Portland’s Inspiring Vision of a Biophilic City
By JD Brown, May 2018
An evening lecture from Tim Beatley in Portland, Oregon, marked an occasion to formally recognize the role of Portland as a founding partner city and leader in the Biophilic Cities Network. City Commissioner Nick Fish accepted the recognition and provided his own remarks on the expression of the vision of biophilic cities across the Portland landscape: “Portland is proud to be a city where nature is celebrated and enjoyed … which is why Portland is a perfect match for the Biophilic Cities Project.”
Truly, Portland is an inspiration as a biophilic city. The city has designed and constructed over 2,000 green streets that are biophilic amenities performing the valuable role of controlling urban stromwater runoff. Community volunteers, known as Green Street Stewards, help to maintain the green infrastructure in neighborhoods across the city. Portland has spurred the installation of as many as 700 ecoroofs in high density areas. The city first encouraged this result though the use of ecoroof incentives, which have now been retired as the city has taken the tremendous step of now requiring ecoroofs for new largescale development in its Central City 2035 Plan.
Our recent visit to Portland included a site visit to Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge where the city has embarked on a salmon restoration project to bring salmon back to the refuge. The city has begun to designate the best salmon habitat within the city as Salmon Sanctuaries, locations that exhibit the best opportunities for the continued recovery and return of salmon to the reaches of Portland’s urban streams.
The two days of events in Portland, generously and tirelessly supported by many including the city, Portland State University, Moda Health, Portland Audubon and the Urban Greenspaces Institute and its director Mike Houck, marked a launching point to invite other cities in the region to join Portland in the Biophilic Cities Network as part of a Cascadia cohort of cities. This cohort of cities will be a regional collaboration of cities sharing a passion for the creation of places where residents can experience nature as a basic element of their daily lives. With the exchange of innovative approaches in policy, planning and design the cities together can build a vision of a corridor of biophilic cities.