“That’s really what we feel. People are loving to be here, people are loving to move here, visit here. It seems smaller, safer, and more friendly than a lot of larger cities.”
How long have you been in Portland and how has it changed since you’ve been here?
I’ve been around Portland for a long time. I worked in Portland from 2007 to 2014 and then I worked in Augusta just briefly and now I’ve been back in Portland for about a year. It’s changed a lot. I remember being a very young child and seeing things really change in Portland and it to be a little bit more of a shopping destination, so it was a different feel than what it is now. What I love about Portland and what was unique then, and is still unique, is there’s a lot of different things going on, and a lot of different people.
What makes Portland special to you?
The size of it. It’s small, I know so many people, and it’s really easy to do that. I’m not calling a municipality and not knowing who I’m going to talk to on the other end. I can call Public Works and if I’m looking for someone in particular and they’re not there, I can ask their wife for their cell phone number. I spend time with some of these people, a lot of these people outside of work as well. Relationship building is really easy here.
Thoughts on Portland Downtown
How would you describe your job at Portland Downtown?
It involves a lot of reaching out to the community, a lot of introducing myself, and meeting and greeting. A lot of times when I describe what I do to folks that are outside of our organization, I’ll say that I manage and develop programming in support of our clean and safe initiatives.
Can you please describe a notable program that Portland Downtown is involved with?
One of our longtime programs is our Cadet Program. When I started with this organization last year, I found out about some awards through the International Downtown Association and I felt like the Cadet Program was a good fit in the Downtown Management and Leadership category. The Cadet Program is co-managed by Portland Downtown and the Police Department. It’s really become a community policing model that’s helping to groom future police officers on the one hand; but also providing that extra presence of safety downtown. It was featured in the newsletter for the International Downtown Association this month and it’s gotten some good response. Then, new programming that I’m trying to get off the ground now is doing some planning work around what we need for outreach to individuals who are asking for help publicly, or seem like they’re in need downtown. We have a little bit of funding that we give to social service organizations that support either homeless services or substance abuse disorders, but we want to be able to do more.
What is something you think most people in the area don’t know about Portland Downtown?
I think that one thing that they don’t know, and this means that we’re doing our job well, is that we do as much cleaning and providing for security that way. Many people think of us as an events organization. Everyone knows about the Old Port Festival and Downtown Worker Appreciation Day, but people are surprised when you talk about some of the things that we do in terms of cleaning and what we clean up, and the care around sidewalk repairs, things like that. It’s the things that people don’t even think of — emptying trash cans and switching trash cans over to recycling and trash cans.
People and Places
What is the most beautiful spot in Portland to you?
I think the most beautiful spot for me would be Fort Gorges because I like to paddle out there and it’s kind of a way of getting away from it all. You can be out there and there’s not much going on. I’d say the most beautiful spot downtown would be the garden behind the Longfellow House Museum. People just aren’t aware that it’s there and it’s really beautiful and quiet. It’s my meeting place outside of the city and it doesn’t matter who I meet with, it can be someone who has an office two blocks from here, but we walk back there and they’re like, “Wow I didn’t know this was here.” If I take someone back there who’s from another city, you kind of expect they might not know it’s there, but even people who are working right here in the city don’t know it’s there. So it’s a nice little gem.
What is your favorite dining place in Portland that everyone should know about?
I like Local 188 for an evening dinner. They do local food, they do seafood, and they do an amazing job. For lunch, I love Local Sprouts.
Where should one go if they’re looking for a taste of culture?
We have a lot of music venues, but there’s a lot of smaller organizations that I would say would be great to get involved with. Space Gallery does some film festival type activity, and some of these venues are pretty small so they tend to morph around and use different facilities. So I would say get involved with some of the arts organizations that do a lot of different things.