Insights

Ecodistricts: Developing sustainable systems at scales that makes sense

Have you ever wondered how (and when) the energy, waste and water systems in our cities were built? Like the growth of cities, the systems that support our urban lives have evolved incrementally over time. Together they make up a patchwork of infrastructure that is sometimes arbitrary and can be quite inefficient. Applying the principles […]

The 1% Solution: Revamping the Multnomah Arts Center Gallery

By Gauri Rajbaidya Back in 2010, I performed a musical piece to open the discussion on Arts and Culture in Portland as part of the City’s Portland Plan process. This is where I first met Michael Walsh, the Executive Director of Multnomah Arts Center Association. That particular event was at the Gerding Theater, an old […]

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 […]