I’ve lived and worked near Congress Square Park since its inception in 1982.

As a teenage MeCA student, living in the Eastland, I survived the building’s fire.

I also witnessed a positive transformation by tandem virtue of the park and the Portland Museum of Art. The public space became the fulcrum point for our nascent Arts District.

I’m also one among many supporters of the Citizens Initiative to Protect Portland Parks – not simply in support of rejuvenating Congress Square Park, but also to affirm the appropriate stewardship for all the city’s parks.

Voting “yes” is a vote of confidence for amelioration instead of elimination. Existing neglect must not discourage vision for the potential of our designated public spaces.

Care invites constructive participation. An inspiring example is Post Office Park, with its inviting landscaped design.

I visit our urban parks for simple respite, with books and coffee, while also recognizing the value of these places for events and festivals and as open piazzas among built structures.

Our city parks must be treated as protected land. Public parks must not be leveraged as commercial real estate.

At a time in which Portland’s population is polarized between affluent and destitute, with many squeezed into narrower margins, city officials must consider the spirit of our home.

Selling sanctioned park space to private developers shows lack of faith.

The precedent of selling public parks demonstrates pessimism about our community, and negativity about its prospects.

The old saying that “few doubt, but even fewer trust” reminds us to take the lead, be those who trust, daringly renew, foresee possibilities and make the desert bloom.

Abraham Schechter


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