Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street where today we are realizing how much of the city we walk past without really paying attention.
What we’re talking about
Wessie, the ten-foot snake that Westbrook police officers reported spotting last week, is still at large and yesterday, the American Journal’s Andrew Rice reported that Mayor Colleen Hilton is putting an “expert” on the case. Hilton is not saying just who that is or what his or her expertise might be.
The officers said they saw the snake eating what looked like a beaver last Thursday, but not everyone is convinced the snake is real. One skeptic told Rice that Westbrook’s finest probably mistook a beaver dragging a log for what the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s reptile expert says could be a Burmese python.
Portland’s mayor has his own solution to ‘brutal’ downtown parking — Maybe you’ve seen Mayor Ethan Strimling buzzing around town on his orange scooter. Troy Bennett hung out with him the other day to talk about why that’s his vehicle of choice during the warmer months — and what to do about the peninsula’s “brutal” parking situation:
Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling knows how to beat Portland’s clogged summer peninsula traffic. He parks his car.
Instead, he throws a leg over his scooter and zips around town with his face in the wind.
“Traffic in this city is just brutal,” he told me, sitting on his orange, Italian-styled steed, parked in front of City Hall on Tuesday.
His bike of choice, a 150cc, 2-stroke, 2008 Stella by Genuine Scooter Company of Chicago, makes parking much easier. While not allowed in many peninsula parking garages, his scooter slides easily into any of the city’s free, 10-hour, motorcycle-only spaces.
He said fell in love with the scooter experience while traveling in Italy. So, last fall, he took a motorcycle permit course — his bike is big enough to warrant a full motorcycle endorsement on his license — and bought a scooter from a dealer on Warren Avenue. He was up and scooting just in time to go door-to-door, campaigning last fall.
And his bike gets around 100 mpg, to boot.
“I think we ought to really try to incentivize people to take up less room on the road and reduce their carbon footprint,” he said. “If we had a lot more two wheels, instead of four wheels, we’d be saving a lot of space, saving a lot of parking down here.”
He sees his scooter as part of a diversified transportation future for Portland that includes busses, bicycles, motorcycles, commercial trucks and a lot fewer single-passenger cars.
“The more we can encourage people to reduce, reduce, reduce, I think the less congestion we’ll have and [it will be] better for the planet,” he said.
This quiz is really hard — If you think you know Portland pretty well — like I thought I did — then try your hand at this quiz that Sam Shepherd built. He lists 10 historic buildings around town and asks you to choose their relative addresses. (I got six out of 10 right, and I’ve lived in most of these neighborhoods.)
Peaks Island is so hot right now — Randy Billings reports: “Sunny weather and the growing popularity of day trips to Peaks and other islands are pushing up traffic at Casco Bay Lines, and the ferry service was overwhelmed over the July Fourth weekend with what it says was an unprecedented number of people trying to get to Peaks Island.”
One brick marks a chapter in the life of a new Mainer — Dispatch has a story about how one new Mainer has made his mark on the city:
For the past 11 years, Ghassan [Hasoon] has lived, schooled, and worked in the Greater Portland communities. After hearing a 2015 TEDxDirigo talk on the Portland Brick project (by artist and storyteller Elise Pepple), Ghassan decided he wanted to leave his mark on our streets.
As a subject for Portland Brick — a public art installation by Pepple and Ayumi Horie that illuminates the rich histories and experiences of Portland residents by laying bricks telling their stories on city sidewalks — Ghassan now shares an important personal memory with the city. At the corner of India and Commercial Streets, near the Ocean Gateway, his brick reads, ‘Ghassan Hasoon Celebrates Becoming a U.S. Citizen #NewMainer.’ (His story is also told on the Portland Brick podcast, hosted by SoundCloud.)
“It’s a place that I look up to see; this place [is where] I got my citizenship. Since 2013, I often go there just to reflect back on what I accomplished. Having my brick there is an incredible feeling. It makes me feel so good about myself and how much I love this city.”
‘For Philando Castile, Social Media Was the Only 911’ — From Wired: “In that moment, Facebook was [Diamond] Reynolds’ only recourse. And that’s scary. Because no matter how much social media has done to raise public awareness about these tragedies, it still falls so short. Comments and posts and shares and retweets couldn’t come to the rescue when Reynolds and [Philando] Castile needed it most. And virality alone isn’t admissible in court. As Castile lay dying, he and his family could not rely on anything else. Social media was all they had, and all that social media could offer them was an outlet for outrage, fear, and mourning.
We get an extra second this year — Use yours wisely.
Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @dsmacleod.
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Featured image by Flickr user William Warby