How would you redesign your neighborhood?

Good evening from the BDN Portland satellite office on Payson Park. A new report looks at what Portland could become; castle lover/legal weed fan Rick Steves is in town; and a psychic buried in South Portland could have predicted John Lennon’s death — maybe.

What we’re talking about

Jake Bleiberg today laid out a new report that makes the case for the city to take a more active role in planning the development of its neighborhoods.

High-end development has boomed and rents have spiked in recent years, making it more difficult for middle- and low-income Portlanders to afford to live here. Meanwhile, as the cost of living climbs, many of the skilled workers who have made Portland the hub of Maine’s economy will retire in the next decade.

The solution to this “vicious cycle” is to develop more densely populated neighborhoods to attract residents and tie higher education around Portland more tightly to the local economy to produce skilled workers, according to a new report, “Growing Portland: Not Whether but How.”

But unless the city makes a deliberate effort to grow the population density in specific neighborhoods, the area could end up an underfunded expanse of urban sprawl, the authors say.

You can read the full report here, which includes artist renderings of ideas for reimagining some of the city’s neighborhoods.

Here’s my question: How would you redesign your neighborhood? Respond to this email or comment on this Facebook post.

In other news

The biggest individual contributor to Maine’s legal weed effort is in town this week — Rick Steves, the PBS travel host, is in Portland tonight to give a talk on what the U.S. can learn from Europe about regulating marijuana. The Washingtonian has contributed $100,000 toward the effort here in Maine, the Press Herald reported. We’ll be streaming his talk on It begins at 6:30.

At the time of this writing — about 2:30 pm — I was scheduled to interview him this afternoon. Watch our Facebook page for the story.

This psychic may have predicted John Lennon’s death — Troy Bennett has been busy this month, profiling the people buried around the city. Here’s today’s installment in his Permanent Portlanders series:

Alex Tanous was a psychic. Born in Van Buren, he could turn the lights off without touching a switch, stop clocks with his mind and once helped police track down a child killer by drawing them a picture of the killer’s face he could see in his head, according to a biography on the website for the Alex Tanous Foundation for Scientific Research.

He taught classes at the University of Southern Maine and, in 1980, while on a radio show in New York, he may have predicted the death of John Lennon.

He said, “The prediction I will make, is that a very famous rock star will have an untimely death and … there is something strange about this death, but it will affect the consciousness of many people because of his fame.” Without mentioning a name, he added that the star may be foreign-born but living in the United States.

Three months later, John Lennon was gunned down outside the Dakota Apartments, which were visible through the windows of the studio where Tanous was sitting when he made the prediction.

You can watch his video here.

It’s true, this election is stressful — We’re hosting a debate-watching party at our office on Congress Street on Wednesday — which will feature nearly a dozen therapy kittens to counteract the stress that comes with watching these kinds of events. A local TV station followed up by talking to an expert about what kind of toll this election has on people:

“This is sort of an undeniable stressor,” said Robert Meyes, a psychotherapist in Portland. “I would suggest radical acceptance: things are the way they are.”

Sure, that — or kittens.

Here is the info on the event.

Make sure to reserve a free ticket here while they are still available.

The Big Idea

The BDN’s editorial board recommends a ‘yes’ vote on Question 3 — The board writes:

The vast majority of Americans and gun owners support background check requirements for gun purchases. And federal and Maine law prohibit the sale of firearms to felons, domestic abusers and others deemed too dangerous to own them.

But when thousands of private gun sales and transfers each year aren’t subject to background checks, these prohibited buyers can still easily obtain guns. That’s an outcome that shouldn’t happen under the law, and it could be prevented more often with a background check requirement that applies to more firearm exchanges.

Question 3 on November’s ballot would fill in a clear loophole in Maine law by requiring background checks for all firearms sales and transfers. The ballot measure isn’t a magic solution to keep all guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. But requiring background checks is one straight-forward change Maine can enact to make it more difficult for someone who shouldn’t have a gun to get one — without unreasonably burdening Maine gun owners who already follow the law.

Read the full editorial here.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at, or tweet @dsmacleod.

As always, like BDN Portland on Facebook for more local coverage.

Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.