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Having only spent four-ish days in Portland, it’s hard to give a thorough evaluation of the city. When I first flew in, I was greeted by equal parts mountain horizon covered in green trees and city skyline with glass buildings. The bridges and river are beautiful (I learned from my job that “rivering” is a common Oregonian activity; it involves everything from floating down to just sitting and picnicking next to the river). My first morning I ran to a park close to the dorms and up a mountain side which provided amazing views of the city on both sides of the river. From my first impressions, Portland is very different from other cities I have been to. Even while being downtown, the streets were particularly empty, especially during the weekends. Walking around west Portland, I was able to see more residential areas, where there were many smaller restaurants and boutiques, which have a homier vibe.

There is a striking contrast between the West and East sides of Portland. My organization, Friends of Trees, is located over the river on the East side. One interesting fact I learned on my first day is the west Portland has 60-80% tree canopy coverage, while east Portland has only 14% canopy coverage. Canopy coverage is also strongly correlated to income and quality of life in neighborhoods. Like any city, Portland has a diverse set of neighborhoods to match its diverse set of citizens. Today, I was able to travel through many parts of north and east Portland through my organizations Neighborhood Tree program, in order to straighten “leaner” trees that had been planted by volunteers within the past year. North Portland surrounds University of Portland and is right next to the river. East Portland has less trees but is home to the adidas headquarters.

I am excited for many aspects of my time in Portland in the upcoming weeks. I love the fresh produce from the farmers market and enjoy cooking my own meals, but I also can’t wait to explore the food scene and try different restaurants (especially going to Voodoo donuts when the line is not a mile long). I am excited to take advantage of the nature and parks that the city has to offer, like our hike in Forest Park next weekend. In terms of my organization, I am excited to work with all of the fantastic people I have met as well as step out into the field through the Green Space program.

Overall, my first impressions of Portland were fantastic. I think the city has so many wonderful things to offer and people to meet. It’s a city where I feel safe and encouraged to explore. I hope that the rest of my time here will foster growth and knowledge, as well as give me an opportunity to give back to the community and city that I will call home for the next two months.