once thought of as invincible are in serious financial straits. There are many Oregonians risking their lives to make war with the virus itself: the nurses, the CNAs, the doctors, the bus drivers, the grocery store workers. And how can we ever begin to absorb how much—how many of us—we’ve lost?

So what now? Is it too soon to take stock of where we need to go and what will change? I don’t think so. The thing about us Portlanders is that we don’t just react. We see bad in the world, and we attempt to do ... stuff. We try things. We ask to help out. Sure, not every action rises to the level of heroism, and that’s just fine. All of it adds up to something bold, and new, and hopefully good.

This month, we’re devoting our issue to the good things Portlanders have done during this crisis, and what they hope to do in the future: How will our city, our state, and the fundamental nature of human relationships, employment, education, and entertainment change? What can we build from what was knocked down? Who will we be when we come out of this?

Nothing in our world is as solid as we think it is—and everything has an end, a time to go. But at least we can figure out what will come in its place.

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