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Taking a little break from the crowded and busy Saturday Market, I was amazed by how much green space Portland owns. I sat on one side of Willamette river and looked to the other side. What I saw was an array of trees and plants in front of the buildings. The city is generous about constructing green spaces even in the downtown area. By planting numerous trees along the riverside, not only views of both sides of the river are improved, but citizens and tourists also enjoy fresh air provided by trees. In contrast to many developed cities, it is difficult to find a street without roadside trees in Portland. I enjoy the shadows casted by trees when I walk in Portland, despite it is cool during most of the day. Although Portland was given the nickname Stumptown for its quick growth in the 19th country, when stumps of trees were left for a long time before labor was spared to remove them, I think the city can abandon the nickname and be called a tree town now. Another student on our team will be dedicating his two months in Duke Engage to an Oregon tree-planting organization, Friends of Trees, and I hope to find out more about green spaces in Portland from him.

Greens spaces are only one of Portland’s approaches to urban sustainability. Portland has developed a complete system of public transportation consisting of 81 bus and 6 light rail lines. The implementation of those significantly improves the convenience of getting around the city and cuts down the number of cars out. In fact, I have never encountered anything close to a traffic jam even during the busiest times in Portland. These buses and light rails generates a tremendous network of stops that covers most of city, including both sides of the river and the part of the suburbs. Buses even stop on the bridges, as some bridges branches at the end. A phone App is able to design the routes and indicate when the trains and buses arrive at a certain stop. It is important to distinguish the directions of trains, however, as I have already taken a train going in the wrong direction.

For this reason, I figured and went through my way to work this weekend to make sure I get there on time tomorrow. Another thing to mention is that Portland is a very walkable and bikeable city: there are trails spread across the city and bike lanes are marked on all the streets. Operated by Biketown, various bike rental stations are placed in Portland. I have yet to test it out since I don’t have a helmet, which is required to ride a bike in Portland, but I believe the system is well-designed.

Impressed by how Portland successfully carries out environmentalism, I can’t wait to start my work at 1000 Friends of Oregon tomorrow and am looking forward to exploring what it offers to promote sustainability in Portland.