The Four People You Meet In Portland

[ 0 ] February 12, 2014 |

It’s no secret that Portland is an eccentric place. At its best it can be eye-opening, and at its worst it can be eye-rolling. Though I know that it is unfair to cut stereotypes out of the hodgepodge of a city’s culture, I am not wandering far from the truth when I tell you: there are only four people you will meet Portland.

The Portland Hipster

The Portland Hipster is a classic staple of the city’s social scene. They can be found just about anywhere, but they are most densely populated along streets such as NE Alberta, SE Hawthorne, SE Belmont and NW 23rd, or roaming the floors of Powell’s Bookstore. Though it is difficult to identify them by what they wear, a Portland hipster can be found in anything from vibrant and absurd clothing, an ironic suit and tie, a minimalist and plain-colored outfit, or the always reliable ragged flannel. Contrary to other cities, hipsters here are not only twenty-somethings; many carry their hipster traits far into adulthood. When interacting with one, remember this: they often have a strong belief system, and are willing to debate their values with you over an exotic coffee or microbrew. They probably have more knowledge than you regarding bikes, music, art, literature and Portland in general. If you approach them calmly and speak politically correct, you will leave town with some interesting and stylish new friends.

The Portland Hippie

Portland does not have many cliche hippies. There are not many dread-locked reggae fans wearing tye-dye and sandals. It’s frankly too cold. Instead, the city retains these types in the form of devout outdoorsmen, herbalists and naturalists who believe that if it doesn’t come from Mother Nature, you don’t need it. The Portland hippie spends his weekends in the Mt. Hood National Forest or participating in his local community garden, showing his teeth through environmental activism. They are often vegan or of some obscure dietary choice, and take words like ‘organic’ and ‘free range’ very seriously. If you remember to compost your food scraps, recycle properly and avoid paper towels, the Portland hippie will find no qualm with you.

The Portland Punk

Punk rock is alive and well in Portland. Roam the grittier streets of NE (around MLK, Alberta and Killingsworth), and you will see your fair share of studded belts, rat tails and patched jackets. The Portland punk is a proud punk, often obsessed with egalitarianism, tearing down patriarchy, and well versed in anarchist literature. Basement shows are common almost every night of the week in North and Northeast Portland, and some dive bars are almost exclusively punk, such as The Know or Slabtown. In SE there is a locally famous anarchist cafe called Red and Black Cafe, which holds shows, screenings, and meetings several nights a week. Many people are put-off or intimidated by these folk’s aggressive appearance, but in reality, these punks are some of the sweetest and most accepting people in town. Get to know them, and you may broaden your perspective about the world. But don’t get too close, they can be stinky.

The Portland Yuppie

The elitist, wealthy class of Portland is somewhat of a shoe-shined offshoot of its subcultures. A typical Portland yuppie lives in Lake Oswego or the Pearl District, owns one fancy car and one hybrid, is a huge fan of Oregon Ducks football, likes to wear Patagonia, and supports their local coffee shop though they inevitably end up at Starbucks sometimes. As true foodies, their Instagram accounts reveal pristine dishes from the city’s finest dining, and they are in a constant search for the next great food cart. Though they may appear stuck on their iPhone, the yuppie here is intelligent and well-traveled. Perhaps they are phony, perhaps they are ahead of the curve, but Portland yuppies are extremely kind and easy going, happy to show anyone around the city they love.

The city’s social scene can be diverse, but it never fails to be interesting. In reality, the quintessential Portlander is a blend of all four stereotypes, taking the best of each one, yet not without a few hypocrises. The uniting characteristic of all Portland residents is a strong sense of community and a mutual love for their city. This, above all, is what makes Portland so special.

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Category: Local Lifestyle, Portland, Sage Content, United States

About the Author ()

Dustin Cole Hayes left his home in Southern California in pursuit of new adventures in Portland and beyond. Graduating from Portland State University with Sociology and English degrees, he is now committed full time to his music, writing and art. He has traveled abroad to Europe and Mexico, and has driven several laps around the US as a touring musician. He continues to document his journeys through his blog.

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