Blog

SERA Portland Postcard Project

SERA’s Portland Postcard Project is an experiment in storytelling and placemaking, inspired by the Neighborhood Postcard Project. These postcards will help us understand what makes Portland, Portland. Fill a blank postcard with a drawing, photograph or simply your story. Be sure to check back here frequently, we will be posting a collection of our favorites. […]

Civic Ecology: A Citizen-Driven Framework for Suburban Communities

This paper was presented by Tim Smith at the 50th International Making Cities Livable Conference on June 26, 2013 at The Governor Hotel  in Portland, Oregon. Tim was also interviewed as part of this conference on Citizen Engagement via Civic Ecology. Reshaping suburbia suggests a shift toward mixed use, green buildings, complete streets, densification and […]

Love in Sustainable Design

I’ve been passionate about good design and inspiring places most of my life.  Over those years and the centuries before, styles and fads have come and gone, ideas about what good design is, and ways of building things have all shifted significantly.  Without delving too deeply into the reasons, it seems fairly safe to say […]

Civic Ecology: A Citizen-Driven Framework for Suburban Communities

Reshaping suburbia suggests a shift toward mixed use, green buildings, complete streets, densification and transit oriented development… in other words, greener, more efficient forms of suburban “hardware.” While these strategies may lead towards greater efficiency, transformative change will require deeper intervention beyond re-forming and efficiency. Suburban areas must be re-imagined as whole communities animated by […]

The Challenge of the Creative Class – A Follow Up

In 2011, we wrote about Portland’s Creative Class slump, noting that, despite being generally regarded as one of the country’s preeminent “creative class” cities, Portland has failed to translate its reputation for livability into real economic gains. Given the city’s persistent struggles with unemployment, underemployment, and low wages (despite attracting artists, designers, intellectuals, hipsters, and […]

Celebrate Lafayette: Young SERA Designers Win Competition

Occasionally, a group of emerging designers here at SERA will pool their talents and take on an independent design challenge. Such was the case when Krystan Menne, Kristin Slavin, and Jodi Hanson heard about the “[Imagine Downtown] Lafayette, LA” open-ideas competition a few months ago. Not only did this interdisciplinary team of designers dive into this […]

People Love What They Help Create

We have recently referenced some of the exciting augmented reality work we’ve been working on, but did you know that we’ve been using various technologies to engage the public during planning projects since the early 2000s? One of our goals at SERA has been to always communicate planning problems and potential solutions in ways that […]

Is Love the Missing Ingredient in Sustainability?

Is love the missing ingredient in sustainability? We think so. In a world of metrics and check lists, are we overlooking that buildings, streetscapes, and interiors are made for people? People who want to thrive, who want to love the way they spend their days. We think that this love translates into care. Care translates […]

Bing Sheldon: Architect as Change Agent

If you’re at all familiar with the design and building industry in Portland, Oregon, chances are you’ve encountered Bing Sheldon – whether in person or by reputation. And if you have found yourself admiring Portland’s historic character and focus on sustainability, Bing is one of the city’s key influencers we have to thank for the the forward-thinking […]