We only have now

So I’m on the last day of a conference in Portland in my old home state of Oregon. I try not to miss Oregon since I am now a Nevadan, but sometimes it feels like coming here is like sending an alcoholic to a bar. There are so many things about Portland that I think would be awesome to transplant to our growing community in Las Vegas. For instance, right now I am waiting for my lunch in a locally owned café on Hawthorne called the Cup and Saucer Café. They have just celebrated their 20th anniversary. They only use cage-free, antibiotic-free eggs, compost their food waste and have invested in wind power. On the corkboard on the way in I saw a sign for “awesome queer authors night.” Where could you find a café like that in Southern Nevada?

Meanwhile, all up down this street and on adjacent streets, people are walking, taking public transit (which runs exceptionally well), carrying their purchases in reusable shopping bags and the like. Did I mention it’s 60 degrees, cloudy and threatens to rain any minute? So it’s not the great weather that gets people out on the streets. It’s a community-oriented lifestyle. All down the street are independent cafes, pubs, and about a jillion record shops, antique and thrift stores, and on and on. Admittedly, I’m in one of the trendy hipster neighborhoods, but frankly, a lot of what is right about this scene happens all over Oregon.

So the question is, how do transplant what is working in Portland (and it’s not a paradise or perfect by any stretch), to our burdgeoning, progressive community and movement. While part of what is happening here grows organically, another big part of it is leadership in the community, the right kind of civic planning and the right level of engagement from the community itself. There’s plenty to learn from here. And that is what I try to focus on as I sit here, rather than my jonesing for my old life here. And anyway, part of that has to be nostalgia for my youth, right? (Don’t tell me if it’s not.)

In the meantime, let’s say I’ve gone undercover to absorb the good parts of the NW ethos and plan to bring it home with me to sweet Las Vegas. It’s hard to look honestly sometimes at the true challenges ahead of us in “Sin City.” Coming to conferences like this sometimes hammer it home. In many ways Las Vegas is still a very young community.  But with that we have enormous opportunity to shape how we grow and what happens next. We have an amazing opportunity to steer the conversation, to mobilize and create the kind of progressive, urban landscape we want to see in Las Vegas.

Even as I miss the NW, in some ways it is energizing me for the work to come and what is possible in Las Vegas. We can do this. And you know what? I’m actually really looking forward to going home.

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